You may or may not have noticed, but I have been out of the loop the last couple weeks, contributing no posts and just an occasional comment. My second son Peter lives in Australia and was married a week ago to a lovely young woman, Skye, so the blog and the Astros have taken second place to touring and celebrations. I thank Brian and Chip for hanging in there without my help, especially if no one noticed I was gone.
Getting away for a couple weeks may have given me some perspective or maybe fooled me into thinking I have some perspective. At the very least this will be an interesting trial of whether my jet-lagged brain (basically it took us 27 hours from leaving our place in Melbourne to reach our home in Sugar Land) can express any coherent thoughts.
They Are What They Are
During the time I was away, the Astros continued to be what they have been this season a team that is improved quite a bit over 2013, but continuing to struggle with a few flaws. They were 6-9 from the time we left to when we returned and continued to have solid starting pitching (except for Peacock), hot/cold hitting (scoring 8 and 6 runs in consecutive games and then scoring 1 run in 15 innings the next) and a leaky bullpen. With even mediocre help from the pen they could easily have been 8-7 or 9-6 as they gave away three games including a couple big leads in late epic meltdowns. At this point, the bullpen is what the bullpen is (worse than United Airlines food service – but I digress) and it will again be the off-season focus of a team that could be quite a bit better with just a little help.
They Are Not What They Were
The Astros suffered two terrible losses while I was gone, giving up 6 ninth-inning runs to the A’s in losing 7-4 and giving up 5 eighth inning runs to the Phils to lose 6-5 a few days ago. After the A’s loss they won the next game and won 4 of the next 5. After the Phils debacle they bounced back and won the next two and counting as I type this. This is not the same team that phoned in the 15 losses in a row to end 2013. They seem to have heart, some talent and short memories.
I have watched a bit of the last two games since returning to the land of Comcast. I don’t know if this kid – Jake Marisnick – has the bat to stick, but I love to watch how he covers center field and I can imagine the pitching staff is salivating with the thought of Springer, Fowler and Marisnick applying their CF skills to all 3 outfield positions at once.
Folty! It has been a long time since we have had someone hitting those upper 90’s and the magic 100 mph out of the pen. Michael Foltynewicz may end up being a starter, but it sure was nice to see someone lighting up the radar gun from the pen last night.
Patience Is a Difficult Virtue
I always liked Chris Carter‘s short compact swing – but I had despaired of him ever choosing to swing it at pitches he could actually reach. The last 5 weeks may be a mirage for Mr. Carter, but I have a feeling he may be actually getting it. Dallas Keuchel stunk in his first two tries with the Astros. Now he does not. Does that mean Brad Peacock will too? No. But it does mean that young guys have to have some time to show what they have and to learn how to properly do their jobs. They all have talent that 99.9999% of the population lacks, but they have to prove it against the other .0001% and that can be a difficult transition. George Springer stunk when he showed up. Guys like Jonathan Singleton need the reps to show who they really are. Hey, I think Robbie Grossman can be an adequate 3rd or 4th OF and I do not think he has had enough ABs to prove otherwise. We might as well be patient – it may well be rewarded.
Anyways – those are some almost coherent thoughts with what brain cells that remain in this noggin. What say ye?