Believe it or not, they’re actually playing baseball. Yes, the Astros salvaged a win Sunday in the three-game series with the White Sox. Missing three starters, the Astros pounded out 17 hits in the 11-7 win after two one-run losses to start the second half.
Unfortunately — or maybe fortunately for Bo Porter — the conversation has been focused mostly on off-field activities. “Another black eye,” reads one headline. “Major perception problem,” blares another.
Winning on the field might deflect some of the conversation and criticism, but that doesn’t appear imminent. As a result, the growing list of black eyes will continue to focus the spotlight on Houston in a way that Jim Crane never wanted.
But, as the draft news continues to drip, drip, drip, here are some thoughts on the on-field product as the trade deadline approaches.
- How much longer does Jon Singleton get in Houston? He has 27 hits, 22 RBI and 62Ks to go along with a .182/.269/.345 slash in 167 PAs. He would project to 251 Ks over a 162-game schedule. Not to mention seven errors in 41 games. Better question may be: Would better option is there?
- Porter pushed his luck Sunday by writing in Kike Hernandez in center field. Why? He’s played there all of two — count ’em TWO! — games in his pro career. Meanwhile, Robbie Grossman has 362, including 30 at the major league level. And, L.J. Hoes has more games in RF than LF in the majors. But Porter puts Hoes in LF, Hernandez in CF and Grossman in RF. Go figure.
- Here’s hoping Luhnow doesn’t do something desperate at the trade deadline in an effort to try to make up for the leaks, the draft and the unrest in the Middle East, which is probably his fault. It would be the icing on the cake if he attempts to pull off a blockbuster that backfires.
- Part of the problem with the Astros’ organization is that virtually everyone in a key position is a rookie. Crane. Luhnow. Porter. Director of Scouting Mike Elias. Reid Ryan. Asst. GM David Stearns. Even Dave Trembley is bench coach for the first time in his 30 years in baseball. In other words, first timers in key positions serving as decision makers in organization-changing situations. When you go to the Astros’ front office directory, few names are recognizable, especially those making choices.
- The failed four-game tenure of Domingo Santana and Singleton’s 41 games have slowed the chant from fans begging to see the prospects in Houston. Still, another roster shuffle is likely in the coming days and weeks. But it could be September before Michael Fotynewicz, Nick Tropeano or others make their way to Houston. In fact, it’s more likely that OKC will find reinforcements from Corpus Christi before Houston gets significant help from OKC.
Only a month ago, the target was on Porter’s back. Now, the manager with a 92-169 record is an afterthought in most articles and conversations. Frankly, the organization is in uncharted territory. The last turn down that gravel road may lead the Astros to the Promised Land or another night with the frogs.