Astros 2014: 100 Games Into The Season


With 62 games to go, here’s a look at the Houston Astros. This isn’t look at the minor leagues (though that’s played a part). This isn’t an indictment of Jeff Luhnow (though there’s some of that here as well).

Nope, we’re looking at the team as it stands. And 100 games in, the feeling is … well, better than the last few year.

The Record
Really, it begins and ends here. The team BABIP with runners in scoring position or Robbie Grossman‘s fielding percentage are all nice to know. But we play the games to win. Right now, Houston is 42-58. If we keep winning at that pace (.420), we’ll get to 68 wins.

But Houston hasn’t played at a .420 clip for the bulk of the season. After a 9-19 April, Houston is 33-39. If the Astros keep winning at that clip, they’ll finish the season with about 71 wins. (That’s my over-under right now). That would be a 20-win improvement over 2013. Looking back to the pre-season, my guess is most of us would have taken that.

On The Mound For Your Houston Astros …
So, how did Houston get to this lofty perch? Well, you can say what you like about the clubhouse presence of Jesus Guzman, but it’s really all about the starting pitchers.

Houston has used nine starters this season (I know, I thought it would be more, too!), and as a group they’ve posted a 4.09 ERA (22nd) and a 1.37 WHIP (25th). But when you take out the five combined starts by Rudy Owens, Lucas Harrell and Jake Buchanan, the Astros starters have a combined ERA of 3.88. That’ll win you some games.

Speaking of “Just Win, Baby,” two of Houston’s starter (Dallas Keuchel and Jarred Cosart) have identical 9-6 winning records. And of our top six starters, the highest ERA belongs to Brett Oberholtzer at 4.32. Not too shabby.

The Little Guy
We are witnessing Astros history, and its name is Jose Altuve.

Altuve currently leads the majors with 138 hits. He’s on pace for 223 hits, which would be a franchise record.

He leads the American League in hitting with a .338 batting average. If that stands up at the end of the year, he’ll be Houston’s first ever league batting title winner.

First. Ever. Let that sink in for a minute as you reflect back on Jose Cruz, Craig Biggio, Jeff Bagwell, Lance Berkman and others.

Oh, he also is running away with the AL stolen base crown. He could stop stealing now and probably win that. He’s got the second-most doubles in the AL after Miguel Cabrera.

Needless to say, he leads the Astros in hits, batting average, doubles and steals. He’s also tops in runs scored. His .818 OPS leads the team.

If It Wasn’t For Ouchies …
Somewhere Rangers fans are turning in their graves (because we’ve buried them!) as I write this, but if it wasn’t for injuries, this team would be so much better.

How much? Well, let’s look at our best OPS lineup.
2B Jose Altuve, .818
CF Dexter Fowler, .774
RF George Springer, .804
1B Chris Carter, .759
3B Matt Dominguez, .658
DH Jason Castro, .663
LF Enrique Hernandez, .793
C Carlos Corporan, .728
SS Marwin Gonzalez, .740

Once we get Fowler and Springer back in the lineup, I see no reason to not pencil this in every day. Maybe a little Alex Presley (.650) or Robbie Grossman (.628). (Jonathan Singleton is the last piece of the puzzle with a .614 OPS)

This lineup along with our starting staff is a formidable team. Well, until …

And Now For The REALLY Bad News

Our bullpen is awful. Still.

Speaking of injuries, we have yet to see “closer” Jessie Crain. Matt Albers has been gone so long, I nearly forgot he was on the team.

Our actual closer is Chad Qualls, and he’s been awesome. (How come awe “some” is great, but awe “full” is horrible?) Qualls has a 1.78 ERA and a 1.02 WHIP. That’s the stuff of a closer. Tony Sipp‘s 2.45 ERA is misleading. His WHIP is 0.82, and the league is batting .162 against him. After a rough start to the season, Josh Fields‘ ERA is down to 4.42. But his WHIP is 1.12 and the league is hitting .219 against him. I’ll take those three into battle any day.

So, what’s so bad about our bullpen? Well, aside from it being over handled and over used (our starters need to go six innings or deeper more often), and aside from those three, there are some questionable arms in that pen. It doesn’t help that we’ve had 17 relievers (some of whom we need never look upon again — Kyle Farnsworth). As a whole, Houston’s bullpen posts an MLB-worst 4.90 ERA. And that’s a huge improvement! The bullpen WHIP is second-worst at 1.43. And it’s given up the third-most homers (35) while pitching a middle-of-the-pack number of innings (303.1, tied at 14th most).

What would this bullpen have been like with Crain showing up in, say, late May? How would it have differed without Albers on the DL for most of the season? I don’t know, but I’m guessing we’d have never seen much of Raul Valdez or Kevin Chapman if it weren’t for those injuries.

K Is The Saddest Letter

It seems the Astros are neck-and-neck with the Marlins for the worst whiffing team. Considering the Marlins send a lot of pitchers to the plate, it’s sad Houston actually has one more strikeout (887-886). I’m too depressed to do the math and see if the Astros are on pace to beat last year’s record. But this team is pretty good at missing strike three.

In case you were wondering, George Springer has currently pulled into the lead here with 114. Carter is second at 105, with Castro closing in at 95. Matty D is fourth with 83 Ks, but he has about 80 more at-bats than the others, so that’s slightly less humiliating. Fifth on the list is Jonathan Villar. No wonder he is in OKC.

Among lineup regulars, Singleton is whiffing at the highest rate (62 Ks in 165 PAs). At the opposite end is Altuve, who has struck out 35 times in 431 PAs. He has as many extra-base hits as Ks, so this idea that you have to sacrifice power (Altuve has Houston’s third highest slugging percentage at .444) to cut down the Ks is false.

So, that the state of the Astros 100 games in. We steal a lot of bases (78, 4th in MLB), and we blow a lot of leads (17 saves in 34 save opportunities, which is tied for the worst with the Rockies). But we’re on pace to improve by somewhere between 17 and 20 wins this year.

I’ll take it.

For Your Consideration

How will you feel if Altuve wins the batting crown?

How many wins do you think we get? I’ll set the over-under mark at 71.5.

What role have injuries played in how bad this team is?

The bullpen is the worst part of this team. But it has pitched a lot better recently. Are the injuries the worst part of the bullpen, or are you more frustrated with how Bo Porter manages it? Or do you like how Porter has handled the ‘pen?

Some of the cornerstones of this team whiff a lot. Springer, Castro, Carter (just kidding, he’s no cornerstone). Does that bother you? Why?

One of the bright spots has been Kike Hernandez. Man, I love this kid. Going forward, should he be given a chance to be the everyday left fielder? Shortstop (Marwin has played pretty well offensively too)? Maybe a DH?

What has been your highlight thus far with the team on the field? What has been your lowlight? I don’t want to hear about the draft or Luhnow or the TV deal. I want your lowlight from this team and how it has played.

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102 comments on “Astros 2014: 100 Games Into The Season

  1. A little good news about the bullpen – hoping it means something! Here it is:

    In the ERA department, the bottom 9 of 24 pitchers we have used this year – all of those with ERAs over 6.00 – are no longer pitching for the club.

    In the WHIP department, 10 of the bottom 11 of the 24 pitchers we have used this year – all of which had WHIP’s of 1.57 or above – are no longer pitching for the club.

    Our bullpen has GOT to be doing better with these changes, right?

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    • I remember when the bullpen ERA was around 6.00. Yes, it’s doing better. MUCH better. Now if we could keep Porter from making bone-headed mound moves …

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  2. If Altuve wins the batting title, I’ll probably cry a little. Tears of joy. Yes, my daughters will make fun of me.

    I’ll go with 71 wins. The Ks and too many games against the good teams in the division make me think 72 is out of reach.

    Every team has injuries. But why can’t Chris Carter go down with a hang nail? Why couldn’t L.J. Hoes (last night’s hero) have pulled a hammy in early May? Why does it have to be Springer and Fowler and the back end of what should have been our bullpen?

    Sometimes when he trots out to the mound, I wonder what the heck Bo Porter is thinking. Here’s my favorite scenario: He brings in a reliever with two outs in the sixth for the starter. The guy throws five pitches and gets us out of the inning. Cool. Then the same reliever starts the seventh, gets two outs and is yanked for a lefty-lefty (or righty-righty) matchup. Two outs. No one on. And the guy at the plate has two homers all season. But lets burn another reliever so Tony Sipp doesn’t have to face a right-hander (which he does all the time anyway). I see Porter do this constantly, and I want to reach through my iPhone (or the TV) and strangle him.

    Strikeouts are just another out. But when we need the ball put in play, they become inning killers. I’ll be glad when we have more hitters who can put the wood on the ball with some consistency.

    I think Kike needs to play some outfield in winter ball. Outfield and shortstop. I like this kid.

    Hands down, Altuve has been the highlight. I’m watching the game last night and my 10-year-old walks into the room. “Is Altuve up?” Love that girl.

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  3. Carter is on a hot streak. It feels very much to me like a Carlos Lee performance.

    Am I the only one who is hoping for a win each night, but then feeling guilty when we get it? The team is certainly improved, but destined to finish early so the players can make their October tee times and vacations to Hawaii. Getting the eighth pick in the draft without clear evidence they are on the verge of ascending would kind of feel like taking a step backwards.

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  4. 100 games into the season we have learned that Feldman was real good for two starts. We learned that Colin McHugh is human but still a lot better than Feldman. We learned that Keuchel can be good but wears down. We learned that Cosart has the guts to do what he does for a lot longer time than his critics thought he could. And we learned that Becky’s gut feeling that OBER has a lot of guts is right on!
    We have learned that the Astros front office has as much of a clue about when an injured player will return as they do about signing high school pitchers.
    We have learned that the tandem system is a way of hiding the fact that the Astros don’t have a clue what to do with pitchers. So they say that they are smartly protecting their prospects, which means they can’t tell the difference between a starter and a reliever.
    We have learned that the Astros front office thinks that if they throw Buchanan, Clemens, Owens, Martinez, Oberholtzer and Peackock up to the ceiling, one of them might stick. Which is to say that the Astros think of their people as spitballs.
    We learned that a Klutz of a Paredes and a sad death in the family can truly hurt a player’s performance for a year. And that winter ball is out for Jose Altuve forever!
    We learned we would have been better off with George Springer on the opening day roster, especially if he could have talked Dexter Fowler out of eating at a certain restaurant. Things may have looked a lot better in April.
    We learned that when 1oldpro says Santana is not nearly ready for the majors at this time, listen to him.
    We have learned that Carter can be devastating to other teams, when he get’s his act together. More power than I have ever seen in a swing. I just wish he could make more contact.

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  5. Brian – nice write up. Pretty spot on.

    We have learned a bit about Porter in two years now – he doesn’t manage a bullpen well. Every bullpen is full of suspect arms that have warts – if they didn’t they would be starters – the good managers finish with good stats out of the bullpen because they know how to match up people, they know how to define roles and get guys to accept theirs, etc. It’s possible with a some years a bullpen can go bad with a young staff due to over exposure, but like you said yourself, these guys are in the middle of the pack in innings, they are no more exposed than the rest of the bullpens.

    They have gotten rid of some flyers that Luhnow took out – and they were missing the money man in Crain – but to me in the end bullpen performance is one of the measuring sticks of a good manager, and Kyle Farnsworth didn’t single handedly blow up the Astros bullpen stats, it was an early team effort.

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  6. I’m pleased to see the rotation has stabilized this season. That’s our biggest accomplishment. And at least one guy, Tropeano, appears ready to make the jump. Oberholtzer is a bulldog. He should be in the equation too. Great to see Altuve turn into an elite talent at second. He can get better too. One day soon, he’ll stop swinging at pitches out of the zone. And finally we got to see what we already knew. Springer should have been playing last September.

    Even with recent improvements in the pen, the body of work there has again been near league worst. Blame bad pitchers, blame some of it on injuries, but blame most of it on the guy who promised a revamped pen. Luhnow signed risky guys. I illustrated earlier today that it is possible to build a quality pen cheap. And someone in that Oakland organization has put their arms in positions to succeed. Look at Abad.

    Overall, I don’t see much improvement with this club however. Even if we win 18 or 20 more games than last year, we still move into 2015 with question marks at every position except for second base and wherever Springer ends up. And if Fowler is back, well then we’ve got three positions solved. That’s it. We should be further along by now.

    And back to the pen. I’ve looked high and low for help from within the system for 2015. I still don’t see any big, hard throwing strikeout arms advanced enough to help. So we again have to hope Luhnow can really build a quality pen from all resources available, both inside and outside the organization. But I just don’t trust him any longer.

    Altuve is a wonderful kid with infectious enthusiasm and it’s obvious he’s well liked throughout the game. He deserves everything that comes his way.

    I don’t care how many games we win until we are ready to compete for something in September.

    I don’t think this club has been impacted by injuries more than the average team. I blame Crain on Luhnow.

    Bo Porter is still not my manager of the future. His handling of the pitching staff is just one of his weaknesses.

    I am most annoyed at Castro’s strikeouts. He looks like he does not care.

    I like Enrique, and wanted to see him brought up before Wates, but it’s way too early to start thinking about him being a regular on a quality ML team. Let’s see what he does over the next 62. And Marwin at shortstop? He’s 49th among shortstops in range factor. At DH? If we’re okay with a sub .700 OPS from that role, then he’s the guy. I know, he’s hitting .280 right now. He’ll correct.

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  7. Hmmm. Detroit was said to be interested in Chad Qualls. Instead, the latest is they’ve acquired Joakim Soria from Texas. In return, the Tigers are giving them their third and fifth rated prospects. Both are pitchers: One is in the majors already, the other at AAA. Seems like a high price, but the Tigers are trying to keep up. Now…if the Astros were offered the same or similar deal for Qualls (and we’ll find out in the next round of leaks), gotta wonder how Luhnow responded.

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    • I’d hate hate hate to lose Qualls, but for someone’s third and fifth prospects, I’d listen to that sales pitch.

      I really hope Houston isn’t a big seller this month.

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    • With this being Qualls first year as closer (is Bo admitting he is the closer?) at his age, I’m not sure the Tigres would have given up as much. I’d be happy to see him moved though, now that Fields’ fastball has regained the life it was missing.

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  8. Looks like the Rangers have officially decided to go for 1.1. Trade the closer with another option year and concede a game down 2-1 to the NYY…

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  9. The score is 7-0 in the 4th. inning…….so I won’t be staying up until 2:00am to
    “listen” to the game. If Peacock doesn’t have any more options left, he will be DFA’d
    after tonights game. Good kid, but Bo Porter has had this guy on his sh_t list for a while now. If he’s outta options, I hope he catches on with another club that he can succeed with.

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  10. Mr. Peacock’s stats on the year – not just last night – are not his friend. OKC is definitely calling the young man’s name. Here’s the story:

    Brad has pitched 87.2 innings, in which he has given up 91 hits [13 of which were HRs], to go with a whopping 48 BBs, and the predictable 48 earned runs. That means he has averaged giving up a BB and at least one earned run every two innings. OUCH!

    Brad has good stuff, but has shown an alarming tendency to get himself in trouble early with high pitch counts and walks. As a result, he seldom goes deep into games, which overtaxes our already thin bullpen. His ERA [4.93] and WHIP [1.59!!!!!] are both significantly higher than any other starter on the team, including the usual odd man out, Brett Oberholtzer [ERA 4.32; WHIP 1.44]. Obie gives up just about as many hits as Peacock, but he does not walk many [only 19 in 77 innings], and very few of the hits against him leave the yard [only 6 so far, vs. 13 for Peacock]. The only area in which Peacock has outdueled Obie is in strikeouts.

    What we have in Obie is a ‘pitch-to-contact’ hurler, while what we have so far in Peacock is a ‘get overly aggressive guys to chase something out of the zone, because he seldom throws it there’ pitcher. I’ll take Obie for now – give Brad a chance to see if he can get his command and control back at OKC.

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  11. I’d give Tropeano a shot at the rotation. I see just 61 hits in 87 innings and almost 4 K’s to each walk. The 0.95 WHIP is pretty good too. What else does he have to do at OKC?

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    • He has to do the same thing Austin Wates does. Wait until someone on the 40-man passes.
      In the Astros organization if you are on the 40-man you can screw up everything and still get several chances. If you aren’t, you just sit down there in OKC and rot , even if you are putting up decent numbers.
      The whole premise is that since they don’t know anything about baseball, they just keep yo-yoing their guys up and down hoping that somebody plays decently, like Kike. Tell me why an infielder like Kraus comes up to replace an outfielder like Springer and a guy like Wates never gets a chance even though he is an outfielder. I mean Springer is a righty outfielder who plays good defense and Wates is a righty outfielder who plays good defense. How does Kraus fit anywhere in that equation? It is crazy the way this team is run. Let me give you another example of stupid!
      Last night CC brought their top starting pitcher into the game in the fifth inning of the game to relieve. Luis Cruz lost the 4-0 lead and gave up four runs in relief and lost the game. Cruz’s stats in relief this year and last year are lousy, but since Shirley was promoted Cruz is their #1 starter, but comes into the game in relief. Stuff like that is just stupid. Why in the world would any pitching prospect want to play for this organization?

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      • Roy Oswalt came up and filled in as a reliever before getting into the rotation. I’ll go on record as predicting no pitchers currently in our system (or drafted in 2014 and did not sign) will ever be considered as good as Oswalt.

        If Oswalt could come off the bench, why are our current prospects and long shots too good for it?

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      • Devin, Oswalt made 61 minor league appearances before joining the big club in 2001. 60 of those appearances were starts. Try making a headstrong, talented kid like Oswalt buy into a tandem system. Would not have worked. Not then, not today. By the way, his ticket to the big club was a temporary role in the pen. He made 8 appearances there and then went on to start 20. I had never realized until a minute ago he was 5th in the Cy Young voting that rookie year.

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  12. I don’t have a clue what you are getting at. Roy Oswalt made exactly one relief appearance in his entire minor league career.
    What I am talking about is taking good starting pitching prospects and alternating them week after week, month after month, league after league. Start, relieve, start relieve. I can tell you that nobody in their right mind would have treated Roy Oswalt this way throughout his minor league career. This is the way all our pitchers are being treated by this organization throughout our system. Except Mark Appel, and they wanted to do it to him and he balked at it.
    The pitchers in our minor leagues hate this system and those are the guys who have to pitch and are going to pitch, and they are the ones who matter, not you or me or any body who is a fan. They are the ones who we want to pitch for us in the future and they think this system stinks.
    And anybody who says that these pitchers should like it or go pitch somewhere else, is a prophet, because these pitchers will go somewhere else and they will advise other pitchers to go somewhere else, too.
    If you treat your players like crap, that is what you will end up with.

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    • I for one thought the tandem experiment had merit to begin the season. It allowed the minor league teams to have 8 starters each and gave everyone a chance to see how well they could do – every other start. HOWEVER, it was an experiment (at least in my mind). If this is the “cat’s meow” – then why don’t the Astros do it. Get 8 starters, 0 relievers, and lets run with it. If a pitcher is terrible, we only have to suffer for 4 innings anyway. It a guy has a no-hitter going, pull him anyway. (And of course, we all know why it is not done here. It is because it is a stupid idea)

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      • If the tandem system was so effective, you’d have players singing its praises. You’d also have other enlightened ML organizations embracing the concept. Believe me Devin, if even one pitcher in our organization thought a whole bunch of the system, Luhnow would have made sure they were quoted by now.

        Why would any guy, a starter in Little League, Pony League, high school and college, want to change the way he’s taken the mound since the age of eight?

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  13. the tandem system will go away for the rest of the year pretty soon. i think they stopped it in late july or early aug last year. at least at AAA

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  14. Ya know what grinds my teeth? Albers and Crain probably never see another game this year……….and Luhnow can’t do a DANG thing with either of them. So they
    sit on their rear ends, collecting a bucket full of money. I can understand the injuries
    with Springer, Fowler and Presley……but the other two are just sitting back sipping a cold one.

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  15. I’ll gladly and with some confidence take the under. Even where we are right now I think 100 losses is still a very strong possibility. Injuries do happen to every team but the Astros have so little margin for error that losing a starter has a disproportionate impact. Since the team is playing so poorly there’s really little incentive for a player to push himself to get back on the field except for personal statistics. Why should Fowler bust his butt? Why Crain or Albers for that matter. They are being paid well to do nothing. Meanwhile you have Marwin who is fighting for a more secure place on the roster gutting it out despite a gimpy hamstring.

    The worst lowlight for me is Jason Castro who has performed way below expectations. Maybe he is better defensively but if so why is the team’s record so much better with Corporan catching?

    I do not expect the team to play better the rest of the way. When the games have little significance there is little motivation for players to do the little things that it takes to win consistently. They are playing for stats so they will continue to swing for the fences and strike out a lot. Why try to move a runner into scoring position? Why not try to just put the ball in play with a runner on third and one out? I also don’t think the players respect management from the dugout to the owner’s suite. Players good enough to be in the major leagues have had enough good coaching along the way that they can tell when a manager is clueless. I bet if you would go and interview the guys who played for Tony D in September of 2012 they would tell you that they respected him and wanted to play well for him. I bet they had fun. Porter and Luhnow do not inspire guys to play well because they themselves don’t know the game and it shows. In essence Luhnow and Porter are proving the Peter principle. Luhnow was a good amateur talent evaluator and farm builder but has been a lousy GM. Porter was a good third base coach but is a lousy manager. If we want to be SIGNIFICANTLY better next year Porter certainly needs to go and probably Luhnow.

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  16. Mark Appel tonight: 6 IP, 2 runs on 5 hits. No walks and 7 strikeouts. Fastball hit 95 often and only had trouble in the one inning after Lancaster scored three and were in the dugout for a long time. Encouraging.

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  17. A.J. Reed is making a name for himself with the Valley Cats, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him knocking on the door at Corpus by the beginning of next season. The kid is AWESOME!! There’s a reason why he received the Golden Spikes award this year!

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  18. “That would be a 20-win improvement over 2013. ”

    I’m looking forward to bopert and/ or oldpro’s guest blog acknowledging the team’s impressive improvement, and of course, Luhnow & Porter’s hand in it.

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    • Let’s just go over that lineup we put out on the field against the best team in baseball yesterday:
      Altuve 2b All Star
      Grossman- a LF playing RF and hitting .204
      Carter- our DH hitting .213
      Kraus-our AAA 1B playing LF and hitting .176 at cleanup
      Singleton-Our 1B hitting .179
      Corporan- hitting .256 and is the backup to a guy hitting .225.
      Dominguez- our starting 3B hitting .236
      Hernandez- an infielder playing CF and hitting eighth with a .295 avg
      Gonzalez- hitting ninth with a .271 avg at SS
      Pitching was the ace of our staff, Scott Feldman, who is 4-8, is earning $12mil this year in a front loaded contract and who gave up 9 hits and five walks and six runs in 5.1 innings.
      Our only pinch hitter was Hoes, who is hitting .174 and came in so that our CF could move to SS, our LF who was in RF could move to CF, and he went to RF and our SS who has a bad hammy could rest once we were down by 12 runs.
      The final score was Oakland 13 Houston 1.
      I want to go on record giving all due credit to Jeff Luhnow and Bo Porter and I didn’t call them any dumb names or mention the owner.

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  19. I think I found the problem – I checked my luggage and I have the Astros bats, Luhnow’s brain and Crain and Albers’ hearts.

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  20. Last night Jerome Williams started for the Rangers. He went six innings, giving up 5 hits and 1 run and beat the A’s, 4-1. That’s the A’s, with the best record in baseball, against Texas, with the worst record and a pitcher who couldn’t get anybody out when he pitched for us all year.
    I wonder what’s up with that?
    Goodness, I would just love to know what Jerome Williams knows about the Astros.

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    • Old, you’re critical of Feldman for his one bad game, and you love Williams’ for one start for the Rangers. This somehow bolsters your case against Astros management?

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      • Jerome arrived in Arlington yesterday morning and then beat the best team in baseball, who had beaten our #1 starter 13-1 the day before. And I pointed this out.
        Jerome was 1-4 with the Astros with 3 blown saves in 3 opportunities and he never started a game for us. He has been primarily a starter in his career and beat Oakland in his very first appearance as a Ranger.
        As for Feldman’s “one bad game” He is 1-6 in his last ten starts with a 6.00 era and has given up 66 hits and 19 walks in his last 54 innings. He has had 18 starts for the Astros this year and has a 4-8 record. His 18 starts are 18 more than the Astros gave Jerome, who is absolutely not a good reliever.
        So who used Jerome as a reliever and got pummeled? Houston
        And who used Jerome as a starter and won? Texas
        This somehow bolsters my case against Astros management.

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      • Exactly my point. Both are bad, but one can have a good game and that is somehow proof Astros management is inept.

        It’s just more superficial complaining.

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  21. I have been a big supporter of Luhnow from the time he was hired to the beginning of this season. However, I am having some serious concerns about his ability to run a team as the GM. I still think he excels at the draft and player development part of an organization, but I don’t think he has the wherewithal to be a GM (now, part of this falls on Crane and his tightwad ways of putting a team together, but other than Qualls every player Luhnow has either signed or traded this year has been injured for a large portion-Crain, Albers and Fowler). I wonder if Jim Crane is giving strong consideration to moving Nolan into the GM role next year. It definitely would be a good PR move.

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  22. I wonder if the Astros are communicating with other teams about trades by mail. 29 GMs in the majors probably have only 28 names of other GMs in their phones.

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    • Wow. They obviously don’t ever want him to pitch at the Hangar again.
      It had to be so awkward for him to go back and play with the team that he had to sit in the dugout for and not contribute to their QC Championship last year. Then he obviously wasn’t ready to pitch with no spring training, got bombed and then got hurt, but the team said he wasn’t hurt, sent down to Kissimmee, called back, then had tendonitis and had to take a shot in the wrist and missed some more time and then got bombed again. What a roller coaster ride for a guy who was the Friday night starter for Stanford for years and went through three drafts to get on his hometown team. Welcome to CC, Mark. I hope you are ok.

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    • I hope that management saw something in his last start that has been missing all year. Because if you look at the Lancaster pitching stats, he is just about the last one that “earned” a promotion.

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  23. But, what message does that give Josh Hader………who has pitched his butt off in Lancaster?? Luhnow is probably trying to cover his OWN butt, after the Aiken debacle…….but who knows.

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    • Becky, Hader turned 20 in April and Appel turned 23 last week.
      Hader is 6’3″ and 165 lbs.
      Appel is 6’5″ and 225 lbs.
      Once Appel is healthy and gets his feet on the ground and gets into a five man rotation like he should be, he will be way more advanced than Hader.
      I’ll bet that when Hader turns 23 he will weigh 185 lbs and will be very close to being a major league pitcher.
      I love Hader, but being in a league where the avg player is 22 is as high as he should be right now. Next spring he turns 21 and will be three years younger than the average AA player. I think Hader would be very happy to finish out the year as a starter in Lancaster. I know that he wouldn”t want to be relieving in Lancaster, though. You could put money on that!

      Like

  24. Yeah, I agree. I was clamoring for a Hader promotion, but didn’t realize he was only throwing an 89 to 91 mph fastball. Hopefully the velocity picks up a few notches as he get more weight on his frame.

    Like

  25. You all make valid points, and I’m NOT clamoring for Hader to be promoted.
    BUT…….I think it sends a message, that “I’m not good enough”. We will see soon
    enough if Appel will continue to pitch well, but unless or until I see some improvement, I’ll be skeptical. McHugh will start tomorrow, and here’s the question:
    Send Oberholtzer back to OKC?
    Send Peacock down to OKC..?
    Chip said he thought Peacock has one more option, but I doubt that. Sooooooo
    what do ya think? You KNOW who I want to keep up with the big club.

    Like

    • You might be right, because it’s pretty evident that Porter has Peacock in his
      sights. This is not a pitcher “friendly” team with this manager…..and it shows.
      The situational hitting is *killing* this team……

      Like

  26. We need Burt Hooton back as our major league pitching coach and Rudy Jaramillo as the batting coach. An experienced manager would be helpful and an experienced general manager to match. This current product is too broken and too painful to watch. I do not even watch them anymore. I go to MLB.com and catch the game that way. To answer a question, yes, I do have Comcast.

    Like

  27. The Marlins are a young team, and their payroll is either the same, or LOWER than the Astros, so what’s the difference? They *hit*, and their pitchers stay in the game
    PAST the 5th. inning. Even IF Springer comes back in a week or so…….Fowler is
    out till who knows when. Altuve get’s THREE hits today, and *NOTHING* to show for it. The “process” is failing. PERIOD. Yeah…….I’m pretty pi$$ed off, because we SHOULD have won this game.Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.

    Like

    • I know and feel your frustration. This rebuild has been going on long enough and it is time for results. Both the Cubs and Marlins tore it down after us and are already ahead of us in the rebuild process. How much longer do we have to endure this? Suddenly, we are staring at another 100 loss season. It was just 45 days ago that we were talking about possibly getting to .500 (yes, we all agreed it was a longshot, but at least it was being discussed).

      Like

  28. Peacock was sent down (no surprise), and Oberholtzer will start Tuesday. Zied to DL with a foot problem. Oh by the way A.J. Reed hit a *grand-slam* tonight!

    Like

  29. In 2007 Tim Alderson was drafted out of high school, at age 18 by the Giants and by 2009 was in AA and a top pitching prospect in the Giant’s organization when he was traded to Pittsburg for Freddy Sanchez.
    Last night Alderson was the 25 year-old starter in a shutout of Lancaster by Stockton, who is Oakland’s High A affiliate. Alderson was traded two weeks ago by Baltimore to the A’s. He has never appeared in a major league game and is now with his fourth organization and has been a minor leaguer for seven years.

    Like

      • No, I’m telling this because I saw the name Alderson mentioned in an article about July trades of note and then saw his name in the Lancaster Box Score from last night. I looked him up and thought his career was interesting, especially in the light of the fact that he pitched in A+ against Lancaster in June, 2008 and was in A+ last night against Lancaster.

        Like

    • 1OP – two sides to Alderson (or more). He was closer to be a Brett Wallace pick (1st rounder but down the draft). The landscape is littered with 1st rounders that never panned out. Yet Crane called out DMc for the 2007 draft and how he failed to sign the picks and that lead to the downfall of the Astros. Crane comment: “The thing that Drayton (McLane) in 2007, he didn’t sign anybody. That was really the killer year. When you look back, that really hurt. We got almost all our guys signed and you just restock out of that group.” In 2007 lost 1 and 2 for Woody Williams and Carlos Lee. Here is list of actual draft. http://houston.astros.mlb.com/team/draft.jsp?c_id=hou&year=2007

      It is who you draft and who you SIGN that makes it a good draft. There is at least a 50-50 chance that Aiken will be a bust. Same with Kolek, Gordon, Jackson, etc

      Like

  30. they are DH ing castro, so carter goes to left or sits. cant sit him with the anemic lineup we have left. plus he has been hitting a bit better. counting the days till springer is back

    Like

    • I was going to complain about running Castro and his .680 OPS out as DH instead of giving him a day off. Then I saw Dominguez has a .638 OPS. Not a lot of good options right now at multiple spots. Maybe someone will catch fire…

      Like

  31. So it seems that within our dysfunctional family, some of the guys at the major league level were pissed off that Appel was brought into Houston to throw a bullpen session, I guess on the way to CC.

    Like

  32. Now there is a tweet out there from Chad Qualls with a reference to the unwritten rule about not using your closer in a non-save situation. It was an obvious comment about Saturday’s loss to the Marlins. I did see the tweet.
    And there is a ton of stuff out there about Appel’s appearance in MMP and the Astros players are howling about it in that 42-63 clubhouse.

    Like

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