In year of uncertainty, we do know a few things about Astros


Back in the Watergate investigation, former Sen. Howard Baker asked the famous question: “What did the president know and when did he know it?” Well, I’m not under investigation and there’s a lot that I don’t know about the Astros, the second half of the season and the future in general.

Can’t tell if you Michael Foltynewicz will pan out. Just don’t know if Mark Appel will be more like Roger Clemens or Roger the Rabbit.  And, frankly, I’ve given up predicting when the Astros will reach .500 again.

But, here are a few things I do know.

Jose Altuve is the real deal.

  • Yeah, yeah, I know. You knew that three years ago, right? Altuve is in a class by himself this year for Houston. Reminds me of 1972, when Steve Carlton finished 27-10, 1.97 on the worst team in the NL (Phillies 59-97). Altuve is 24 and an All Star twice. Craig Biggio wasn’t an All Star until 25. This year, Altuve is on track to break Biggio’s single season hit total (210), not to mention Gerald Young‘s SB mark (69). Who says you can’t be a star on a bad team?

George Springer for center fielder for the next decade.

  • Sorry, Dexter Fowler, but have you heard of Wally Pipp? Really appreciate you, love what you’ve done this year, but there’s this guy who’s destined to play CF in Minute Maid Park for the next decade or so. Starting now. After watching a few games with Springer in center — YES! Actually “watching” the Astros! — it’s clear the rookie is at home there. He’s in his element, he’s comfortable, he’s quite at home. Here’s a quick prediction: If Bo Porter leaves him there after the break, Springer breaks out and gives Jose Abreu a run for his money down the stretch.

Hoping Keuchel/Cosart grow old together.

  • Cosart may have more upside that Keuchel, but the Kid is a lefty. Whether he’s a Mike Hampton or Tom Glavine remains to be seen, but he’s established himself as a top-of-the-rotation guy in 2014. Maybe not ace, but top half. Cosart could become the ace as soon as next year. Together, they are the best tandem the Astros have had in some time. The last time the Astros had two pitchers in double digit wins was 2010. The last time two pitchers won 14 games or more each? 2006. Brad Peacock, Brett Oberholtzer and others may go. Keuchel and Cosart should be in the rotation in 2020.

The Astros need to make a move.

  • Here’s what we know. Jeff Luhnow doesn’t have the best track record with free agent signings. He is a bit better in trades. With the All Star break approaching, it’s a nice time to pull the trigger. Even Jim Crane says the team needs to upgrade its bullpen. The pen has 15 blown saves. Turn around half of those (about a 16-game swing) and the Astros are about .500 on the season. Think about that for a moment! The question is whether to find a trading partner or bite the bullet and promote one of your starters in Oklahoma City to get their feet wet in the MLB bullpen. Either way, there’s no better time than next week.

And, here’s a lightning round of what we know.

  • Altuve is on pace for 222 hits and 72 SBs.
  • Springer is on pace for 33 HRs, 87 RBI.
  • The are streaky: 6 losing streaks of 4+ games.
  • Only one win streak of 4+ games, but 8 2-win “streaks”.
  • Jim Crane is frustrated.
  • If the Astros could play the Rangers for the next three weeks…
  • If Carlos Corporan were playing everyday, he’d project 25/75. Guessing you’d take that?
  • Biggio is 48, Jeff Bagwell is 46. Dan, you’re getting old my friend.
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64 comments on “In year of uncertainty, we do know a few things about Astros

  1. And just think, there were a LOT of fans who nearly gave up on Keuchel last year!
    I get a giddy feeling every time Springer, Singelton, or Hernandez get’s up to bat!
    This team is taking baby steps, but those baby steps are going in the right direction.
    Didn’t it make you *smile* to sweep the Rangers?! Oh how the mighty have fallen!
    I don’t think there was ever any doubt that Altuve was the “real deal”.

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    • Becky, nah, never any doubt he’d be a successful, contributing major leaguer. But he’s going beyond that, threatening to become an elite star for a very long, long time.

      Like

  2. Shoot I’m supposed to say something like I’ve got socks older than Bidge and Bagwell.
    Hey – I have Comcast but that does not even mean I’ve enjoyed watching them in 2011 – 2013. This year they stink some times but I can truly enjoy watching Altuve Springer Hernandez Cosart Keuchel – I don’t have to shake my head the whole game.

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  3. Finally getting to “see” the Astros, we can add we know that this was no fluke of beating the Rangers in every game. There was no “IF the ump called that pitch a strike” or “IF that hit could have fallen” – this week, the Astros had better players having a better game. You can subtract CC double on the chalk, and the Astros still win. And Springer can cover some territory. But he has got to learn to let the LFer and RFer catch the ball if they are standing in foul territory.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Astro45, it’s fun to watch him play CF. Yeah, he’ll learn to share the territory, but the “rule” for the center fielder is “take what you can get”. I’m good with that right now, if for no other reason, because it’s fun to watch him “take what he can get!” If Fowler has that oblique like so many others have had, there’s no reason to rush him back this weekend, with a 4-day break just ahead. Let’s see how Hernandez and Grossman finish out the week. When he DOES come back, maybe Fowler pushes Carter out of the lineup instead of Grossman.

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      • its great fun to watch him play cf and hit. but he needs to dial it back a touch in each area. i think he will do so when he relaxes and matures a bit more.

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  4. Things I know:
    – I am sick of watching the Dodgers on TV. I am openly pulling for SF to win the West and hoping LA is one-and-done
    – Altuve is phenomenal. I don’t know if he can sustain this level, but there should be no one on the planet that questions whether he is a legit starter on a MLB club. Crane should double the salaries in his contract.
    – I ain’t cut out to be no Jesse James.

    Things I don’t know:
    – I keep calling Robbie Grossman ‘Rex’
    – who will Luhnow flip this week? I feel like someone is moved just to show everyone that he and his brain trust are smarter than everyone else. Aside from adding to the bullpen I don’t have any short term wants I am willing to satisfy by moving prospects.
    – Will Aiken get signed? My gut reaction is a bird in the hand with a possible broken wing is better than 1.2 in next years bush. If we tank the rest of the year and had 1.1 and 1.2 I may feel differently.
    – How will the Yankees panic? Is Luhnow smart enough…and does he have enough assets…to capitalize?

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  5. Things we know about the Astros:
    *Keuchel was hurt and it probably cost him a trip to the ASG.
    *Those of us who thought Springer should have been in CF were right. Putting him in RF is like making a greyhound race in bowling alley. They’ll probably put him back in RF
    *Carlos Corporan is becoming more and more a regular catcher and Castro less and less of one.
    *Jonathan Singleton is starting to ease into his place on this team. The addition of Grossman and Hernandez have loosened him up and made him feel more at home. Now if he could feel more comfortable at the plate and in the field. He is wound so tight!
    *My recommendation of acquiring a proven, healthy, major league reliever with some time left on his contract may not have been wrong, if Crane has his way. I think I mentioned trading a High A position prospect and a pitching prospect a couple of weeks ago.
    * I feel better about the Astros facing the Red Sox now than a year ago.
    *Not playing winter ball, has made Altuve a better major league player.
    * Jonathan Villar taught us not rush into a love affair. Robbie, a four hit night is great, but we are looking for a long term relationship in left field. Show the Astros you are here for the long haul.
    *I miss Dexter Fowler’s grin and his bat.
    *Matty D is struggling mightily with putting the barrel on the ball. Come on, Mallee, please find the key!

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    • One thought oldpro. Is it Mallee or what he has to work with, in this case Matty D. Remember, Dominguez was never a hot prospect from the bat angle. He was primarily a glove guy and prospect and the Astros were hoping he could develop. What if Mallee has already found as many keys as possible to improving Matty D? What if we’re seeing the upside? Remember, Dominguez is a .256 career minor league hitter with a little power.

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      • hard to know the answer to that one chip, but i would lean towards it being mallee just because of so many other problems with so many other hitters. an aside, despite his k rate i am not ready to give up on carter. he woke up after getting hit by a pitch, maybe they just need to find a way to get him and keep him fired up. wouldnt solve all his problems but maybe some.

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  6. In other news, Justin Maxwell was DFA’d and cleared waivers. Carlos Rodon has agreed to terms, $700,000 over slot and at $6.45mil was just a half mil under Aiken’s original deal. I’m not sure that makes it easier to sign Aiken.
    Compare the short careers, so far, of Correa, Gregor, Kemp, Reed and Davis to the short careers, so far of Appel, Thurman, Emanual, Aiken and Nix. That is why I suggest that Luhnow has big problems with knowledge of pitching.

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  7. Has anyone noticed, that since Marwin has been at short…….he has made NO errors?? With Hernandez and Gonzalez…….who needs Villar.

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    • We talked about before how Gonzalez is much more sure handed. Villar has all star type range, he just opts to play with a skillet. Villar also has a much better arm, but he needs to zero that rifle, his shot group is all over the place. I prefer Gonzalez at this point, even if Villar has the potential to be better in EVERY facet of the game, defensively, offensively, and baserunning.

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  8. Things we are glad to know about the Astros:

    1. It is July, and for the first time in a long time our ‘Stros are not hopelessly mired in last place.
    2. There are finally some players on the team fans can actually expect to do something spectacular at least half of the times they are called upon.
    3. The ‘Stros have thus far survived some potentially devastating injuries – and still managed to improve noticeably in every area of the game except two [bullpen and offensive Ks].
    4. We finally actually have to worry about getting talent taken from our system in the Rule 5 drafts instead of desperately trying to steal a sleeper from some somebody else’s system.
    5. Jeff Luhnow appears to have at least been spot-on right about one thing – young Domingo Santana, who will one day hopefully be a fixture next to George Springer in the Astros outfield, really was not anywhere close to ready for prime-time in mid-season 2014.

    Things we still wish we knew about the Astros:

    1. Is Mr. McHugh McDone?
    2. Is that infectious, exciting young I-can-do-it-all fellow his friends call Kike for real?
    3. Will Jesse Crain or Matt Albers ever get well and back in the game?
    4. Will Carlos Correa still be able to become everything we believe him to be?
    5. Will the ‘Stros ever have a DH with even a semi-acceptable major league batting average, OBP, and K-per-AB rate?
    6. Will Brady Aiken be pitching for us or UCLA – or at all – next year?

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    • Mr. Bill, what devastating injuries have we survived? We knew about Crain before the season started and Albers was fat. And really, the pen has not survived. Luhnow took a couple of significant, cheap risks when trying and failing to fix our biggest problem. Well, the pen is still the biggest problem.

      If Luhnow was spot on right about Springer, what was he doing here? Unless Crane insisted he be brought up, the terribly failed Santana experiment is all on Luhnow. He’s the GM.

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      • Sorry to confuse, Santana, not Springer. He’s the guy that should have been brought up last year. That’s on Luhnow too. Fair to say I’m not a big fan of our GM at this point in time. His free pass should be over.

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      • he was here because of injury. and a chance to see where he was for a short time vs major league pitching. wouldnt have been up without fowler being out. now he can work on his so rate in AAA

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      • Daveb, the injuries I was thinking about were those that have so far turned out to be short-term and minor – injuries that have taken important pieces of our team like Fowler, Feldman, Altuve, Keuchel, Fields, Springer, Castro, and McHugh out of a series of games – as well as the injury to Matt Albers. The point was not that these injuries WERE devastating, but that they were POTENTIALLY devastating. Last year we would have been totally lost if any starter went down for even a game. Of course, quite frankly last year we were pretty much lost even if the starters were healthy. That is the point though. This year is a significant improvement in that area, even if it is nowhere near the ultimate turnaround we all have hopes of seeing.

        As for the Santana call up, there was no ‘terrible failure’, there was just an opportunity to surprise and impress provided, a cup of coffee spilled, and a lesson about how tough it is for a kid to hit major league pitching learned. We had an injury and a roster space, and the fans all wanted to see him, so the young man was given a chance few ever get. Kike came up at the same time and thrived, but Domingo looked like a deer in the headlights. Fortunately, the trauma was short-lived and now a fine young man and fascinating prospect is back where he belongs, getting ready for the ultimate opportunity every kid that ever put on a glove in Springtime dreams about.

        Liked by 1 person

  9. Awesome post and reply’s . I like Fowlers up attitude, but man he has always been fragile.I love Springer in Center, but I’m not sure we will be better with Fowler gone this year, he is a proven Major leaguer, something we don’t have in anyone else here or in OKC. Sweeping the Rangers at home In Southern Oklahoma , Priceless

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      • Kevin, if Kemp ended up as another Altuve, it would be a great problem to have. For now, he’ll have the chance to see if he can post Lancaster type numbers for the rest of the year in CC, and then in 2015, OKC.

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      • I don’t think Luhnow has to figure out what to do with Kemp. If Kemp keeps going like this he will be in Lf or DH by 2016. A .300 hitter with baserunning skills is going to fit very nicely somewhere in that lineup. Picture this by July of 2016:
        1. Altuve 2B righty
        2. Kemp DH Lefty
        3 Correa SS righty
        4 Springer CF righty
        5 Singleton 1B lefty
        6.Ruiz 3B righty
        7.Preston Tucker LF lefty
        8 Domingo Santana RF righty
        9. Tyler Heineman C Switch

        Your bench has Hernandez, DDJ, Duffy and Perez
        You have Traded Castro, Corp, Aplin, Grossman, Stassi, Gonzalez, Torreyes for pitching. Also Villar
        You have Teoscar, Vasquez, Reed, Davis, Gregor, Mayfield and Garcia at AAA
        And you have pitching everywhere.

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      • Terrific Get, Kevin, and that’s even better. Four lefties, four righties and a switch. What’s your lineup for July 2016?

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  10. I agree with keeping Springer in CF because he can play it and we can seek better power bats for LF and RF. It’s a luxury. I seriously doubt whether he is in CF or RF will have any impact whatsoever on his end offensive numbers, neither one is like the daily prep grind of SS or C.

    Keuchel has completely abandoned his curveball, and that appears to be a good thing. It was a pitch where his command was suspect, which happens to leftys sometimes because it has SO much movement they have problems spotting it within a quarter size of where they want it. He is now walking way less people and giving up way fewer homeruns. The command on fastball is better also – he is striking out less people but spotting it better, giving his defense better opportunities. Just look at the improvement in BABIP against. I am not convinced that he is a future perennial all star, but I think he can be a part of a contending staff and could be a double digit winner annually. My favorite part about him is he doesn’t appear to be injury prone. It’s a luxury to have a guy that can go out and make 30+ starts, get you 190+ innings, and you can rely on that. Still, I would be suprised if he finishes his career anything north of 15 games over .500.

    I love Jose, but I look forward to a guy that is going hit for a high average and steal a lot of bases be a complimentary piece and not the team “superstar.” He still doesn’t walk alot so his OBP will never stretch out from the average, he is still limited somewhat defensively. We really need in the next 150 or so games to see Singleton and Springer reach their full potentials and take on the mantle, and see Altuve’s future double play partner still at SS, still hitting well and making his debut.

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    • “I seriously doubt whether he is in CF or RF will have any impact whatsoever on his end offensive numbers, neither one is like the daily prep grind of SS or C.” — Steven.

      —————————————————————————————————–

      Disagree Steven. The ball comes off the bat differently. If his mind is on playing, learning the RF position and he spends some time on that in frustration and concentration, it make a huge difference. HUGE!

      Consider: In 275 minor league games in CF (his natural position), he made 3 errors. 3! In his first 74 games in RF in Houston, 7 errors. Your defense, or lack thereof, plays into your offense, absolutely.

      Liked by 1 person

      • We’ll agree to disagree. I played for a independent league team for 3 years – I was a “utility” OF’er, I played all 3 regularly, and yes, defensively they are much different, offensively though it had little impact on what I did at the plate – which wasn’t much to begin with, but hey, it was still not much to begin with regardless of which I was playing that day. I can buy some into the confidence part, but in end, if you are destined to hit .250, after 500 plate appearances, you will hit .250. Likewise for .320.

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      • But Steven, you said you played all three positions regularly. Springer hasn’t. He’s played CF. That’s it. College, all through minors for 2.5 yrs. only CF. He is a Center Fielder. Do you know what happened when they stuck him in RF. He looked like someone who had never played RF.
        Now he is in CF and he looks like he was born there. You may have been a great utility outfielder and I commend you for that, but anybody can look at George in the outfield and easily see where he belongs. In CF he is ” The Natural”.

        Liked by 1 person

    • MLB Trade Rumors reports that Bopert was traded to the Rangers last night and sent to immediately to their promotional dept. to design Josh Hamilton Bobblebutt Dolls and to teach Positive Thinking Techniques to empty seats

      Liked by 1 person

    • I’m here. And yes, the Rangers will finish higher than the Stros this year, and certainly in the years to come. Yes, their fanbase is still healthy, and our is not. And yes, their fans can see their games on TV.

      My dog is healthy too.

      Thanks for the concern.

      Like

      • Oh, thank goodness, you’re back! I was watching the Rangers get pounded by the Angels at home and Andrus dropped a foul popup behind third. The same batter doubled on the next pitch and now two more runs are in. Hearing your predictions made me feel a lot better about the Astros possibly finishing ahead of the Rangers. Say hello to Carlos Pena for me.

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      • Bo, much as you rag on the Astros…what does it say about the Rangers that they have Carlos Pena AFTER he proved to be too lousy for the Astros?

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      • “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it” – E B. Hall.
        Bopert I find your comments enjoyable – but at times without reason. In fact, I am the only one on this blog that is correct 100% of the time.

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  11. 1Oldpro, if that’s the deal Luhnow cut, our organization has finally made out like a bandit! I would have been happy to trade Bopert to our dear friends the Rangers for a half-empty glass of Old Milwaukee Light.

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  12. Bopert……..you want to wager a bet on who get’s fired first, Bo Porter or Ron Washington?? My money is on Washington, just because the front office wants to make a “statement”. Any other takers?!!

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      • The Rangers TV crew is the worst. Agreed indeed. While we’re at it, the AL just plain sucks. And this is not miserable bitter guy coming at you. I just feel it’s my public service to warn all you koolaid drinkers (suckers) that the punch bowl has been poisoned. Be warned!

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      • I find Busby the “King of Mute” – but TAG is decent in color. Well, except when he tells a story and can not remember the name of who he is talking about. But Busby needs to be on radio. He NEVER shuts up.

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  13. Tough news for Tanaka today, he is probably headed for Tommy John surgery.
    Which makes me think he threw waaay too many innings in Japan, before he signed with the Yankees. That brings the total to 14 pitchers who have gone down since the beginning of ST. Yeah…….the rangers are getting hammered 15-4.
    Luhnow traded Bobby Doran to the White Sox, for a 21yr. old short stop, the kid will report to Grennville. That makes three pitchers Luhnow has traded so far.

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    • Time to float Feldman to NYY and see if they’ll bite.

      I’d like to see the lifting and throwing routines of players suffering torn elbow ligaments this year. I posted some #s awhile back. The rate of injuries exploded during the two periods of PED ramp up and dramatically fell off when drug testing was introduced in between. I’m not saying a high % of those injured were using banned substances, but rather I think the emphasis on weight lifting made a number more susceptible.

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      • Devin, it is a good time to move Feldman. I doubt we’d get any ready bullpen help for him, because all pitching is scarce, but I’d like to see what Tropeano can do at this point.

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  14. Wednesday night Lancaster was down 8-0 early and won the game by four.
    Last night Appel had his team in a 7-0 hole after 4.1 innings. He gave up 13 hits in that time. Lancaster came back and won 9-8, despite Inland Empire having 18 hits.

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  15. I know some people on Twitter are saying the wind was blowing out 25 MPH, but that did not seem to affect the SP for Inland Empire. I think there is some reason to be concerned with Appel’s performance this year. He has had plenty of time to get into pitching shape by now.

    Also, I would love to see Nitro or Folty brought up if we traded Feldman (I think Nitro deserves the promotion first), but I am concerned we would just see another retread.

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  16. It’s probably time for me to eat crow on my Conrad Gregor predictions. He continues to rake and hit his 9th HR in 145 AB for Lancaster last night. He only had 1 at Quad Cities this year and may be getting a strong benefit of the California league jet streams, but he is looking more and more like a hitter we want in our starting lineup. Add in strong starts by Fisher, Reed, and Davis and I’m pretty excited about the bats Luhnow and team drafted. This, of course, ignores Tony Kemp who I am equally, if not more, excited to see next spring training. Now, if we can just get those pitchers back on track…

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    • I think your concerns about Gregor’s power are legit. 7 of his 9 HRs for Lancaster came at home. He has shown little power at QC or on the road in California. His doubles and BA appear legit but we won’t know him until we see him in AA. He plays a power position so his HRs matter more than Kemp’s. He may be like MP Cokinos, who has struggled since leaving Lancaster.

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    • As Steve would preach, and I agree, Lancaster tends to make guys look better than they are. I’m still pretty excited about Gregor, because he had a .407 OBP at QC before making the jump. But his numbers are unsustainable, even at Lancaster. His 1 early season homer came in 44 games at low A, and now 9 in 36 games at A+.

      And let’s see what Kemp does in CC over the rest of the season. He hit a pretty soft .273 last year, before lighting it up at Lancaster this year.

      oldpro, any results on pierogi consumption last night?

      One more thing. I know I’m not real hip and don’t twitter, but do people really call Nick Tropeano Nitro”? I love his 0.95 WHIP and his 87 innings with only 61 hits and his 22/81 BB/K ratio, but I’m not big on monikers for guys from the minors before they’ve actually accomplished anything at the ML level. I think it’s refreshing that George Springer’s name is still George Springer.

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      • Hello, Dave.( That is typed in my best 2001: A Space Odyssey voice)
        Tropeano is Nitro. It’s so easy to type, not offensive and is a distinguishing nickname. It’s is just established off his name, similar to Folty and Wojo. I don’t think it is a commentary on his demeanor or his pitching.
        By the way, I’m worried about Folty. Right now, I think he is not in a happy place. I sincerely hope he can gut out the rest of this year without losing it or getting hurt.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Dave, I am still trying to figure out why someone would want to eat a small boat used on de bayou. We got tags to fill!

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      • Foltynewicz can’t seem to find the plate on a regular enough basis. That seems to be main issue. But I’ve got the same impression. Not a happy guy right now. Bored? Not sure how you fix that without a change of scenery. Maybe he should be brought up to work out of the pen to see what happens. Chip might go for that.

        Like

  17. If the Rangers fire Washington, maybe they can resurrect Eddie Stanky. He never lost a game when he was their manager in the past.

    Like

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