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Two Stars in the Heavens – Astros Beat Indians in Opener


Some in-person observations from last night’s 3-1 victory for the Astros over the Indians.

General Comments

Heading into September, the Astros were 20 games under .500 at 59-79 and had a tough road ahead of them with 9 home games and 15 road games down the stretch. On top of that, they were going to be facing the A’s, the Angels. the Mariners, and the Indians in 18 of those 24 games – all teams playing for either post season position or for their post season lives.

After an 8-4 start to the month,  the kids (as the Who famously said) are alright. Last night’s victory over the Indians in the series opener was a typical triumph for the Astros featuring great starting pitching, decent bullpen contributions and just enough clutch hitting to put up a W.

Stars of the Game

Baseball is a team game that rides on individual head-to-head confrontations between pitchers and hitters. Last night the Astros had both the best pitcher and the best hitter on the field. A two-headed monster named Collin Mctuve, or was it Jose Alhugh went out and grabbed the Indians playoff hopes by the throat and did not let go.

Collin McHugh will not come close to winning the Rookie of the Year trophy, but he is currently the Astros ace (sorry Dallas Keuchel – you are very very good too). After a solid start to the season, his last nine starts have been even better – giving up o earned runs once (last night), 1 run six times and 2 runs twice. He was headed for at least an 8 inning stint when Lonnie Chisenhall de-gloved him with a shot back up the middle that knocked him out of the game in the 7th with a forearm contusion. McHugh is riding Uncle Charlie, a curveball he can throw for strikes all night long and he looks cool and confident out there.

There is not much left to say about the other star of the game, Jose Altuve. He had 4 at bats and 4 times he tattoed the ball. (Yawn). When the Astros finally got a rally going against spot starter Zach McAllister in the third with a Petit single and a Grossman double – it was almost anti-climatic when Jose ripped a croquet shot through the pitcher’s wickets for a two run single to take the lead 2-1. In the 8th, he showed why the triple is the most exciting play in baseball as he smacked a liner into the right field corner and became a whirling dervish blur, just beating the throw into third and coming home with the security blanket 3rd run of the game on a Fowler sacrifice fly. His 3 hits earned Altuve his 5th multi-hit game in a row and takes him to 209 hits on the season, one short of the great Craig Biggio for the club record.

Slugs of the Game

Marc Krauss gets one of two slugs of the game awards. Besides going 0 for 3 with two strikeouts where his bat never left his shoulder – he failed to catch a simple throw from Altuve for the first out of the game. How simple? This was little league simple – your neighborhood little league simple, not Little League World Series simple. This error led to the Indians scoring their one and only run of the game and started McHugh off in a hole he did not deserve. To be fair, Krauss made 2 or 3 very good scoops at first base later in the game, but the taste from the first inning blunder never went away. He was later replaced by Jon Singleton. Enough said.

Matt Dominguez played flawlessly in the field, but on his way to another 0 fer 3 – he pulled off an unbelievable non-running stunt in the 4th inning. With Marisnick and Castro on 2nd and 3rd with two outs in the 4th, Matty D slapped a hard grounder at 3B Chrisenhall, who pulled a Villar and let the ball run up his arm. It bounced twice as it dribbled towards the short stop Ramirez, who amazingly had time to pick it up and throw to Carlos Santana (who has not put out a good album in a while) getting Dominguez easily at 1st. There was no replay, so I don’t know if the turtle-quick Dominguez stopped to tie his shoes on the way to first, but there was no way a major leaguer gets caught on this play short of falling down coming out of the box. It cost the Astros at least one crucial run and hacked off the fans.

Honorable Mention – Mini-Stars of the Game

Gregorio Petit, who similar to his fellow Venezuelan Altuve, does not like to walk, but does like to slap line drives around had two more hits last night. Jason Castro has suddenly discovered he can hit line drives to the opposite field successfully, had two hits and should have score a run except for Grandpa Matty D’s misadventure on the way to first base.

The bullpen was solid as Kevin Chapman, Sam Deduno (or is it Menudo?) and Chad Qualls combined for 2-1/3 of scoreless relief after McHugh’s misfortune. Qualls, who had missed the last 7 games with a bad hip (how old is this guy?) tried to barehand a sharp grounder for the second out and had to convince the trainers that he did not need to follow McHugh to the clubhouse with a bruised hand. After a seeing-eye single he secured the final out and his 18th save in 19 attempts (against teams not named Oakland) on the year.

The Astros winning is almost expected now. With a 67-83 record and 12 games to go – how high does this boat float by the end of the season?

 

 

 

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About Dan P

Dan Peschong is a full time engineer and a long time Astros lover from the days of Joe Morgan to the days of Jose Altuve.

116 comments on “Two Stars in the Heavens – Astros Beat Indians in Opener

  1. kevin
    September 16, 2014

    Hopefully only 2 more weeks of having to watch Matty ( Rusty Staub wheels) D in an Astro uniform. Altuve what a great kid an ambassador of doing it right. Starting pitching amazing for the cast we have, Strom great hire.

    Like

    • Dan P
      September 16, 2014

      I’m not pulling for him to stay, but I’m not sure he’s gone after the season.

      Like

    • Steven
      September 16, 2014

      Replaced by whom? You can’t suggest dumping someone unless there is a plan to go with it. I mean, I am available on the market, I guess I can have my agent give em a call, but I am not sure how much of an upgrade I will be. I’ll play for peanuts though.

      Like

      • Dan P
        September 16, 2014

        Steven – I doubt you are any slower than Matty D.

        Like

  2. kevin
    September 16, 2014

    We traded Cosart for Moran, time to step up cant be worse than Matty D and long term its Ruiz anyway. Or sign Beltre for 2 years. Panda will want 5-6

    Like

    • Steven
      September 16, 2014

      Kevin, that’s viable, except Beltre, his agent, and the Rangers have all said he isn’t leaving. Even if he does, the Astros are probably not the destination without overpaying. I am not saying I would go with Dominguez, but I will say my guess is the Astros will, for lack of being able to find better. Moran is probably 2 years away, but you are right, he will certainly be a better option when it’s time.

      Like

    • Steven
      September 16, 2014

      And side note – irrelevant to the discussion – but Beltre looks to me like he is just 2 more good seasons from the hall of fame discussion. Never was a Beltre fan, but man you have to admire the consistency.

      Like

      • Dan P
        September 16, 2014

        There was a time when I thought Beltre might be a flash in the pan and then he went out there and proved it over time.Yes he could be in the H of F discussion soon.

        Like

      • kevin
        September 16, 2014

        I have never liked him much either But, I’m thinking the team from Oklahoma is sinking fast for a while, We got a TV deal of some sort so shot over pay for 2 years at 3B. I mean what the heck why not. Moran and Ruiz in the wings, He can still hit and play 3rd right there we win an extra 10 games!

        Like

      • Dan P
        September 16, 2014

        Well if we don’t have to overpay for starting pitching – why not overpay for a hired gun of a 3B. But he probably won’t come.

        Like

  3. Steven
    September 16, 2014

    McHugh is having a special season, no doubt. It will be fun to see him next year when he is in the rotation from day 1 and gets 33-34 starts.

    It’s no surprise that Krauss was ofer with 2 K’s. The guy has gotten 2 games in the last 3 weeks, both as a pinch hitter. I’m 90% sure he will be a former Astro sometime shortly after the final game. The Astros have tipped their hand on that one by not even giving him playing time despite Singleton’s struggles and Guzman being a non factor. Krauss will get picked up by someone, and mark my words, he will never be a star, but he will have an impact somewhere as a hitter before all is said and done.

    What perplexes me is the sheer amount of outperfomance Krauss has over Marisnick as a hitter. Both have awful batting averages in the majors so far, and Krauss has outperformed him in almost every other area. Marisnick can run and he can go get em. Got it. Krauss gets on base more – and yes, it matters. He also has much more power. Yes, that matters more than Marisnick going and gettin it in CF when we already have guys that can go get it in CF. I don’t know, maybe its the 3 year age difference.

    What I do see is Krauss finally get 1 game in, first one in weeks, and have a game that every major leaguer has every once in a while, and we continue to perpetuate the lets dump on this guy mentality. Meanwhile, ol JFSF can do the same, or worse, offensively, but man, did you see that catch? What a catch! We ignore the fact that Fowler or Springer could have possibly made that catch, and we are content with the well lets see if Marisnick can grow as a hitter, despite hundreds of major league at bats with poor performance, and nearly 2000 minor league plate appearances with pedestrian performance.

    It’s like we scout our players like Billy Beane got scouted 30 years ago. He was big, tall, athletic, and could hit mediocre pitchers a mile. In the end, though, he ended up as a GM writing a book about the fallacy of judging a player that way. He preached about the Youkilis’ of the world. And its worked for him – though people really should pay more attention to how he scouts his young pitchers, it’s probably been a better contributor to his success than his offenses.

    In the end – my roster is taking slug Krauss over no hit Marisnick. I got it, it’s not my roster, it’s Luhnow, and I see what direction he is going. Maybe Krauss is a AAAA player. Maybe he will forever post .400 OBP’s with power at AA or AAA and struggle against major league pitching. If you think that just because of 300something plate appearances, why does that same standard not apply to Jake Marisnick and his 300something plate appearances?

    Like

    • Dan P
      September 16, 2014

      I would like to point out that I called him slug for a day – remember I argued a lot with bopert over Krauss earlier this year. I agree that it is tough to decide on any of these kids when they do not get enough or consistent play.
      But it was tough to watch him drop an easy throw – ouch.

      Like

      • Steven
        September 16, 2014

        Sorry Dan was a rant for the chipaholics, not you specifically. I’ve actually seen you defend Krauss, but there are quite a few of us chipaholics that don’t.

        Maybe my love of the walk and anyone that can do it with consistency will get me checked into a special wing of the Astroholic rehab clinic.

        Like

      • Dan P
        September 16, 2014

        Steven – it is the same reason I like Grossman better than others – he gets on base a lot and that counts for a lot for me.

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    • 1oldpro
      September 16, 2014

      Kraus has done terribly playing in the outfield. He is below replacement value at 1B. He is super slow. He can’t steal bases. He is hitting below .200 for the year for the Astros. He has a negative WAR offensively/ defensively. He doesn’t have an arm. He is going to be 27 next month. I don’t know how he can be compared to Marisnick. It doesn’t make any sense to project him as somebody who is going to make his mark as a hitter somewhere. The Astros have to get better and they won’t get better keeping Kraus around. Billy Beane is not going to love Kraus. because he has a career .270 OBP and if you know Beane, you know how he loves OBP.

      Like

      • Steven
        September 16, 2014

        You are right, he can’t be compared to Marisnick. He gets on base more often, hits for more power, and does more in the place that matters 4-5 times a game. There are plenty of slow people that made it just because they can hit.

        I’ve talked about this small sample before. If you are going to simply grab 300 plate appearances from a career that is over 2400 plate appearances in as a professional, and say these 300 are the only ones I am going to use to throw this guy aside, well, Craig Biggio would never have made it as a professional. Beane will love his near .400 career OBP pre major league.

        I am the first to admit that he has struggled as a major leaguer offensively, and that he is poor defensively. They can’t all be superstars. It’s the managers job to figure out how and when to use Krauss that helps him win, and when to Marisnick. If a good manager has them both, and uses their strengths well, manages their weaknesses, and puts them in good opportunities to succeed, matching up well with the right kind of pitchers, etc., I think they can both be successful in their strengths. Marisnick may even hit .270 next year, with 20-25 SBs and play tremedous defense, but his OBP will limit his playing time.

        As you liked to remind me yesterday – Krauss age 27 season will be next year. Noone will give him 500 plate appearances in a season because of his liabilities – but if they did, a .260 avg with a .350 OBP and 20 homers wouldn’t surprise me at all. If Marisnick could get anywhere near that level of offensive potential, especially the power/OBP department, I would love him too.

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    • daveb
      September 16, 2014

      Steven, I’ve been surprised at all the clamor suggesting Marisnick as our next centerfielder. There are a whole lot of kids across the country that can play major league defense. But at the end of the day, you’ve got to hit. At the same time, Krauss has gotten 205 plate appearances and his OBP is still .283 and his OPS .611. And we all agree that he can’t play much defense. But I don’t think any 26 year old professional baseball player should allow himself to be portly. That’s kind of a nice way of calling him fat. Maybe he’s not working real hard at his job.

      Like

      • Steven
        September 16, 2014

        My guess is that in 12-18 months both Marisnick and Krauss will be former Astros. I really don’t have a problem with that given that I think Springer/Grossman/Fowler are all 3 far superior, and Tucker and Santana in the wings leaves us in a good spot. Krauss is likely gone right after the last game in order to free up a spot on the 40 man, and Marisnick is likely to be around another year as the 4th OF’er. Not sure what the plan is on Presley, but he will likely not be resigned to again free up a spot on what will be an already discussed crowded 40 man.

        I don’t think any of us will argue that Krauss should be a former Astro right after the final game. I concede it. We just have better options. I just think there is disagreement in whether or not he can be useful in the future for someone somewhere. I think Krauss would be a better choice than Marisnick if the playing time becomes significant and you have the defensive flexibility to move people around, simply because he will hit better if you live by track records, but admittedly Marisnick will perform better in the 4th or 5th OFer slot because he is a better athlete. He can pinch hit and not be lost, he can pinch run, he can sub defensively for a Grossman or Tucker, he can do a lot of things well that doesn’t require 5 plate appearances that day. Krauss doesn’t help you unless he is getting those 5 day in and day out.

        I don’t know his physical conditioning. Not sure where he is. It’s something he has to work on. Hopefully the Astros coaches haven’t just dismissed the fact that he probably only has weeks left in the organization and are telling him this. We’ll see. Maybe it will cost him any possibility of playing pro ball again after this year.

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      • Dan P
        September 16, 2014

        I think that is a very fair assessment Steven – it is always tough for guys who don’t get a bunch of abs to prove themselves

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    • Devin_
      September 16, 2014

      I agree 100%. However, I think we have been hoodwinked into thinking JFSF was a target in that trade. Luhnow wanted Moran and the draft pick. The arm was a bonus our guys told him to go get. JFSF was their version of Wates in the trade. Ultimately, I think he had decided to dump Cosart regardless of whether he could get a legit outfielder back.

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      • Dan P
        September 16, 2014

        Good points Devin and true.

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    • Tim
      September 17, 2014

      Steven, looking at the career minor league stats, since we are using them as a projection, of Krauss and Marisnick the difference, in my opinion, is not enough to warrant the horrible defense Krauss plays. Marisnick had a career OBP of .347 to Krauss’ .375 and the OPS is .790 to .854. Krauss will also ground into many more DPs and can’t be used as a PR or defensive replacement. In addition, Krauss struck out 116 times more than JFSF with only 99 more ABs. I just don’t much of a difference where Krauss will be a better option than JFSF.

      Like

      • Steven
        September 17, 2014

        You are nitpicking stats – and bad ones on top of that – a 64 point difference in OPS isn’t something to just say its a minor difference, its pretty big. You also have to pay attention to the fact that Marisnick’s career minor league OBP is based heavily off of stellar performance at low levels and declining walk rates as he moved up, while Krauss has posted .400 OBP’s in significant playing time as high as AAA. Strikeouts are not really that vital unless a guy cant draw a walk or has consistently low BABIPs. Krauss is literally twice the hitter, and always will be.

        I will concede the only thing Krauss is good for is be an emergency outfielder, a DH, or a below average 1B, and you need to keep him off the field. I will argue though that if you give Marisnick 500 at bats, and Krauss 500 at bats, there will be a noticeable difference in run production.

        Like

    • Tim
      September 17, 2014

      Speaking of Grossman, he had a lower OPS and less HR’s than JFSF and Grossman had 517 more ABs than JFSF. Honestly, if we are using minor league stats as a projection of future productivity I might take Krauss over Grossman as RG is not exactly a defensive specialist either (although, admittedly so, he is better than Krauss in the OF). The one thing RG did really well in the minors is draw a walk, but he is facing such better pitching now with guys who can locate their pitches so much better I am not sure if that is enough to warrant keeping him.

      Like

      • Dan P
        September 17, 2014

        Grossman has had a few hundred more ABs in the majors than Krauss, but there is hardly any area where he has not been a better ball player so far, BA/OBP/OPS fielding. And he’s basically 2 years younger.
        By the way – happy birthday Robbie (turned 25 yesterday).

        Like

      • Tim
        September 17, 2014

        Dan, I am replying to my message as I am on my darn work laptop with IE7. Grossman, to date, has out-performed Krauss at the major league level and is a little younger, but it isn’t like RG is doing well either. I wonder what Krauss would have done if he had the same number of ABs. Since we don’t know I think we have to use their minor league numbers as a better tool for future projection. Honestly, I think both are not worth keeping, but Krauss might be a better bench option if we did.

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      • Tim
        September 17, 2014

        Also, if we are using major league stats then why would anyone keep RG over JFSF? Jake has out-performed RG at every level so far, including and especially on the defensive end.

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      • Devin_
        September 17, 2014

        Tim, thats not true. The only offensive categories in which JFSF has been better than RG are the following this year:
        Batting average: .265 to .220
        K%: 22% to 30%

        That includes the abysmal start for RG. Although I abhor the K, when RG walks at a 15% rate and JFSF comes in at about 8%, I can overlook it a bit.

        Like

      • Tim
        September 17, 2014

        That’s fair Devin, but considering JFSF has many less at bats than RG we shouldn’t use compiling stats such as HRs, RBIs, SB etc. as he hasn’t had as many opportunities to produce as RG has. However, looking at the minor league stats I think we would be hard-pressed to say RG will be a better player than JFSF in the long run.

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      • Steven
        September 17, 2014

        I would disagree. There is still a lot of translation that has to be done when you reference stats. As JFSF climbed the ladder his walk rate plummeted. There is no indication that he will get anywhere near 8% in the majors considering he never approached anything better than 6% past A ball.

        It matters. What it tells me is he is Billy Beane. A big, strong, kid that can run and throw, but against the best pitchers in the world his ability to read strikes and get the bat in the right place consistently enough is not good, and that has to concern you.

        I know there are major leaguers that perform quite well at 5-6% walk rates – Altuve does – but JFSF doesn’t have Altuve’s contact rates and BABIP to fall back on. Simply put – I bet the scouting report on JFSF is he hits the pitchers pitch more often than working the pitcher for his pitch. That subtle difference is where he and RG differ. RG has not performed well – and I doubt he is destined for stardom, his consistently low BABIP at every level suggests he doesn’t swing a particularly strong bat – but he works pitchers and tries to get his pitch – and this makes a difference. It’s really everything.

        What I am banking on isn’t using the past generic statistics to justify playing a guy or not playing guy, what I am trying to do is justify future potential off of what might seem like obscure stats like contact rates, BB%, etc., to show that even if a player has performed poorly at the start of his MLB career the potential is there. Carter is a perfect example, most people looked at the average and the strike outs for a 26 year old, sometimes lethargic, poor defensive player, completely ignored his minor league track record, and suggested we get rid of this guy. Those same people have shut up about it today, yet say the same things about Krauss. What I am saying is look at the periphereals, and you will see a very similar player to Carter – poor defensively, poor strike out rates, but maintaining his walk rates and contact rates from the minors to the majors – give him time. Even similar in age for those that are hung up on that.

        Like

  4. SargeH
    September 16, 2014

    The club announced this afternoon that Springer is done for the season. Get well and come back stronger next season!

    Like

    • Dan P
      September 16, 2014

      I figured it was coming – just hope he isn’t going to Jesse Crain’s doctor.

      Like

  5. 1oldpro
    September 16, 2014

    Dan, McHugh was also a spot starter last night for Peacock.
    If the Astros follow their year long percentage of winning they will win 5.5 of their next twelve games, giving them 72.5 wins for the year. Mathematically you need to round that upward from .5 and therefore they should finish with 73 wins. 73 wins for that team should qualify for the Manager of the Year Award. Since there is no non-interim manager, that award goes to his bench coach. Since there is no non-interim bench coach, the Manager of the Year Award goes to Brent Strom. Accepting the award for Mr. Strom is Colin McHugh, but he is nursing his forearm. So relieving McHugh in that duty is Tony Sipp.

    Like

    • Dan P
      September 16, 2014

      Funny as heck old pro. Yes McHugh was starting in place of Peacock but because they had gone to a 6 man rotation, it just meant it was like a 5 man rotation.
      And Yes Brent Strom is Mr. Astro this season.

      Like

  6. kevin
    September 16, 2014

    I’m not trying to throw out conspiracy stuff, but a young kid gone for 2.5 months on a qaud, Im 59 and a runner I do 1/2 marathons have had my share of leg issues, but my quad doesn’t take 2.5 months, more like 4 weeks, Whats up here, some thing is stinky here IMHO ????

    Like

    • Dan P
      September 16, 2014

      I think he tried to come back too soon and reinjured it so they really backed him off. You sure can’t say it is because they are trying to tank the season because they have played pretty solidly without him.
      And kudos for running the 1/2 marathons at 59. I don’t even like to drive that far any more.

      Like

      • kevin
        September 16, 2014

        Not tanking, quads are not like knees, or arm stuff etc for a young kid that should heal 2-3 weeks just strange. Being safe is fine but just seems weird. Thanks for the running cudos, Im doing a 190 mile relay in Vegas in 6 weeks with 11 friends. Goal is 28 hours.

        Like

      • Dan P
        September 16, 2014

        Wow Kevin – impressive on the relay.

        So what is the thing on Springer? His PEDs won’t let him heal or what? (That is a joke by the way)

        Like

    • 1oldpro
      September 16, 2014

      In his rehab assignment at Quad Cities, Springer hit a double and was on second. Apparently he did feel something while running to second. Then he stole third base. He was taken out of the game shortly thereafter and has not played again. They don’t want him hurting himself again.

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      • Dan P
        September 16, 2014

        Yeah I think they know what the have with him and just want to start fresh.

        Like

  7. kevin
    September 16, 2014

    I guees I will have to trust in Lunhole. Man that is hard for me to type

    Like

    • kevin
      September 16, 2014

      Thus guees LOL

      Like

    • Dan P
      September 16, 2014

      I think we ll stain to type with our phones our pads and our fat fingers

      Like

      • kevin
        September 16, 2014

        yup

        Like

  8. Dan P
    September 16, 2014

    All strain ….

    Like

  9. Becky
    September 16, 2014

    Dan don’t forget you promised to report back tonight! We get more surprised when we lose, than when we win! Anyone heard how the TV debacle is going???
    I think Altuve may end up this season with 225-230 hits! Go Altuve!

    Like

    • Dan P
      September 16, 2014

      Becky – this blog post above was my report back.

      Like

  10. kevin
    September 16, 2014

    Whats sad Astros been paying well for a couple months, Altuve could break an amazing Astro record, could be the first Astro to win a batting title and the stadium empty *&^&*^&(*&-. At least Biggio and Nolan behind home plate.

    Like

    • Dan P
      September 16, 2014

      Last night the crowd was lively but tiny

      Like

  11. daveb
    September 16, 2014

    Fowler has been looking a bit lackadaisical out there lately.

    Like

    • Dan P
      September 16, 2014

      I was totally hacked in Keuchel’s last great start when the first hit dropped in and he mad no effort even if futil to make a dive for it.
      In tonights game they were commenting how he was really late and flat footed when he should have been backing up second on Stassis wild throw.
      He does not seem to want to push himself

      Like

      • daveb
        September 16, 2014

        Maybe he wants to/knows he’ll be playing somewhere else next year.

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      • Dan P
        September 16, 2014

        Sorry daveb – right now all I can think about is how Altuve just had his 6th multi hi game to break Biggio’s record with Bidge sitting there watching!
        The heck with Fowler tonight.

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    • Billy Castillo
      September 16, 2014

      His numbers have been dropping since he came back from injury.

      Like

  12. Dan P
    September 16, 2014

    Jose just did it – 211!!!!

    Like

  13. Becky
    September 16, 2014

    What a kid!! You gotta know Biggio is proud of him!

    Like

  14. BrianT
    September 16, 2014

    Congrats to Jose Altuve. I tell anyone in Minnesota who will listen about what a special player he is.

    I want to bring back a topic from higher up in this thread. Why would we need to massively overpay for talent? Particularly, if he’s willing to leave the stRangers, Beltre?

    This is a team — an organization — that is getting better. At least 70 wins this year. Then you go out and sign a real closer. Overpay there if you must. Or trade for someone’s top setup man. Do whatever is necessary. But do it early.

    Right then, this looks like a .500 club. Altuve, Springer, Fowler, Carter, someone who isn’t a black hole at SS (Marwin or Petit), and then Beltre has to think, “OK, that’s a quality two-thirds of a lineup with me. Add in that starting pitching and a real bullpen, and this is a team that’s one more player — a guy in AA or AAA, one more trade or free-agent signing — from being a potential playoff team.”

    And that, if I’m Luhnow, is how I sell it. Sure, we fans can be angry over the Aiken deal (or lack of a deal) and how Springer was kept in AAA for three weeks, but do you really think Beltre cares?

    Or maybe after an uncharacteristically bad season, Billy Bean decides to dump Alberto Callaspo, who has played a lot at the hot corner. An incentive-laden deal might bring him to Houston.

    Maybe Chase Headley would prefer to play for a team on the rise (Houston) instead of an aging team in decline (Yankees … spit!). Between all the media mess and the bloated contracts of aging stars — plus A-Rod’s return — who wouldn’t prefer the Astros?

    If I’m one of these players, I don’t see the 2015 Astros as a black hole. I see it as a place where I’m the missing piece.

    You could find some left fielders or first basemen who think the same thing.

    Like

    • Dan P
      September 16, 2014

      Brian – players usually sign for 3 reasons – the most money, going home and close to the most money or for an immediate chance to win a championship now and close to the most money.

      Like

    • Steven
      September 17, 2014

      Beltre is signed through 2015 with an option for 2016 according to Cot’s.

      Like

    • Steven
      September 17, 2014

      But, well written thoughts. Headley is like playing the lottery, no idea what you would get, but its possible that its better than Dominguez.

      Not many 1B out there that I would be interested in over Singleton. You just wish Singleton took his preparation more seriously, I don’t think he changes his approach or even studies the pitchers he is going to face. It’s almost like, hey, I know I can tell a ball from a strike and I can hit the ball a country mile, I don’t need anything else, just give the bat and I’ll do the rest. Unfortunately, against the best pitchers in the world, that doesnt work. It takes talent and a day in, day out drive. Not sure he has it. Maybe that laid back demeanor will be his downfall. We’ll see. Regardless, I dont see any upgrades available for purchase, so if Luhnow wants a change at 1B, it maybe Carter, it may have to be converting an OFer, or it may have to come from giving up something in a trade.

      I do agree, their performance this year should change the national image of it being a black hole to being something a little more attractive. Not the Yankees/Dodgers attractive, but better than all we can get is an old Pedro Feliz better.

      Like

  15. rj
    September 16, 2014

    hip hip hoooray for altuve

    Like

  16. Dan P
    September 16, 2014

    Yeah they talked to Biggio earlier and he spoke of how Altuve plays the game the right way. It sounded like he was talking about himself.

    Like

  17. Becky
    September 17, 2014

    The other take away’s from this game were……..Tropeano pitched VERY well, allowing one earned run. The other “ugly” stat was, these guys struck out *14* times tonight. Strike out’s have GOT to get rectified for next year.

    Like

    • Dan P
      September 17, 2014

      Yeah Tropeano’s teammates did him no favors last night – another silly error to let in a run and putting on a K show at the plate.
      In his last two starts Singleton has 7 Ks and looks lost up there.
      Now that Carter’s power bat has cooled down the lineup is really weak. Altuve cannot carry them all the time.

      Like

  18. Dan P
    September 17, 2014

    This whole Krauss / Grossman / Marisnick / OF discussion is interesting. Thoughts:
    – Fact: Fowler’s putouts + assists / 9 innings played is 2.17 (for his whole career it is similar 2.34 in CF). Marisnick putouts + assists / 9 innings played in CF is 3.36 this season and 3.20 for his career. So he is good for one more out a game (this does not even take into account how many balls he will cut off that Dexter won’t.
    – Fact: When Krauss plays LF – he gets to more balls than Grossman – 2.14 to 1.95
    – Grossman is the only one actually getting on base often of the 3.
    – Krauss might put up better numbers with more playing time and can play 1B along with LF.
    – Marisnick might become a better batter over time – might not.

    Bottom line – all three of these guys are flawed. You would be best off if they were 2 of your bench guys and one gone. But you would be OK with Fowler, Marisnick and Springer (LF, CF, RF) with Grossman and Krauss off the bench.
    I imagine Krauss will be the one gone of the three for 40 man reasons.

    Like

    • Tim
      September 17, 2014

      I agree with you on this. All 3 have their plusses and minuses. I also agree that I think Krauss will be the odd man out. If the Astros are going with Marlerger in the OF next season they will have to upgrade offensively at other positions and move DF out from CF. JM and GS are much better options out there.

      Like

    • Tim
      September 17, 2014

      Also, if the quad injury is a concern for Springer they may not want to put him in CF, especially at MMP. There is a lot of ground to cover out there.

      Like

      • Dan P
        September 17, 2014

        Good point – maybe right field would be the better choice Tim.

        Like

  19. 1oldpro
    September 17, 2014

    I am looking forward to seeing how Astros prospects will do in the AFL. I know that when the Rule 5 draft and the 40-man gets set that will just be the first step in forming the team for next April, not the last step. Luhnow is not going to lose a player he cherishes, you can bet on that.
    Lambson, a lefty reliever and Tyson Perez, a righty reliever are going to Arizona, along with Appel, Veasquez and the pitching coach from Greeneville. You can bet that those guys have some specific targeted areas to work on.
    Rio Ruiz, Tyler Heineman, Andrew Aplin and Joe Sclafani are also going and they are some of my favorite players in the minor leagues. I’m hoping that these four guys represent a significant investment for the ‘Stros and that they will work on whatever areas of their game that the club sees as weaknesses.
    Because I see the AFL as a league designed for added work and area improvement, I never look at the stats from that league. The thing to look at is what the team wants to target and then, next year, see how the player improved in that area.
    Ruiz’s inclusion seems very relevant. He played all last year in QC and won a ring. He played all this year at Lancaster and won a ring. As a third baseman, what do they want to see from him in the AFL? How do they rate him against Moran? Moran just came to CC for two months and Ruiz deserved a promotion. But can a 21 year-old Ruiz handle AA ball(turns 21 next May!)? Is a 22 year old Moran(turns 22 in October) ready for AAA? Is a 25 year old Sclafani(turns 25 in May) ready for the Bigs, say, at 3B?

    Like

    • Dan P
      September 17, 2014

      Sclafani has not played a lot of 3B, but when he has his fielding has been baaaad. But if he could improve (in the AFL????) I sure would rather see someone who is hitting .300+ and close to .400 on base. But can’t live with a fielding % less than 90%.

      Like

      • Billy Castillo
        September 17, 2014

        Hell no we couldn’t…not when we have Jonathan ‘I make Jose Offerman look like Adam Everett’ Villar at SS.

        Like

    • Dan P
      September 17, 2014

      But thanks for a very interesting summary of the AFL old pro.

      Like

  20. daveb
    September 17, 2014

    My favorite minor leaguer, unfortunately, has not shown he can play third base in limited opportunities. But yet, he keeps finding his way to the next level. Maybe he at least gives the club an option should Dominguez continue to stink up the place in early 2015. It’s hard to overlook the .420 OBP from Sclafani in OKC even if it was over just 62 games. Any chance he gets playing time at short in the AFL?

    I have to figure that Ruiz will improve defensively over the next couple of years. Let’s see how he adjusts to AA pitching. Same with Moran. Get him into AAA and see how he handles it.

    I’m so darn happy for Altuve. So quickly, he’s turned into a star. And he has a great time doing it. For a guy that’s had to find his way to being perhaps overall, the best second baseman in the game, while playing for the worst baseball team in the game, is a remarkable story. It’s also obvious that throughout the game, he’s a well liked kid. You just don’t see many ball players like Gigante in this day and age. He deserves every bit of that moniker.

    Like

    • Dan P
      September 17, 2014

      I’m hoping he finds a spot and I would be happy with Sclafani at SS, not 3B, unless he can become less of a butcher at 3B.
      Altuve is great and a good guy. That is a nice combo.

      Like

    • Steven
      September 17, 2014

      Sclafani’s .420 is probably short sample, BABIP driven luck to a point, but even overall his minor league OBP is very attractive – and he is hard to strike out.

      Given his lack of power I think he profiles the same way that Shuck did – and that OBP will get cut a bit in the majors – pitchers are going to throw strikes and challenge more if they have no fear of the hitter – but he has outperformed Shuck as a minor leaguer to the point that a fully acceptable .350ish OBP could be that drastic cut.

      I would love him as a middle infield option. He is my kind of guy. Third, not so much, just because I would like a bigger guy with a little more slugging percentage, I think we can get lethargic offensively if have a SS with little power, a 2B with little power (despite the incredible number of hits), and a 3B with none. Puts a lot of pressure on Springer and Carter to be the big bats ALL the time.

      Like

      • Dan P
        September 17, 2014

        Yeah if he could be the SS and get on base .350+ and hit .280 / .290….that would certainly help until the cavary gets here.

        Like

    • 1oldpro
      September 17, 2014

      Dave, your favorite prospect has a lot of work to do at 3B, as it appears to be his weakest. But let’s face it, he has months to work on it if that is what they’re after. What I’m wondering about is his Kike-type offensive advancement in AAA and if they might be much more aware of Sclafani’s offensive improvement because of Kike.
      You have to admit that the Astros have not exactly been giving Sclafani much consideration, the way they have just moved him everywhere, and that they might just have noticed that he has suddenly blossomed at the plate and they haven’t given his defense enough attention.
      With the way Dominguez has been playing, maybe they had better spend the next four months working a ton with Joe and see if his hitting is for real and get him settled into a position other than SS or 2B where they are already wealthy.

      Like

      • Dan P
        September 17, 2014

        As much as I’m sick of Matty D – with a pitching staff that features ground ball pitchers – you can’t have an error machine at 3B or SS (Villar??).
        But I would also want more pop at 3B – so maybe Sclafani starts at SS until Correa gets up?

        Like

      • daveb
        September 17, 2014

        I agree with Steven that in the long run, you want a 20 plus homer guy at third. But if Sclafani could do a serviceable job over there and post that .350 OBP, well then that’s a pretty big improvement over what we’ve got now, even if it’s temporary. His splits are excellent too. He gets on base against righties or lefties.

        And old pro, you’ve touched on why I appreciate Sclafani so much. He went straight from Dartmouth to low A ball in 2012 to tearing up AAA in 2014. That’s five teams in a short time frame for a 14th round pick and it seems there really wasn’t a home for the kid anywhere he was sent. But in every situation, he’s found a way onto the field. And this trip to the AFL has to mean the club has finally taken a bit of notice.

        Like

      • Dan P
        September 17, 2014

        Yes the AFL assignment has to mean something.

        Like

  21. 1oldpro
    September 17, 2014

    Well, Dominguez has a total of 4 home runs in July, August and September. His slash lines for the last four months are:
    June .212, .259 .356
    July .212, .220, .253
    Aug .196, .232, .283
    Sept .114, .162, .114
    That’s right, in September his BA and SLG are .114
    He has grounded into 23 DP’s and has never stolen a base in his MLB career.
    So if they can teach Sclafani to play 3B for a year and then be a Super Sub I would be thrilled compared to what we have right now. We ain’t got no pop at 3B.
    Sclafani is not tiny either at 5’11” and 190 lbs.

    Like

    • Dan P
      September 17, 2014

      I hope whoever is teaching to play 3B is not the same person who is teaching Villar how to play SS.
      Yes, if Sclafani could do adequate for a season and then hand it over to Moran and then become supersub – that would be fine with me.
      I’m surprised Dominguez is .114 / .162 / .114 in Sept. I don’t even remeber him getting a hit in the last 3 weeks.

      Like

      • Dan P
        September 17, 2014

        I presume you are Yikes-ing about Matty Ds #s. A good Egads is probably deserved also.

        Like

    • Billy Castillo
      September 17, 2014

      Yikes

      Like

    • daveb
      September 17, 2014

      Heck, I’d be thrilled too. And I think the role player role could be where Sclafani one day finds a home. Hey, he can steal a base too.

      Like

  22. daveb
    September 17, 2014

    Dan, I’ve thought about Sclafani at short too. Maybe he goes to camp and gets a shot to beat out Marwin, but as hard as it is for me to say this, Marwin at short is not one of out biggest issues right now. Can Sclafani provide a bit more range there along with his on base skills?

    Like

    • Dan P
      September 17, 2014

      That is true – Marwin who is also young has not been bad – decent numbers for him.

      Like

  23. daveb
    September 17, 2014

    So if Moran fizzles, do we start talking again about Correa at third?

    Like

    • 1oldpro
      September 17, 2014

      Ruiz! I like him even more than Moran, even though Moran appears to be a little better defensively.

      Like

      • daveb
        September 17, 2014

        Great name too. Sounds like the good guy from south of the border in an old western.

        Like

      • Dan P
        September 17, 2014

        Yes Ruiz could be the man for 2016 – he has shown all the way up.

        Like

  24. Becky
    September 17, 2014

    Oberholtzer is snake bit tonight…..Villar is starting a short. Anyone want to bet he makes at LEAST one error tonight??????

    Like

    • Dan P
      September 17, 2014

      Villar is going to surprise you tonight.
      Dominguez is going to go 4 for 4.
      Castro is going to be all fiery and driven.
      Singleton won’t strike out.
      The Easter Bunny and Elvis are living in sin with Marilyn.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Billy Castillo
        September 17, 2014

        ROFLMAO…good one Dan!

        Wonder how the Easter Bunny would do at SS? We already have his cousin at 3B, because Dominguez lays an egg every at bat.

        Like

      • Dan P
        September 17, 2014

        Back at ya Billy C – lol
        When Villar is at SS we already have Santa as he readily gives out gifts to all the good kids on the other team.

        Like

  25. Becky
    September 17, 2014

    I keep asking “WHY LORD”……..what have these pitchers done to have Villar
    behind them???

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dan P
      September 17, 2014

      This is God just testing them – it will help them appreciate having a better SS when they get one.

      Like

  26. Becky
    September 17, 2014

    Ya know, I was looking at the A’s standing right now, and they are 10 1/2 games back in the west. Just goes to show you spending a ton of money at the break doesn’t guarantee you anything. I’m going to do a happy dance if they are eliminated!! First error of the game is Singelton. *UGH*.

    Like

    • Dan P
      September 17, 2014

      The trade with Boston seemed to be the start of the end.

      Like

  27. Tim
    September 17, 2014

    Do we trust Singleton as our 1B when the Astros are good and in a pennant race? He is probably the worst defensive 1B the Astros have ever had. How does he miss so many low throws?

    Like

  28. Dan P
    September 17, 2014

    As bad as he is hitting – is his fielding worse?

    Like

  29. Dan P
    September 17, 2014

    And there is your Villar error Becky.

    Like

  30. Devin_
    September 17, 2014

    I’m a bit worried we have some fool’s gold here. Yes, we will be better with Springer back, but look how silly the Indians…a middle of th pack team, have made them look. If Altuve, Keuchel, and McHugh regress even a little next season… In other words, it’s great we have won more games than expected, but we still have a long way to go.

    Like

    • Dan P
      September 17, 2014

      Yes, there could be some back slippage with some folks – though again they ahve been playing right at .500 ball since early May.
      They played well on Monday night. Last night they ran into Klube who is probably the 3rd best pitcher in the league this year – though nobody has heard of him. Carrasco would be one of the top ERA starters in the league if he had a few more innings.
      I would not judge it based on the Indians – but they do have to shore up the bullpen and get more bats to step forward next season.

      Like

  31. 1oldpro
    September 17, 2014

    I guess you can give credit to Carrasco but our #2 hitter had two hits. The big problem is that:
    Our leadoff guy was hitting .245 with a .286 OBP
    Our 3# hitter is our leadoff hitter.
    Our cleanup is hitting .235
    Our #5 hitter is hitting .226
    Our #6 hitter is hitting .259
    Our #7 hitter is hitting .216
    Our #8 hitter is hitting .172
    Our #9 hitter is hitting .201
    Is there any way a team is supposed to win with a lineup like that? No. We had 1 good hitter in our lineup and he got two hits. We didn’t have any other hitters in our lineup. and that is the story in a nutshell.

    Like

    • Dan P
      September 17, 2014

      Have to agree old pro – these lineups are starting to remind me of the end of last season.

      Like

  32. Becky
    September 17, 2014

    2015 will be Jim Crane’s 4th. year to own this team, and I’m calling him out right now to start putting a better product on the field. If I hear one more time, he doesn’t have the money I’m going to take up a petition to have him removed from his ownership (sounds tough huh!!) But really, this “I don’t have the money” has run it’s course. There are so dang many glaring holes on this team, it’s not funny. Look guys, you can NOT put a whole team of rookies on the field to think you are going to contend in the AL West! Lawless said that “we’ll talk to Villar”…….WHY IN THE H#LL do you talk to him??? Sit him on the bench, the next two weeks, and banish him to AAA (where ever THAT might be) FOREVER! GRRRRRRRRRRRR.

    Like

  33. 1oldpro
    September 17, 2014

    What did Villar do? I must have missed something. I admit I went to watch a good movie on TV. If given a choice between Robert Mitchem/Susan Haywarth in the jungles of the Belgian Congo or Jonathan Villar, I’m goin’ with Bwana and Little Mama.

    Like

  34. 1oldpro
    September 17, 2014

    Billy, I checked the box score at ESPN and MLB and the only error they have listed is a catch error on Singleton. We talking Wednesday?

    Like

    • Billy Castillo
      September 18, 2014

      Don’t know…I couldn’t see the game, so just went off Dan’s post above and Becky’s reaction.

      Like

  35. Becky
    September 18, 2014

    Missed played a ball, by cutting in front of Altuve, which allowed the runner to reach 1st. base. The official scorer, had it a hit, but if Villar doesn’t cut in front of Altuve,
    the runner would probably be out. Singelton was the lone error tonight, but Villar SHOULD have been given an error on that play. By the way, the Rangers pulled off a HUGE steal of the A’s tonight, and beat them 6 to 1, and the Angels clinched the AL West tonight. The M’s are going to come into town hanging on to a one game
    lead for the wild card………

    Like

    • Devin_
      September 18, 2014

      Keuchel, Peacock, and McHugh are scheduled to take the hill! Let’s play spoilers!

      Like

  36. Dan P
    September 18, 2014

    I had the sound off on the game so I assumed an error on the play. I saw it a little different than Becky – but I think the play perfectly summarizes the enigma that is Villar.
    He went a long way quickly to get to the ball up the middle – a lot of SS might not get to it. I think that was the right play because one more bounce to Altuve moving away from first and they don’t get the batter.
    Then Villar quickly gets rid of it without setting up and air mails a lollipop. It must have been 6 ft over Singleton but with so little on it that it bounces off the dugout – does not make the stands. If the throw was good they get the guy by a step.
    So in my mind an error. But not in reality.

    Like

  37. Astro45
    September 18, 2014

    I know it was a very small sample, but I only get to see the Astros when they play the Rangers. But in the last series, Singleton showed poor footwork around 1st base. On one play, Altuve was late getting a throw to first. But you normally don’t throw the ball when the 1st baseball has his back to you. Again, a very small sample, but he needs coaching and work if he looks like that all the time.

    Like

    • Dan P
      September 18, 2014

      Astro45 –
      Your small sample is accurate. He needs a lot of work around 1st base. His biggest problem is on deciding whether to go for balls or not. He does not go for some balls he should and other times he goes for balls he shouldn’t. I think he surprises both the ptichers and Altuve on a lot of his decision making – but again he has not had a spring training to get comfortable with the other folks.
      It does get back to an over-riding question. Is he working hard on these things along with his batting failures. Is he trying to live off natural talent or is he pressing too hard and failing. He has a lot of natural talent but not necessarily good instincts.

      Like

      • Devin_
        September 18, 2014

        There is a fellow named Bagwell that knows a thing or two about how to play first base. If I were Crane/Luhnow/Biggio I would make sure he is available to instruct in Feb/March.

        Like

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This entry was posted on September 16, 2014 by in Astros.
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