Astros’ baseball: ’tis a puzzlement


In the great Rodgers and Hammerstein musical “The King and I” – there is a point where the King of Siam (played to perfection by the late Yul Brynner) sings a song called “A Puzzlement”. The song  covers his own inner conflict over bridging from the ancient traditons of Siam to living in the modern world. At one point the lyrics state the following:

“And it puzzle me to learn
That tho’ a man may be in doubt of what he know
Very quickly he will fight
He’ll fight to prove that what he does not know is so”

Yes, it sounds like the basis for many an argument between Bopert and many others on this blog, but in truth it covers the inner conflict we all have when trying to making any logical sense out of a streaky sport that spins from despair to joy and back 162 times a year. So here are some puzzlement points for me this season, based on how I felt coming into the season vs. more recent thoughts. (All stats thru July 9)

  • What I would fight to prove. 2013 All Star Jason Castro is the best catching option for the Astros.
  • Where I get hung up on what I don’t know is so. Carlos Corporan has done a better job as the starting catcher for the Astros. They are 15-15 in games he has started – his BA is better (.259 to .228) his OPS is much better (.750 to .669) – they are throwing out about the same % of runners – and straight out – Corporan seems to be having a lot of fun and shows a lot more emotion and caring than Castro.

 

  • What I would fight to prove. Bo Porter is not ready for prime time – he needs to go.
  • Where I get hung up on what I don’t know is so. He seems to have done a better job of managing this season, which may  be tied to having more experience and may also be tied to having a few better players. If his bullpen was not a bleeding, oozing sore – he might be managing a club right at the .500 mark.
  • What I would fight to prove. Jeff Luhnow is a sharp GM who makes good decisions based on the long term improvement of the whole organization.
  • Where I get hung up on what I don’t know is so. Most of the improvement of the mlb team is based on players brought in by Ed Wade. Dallas Keuchel? 7th round 2009. George Springer? 1st round 2011. Jarred Cosart/ Jonathan Singleton? 2011 trade with Philadelphia for Hunter Pence.                                                                                                                    Most of the problem areas with the mlb team are on Luhnow’s head.  Bullpen? Focusing on this in the off-season has resulted in the worst area on the team and the worst bullpen in baseball.  SS? Crummy. DH? Terrible. LF? Putrid. (Yes, this does not even touch on 1-1 draft choice problems, tandem pitching problems, lowballing draft choices and questionable promotion timing and decisions).
  • What I would fight to prove. John Mallee is not a very good hitting coach.
  • Where I get hung up on what I don’t know is so. Guys who are good hitters like Altuve and Dexter Fowler are good hitters. Guys who are bad hitters like Chris Carter and Jonathan Villar are bad hitters. Should we expect him to make lemonade out of lemon seeds?

Anyways – these are just some areas where pesky facts make me struggle with my personal prejudices. How about you?

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57 comments on “Astros’ baseball: ’tis a puzzlement

  1. DanP, I can comment on the puzzle, but not solve it. (Perhaps not solvable). As to catcher – I would take a 30 yr old Ausmus over either one – yet the stats are close for all 3. Because there are too many non-stats for a catcher. Can he call for a slider in the dirt with a runner on 3rd? And both are going to be expensive in next couple years. But we can’t have Soto and Singleton on the same team. So which FA could we chase? All I can see is the stats for the minors, and still believe that none have proven they are ready for prime time. As to the other two – we will have to wait at least another year or two. Neither deserve praise, nor a firing – YET.

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      • As you pointed out above, Luhnow’s picks are not here yet, if ever. Many (talking about comments on other sites) expect the 1-1 to be playing in MLB like a 1-1 in the NFL. Historically, that happens very seldom in baseball.

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      • Good point,Astro45. My expectations for a # 1 pick are that they are either an advanced talent that could see the big leagues in 1.5 to 2 years if rushed, or a raw talent with some tool off the charts that you will wait out as the others develop slowly. Considering pitchers, we forget that milb is a bigger grind than they have yet experienced, and they may be learning to adjust to hitters for the first time in their lives. Having the stuff is not enough – pitch sequences and NOT making a mistake in certain circumstances is acquired.

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      • Great thoughts Devin. I think the other huge difference is the need for great control in and out of the zone.

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  2. A few years ago leading to our first overall 1-1, I wrote a guest blog for Chip on how the 1-1’s had turned out over the last 20 years at that time had done. Going by memory here – but I think about 4 were superstars, 2 or 3 stars, about 10 below average to above average mlbs and 3 or 4 were busts. And rarely does anyone make it to the bigs in less than 2 to 3 years.
    I think just as critical are how many of the other picks end up good to very good. Getting an Albert Pujols in the 13th round or a Jeff Bagwell in the 4th (OK the Red Sox made a great pick but traded him away) can make all the difference to a franchise just as much as 1-1.
    If Correa and McCullers make it big but Appel does not – the team will be fine.

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    • Ah yes – Yul B. again but from the 10 Commandments.It is likely that the Astros organization has their own 10 commandments that are very different from the original.
      1 – Thou shalt not get promoted early without signing away thy future
      2 – Thou shalt not place false gods before thy Crane
      3 – Thou shalt not throw more than 5 innings nor start every game in thy minor league career
      4 – Thou shalt always finish the season with the worst record in the majors
      5 – Thou shalt always covet thy neighbor’s cable deal
      6 – Thou shalt always interpret thou draft picks MRIs in the worst light
      7 – Thou shalt never improve as a hitter if thy name is Carter or Guzman
      8 – Thou shalt not ever seriously pursue the best free agents
      9 – Thou shalt attempt to lowball your #1-1 draft picks
      10 – Thou shalt never play in the National League again

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  3. Here are some lessons Jeff Luhnow has to learn.
    Just because you were born in Mexico with a silver spoon in your mouth, doesn’t mean you know what it means to be a Mexican. Japhet Amador was already in his major leagues in Mexico City with his family and his fans. You can buy his contract from his owner, but you couldn’t buy his heart when he was happy at home. Luhnow didn’t take into consideration the fact that Amador was going to hate it in Oklahoma City and was fat and happy where he was. Welcome to Bricktown, Japhet, meet your cell….err roommate.
    If you act as if you don’t give a crap about your players, they aren’t going to give a crap about you.
    Just because you have two dozen pitching prospects, doesn’t mean you know how to get them to pitch. It’s similar to a garden. A person who only wants his garden to look good hires someone to plant his flowers. Then he hires someone to take care of them. He doesn’t care about the flowers or the gardener and eventually the gardener won’t care either.. The garden wilts because nobody really cared about them. So he buys some more and starts over. But look at the garden of the person who takes the time to nurture their garden and treats the gardener like family. His garden looks like Eden.
    If you muzzle your employees, they won’t talk to you either, and you will not know why they aren’t producing. They also are eating through a straw with the muzzle on and when they find someplace that will let them take the muzzle off and feed like normal, they are going to go there. Other potential employees are going to walk by and see how unhappy the muzzled employees are and they will never go there.
    Treat your customers like crap and see how successful you will be.
    Picture a third-year CEO, who for the third straight year has seen sales plummet and yet doesn’t fix anything. He tells the boardmembers to trust him because he has a plan and his R&D people are gonna produce something to save the company three years from now. Their competitors are killing it and laughing all the way to the bank , while the CEO’s employees are watching the employees of their competitors take home huge bonuses at Christmas time.
    Late last summer Luhnow gave an interview and was asked to name a couple of players in the system whom he was really impressed with. One of the players he named was Andrew Aplin. Soon after that, Andrew Aplin had his CF position taken away by Luhnow and handed to Delino Deshields Jr. Deshields got the silver spoon handed to him, Aplin got the shaft, and both of them are having down years at AA.
    Your chickens will not lay eggs for you when they find out you are the wolf and if they get a chance to, they are going to fly the coop before they get eaten.
    “Coach, I know it’s late, but I have some discomfort in my knee and I don’t think I should play against the World Champion Boston Red Sox tonight.” Or
    “Coach, give me a knee brace and two extra strength Tylenol a get out of my way, because I’m playing Centerfield tonight against the Boston Red Sox.” I bet I know which way Springer wanted it to go. But it didn’t happen. That was not the same team that I saw pl;aying the Rangers. Somebody screwed it up.

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    • Old pro – your muzzle is definitely off – that is for sure.
      Last year the minors seemed to be almost all positive stories – this year not so much. And since Luhniw has tied his ultimate success to how the minors are doing vs the majors – this us not good news.
      I understand your Springer concern though I would rather have him sit if there is a chance for something to turn into something worse.
      You overall make a good case for concern about Luhnow.

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      • I know what you are saying about Springer, but he was in OKC when he should have been playing against the New York Yankees and he was on the bench when he should have been in CF against the Red Sox.
        Baseball doesn’t show us film of Kirk Gibson sitting in the dugout while his team loses. It shows him barely able to trot around second base pumping his fist and making baseball history.
        Springer got used. If he was hurt, why didn’t we know about it. Because the Astros used him to play chess against the Red Sox, while the Red Sox were ready to kick our butts at baseball. Our team wasn’t ready and time after time they get stomped after a day off.
        If you hire the most brilliant Architect in the world, you are going to get beautiful plans. If you hire the same guy to be your General Contractor and he doesn’t know anything about how to go about getting that building built, you are in deep trouble. And if you want a terrific building built, hire a terrific builder, not a terrific accountant!

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  4. Chip, I need to report a “theft.” It appears that Bopert has stolen the log in for 1OldPro. Could you please check into that.

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  5. Ok, guys, Listen up. Springer”s uncomfortable. He’s out, Hoes, you’re in. The Sox are never gonna see this coming!
    But, coach, I plucked a hair from Altuve’s beard, rammed it under my kneecap and drained the fluid. I wrapped it with tape from your fungo and I’m ready!
    George, have you talked to Folty lately?
    No, Coach.
    Do you want to?
    No.
    Then, shut up. Ok, men, I want all your cellphones in this basket. George, how come you didn’t let our med team work on your knee?
    I was going to, Coach, but they wanted to fix it online.
    Good answer. Now, get your cheerleader gear on and get out there. And remember, guys, what happens in here stays in here.

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  6. The boys won, and I won! Took off for the casino this afternoon, and the score was tied. Just got home, and by golly they pulled it off! Every single time Oberholtzer
    gets a start, Porter says the same thing……”he makes it tough for us to send him down. THEN DON’T SEND HIM DOWN!! Personally, I think he’s a better pitcher than Peacock. Oh well……..who listens to us anyway!

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  7. By the way……….Brady Aiken and Luhnow have to get something done by Tuesday
    or?????? Whatcha think will happen? ectcetera, ectcetera, ectcetera………..

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  8. I won enough that the damned government got it’s share!! I needed to get outta the house, and away from last nights game…….so yeah, I have a few of those little white pieces of paper, to add t o next year’s income tax stuff. I’ve been pretty lucky..
    my husband has not! I think Bray and Luhnow will come to an agreement. He’s a pretty special kid, with an electric arm!

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  9. This morning, chron.com had an article on Jose Altuve setting a MLB record for hits and steals before the all-star break. The column had six lines and 95 pictures that weren’t about Altuve.

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  10. Brad Peacock couldn’t get outta the 1st. inning. He’s a good guy, but wouldn’t even be on another team’s AAA team. I *hope* Luhnow will give Obie another look.
    Man, oh man……could things get any worse for these guys?

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    • Peacock has a 3.89 ERA this season as a starter – that is fine – biggest problem is his control and pitching enough innings per start. He is not Lucas Harrell.

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  11. Did you hear the joke about Andre Johnson, Chris Bosh and Brady Aiken appearing on Good Morrning, Houston and saying “have a nice day”?

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  12. My point exactly……….lack of being able to get out of the 4th.-5th. inning.
    No……..he’s not Lucas Harrell, but he’s danced around big inning, after big inning
    nearly every start so far. Still want Luhnow to give Oberholtzer more than a spot start, then send him down. The kid has proven he can get out’s.

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    • Oberhotzer and Peacock get about the same results two different ways – Peacock is going to walk a lot more guys, Obie is going to give up a lot more hits. Almost the same ERA and WHIP for each this season.

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      • Dan: I’ll take Oberholtzer for a number of reasons. He makes hitters swing the bat. Defenders stay on their toes. One cannot defend a walk and pitchers who are constantly getting into long counts put the defense to sleep. I also don’t care that much for Feldman who works at a glacial pace. Give me a guy who gets the ball and goes to work and throws strike one. Please!

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      • Yeah I like that style better – just pointing out that the results may not be any better – I did like how Obie pitched down the stretch in 2013.

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  13. I’m bouncing back and forth between the Astros and the World Cup final today. Our pitchers today are making the 0-0 tie so far in the WC look like a exciting contest in comparison. Something like 140 pitches through 6 innings and a ton of those are balls. And no hitting today.

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  14. Now that today’s game is mercifully over I wonder what the roster will look like Friday. I hope much different. Time to DFA Guzman, send Peacock, Singleton, Downs and Zeid back to OKC, trade Feldman, OK, its a rant but how can the owner/GM tolerate this kind of effort. I was actually glad that Bo took out Peacock when he did. The guy had no command. He should have stayed in bed.

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    • I know the main reason that Porter went to Bass in the 1st inning was that he had the whole pen available with the All Star break. Of course you are pulling a guy with an ERA as a starter of under 4 to go to a pen with an ERA of well over 5.
      And the pen did not show good control either.
      A stinker heading into the ASG.

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  15. There are losses and then there are humiliations. How badly can one team lose to the other? Look how many different ways Boston scored today:
    Homer
    Double play
    Single to center
    Sacrifice fly
    Infield single
    Sacrifice fly
    Walk
    Triple
    Groundout.
    What a way to to go into the break, under a Boston Boot.
    For the first time, I will say it: Bo Porter’s Houston Astros stunk today and it was on him. His team should have forfeited. Nobody on his team came to play baseball today and he made Brad Mills look like a winner.

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  16. Cliff Saunders had a good piece today, and I’ll ask YOU guys. Did this team mentally check out the last game before the AS break? And if they DID……who do you put this on, the players or Bo Porter? Clearly Peacock was not happy having to come out of the game, but do you keep him in to completely melt down? If we think the guys mentally checked out, how does that effect the young guys? Twelve strike outs, three errors, and *no* runs…………

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    • It’s the same as last Sept when they lost 15 straight. Porter can only do so much,but it is likely he is not effective at keeping the players (all likely making more per game than he) focused and motivated. Ultimately, the players are responsible for a doggard effort.

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  17. Becky, If a person goes to work and messes something up badly, and his boss relieves him of that particular duty but doesn’t tell him to get out or fire him, the employee should wipe his forehead and just be thankful they dodged a bullet because they had messed up and still had a job. Am I correct there?
    But what if the employee mouths off to his boss instead of being grateful for another chance? That would seem to indicate that there were other instances of bad feelings before this incident, or that the employee had already made up his mind he didn’t want to be there anymore and just put it out there.
    I’m saying that if there are public displays of anger, it seems to me that there may be a lot more going on in that locker room. That was a completely dysfunctional unit out there today. and the manager is in charge of that. Oh, by the way, I thought Friday’s outfield was bad, but today’s…..uhhyeah.

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    • I have no problems when a young team goofs up – that is what young guys do sometimes. But when they are mailing it in – that is a problem.

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  18. I sure wish we had audio on Corporan / Porter dust up at Arlington. Wonder if the players don’t respect Porter or find him indifferent to what is important to them. But this current team needs to get a prescription for bi-polar medicine.

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    • I do know this – it is obvious that Corporan is well liked by the other players – is the guy who helps them relax and have fun.so I’m betting I know what side they are on.

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  19. http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2014/Jul/12/brady-aiken-mlb-draft-houston-astros/?#article-copy Very interesting article. But as an old contractor/sub-contractor – your “word” is very important. IF (again IF) the “word” of the Astros before the draft, is no good after the draft, they will have problems in the future. The agents MAY (again MAY) find multiple HS or underclassmen that have no interest in signing, and give fake numbers to the Astros. (Yep, my guy will sign for $1.5 M – and then after the draft tell the Astros, he has decided to return to college thus costing them draft picks. Sort of a reverse Scott Boras situation.) And don’t think the other players are not noticing that the CFer is getting $500K while the 1stB may need to go down to AAA and is earning double that.

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    • Astro45, let me give a different slant than that article does. First of all, the Astros made an offer and Aiken’s camp(his dad, not his agent) leaks the figure and says the deal is done. So the Astros offer is preliminary, pending the physical. Then, they do the physical and somebody(not the Astros) leaks the results of the physical. Then somebody leaks that the Astros have lowered their offer based on their finds.
      Then somebody leaks to this San Diego guy a report from the trainer. Then the reporter goes to a doctor who hasn’t seen Aiken and he reports what that doctor speculates on. Then the reporter trashes the Astros based on everything he’s heard in So Cal and the Astros can’t say one damn word about it because it concerns doctors and patients and there are confidentiality laws involved.
      So what the heck is going on with this agent who is supposed to be a professional, but is letting the Aiken entourage leak all this stuff out. The real amatuers in this deal is not the Astros, but one highschooler whose entire representation acts like a bunch of high school parents.
      If the doctors found something in that elbow that is going to affect Aiken’s long term employment and performance and thus his value, then he is not worth 6.5 million dollars and the Astros should act accordingly.
      Who thinks that the Astros would really risk signing Aiken and Nix by playing games with Aiken’s physical, just to try and save money for Marshall, when Marshall is already in school at LSU and the chances of him even changing his mind are not good. It seems that they may have found something in that elbow and Aiken is trying to figure out if he will ever be getting a big bonus later, especially if he ends up having surgery in college.

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      • Yes it is an entirely speculative article written in Aikens backyard.
        It will be interesting if they take the bucks or go to school and risk never getting a big bonus

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      • I tried to put as many disclaimers as possible in the post. I have no idea if this is a money gambit, or a legit concern. But we have to admit, in the past 6 months, there have been some strange things concerning paying players within the Astros. One does not prove the other, but there better be something wrong from a medical viewpoint if the Astros want to maintain any credibility. And smart money would probably say, NO HS pitcher is worth $ 6-7 Million. But smart money would probably say that Feldman is not worth $10 Million either.

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