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Looking ahead for the Astros: Fears for 2015


Friend of the blog, Devin wrote this yesterday….

“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 the 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.”

This states a normally unspoken fear that many Astros’ fans suppress. What if this year’s improvement is a mirage? What if this is not a springboard to .500?

Here are 5 top fears for 2015.

Injury bug. The injuries to Jesse Crain, Matt Albers, Anthony Bass, Josh Zeid, Jose Cisnero, etc. handicapped the bullpen. But what if next season, George Springer keeps going down? Or Jose Altuve or Dallas Keuchel or Collin McHugh? Somehow the Astros played decent ball with Springer down this season, but looking back that looks like smoke and mirrors and an on-fire Chris Carter pairing with a red hot Jose Altuve at the right time. What if that does not happen again?

Regression. To paraphrase Devin, what if Altuve hits .290 or McHugh and Keuchel have ERAs around 3.70? What if Carter goes back to black hole, non-contact Carter?

Luhnow is an Arch Villain Mad Scientist. In every Batman, Spiderman, Superman, and Iron Man movie there is a mad scientist, who comes up with an incredible brainy plan for blowing up the world, dominating the world, kidnapping the superheroes’ love interest, killing off the superhero or endangering whales. But like in Bill Shakespeare’s plays the arch villain has a fatal flaw that leads to his demise. What if Jeff Luhnow is exposed as a mad scientist rather than an ingenious planner and the house of cards folds?

Brent Strom Leaves. What if Strom gets a manager’s job? Or the new manager wants his own guy guiding the pitching staff? (I know we still own the weapons for storming the castle and making the new manager disappear). A big chunk of this team’s improvement has to go to Strom as the starting pitching has become the reliable foundation of almost every game.

Bullpen still stinks. The bullpen was easily the worst in the majors in 2013 and after a lot of attention given to it in the off-season, it has almost exactly the same ERA and a slightly better record in save situations in 2014. But there is no doubt that this pen has cost the team 10-15 wins vs. even an average bullpen. What if the clock is still broken in 2015?

So what keeps you awake at night or at least makes your stomach become queasy while thinking about the Astros’ 2015 hopes and dreams?

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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.

103 comments on “Looking ahead for the Astros: Fears for 2015

  1. 1oldpro
    September 18, 2014

    What keeps me awake at night is the blank stares on the faces of Jason Castro, Matty D and Jon Singleton and their bats. Please show me something, anger, frustration, something other than that blank stare.

    Like

    • Dan P
      September 18, 2014

      I’ll slightly disagree with you, old pro. Singleton, to me, does show frustration when he time after time fails to make contact. It is a – “I can’t believe that my bat has a hole in it” – though it is more likely he has a hole in his swing.
      Matty D and Castro rarely show emotion. As far as Castro goes (and this is going to sound like a red state / blue state argument) – I don’t expect somebody who was born and raised in laid back California to have a whole lot of fire in them. And when it is someone cerebral enought to go to Stanford – I probably double down on that expectation. OK – my politically incorrect prejudice showing.
      I think Matty D passed away during the season or at least his bat did.

      Like

      • Billy Castillo
        September 18, 2014

        I kind of take offense to the California comment, and reminds of why i desperately need to get out of Texas 😦

        Like

      • Dan P
        September 18, 2014

        Sorry Billy C – it is just a joke – all the laid back folks now live in Colorado.

        Like

      • Billy Castillo
        September 18, 2014

        No worries…just reminded me of the prejudice i go through being one of the few non republican people here in Texas

        Like

      • Astro45
        September 18, 2014

        Wow. Billy C is a non-republican. I bet he refuses to vote a straight ticket. We don’t need people that think for themselves on this blog. Any way to make his posts appear as blank? 🙂

        Like

      • Dan P
        September 18, 2014

        Hey we love all our Astro fan brothers and sisters here – except the first Tuesday in November….

        Like

    • kevin
      September 18, 2014

      DITTO DITTO DITTO , throw Fowler in there and they all look like they are polishing their drivers ready for golf season Pisses me off!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And Singletons glove SUCKS!

      Like

  2. 1oldpro
    September 18, 2014

    Ok, I have a fear I’m just too afraid to talk about.
    I’m a Texans fan and after a few disappointing years of Gary Kubiak I bought in and defended him to those who said he was a lousy coach. With all the talent he had it took years for me to realize he WAS a terrible head coach. His head was too thick and he wasn’t going to learn or adapt.
    Now I am afraid of the same thing with Luhnow. I’m afraid that he knows how to get and recognize talent, but that he just doesn’t know what to do with it and how to turn it into a winner. I don’t want to see seven disappointing years go by and then have to retool once more.

    Like

    • Dan P
      September 18, 2014

      Welcome to the club – op – I know exactly what you are talking about. When I saw that our new Texans coaching staff actually trusted the QB to change plays at the line of scrimmage I almost fell out of my chair.
      Like you said – the Texans under Kubiak never made visible in-game or game to game changes to adjust to their failings or to adjust to what the other team was doing.
      The question here is – does Luhnow have any room for varying opinions? Does he respect other opinions – will he adjust when parts of his Plan fail or lag behind or allow others to suggest alternate paths to the ultimate goal?
      That is a reasonable fear I think.

      Like

    • Devin_
      September 18, 2014

      Interesting take on it. I would suggest that Luhnow’s job is to provide the talent and it is the coaches’ jobs to shape it into a winner. If Luhnow tries to do both, he will surely fail. Are the lineups of Lawson coming from the FO? If so, I think it’s time for ownership to step in and apply some new boundaries.

      Like

      • Dan P
        September 18, 2014

        In the press conference announcing Bo Porter’s demise Luhnow straight out said that the front office was not telling the manager how to set his lineups, use his bullpen, etc. Which is as it should be – if true.
        He did say they would discuss things when there were questions about strategy and I think that may be where a lot of the grey area comes up.
        Was Porter not able to logically defend his strategy?
        Was Porter offended by being asked to defend his strategy?
        Was the discussion more like an inquisition?

        There should be boundaries like you said, but there should be room for some discussion on the grey areas …. and we don’t need to have a demilitarized zone between the two sides.

        Like

      • Dan P
        September 18, 2014

        And by the way – thanks Devin for the thoughtful comment that bore the fruit of today’s post.

        Like

      • 1oldpro
        September 18, 2014

        Devin, if Luhnow is telling the minor league coaches who to play, where to play them, how long to pitch them, what to work on, who starts, who relieves, then he is doing the player development. He hires his guys and fires the ones who don’t do it his way.

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      • Dan P
        September 18, 2014

        Apparently Luhnow is not telling the minor league coaches to get their first basemen to practice basic moves around first base if Singleton is an example of their tutoring….

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    • kevin
      September 18, 2014

      LOL Bubiack great guy crappy head coach, Lunhole not a good guy-jury out, rebuild again would stink!

      Like

    • Steven
      September 18, 2014

      Saying Kubiak is a terrible coach is a bit hyperbolic. He did win a lot of football games for years before it went south on him. He isn’t great, got it, but terrible is a little hyperbolic.

      Like

      • 1oldpro
        September 18, 2014

        I didn’t say he was a terrible coach. He’s a good coach. I said he was a terrible head coach. There’s a difference.

        Like

  3. BrianT
    September 18, 2014

    As far as Strom goes, I think Luhnow has said he’d like to keep the coaches. That said, any new manager who tries to get rid of Strom better be
    bringing Dave Duncan to the Astros.

    Two of your items are linked: injuries and the bullpen. Frankly, you can throw regression/progression in with them. On April 1 (no joke intended … well, maybe), this bullpen looked good. Qualls, Albers and Crain on the way. Fields was looking good. No one was happy about Jerome Williams, but this should have been a good bullpen. Well, it wasn’t, and injury was a big part.

    If we get an actual closer, maybe a decent set-up man, then we’ve got Qualls for the seventh inning, Tony Sipp (image how bad we’d be without Tony Sipp!) and maybe Folty or Veras. Now that’s a bullpen I can live with. And instead of regression, we’d have progression. Just as long as there aren’t any injuries.

    As far as other regression, I think Altuve would be hard pressed to repeat this season every year, but he can easily be a .300-.310 hitter each year. I’m more worried about Carter regressing. However, I am more interested in how we progress. We’ve got to find a better third baseman. A year of Marwin Gonzalez and Gregorio Petit sounds so much better than half a season split with Jonathan “Tools” Villar. And a healthy George Springer would make a huge difference. And maybe, just maybe, there’s a chance Jason Castro is something between the All-Star and the fallen star.

    When it comes to injuries, we suffered plenty this season: Fowler, Springer, the whole damned bullpen. The good news is, the Lancaster kids will be in Corpus next year, meaning if someone goes down, we’ve probably got someone at AA or higher to step in. And that’s a good thing.

    As for Luhnow, the “mad scientist” has built the minor leagues to the point where we have a stockpile of players. That said, he’s made some big mistakes: picking Aiken, not signing Aiken, signing a closer who can’t throw off the mound, etc., etc. But he also traded for Carter and signed Feldman, who is good (not $10 million good, but …).

    Yep, I worry that this season is a mirage. But then I look at how badly this season has gone and think this is going to get better.

    Like

    • Dan P
      September 18, 2014

      You would think at the very least, Brian, that the Astros would not play as poorly as they did the first 6 weeks of this season.

      Like

  4. kevin
    September 18, 2014

    Some how some way we gave to get a couple more solid major league players like Altuve, not .340 of course but real big league Hitters. I think i have gotten so used to the Astros sucking that I have lowered my standards. . Every time i watch a team heading to the playoffs their talent and depth in the field, not Pitching, I ask myself who on Astros would be on that team. I come up with Altuve at 2B, Castro sharing catcher duties, maybe Marwin utility he is a solid bench dude. THATS IT UGH

    Like

    • Dan P
      September 18, 2014

      Looking at the AL stats vs. the league average (for “qualifiers” – those with 3.1 ABs per game the team has played) you find the following:
      Batting Average – Astros with BA higher than league average – Altuve
      OBP – Altuve
      SLG – Altuve and Carter
      OPS – Altuve and Carter

      Of those with significant ABs, but not enough to qualify – Fowler would be above league average in all 4 categories and Springer would be in 3 (not BA).

      Like

  5. daveb
    September 18, 2014

    Devin’s point is certainly valid. We’ve still got a lot of holes in this club.

    Bullpen remains the biggest issue. I don’t want to have to count of Qualls either. He looks like he’s running on fumes. I’d expect a significant injury out of him next year. Foltynewicz might stay put though, if he wants a job with the big club. But that second pitch has got to get better. And can we expect as much from Sipp? His historical stats say no.

    I’m not worried about Keuchel and McHugh regressing a bit. I think we’ll have a solid five starters on April 1. If Luhnow finds more offense, then our starters can have slightly higher ERA’s. And if one or two starters go down, we’ve got options in Tropeano and others. Luhnow should get a certain amount of credit for building a rotation with some depth..

    But getting back to Devin’s worries, we’ve got question marks behind the plate, at third, at short, at first and two of our three outfield positions. I say two out of three in the outfield because we don’t know if Fowler will be around.

    Luhnow has a ton of work to do. This club might even regress a bit before in house talent makes it’s way to the big club. I still see an anemic offense next year. I’ve got no confidence that Luhnow, with the resources available to him, can reinvent a lineup without two of three significant holes in it.

    The one guy that has me most concerned is Singleton. Putting aside his problems with the bat for a minute, he just looks terrible at first base. More like a guy that’s played somewhere else all his life, and just handed a first basemen’s mitt. What’s he been doing in the minors all this time? Maybe he’s just not coachable.

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    • Dan P
      September 18, 2014

      Good points all daveb – Singleton is a real puzzlement at bat and in the field. Frankly, Carter is a better 1B right now, based on what I saw when he was allowed out there. To me – Carter is to Singleton in the field like Marwin is to Altuve. I know who is the more talented fielder, but I know who will make the regular plays more often.

      Like

    • Tim
      September 18, 2014

      Singleton concerns me the most as well. We can’t just hand him the starting job next year because of his ‘team-friendly’ contract. He looks completely over-matched both at the plate and in the field. In my opinion, he needs more time at AAA.

      Like

  6. 1oldpro
    September 18, 2014

    Sticking with the themes of the post, I do hope Strom stays and the new manager loves him, because I hope to see him work with Folty and Nitro and Appel and help them become the best pitchers they can be.

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    • Dan P
      September 18, 2014

      Amen – put your hands in the air brothers and sisters!
      (Somehow that just sounds wrong coming from a Yankee born Catholic).

      Like

      • 1oldpro
        September 18, 2014

        Sounds familiar to a Southern born Irish/German Catholic.

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      • Dan P
        September 18, 2014

        I knew there was something good yet guilt ridden about you op.

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      • 1oldpro
        September 18, 2014

        Mea culpa. Sometimes I want to grab the Shepherd’s staff and hit something with it.

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      • Astro45
        September 18, 2014

        Billy C is a non-republican. 1OP and DP are charismatic Catholics. What is this world coming to……………….. Pretty soon Becky will join in saying women should have the right to vote.

        Like

  7. kevin
    September 18, 2014

    Old pro nice on Hader hugh, and I posted about a month ago that Phillips was a sleeper no one was talking about.

    Like

  8. Mr. Bill
    September 18, 2014

    In preparation for 2015 we need to call forth our cybermetric unit and develop a new set of stats/analytics exclusively for the Astros. Here are a few ideas off the top of my head:
    1. GSWMBMLHPSILU [games started with Multiple Below Mendoza Line Hitting Position Players in the Line Up];
    2. K/WOERBFS [struck out without removing bat from shoulder];
    3. MLTBSIGO [Most Likely to Blow A Save if given opportunity];
    4. RSOTBHR [Runs scored other than by home run]; and
    5. STBBT [Shifts that backfired big time].

    Liked by 1 person

    • 1oldpro
      September 18, 2014

      Mr.Bill, you definitely have it together this morning. How about PTSBIOKC? Players that should be in Oklahoma City/Albwhatever/ Colorado Springs/Fresno/Woodlands/RoundRock

      Like

      • Mr. Bill
        September 18, 2014

        I’ve wondered this year, ‘watching’ [LOL] our hapless Astro hitters help opposing pitchers set K records, should not a hitter’s standing with his bat on his shoulder while taking a called third strike and then walking off nonchalantly as if nothing whatever important had happened be scored as an out by O.I. [Offensive Indifference] instead of as a legitimate strikeout?

        Like

    • drbill14
      September 18, 2014

      I’ll only take exception to #5 as the stats show pretty decisively that the shifts gained many more outs than they gave away. Don’t forget too that shifts are supposed to defend more comprehensively the parts of the field where a hitter is most likely to hit the ball HARD. If a lefty power hitter squibs a three hopper to left field for a single instead of smoking a home run or XBH to right the shift has also been successful.

      Like

    • Dan P
      September 18, 2014

      You guys are cracking me up!

      Like

    • Steven
      September 18, 2014

      Nicely done sir.

      Like

  9. drbill14
    September 18, 2014

    I think 2015 will depend a lot on who captains the ship. Mental preparation is the responsibility of the manager first and coaches second. When you observe Castro, Dominguez, Fowler, Singleton, Villar, etc seemingly disconnected and/or disinterested one can’t expect consistency of performance. Porter seemed enamored with motivational techniques but if you can’t think correctly you can’t perform well in baseball. Altuve recognized that if he was to improve he had to work in the offseason on conditioning and mental preparation. He showed it can be done. Last year he made almost as many bonehead mistakes on the bases as Villar; this year he is brilliant. I have the feeling that because Porter really didn’t know the game all that well that the players did not respect his mental preparation and therefore would not put out the effort themselves. Makeup matters and if management doesn’t lead by example the players are not going to follow. With that in mind I think the manager decision will set the tone for 2015. Will Luhnow fail in that area again? That is my biggest fear.

    Like

    • daveb
      September 18, 2014

      I’m with you doc. Drafting a kid with a high baseball IQ is at least as important as drafting a kid with a good arm or speed on the bases. And the guys who have made it to MLB have an obligation to perform at a high level. Everyday. Fowler had a negative rap in that regard with the Rockies. Early in the season, I didn’t buy into that rap. But I’ve seen signs of it in the second half. I’m still not sure about guys like Castro and Dominguez, but they sure look disinterested at times. Maybe they all want out. The club has got to keep culling the roster of guys that don’t want to work hard everyday and guys that are just not real sharp on a baseball field.

      Like

    • Dan P
      September 18, 2014

      It is a legitimate worry dr bill – maybe he should let his pitching coach pick his next manager.

      Like

  10. Devin_
    September 18, 2014

    Thanks, all. I have to confess…the inspiration for my cynicism this week was a posting on TCB talking about what a fantastic team we are that could bring in a closer and a free agent bat and be at 90 wins next year. I’m taking some liberties and exaggerating the claim a bit, but the general consensus of comments seemed to be drowning out anyone who thought this was not a team ready to at least challenge for a WC next year. I just don’t see it with this roster and collective offensive approach.

    Liked by 1 person

    • 1oldpro
      September 18, 2014

      Don’t mess with their savior over there.

      Like

    • daveb
      September 18, 2014

      The few realists over there get beat up anytime they post something approaching sobering. As a result, there are too many realists left.

      Like

    • daveb
      September 18, 2014

      ….meant to write, “there are Not too many realists over there”.

      Like

    • Dan P
      September 18, 2014

      With the age of the team and the number of holes to plug – it is a legitimate concern Devin.

      Like

  11. Becky
    September 18, 2014

    Show me the money………….then we’ll talk.

    Like

    • Devin_
      September 18, 2014

      Throwing your hat in the ring as a managerial candidate?

      Like

  12. SargeH
    September 18, 2014

    I am not a Crain fan nor a Luhnow fan, especially with his saber metrics. I am just an old fashioned, place an eye on the player, fan. I can change and I have to an extent. I had decided to give Luhnow’s ideas a chance since we actually do not have a say so anyways. However, I still do not believe in them handily.

    At the beginning of the season, I predicted 73 winds for the team this year. It is still very much within reach and is a huge improvement over last season. There were times, this season, when I thought I had overreached, especially after watching some of Porter’s flabbergasting decisions. The team has little spark beyond Altuve and Springer and that brings a bit of a concern to me. I don’t mean I have to see a “rah-rah” leader on the field, Bagwell was the leader when he was playing and we didn’t see the cheer leading but we heard about it in the clubhouse. Biggio was animated both on the field and in the clubhouse. In retrospect, the leaders are the ones who are at the top of the team’s food chain, such as Altuve and Springer. We just need to improve our current players and obtain others who are better than current ones.

    Now…. it appears that there are a lot of Nathan Naysayers on the blog. So many believe the team will take a step back next year and/or will never improve. Give them the chance to make the needed improvements. After all, most of us expected another 100 loss season and the team overcame it. The starting pitching improved tremendously and our stud rookie outfielder proved to be the real deal when he arrived. The arrival of another starting pitcher from OKC, maybe one of the 3rd basemen in the minors will step up, and maybe Correa will play himself onto the roster. Perhaps the team will improve despite Luhnow.

    I must admit, this is the first season I have paid ANY attention to the minor league rosters and stats. Some of them do excite me and I look forward to them coming up. I do recall, during the final Gerry Hunsicker season, where Hunsicker was asked who is the gem of the minors. Hunsicker proudly proclaimed, “Pay attention to the name Foltynewitcz.” Others are in the pipeline and we will see what transpires ahead with them when they reach the big league.

    The future is bright.

    Like

    • Dan P
      September 18, 2014

      Sarge – I think the theme here is – what do we fear will happen. I think most of us think it will be what Brian T described above – maybe some folks sliding a little – but improvements in the bullpen and in the lineup balancing it out. I’m hoping to get to .500 next season which would be a mild but reasonable improvement over this season. But the team is very young and not deep so there can be some slide we don’t anticipate.
      I sure hope your future is just right around the corner.

      Like

    • 1oldpro
      September 18, 2014

      Great post. I think a blog about fears of the fans leads to Nathan Naysayers and I qualify for that in this particular blog. But I also spend a lot of time dreaming about what could be with the Astros and with the players they have in the minors. It is fair to doubt those dreams coming true, too. It has been a long 52 years waiting for that great fourth win of the world series by my team.

      Like

      • Dan P
        September 18, 2014

        I’ve been a fan since we moved here in 1965. So – we are hopeful, but a bit cynical since we’ve had so much frustration and heartbreak.

        Like

    • Billy Castillo
      September 18, 2014

      How could Folty be the gem of the minors during the last Hunsicker season here, when he wasn’t drafted until 2010?

      Like

      • Dan P
        September 18, 2014

        Ed Wade quote?
        Hunsicker predicting the future?

        Like

  13. kevin
    September 18, 2014

    Ok as I always tell my wife there are 3 kinds of folks, Cynical, Walt Disney Optimist’s, and what a lot of us are Realists.

    Like

    • Dan P
      September 18, 2014

      And then there are the Surrealists….

      Like

  14. Astro45
    September 18, 2014

    Not sure this falls under “fear” – but I thought about posting a month or so ago the following. I believe that 2013 team could have played in 2014 and improved their record. No, not to the level of this 2014 team – but an improved record. I therefore believe the 2014 could play in 2015 and regress due to some of the items listed above. But I hope the 2015 has more MLB ready ballplayers than the 2014 team. Few will be coming up from the minors this year. But there is help coming all the way to low A ball. So 2015 could be a “plateau year.” It could also be a .500 year. But we need at least 4-7 more MLB players. Perhaps the best example would be the reverse. See what happened to the Rangers when they had to use AAA or even AAAA players as they lost their MLB roster. So my only “fear” is I will be dead before that 4th WS win.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dan P
      September 18, 2014

      I’ve had that fear – that is one reason I always argued over the “Drive Crane out of town and we will get a replacement team from the NL that will win it all”. I better turn vegan and lose about 40 lbs if I want to see that happen while I’m vertical.

      Like

  15. 1oldpro
    September 18, 2014

    Changing the subject for a minute. The Fresno Grizzlies of the PCL have announced a PDC with the Astros. So I have a scenario:
    What if the Astros sent all the players from AA to play for Fresno in the PCL, and sent all their AAA players down to Corpus Christi to play in the Texas League.
    This way all the players promoted from High A Lancaster would just move to Fresno, an easy move, and all the players from AA Corpus, who are really AAA are closer to Houston for callups.
    That way you have all those fantastic AA players who are now in AA Corpus Christie are playing against AAA competition and CC gets to see all the players they were watching a year or so ago, plus all the players the Astros decide to send back to the minors.
    Let’s face it, there isn’t much difference in AA and AAA quality of baseball right now in our organization. Heck, all the players are so young anyway. This way you would get to see Appel, Moran, Hader, Velasquez, Hernandez, Correa and Kemp and all those other.AA guys actually playing against AAA competition and all your current AAA guys playing against the Texas league, which is a pitcher’s league anyway. When they are needed in Houston, they come from CC instead of from Fresno, which takes a lot of time.
    Yeah it’s radical and it hasn’t been done, but the Dodgers nailed us, why don’t we shake some things up.

    Like

    • Dan P
      September 18, 2014

      Interesting concept op. It answers the question about having your callups 2 time zones away… unless Crane is going to move the team to Vegas. Bopert – you are in my head….

      Like

      • 1oldpro
        September 18, 2014

        What I’m suggesting is temporary until we get set back up with closer AAA affiliate. But since a ton of our best prospects are at the AA level, we could have them playing against tons of AAA competition for a year or two. Do we really mind Correa, Kemp, Ruiz and Appel playing against AAA players in a bigger league against older players? Heck, they are going to be the youngest team in the majors in two years anyway. Let them get hardened against older players right now. Why would it make sense to go from California to Texas and then back to California when our best prospects are probably not going to be ready for 1 to 2 years from now anyway?
        Finally, if a AA player struggles playing in Fresno against AAA competition, you can always send him to CC to play against AA teams.

        Like

      • daveb
        September 18, 2014

        Don’t say this too loudly. Crane might do it just to save on the relocation expenses for personnel.

        Like

    • kevin
      September 18, 2014

      I like it Old Pro, no written law whos is AAA or AA, though I must say I was pulling a bit for Colo Springs I could have seen a lot of games, but I get the altitude /ball flying out argument

      Like

      • Dan P
        September 18, 2014

        The Hooks stadium would be one of the smaller in AAA – but I think it would be ok

        Like

      • 1oldpro
        September 18, 2014

        But it wouldn’t actually be AAA. It would be officially “AA” because you are playing in AA Texas League. But who says we can’t send all our “AAA” players there and call them up from close by. We would just have our AAA players there, a few hours away.

        Like

    • SargeH
      September 18, 2014

      OP, I was discussing this same scenario with the little wife earlier today. Why do major league teams move their AAA affiliates across the country? The Dodgers move from Albuquerque to Oklahoma City, the Rockies move from Colorado Springs to Albuquerque, and the Astros move theirs to Fresno! I know the Astros were over a barrel but it seems that all teams do this.

      Like

    • Flash
      September 19, 2014

      “…they come from CC instead of from Fresno, which takes a lot of time.”

      You know OP, in addition to using those weird new-fangled cipherin’ boxes to determine line ups and such, I hear Luhnow puts these players on what’s called a “jet plane” when they’re needed in Houston. You ever heard o’ such a thing?

      Like

      • Dan P
        September 19, 2014

        Now Flash – Crane runs them like the Cleveland Indians in the movie Major League. The kids have to ride the Greyhound from Fresno to Houston…..

        Like

      • 1oldpro
        September 19, 2014

        Fresno doesn’t have direct flights to Houston.

        Like

  16. daveb
    September 18, 2014

    Nice OBP’s, but I’d like an outfielder that promises home runs in his future. We’ve already got too many guys out there that lack power.

    Like

  17. Billy Castillo
    September 18, 2014

    Damn you Qualls.

    Like

    • Dan P
      September 18, 2014

      Not sure why Lawless took out Sipp

      Like

  18. Billy Castillo
    September 18, 2014

    Castro IS working hard…him and Dominguez in a furious struggle to see whose batting average ends up lower.The winner will be the #1 contender to Jon Singleton’s title. DING DING DING

    Like

    • Dan P
      September 18, 2014

      .200 is the Mendoza line – so is .180 the Singleton line?

      Like

      • Billy Castillo
        September 18, 2014

        It’s the J.R. Towles line.

        Like

      • Dan P
        September 18, 2014

        Excuse me – .170 should be the Singleton line.
        Did he get 4 more Ks tonight?

        Like

  19. SargeH
    September 18, 2014

    Qualls needs to be sat down for the rest of the season. This lefty-righty crap is old. A good pitcher can get anyone out.

    Like

    • Billy Castillo
      September 18, 2014

      THANK YOU.

      Like

  20. Devin_
    September 18, 2014

    Wasted another great start by Feldman. I have been critical of that signing, but he’s done really well.

    Like

    • Billy Castillo
      September 18, 2014

      He has…I’d be okay with him staying around again next year. Hopefully Lunhole’s computer won’t tell him to trade him.

      I wonder if the Ground Zero hack was due to Lunhole storing everything on the iCloud…

      Like

  21. Billy Castillo
    September 18, 2014

    Singleton has more Ks than the names of some of my family members on my mom’s side of the family, which is bad considering I’m part Jewish.

    Like

  22. Dan P
    September 18, 2014

    He has more Ks than Domingo Santana

    Like

    • Billy Castillo
      September 18, 2014

      Ha!

      Like

  23. Dan P
    September 18, 2014

    He has more Ks than the Clemens family kids

    Like

  24. Becky
    September 18, 2014

    It’s official……….*7* full time players have struck out 100 times this year, and we still have two weeks left in the season. UGH.

    Like

  25. 1oldpro
    September 19, 2014

    This 4 game series with Cleveland has reminded me so much of the 1962 Houston Colt 45’s. One guy in the lineup who could hit and a bunch of good pitchers losing a bunch of low scoring games. It was a blast having a major league club to root for, but they were bad.

    Like

  26. Becky
    September 19, 2014

    Where was Fields tonight???????

    Like

    • Billy Castillo
      September 19, 2014

      Ironically (considering his name), nowhere NEAR the field -_-

      Like

  27. daveb
    September 19, 2014

    Last nights game illustrates the theme of the post. We’ve got a whole bunch of holes in the line up. And too bad JFSF didn’t get his throw in the neighborhood of home plate. Would have beat the runner.

    Like

  28. Dan P
    September 19, 2014

    Singleton 0 for his last 19 with 15 Ks. In his last 7 games he has two games where he has a K sombrero (3 Ks in 3 ABs) and two with a K-grand sombrero (4 K’s in 4 ABs).
    Dominguez is 0 for his last 22 and 2 for his last 37.
    Castro is 3 for his hast 26 with 12 Ks
    Add that to a night where Altuve is 0 for 6 and it was really sick.

    Like

    • Devin_
      September 19, 2014

      I think they are trying to defeat the argument that AL baseball is more exciting because you have a competent offensive player replacing the pitcher in the lineup.

      Like

  29. Dan P
    September 19, 2014

    Let’s see
    Singleton 0 for 19 with 15 K’s
    Dominguez 0 for 22
    All Astro pitchers combined this season 0 for 16 with 9 K’s

    Like

  30. kevin
    September 19, 2014

    Dan P u Just did some awesome preaching to the choir . We need some real Big league players. We have starting pitching and Altuve. However “m hoping Marisnick pans out , I like that kid. Other than that there all tradeable or releasable, I’m not even talking bullpen here

    Like

  31. Nance (@Bbfanlady)
    September 19, 2014

    I’m not buying my playoff tickets for next year quite yet. A number of games improved this year was at the expense of the injury decimated Rangers. Going to take giving up some of those coveted unproven prospects for a couple of established major league hitters. And I am talking about Players that can hit for average and take a walk. I am tired of watching games filled with strikeouts and the occasional home run.

    Like

    • Dan P
      September 19, 2014

      Well, Nance – the good news is the team is 3rd in the AL in HRs and will not end up striking out as much as last season.
      The bad news is that last season they struck out more than any team ever did – even teams where the pitchers bat. They will still have the most in the AL and are currently tied for second worst in the majors (though with another week like this one they might end up worst).
      No reason to walk these guys – except for the occasional HRs nobody is going to hurt you.

      Like

    • Tim
      September 19, 2014

      I am not buying 2015 playoff tickets yet either, but to suggest the Astros improvement from 2013 is because of the injury to the Rangers is not quite fair. Haven’t the Angels and Mariners improved from last year? The Astros have also done better against Oakland. Are we there yet? No, but we are definitely improved from last year.

      Like

    • Dan P
      September 19, 2014

      Well the Astros record so far against the Rangers is 11-5 this season after a putrid 2-17 last season. So it could be said that 1/2 of the improvement is due to the Ranger’s crash adn 1/2 is due to Astros improvement?

      Like

      • Tim
        September 19, 2014

        Yes, but our record was equally bad against Oakland last year and we have done better against them. I believe we had a winning record against Seattle last year. My point is how we fared against one team is usually offset by our effort against another team. Yes, the Rangers have been beset by injuries and we have taken advantage, but the Angels and Mariners are vastly improved from last year and we have fared decently (not a winning record, but decent) compared to last year.

        Like

      • Dan P
        September 19, 2014

        The Astros are a better team and most of that is because of the starting rotation

        Like

    • Dan P
      September 19, 2014

      Thanks for sharing Nance – it shows they are out there thinking, but the numbers keep dropping. Maybe they should bring in the fences, lower the mound, spike the baseballs and legalize steroids to lift that offense again.

      Like

  32. Nance (@Bbfanlady)
    September 19, 2014

    Dan, I think the problems is that most kids are learning baseball strategy by watching Sports News highlight reels. Fundamentals of fielding and situational hitting is getting more and more rare. I have high hopes that it is the cyclical nature of the game – teams will start looking for players that can hit to beat the shift and they will become prized commodities. Then, once teams have a higher population of those style hitters, the benefits of the shift will be marginalized somewhat and there will be a swing back to more traditional strategy. Of course, that is probably wishful thinking on my part.

    Like

    • Dan P
      September 19, 2014

      There could also be a little bit of Moneyball kick back going on here. Moneyball made on base percentage and taking pitches as the end all be all. As Alan Ashby points out often in games – pitchers have realized that many of these guys will take the first and even the second strike trying to work the count – so they are coming in with pitches early in the count and getting on top. The batting average for first pitch swinging is way up there – but few are doing it.
      Yes – we’ve seen swings before – but I have not seen too many swings back to good smart baseball IQ.

      Like

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