Free Blog Weekend: ROY, Ed, trades and stuff


The Astros will reach the halfway point of the 2014 season with Friday’s game against Detroit. While the team has taken a step back in June after a couple steps forward in May, Houston is now headed toward a 69-win season at its current pace.

Not exactly a winning season, not exactly the playoffs.  Still, a 69-93 finish would represent an 18-game improvement and that should be a good stepping stone to 2015.

AL Rookie of the Year.

  • George Springer has joined the race and it’s now a two-man contest. Jose Abreu, the guy the Astros didn’t sign earlier this year, is still in control, but Springer is moving into range to challenge. At this point, Springer is on pace for a 30 HR, 80 RBI season, not bad for a guy who spent the first three weeks in the minors. One of the keys to the race for Springer may be how well Jon Singleton, Matt Dominguez or others around him hit the rest of the way.

Send that man a Christmas card!

  • Ed Wade should get a medal. Or two. Or at least a Christmas card. If the Astros continue to improve and, indeed, come anywhere close to Sports Illustrated’s prediction in 2017, many of the key players will have joined the Astros during the Wade administration. George Springer, Singleton, Jarred Cosart, Jason Castro, Jose Altuve and a few others all pre-date the current Jim Crane era. Of course, some of those could be elsewhere or non-performing in a couple of years. But remember, it was Wade who put together the Phillies’ championship teams last decade. He was fired three years before Philly hit it big. Can lightning strike twice? Is Wade that good?

See ya Chris, but “no!” to Chad!

  • ESPN’s Jim Bowden says there’s a 60 percent chance that Chris Carter will be traded before the deadline. Really? If Jeff Luhnow can get something decent in return, pull that trigger in June. With Jose Veras back in the fold, it could mean that Chad Qualls is expendable. As well as Qualls has pitched in his age 35 year, the Astros could sell high or at least package him with another prospect for a bigger return. Would hate to see Qualls packing, but it could also open the door in the second half for one of the young guns at Oklahoma City.

Where are they now?

  • Former GM Tim Pupura. Senior Director of Player Development, Texas Rangers.
  • Former GM Ed Wade.  Special consultant, Philadelphia Phillies.
  • Former GM Gerry Hunsicker. Special advisor to the GM, Los Angeles Dodgers.
  • Former Astros’ coach Dave Clark. Third base coach, Detroit Tigers.
  • Former Astros’ broadcaster Dave Raymond. Studio host, MLB.com.
  • Rick Ankiel. Lives in Jupiter, Florida, with his family looking for a job in baseball.
  • Former manager Phil Garner. Special assistant, Oakland As.
  • 2001 opening day starter Scott Elarton. Pitching coach, GCL Pirates (Pittsburgh).
  • Former #1 pick Floyd Bannister. Runs his son’s photography business in Phoenix.

 

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53 comments on “Free Blog Weekend: ROY, Ed, trades and stuff

  1. Masahiro Tanaka is 11-2 with 2.11 ERA, 0.956 WHIP, and 119 Is in 106.2 IP. The only thing standing in the way of a clean sweep for ROY for him is Abreu’s 23 HR and 152 OPS+.

    Given Luhnow moved Chris Johnson I suppose getting something in return for Carter is possible. It will be interesting to see which teams think they can do a better job with him than the Astros did.

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      • No, I think the suspect NYY infield defense and general fatigue will get him in July and August.

        You didn’t ask, but I wish we had seen Springer on opening day. No Astros rookie has hit more HR before the AS break.

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  2. Abreu is hitting 40 points higher and has way less K’s in more ABs than Springer. Right now, it’s not even a contest. Let’s also remember that the COF position is valued the same as 1B, so George is not in the premium CF position he was always projected into. Tanaka and Abreu are way out in front, not even considering the cities they play in.

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  3. I had Dream last night that Domingo drove in a run an The Astros won. I’m a Thinking Abreu looking strong. With you Astro 45, Pupura still in Baseball wow!
    Now lets take 2 from the Tigers.

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  4. I think Tanaka of the Yanks (spit!) is way out front. His WAR is more than double the other two. He is striking out more than 10 / 9 IP and his control is great – he is striking out 7 Ks per every walk – which is an insane number.
    – Wade did his best work when he was restocking – finally. He made some good trades – even before the rebuilding. He made God awful FA signings, which don’t matter now.
    – I don’t think they will be bringing up young guns for the pen – but if Albers and/ or Crain return and show they are well – somebody will get traded. But that is an if that is looking worse by the week.
    – Thanks for the trip down memory lane – fun to hear what everyone is doing.

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  5. In the where are they now category – I find it interesting that only one former Astros manager is a current MLB manager … Terry Collins. Guys like Dierker, Cooper, Garner, Lanier and others never got a second shot.

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  6. I was checking out Cosart’s stat page, actually looking for his exact age, and discovered that his grandfather, Ed Donnelly, pitched in 9 games for the Cubs in 1959 and then for the Houston Buffs in ’60 and ’61. Donnelly passed away on Christmas Day, 1992 in Houston at the age of 60. I thought that was interesting.

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  7. I guess i don’t get it. Hoes is hitting well in OKC, He get’s called up and one game later, Guzman is in left. Can we please just go with 1 dude for a while like Hoes, give him a real shot and once in a while sprinkle in Presley Just some Tidbits, OKC
    Folty 3rd straight mediocre start Ugh, Alex White seems to be going backwards, and I know its early, he needs to make adjustments but, Tucker is 8-45.

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    • Kevin, I think you have hit on a good point about OKC. Tucker has hit a wall, but he hit a wall in CC when he first came up. He has a lot of maturing to do as a hitter against major league talented pitching. I think he can do it but he is one of the guys that I have looked to for the year 2016 along with Santana, Folty, Torreyes from that team. Somewhere along the way you have to give players in their early twenties time to catch up to pitchers in their late 20’s in the majors. If you don’t give them time they may end up looking like Grossman does at his young age. Is there any doubt Grossman has been rushed? Krauss? Martinez? Those guys looked lost in their early twenties.
      Don’t Keuchel and McHugh show that it just takes a lot of time for young players to get it. I wonder how guys like Springer and Singleton are going to look against these two Detroit pitchers who really have good stuff and know how to use it.
      The Top prospect in the Mariners organization owned the OKC team the other night. The Redhawks did nothing against Walker, and that tells all of us that they need to learn more about playing against the type of players they are going to face everyday in the AL. And they need to do it in AAA! There will come a day when our hitting prospects can hold their own against a pitcher like Walker. That is when they are ready.
      We just can’t call up young prospects before they are ready. It won’t work.

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      • Maybe a little strong on hyperbole, but that’s like saying our major league hitters need to show they can hold their own against Kershaw.

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      • I would expect that by 2017 they better be able to hold their own against Kershaw, or they won’t win the 2017 Sports Illustrated World Series!

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  8. I think I may have figured out the Austin Wates situation. Wates is a 25 yo OF with no power and does not deliver in the clutch. He hits well below his BA w/RISP and therefore doesn’t drive in runs. Torreyes is a smaller, much younger SS who has similar ABs to Wates, has 2 HRs compared to 1 hr for Wates, has just as many doubles, but has 24 rbis compared to Wates’ 10 rbis.
    Torreyes, four years younger and facing the exact same pitchers, hits .365 in the clutch, produces runs and Wates does not. Wates fangraphs projections are on the negative side offensively and defensively and they project his strikeout rate to balloon in the majors. The Astros may have similar projections for him.

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  9. oldpro, speaking of fangraphs, I was checking out Enrique Hernandez on that site the other day and the projections for young Enrique over the next five years are that he’ll be a total non factor.

    So how does a 22 year old kid playing everyday in AAA ball come up with his stats? .331/.375/.488/.863. Those are pretty solid numbers. Looking a bit further, he’s been flat out bad with RISP, but I will continue to watch the guy.

    Seems he also does not have a place to play, as he’s been at 2B 26 times, SS 10 times, 3B 14 times and OF 13 times. And he’s got three OF assists in those 13 games. So I assume his arm is at least serviceable. One thing for certain. He’s keeping Joe Sclafani from getting any at bats.

    Anyway, so maybe this Hernandez kid becomes a bit more attractive than Wates, if he keeps hitting and Wates keeps doing what he’s doing now. Can he play left? I don’t know, but he’s got to be a pretty good athlete if he’s also played all around the infield, center and right. Maybe he becomes a better version of Marwin Gonzalez at some point.

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  10. It’s going to be interesting with Hernandez. Those projections are done at the beginning of the year and based on his past production. I wonder how a great year at AAA would change new projections come 2015.
    Do geeks sitting alone in a cubicle say “oops, I didn’t see that coming” just like us regular fans do.

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    • Well, it took awhile for any of the geeks to catch on to what Altuve was doing in the minors. Even today at fangraphs, Altuve is back to hitting a soft .280 with a .320 OBP and a poor BB/K rate over the next five years. And nobody, anywhere, including the experts, except for a couple of lone overzealous Astro fans here saw a solid future for the guy as recently as three years ago. Those computer programs don’t always get it right.

      Point is, as our old friend Joaquin Andujar summed it up in one word, “you never know”.

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      • I can understand finding a few anecdotal cases of the stat geeks being wrong; but I would argue they swing and miss far less than traditional scouts. I do think they haven’t historically been in favor of giving positive projections for low walk rate players; but I think there has been some turnaround in that with the evaluation of contact rates and tracking down to locations and such.

        Baseball long term still comes down to the ability to tell a ball from a strike early enough often enough to have a chance to do something with it – and then the physical skill to be able to do something with it often enough to end up with positive stats. One can argue the first part is more important as the second part is more prone to causing slumps with injury or the wear and tear of playing hours a day, 5-6 days a week, for months on end.

        Altuve was probably a nightmare for a professional projector like James; here you have a guy who has great contact rates but struggles at not chasing pitches, difficult to strike out but likewise difficult to walk; and physically he may be pretty strong for his height, but his height does interfere with projectable bat speed. I think its safe to say he has answered most of those questions and proven some of those projectors wrong.

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  11. No doubt Tanaka and Abreu are the ROY front runners but neither one came to MLB in the traditional way and are really first year free agents. If only rookies who came up through the minors in the traditional way were to be considered Springer would be at the head of the class.

    I wonder if Cosart could sneak into the ASG mix. He has been the slump stopper and could have 10 or more wins by selection time to go along with a pretty good ERA. If one could eliminate his April 18 meltdown against the A’s we would have three starters in our rotation with ERA less than 3. Can any other team boast that kind of depth?

    Oldpro, I really see your point regarding Wates. I would be happy to wait for Santana and hope he gets a cup of coffee this year. Let’s let Hoes have the ABs for the next several weeks. I saw his first game and he made some nice plays in the field and had good AB’s despite no results.

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    • Doc, both Keuchel and McHugh still have significantly better stats than Cosart in ERA, WHIP, BA against and BB/K. But I sure like Cosart and think he’s only going to get better and better. He really has great composure on the mound and when he finally figures out a strikeout pitch, he’s going to be very tough.

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  12. i think it would be interesting to list ed wade’s trades and fa signings and luhnow’s trades and fa signings for comparison. from what i remember they both are pretty good traders but not so good in fa signings.

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      • Yes, but we faced Verlander and we won in grand fashion in front of a home crowd. I’m Happy.
        Domingo Santana hit a 3 run walkoff homer tonight as OKC overcame a 3 run first inning triple by Paredes and won 8-5.
        Mark Appel won his first game of the year tonight and went five innings giving up 5 hits and 3 runs. The most encouraging thing was he finished up with two very good innings and got a 9 to 1 GO/AO for the night and got four outs in one inning when he struck somebody out on a wild pitch. That was something he did a ton of in college when he could fool a batter on a breaking ball in the dirt. I think his strength is coming back.

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  13. Villar’s HUGE error cost the bullpen BIG time. Now…….your starters are going to be put in a difficult position, no one left out of the pen to help bail you out if you get in a bind. This kid has gotten on my last damn nerve, and I’m not going to apologize for using a cuss word, it’s just how I feel. This kid would NOT be on any other team in MLB.

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    • I think he has potential,. but we’re no longer in the position of playing for #1 picks…we can’t simply afford to wait any longer. Bring him back up in September, but stop the bleeding. Waive Williams and bring up Petit as a stopgap splitting time with Marwin. Next offseason…get a better SS. And a DH

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  14. Villar started a stunning double play earlier in the game that most ML shortstops would not have pulled off. He saved at least one run and maybe a big inning. Yeah, he short armed that throw in the 8th, but the initial error of the inning was just as damaging.

    Villar is doing far more good than bad defensively. That’s why he still has the job, even with his anemic performance at the plate.

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    • It is an interesting point daveb. Villar makes more errors than we would like, but he has one of the best rates of total chances per game in the AL – he gets to almost 4.5 balls per game – of course he is helped up by the Astros pitcher’s healthy ground ball ratio – but still. He gets to around one more ball per game than a lot of SS like Hardy or Jeter. Villar has played 10 more innings and has been in 2 more ball games than Jeter – but he has gotten to 80 more balls. That is a huge difference.

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      • Dan, I think he ranks 5th in MLB in range factor, and is tied for 11th in defensive WAR, but regardless of the stats, some people simply can’t see beyond that 12 error stat.

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  15. Becky – I will not argue, but I will explain.

    Let’s compare Villar in the field to Jed Lowrie, who plays for a team whose pitchers also produce a lot of ground balls.
    Lowrie has played SS in about 610 innings about 40 more than Villar
    But …he has gotten to 50 less balls than Villar (249 vs. 299)
    And … he has only had 4 less errors than Villar (8 vs. 12)

    So doing some simplistic math here – if Villar played as many innings as Lowrie – he would have 13 errors or 5 more than Lowrie, but he would be expected to have gotten to about 319 balls or 70 more than Lowrie. So even with 5 more errors on Villar’s side – he would have prevented about 65 more hits than Lowrie – or about 1 per game played. That is a big difference on the defensive side.

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      • And hitting with power and over .300 in the highest minor league where he is 5.7 years younger than the average age of the league. I am so hoping the Astros can play better in LF so that he can continue to work on his strikeouts, as he has 94 for the year so far. Santana continues to surprise at his age, but he has almost five full years in the minors so that is why he is blossoming so young.

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    • I’m in a restaurant bar waiting to be seated as Qualls is finishing the 8th and they say Williams is warming up and I’m thinking “oh well – we are going to lose this game” and an hour later I found out I was right.

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  16. There is plenty of blame to go around. 15 strikeouts. Williams is not alone tonight in the category of players who didn’t do their jobs. The designated hitter didn’t hit. We sure had a chance to beat that pitcher.

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    • Unfortunately probably not. I think overall there is a lack of maturity in this lineup that strikes almost every person except Altuve and Fowler. Springer is too good an athlete to strike out over 30% of his at bats but apparently lacks the personal discipline to ease off a touch and put the ball in play. The siren song of the “Springer Dinger” is just too strong. If Carter is not embarrassed enough by his performance to make fundamental changes then he ought to go. Castro had a great moment last night but on the whole he has been woeful at the plate and a non-contributor. I place a lot of the blame on the hitting coaching staff for not insisting on better approaches. Castro got bailed out by Presley in the first inning but he MUST put the ball in play with runners on second and third and one out. Real run producers like Cabrera and V Martinez and Kinsler make contact when it counts. I bet JD Martinez has learned a lot in his limited exposure to competent hitters.
      If you look at all of the guys who have come up who were signed by the Wade staff they are high power/high strikeout types with the exception of Altuve. I’m looking forward to the day when the Luhnow types who are low K albeit less power arrive on the scene. Unfortunately only Tucker is remotely close. We are probably going to be stuck with this ineptness through next season at the very best.

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