Questions for you to ponder, discuss and debate

Hello from California, the first of three stops on my Tour of America this week. Albuquerque tomorrow, then Charlotte and Greensboro. The Astros have their own “tour” this week through New York and Cleveland as the embark on the last 37 games of the season.

Here are three questions for you to ponder, discuss and debate.

Dallas Keuchel or Collin McHugh?

  • The obvious answer seems to be Keuchel, but it’s McHugh who has better stats, though in fewer innings. In the raw stats, McHugh has more Ks (124-120) and also has the edge in BAA (.259-.208), ERA (3.11-3.00) and WHIP (1.22-1.10). FIP and K/BB are basically a draw.  Keuchel seems to be the clear choice of the Astros and, after all, he is left-handed. But…after all is said and done, is Keuchel head and shoulders above McHugh?

Astros leading the league?

  • How long has it been since so many Astros were listed in the Top 10 in league stats? If they continue on their current paths, Jose Altuve will win the league batting title and stolen base title. Chris Carter is within reach of leading the league in HRs. Carter has the only chance of completing a “team” Triple Crown, but catching the leaders there is unlikely. However, he could easily finish in the Top 10. On the pitching side, either Keuchel or McHugh could finish in the Top 10 in ERA for 2014.

“Find” of the year.

  • I’ve said it a few times, but the reconstruction program simply means the Astros need to find 2-3 players a year to add to the nucleus. This year, there are several candidates. Which one do you believe will finish as Find of the Year? We’ve already discussed most of the leading candidates: Keuchel, Carter, McHugh. But you could add Dexter Fowler, George Springer and even Tony Sipp to the list of candidates.

And, a couple of other followups for extra credit.

  • Finish the sentence: I’ve seen enough of …
  • We’ve discussed (fill in the blank) enough. I’ve grown weary of that discussion.
  • What is the one thing you are most encouraged about in this season?

50 comments on “Questions for you to ponder, discuss and debate

  1. Keuchel over McHugh because of the injury bug. I do not recall Dallas going on the IR list at anytime of the season whereas, Collin has been on it twice if I recall correctly. That finger blister problem could be a problem long term.

    I had written in an earlier posting that Altuve could have a team “triple crown” with highest batting average, most hits, and most bases stolen.

    Sipp has been the find of the year.

    “I have seen enough of Peacock on the major league team. Send him away already.”

    “I am most encouraged at the starting pitching this year. The majority of the season, the starters have carried the team to have the chance to win the game the majority of the time.”


  2. Have a good time in the land of fruits and nuts, Mr. Chip.
    – McHugh vs. Keuchel – nice pickup that this is now a point of discussion. McHugh has slightly better stats overall – I give Keuchel a slight edge for one reason only. He is averaging almost one more inning per start more than McHugh (6.8 vs 6 IP / start) and with this bullpen it makes a huge difference getting through 7 rather than 6 IP.
    – Astros leading the league – And Altuve is leading the majors in base hits – Last season I’m not sure we had anybody leading anything other than bad categories like Carter and most strikeouts…..
    – “Find” of the year – I’ll give it as a dead heat tie of McHugh and Keuchel. Keuchel had put in two partial seasons of 5+ ERA. McHugh had been given a couple cups of coffee with an ERA around 9. Not that much was expected. I think we had expectations for Fowler and Springer. Sipp was a complete surprise and the Chris Carter renaissance has been life giving to a team lacking pop. Lots of good finds – but I’ll take two very good starting pitchers over the others….


  3. Tie for me Kuchel and Mchugh, like them both. Carter by far the biggest surprise to me the last 6 weeks, Sipp great pick up, Altuve a stud, I like Fowler but seems he has a clause in his contract that he can only play 120 games or less, I sure hope in the off season Singleton gets serious about baseball , he needs to hit .275 and please work on those “stone” hands


  4. Keuchel or McHugh. BOTH. Keuchel has been more steady but McHugh is a huge find and that blister problem will get fixed. Strom will take care of what caused that.
    Altuve has a great shot at the batting title and stolen base title. Carter has a great shot at the HR title because he is hot right now.
    Find of the year: McHugh, hands down. I mean you find a starting pitcher who was a AAA pitcher in the Colorado Rockies organization(of all the places to find a pitcher!) and he costs you nobody because he’s been waived and he is making the league minimum and isn’t arbitration eligible until 2017! Gold Mine!
    I’ve seen enough of picking first in the draft. I don’t ever want to see that again.
    We’ve discussed no TV enough. It’s time to be able to watch our team. And it’s time that all the people of Houston had good radio access to the game. How about let’s be a big time MLB franchise, Crane. Quit talking and do things right.
    One of the things I am most encouraged about is the rule 5 draft forcing the Astros to get rid of the yoyos and put the future players on the 40-man. I mean, seriously, do I care if Clemens or Martinez or Owens or Guzman or Presley end up somewhere else next year? It was Luhnow’s idea to build the team this way, so let’s see how he implements the next phase, with all those young guys down there we don’t want to give up.


    • I have to agree with you on Crane. You and I will disagree, but I am happy with The Plan and its implementation. But the rest of the organization is a dumpster fire for many of the reasons you list. The radio thing doesn’t get much attention but that particularly irks me. My mother is a huge Astros fan. She doesn’t miss a single game. She won’t even take my calls if the game is on. She is blind and bedridden. But she can barely hear the game through the static of 790. Pathetic! My sister and I got her set up with Comcast so she could listen to the TV broadcast. For now I’m putting Crane just behind Drayton and ahead of The Receivership as the worst owner ever.


  5. McHugh is the find. There were indications that Kuechel would continue to improve (but not this much). I’d like to see those guys in the nos. 2 and 3 slots in the rotation next year.

    I’ve seen enough of Bud Selig. He can’t go away fast enough. I’m tired of talking about Luhnow’s capability as GM. The mood in the dugout is encouraging. Thanks George Springer.


  6. Chip,

    What brings you to GSO? Considering I live here I’d really enjoy getting together and talking about Astros baseball. I’ll even buy the 1st two rounds (two is my limit). Don’t know if you can fit in your busy schedule but I’ll show you some “Tarheel” hospitality.

    McHugh is the find with Sipp a close second. I think both him and Keuchel are headed for good things in the rotation, pulling bigtime for Altuve and even Carter at this point. Seen enough of Brad Peacock, tired of the Comcast debacle, and I’m encouraged by Springer, Fowler, and others who have stepped up and performed at or above expectations.


  7. OK – Extra credit
    – I’ve seen enough of … Bud Selig (good one Flash). He can’t get back to my hometown of Milwaukee soon enough.
    We’ve discussed – the AL move and the “Crane sold us out” bit enough. If the new commissioner makes both leagues have the DH maybe this discussion will go away. Nah.
    What is the one thing you are most encouraged about in this season? Starting pitching! Last season only 41 of 162 starts were made by pitchers who ended the year with ERAs under 4.50 (and more than 1/2 of those – 21 – were done by Bud Norris, who was shipped out at the deadline).
    This year 103 of the 125 starts have been by pitchers with ERAs under 4.50 and 59 of 125 by pitchers with ERAs under 4.00. The team has a much better chance of being in or winning every game they play this season.


  8. Sipp is the better find IMO because holding leads was such a problem the last two years.

    I’ve seen enough of the LA Dodgers. We need more Astros games on as National broadcasts.

    We’ve discussed Jesse Crain enough. It didn’t cost much and didn’t prevent us from adding a piece who would have contributed. It was a gamble that didn’t pay off. Let’s move on.

    Altuve. He’s been fantastic. As long as he is in the lineup, I’m excited to watch / check the box scores. Honorable mention to Springer. Improve the contact a little to let the speed play more and I may change my answer.


  9. Before we begin, I’d just like to say I hope we sweep the (spit!) Yankees. (Spit! … Spit! Spit! Spit! Spit! Spit! Spit! Spit! Spit! Spit!)

    There. All better now.


  10. Oh joy! Our great national nightmare is over. Jesus Guzman has been activated and Darin Downs put on the DL. Let those HR’s fly……


    • The other day I wrote that Grossman, Krauss and Carter were still here because the braintrust tracked things at such a detail that they were convinced that the next 150 at bats would be better than the last 150 at bats. It seems to be working out with all 3 to varying degrees.

      It may be working against us with Guzman. His career contact rates are inflated by an over the head 2011 season, but he has traditionally been better than this years dismal performance. The braintrust seems to be locked in career progressions, and sometimes it works out. In Guzman’s case I am convinced that its just time to go – he has gotten worse, demonstrably worse, season by season since that stellar half a year in 2011. He has no durability, and he is taking up a 40 man spot that could get a Tropeano or Folty a look for September without using one of their options or starting their clocks.

      I suggest a Free Guzman movement, maybe of a slightly opposite spirit of previous said Free movements, but free nonetheless.


  11. Both might be over their heads.

    McHugh probably has the higher ceiling – but less control. What scares me about players that put together good seasons that still include 3+ walks per 9 is what happens when they hit a rough patch. In 2011 Harrell posted a pretty good season, not as good as McHugh this year, but pretty good – but that 3.62 BB/9 should have told people something. Once he gave up a big hit or two you could see the confidence wane, tried to stay out of the zone, then in an attempt to get back in the zone, he grooves some. McHugh seems to have better stuff, not walking as many and striking out way more, but he still walks his fair share.

    Keuchel looks like a workhorse. I think he might regress a little, but he has the control you like that will help him get deeper into games and not have terribad innings. I can see Keuchel spending the next 3-4 years as a slightly .500 plus pitcher that gives you 180 innings a year, and every staff needs those. Who knows though, maybe he is the next Glavine.

    All in all, keep em both, they are cost controlled for a few years, and both are having outstanding seasons. Even if they don’t repeat them they shouldn’t go Harrell on you.

    No doubt the big addition is Springer. Hopefully we will be having the same “find” discussion next year about Singleton. Those two along with Altuve are probably your best bets at homegrown Superstars, but there are a few contributors. Mentioning relievers should be taken with a grain of salt, the battlefield is littered with far more guys that were great for a year and disappeared than vice versa.


  12. I just tried to post a lengthy, intelligent, well thought out and humorous post…..One of my best efforts. Somehow I am no longer daveb. Maybe Chip has banned me like he did with that grouchy Lloyd guy some years ago. I think I at least deserve a shot at a review board. If this post gets through, all I’m going to say is that I agree with op. And Altuve, one of the best baseball players in the game today is the one thing I’m most encouraged about. He will keep getting better!


  13. Watching the game tonight like almost every night, I’m not sure if i get a different telecasts, but if Singleton is our future at first , wow. I’m sure I’m wrong as usual, but he sucks right now, him and dominguez. We can do better.


  14. Diamonds in the rough:
    I don’t wanna hear any more crap about the CSN debacle….so yeah, I’ve seen enough about it.
    Second chances:
    Grossman……BOTH have made the best of their chances.
    Opening day Rotation:

    Give the ball to Keuchel to open the 2015 season.
    Not really the biggest surprise, when he was healthy, Springer!!
    Done with:
    Matty D.
    Maybe Castro?


  15. And now I’m seeing ads for something Gravity?…….8most demanding stars…..Taylor Swifts leggiest moments…..10 actors who died during production? What has happened toChip’d blog?


  16. Keuchel over McHugh, but it’s a close one. I am still on the fence (barely) with the latter, as he doesn’t go deep at all into games, but he’s a really good #4 or #5 starter.

    Find of the year? Jeez…too many to list. Keuchel (who did actually do well during his first couple of starts his rookie year, although he blew up afterwards), McHugh, Fowler…but right now gotta go with Sipp.

    Absolutely sick to death of Jason Castro. I was never sold on him to begin with, and you guys know I was one of the few last year who said his good season was a fluke. Guess I don’t trust anybody who only bats over .300 once in college. I’m okay with Corporan being the starter,and could care less if the backup is Heineman, Stassi, Garcia, or if they brought Scott Servais out of retirement, or just went without a catcher. Don’t care. I don’t know why I feel the way I do about Castro, i just want him gone. G-O-N-E that spells gone lol

    Liked by 1 person

    • Exactly. He’s got that whole Mitch Meluskey vibe about him, with a worse bat, same defense, same injury problems, same nonchalance, only (to my knowledge) he’s not a massive jerk like Meluskey was.


  17. Well, been doing this for nearly 10 years and have never banned anyone. Usually, they take care of themselves…or the other bloggers reign them in.

    As for GSO, there (and Charlotte) to train a new employee and spend some time in the market in meetings. Pretty tight schedule, but probably back in September when I’ll have more time.


  18. I’m going where no fan should go and defend Castro’s fielding.
    First – his hitting this season is poor for what he should be doing and he seems lifeless there at times.
    On the other hand I think he has improved a lot in his technique of blocking pitches. I know he still has too many PBs but I contend with this staff being so ground ball centric that he is having to stop a lot of pitches in the dirt. I think his technique is far improved over last season / that is just by the eyeball test.


    • His defense has seemed better to me as well. Offensively, I think the K’s are dragging him down more than we anticipated. There have been too many opportunities for RBI lost (& rallies killkilled) by poor situational hitting. However, he did get the job done last night, bringing in Fowler with an RBI 4-3 groundout.

      Also, FWIW, if Corporan were really performing as well as a receiver as some posters believe, Castro would have started more games at DH (11 of 100 games played this year) before Carter got things going in July.


  19. Just so we’re clear on this, that was the Houston Astros who sent 40,000 Yankee fans home in shock. The same Astros who were going to help the Yankees gain ground on those silly, upstart Orioles. Boom!


    • And yet, in the New York Times this morning, the Yankees talk as if it was an accident and that they expect to win the series because they are playing the Astros.
      Where the he** is Springer!


      • OP1, I fully understand the Yankees – * expectorate * – fast talk and bad attitude. Look at their record this year and their storied history – and compare both to ours – and I can see where a team with a low payroll like ours beating them on their home turf makes no sense to them whatever. Let’s keep it that way. Let them stay awash in their pleasant delusion. Let them just keep on underestimating the lowly Astros of Houston, Texas. And with or without our without Captain America Springer, let’s keep letting whoever we put on the field just keep beating the he** out of them!


  20. So a little minor league stuff is in order.
    Luis Cruz, recently promoted to OKC, got bombed in his start in a 7-4 loss last night.
    Recently promoted Josh Hader got bombed in two inning last night for Corpus Christi. But that’s ok because David Rollins and Chris Devenski got rocked in his relief and they lost 15-2.
    The highlight of the night came in Lancaster, where Matt Heidenreich got bombed in his start. But Jon Kemmer hit a three run homer in the seventh inning to put Lancaster ahead and Kent Emanuel pitched a brilliant last four innings for the 8-7 win. Emanuel had seven strikeouts, ALL SWINGING! He struck out five of the last six hitters after Kemmer’s home run.


  21. Things won’t be easy for our local nine tonight, the kid that the Yankees are starting Pineda, has an ERA of 1.85. He’s a flame thrower, so our boys are going to have to swing at the first pitch, because this guy throws *strikes*!


  22. Just a thought. If Castro has trade value, I mean “actual value.” Then trade him and use Corporan as the starter next year. The team may not be much improved but it will not be much worse either. Then take the prospect at CC or OKC with the “weakest estimated upside” and bring him up. He will ride the bench 4 of 5 days, but it allows another year of the prospects with the “strongest upside” to get game time at AA and AAA. And if one were to argue – Corporan is not the long term solution at Catcher, I agree. But don’t believe Castro is either – Long Term.


  23. Knowing only what we know as fans, I have to say that is not a bad idea, especially if someone comes to us with a really good deal for a player we can really use. If the entire pitching staff is going to riot then I would hesitate to do a deal.
    For the sake of the thought, Perez would be a likely candidate because he has experience, the defense, and he has hit decently this year at AAA and he could back up Corp. That would also have Corp mentoring him which isn’t bad either.
    That leaves Stassi and Garcia at OKC and leaves Heineman at CC with whoever they choose to move up.
    By the way, Blaine “the magician” Sims went six innings in his start for QC yesterday. He gave up 11 hits and 1 walk but only allowed two runs and one of those came on a home run. He did not figure into the decision as he left the game after the sixth leading 3-2. He must be figuring out the knuckleball because his era keeps dropping and his bases on balls keep dropping.
    Sims was facing Kohl Stewart in that game and Stewart only lasted 1.1 innings before being pulled. Don’t know if he was hurt but he sure was getting hit.


  24. Talk of bailing on Castro is a bit premature, simply because we don’t have anyone else around ready to take over the job. And while Corporan has done a serviceable/better than serviceable job as back up, he’s not a five day a week guy either. The Corporan-Castro backstop will certainly cost more money in 2015, but we should be spending more anyway and it’s not mine. A good problem to have in July of next year would be to have Castro performing as he did in 2013 and one of our minor league guys pushing for a promotion to the big club. All in all though, we’ve got bigger issues elsewhere around the diamond than at the catchers position.


  25. i agree daveb and for the same reasons you state. by next year there should be some tv revenue, so they will cover the position as is and spend more here and there on the roster as well. i hope we have that dilemma of having surplus catching to trade.


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