CHIPALATTA

All Things Astros and a whole lot more

Free blog weekend: K’s, drafts, manager criteria and more


It’s Friday and there won’t be any baseball today. Nada. America’s past time returns Tuesday with the Royals and Giants in the World Series. If you believe some predictions, two years from now, it will be the Astros and another National League team starting the best of seven MLB championship.

By the way, tune in Monday. I’ll have something for your debate and discussion that I guarantee will bring out your opinions. I’m guessing even those who haven’t commented in some time — or never — will want to chime in. Monday.

As for today, here are a few thoughts to kick off our Free Blog Weekend.

You think the Astros’ drafts have been bad?

  • When Andrew Friedman went from one of the poorest MLB teams (Rays) to one of the richest (Dodgers), I took a look at how he had built the Tampa Bay organization. If you’d admit it, you’d say they built through the draft and that the team was generally successful in the draft. Right? Years ago, yes. Lately, no. In fact, no one drafted by the Rays has reached the majors from the last four drafts. You have to go back to 2010 to find four players (no names at that) who have spent any time in the majors. 2009? Two more players, both with negative WAR. 2008? Tim Beckham and Kyle Lobstein. Go all the way back to 2007 and you find David Price and Matt Moore, but only three others who’ve had a cup of coffee or two. Who’d have guessed?

Rangers’ measuring stick for manager hiring.

Don’t just stand there!

  • Have to agree with Bill Chuck. Like I used to tell my players: “If you have two strikes, you better be swinging if it’s close!” These stats are telling. Very telling. Apparently, Robbie Grossman was among the leaders in taking a called third strike. And, more importantly, apparently the Astros were last in the majors — not just the AL — in taking a called third strike. These stats speak for themselves, but you may have more to say about them.

That catcher thing is catching on.

And your questions for the weekend conversation.

 

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About Chip Bailey

Chip Bailey lives in beautiful Colorado Springs, CO, and wakes up each morning to the tallest spot in the region, Pikes Peak. He is an author and former sports editor and sportswriter who has followed the Astros for more than 50 years. A native of another picturesque city, Natchitoches, La., Chip enjoys watching baseball at most any level, especially pro and college. Several years ago, he worked as an associate of Pastor John Bosman, who enjoyed giving nick names to his staff. Pastor Bosman came up with Chipalatta, and it has stuck.

31 comments on “Free blog weekend: K’s, drafts, manager criteria and more

  1. Dan P
    October 17, 2014

    Thoughts
    – The Rays – let’s see – the last time the Rays had a high draft spot was the 2008 draft. A lot tougher to pick the best fruit when you are winning and drafting towards the bottom of the 1st round.
    – The Astros managerial criteria – Somebody as geeky as the front office; somebody who has a solid background losing at the major league level and somebody who does not disagree with Jeff Luhnow. Check, check check
    – Called 3rd strike – a couple things…. For what it is worth – two teams have a higher % of their strikeouts that are called 3rd strikes – the Rays and the Cards.
    Second, from watching Grossman we know he is almost always working the count to get more pitches out of the pitcher. But he should look at some stats… His stats when swinging at the first pitch .457 BA / 1.120 OPS. His BA on 0-2 count .100, on 1-2 count .137, on 2-2 count .119. Robbie – go watch the movie “Signs” and swing away.
    – Catchers have had success managing – look at this year’s playoffs with Scioscia, Matheny, Bochy, Ausmus, Melvin and Yost. And success breeds copy cats.
    – Breakout season – I am going to say that Jon Singleton figures it out in his second go round – hey a .240 BA with a .750 OPS might be considered breakout…
    – Team’s manager the longest? Banister – the Rangers stick longer with their guys
    – I like both Listach and Everett a lot – don’t really have a feel for Lawless. I’ll pick Adam E and hope his great glove rubs off on one of our SS.
    – My knee jerk reaction is to say that Santana will get a second shot at the majors first -since h’s on the 40 man – but the fact they did not bring him up in September bugs me. Let’s say Moran is first man up – but none of the above is likely in 2015.

    Like

    • Steven
      October 17, 2014

      I really don’t want to see Grossman change his approach if the result is going to be the .371 OBP he posted in the second half. He has never been a strong BABIP guy – guessing he doesn’t consistently make great contact – so changing his approach off the short sample first swing this year will probably “swing” those stats the other way – and lose some of that luster of that kind of OBP. Now maybe those first swing pitch stats are consistent through his minor and major league career and it would be worth exploring – then I would accept the idea.

      Like

    • Steven
      October 17, 2014

      I’m also not sure how Everett’s quick feet are going to rub off on anyone. He was a monster with the glove, no doubt, but a lot of it is physical talent that he possessed to play the position – I believe it was either his 04 or 05 season that ranked 2nd or 3rd statistically ALL time for shortstops defensively – just as good as there ever was. AE was lanky, defensively athletic, with the perfect build for SS. Villar is built more like a standard play guy, and Gonzalez certainly isn’t built like AE. I would just settle with Villar making the routine plays routinely – though I don’t think he will hit enough to keep the job regardless of how his defense improves. Short would be the position I would be looking for change in.

      Now talk about what staffs can affect – with Listach and Pettis – I would expect the success rate on SBs to go up another 3-4%.

      Like

      • Flash
        October 17, 2014

        Everett took a lot of crap for his low BA, but I loved watching him play the position. And, if you took the difference between the hits taken away and the league average, gave him those hits on offense, he was a defensively average ML SS that hit about .315.

        Like

    • Chip Bailey
      October 17, 2014

      On Tampa Bay…yeah, but Dan, N-O-B-O-D-Y? What is it they say about a blind squirrel? That’s pretty bad, whether you draft first or 30th I’d think. And they’ve had several first round picks in that time period, so they should have been able to hit on at least one…no?

      Like

  2. 1oldpro
    October 17, 2014

    If Friedman was doing the drafting for Tampa then he was lousy at it. If somebody else was in charge of it, Friedman should have fired him. Apparently their drafting is what is holding them back.
    Apparently the Astros’ criteria for a coach is that he allows Luhnow to freely talk about winning the World Series and stays out of the way.
    I didn’t realize the Astros had moved into the top spot again in strikeouts. Apparently, the Met’s series to end the season was instrumental in the attainment of that lofty position.
    I like Everett freed up to move around the minors teaching infielding to our prospects, rather than him in the dugout, so I go with Listach, who did a good job handling the third base box.
    I think Bannister lasts longer.
    Of the five players Chip gives us to choose from to pick one who plays in Houston in 2015, I’ll go with Preston Tucker. TeeHee.

    Like

  3. 1oldpro
    October 17, 2014

    Luhnow has a lot of work to do. For every free agent he signs, somebody has to come off the 40-man. If he trades prospects for a major league player, someone may have to come off the 40-man. For every prospect he protects from the rule 5, somebody has to come off the 40-man.
    I would not be surprised at a big trade involving Appel and Santana.

    Like

    • daveb
      October 17, 2014

      Santana is one of the few guys I’d hate to lose.

      Like

  4. rj
    October 17, 2014

    howdy chip,
    i havent been commenting much lately, been sooo busy. but ill throw in my two cents on this. i think a phrase up in the section about the criteria for the rangers manager rings very loudly in the astros selection of a manager – somebody interested in an organizational partnership. its Luhnow’s ship and he is tossing overboard all those not wanting to row in the same direction and hiring those that will.
    i am gonna go with marisnick as the breakout guy, although i think castro (dont throw things at me) might actually be the one who has the best chance.
    hinch will outlast bannister, he has a rising team and less pressure.
    this winter i would be thrilled if the astros brought in by trade and/or free agency a legitimate middle of the order bat, a tor starter and a vastly improved bullpen. (wouldnt we all)
    listach – assuming he is the one who helped the light come on for altuve’s base running and stealing. so much improved from 2013.
    well most likely is santana. on 40 man, been there before. but i think most impact may well be from moran.
    have a good weekend everybody.

    Like

  5. Devin_
    October 17, 2014

    – Singleton. He has followed poor first stops with good campaigns in the minors. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect an adjustment that reduces the K’s.
    – Banister. What do Prince Fielder, You Darvish, and Shin-soo Chu have in common? What do they not have in common with anyone on the Astros?
    – I’ll be thrilled if the Astros … You got me there. I’ve talked myself into a lineup with VMart, but think it’s a longshot. I want an improved bullpen, but that’s a crap shoot.
    – Listache. I don’t see any reason to replace him. Adam Everett was a decent fielder, but we don’t have any evidence he can teach it well, yet.
    – The 40 man roster would indicate Santana, but many are expecting Luhnow will move him for a wet noodle bat who can’t run or throw but doesn’t K much. OK, I projected that as the reaction to any trade, whether justified or not, but if Fowler is retained we don’t have an immediate spot for Domingo. I like Appel as most likely to see the big leagues next year. I suspect there were promises made at his signing and they want to keep a certain agent happy given how things fell apart with a different agent last summer…

    Like

  6. 1oldpro
    October 17, 2014

    Since this is a free weekend blog, I would like to ask a question. This morning, Astros Daily linked to a Fansided article which quoted a portion of Jim Crane’s comments from the Astros Foundation Golf Tournament held earlier this month. The comments about the “possible” $20million payroll increase is something I read the next day. What I don’t remember reading from those comments was when Crane said he desired us to try to make the playoffs this coming year.
    My question is: Did I just miss that or is Fansided adding that quote on because nobody else put that part of Crane’s comments in their article? I do not recall anyone reporting that Crane said it was his desire to make the playoffs. That statement is key to trying to figure out what moves the Astros might make this offseason.

    Like

    • Dan P
      October 17, 2014

      old pro – you writing this is the first time I heard him say he has desires to make the playoffs this season. Maybe it is more of a want then a desire – if he really desired it – he would tie it to increasing the payroll more then the $20 million – huh?

      Like

      • 1oldpro
        October 17, 2014

        You are correct. Why are we hearing this part of his comments for the first time, ten days after he said it? We all heard the money part. How come we were not told that he said he wanted to make the playoffs?
        For me, that statement, if he wasn’t just spouting hot air, changes a lot in my opinions as to what the Astros might do or not do this offseason. If he means business, then Luhnow just can’t fiddle, he’s got play “The Devil went down to Georgia”!
        RJ mentioned above that Luhnow may throw overboard anyone rocking the boat, and after reading Crane’s statement, reading about the Astros leading the league in strikeouts(which is so contradictory to Luhnows plan), and thinking about how Appel has rocked Luhnow’s boat on several occasions this past season, I thought that a trade involving the Astros #2 and #3 prospects for a major league starting player, really makes sense.

        Like

    • Tim
      October 17, 2014

      Speaking of Astros Daily today marks the 9th anniversary of the infamous Pujols HR of Brad Lidge. I was watching the video of Berkman’s HR off Carpenter from that game (a link is provided at Astros Daily). The frenzied atmosphere at MMP during the playoffs in 2004 and 2005 was awesome! Go watch the video and the fans reaction after Berkman’s HR. It just gets me excited for the next great Astros team. Hopefully, that is sooner rather than later. I can remember watching those games and the emotions I felt. Great times indeed.

      Like

    • Steven
      October 17, 2014

      My guess is every owner would desire to make the playoffs. There really isn’t anything unusual about that statement.

      Like

  7. Dan P
    October 17, 2014

    than not then

    Like

  8. 1oldpro
    October 17, 2014

    By the way, I ran into a stat this morning that grabbed me by the throat. Batting from the right side of the plate the Astros as a team batted .254, which ranked them as the twelfth best in baseball.
    BUT, batting from the left side of the plate the Astros, as a team, batted .226, which ranked them dead last in baseball. They were five percentage points below the #29 ranked team.
    Since there are so many more righties pitching, that stat is even bigger than it looks.

    Like

    • Steven
      October 17, 2014

      Another reason for the Astros to find someone like Callaspo – a contact making switch hitter, to help that side. If Callaspo and Dominguez are both on the roster, and Dominguez is getting starts against lefties – and Callaspo is also getting some PT around the infield in other spots – it’s a win. I know Alberto had a bad year, but he has a good track record, and helps this team in so many ways. Let’s get this guy signed Luhnow!

      Like

      • 1oldpro
        October 17, 2014

        Steven, what am I missing? Callaspo will be 32 and is 5’9″ and weighs 225 lbs. He had negative WAR offensively and defensively in 2014 and trended downward the previous two years. He’s a shorter, fatter Matt Dominguez.

        Like

      • Steven
        October 17, 2014

        Than you are missing alot if you think he is Dominguez. One bad year doesn’t a career make. A short term, 2 year deal isn’t committing alot, and I am not even advocating giving him third outright. He can play multiple positions, and if he doesn’t bounce back from a bad BABIP, he can fill your utility role as a guy that will make contact.

        Nitpicked one stat – WAR – to ask me what I am missing, saying he is a short, fat Dominguez is a little off. Dominguez can’t draw a walk, Alberto’s worst walk rate is in the upper 8s – and he has been in double digits 3 of the last 4 years. Dominguez will K somewhere between 16-20%, Alberto’s worst is better than that by far. He has over 4000 innings at third, over 2000 at 2B, and has even played 1B and SS (even 95 innings in the OF).

        Callaspo brings contact, he brings versatility, he brings short term answers to problems we have as a roster, and can help. No, he isn’t the answer to 10 more wins, but he gets bad people out of important spots – and more importantly, he is the answer when you are a franchise that is not in the running for Sandoval, either Ramirez, etc.

        Like

      • Steven
        October 17, 2014

        BUT – let me add – at 32 it could be downward trend, and not a bad year. Afterall, with the PED usage decreasing, we are seeing the decreases come at younger and younger ages.

        What if we meet in the middle – and go 1 year, 4 million, with a team option for a 2nd year at 4 million – and if he bounces back, look at it then.

        This is a franchise that NEEDS to take a few chances – and while if you are a GM you ask about the Sandovals – the realistic chances of getting him is low – and the guy fits like a glove IF he hits like he did in 2011-2013.

        Like

      • 1oldpro
        October 17, 2014

        You cannot pay $4million to a player who was worse than a replacement player. His line for 2014 was .223, .290, .290. He was less a player in 2012 than in 2011 and worse in 2013 than in 2012, and terrible in 2014 at age 31. With his body type he is not going blossom like a newborn flower. WAR is THE stat used in paying free agents and Luhnow cannot throw that kind of money at him when he has a guy like Sclafani who is younger, faster, trending upward and could play that role for an entire year for $500,000 and I would bet a beer won’t be a negative WAR guy at the end of the year. Paying that kind of money to a guy with Total WAR of negative value makes the Guzman signing look great and would hang on Luhnow’s neck like a boulder. If he’s gonna miss, he needs to bet on a good horse that runs a bad race, not a bad horse that never should have been running.

        Like

      • Steven
        October 17, 2014

        WAR is a resultive stat, not a predictive stat. The predictive stats, the contact rates, etc., are still trending on the positive side – but yet, yes, declining somewhat. I am banking that all the resultive stats you point too – the batting average, OPS, etc., from his awful season, is not an indicator of what will happen, but what did happen – a poor BABIP. I am banking on some bad luck.

        In the end, his O-swing rate was 23.5%, right along with his career norm. Same with Z-contact, same with overall contact. His line drive rate is still consistent. He is still not chasing pitches, so his eyes and his hands are not slowing down, he isn’t having to chase to compensate.

        You think giving a contract to a 32 year old that had a bad average last year is crazy; I think catching him on a down year is brilliant.

        Look, he has never been an all star. They can’t all be superstars. There have to be guys that just fill the roles, and a guy that fits due to low strike out rates, has a little power, can play mulitple positions (though third is the only one he isn’t below average at), and bats lefty on a team devoid of lefties -as you pointed out – IS an upgrade. The team has the money to spend, he won’t get a salary that will hamstring you, nor will he get 155 games either.

        I am a fan of Sclafani, I am on record of that. He maybe the answer at SS for a year – but he is a prospect. His talents are harder to accept at third, as defensively he won’t get an opportunity to contribute as much – and the Astros could use a 6-7 hitter at 3B, the top of the order is kind of filled. He has no power, and guys with no power that draw lots of walks in the minors don’t always repeat that in the majors – the best pitchers are going to challenge him. See Shuck for example 1. I would like to see Joe spend another year in the minors, and try to develop 7-10 homerun power, enough to make pitchers think twice about grooving him one.

        Like

      • Devin_
        October 17, 2014

        Oldpro, by bringing Guzman into this you have convinced me that Luhnow is drawing up the paper work as we speak.

        Like

  9. Steven
    October 17, 2014

    Well – I know this – there is one common denominator between the Astros of the late 90s/early 2k’s and the Rays from about 2004 on – and it’s not Freidman.

    I had mentioned a few months back about the Rays dismal drafting – before the draft, if I recall from what I read – they were at 208 picks in a row without one seeing the majors. That’s years of futility.

    I’ll give some credence to the drafting at the bottom of every round – but not a lot. Most of the superstars today are not even first round picks. The Rays organization better brace itself for an Astro-like slump – it’s looking alot like the Astros of the early 2000’s, a few stars carrying the load – but nothing coming behind them.

    I’m not a fan of the Hinch hiring. Stats guys belong in the dungeon with a computer, analyzing data and advising. He has a very small track record – but it’s a bad one. Any manager that did the proverbial “lost a clubhouse” should get a second chance, I just wish that second chance wasn’t with us. Given our recent history with managers and success as a team, I think Crane and Luhnow would have made a better splash with an established baseball name – or maybe a new face to managing but a guy tied to success – either personal and/or team success, someone that would have walked into the clubhouse with instant credibility. The Rangers, given their recent success, can probably be a little more chance takeish.

    I’m fine with Robbie’s approach if he is going to post OBP’s like the second half. His approach becomes an albatross if he goes completely bankrupt on sound contact like the first 2 months of the season. Unfortunately we won’t know which way he goes until about the 300th plate appearance next year, so I am for penciling him in everyday in LF and letting the chips fall where they may. This guy can post a .400 OBP easy with just a little luck with BABIP.

    I had no idea Bochy and Maddon were catchers. Makes sense. Like I said the other day – catchers manage all game long – so it makes sense they would be natural for it after their careers are over. Expect that someday in the somewhat distant future that Biggio will be added to the club of former catchers managing.

    Breakout for next season – Singleton is the only one with a legitimate track record. If Castro improves some it won’t be breakout – it will be a return to the medium. Marisnick and Dominguez are in my opinion not everyday major leaguers no matter how good their gloves are.

    Longer tenure – I’ll go Banister because the Rangers have a track record with patience and not changing managers.

    I’ll be thrilled if the Astros address the left side of their infield – with a big splash at SS and an under the radar signing like Callaspo for 2 years/7-8 mil. I don’t think the Astros can or will get a SS – and if we open the season giving Villar one more shot with Gonzalez/Petit as windfalls, it’s not the end of the world – but maybe that splash is Carlos Correa opening the season at AA, and taking over the MLB SS job by June 15th!

    Coaches – I like them all. I think they are bring something. Outside of my dislike of the managerial hire, with Strom put in, this is looking like one of the better overall coaching staffs in a while.

    The most likely is probably Santana. The ones I would like to see is Appel and Correa.

    Like

    • 1oldpro
      October 17, 2014

      Bochy was a first round pick of the Astros in 1975 and spent almost six years in the Astros organization as a catcher before being traded to the Mets in 1981. I remember him catching for the Astros for parts of several years and giving credence to the idea that a catcher can be far more valuable after his playing career is finished.

      Like

      • Steven
        October 17, 2014

        Good notes – in 1975 I was still playing with rattlers, and in 1981 I think I was the starting pitcher for the Astros in my mustang level little league – at 6 years old!

        Liked by 1 person

  10. Tim
    October 17, 2014

    Listach is not returning. Rich Dauer has been hired as the first base coach, which I assume means Pettis will be the third base coach.

    Like

  11. 1oldpro
    October 18, 2014

    All I can say is that the Astros didn’t hit and they have a new hitting coach. I liked Listach based on what I saw and the Astros didn’t like what they saw. The Astros wanted a new voice in the dugout and in the clubhouse and they got one. They wanted better outfielding and baserunning, so they made a change. They wanted better infielding , so they made a change.
    They seem to be willing to make changes to get better.
    Now we’ll see how that philosophy applies to players.

    Like

  12. 1oldpro
    October 18, 2014

    Rio Ruiz came to bat in the ninth inning with I out and nobody on and Salt River trailing 3-2. He lined an opposite field double to left center and Andrew Aplin came in to run for him. Aplin scored on a single, the run got Mitchell Lambson off the hook for a loss and after 11 innings the game was called a tie.
    Ruiz was 2-3 for the night. Tyson Perez pitched a scoreless tenth and that was it for Astros players.
    Andew Aplin has the highest batting avg in the AFL but because of his walks and only getting played half the time, he doesn’t have the ABs to be listed as the league leader.

    Like

  13. 1oldpro
    October 18, 2014

    Free blog weekend!
    I like free blog weekend because the rest of the news of the world is terrible.
    I checked A&E to see if I was accidently watching any of their programs since they cancelled Longmire. I wasn’t.
    Utopia is absolutely not Utopia.
    I saw the word Gracepoint on this baseball blog so I started watching it and got hooked. Now Gracepoint is pre-empted by baseball. That’s irony!
    I wonder about my baseball team when I realize my favorite coach is the only one still left.
    I see Ranger’s fans all excited on their blogs about their new manager and the only encouragement I read about our new manager is that he is the perfect fit for this front office. Yea!. The new bench coach is perfect for our new manager because he actually has managerial experience. Yea! Mets fans can’t make up their minds about our new hitting coach because the Mets hit so poorly they don’t know who’s to blame. Yea!
    If you had more steals, less caught stealings and a much better fielding percentage than another team, why do you fire your fielding and baserunning coach and hire theirs? Lemme guess: It’s a process!
    When your spouse yells “That was a good one” at the end of a Perry Mason rerun, you know it’s time for hunting season.

    Like

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