Free Blog Weekend: The Astros’ Dog Days of Summer


Well, it’s been a busy week for us bloggers … though obviously not when it comes to blogging. Like our Astros, we need help. An infusion of talent perhaps. An ace in the bullpen to stop the hemorrhaging. A player to go on a hot streak.

Look no further. It’s time for a Free Blog Weekend, where your infusion of talent (to talk about whatever you like), your 95-MPH heater of a zinger and your hitting streak of comments will lift us all to … better conversation.

I’m not hopeful that this will help the Astros. Ah, well.

To get the comments flowing, here’s some topics that might spark your interest:

Post Trade

I know a lot of you miss Kike Hernandez, but as of this morning, he’s 0-7 since being shipped to Miami. He’s also whiffed three times, about triple his rate here in H-Town (I say, “here” like I’m in Houston). Jarred Cosart‘s lone outing was nothing to write home (League City) about either. Four earned runs, he didn’t last six innings. About what we’d come to expect from Cosart.

Meanwhile Jake Marisnick is hitting a whopping .130 as an Astro (rolls eyes) but his defense has been pretty awesome. Colin Moran is settling in nicely at Corpus with a .280 BA and 20 percent Ks. And our lottery ticket arm Francis Martes has pitched three innings, given up zero earned runs and picked up a loss. Yep, he’ll fit right in.

I know all this is early returns and a small sample size, but in the week since the deed was done, has anyone’s feeling on this deal changed?

Smokin’ Cubans
A few weeks ago, a friend’s sister lit up a cigar at a party. While not a smoker, I love the taste of cigars, so when she offered I took a few puffs (with my wife and daughters giving me disapproving looks).

Luhnow has hinted that the Astros may be in the market for Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo. He’s 27 years old, might need a bit of polishing in AAA before he hits the big time. From what little I’ve read on Castillo, he’s no Jose Abreu in the power department. Think more of an CF who is aggressive at the plate with a little power and decent average.

While we all like seeing Luhnow spend Crane’s money, do we want to see him lighting up this Cuban? Consider the rest of our outfield now and within the next couple of years. Is it worth spending $100 million for this older “prospect”?

Bullp**!
Yes, the pen is so bad, it seems like a cuss word. Look, Josh Fields had a bad day. Unfortunately, it occurred on the same day Tony Sipp decided to have a bad day. Oh, and while we’re at it, Jose Altuve had a bad day (for him), Jonathan Singleton had a bad day (3 Ks) and I’m sure Bo Porter had a bad day as well.

The bullp**’s ERA is 5.04, more than a quarter of a run per game higher than the next worse (Rockies).

I don’t care if Mariano Rivera comes out of retirement, this bullp** is just going to stink for the foreseeable future.

We Just Can’t Have Nice Things!
When Jeff Foxworthy and his brother broke the Elvis crystal decanter, that’s what his mom yelled at her boys.

Well, it seems the one thing — ONE THING — for which I was holding out hope is broken. Robinson Cano (Boo!) can caught Altuve for the AL batting title. Yes, there’s a lot of season left. Yes, Altuve can still rally and bring his average up to .350, leaving Cano in the dust.

Or, Altuve, without George Springer or Dexter Fowler batting around him is doomed to slouch toward .300. Le sigh!

… But Will Anyone Watch
Every time I see an article about the TV deal, my eyes glaze over. Honestly, living in Minnesota and with an MLB subscription, it just doesn’t matter to me. But I know it matters to many of you.

Can someone please explain to me in 40 words or less if the latest developments are a good thing, a bad thing or just a thing that you won’t believe until you can click the remote and watch Altuve swing at the first pitch of every damned game.

Some Other Quick Topics
* Springer is rehabbing, but then he’s had a setback. Albers is on the mound somewhere. Jesse Crain was spotted wearing an Astros T-shirt on laundry day. Do you believe anything concerning injury updates from this front office?

* Luhnow said Chris Carter‘s name came up in trade talks, but they think he’ll be a .250, 35 HR potential MVP guy in the future, and they didn’t want to see him on another team. First, isn’t Luhnow’s bar a bit low on what an MVP looks like? Second, are you believing in this Carter renaissance? FYI, in 108 ABs since the start of this run (July 1) for Carter, he’s K’ed 32 times while raising his average to .225 and his OPS to .793. Are you a Carter believer?

* The Astros are 20th in OPS and 20th in runs scored (450). The defense is fifth in runs allowed (546) and fourth in earned runs allowed (501). That gives Houston a .4045 Pythagorean winning percentage. Based on that, Houston should have 46.52 wins to this point (and we do: 47). The Astros should get 65.53 wins total. That would be a real 14-15 game improvement, but in Pythagorean terms just a 7-8 game improvement. Has that been enough of an upswing? Does it mean something that we’re winning as many as we’re supposed to win?

What else is on your mind. Chip and I can’t do it all! Chime in and let us know what your thinking about this team, this organization, this TV deal (or lack thereof). After all, the weekend is yours … Free.

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36 comments on “Free Blog Weekend: The Astros’ Dog Days of Summer

  1. “Do you believe anything concerning injury updates from this front office?”

    We have a new era in this country in regard to medical/health issues, and it is not going to get any better anytime soon HIPAA outlaws the public discussion by anyone except the patient of anything remotely medical or health related.
    So no, the FO will not – and MUST not – tell us anything substantive about the medical or health related condition of any player. Expect a lot of ‘we are excited about getting him back on the field’, and ‘we hope for a quick and sure return to action.’ NOTE: this is not by any means limited to the Astros’ FO, nor is it limited to baseball. This is just the new world order doing what it does best – spread confusion and disinformation.

    PS. If you have any doubts about this, try to get some straight information about the condition of Marlins’ pitcher Dan Jennings after he got hit hard in the head by a line drive off the bat of Jordy Mercer yesterday.

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      • I wish that were so, Brian. But HIPAA prohibits an employer [read that F.O.] from making any unauthorized disclosure of any personally-identifiable health information (P.H.I.) that pertains to a consumer of health care services. Even where HIPAA allows disclosure of PHI without the employee’s permission, the employer is subject to a “minimum necessary” requirement, which means it is legally required to limit the amount of PHI used or disclosed to the minimum amount of information necessary to satisfy a legitimate business purpose. The public’s desire to know how a baseball player is doing is simply not ever going to meet the ‘minimum necessary’ requirement.

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  2. Brian: I can explain the TV debacle in 3 words. You may pick them from one of the following. “Yes and No.” “Left or Right.” “Up or Down.” “Confusing or Unclear.” “Crane or DMc.” “Comcast or AT&T.” Hope all of that helps you. As one that can not get Comcast or AT&T — I am hoping for Direct TV, so they can rip me off.

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  3. Maybe it’s just me, but I think this next series with the Rangers, will be an important
    one. If these guys can’t get in the win mode again….we might end up this next 6 weeks like they did last year. AND……don’t get me started on this p*ss poor bullpen.
    I would hate to be the manager of this team……..you can’t depend on anyone except Altuve. What was lost after last nights game, was hoe GREAT McHugh pitched! He should be guaranteed a rotation spot next year..

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  4. hey brian, thanks for the new topics to chew on.
    i like the trade. cosart was a loss, but kike and wates, not so much. i like both marisnick and moran, dont know much about marte. should we call this the 3M trade? and folks dont forget we get pick # 33 from this trade as well.
    i dont pull the trigger on this particular cuban player. i think his skill set doesnt exceed others already in the system. he’s not worth 100 million.
    i can barely talk about the bullpen, its a nightmare. i do however like your new term bullp***, very fitting.
    altuve still has a great chance at the batting title. it wont hurt when he gets some help around him (come on springer)
    my understanding is ATT and direct TV will both carry the games when all the dust settles. to me thats a good thing, both are available in my area.
    .250 average and 35 HRS are a bit light for an MVP, but i sure like carter and want to keep him on the team.
    i dont concentrate so much on wins/losses right now as i do signs of improvement. i think you can go back 2 years, even one year and look at the changes on the team and feel alittle better.

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    • RJ: I agree that this team is better. In fact much better. One indicator is we don’t continue to see those waiver pick ups that were “low risk, NO reward.” So our top 40 players are at least equal to other teams 41st player. That is encouraging. It is discouraging to see so many below .200 hitters and no pressure to bring up their replacements from the Farm. Same story in the bullpen.

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  5. About the injuries. Seriously, how does Luhnow get away with the Jesse Crain Affair. This has to be the biggest medical miscalculation that any GM could make. You sign an injured pitcher to a one year deal w/ an option and he never throws a pitch, not because of another injury, but because of the one he had to begin with?
    Just like Kubiak should have fired Marciano years ago, the Astros need to get themselves a better group of trainers, doctors, therapists and a proctologist for Porter.
    I also agree with Brian about the injury thing. In the NFL you have to come clean about what is wrong with your players every week.
    I love that there may be a TV deal in the works. I would probably have to change my provider, but I always said I wanted to see the Astros play and I will put my money where my mouth is. If Crane pulls this off, with the hand he was dealt, he deserves some credit.
    I would love to see an outfield of Fowler, Marisnick and Springer to start next year, then see Tucker ready by next July, and Santana ready or traded by 2016.
    I would have gotten rid of Chris Carter last offseason, so I am eating crow as he has been one of the best hitters in MLB since July 1st. It’s not a question of wanting to keep him. If he will hit like this why would you even think of getting rid of him? Without Carter in our lineup, Ryan Howard would have beaten us with a bunt last night. Hats off to Luhnow for his patience. Now, if Carter ends up the year back at .200 then you know it was just a Chis Johnson-like temporary surge.
    That’s enough. It will be a long weekend. Please Astros, show up against the Rangers!

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    • You know oldpro, Santana already has more minor league at bats than Marisnick. Yep, he’s a year younger and will never be the defensive player Marisnick already is, but he’s got better minor league offensive stats and that’s all we can really go by at this point.

      .279/.347/.444/.790
      .272/.362/.469/.831

      In spite of Santana striking out more, he’s still managed the better OBP. So what I see is a healthy competition next spring between these two guys for an outfield position. I’d be happy to see Santana, Fowler and Springer out there if it gives us more power. And your guy Tucker has to be a contender for DH in 2015 if Carter is gone. I could see Marisnick as the 4th outfielder and part time DH.

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      • Here’s my thinking on all these OF guys we are talking about. I think Fowler is here until the trade deadline next July.
        I think Springer is a guy we want here for a long time in CF or RF.
        I want Tucker to be a .300 hitter or better consistently at AAA, because he would be destined to be a DH if he bombs the ball and hits .300. But he could start off in LF after Fowler is traded , while we are waiting for Santana to be ready, hopefully by 2016 spring.
        Santana is not ready for major league pitching. The only reason he is up is because of the 40-man, and as soon as an outfielder is ready he needs to go back and play in OKC every day. If a guy like Carter can make adjustments facing the best pitchers in the world, Santana ought to be able to do it in AAA, if he really has it.
        Teoscar will be lost for a while in CC. It’s so much tougher to hit in the Texas League. No high altitude, better pitching, heavier air, wind blowing in. I believe this is where he falls behind Springer’s pace because of his age and experience. But Teoscar will start to look much better in the outfield in CC because of those same conditions. A lot of his errors in CF will disappear. But, make no mistake: Luhnow likes Teoscar Hernandez. So much so that Delino DeShields Jr. is now a LFer.
        Marisnick is a guy who still may be in the majors too young. He’s got the tools, but if he doesn’t pick it up offensively he may just need more time in OKC. By God, if we can give a lousy fielder like Wallace all those chances to hit in the majors, we sure ought to have patience with 23 year-old Jake Marisnick!
        AAHHH, Brett Maverick Phillips! Will he be the guy who gets a bunch of outfielders eventually traded away? Time will tell. But today, this guy is Zoolander. He’s so hot, right now.
        Finally, there is Aplin. Last night Aplin threw out Kris Bryant at home on a flyout- throw ’em out from Center Field on an attempted sac fly. He had a big 2rbi hit and a BB. I think he is hitting close to .300 since being called up to AAA. This guy is not supposed to be this good. He was supposed to fade in CC. But Andrew Aplin is a terrific baseball player and has a big, big desire to make it. And unlike Fontana, who walks a ton and strikes out a ton and doesn’t make enough contact, Aplin walks a ton and doesn’t strike out and does make good contact. Aplin has worked his butt off trying to make his swing more compact and he is like a smaller version of Brandon Barnes, just without the K’s.
        Talk about some young outfield talent. We have it.

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      • pro, you might be right about Santana. But my point is that I don’t think Marisnick is any further advanced than Santana is, based on minor league history of each guy. We’ll find out a little bit about Marisnick over the next seven weeks. But you’re right, if we are deep in an area, it’s the outfield. That’s why we don’t need to be going after a 27 something year old slap hitter.

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      • DaveB,

        I’d argue we don’t. If Crane and Luhnow want to blow a ton of cash, there are bigger needs to fill and better players to buy for that kind of money. Heck, for half that kind of money.

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  6. Actually, Cosart pitched well. I watched the game. Four singles, two of which were grounders through the infield and another, an infield hit. He walked a couple of guys in the sixth and was pulled with one out and the bases loaded after 82 pitches. All three of his runners scored.

    Obviously, I still feel the same way about the trade. I’m looking for instant gratification at this place in time, as a result, this is a Cosart for Marisnick deal to me. I’m just not patient enough to see if Moran becomes the guy his 6th pick status promised. As I said last week, we went backwards, for now anyway.

    Sure, Luhnow will talk about making a serious move for Rusney, but as usual will get outbid by another franchise. That’s okay in this case though. We’ve got enough outfielders in the pipeline, guys who might provide power that Castillo never will. And is he really only 27?

    When Luhnow suggests that Carter is a future MVP candidate (did he really say that?) he further loses credibility to all those except the folks going to the park on Thursdays for dollar hotdog night. In the meantime, we don’t have a better option at DH, and Carter is earning his paycheck right now. As a result, I expect to see him traded soon for more minor league “parts”!

    Off subject, but what is Tiger Woods doing on a golf course right now? To be generous, maybe he’s gutting out a missed cut in a major, but what’s the point? It’s embarrassing. Take enough time off to get fully healthy and give those 18 majors one last shot.

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    • Was Chris Davis the MVP last year? I think that is the player comp Luhnow wants us to make. With enough high OBP guys around him, I think you would see Carter become much more consistent. Pitching with runners on base is more difficult. Carter is a high fly ball % guy, so it is tougher to pitch around guys in front of him hoping to induce a GIDP. That, OTOH, is a chink in Altuve’s armor.

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    • You’re right it’s off subject, you and my husband might be the only people who
      care one tiny bit about anything Tiger Woods does………..

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    • daveb, you might find this interesting about Cosart. Read CR Perry’s wrapup of Friday night’s win over the Rangers at Crawfish Boxes. Then read the comments section for some interesting stuff about Cosart.
      Why would Cosart even go there?

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  7. Dave – I watched Cosart’s game too. I agree he pitched well until his last inning. Looked like he ran out of gas from the emotion/turmoil of being traded. Also could have been from tweaking his back/side running out the infield hit. He really attacked the zone. I suspect his style of pitching will fit better in Miami’s game plan than Houston.

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    • Possibly. Combine that with the fact that those three appearances are after a month on the DL. He’s walking people and Nitro doesn’t usually do that. So either he’s not 100% or the injury really has thrown his mechanics off.

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  8. The Astros beat the Rangers tonight and this is a good thing. But that was two very bad baseball teams out there.
    Matt Dominguez looks so much like JD Martinez used to look like at the plate. He absolutely cannot catch up to the fastball and has no coverage on anything from the belt down on the outside corner. All night long he was fouling off fastballs late. Jason Castro is a sucker for anything hard, high and in. The Astros were dominated by fastballs all night and still managed to steal the game, despite the horrible bullpen again.
    I miss so much not being able to see the Astros live on tv. It is just amazing trying to keep up with the team by watching highlights(lowlights?) the next day, following on Gameday, or finding a radio stream on my PC.
    Marisnick is a wonder in center field and a college sophomore with a bat in his hand. His swing is long and slow and late and he absolutely refuses to choke up even an inch. Mallee has so much work to do with him. I don’t think I have seen any Astro since Adam Everett with as little power in his swing as Marisnick. Mind you, this is the first time I have seen the team since the last time we played Texas.

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  9. Two awesome pitching performances in a row!! Oberholtzer is such a gritty pitcher
    and I love watching him pitch. Good win tonight, now all they have to do is sweep the Rangers, to get the bad taste outta their mouth from getting spanked in Phiily.

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  10. Some random thoughts on where we are now. I have been one of the loudest proponents of ditching Carter so now I’ve been scouring the internet for recipes for preparing crow. I think this may very well be the real thing at last as I don’t remember him ever having a streak like this over a sustained period. He seems to be able to resist offering at as many low and away breaking balls and seems to just be seeing the ball better and making better swing decisions.

    Something that sticks a little in my craw is the anointing of Fowler as the center fielder immediately upon his return. From what I’ve seen both Springer and Marisnick are superior fielders. Is Fowler’s ego so frail that any suggestion that he ought to be playing left field might offend him? When Bo and Luhnow state categorically that Fowler is the CF it just sounds condescending like we fans shouldn’t believe our own eyes and should just shut up.

    I wonder if Santana will be trade bait. He’s not Luhnow’s guy or type and some of the guys are getting close who were drafted by Luhnow. I’m actually looking forward to seeing hitters who don’t whiff at a 20%+ rate. Another guy in the system I would like to see gone is DDJ. I do think it is telling that as soon as Teoscar arrived DDJ went to LF. I would love to see a package of prospects for a SS or catcher.

    I like the Cosart trade a little. I will grant that he is a competitor on the mound but pitchers who routinely have 20 pitch innings drive me crazy. Peacock is another of the same ilk without the stuff. Give me Keuchel, Obie and McHugh any day over guys like Cosart, Peacock, Norris, etc. I remember J A Happ when it seemed he never met a hitter he could get out with less than six pitches. Put Peacock in that package with Santana and DDJ.

    I think 2015 is the year that the MLB team has to be substantially improved by acquiring some veteran talent at SS and even catcher. We have such a stock pile of prospects in our system that I would prefer Luhnow use that currency rather than going after free agents. Having a shiny farm system is nice but its purpose has to be as a tool to improve the MLB product.

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  11. I’m worn out with Dominguez too. When he hit .260 with a .323 OBP and a .753 OPS in the second half last year, I had hopes that was the guy we’d be getting this year. The sun of a gun has no patience at the plate though, swinging at things all over the place. He’s created another hole to fill at third.

    And Doc, it looks like for the time being, we’ve anointed Marisnick with a job. Great defense, but is he a major league hitter? The problem with Fowler is that he does not have a strong enough arm for right, and we don’t have enough outfield depth to put him in left.

    Seems like a few folks are ready to sell on Santana. He’s a just barely 22 year old kid playing AAA ball. I especially like his .375 OBP in OKC. He’ll be a better than average corner outfielder with 30 homer power for some team down the road. I hope it’s the home team.

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  12. the problems with dominguez and 3B makes this last trade look like a move to try to deal with it, not in the short term unfortunately.
    daveb im with you on santana. much like carter, i think he just needs to be handled with patience to let him season, mature and become a major league hitter. he’s another guy with power, a hard to find commodity especially in an affordable player. lets all take a deep breath and give him time to fully develop. i dont think he has had an at bat since this last call up, so i am hoping for a quick springer return and santana going back down to get everyday at bats.

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  13. That’s THREE quality starts in a row for these guys, and how ’bout Folty tonight!!
    Interesting thought……c”HR”is Carter is arbitration eligible next year. Do we want to keep him as the DH, or do you think Luhnow will try to dump him over the winter?

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    • I think Luhnow will try to trade CC, but we could do a lot worse at DH so I have no problem keeping him. Nothing has been finalized about this proposed new TV deal with Directv/AT&T, but once it is finalized it should provide some extra funds for Crane to spend on players…at least I hope it does.

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  14. Nice job Brian T – I think the dog days this season are brighter ones because we have players we are interested in watching from a developmental stand point. Not much of that was going on last season. And I think when you have decent starting pitching you have a chance in most games and that helps in the interest department also. 2014 is a better year for us fans.

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  15. bullp*** is looking alittle better. first time i have seen folty pitch. very small sample size, but he has the looks of a closer. fields. folty, qualls dont look too bad for the back of a bullpen.

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  16. A few fun tidbits from the minor leagues last night.
    – With the Redhawks down 6-5 in the bottom of the ninth, Joe Sclafani strode to the plate with the bases juiced and no outs. I’m thinking “punch a single through the drawn in infield, Joe.” Joe is thinking “grand slam to right center, Joe.”
    So that’s what Joe did. Walkoff! OKC is 62-60 for the year.
    -Blaine Sims is the lefty knuckleballer the Astros picked up from the Braves, who had never used the knuckler before in a game. He has been super wild and crazy trying to learn how to control that thing and the Astros have allowed him to develop that pitch. Last night he pitched six scoreless innings in his start for Quad Cities and he had six strikeouts, NO WALKS, no wild pitches and no passed balls. Brett Booth was his catcher. Beloit’s reward for getting beaten 6-1 last night by a big-time knuckleball, is to face flamethrower Michael Feliz today. Quad Cities is 59-58 for the year.
    -Colin Moran was 2 for 3 with a homer, Teoscar Hernandez had his first AA homer and Rene Garcia had 3 hits, but nobody could hit with men on last night and CC fell 4-3 to Arkansas. Corpus Christi is now 9 games under .500 for the year and that is amazing to me with the talent they have had.
    -The other big news of the night was Lancaster getting shut out by San Jose 4-0. Basically, they didn’t get many hits. Lancaster is 21 games over .500 for the year.

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