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Free Blog Weekend: Homers, Hopelessness, Exhaustion


Talk of the Astros’ resurrection are a bit premature.

Well, after twice hitting the high-water mark of six games under .500, the Astros have now slipped to 10 games under. Still, despite the recent slide, the Astros are on pace to win 70 games. That’d be a 19-game improvement over 2013. If someone had told you in March that this team would win 70 games, I think most of you would have said, “I’m OK with that.”

I know I would have.

But that’s the problem with success. You see all the little wins, and you start to lose sight of the big picture. This team is better than last year’s version. If Houston picks up its 33rd win this weekend, that puts this team weeks ahead of last year. The 2013 Astros did not pick up win No. 33 until July 12.

HOMERS: D’OH

No home runs Thursday night, and the Astros lost. You can blame Collin McHugh (why would you?) or the botched play by Jose Altuve and Jonathan Villar (sure, why not?) or even “Gopher Ball” Paul Clemens (now we’re getting somewhere). You can blame the non-Altuve offense. Or, you can ask where the power went.

Houston lost Wednesday night as well. No homers. Tuesday night: a 6-5 loss. No long balls. Sunday afternoon against the Rays … OK, the team got two homers, both solo shots. That’s four losses and in three games the power drought was in full effect.

Overall, Houston has 32 wins, and in those wins the team has hit 57 home runs. Meanwhile, in the 42 losses, the Astros have hit just 20 home runs.

It seems the win column, along with chicks, digs the long ball. That homers bring wins isn’t news. But it makes me wonder.

Is this a case for keeping “All or Nothing” Chris Carter in the lineup? Is this a case for letting George Springer swing for the fences every time his bat twitches? Should this be the reason to dump Robbie Grossman (2 HRs in 107 ABs) and Alex Presley (3 HRs in 163 ABs)?

BAD IS IN THE EYE OF THE BEHOLDER

Our good friend Bopert reared his cynical head yesterday … and he’s got some good points. The TV deal still seems nowhere in sight. While that doesn’t mean much to us Minnesotans (yeah, I caught your dig there, Bopert), I know it means a lot to fans living withing 300 miles or so of Houston. And, yes, the idea of .500 is looking more like a mirage each day. And, yes, Krauss was the AAAA player Bopert said he’d be.

But despite the gloom from our resident Eeyore, there are some things he said that I’d like to ask the crowd about. Is Collin McHugh a “scrub” or is he a legit member of a major league rotation? We all have our own long list of “scrubs” on this team (why does Jesus Guzman still have a uniform? … Presley … Jerome Williams and Clemens from the bullpen?) and there are some borderline names I won’t argue even if I’ve not added them to my list.

But Carlos Corporan has a .710 OPS right now as our backup catcher. Utility infielder Marwin Gonzalez is batting .273 and has a .727 OPS. And I have to keep reminding myself that Marwin is ONLY 25 years old.

It’s late and I don’t intend to scour every roster to see how each team’s backup catcher and utility infielder is hitting. But I’d say, if those are their roles on this team, as bench players and spot starters, I’d say Houston is getting its money’s worth. I’d also challenge anyone to find seven backup catchers in the AL doing better than Corporan or seven utility infielders in the AL doing better than Marwin. These two are in the top half of the league at what they do.

“I’M TIRED … TIRED OF PLAYING THE GAME …”

The Astros’ bullpen has got to be singing Lilly von Shtupp’s song from “Blazing Saddles.” Thursday Porter used only three pitchers, two from the ‘pen. But the team also pitched only eight innings (that’s the benefit of a road loss I guess). Four relievers on Wednesday, five on Tuesday and five on Sunday.

Does Porter need to relax the pitch count a bit? Maybe send a guy out even if he’s over 95 pitches? For example, McHugh on Thursday had just cleared the century mark but looked like he could handle another inning.

Remember when Keuchel nearly pitched three complete games? Man, I bet the bullpen was glad for the rest. I actually was starting to respect Porter then. Alas, he’s gone to his old overwork-the-pen ways.

FINALLY …

Some good news. Jose Altuve is having a great year. He’s in a neck-and-neck battle for the AL batting title right now. As of Thursday night, he’s second to Robinson Cano. He’s also second in the league in doubles trailing Melky Cabrera 24-23. His major league-leading 98 hits have him well on pace to collect 200 on the season. Heck, he could miss a couple of weeks and still be on track. He’s swiped 26 bases in 29 attempts, and apparently has hit the century mark in his career.

But here’s what I’m loving the most: In nearly 300 at-bats he’s struck out only 22 times. And while his 19 walks are a bit low (he’d set a goal to walk 10 times a month, so that’s not happening …) it’s because he is just hitting the ball non-stop.

I won’t bore you with my love of Dallas Keuchel at this point. Maybe another day. (Or maybe one of you can talk about how he’s doing awesome.) But there are rays of sunshine in this, another year of losing baseball.

So here’s some questions to ponder:

  • When Houston loses, what is it that is the missing ingredient that game from this team? Where is it misfiring that day?
  • This season has some good and bad to it. But what, as we head toward 90-plus losses, just bugs the crud out of you?
  • For a while, it seemed we were all singing Porter’s praises and pointing to improved play everywhere, including (gasp!) the bullpen. Is Porter back to his mismanaging ways? Or have the starters been forcing his hand?
  • Will Bass, Crain and Albers make a difference when they return in a few weeks? All are listed as “possible June” or “possible late June” on the injury report. Would their return be the shot-in-the-arm this bullpen needs?
  • What’s your bright spot this year? Altuve? The Springleton call ups? Keuchel? Collin McHugh?

OK, so talk amongst yourselves. It’s a Free Blog Weekend.

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About BrianT

Brian Todd is a freelance writer working and living in Rochester, Minn.

77 comments on “Free Blog Weekend: Homers, Hopelessness, Exhaustion

  1. daveb
    June 20, 2014

    Brian, I’ll get back to some of these interesting points later on in the weekend, but with bopert touting his prediction of the Krauss failure, well, he can hang is hat on that one of he wants, but the hat rack will be full. And right now, McHugh is a scrub that every ML club would want on their roster. I could continue, but don’t have the time right now. I’ve got go try to pay the bills.

    Like

    • BrianT
      June 20, 2014

      Pay those bills, Daveb. I’ve got to make a Black Forest cheesecake. We’ve all got our crosses to bear.

      Like

      • daveb
        June 20, 2014

        Brian, that’s not a bad job for a Friday. I’d probably go to my favorite pastry shop and have them make me one and mess it up a bit so it at least looked like a rookie product.

        Like

  2. Devin
    June 20, 2014

    Becky, I think, nailed it the other day. When the Astros don’t make the opposing pitchers work, they get fewer mistakes and don’t get into the bullpen early, either. If I were pitching against them I would pound the zone except against two guys: Altuve BC he may not allow you to walk him and is probably not as good a bad ball hitter as when he sees strikes, and Singleton BC I wouldn’t fear anyone behind him and the AAA results show when they don’t throw strikes he will take some walks, but doesn’t do damage with the stick.

    Keuchel is my bright spot. If he can continue to locate we have a guy who will reach dbl digit wins each year.

    Porter is doing fine. He botched a few switches and lineups, but you can’t pit the blame for swings and misses on him.

    McHugh is not going to win Cy Young awards, but seems to be a perfect match for Brent Strom. His stuff is good enough that when he doesn’t walk batters he enjoys success. Peacock, on the other hand, seems to want all the K’s and doesn’t mind putting lots of guys on base. We aren’t putting McHugh into a TOR slot, but if he is your #4 or #5 starter you have to feel pretty good right now.

    Liked by 1 person

    • BrianT
      June 20, 2014

      Yeah, I’d say Becky hit the nail on the head there. Not that there aren’t other “nails,” but that’s a big one.

      Like

  3. kevin
    June 20, 2014

    We had a good run and I have to say I was holding my breath watching us pitch way above our talent. This team is was better than what we have had for the last 4 years. BUT we are still carrying 8 AAA type dudes on the 25 man, so a lot of work to be done to get to the next level. No brainer to say our bullpen has been hit hard.
    We have Sipp Downs and Qualls, that’s it right now. I had no idea Albers would miss. what 2 months geez, Fields injury hurt and never having Crain ugh.

    I think a big help would be if Carter would try and keep his eyes open at the plate, and what happened to Castro on both sides of the plate. I can’t blame porter, I mean last few games the 1st inning pitching has sucked and the when he has to go to the pen. Wiilliams, Zeid, Clemens Good Night!

    Like

  4. videoidget1
    June 20, 2014

    Ok, I’m going to go out on a limb here and make some guessdictions:

    1) McWho stinks and will not sustain. Look for an ERA around 5 through the rest of the season.

    2) Keuchel’s numbers, particularly his K rate and K-BB ratio, suggest he’s legit. But when I did see him play (in the years previous), I didn’t see any plus pitches. None. Maybe that has changed, but I guess over the course of the season he’ll be–you nailed it–mediocre. There was a recent article that suggested that the league is learning to stay off pitches low in the zone, and force him to come up. Bottom line: the league will adjust and expose his mediocrity. Maybe Luhnow can sell the junk bond while the price is artificially high.

    3) Altuve, SinglePuff, GSpring, Castro, and Cosart are the only truly PLUS players on roster. There are a couple relievers that are okay, and when the pen heals up, they’ll improve as a whole. But overall, the team is still chock-full of scrubs.

    4) Luhnow will punt Fowler by the All-Scrub break.

    5) The TV deal never does get done in 2014.

    Now, if you excuse me, I am going to pet my dog. His name is Reality, by the way…

    Like

  5. videoidget1
    June 20, 2014

    Correction on Fpwler — Luhnow will punt him by the trade deadline, not All-Scrub break. My bad. Ok, time to take a leisurely walk with Reality.

    Like

    • BrianT
      June 20, 2014

      Make sure to take a bag and clean up after Reality. No one wants to look at Reality’s crap.

      Like

      • BrianT
        June 20, 2014

        (I meant this as a joke. Sometimes the font doesn’t show the nuances.)

        Liked by 1 person

      • videoidget1
        June 20, 2014

        Great point! You just keep on ignoring the stench of year-over-year mediocrity. Because there will be no poop-scoopage to be had. It’ll take several years, but you’ll see.

        Like

      • BrianT
        June 20, 2014

        Bo, I would gladly take mediocrity in 2014. Last year, this team was putrid, so mediocre is a big step up. If we can climb from mediocre to respectable next year, then 2016 looks like “contending” will be the buzz word.

        Yeah, I wish we were there today, but putrid to contending in one year is just unrealistic.

        Like

      • videoidget1
        June 20, 2014

        So when the team is NOT contending in 2016, and is MAYBE a .500 squad, and still have a lousy payroll and fanbase, only then will you concede the point? If so, that’s cool. Just don’t miss the point.

        Like

      • BrianT
        June 20, 2014

        Bo, there is little correlation between payroll and contending. How big is Oakland’s payroll? They seem to contend yearly. How big is the Rangers’ payroll? Or the Red Sox? That helping them much?

        Arizona had an Opening Day payroll of $112 Million. Do they have a better record than Houston?

        Meanwhile Miami is spending what Houston spends, and the Marlins are a .500 club.

        I tell you what, I’ll stop pointing out the obvious facts if you stop ignoring them.

        As for 2016 — yeah, if we’re not contending then, I’ll agree that Crane and Luhnow screwed up.

        Liked by 1 person

      • videoidget1
        June 20, 2014

        To say there is no correlation between payroll and contending is beyond naive. Payroll, and the fanbase that drives payroll, is paramount in importance.

        Like

      • daveb
        June 20, 2014

        bopert, yes, if this team is still the squad you describe in 2016, I will indeed concede the point to you.

        Like

  6. Chip Bailey
    June 20, 2014

    Nice post Brian, it’s been a crazy busy week and appreciate you stepping up. I go back to one of my posts or comments a couple of years ago. Then, I suggested that the way back to competitiveness for the Astros is to find 2-3 players every year. Not necessarily super stars, just players that fit into the puzzle. First, there was Altuve, then Castro and Cosart came along and, of course, this year, the team has added Keuchel, Singleton, and Springer. Not discounting Fowler or even others, but you also cannot discount those average players like Dominguez or maybe even Oberholtzer or Peacock who, on a solid team, will hold their own. So, Houston is still on the road to respectability and other players will join the train. Some perhaps this year, others hopefully next year. Until then, it’s a work-in-progress.

    And that means ups and downs. You may see glimpses of “a run”, but it may be more like a step forward/two steps backward after you’ve just taken two steps forward/one backward. In other words, streaky, frustrating, mountaintops, and valleys.

    Like

    • BrianT
      June 20, 2014

      Rome wasn’t built in a day. And neither will be the next winning Astros team. Excellent point.

      And I am (as always) happy to help.

      Like

  7. Chip Bailey
    June 20, 2014

    And, by the way, it’s actually okay if certain players like McHugh or Dominguez or others turn out as “mediocre”. There are only a handful of true stars in MLB. Certainly many more mediocre players. And, you can argue that’s the backbone of every team. Pick any roster…after you get past the few stars, you have the above average or average players.

    Like

  8. 1oldpro
    June 20, 2014

    I agree that Rome wasn’t built in a day, but Brian asks specific questions in this blog and the first one is? what are the missing ingredients when the Astros lose?
    My answers to that are the following:
    LF- we were bad last year and LF this year is horrible. Grossman is the worst hitting LFer in baseball and this is his FOURTH visit to the majors. Did we fix LF?
    DH- We had the worst DH in the majors last year and our DH is a .209 hitter. Did we fix DH?
    Catcher- Our backup catcher was considered a better defensive catcher than our starter when the year began. Now, he has better hitting stats than our starter.
    SS- We were horrible at SS last year. Our backup has better numbers than our starter. Did we fix that?
    Bullpen-We had the worst bullpen in baseball last year and we are last right now. I’m not asking if it is improved, I’m asking if the Astros fixed the bullpen and that answer is, no, they did not.
    The Astros are greatly improved on defense and the starting pitching has improved. Those two areas and the improved hitting at 2B and CF are the reasons we have more wins.
    In conclusion, our record is better because the team has improved in some good areas and it loses more than it wins because of the areas mentioned above that haven’t gotten better.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Chip Bailey
      June 20, 2014

      oldpro, good answers, and I have one followup: How many of these “missing ingredients” can be filled this year with exisiting resources (read: OKC, CC, etc)?

      Like

      • 1oldpro
        June 20, 2014

        I will be as frank with you as I can be. I would think that Wates at this point is a better answer in left field. He is probably not our long term LF but his age is such that this would be a great time to give him a look. The fact that Grossman is so bad and his numbers are so much worse than Hoes’s were when he was sent down, tells me there is something about Hoes that is keeping him out of Houston.
        There are no solutions in OKC at catcher right now and there are no solutions in the bullpen because the Astros are not putting any resources into the bullpens in the minor leagues, which is why we don’t have any good relievers.
        Petit is a possibility at SS but the Astros are more interested in playing Villar, even if it kills them. I believe we are seeing Villar is not ready, and he might be better off playing everyday in OKC. Villar has never hit as high as .270 at any level in a minor league for a full season. Look it up. All his projections show him to be a .230 hitter in the majors and he is performing below projections.

        Like

  9. Becky
    June 20, 2014

    If you’re looking at OKC to fill the holes we need on this team you’re probably looking on the wrong roster. There are a couple of guys in AAA that COULD get called up, your *real* talent is in Corpus, and high A. I don’t think Luhnow has much to work with right now in the bullpen, and who knows when and IF we get the guys back from DL, this team will suddenly get better. Jesse Crain has yet to throw his first major league pitch this year, and Albers is probably 3-4 weeks from getting back in the saddle. I think you guys know how I feel about Villar, but our REAL short stop is still in high A, so we are stuck for another 1-2yrs. with the kid. The T.V. deal has lost a big majority of fans who WOULD have made the trip to see this team….
    and at exactly 8:23 P.M. the radio broadcast is gone. And……no I’m not putting forth one more penny to get the MLBTV package. The pitchers are singing Brent
    Strom’s praises, so we might have just found our pitching coach for the next few years…….look what he’s done with Keuchel. Dallas has one pitch that eluded him last year, and he is using it as his go to pitch to put the hitter away…..I think Strom calls it a slider/slurve. By the end of this season, we *should* be getting a better feel for what the 2015 roster might look like, and guys like Carter, Guzman, Grossman, Presley and a couple of others won’t be here. I’m not sold on Peacock,
    and before the AS break I wouldn’t be surprised to see Folty, or Tropeano in the rotation.

    Like

  10. Dan P
    June 20, 2014

    Some various thoughts:
    – BP – both Fowler and Keuchel are also plus players. A .388 OBP and ,792 OPS for a leadoff player point to a well above average player. Keuchel has the 6th best ERA and 4th best WHIP among qualifying starters.
    – Following along Chip’s thought process of adding 2 or 3 good players a year – you have added Fowler, Springer and Singleton to this club along with having Altuve come back to a plus player and Keuchel becoming one. So steps up in performance along with new players can equal improvement.
    – I’m pretty sure I predicted the Astros winning in that 68-70 range for the season, so they have done fine vs. that expectation.
    – The key to long term success with a team is sustainability. Letting our farm teams run dry led to where we were 3 years ago. Being able to keep a healthy farm system is critical to this team and we are finally seeing where they have good talent from the bottom to the top of the system.
    – About a week ago I commented that I was concerned about the sudden drop off in starting pitching innings affecting an injured and thin bullpen. 10 days ago – the pen could be rested or Porter could bring in guys for an out here or there. Having to fill in 3 to 4 innings every night is asking for too much exposure for guys like Downs, Zeid and Farnsworth.

    Like

  11. rj
    June 20, 2014

    looks like we have a possible fix for LF in fowler, as he moves there when santana is called up to play RF and springer shifts to CF. possible fix for DH in tucker. possible #4 OF in wates, of course SS in correa but a season or two away yet, we have pitching depth so rotation and pen help available, catcher perhaps stassi but a year or two away, another 3B in Ruiz but again a year or two away. and maybe another shrewd trade away from an impact player. we have the depth to deal in terms of prospects.

    Like

  12. Dan P
    June 20, 2014

    Answering the questions –
    – When the Astros lose – the starters tend to go 5 or 6 IP or less. The offense tends to not score in the clutch or late. The bullpen has to pitch too much.
    – What bugs the crud out of me? Guys who are not performing (Williams, Grossman, Clemens, Guzman, etc) blocking folks that could help the situation (Tropeano, Folty, Wates, Santana…)
    – Porter – like most managers looks a lot smarter when his lineup is performing and his pitching choices come through. I think he did a good thing with settling down the top of the order. I am not sure how much of his bullpen failures are really his failures or just the fact that when you have Fields, Bass, Crain and Albers all out and the starters short arming it on innings – too many B- types pitch too many innings.
    – Yes – getting some good arms back in the pen will help.
    – My bright spots to date – in this order…
    Springer – turned the season around
    Keuchel – Giving solid starts 90% of the time
    Altuve – Much, much improved over last season and a real catalyst
    Singleton – A key to turning over the rebuild to the longer term kids
    Fowler – After a slow start – has been an OBP fiend at the top of the lineup
    Qualls – At a time when things were really going so poorly – he has raised the closer’s role to something more like major league average
    Sipp – Has appeared in 18 games and only charged with runs in two of them. A real plus that cost us nothing.

    Like

  13. Becky
    June 20, 2014

    Guzman in left tonight………good Lord.
    I’m going to my favorite “watering hole” tonight in the Heights, so I’ll get to watch the guys on T.V.

    Like

    • BrianT
      June 20, 2014

      Guzman in left is inexcusible. I don’t care if he hits 4 HRs tonight.

      Like

  14. Chip Bailey
    June 20, 2014

    “…only then will you concede the point?” Bo, at the risk of entering a useless conversation, at what point will you “concede” any points? You are determined to have an adversarial conversation when we all are looking for the same things. I do agree with Brian in that payroll and production aren’t necessarily linked. Too many high payroll, no playoff teams littering the countryside to argue that point. And quite a few teams — a la Oakland and Tampa Bay — who have figured out that quality is as good as quantity. But, as I said, the conversation is useless when it’s all an argument.

    Like

  15. videoidget1
    June 20, 2014

    When the team is competitive in the AL West anytime between now and 2020, then you got me, Chip. I’ll concede. Until then…

    Like

  16. videoidget1
    June 20, 2014

    And for the sake of definition, that means being in the running for a division title, like within 4 games or so, by mid-September. How’s that?

    Like

    • rj
      June 20, 2014

      between now and 2020? ill take that bet.

      Like

      • BrianT
        June 20, 2014

        Me too. I’d bet my Black Forest cheesecake on that one. Or my watermelon margaritas.

        Like

      • daveb
        June 20, 2014

        Brain, do you enjoy the Black Forest Cheesecake at the same time as the watermelon Margarita?

        Like

      • BrianT
        June 20, 2014

        Duh. ;^))

        Like

    • daveb
      June 20, 2014

      bp, glad you are not kicking the dog. Dogs can be a mans best friend. I’ll take that bet too. And I won’t have to wait until 2020 to cash in.

      Like

  17. videoidget1
    June 20, 2014

    Yep, I’m putting it out there. This team will reek of terribleness for many MANY years to come. By 2020, maybe you suckers will realize that this franchise has been ruined beyond repair. MAYBE.

    Like

    • 1oldpro
      June 21, 2014

      Your archenemy, Jim Crane spent over $630 million for the Astros, while you lay it ALL out there predicting mediocrity for them in a blog.
      Bo, you are a risk taker, a bold and daring adventurer, a world-daring Houdini. Next thing you know you will be predicting traffic slowdowns on Loop 610 west.
      Is there nothing you won’t do with your dashing keyboard?
      Woe is me, that I am so tepid! For certain, I am but a scrub in the high-stakes world of blog. CURTAIN!!!

      Like

      • BrianT
        June 21, 2014

        Oldpro drops the mic and throws his arms in the air.

        Like

  18. Chip Bailey
    June 20, 2014

    Hey Bo, with your great insight, might you also help us feeble, naive ones with the stock market? Forget baseball, with the kind of insight you have, let’s move on to the real stuff! And perhaps you could also tell us how to vote in the next election or if I need to move from the Gulf Coast because a rough hurricane season (or two, or three) is on the way?

    Heck, it would sure save us a lot of time and conversation. Thanks Bo!

    Like

  19. videoidget1
    June 20, 2014

    I’ll step off now. But I’ll be back in a month or two and see how McWho is faring… and how close the Lastros are to playing .500 ball. Enjoy the mediocrity suckers!

    Like

    • Billy Castillo
      June 20, 2014

      That’s twice you’ve called us ‘suckers’. Chip, can I rip this guy a new one? Please?

      Sigh…I’ll try to be nice.

      By you’re definition of competitive, ‘being in the running for a division title, like within 4 games or so, by mid-September’, well, that means roughly have the teams in the majors have been mediocre at best for at least the past decade. Or maybe I’m misunderstanding you. If a team has three years in a row where they’re not within 4 games of .500 in a row, then on the 4th year makes the playoffs, then finishes 6 games the following year, is that a mediocre team? What if a team wins a World Series, then finishes below .500 the next couple of years…are they mediocre? How about if they’re 5 games out each year but make the playoffs one year?

      For the record, I think you’re full of crap, and if/when you’re proven wrong in the next six years, you will find something to complain about, and would never man up and admit you’re wrong. The fact that you disappear when the team is winning and show back up once they’re in a losing streak, well, that speaks volumes. You said BrianT was naive earlier for pointing out the fact that payroll does not always = contending, yet conveniently ignore the fact that Oakland usually makes the playoffs every year (and by your own definition, they’re not mediocre); this year the freakin’ ROYALS are in first place, and that the teams with the highest payrolls generally aren’t so far. You constantly throw personal attacks in at people who have demonstrated superior baseball knowledge compared to you, and keep repeating the same mantra over and over again in the face of any facts presented to you.

      Look, I’ll lay it all out for you. I don’t particularly care for Jim Crane, either.But your philosophy of throwing money at everything as a cure-all fits in with his political affiliation, so I just don’t know.

      Now I’m going to step off my soapbox…sorry for rambling there, Chip, but I think I did a good job at holding back.

      Like

    • Becky
      June 21, 2014

      Bopert…….Don’t let the door hit you in the a_ ss on the way out.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Billy Castillo
        June 21, 2014

        Wouldn’t matter…it’s a mediocre door made from cheap materials.

        *ahem*

        Liked by 1 person

      • BrianT
        June 21, 2014

        Billy, you are too funny.

        Seriously, as much as I think Bopert is dead wrong on so much, he’s right — partially — on one thing. If the Astros had a good TV deal, Crane would have some more cash for an impact bat or more bullpen pieces. Another $20 million and this would be a .500 team right now. Say we’d ponied up for a two-year Stephen Drew rental. Maybe we find a competent DH out there.

        Of course, by this time next year we probably have that improved shortstop. We’ve got a new left fielder and DH. Then maybe we instead use that money on a top tier starter. Maybe we trade for David Price and sign him long term.

        That’s what that money means.

        Still, it looks like we can win without money, but all that cash just gives us a more comfortable margin of error.

        Like

    • kevin
      June 21, 2014

      This Bo dude has to be a cowgirls/ranger fan Right, would explain a cynical abrasive attitude, I sure hope his Dog is happy.

      Like

  20. Dan P
    June 20, 2014

    I guess the way I look at things is this – the team is headed for about a 20 game improvement even though they have a bad LF, a bad DH, a bad 4th OF, a lower end SS, two rookies learning to find their way in the starting lineup, a slumping C, dicey starters in a couple spots in the rotation and a bullpen that is decimated with injuries (not going to argue about the manager’s competency at this point). Now isn’t there a possibility that out of Folty, Tropeano, Shirley, Luis Cruz, Correa, Wates, Santana, Tucker, Fontana, Ruiz, McCullers, Teoscar Hernandez, Kemp, Hader, Velasquez (and on and on) – somebody might help boost them to contention in the next 5 seasons (before 2019)?
    Any chance?

    Like

  21. daveb
    June 20, 2014

    I’ll keep it simple.

    I think we’ve improved at 3,4,8,9, starting pitching.

    We’ve staying the same at 5, 6, and the pen.

    We’ve gotten worse at 2 and DH.

    I call 6 a push because of the better defense.

    I’m somewhat optimistic about the pen getting better this year.

    I’m optimistic that the rotation will get better, if only because there is help on the way. We can manage a starter going on the DL.

    I fear Fowler getting dealt, but who knows, we might get help for the pen at the same time.

    Like

  22. Billy Castillo
    June 20, 2014

    As far as this team goes, we are indeed much better than last year. I predicted 71 wins before the season, and we still might get there. We seriously need to cut bait with Presley, Grossman, Williams, Farnsworth, Guzman, and Clemens. Villar needs to go back to AAA for about a month, and bring up Petit for the time being. Chapman is pitching like he did in the majors last year, so might as well give him another shot.Bring up Wates at least. And yeah, it is kind of weird that they gave up on Hoes but Presley still is stinking up the joint…

    Like

    • Billy Castillo
      June 20, 2014

      And during the time it took me to type that up, Villar hits a home run.

      Like

      • Billy Castillo
        June 20, 2014

        And had an error leading to the only run allowed today lol

        Like

  23. Dan P
    June 20, 2014

    Good win tonight – 2 HRs Brian – a deep great 8 innings from Cosart and a stop to their mini-slide.

    Like

  24. Steeeve
    June 20, 2014

    On left field, note that J.D. Martinez appears to have figured it out for the Detroit Tigers. Smallish sample size (104 AB’s) but 7 HR’s, 25 RBI’s 30 strike outs and a slash line of .317/.348/.615. Compares favorably with, don’t hate me, George Springer.

    Like

    • Billy Castillo
      June 20, 2014

      Amazing how much better a player who had good numbers in the minors and decent initial major league stats would do in a better lineup. I’d rather him in there than the parade of losers we’ve paraded out there in LF.

      Like

    • Chip Bailey
      June 20, 2014

      Steeeve, on Martinez, interesting to note that he changed his swing *before* the Astros released him in mid-March. Sad they couldn’t see it coming. That is, of course, if he can maintain anywhere close to his current stretch.

      And…Billy, you geaux!

      Like

    • devin_
      June 20, 2014

      Some of us would have preferred to keep him rather than pick up a guy like Guzman. Between JDM and Chris Johnson you have to wonder if there was something in the clubhouse water… In seriousness, I think the nagging injuries last year kept JDM from showing any improvement. It’s nice to see he got a shot with the Tigers, forced their hand by putting up monster numbers at Toledo, and has taken advantage of the chance to contribute.

      Like

  25. 1oldpro
    June 20, 2014

    I can’t believe anybody is still talking about JD Martinez. Jeez, Louise!
    Jake Buchanan being called up to start against the Rays tomorrow night in his major league debut. Cisneros to 60 day disabled to make room on 40-man and Clemens optioned down to make room on 25-man active. Peacock w/ food poisoning.
    Congrats to Jake. Hope he gets his first win in the majors tomorrow.

    Like

    • Becky
      June 21, 2014

      Old pro………..you make me smile! I love your dry humor!

      Liked by 1 person

    • drbill14
      June 21, 2014

      And if he does why not keep him here and let him pitch out of the bullpen? Could he be any worse than Clemens? Is Buchanan a starter or nothing? Do the Astros really think Buchanan is likely to be a big part of their starting rotation going forward? There are a lot of guys in MLB who got their feet wet in the bullpen after being AAA starters.

      One of the most disturbing stats that I do think is/will hold us back is our inability to put the ball in play more consistently. We have three of the top six and four of the top eleven in strikeouts in the AL in Springer, Carter, Castro and Dominguez. I have done my share of ragging on Carter but Castro and Springer are just as bad. Of course Springer, Dominguez and Castro do contribute on the defensive side of the game.

      I do think McHugh will not end up McWho. He really does have good stuff and he seems like a guy who will profit a lot from his work with Strom. He along with Keuchel and Cosart seem driven to compete, something I find hard to define but don’t see in Feldman and Peacock.

      As for the scrubs, I can see Presley as a 5th outfielder but really don’t see what Grossman offers. He showed a little flash of proficiency late last year but got hurt and has not produced here at all this year. A whole bunch of these guys ought to be DFA’d at the All Star break so that Wates can get a chance and perhaps one of the OKC middle infielders. I hope Santana and Tucker get a cup of coffee in September. I’m praying that Luhnow will jettison Carter but alas he only has value as a DH so Luhnow can only dump him on an AL team whereas Fowler could be shopped to NL clubs as well although I think trading him would be a mistake similar to the Lowrie trade.

      Like

    • BrianT
      June 21, 2014

      Congrats to Jake Buchanan!

      Like

  26. Becky
    June 21, 2014

    DANG…….I would *love* to see Buchanan pitch tomorrow. CSN…….I HATE YOU!
    Look, Villar may have reprieved himself tonight by hitting that HR……..but I would love to strangle that kid sometimes. I’m not going to bet Porter will sit him for a couple of games, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Marwin at short tomorrow.
    Eleven errors by June 20th. is INEXCUSABLE. I can’t remember how Jake came to the Astros…..was it by trade, or draft? Thanks guys!

    Like

    • Dan P
      June 21, 2014

      Buchanan was an 8th round pick of ours in 2010. Kind of interesting that they are choosing him over – say – Tropeano – who has a better ERA and much higher K rate.
      Buchanan has about twice the AAA innings of Tropeano or Folty and has shown superior control with a 4.40 K/BB rate. Of course Rudy Owens has an even better K/BB rate but a crummy ERA.

      Like

      • 1oldpro
        June 21, 2014

        Dan, Peacock was due to start Saturday and has food poisoning. Buchanan was due to start against Reno Saturday night for OKC so he is the guy on schedule. Folty started Friday night and Nitro started Wednesday. Buchanan gets the start because of timing. I think it’s a great chance for him to show some stuff. It is probably a one game thing, or two, if Peacock takes as long to get his strength back as Fowler did

        Liked by 1 person

      • Dan P
        June 21, 2014

        Thanks oldpro – makes sense – right place right time for Buchanan.

        Like

  27. 1oldpro
    June 21, 2014

    The Astros beat David price last night with their regulars plus Guzman. Guzman hitting about 30 points higher than Grossman. Playing your best players somehow works.

    Like

  28. kevin
    June 21, 2014

    I’m looking forward to seeing Buchanan. I have always looked at him as an OK AAA guy.
    Lets see what you got son. I wonder if he can play left. PLEASE .no more Clemens or Guzman, or Grossman, and there has to be someone that can DH. I would take less HR’s for a solid OBP/doubles guy. Some nights all we have Is Altuve, he is hitting like .426 last 12 games.

    Like

    • BrianT
      June 21, 2014

      On the Astros site and via their Facebook feed I see all the ads saying “Vote Altuve to the All-Star Game.”

      I think every night with his bat and feet he is punching his ticket to Minneapolis without our help.

      Like

      • Devin
        June 21, 2014

        I just voted for Jesus Guzman. Come on everyone, let’s stuff the ballot box! OK, I voted for Altuve too!

        Like

      • Dan P
        June 21, 2014

        So, Devin that would be one vote from you and one vote from Guzman’s mom – if she is not much of a fan. 🙂

        Like

    • Devin
      June 21, 2014

      You know, maybe the moves putting Sipp in LF weren’t only a strategy to save him for later lefties in the lineup, but also a msg to Grossman to start hitting or Porter will find himself a new LF…and the bar us set pretty low.

      Like

      • Dan P
        June 21, 2014

        Good one Devin.

        Like

  29. Becky
    June 21, 2014

    Gonzalez in for Villar today………..well played Bo Porter, well played!

    Like

  30. Becky
    June 21, 2014

    Jake Buchanan will be wearing #58 today………..the last Astro to wear that number was………Fernando *ABAD*, Lord help us all!!
    FYI——Max Stassi and Tony D. were BOTH ejected from last nights game!
    LOVE to see some fire in those bellies In OKC! Folty got the win!

    Like

    • Dan P
      June 21, 2014

      Well Becky – Jake Buchanan sounds like he should be a ballplayer – or a detective in Chinatown.
      Hope the #58 does not hold residual badness.

      Like

    • 1oldpro
      June 21, 2014

      Abad got a win last night for the A’s against the Red Sox. Has pitched pretty well this year. Good for him. He was not so good when he pitched for us. But then, who was?

      Like

  31. Astro45
    June 21, 2014

    Interesting note on bringing up 2-3 players from the minors each year. Castro -2010, Altuve – 2011, Keuchel – 2012, Springer – 2014. Maybe I overlooked someone, but most of the current roster came on trades. The minor leagues were a “black hole”. If we were looking for 2-3 each year, we are about 4 years behind schedule. One would hope that 2-3 each year going forward would be reasonable and expected, but we had no other prospects come up (unless you want to throw J.D. in there) Just don’t believe that by 2020, we will see that kind of poor return off the farm.

    Like

  32. Steeeve
    June 22, 2014

    Ya know, when the Astros signed Scott Feldman I asked on this site why the couldn’t have just retained Erik Bedard, who is a cheap Scott Feldman. Erik, pitching for the Rays this year, has a 3-5 record in 12 starts, 1.46 WHIP and 4.33 ERA. He’s making $1,150,000. Scott Feldman has a 3-4 record in 12 starts, 1.35 WHIP and 3.95 ERA. He’s making $12,000,000 this year.

    Lifetime: Bedard 227 starts, 70-81 record, 1.36 WHIP, 3.96 ERA. Feldman 143 starts (and lots of relief appearances), 54-60 record, 1.37 WHIP, 4.58 ERA.

    Seem pretty interchangeable to me. Except for salary.

    Like

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