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2014 Astros: Six games — and questions — remain


Here’s a few bits of news to consider as the Astros head out on the road and try to win two last series.

♦♦♦ The Astros might be heading toward Dallas (Arlington, whatever), but the Tom Lawless has said he won’t go to Dallas any more this season. With 200 innings under his belt, Dallas Keuchel is being given the rest of the year off. Nice, I suppose, but it hurts Houston’s chances of getting to 73 wins.

The only real drama left in the Astros season — aside from the final win total — is whether Jose Altuve wins the franchise’s first-ever batting title. Right now, Altuve sits at .345 (with an .840 OPS). Second in the AL is the Tigers’ Victor Martinez, who is batting .334, which is right about where he’s been hovering for the past week or so. Provided Martinez keeps going 1 for 3 with a walk every night, Altuve would have to go 0-for-22 to drop his average to the same place.

♦♦♦ Jarred Cosart is now 13-10. He was 9-7 when the Astros shipped him to South Beach. If Luhnow had kept Cosart, Houston would almost certainly have three starting pitchers with winning records and more than 10 wins. Right now, Keuchel has 12 wins and Collin McHugh has 11 wins. Not sure the last time that happened, but I’m guessing Roy Oswalt, Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte were involved. (Trivia: In that particular year, the Astros had five pitchers who were 10-game winners with records at .500 or better. Name them all.)

Of course, if the Astros hadn’t traded Cosart, we all would not be enjoying the fine play of Jake from State Farm. I mean Jake Marisnick. Since coming over for Cosart and Enrique Hernandez (ah, Kike, we hardly knew ye) along with minor leaguers and a draft pick, Marisnick has steadily improved offensively. I think he went something like 3-for-a week and a half. He put up an unimpressive OPS of .625 in August. But he’s put up an OPS of .785 thus far in September.

I don’t think he’s either hitter. I’m guessing his a low to mid .700s OPS guy, say .720 to .740. But his fielding has been amazing. I can think of one bad play he’s made, although apparently he has two errors. Between him and Springer, Dexter Fowler should get used to playing balls off the left field scoreboard.

♦♦♦  This one is for Becky: Jonathan Villar has a range factor or 4.21. Of shortstops with at least 500 innings (roughly one-third of a season) played this year in MLB, his range factor ranks 10th. But of those 10 players, his fielding percentage (.950) is by far the worst. The next worse is Milwaukee’s Jean Segura, who has a .975 fielding percentage and a range factor of 4.45 in about twice as many innings. Like Segura, Villar can’t hit, doesn’t get on base and has no real power.

Just so you know, Marwin Gonzalez has a 3.86 range factor and a .982 fpct. Doesn’t get to many balls, but makes the play on the ones he does. And Gregorio Petit has a 4.09 range factor with a .972 fielding percentage is a small sample size. Petit has a .732 OPS and Gonzalez a .705 OPS. Marwin strikes out slightly less than the other two.

While I’m sure Villar and his low cost will be in camp (unless traded), I’d guess he’s no longer the bridge to Carlos Correa.

♦♦♦ If Brent Strom is a genius for what he’s done with the starters, we have to wonder how much time he’s spending with the relievers. Houston’s bullpen ERA of 4.80 is by far the worst in the AL. Yet, there are some bright spots.

I don’t know what the Cubs were doing to Jose Veras, but his ERA and WHIP in Houston have been very good. Tony Sipp came off the scrap heap in San Diego and has been magnificent in Houston. I guess this is the return karma for the Astros giving away J.D. Martinez. Chad Qualls has been lights out against anyone but Oakland. Jake Buchanan (who apparently is not from State Farm) has slowly improved through the season. After a horrible April and a kinda crummy May, Josh Fields has turned things around (other than a couple of bad outings in August).

In total, Houston has blown 24 save opportunities. Only the Rockies make us look good. And that’s pretty bad. Which brings me to my final observation …

♦♦♦  At 69-87 with six games to go, it seems a foregone conclusion that Houston will hit the 70-win mark. Four more wins (hey, the Astros have been making a habit of winning series lately) would put Houston at 73-89. That’s going from losing more than 110 to not losing 90. That’d be amazing.

But if Houston could have converted even one-third of those blown save opportunities, this would be a .500 team.

Let that sink in. If Houston would have had more George Springer, a healthy Matt Albers, a healthy Jesse Crain for even half the season, less Jonathan Villar … if, if, if, if. My guess is Houston is right about where it belongs, somewhere from 71-73 wins. But it seems the Astros are just a few moves from .500 or better.

So here’s some questions for you:

  1. Looking back — with six games left — what will you remember most fondly about 2014? I mean other than Altuve. Name two other things.
  2. What makes you pull your hair the most? The bullpen? Villar? Dominguez? The black hole that is first base?
  3. There were a bunch of off the field distractions this year. The draft and the Astrosleaks thing. Bo Porter getting fired. Contract talks with everyone from Grossman (really?) to Springer and Singleton. When the season ends, other than the TV deal, will you care about any of it?
  4. If you’re still watching during these last six games, what are you watching for?
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About BrianT

Brian Todd is a freelance writer working and living in Rochester, Minn.

76 comments on “2014 Astros: Six games — and questions — remain

  1. Tim
    September 21, 2014

    1. The 7-game winning streak in May was a great moment. Also, the improvement of Dallas Keuchel stands out for me.
    2. Considering we have other options at 1B and SS I would say Dominguez makes me pull my hair out the most. We simply don’t have any other long-term options right now.
    3. I probably won’t care about it until the next story comes out that JL is holding back service time because a top prospect didn’t take the Astros low-ball offer.
    4. Without a doubt, I am watching to see if Altuve gets the batting title. I will also be watching to see if we can avoid 90 losses, but I don’t think we will. I predict we go 2-4 this week and finish 71-91.

    Like

    • BrianT
      September 21, 2014

      I’m not sure what other options we have at first base, but, yeah, Dominguez was pretty frustrating this year.

      I’d take 3-3 this week with 90 loses. Especially considering Keuchel has been shut down. Of course, benching Singleton should help us too, so maybe 4-2 is possible after all.

      Like

      • Tim
        September 22, 2014

        Carter is an option as is Krauss. I am not saying they are great options, but they are options. We have nobody that can play 3B regularly (I don’t think Marwin and Petit count as regulars).

        Like

      • daveb
        September 22, 2014

        Carter has already shown us in the past and reminded us again last week, that he should not be plying first base. Krauss might still be around, even though he’ll go unprotected, but if nobody picks him up, it will reiterate the fact that he’s not an option for a team that wants to get better.

        Like

      • daveb
        September 22, 2014

        plying…….was that semi intentional?

        Like

      • Tim
        September 22, 2014

        I don’t think Carter is much worse defensively at 1B than Singleton. Have you watched Singleton playing 1B? He can’t scoop any balls out of the dirt and even misses low throws that don’t even touch the ground. He is abysmal defensively.

        Like

      • daveb
        September 22, 2014

        Who said anything about Singleton? All I said is that Carter should not be playing first base.

        Like

      • Tim
        September 22, 2014

        I was referring to Singleton when I mentioned that I wasn’t pulling out my hair as much from him or Villar because of other options. Thus, even though Carter is not Keith Hernandez at 1B, he isn’t any worse than Singleton, and that was my point. We have zero other options for 3B.

        Like

    • Devin_
      September 22, 2014

      I will spend the off’s as on eating crow – I said this was definitely a 100 loss team entering the season. To think they could win the last two series and finish under 90 losses is amazing…especially since they have been without Springer, who I still believe is their greatest impact player. Is everyone else looking forward to seeing a healthy Springer in the lineup as much as I am in 2015? I hope Luhnow at least sends Bobby Heck a Christmas card and bottle of wine each year.

      Like

  2. 1oldpro
    September 21, 2014

    The things I will remember most about this season will be Springer hitting 20 home runs in less than three months and with a very slow start. I think that was amazing. Also how awful he was in right field at the beginning because the ball club was so ignorant to have not planned for that. To think that they would never have thought to let him play other OF positions in three minor league seasons and then throw him into the majors out of position and have him look so lost.
    The other thing is Colin McHugh being sent down to AAA and Lucas Harrell on the team to start the year. How that whole situation just turned around and ended up is really amazing.
    What makes me pull out my hair the most is strikeouts by the middle of the order. Carter, Singleton, Castro and Dominguez all having so many strikeouts and so few hits is embarrassing.
    I care about the Astroleaks because it seems like tech-savvy is our thing and we sucked at it there. I’m sure the Aiken deal was just bad management and we got lots of that from the top down.
    I can’t watch the Astros, so there’s nothing to watch for. If they don’t play their best players then they are already playing for 2015, which is something we’re used to around here.

    Like

    • Flash
      September 22, 2014

      OP sometimes you make a lot of sense. And this isn’t one of them. GS didn’t make errors in RF because he is accustomed to playing CF. ESPN documents his defensive start here

      espn.go.com/blog/sweetspot/post/_/id/46738/george-springer-already-has-five-errors

      Basically he has trouble picking up the ball off of the ground and throwing the ball to an infielder very hard. Genuine positional adjustments would manifest themselves in the routes he takes to balls, his reaction times, etc. Since you can’t see the games, you wouldn’t have that sort of data. I can, and he doesn’t have any trouble with RF.

      I know you have it hard for the FO, but how about some legitimate criticisms supported by logical thought. For instance, if you don’t support The Plan, how about you go back through the last two offseasons and tell where they were going to find a team that would be challenging for the playoffs right now? BJ Upton? Edwin Jackson? Oo! maybe Brian McCann!

      Like

      • daveb
        September 22, 2014

        Flash, how did George make it through three years of minor league ball making only three errors? Right field is nothing like playing center. There are huge differences. And the club did not prepare him long enough before be tossing him into that situation.

        Like

      • Flash
        September 22, 2014

        I don’t know. Nervous? But come on, it isn’t as though they had him playing linebacker. It is a little bit of a stretch blaming those errors on the FO. He is afterall one of the most talented athletes in MLB. Catching and throwing isn’t that hard, from any place on the field.

        Like

      • 1oldpro
        September 22, 2014

        So your assessment comes from an espn blog. And Springer hardly made 5 errors in CF in his entire minor league career in CF but his sudden 5 errors in 13 games playing RF was the result of some data that is unavailable to me that shows he is having trouble picking the ball of the ground and throwing it back in.. And you have data because you can see the games and I can’t.
        You may think I have it hard for the FO, but that’s your lipstick all over their cheeks.
        My argument that he had no preparation in RF up until that time is SPOT ON and perfectly legitimate. Go do your homework on how much time he spent in RF since he was drafted by the Astros. Playing Fowler in CF over Springer and now Marisnick is stupid! And your boy Luhnow is the guy calling those shots so he owns this one. If Fowler had gotten a good jump on that ball in left center tonight and gone back instead of across he could have had it and those 3 runs would not have scored. I did see the game and my eye data tells me Marisnick would have gotten that ball.

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    • daveb
      September 22, 2014

      Well Flash, then why no history of blowing balls on the ground in the minors, playing mostly centerfield? Damn right the guy could feel out of whack, moving to right field, in a ball park he had no experience in. Indeed, he made 5 errors by April 30th, but then just two more the rest of the way. And he also added 6 outfield assists in just 70 right field starts. Nothing wrong with his arm either I’m guessing the blogger, David Schoenfield, who’s also worked as a soccer editor, never played any right, enter or left field. And I’m also guessing he pulled up only the video from games Springer made errors in. If that’s the case, he missed a lot of good stuff.

      Moving from center, everything is different in right. Everything looks different. Your cut off guys are in different places. Balls coming off righty bats do scary things. Balls off lefty bats hook like crazy. The most talented guys in the game don’t adjust overnight.

      Like

      • Flash
        September 22, 2014

        Dave, the ground is in the same place in CF as it is in RF, just below your feet. Correlation does not equal causation. We’re just going to have to agree to disagree. Maybe you think Luhnow brought him to the big leagues before he was ready. Maybe he should have stayed in AAA until he could demonstrate that he is a ML RFer.

        The whole moving outfield positions is oh so difficult thing is way overblown. Catchers move to 1st, SS move to third, OFs move to first, middle infielders move to the OF. It isn’t like starting over. And Springer, in case you haven’t heard, is a pretty good baseball player.

        Like

      • 1oldpro
        September 22, 2014

        Springer is a terrific player, but until he got used to playing RF he sucked in the RF. If it’s so overblown, why the heck did he look so bad for two weeks. I didn’t look bad out there, he did, and he makes my argument for me. Yeah, five errors in 13 games proves there’s absolutely no difference playing RF than CF.

        Like

      • Flash
        September 23, 2014

        You make a compelling argument OP. Springer sucks in RF + Springer good in CF = Luhnow is a bad GM. That there is some ironclad reasoning.

        Like

  3. Billy Castillo
    September 22, 2014

    1.Dallas Keuchel and Collin McHugh.. That counts as two. Okay, one more…Springer knocking the hell out of the ball while here.
    2, I’m bald. But if I still had hair, the terrible trio of Dominguez, Villar, and Castro (spit).
    3. Depends on who the new manager is.
    4. I don’t have comcast, but I’d be watching to see my team win, of course. Oh, and to see anybody other than Castoff at catcher.

    Like

  4. Tim
    September 22, 2014

    Just a side note, but we get to watch the Astros for the next 3 games since we are playing Arlington. We will miss the last 3 and, hopefully, that should be the end of the Astros/Rockets blackout for the majority of viewers.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Dan P
    September 22, 2014

    Thanks for the writeup – Brian T
    Thoughts
    – Keuchel threw about 40 more innings this season over last season (majors and minors in 2013). Maybe they have their own limit on how much they will let a pitcher increase their innings in one season?
    – The last time the Astros had 3 pitchers with 10 wins and winning records they actually had 4 – (Pettitte, Clemens, Oswalt and Backe) and Wandy was 10-10 – back in the WS year – 2005
    – I get the feeling if Strom had some of these relievers for longer periods of time – we would have seen more improvement. Too many injuries and too many innings from guys who were not ready.
    – What I remember fondly from 2014 other than Senor Altuve?
    – George Springer injecting fun and anticipation back into the team when he started rolling back in May. It had been a long time.
    – Tie between McHugh and Keuchel becoming legitimate top half of the rotation starters out of figging nowhere.

    – Pulling my hair out? The black hole that Dominguez and Singelton have fallen into on the offensive end.
    – The TV deal is critical to how the team works there finances going forward – that I will watch.
    – The last 6 games (I agree Keuchel could have helped them to 4-2 – I’m choosing 3-3) – I will be watching Tropeano, Stassi, Petit and whoever they throw out there from the bullpen.

    Like

    • Dan P
      September 22, 2014

      Oh and the other most important off field “distraction” will be the managerial search. I will be very interested in what direction they go. The players seem to like Lawless (but does Luhnow?)

      Like

    • Dan P
      September 22, 2014

      their finances – not there finances – just waking up this morning….

      Like

      • Tim
        September 22, 2014

        I like it when somene realizes and corrects his/her own grammar/spelling errors. I operate the same way. I find myself using google to make sure I spell a word correctly. 🙂

        Like

      • Tim
        September 22, 2014

        *someone, not somene.
        It happens to all of us. Dang, that is too funny.

        Like

      • daveb
        September 22, 2014

        I seem to be making too many lately to keep up.

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      • Dan P
        September 22, 2014

        I generally blame fat fingers on a thin phone

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      • Dan P
        September 22, 2014

        but that would not explain there vs. their

        Like

  6. Devin_
    September 22, 2014

    1. Altuve, Springer, and 2nd half Carter. We had real hitters this year…for some months, at least.
    2. Ha! You probably thought I would complain about the K’s and poor performances of Castro, Dominguez, and our first base black hole. You know, we probably could have kept Cesar Izturis, plugged him in at first base (I know he is a slap hitting SS) and had a higher OPS for the year out of that spot. But I’m going to complain about the draft debacle. Rodon was the pick they should have made.
    3. Yes, of course. We can’t disect any on field action during the off season. What the FO does during those dreary months is what we have to follow. They have been there long enough and keep telling ng us all about how they are much smarter than everyone else. They can’t keep making all those blunders.
    4.Altuve, Altuve, Altuve!!!

    Will Feldman get two starts? He is sitting at 8 wins right now. It’s unfortunate the bullpen had to blow the CLE save last week for him.

    Like

  7. Chip Bailey
    September 22, 2014

    The story lines will change along the way. One interesting consideration — and to your point Brian — is what to do with Jose Veras. Indeed, he seems to like pitching in Houston. When the Cubs released him, they also apparently applied the $150,000 buyout for his big $4 million 2015 option. Meaning, he will be a free agent after the season. Closer for 2015? Two-year deal for $6 million? That could settle a lot for Houston and allow the team to move Qualls back to setup or work on 3B or SS or corner OF options.

    Like

    • Tim
      September 22, 2014

      Chip,

      I am not comfortable with Veras as the closer. Maybe he improved with Houston because he wasn’t in high pressure situations. I know he did well for us in 2013 before he was traded, but he still has a knack for walking too many hitters and he doesn’t have over-powering stuff. I would prefer the Astros get a legitimate closer and use Qualls and Veras as set-up men as well as Sipp and Fields.

      Like

    • Steven
      September 22, 2014

      I wouldn’t resign Veras. He just seems like a guy out there to throw it as hard as he can without regard of where it ends up.

      Caveat to that though is if he is going to strike out 10+ per nine, which he consistently does year and year out, and you are going to sign him, then let him close. Most games closers appear in they are starting an inning fresh, with the occasional 8th inning clutch appearance. Walks hurt a lot less when they are the first guys on, they hurt alot more when you are inheriting runners already.

      Regardless, the reason I wouldn’t, is they hurt either way.

      Like

  8. kevin
    September 22, 2014

    High light we will actually win 70 games or more In May I thought w would be lucky to get 60
    Starting pitching with a bunch of no names, Incredible year.
    I could live with Fowler,Marsinick, Springer Grossman, Presley in the OF 2015 as long as they do something at 3rd and 1st. marwin and someone at SS till Correa OK
    Castro were stuck

    Bullpen interesting dilemma — Fields Folty, Sipp, Quails, Buchanan WHO DO WE ADD?

    Like

    • Tim
      September 22, 2014

      Do you think Buchanan is worth keeping? I could part with him and not lose any sleep.

      Like

      • Steven
        September 22, 2014

        I’m not sure Buchanan is a great bullpen candidate. His biggest strength is he throws a bunch of average pitches but all for strikes.

        To me the best bullpen guys are guys that have 1 overpowering pitch and another they use to keep hitters off balance. They find it hard to succeed as a starter because they struggle 3 and 4th times through an order, but they can get a guy more often the first time – because he hasn’t seen the overpowering pitch yet that day. Does Buchanan really have the stuff to go out there and get a tough out with runners on 2nd and 3rd and one out? Haven’t seen enough of him to know yet, but maybe.

        I think he could be an option as a starter though, in that he will not kill himself with the walk, and he can throw strikes with at least 3 pitches. Nothing overpowering, but he has the ability to show the hitter different looks each time through the order. I would hold on to him and stash him at AAA to open the season, and lets see a year at AAA.

        Like

  9. 1oldpro
    September 22, 2014

    About the bullpen. The Astros have a lot of arms to choose from.
    The guys I would love to keep are Sipp, Fields, Qualls, Folty.
    Plus: another effective lefty and somebody from AAA who steps up.
    Albers has a $3mil option with Astros but do they want to take a chance on that?
    These late season starts by Nitro and Buchanan may go a long way in determining the makeup of next year’s bullpen and back of the rotation.
    Also, does White, Wojo, Weiland, Bass have enough to make it on this team next year in the pen?
    So who have I left out? Veras and a bonafied closer.

    Like

  10. kevin
    September 22, 2014

    I forgot Veras i would sign him to a 1 year deal I think. and couldn’t remember what deal we had in place for Albers TY OP

    Like

    • 1oldpro
      September 22, 2014

      The reason I left Veras out was because of having three RH guys in Fields, Qualls and Folty and we really need a closer in 2015 who will take the ball and get guys out without walking people in between and I’m not sure Veras is that guy.

      Like

      • kevin
        September 22, 2014

        i probably reaching but I wouldn’t mind seeing Folty be our new Billy Wagner for 6-8 years

        Like

  11. Devin_
    September 22, 2014

    Hey, another milestone occurred yesterday. By winning game #69, the Astros guaranteed they will not pick 1.1 in 2015. Texas and Minnesota have 62 wins with six remaining.

    Like

    • Devin_
      September 22, 2014

      Oops, that’s Arizona, not Minnesota.

      Like

    • Tim
      September 22, 2014

      I think Texas has 7 games remaining, but since we won the season series I think, if we tied, they would still be ahead of us in the draft.

      Like

  12. daveb
    September 22, 2014

    I’d tell Marwin the job at short is his. If we get his steady glove and his (present) .700 plus OPS in 2015, then the shortstop position will be adequately covered untilBetter to use resources in other areas.

    I agree oldpro, we need a more prototypical closer to close. I’d like to see Veras remain in the bullpen mix, but all too often he further unsettles my already dicey stomach.

    I don’t see much in Presley, and he won’t be protected, but I’d take Grossman anyway. Significant OBP difference. And if JFSF somehow remains .785 OPS Jake, then I might even start forgetting about Cosart and his 2.29 ERA for the Fish. The whole outfield situation has me flummoxed though, because I’m feeling more and more like Fowler won’t be around.

    I was happy when Springer finally got the call. And I was almost as happy when Harrell got dropped.

    I’m most aggravated by the first base situation. Clearly, Singleton was not ready, or has significant mental issues. Maybe both. I wonder if he’s got what it takes to make it as a major leaguer. The next Brett Wallace?

    Although I am able to watch all the games online, I’ll be paying attention to the lack of the TV deal throughout the winter, or at least until a deal gets done.

    And over the next six games, will be keeping an eye on Altuve’s at bats and Tropeano’s last start.

    Like

    • Steven
      September 22, 2014

      I think he is a bit more talented than Wallace. I think he thinks he is better than he is, or that hitting has just come so easy to him that he doesn’t prepare the way he needs to at this level. I am not sure that attitude will get better, but if it does, and its the reason I wouldn’t give up on him, he could post superstar numbers.

      Like

      • daveb
        September 22, 2014

        Steven, I agree, he has a bunch more talent than Wallace and I’m certainly not ready to give up on him. The club won’t either based on what they’ll be paying him over the next few years.

        Like

  13. Steven
    September 22, 2014

    Strom is no genius.

    Neither was Torre. He got to write names like Rodriguez, Jeter, Texeira, Cano, etc. in his lineup for a decade, so he won a lot of games. Managing starters that perform well is not coaching, its just managing.

    Credit cannot be given when a performer that you know is going to perform does his job. Altuve is going to win a batting title because he is great, not because someone coached him. It’s not Porter’s fault that Singleton and Dominguez are awful, or Villar can’t throw straight, it’s on them.

    Managers and coaches do get credit/blame for the marginal guys. It’s on them to put the guys that aren’t talented enough to get 500 plate appearances, play in the field everyday, or start games on the bump in situations where they can succeed. Look at the bullpen stats of the LaRussa/Duncan years in both Oakland and St. Louis. Insane. Guys that were never thought highly of are going out there and posting sub 3, in some cases sub 2, ERA’s. Hitters that don’t get a lot of reps are posting .280+ averages. They knew how to put their marginals in the best situations.

    Porter and Strom have not done that. Now, it could be that Strom’s marginals have been been so marginal that there was no helping them, but his BP management has been terrible. It seemed at times Porter was sending out some reliever that was just boneheaded matchup against that hitter. Sometimes he pulled the trigger to soon, sometimes not soon enough. His handling of his pitchers was questionable at best, and who was the guy whispering in his ear the whole time? Strom.

    I don’t give Strom credit for Keuchel and McHugh, I give them credit for themselves. When you decide to give them the ball every 5th day, coaching is going to have little impact on how they do, they will decide it themselves. Sure he can help some with the small details, advise them on preparation, spin them up on hitters, but in the end, they are not marginal talents – besides, all pitching coaches do those things anyway. They are quality pitchers doing their thing, and they would be doing it with or without him.

    Like

    • 1oldpro
      September 22, 2014

      I totally disagree with you. I think a pitching coach has everything to do with pitching performance. Arm angle, hip turn, landing position, wrist position, Finger placement, Knee bend, move to first, holding runners, pitch selection, pitch sequencing, hot spot and cold spot analysis, mental approach, diet, workout approach, workout routines, new pitches, old pitches, speeding up delivery, slowing down, pitch pace, pitch hiding fielding position, glove position, front leg, back leg, confidence, problem solving.
      What a coincidence that Cosart, Keuchel, McHugh, Ober, Peacock, Fields, and Sipp all improved under Strom. I don’t see any pitchers there with overwhelming stuff, but I see pitchers with all different kinds of stuff who progressed under Strom.

      Like

      • Steven
        September 22, 2014

        And many pitchers regressed under Strom, and many others couldn’t stay healthy. Where is Harrell? Where is the graveyard of relievers we tried? Keuchel and McHugh are successful because of Keuchel and McHugh.

        Wasn’t it Leo Mazzone who once said pitching coaches are only as good as the pitchers he has throwing for him?

        The bullpen stats speak for themselves.

        Like

      • Steven
        September 22, 2014

        But I get it, you think Strom is why they have developed, and I argue that Strom is just johnny on the spot. I fully understand what a pitching coach does, but there are only 30 jobs out there, every detail you cited, all 30 of them know it, and probably 3000 more that don’t have the job.

        Neither of us will be proven right or wrong for about a decade, when you can get a real picture of pitcher track records when involved with Strom, and what happened when they weren’t anymore.

        Like

      • 1oldpro
        September 22, 2014

        I named five starters and two relievers who progressed. Do you think Feldman regressed? No, Folty didn’t, Qualls didn’t.
        Harrell sucked last year and lasted a month and everybody knows he wouldn’t listen to anybody. So who regressed? Williams, Farnsworth, an injured Bass? Clemens didn’t pitch well but he was lousy last year. Is it possible that he and Owens are maxxed out?
        Come on, prove your point. Give me some names of guys who got worse. Downs got hurt and then rehabbed, Wojo, White, Weiland, Crain and Albers all were hurt.
        Jerome Williams was not a starter and has always been a lousy reliever, so certainly you can’t pin his relief problems on Strom. Did Raul whatever regress?
        Veras was cut by the Cubs but pitched better for us. Did he regress?
        Terrible argument.
        Now, please tell me how awful Torre was again.
        Sheesh!

        Like

      • Steven
        September 22, 2014

        Feldman has pitched his potential. He is a pro. Williams has had success in the past, none in Houston.

        The difference between our thoughts are you think when it goes good its Strom, when it goes bad its them. I’m not the opposite, I don’t give Strom credit OR blame. Williams failed because of Williams. Bass failed because of Bass. Harrell because of Harrell.

        Keuchel and McHugh have become solid starters because of Keuchel and McHugh. 90%. Strom can offer advice, he can talk about grips, he can mentor on preparation, I got it, but he doesn’t pitch. They do.

        I never said anyone was terrible. I said you look great when you can write great names on the lineup. I have a lot of respect for Torre, no amount of your hyperbolic drivel is going to redefine my position. Ge a job at Fox News, it fits you.

        Like

      • Steven
        September 22, 2014

        As for Harrell, unless 1oldpro is a nickname for the bullpen coach, bullpen catcher, right field peanut guy, something, I don’t think you can make assumptions from small pieces of ineuendo you pick up from blogs and just build this case that “he wouldn’t listen to anyone.” First – noone in ANY walk of life isn’t successful without listening to sound advice, and he was successful for a minute. Second, when you assume, you make an – well you know the rest.

        I think its more likely that the league simply caught up to what he was trying to do as a pitcher, and he didn’t adjust, and it’s not because he didnt listen, but because he didn’t have the stuff to make that adjustment. He got exposed for being a marginal talent that was over exposed in innings, and couldn’t adjust. He may once again turn up in the majors as a reliever somewhere, or even reinvent himself and get another run as a starter, or he may not. If he does, it will be on HIM either way.

        Like

      • 1oldpro
        September 22, 2014

        I challenged your statement with names and facts and asked you to retort. You can’t. So now you make it personal.

        Like

      • Billy Castillo
        September 22, 2014

        Steven, how many times did we read about Harrell complaining about something or the other? How many times did him and Porter have to have a meeting? Okay, a lot of that was probably on Porter, but keeping in mind most stories on Harrell (even he was pitching well) referred to him as ’emotional’.

        Like

      • Steven
        September 23, 2014

        You don’t use names and facts with anything, your choice in making it personal guy. You took my statements, misconstrued, and misidentified motives, proclaiming that I am calling Torre terrible, then you continue to make up things like you know baseball, trying to make me sound stupid, and then get mad when I tell what I do know about baseball, which I will match with you anyday. I don’t know and I don’t care to, and I certainly don’t care to make it personal. I’m here to share opinion, not have mine dismissed by the blog troll/grump.

        Like

      • 1oldpro
        September 23, 2014

        You said “and many pitchers regressed under Strom”. It’s not trolling to ask you to back up a statement like that.
        As far as the getting personal, you used the Fox News comment, the hyperbolic drivel comment and the blog troll /grump comment. I talk baseball and you get personal

        Like

  14. Flash
    September 22, 2014

    1. There were a lot of significant steps taken forward this year – McHugh, Keuchel, Altuve, Carter to name a few.
    2. There were a lot of steps taken backward this year – Dominguez, Castro, Singleton, to name a few.
    3. I could (couldn’t) care less about Aiken, Porter, or Breach. I hope they get someone to manage that can communicate, and deal with the fragile sensitivities of junior high school girls or ML baseball players. Mrs. Garrett from Facts of Life is my choice.
    4. Because I love baseball.

    Like

    • BrianT
      September 22, 2014

      And Flash, that’s the best reason to keep watching.

      Like

  15. Steven
    September 22, 2014

    But enough on Strom.

    Two things – McHugh and Keuchel. It was good to see that yes even the Astros can find effective pitchers from underestimated sources. If we can find that bonafide number 1, like a Felix Hernandez type (I know, most of franchises say the same thing), they could be incredibly effective 2 and 3 guys. Even I agree that the rumored asking price of Springer and Correa for Price was too high, but I would have kept blowing up the Rays phone lines until that price was a bit bitter, and then turned around and given Price that 6 year deal to make him an Astro for life. It’s a chance, yes, a big chance that he will continue to be great, but you don’t win championships sitting on the sidelines. Could you imagine going into next season with Price-McHugh-Keuchel at the top? As good as anyone in baseball.

    What makes me pull my hair out the most is the sheer number of marginal talents that are stuck still getting quality PT – Dominguez is ground zero. Left field will most certainly feature a marginal talent next year, as will third, short, and probably C. I know, they can’t all be superstars, but giving 500 plate appearances to multiple marginals, when we are stuck with so many underperforming youngsters, will keep us below .500 again.

    The TV deal is still the debacle. I moved to Alaska though so at least I get them everytime they play the Mariners.

    I think your guess was right – this is a 71-73 win team. What we need is improvement from the pen, first base, short, third, and one more outfielder to perform above average for a consistent part of the season, and we can start talking 85 wins. The rotation is there, at least today.

    Like

  16. daveb
    September 22, 2014

    Lot’s of spirited disagreements today!

    Like

    • Steven
      September 22, 2014

      Meh, its been a few weeks, so we were due. I think we are only batting like .225 at it though, so what explains that regression? Must be the blogging coach.

      Like

    • Devin_
      September 22, 2014

      I’d rather have 162 games of Springer than 35 of Price. If it’s going to be 100 of Springer each year, I would change my mind. I think during the regular season his presence wins you far more games than replacing Peacock with Price. In the post season I may think differently. However, I would have given up multiple players out of anyone from the minors not named Correa in a trade to get Price. I’d probably consider Correa when it was all said and done though, because we just don’t know whether he’ll make it past the great filter (AA).

      Like

      • Steven
        September 23, 2014

        Agreed, and I think Luhnow did the right thing in balking at the price. As I said, I would have continued down that road until the names were not Springer and Correa. Maybe he did, and we will never know.

        Like

  17. Becky
    September 22, 2014

    Besides Altuve, my biggest surprise was of course Springer. I loved the way he played all out, but that might need to be tempered down a bit in the years ahead. I’d rather give up the run, than have him hit walls, and end up with an injury. I always believed in Keuchel, and McHugh was the brilliant dark horse, that came out of no where! I caught the interview that Robert Ford had with Luhnoiw, and he asked him about Matty D. Luhnow hinted at getting a “fall back” if Matt starts the year as bad as this year. I also caught an ESPN piece, about the hunt for a new manager…..
    one of the guys said Maddon would be PERFECT for this team, and I have to agree with him! Wouldn’t that be AWESOME!! All I care about first is getting the games back on TV. The rest of the problems that came from the front office is not my business. Starting Villar again tonight will be a mistake, but who knows he might surprise us with a clean game. I posted a comment the other day, about show me the money……….Crane will be on the clock to spend some money to finally fill some holes on this team. I think we have a nice “problem” in the outfield! When was the last time we had so many good players out there? I personally think we got the better deal, when we traded Cosart. Collin Moran is an up and coming kid, and I LOVE Marisnick! Just my two cents. The coaching staff will probably be gone, with a new manager, but I hope Strom stays………..

    Like

    • Steven
      September 22, 2014

      Yea, if Luhnow goes after a name to manage it may be unlikely he will settle for having to keep folks and not bring his own.

      I think some people may mistake my earlier argument for saying I don’t like Strom. I don’t know Strom. He is never on TV, we never hear snipets. That’s probably a good thing, and I would be fine with his return. I just don’t want to see people take credit that is due to pitchers learning their craft and give it to anyone else other than them. Strom is probably a great mentor that can talk pitching with them all day, and there is alot to be said for that, but I don’t know that, so I’ll trust Luhnow’s judgement.

      Like

      • Flash
        September 22, 2014

        Teams have programs that they put their pitchers on. Perhaps NY and the Rockies’ systems just didn’t utilize McHugh’s highest and best talents. Certainly a pitching coach isn’t going to take a talentless player and make him a star. Someone, maybe Strom, maybe the FO, Porter, or perhaps even McHugh thought it was a good idea to scrap the sinker in favor of the 4 seamer. Certainly it is McHugh out there on the mound and he deserves the most credit. But it isn’t like the organization doesn’t deserve some of the credit for developing players, even if they just stay out of the way.

        Trevor Bauer utilizes effective velocity which the Diamondbacks were just not into. They tried to force him into more conventional pitch selection and he was awful. Cleveland is a much better environment for a pitcher with a non-standard approach, and the result are much better.

        Like

  18. drbill14
    September 22, 2014

    In these last six games I want to see a lot of Stassi. We’re not playing contenders so there is no moral obligation to play the “first team”. Stassi is about the only one of the September position player call-ups who could reasonably be expected to play or compete for a significant role in 2015. He has made some defensive mistakes but his bat has shown some potential. I would also like to see him catch someone other than Tropeano.

    My thoughts on Strom and the bullpen are that relievers would be inherently more difficult to tweak than starters. A starter will get the ball every five days and if he is doing his job will get in six or more innings of work. There will then be time between starts to work on adjustments. A reliever’s work load is much less predictable and I would think make applying adjustments more difficult.

    Keuchel has been the most gratifying for me. I liked his competitiveness last year and this year things fell into place. His stuff may not be dazzling but neither was Tom Glavine’s. Another thing he did was completely nullify the opposition’s running game. I read an article that no one even ATTEMPTED to steal second on him this season and there were only 3 attempted steals of third, only one successful. How does that happen? Maybe he could teach Feldman some tricks.

    I wonder if we really can comprehend what a monster season this has been for Altuve. BA and OBP up over 60 points, OPS up over 160 points! Steals way up, caught stealing way down. Those are just the metrics but the intangibles of better preparation, better mental approach and professionalism are what impressed me the most. There were times last season where his baserunning was as bad or worse than Villar’s. Just goes to show that makeup matters more than physical talent in the cases of Altuve and Keuchel.

    Like

  19. BrianT
    September 22, 2014

    Can’t we all get along?

    I think Strom has had a positive effect on the pitching staff, but because of the revolving door in our bullpen and a general lack of talent after a couple of guys, well, even Strom can’t make apple pies when you give him mud.

    And all the coaching in the world won’t help if a player doesn’t or can’t put sage advice into practice. I think Villar is a prime example. He’s got talent. There’s no doubt. I’ve seen him hit the ball. I’ve seen him make great plays. But his head does tend to get in the way. He hasn’t adjusted at the plate, and he takes plays off in the field. More accurately, I think he tries to do too much at times, and it backfires. (Of course, I’ve seen him boot routine grounders as well.)

    I hope we can enjoy these last six games (3-3 against the Dallas Rangers of Arlington at the moment in the bottom of the seventh). We’ll miss even the frustrating ones during the long, baseball-less winter. (Does the AFL have a TV package for online?)

    Like

    • daveb
      September 22, 2014

      Always getting along is overrated in a blog relationship.

      Like

  20. Dan P
    September 22, 2014

    Well Marisnick just made a caych in right that I’m not sure even Springer would have reached. Great play!

    Like

    • Devin_
      September 22, 2014

      He made a really good adjustment when it carried further than he expected. I think Springer makes the catch without making it look difficult.

      Like

  21. Becky
    September 22, 2014

    What was your impression of Fowler getting a late jump on that ball tonight?
    Marisnick makes that play, clearly Dexter *could* have made the play……….
    Kudos to Villar for not booting a ball, or throwing high to Carter.

    Like

  22. 1oldpro
    September 22, 2014

    I commented on it way up above in an earlier discussion on outfielders. I think Fowler started slowly and to the side because he misjudged it. He should have gone back instead of sideways and then back. It is something I did a lot when I played because I wasn’t so good either. From everything I’ve seen of Marisnick, his instincts are terrific and he almost never misjudges the depth of a ball. I think he would have made that catch and they would not have scored.

    Like

  23. Becky
    September 23, 2014

    Marisnicks catch made the Web Gems on baseball tonight. I agree with you on
    the route Fowler took, but if Jake had been in center tonight…..they don’t win.

    Like

  24. Billy Castillo
    September 23, 2014

    From the Chronicle…
    ‘It was clear earlier this month that Jesse Crain would not pitch for the Astros this season. He threw a simulated game Monday in Arlington — a positive sign for Crain’s future — but he won’t be getting on a mound in-game this season, interim manager Tom Lawless said. “He’s not game ready,” Lawless said. “(The sim game was) important for his mental side, leaving here at the end of the season and knowing that he feels pretty good.’

    You’d think collecting money for sitting on his butt at home would make him feel good enough -_-

    Like

  25. Dan P
    September 23, 2014

    You know there are malingerers in many different occupations – but without knowing Crain – I’m not sure it is fair to think this way. Most of these athletes are competitive and want to be on the field. If he is greedy – he sure is going to make more money in the future if he is not sitting out a whole year doing nothing.
    Maybe he is a bad person who is happy to collect for nothing – but I think it is a almost a cliche assumption for us to think that.

    Like

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This entry was posted on September 21, 2014 by in Astros.
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