Finish that thought, Astros’ fans

  • As the Houston Astros morph from the 2014 season of improvement to the the 2015 season of mystery, it is time to play that old time favorite parlor game: Finish That Thought!

1. Now that the Comcast debacle is in the rear view mirror – my biggest off the field concern is…..

  • The possibility that the front office is hacking off its own players.
  • The Astros still being stuck in the American League.
  • That Jim Crane is still not going to support the team financially enough to compete.
  • (Fill in your own thought)

2. Jeff Luhnow can win my heart this off-season by…..

  • Making a huge free agent signing.
  • Making a trade that brings them a slugging 3B or a real closer.
  • Abandoning the tandem pitching concept in the minors.
  • (Fill in your own thought)

3. The Astro who would most surprise me by having a breakout 2015 season is…..

4. The minor leaguer who must make it to the majors this season is ….

5. A. J. Hinch’s biggest challenge this coming season will be…..

  • Winning with inferior talent.
  • Making sure that he is on the same page as Jeff Luhnow.
  • To straighten out the inconsistent and high strikeout offense.
  • (Fill in your own thought)

6. I most look forward to seeing….

7.  The Astros will have a successful 2015 season if….

  • They win more games than they lose.
  • They add three additional solid major leaguers to the roster.
  • The bullpen moves from disaster to delight.
  • (Fill in your own thought)

8.  Chip, Brian T and Dan P would make me happy if they wrote a post about….

  • (This one is totally yours)

119 comments on “Finish that thought, Astros’ fans

  1. Biggest Concern: That Bopert is a genius. My Heart: Producing a +.500 club.
    Breakout: Springer. Minor Leaguer: Anyone that has a year so good that the fans DEMAND he be brought up even though he refuses to sign that “team friendly” embarrassment of an offer. 5 & 6: Hinch actually knows the rule book, and addresses his players’ issues in his private office and not to the reporters. Successful: You nailed it winning more games than losing. And on the last one, skip Chip, you other two guys writing a post each about all the censorship from Chip when you went WAY OVER the line in your disgust with the Astros the past few years. (And you have to include those blogs you wrote and sent to Chip that said; “I know we can’t use this, but boy would I like to say……….”


    • I can’t speak for Brian T – though I have no reason to believe his answer would be any different – but unlike the Astros organization and the White House, Chip has been totally open to whatever madcap way I go with my posts. I think a good part of it has to do with the fact that the three of us are all long time fans who have seen it all and know that being too knee jerk about things does not work in a sport where a guy can go hitless for a week and go crazy for a month.
      I’ve written only one post all the way through that was not published here. That is because I wrote two posts when we were waiting for the Biggio Hall of Fame announcement and the one I wrote to be published when he was voted in is still sitting in limbo.
      I am not a trained journalist – so Chip has been helpful in getting me away from writing too fan-ish in my posts – I, we, our, etc. It has been a great arrangement because with all of our busy schedules it varies as to who has time to write a post at any one time.
      Now if Luhnow does little to help this team in the offseason and they regress in 2015 – I think you will see a darker side to us.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Not once has Chip said, rein it in there. Not once.

        The only post I’ve written that didn’t publish was the one about Biggio getting his long overdue election to the Hall of Fame. When he came up two votes (was it just two votes?) I had to scramble and write an alternate post. … tears dripping on my keyboard.

        Hey, I get plenty mad about stuff. And I can give you a laundry list of what I think Luhnow and Cranr have messed up. (You want to see some Luhnow Truthers? Hang out at the Crawfish Boxes for a week. Those guys make me, Dan and Chip look like Bopert and the rest of the Lunhole crowd.)

        Hopefully we’ll see that Biggio column in about six weeks.


      • Actually every two weeks I get a special delivery from Chip. It is a 2 week supply of Baileys Koolaid and a set of rose colored glasses. Suddenly Jeff Luhnow seems like Gandhi and Jim Crane seems like a famous religious figure with his same initials.


      • First, let me thank you three guys for this blog. It is my second stop every morning. Right after checking the Obits in to make sure I am still on Earth. Second as to the spiked column(s) – I just assumed (bad choice of words) that you wrote some stuff in anger that was not suitable for print. And finally, you need to know that when one lives in East Texas, about 50% of what we write or say is meant to be humorous. We are what one calls a Half Wit.

        Liked by 1 person

    • By the way I thought your Breakout – Springer was an interesting answer. It shows how much potential we see in this guy that his 20 HR and 51 RBIs in 78 games was considered just an appetizer for his real breakout.


    • Astro45 – did not really take offense here – just thought you were wondering how the process worked. We just don’t write too much stuff totally down on the team, but if we did Chip would print it. 🙂


  2. Interesting questions. Here are my (probably) not so interesting responses:

    1. I really think upsetting minor leaguers, major leaguers and possible free agents will hurt this organization for a long time and more than anything.

    2. Adding on to point 1, not only has the tandem situation made minor league pitchers unhappy, it has proven to be unsuccessful.

    3. Villar, hands down.

    4. Singleton … not TO the majors, but IN the majors.

    5. A more productive offense is vital to success.

    6. A full and productive season from Springer is a must if the Astros have any chance of winning 80+ games in 2015.

    7. If 3 major leaguers are added and the bullpen becomes average (not particularly a delight), the club quite likely will win more games than they lose – improving the roster begets a winning season.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for your response Lester and we find the bloggers responses interesting because they are normally well thought out and give us a real feel for the audience. I find your 1 and 2 answers quite interesting, because that points to things that could easily affect the whole organization long term – things are buddy old pro has pointed out over time – here.
      Do you have any suggestions for question 8?


      • I really enjoy reading this blog because I have to spend all day, every day with my own thoughts on the Astros. A different perspective is a refreshing change for me. And the responses from your readers who keep up with statistics and personalities more than I are an added bonus. I think you guys do a fantastic job coming up with interesting subjects.


      • Thanks for the kind words Lester.
        I think that this blog is essential for those of us who are fans of an “unpopular” team.
        There are a lot of people standing around the coffee pot who want to talk about the Texans but those of us who are interested in the Astros are few and far between. This is a safe spot to exchange ideas in a normally fun and intelligent manner.


  3. 1. My biggest concern is that all the Astros’ prospects hope their major league careers begin like Nick Tropeano’s did.
    2.Luhnow can win my heart by making some good moves for a change.
    3.The Astro who would most surprise me by having a breakout year is Jon Singleton.
    4. The minor leaguer who must make it to the majors this year is Preston Tucker.
    5. Hinch’s biggest problem this season will be winning with a team that has not known the concept.
    6. I look forward to seeing a team in April that has improved in five different positions than they were in August of 2014.
    7. The Astros will have a successful season in 2015 if they play .500 ball and their top 2 farm teams make the playoffs.
    8. The guys would make me happy if they wrote a post speculating on the 25-man roster of the 2017 World Champion Houston Astros.


    • It is funny old pro – I would not be that surprised if Singleton had a bit of a breakout. I see talent there and he often got better at each level with more time. Frankly his end of the season looked a lot like Springer’s beginning of the season and Springer is 2 years older than Jon.
      We’ll keep track of suggested posts and work them in during the off-season. Thanks for your input.


    • Amen on Tucker. But I think we don’t see him unless two things happen. 1) Marisnick or Grossman proves himself to be at least an average (.725 OPS) MLB outfielder. 2) Fowler gets shipped at the deadline.


      • I think there might be more ways. Singleton gets sent down sometime and Carter moves to 1B and Tucker comes up to DH. Or Carter gets dealt at the deadline and Tucker comes up to DH. All of these scenarios have to include Tucker having a good first half hitting in AAA. That’s why I said Tucker needs to come up this year, because if he doesn’t, that means he’s not hitting and all of a sudden becomes a lefty Jonathan Meyer.


      • This team needs more capable bats in the lineup and Tucker has been solid all the way along the minors. Need some of these guys to come up and hit.


      • I think Grossman and Marisnick are both marginal. Grossman is marginal in a I can live with it marginal, but he needs to improve defensively to continue to get uninterrupted playing time. Marisnick probably won’t hit enough to play everyday, though he probably has a better longterm outlook as a role player – he can hit enough to stay in the big leagues, he can run, he can catch, he can throw, he can do a lot of things to help you without the need for 500 plate appearances. Grossman’s shelf life will probably expire earlier, it will only take one slump of a Lane type to end his career given that he doesn’t provide any of the other aforementioned items.

        Since we can’t fix everything in one offseason – and I would think 3B and SS are bigger issues to address – I would be fine with a Marisnick/Grossman mix as long as Fowler and Springer are healthy. Either one goes down for a significant amount of time – and both have proven susceptible – I would take Tucker over extending at bats to either Grossman or Marisnick.


  4. A bit (well actually way) off topic but when I see the numbers being thrown around for free agents (Example: LaRouch and $25 Million) – two things come to mind. One – these are wealthy men’s toys. So a $20 Million increase (spread over 2-3 guys) gets you number 30+ on the FA list. And the 2nd thought is SOMEBODY has to be making tons of money with a $40-50-60 Million team payroll.


    • Astro 45
      I am not a CPA and I did not spend last night in a Holiday Inn Express (though I have two sons who are accountants, a third son working for an accounting company as a fraud examiner and a 4th son srtudying accounting) , but I would bet that Jim Cranes accountant shows him losing money on the Astros and he will probably show him losing money until the day he sells the team for 4 times what he paid for it.
      But yes – $20 mill does not stretch very far which is why I keep thinking we may lose Castro, Fowler and/or Feldman.


  5. I have a few thoughts in my mind…

    1. The club raises its ticket prices for the season… oh WAIT!!!!
    2. Selecting a “can’t miss” Rule 5 player.
    3. Jon Singleton
    4. The “real” Carlos Santana
    5. Keeping the players competitive like they are real major league players.
    6. The team reach and remain above .500 for the season.
    7. Catch lightning in a bottle.
    8. The stars at each level of the Astros’ minor league system.


  6. Dan’s answers
    1. I am concerned that this front office is getting a rep that could ripple thru their own players, agents, draftees and players on other teams.
    2. Luhnow can make me happy by really fixing the bullpen and adding one solid bat
    3. Villar would surprise me the most with a breakout year – I just don’t know if he has baseball smarts to let that talent shine
    4. I think Appel needs to make it to the majors this year for his sake and JLs
    5. Hinch’s biggest problem is trying to apply modern sabermatics to a team filled with guys that don’t match JLs computer
    6. I can’t wait to see what a whole year of George Springer means
    7. I like old pro’s definition of success – above .500 and playoff teams at AA and AAA
    8. Is for you to answer


  7. 1. not all that concerned about FO hacking off players. never see many facts backing that, its more innuendo and personal opinion. being in the american league isn’t changing so i am not gonna spend time worrying about it, i don’t like it but i don’t like paying income tax either. i think crane will adequately fund the team and with the tv deal worked out i think the budget will expand more than the 20 million proposed. so that leaves me with…….yall finding out i am a dallas cowboy fan.
    2. making a trade that brings a legit TOR pitcher or big bat at 3B or LF.
    3. well most surprised means you don’t think it will happen, so thats dominguez for me. the one i think has a chance is – wait is becky around? no? oh on a cruise, cool. in that case the one who has a chance is villar.
    4. appel hands down for me
    5. well there are so many but i will go with the fixing the offense and strike out rate
    6. i want to see all of these really bad, but ill go with singleton, we really need him to play up to his potential or it starts a snowball going down hill set of problems.
    7. winning more than you lose gets you into contention most of the time, lets do that
    8. i think a ‘fearless’ prediction post before winter meetings, before spring training and before the season starts might be fun. ive already said, wait becky, oh yeah on a cruise, I’ve already said i think villar will start at least part of the year and barring something done at ss may be your opening day starter. also as stated above i think the budget increases more than 20 million and as much a wish as a prediction castro and fowler traded for a big bat in LF.

    ps all kidding aside, becky i hope you and grandson are doing well.


    • No.1, I agree. Pi$$ing off the players is of no concern. If you are not with the program (Norris, Cosart) then you need to be gone. That is the way it is with any organization. Even talented people need to be somewhere else if they are rowing in a different direction. Everyone wins, the org, the new org, and the player.

      The GMs job is to make sure that the guys on the bus are all going to Pismo Beach, and not Albuquerque, then, with the manager, make sure they are all in the right seat on that bus.


  8. 1. Now that the Comcast debacle is in the rear view mirror – my biggest off the field concern is…..that JL has a man-crush on players like Krauss, Hoes, etc…

    2. Jeff Luhnow can win my heart this off-season by….getting rid of players like Krauss, Hoes, etc.

    3. The Astro who would most surprise me by having a breakout 2015 season is….Villar and/or Dominguez. I think they’re done.

    4. The minor leaguer who must make it to the majors this season is …like Astro45 said, the one who plays SO WELL he forces the issue.

    5. A. J. Hinch’s biggest challenge this coming season will be….proving he’s not a YES man and not losing another clubhouse.

    6. I most look forward to seeing…George playing a full season. I miss having a bonafide slugger that gets you excited every time he steps up. Altuve gets the blood pumping too, but not like Berkman and Bags used to when they were going on a tear.

    7. The Astros will have a successful 2015 season if…they toss the players like Krauss, Hoes, etc and get the bullpen settled in.

    8. Chip, Brian T and Dan P would make me happy if they wrote a post about…the next baseball-related topic that crosses their minds. They’ve been doing great so far…


    • Your #1 / #2 combo made me laugh out loud – justacop.
      They need guys like Krauss and Hoes and Villar and Dominguez to either step up and show they belong or get the heck out of the way.


    • Justacop
      Part of this touches on the part of baseball that is hidden from the fan. What does the front office really think.
      Do they see Krauss as the guy who looks pretty hapless in limited sporadic playing time at the major league level or do they think he is the guy who put up strong OPS numbers in the high minors?
      Do they think Hoes is the guy who bumbled last year in limited chances or the guy who played pretty well at the end of 2013?


    • I’ve probably been a louder fan of Krauss than most, but even I am surprised that he is still, as of today, listed on the 40 man. This time last year he was eligible for the rule 5 and left off the 40 man, and still didn’t get picked up. Maybe with some increased major league time Luhnow is worried one or both would have been picked.

      We can think as fans all day long that these guys are not good enough, but they do provide something – in Krauss’ case, a little power, a little bit of an ability to draw a walk, even if his major league start has been horrendous. To a GM these players are assets, and every asset has to be protected no matter how small of a contribution they’ve made to this point.

      As a fan, I kind of like Krauss, not so much Hoes, but wouldn’t have used a 40 man spot for either, but as a businessman who actually doesn’t get to get off his computer and go about his day but whose livelihood matters, I am sure Luhnow has a reason. I am sure he isn’t out to end his own career.


  9. Actually……Villar has hit VERY well in winter ball, but I gotta see him set his feet and throw to first base…….WITHOUT an error! I think Preston Tucker will come up sooner rather than later, and Appel will probably be surrounded by the media sometime in August. Break out guy????? I *hope* it’s Singleton. The kid has the tools to hit it outta the park, just a matter of timing for him. You guys know I LOVE Matty D. so I’m hoping against hope the kid can get his swing back, because his glove is awesome. Hinch will be put under a microscope as he handles himself
    with the media, as well as the players. Dan, Chip, and Brian do an awesome job of keeping us thinking as the loooong season goes on, and I think I can speak for ALL of us who post here, and have been on this blog with Chip for a LONG time…………..
    we thank you sooo much for your time an effort, and doing it all for NOTHING!
    Thanks guys!! Becky:)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Nicely done Becky. I think I can truly say we do get paid by the compliments and interest shown by our loyal bloggers.
      Wow and you said something nice about Villar. Special day!


      • Nice one Flash
        Of course I was feeling the same way about Chris Carter and he finally did a better job of swinging when the pitch was there rather than past


  10. One guy to keep your eye on is A.J. Reed……….this kid has got the kind of talent that is VERY rare! Mark my words…..he’s the whole package.


  11. 1)That we won’t upgrade the bullpen.
    2) Trading Jason Castro and getting an ace reliever, not necessarily in the same deal.
    3)Villar, although Castro repeating his career year of 2013 would be equally shocking. He’s more likely to repeat last year, and would be shocking to even reach 2012 judging by how much he sucked in the second half last year.
    4) Does Stassi sticking count? If not, anybody who is performing in the minors works for me.
    5)Not losing the respect of his players like he did in Arizona.
    6)Full season of Springer!
    7)They finsh .500 or better. Anything less is a massive disappointment.
    8) How Castro finally got traded. Hey, i can dream, right?


  12. -It seems silly to say you were trying to sneak two bullpen guys through waivers, when you have the worst bullpen in baseball and said you are going to fix it.
    -If you have thirty million to spend on players, need a middle of the lineup bat and have your top two draft picks protected, shouldn’t you go after it now if you have a chance? The Red Sox cannot need a third baseman more than we do. The least we could do is drive Panda’s price up, even if we don’t sign him.
    -Wouldn’t it be great if the players think Hinch hung the moon and all the guys who were terrible last year played up to their potential next year?
    – Wouldn’t it be cool if a stat driven team noticed that their center fielder’s defensive stats were horrible and moved him to left field where his stats are bound to be better, especially since their RF’r is the guy they have been waiting for to play CF? Oh yeah!
    -If you signed Hanley Ramirez for five years, played him at SS in 2015 til Carlos is ready, played him at 3B or LF in 2016, til Moran or Ruiz is ready, and then put that good bat at DH, when all the other guys are ready in 2017, he might look nice in the middle of the order.
    -I wonder if we have one pitcher in our minor leagues who is a qualified decent reliever for our major league bullpen right now. If we don’t, why don’t we? You would think that after four years of trading off all our best players that we would have one good arm in our minors to bring up to our bullpen.


    • OP, sneaking bad relievers through waivers is exactly how you improve your BP. I guess you’d prefer they still be on the roster. I think you just look for ways to complain.

      Driving Panda’s price up and not signing him would just give you something else to complain about. Perhaps Panda isn’t the best fit for the Astros. Perhaps, his contract would hinder the team from extending younger players, or signing other FAs to compliment them. At 28 Panda is a 3.5 win player. Maybe you are just enamored with the last thing you see, his performance in the WS.

      OF defensive stats, at least the ones you have access to, are not at all indicative of one’s defensive ability. What is Fowler’s reaction time to a ball off the bat hit directly at him? How about at a 15 degree angle to his left? On a fly out, how long for the ball to get back to the infield? You don’t know, but JL does.

      Hanley and Panda, $250MM for two players? Follie au deux!

      There is. It is Folty and any other starter that can’t develop a third pitch. Trading for minor league relievers is just stupid.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Panda and Hanley were two different scenarios. I was not advocating both of them, but one or the other. Since most of the prospects we have been waiting for will not require huge contracts for another five years, we could afford one of the big salaries. and then sign our potential stars when the FA contract expires.


    • I’d rather the bad relievers not sneak through anywhere…but rather go loudly to another team or country.

      I’d rather have Hanley than Panda. The dollars don’t really matter unless you can definitively say that Crane / Luhnow would have used them more efficiently next year / 2017 / etc. What I don’t understand is why we would want to give Pablo Sandoval $20+ million when his offensive production has been far below Adam LaRoche…who is getting two years at $25 million from the White Sox. The differences are age and position…but I doubt many people expect Panda to perform until he is as old as LaRoche’s current age and many expect his body (if he came to Houston we’d have to call him Caballito) make it likely 1B / DH are in his future during a multi-year contract.


    • Relievers are just so unpredictable. The reason they are relievers is because they had some issue that put them there – either they were spotty in locating certain pitches, could only throw one with command, was susceptible to something like the long ball, etc.

      Look at Melancon, you never know when one is going to have a “good” year or a “bad” year. Everyone loves Sipp today, lets see him repeat it.

      I think a bullpen’s stats are more of a result of a manager putting each one in a position that favors them over the hitters they are facing more often than the other way around. You are always going to have times where it doesn’t work, but a good manager can limit those. For this, I am glad Porter is gone. It’s why I may not love Strom as much as others – in the end who to use when was Porter’s call, but Strom was whispering in his ear.

      I will agree that they were both handed some lemons though, and injuries to guys they expected fill major roles didn’t help.


  13. Dan, you know I don’t do well with directives.

    Off field concern: Jim Crane’s liberal politics. Unless I get free tickets, I’ll be watching on TV.

    Win my heart: Keep pi$$ing off OTBG.

    Matty D would surprise me the most with a break out.

    Minor leaguer: None must make it up, but I’d like to see Colin Moran next year.

    Challenge for AJ: Enduring the incompetence of the Houston media.

    Looking forward to seeing a decent April record.

    Successful season = Repeat performance by the SR, improved BP, more consistency from players like Grossman, Marisnick and less consistency from Singleton, Villar.

    Y’all will make me happy if you write about something new. How about the advantages of implementing the tandem rotation?


  14. 1. Now that the Comcast debacle is in the rear view mirror – my biggest off the field concern is …
    It’s all about the money. $20 million doesn’t seem sufficient. I’d be OK with a $30 million increase. I think we could get an impact bat, another stop-gap bat (pick your positions) and a top-of-the-line closer.

    2. Jeff Luhnow can win my heart this off-season by …
    Not screwing up the draft this year and making a few good deals before February.

    3. The Astro who would most surprise me by having a breakout 2015 season is …
    Villar because I don’t expect to see him here. Seriously, though, I’d say Singleton.

    4. The minor leaguer who must make it to the majors this season is …
    Preston Tucker. Trade Fowler at the deadline and bring up Tucker.

    5. A. J. Hinch’s biggest challenge this coming season will be …
    Figuring out who his left fielder is. (Hint: He was your center fielder last year. Second hint: He’ll be gone by August.)

    6. I most look forward to seeing …
    Consistent lineups. MarGo at shortstop and leave him there. Springer in right and leave him there. Marisnick in center and Fowler in left (until the trade deadline) and leave them there. A third-baseman to be named later, and leave him there.

    7. The Astros will have a successful 2015 season if …
    The win 81 games or more. And if they stay relatively healthy. Let’s face it, injuries to any key players (Altuve, Springer, any of our top three starters) and this turns into a mess.

    8. Chip, Brian T and Dan P would make me happy if they wrote a post about …
    Biggio’s election to the Hall of Fame.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Solid comment Brian T.
      You know when Drayton was here it always felt like if he would just open that wallet a bit more we could go all the way. But it always seemed like he was a little short…. But now we are in a totally different and lower neighborhood with the budget and feeling the same pain.
      Like I said somewhere above – the $20 million does not seem like enough which is why I’m wondering about Fowler, Castro and Feldman…

      Liked by 1 person

      • Has he ever been quoted as saying only wants to play CF? I think that’s something that has been perpetuated. He has elite OBP skills. He has a wRC+ of 124. Stop trying to trade him. You are not going to replace his production.


      • You are right that I’ve never heard Fowler say he had to be in CF, it is my assumption because friggin’ nothing else makes sense. Both Springer and Marisnick are better CFs.
        I would rather keep Fowler – but not as the CF. That simple.


      • I’ve never heard that he is anything but a great teammate. I seem to remember him taking Singleton and Springer under his wing when they came up. It’s easy for us to disparage these players because, well, we don’t have a clue about what really goes on, perhaps it’s just the kind of people we are.


      • If you are right Flash – if he does not demand to be in CF – then I have real problems with our supposed stat savvy FO.
        There is nothing that shows that this guy should be CF over Springer or Marisnick. And that is true statistically and the eye ball test.


      • Dan do you really think the FO is just asleep at the wheel? Like I said before, they have access to much more sophisticated data than even your eye has. Have you thought perhaps they are looking at the OF as a unit, and not three individual positions?


      • I still like Fowler in CF. I think Springer is probably a better option defensively, but not by a wide enough margin to matter. There are very few scenarios where you remove Springer from RF and do not greatly reduce the defense from that position. The key is that I want both of them out there together. How valuable is it to put your top defenders at corner outfield positions? Ask the Royals and Braves about how many runs Gordon and Heyward saved in LF and RF respectively the last few years.


  15. Comments from my son, Adam – I especially like #7
    1) My biggest concern is that we might develop into a mediocre team that never really competes.

    2) Jeff Luhnow can win me over by finding an exciting, good-value free agent.

    3) The Astro that would most surprise me to have a breakout season is…whoever is our latest batting coach. If he can turn our weaker batters into serviceable hitters, that would certainly be a big deal.

    4) Appel must come to the majors.

    5) Getting the strikeouts down.

    6) A bullpen that we can count on.

    7) The Astros will have a successful season if…they win the whole thing, and then sell the rights to the movie about our amazing season.

    8) Compare this team of developing young talent to the team from the early 90’s. Are there lessons to be learned?


  16. Flash –
    These brainiacs are also the guys who had Chris Carter play the OF for 51 games in 2013, so I’m not going to give them too much credit.
    When you look at career Range factor / 9 innings played in CF – here is the comparison:
    Fowler 2.35
    Springer 3.54
    Marisnick 3.12

    I know – small samples for Springer and Marisnick – but there was no doubt they get to more balls than Fowler out there – it was really very obvious even without the numbers. And there is no way that Fowler would be so bad in LF that it would undo this – unless he has the attitude problem you tell me he doesn’t have.


    • Dan, just point me to an interview or a tweet or conversation you had with him that shows that he has an attitude problem.

      The statement, “…there is no way that Fowler would be so bad in LF that it would undo this…” is unsubstantiated. Range factors do not take into account speed of ball off of the bat, vector, or fielder positioning, top speed, acceleration, etc.. DIPS and UZR are dependent on charting and are highly subjective. RF has nothing to do with how well you get to balls. Range factor is very near fielding % in its reliability. So yes, stats available on BR and Fangraphs show Dexter as one of the worst CF in the game. They show Robbie Grossman as one of the best LFs. They also show Springer as one of the worst RFs in the game. If these numbers are to be believed, they do not indicate Springer will become Willie Mays by moving 100 ft to his right. They are just unreliable.

      MLB is collecting 7 terabytes of defensive data per game. Look, my eyes tell me to put put Dexter in LF too, but I know enough to know that I don’t know everything (and probably know very little).

      Compare Fowler’s route efficiency or his first step time to Springer and Marisnick and get back to me.


      • I am totally convinced by you that he has no attitude problem so he should gladly go to LF where he belongs since he gets to about .75 to 1.25 less balls per 9 innings than the other two guys when they play CF.
        I don’t care what route they take I care how many outs they save.


      • I am unfamiliar with the stat “outs they save”. I do find it a little absurd to suggest that the FO just forgot to compare range factors.


      • Lordy lordy. If Springer is responsible for 3.54 putouts or assists per 9 innings and Fowler is responsible for 2.35 – well then Springer saved the difference.
        If you guys would rather have a worse outfielder in the most important outfield spot – I can’t understand it at all.


  17. How much was Fowler playing center Bo Porter’s decision? Seems like every time the subject came up Porter’s stock and IMO unthinking response was that “Fowler is our center fielder.” I don’t think Porter had the communication skills to get Fowler to accept what was in Porter’s mind a demotion. I’m an old Reds fan and I seem to remember the Big Red Machine really took off after a no name new manager named Sparky Anderson got Pete Rose to accept and even support a position change for the good of the team. If Hinch can’t make Fowler agree to a shift to left field then perhaps they’re both the wrong guys for this team going forward.


    • We are all speculating on this.

      Mine is sometimes a TEAM players are better when roles are defined, and Porter jamming Fowler in CF, a position that requires some leadership in the locker room like SS, was Porter’s way of defining the role.

      Luhnow is the GM, not the manager. He gives Hinch the crew based on what he knows certain guys can accomplish or not – but I really don’t think he had much to do with Porter insisting on Fowler playing CF – that was probably Porter defining CF as a leadership role and putting the guy out there he wanted in that role.

      I would expect Hinch to manage much the same way. I am sure alot of us have been on baseball teams, some at competitive levels, and we understand the way it works there on the diamond, on the practice field, and locker room. The CFer walks with a different air. I was always the LF’er playing his support role as a defender, and I never felt like I was the leader of the OF, even if I was a better hitter in many instances.

      If Springer is ready to take that on, and Fowler is ready to continue it (as he has his entire life), than maybe the club doesn’t need both, or Fowler has to accept the lesser role, because Springer is the future of this franchise.

      My hope is Springer is the CF’er on opening day, as I feel it will affect his confidence, and grow him as a leader. I don’t get to sit on the bus, plane, or in the club house, so I have no idea if he has that kind of personality, but if he does, give him the role. If he doesn’t, and Fowler is the leader of the OF, he should be in CF. I don’t think any set of metrics that we have access too overrides it – so I would have to side with Flash on that point.

      Think Yankees – they acquire the best SS in the game, but they put him at 3B, despite the fact that he is the better offensive and defensive option, because they aren’t displacing the leader of their team.


      • Hey just trying to substantiate possibly another reason for Fowler in CF, but I do caveat in the end that I agree, less doubles = happier pitchers, so Springer should be in CF. I wouldn’t play Marisnick there unless I was willing to play him there 150 games next year, and I just don’t think he will hit enough to do that.

        In my eyes CF isn’t a position, like SS, that a good team has a number of guys playing. Championships are won by the pitching staff and the center of the diamond, and affirmed by everyone else (in other words they can’t be bad either). Your C calls the game and directs traffic, and your SS and CF are gamers that everyone else surrounds, and these are intangibles you don’t get through range factors and fielding percentages. Part of it isn’t necessarily how good the CF’er is, but how much confidence he gives to the folks around him.

        I hope Springer is that guy. Noone will deny that by watching them he is the better CF’er, Fowler is only the 3rd best CFer on this roster, but there is more to who is in CF than who is in CF.


  18. I played a lot of center field when I was a player and was pretty good. Actually CF is a much better place to see the ball and get a jump than the corner outfield spots. A good CF will actually start moving before contact since from that angle you can see the timing of bat to ball and can see the hitter open up or stay closed. The ball also travels relatively true with little side spin whereas in the corners side spin can be a real bear to gauge. I think Springer being thrust into right field where he committed 7 errors in half a season after making 3 errors in CF in his minor league career proves the point although in fairness most of Springer’s errors were on ground balls and throws where position ought not to make much difference. If Fowler had superior defensive metrics why didn’t the FO trumpet those stats? Anyone who watched Springer and Marisnick in CF could tell the OBVIOUS superiority of range that both had over Fowler. Both also have superior throwing arms. Fowler’s place is leadoff hitter and left field. Put him in both spots and we’ll be improved over last year.

    Liked by 1 person

      • Dan relax. If all you are trying to say is you think Fowler is better in LF, then my eyes agree. But if you going to try to extrapolate that to him having some sort of attitude problem or that the FO too stupid to do a cursory internet search I’m going to require some sort of corroboration, especially when we are disparaging someone’s character.


      • Flash – my thoughts
        – Fowler is a better defensive CF than anyone they were using in 2013
        – Fowler is a good offensive player – one of the best ones on the club in 2014
        – Both Marsinick and Springer would have been better CFs
        – There has to be a burning question about why they did not attempt to use him other than CF. Was it coaching stubborness? Did they not want the young guys to have to play CF while learning to hit? Was it a refusal by Fowler? Was it some statistical voodoo that is not obvious to the more casual observer?

        Anyways – no problem – let’s see where they head next.


      • I think we can agree. I don’t think we can know why. My feeling is he will be playing CF, but for another team. Depending on the return, that would be a mistake. Fowler is not far behind Springer as an offensive contributor. I’d like to see some of that $20MM go to extending him.


    • DB14: Interesting take on CF. As a kid who played the infield, I remember one of the first games that they put the TV camera behind home plate. And you could see the catcher, batter, pitcher, and Willie Mays. And he would take 2-3 steps based upon the location of the pitcher just as you described. It was just amazing to me.


    • I don’t want affordable. I want good to great players. It stands within reason you will have to give up a lot of money to get them. Paying league average or less for any FA signing means you are getting someone who won’t really move the arrow, but might be a marginal improvement.

      That’s kind of an odd signing for Boston. Either they are planning on Hanley turning into Manny, or the Kung Fu Panda is not going to Beantown. I’m assuming they have not given up on Bogaerts yet.


      • Maybe a trade is going to be the conduit rather than a FA bidding war for pulling in a targeted improvement?
        But yes – after buying bargain basement for so long – it is time to move up in class.


  19. Maybe it is just early holiday indigestion, but I think seeing those names listed in your post under area of discussion #3 actually written out, as if they might possibly be expected to compose part of the 2015 team, just made me throw up in my mouth. A breakout season for one of those guys?

    I feel like I was asked “Who is most likely of the following to suddenly turn out to really be Superman in disguise?” and then finding out the possible choices only include “Elmer Fudd, Barney Fife, and PeeWee Herman”. To me, for any of the three guys listed under subhead 3 to have a ‘break out season’ would mean they exit the Astros organization in favor of someone who can actually contribute at league average or above. I hope they all have break-out seasons like that.

    Who COULD have a real break-out season? I would love to see that from Oberholtzer, Folty, and/or Joe Sclefani.


  20. “Chip, Brian T and Dan P would make me happy if they wrote a post [or series] about….”

    . . . how the Astros matched up in 2014, position by position, in the statistics that matter, with the other clubs in the league. In other words, for example, how did our catchers, individually and as a tandem, perform vis-a-vis the catching tandems of the other teams in the league – or at least the division – in not only offense, but throwing out runners, giving up passed balls, catcher interference, and making errant throws.


  21. Not talking about this blog, but find it interesting that the Red Sox won only 1 more game than the Astros. So they go out and try to improve their team. And several post how stupid they are when they sign two FAs that might play the same position. Yet these same people say how brilliant it is for the Astros to have four catchers.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s