Free Blog Weekend: Shields, trades, the future and a house of cards


Spring training is two weeks out and there is still plenty of movement occurring at this late date. The Astros may not be done either, but the fun and festivities are only a plane ride away for A.J. Hinch, who will begin his tenure in earnest as manager of the Houston Astros in less than 336 hours.

So, as is our ritual, here are some thoughts to get your weekend rolling on another Free Blog Weekend. As you know, you can follow the outline below or start your own conversation.

Jim Crane unravels the mystery?

  • Yes, the Astros’ owner is providing some more insight into the philosophy and game plan for 2015. Evan Gattis appears destined for first base (or DH), not left field, which aligns with the earlier comments of GM Jeff Luhnow. That likely means Jake Marisnick will join Cobly Rasmus and George Springer in the OF, but leaves the great speculation open regarding incumbent 1B Jon Singleton. Call it a no confidence vote.
  • Crane also suggests that Luhnow is still working the phones and that other deals are not only possible, but likely. You’d have to consider that Singleton, Chris Carter, perhaps Jason Castro, Alex Presley or some other lesser players or prospects might be involved.
  • And, Crane has indicated told the Chronicle that signing free agent James Shields is perhaps out of the budget. He also cited Shields’ age as a potential stumbling block for a four-year-type deal.
  • Here’s guessing we’ll learn later that the Astros’ kept tabs on Shields until the final hours before he signs.\

Consider this lineup.

  • The possible Astros’ lineup has been hashed, dissected and turned inside out and upside down. But, if other moves are likely, if not imminent, how does that jumble new manager A.J. Hinch’s lineup card? For example, if Carter is traded? What if Castro is moved to upgrade the rotation?
  • It’s fair to say that Jose Altuve, Jed Lowrie, Rasmus, Luis Valbuena and Springer are solid. But are any other position players a lock to be on the roster on opening day? Methinks I wouldn’t sign the lease on that apartment just yet.

Houston house of cards?

It’s very clear that Luhnow has upgraded the team over last year’s version, not to mention allowed for great flexibility. Still, however, the reconstruction process is at a critical, still fragile, point and it’s a tedious task. One or two injuries can undo that improvement and put the team into regression. Houston can ill afford another spout of injuries a la 2014. To demonstrate, would you still predict a .500 season or better is Dallas Keuchel or George Springer or Evan Gattis go down with an injury that kept them out for 50-60 games? The organization just doesn’t have the resources to replace one of those — much less two of those — significant contributors.

Long term plans.

You’ve read my thoughts on adding a player or two to the long-term mix each season. The Astros added Altuve, then Keuchel and Collin McHugh and George Springer. But, if we’ve seen anything this winter, it’s that Luhnow doesn’t mind juggling, shuffling and exchanging pieces of the puzzle, so Astros’ fans shouldn’t start collecting bobbleheads for any specific player. That said, which of the current roster of players do you see most likely to be part of the so-called 2017 team, which is when many agree the Astros will be ultra-competitive. From my vantage point, it would appear that Altuve, along with Keuchel and McHugh, are the only sure things for 2017. Springer’s contract could be a stumbling block and cause Houston to move him. Same for Castro and perhaps even Carter.

And, some starter questions for your weekend discussion.

  • Have fans over-estimated the improvement? In other words, is a .500 season on the outside of the improvement bubble and the playoffs are only a figment in a dream’s imagination?
  • If Castro is traded for an upgrade to the rotation, can Hank Conger and Max Stassi handle the catching duties? Or does Gattis then shuttle into the conversation for some reps?
  • Which of the suggested starters could the Astros most not afford to lose to injury?
  • Has Crane’s way of doing business caused you even in the least to wish Drayton McLane — perhaps the one from the early years — would return?
  • What did Bill Belichick and Tom Brady know about DeflateGate and when did they know it?
  • Will Gary Kubiak fare better in Denver than he did in Houston?

 

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57 comments on “Free Blog Weekend: Shields, trades, the future and a house of cards

  1. * Have fans over-estimated the improvement? In other words, is a .500 season on the outside of the improvement bubble and the playoffs are only a figment in a dream’s imagination? *

    My philosophy of baseball is ‘stay humble until you actually start beating people on a regular basis, and winning more series’ than you lose; then take a deep breath, enjoy an after-game smile with your friends, and stay humble anyway.’ In this context what that means is that only a fool or a novice predicts a better result than last year before the season starts and the series’ – particularly the inter-division series’ – start actually falling one way or another.

    The playoffs are only a sliver of a figment of a dream’s wildest imagination until our record in mid- August is at least five games over .500.

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    • I feel like I am playing 2nd fiddle again, Mr. Bill. But I agree. As Ole Diz used to say, “It ain’t bragging if you can do it.” It is interesting that in baseball, every team improved and got better. In baseball every team says – with a break or two – we will be in the post season. Now every football team gets worse in the off season. They still have injuries. We lost come key players. Our young guys are green. And yet they still beat the stuffing out of everyone week after week. So in baseball, EVERYONE is overly optimistic – football is full of pessimists.

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  2. Playing Gattis at 1st base is interesting…perhaps the brain trust watched the Moneyball scene DanP has cited in the past. I stand by what I said yesterday, however, that replacing Singleton with Gattis doesn’t move the arrow. I actually think it might set us back…but when a guy hits below the Mendoza line I can understand looking for more options / upgrades.

    I’d feel a lot better about predicting a .500 record or playoff speculation with Jared Cosart at the front of our rotation. I hope I’m wrong, meaning Keuchel and McHugh can be TOR pitchers in 2015 and Feldman and Straily can pitch well enough to win 10 games each.

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    • I love living in the woods but I hated not being able to see very many Astros games in 2014. And I am not sold on Singleton either at the plate nor in the field. As a guy that has played almost 600 pro games at 1st – he sure looks “off.” One game Altuve got an error because he tripled pumped waiting for Singleton to finally get to first. The runner beat him. Now – all of that being said – Gattis may be worse at 1st base as he has almost no experience playing first. One of those guys needs to have a great fielding year or it may be time for Carter to be back on first. God, I just read what I typed about Carter. I need a heavy drink. With Becky’s permission, maybe Villar at first. It should cut down on his throwing errors. Or back to Action Heroes – “Here’s comes Matty D. to first to Save the Day.”

      Liked by 1 person

    • Singleton is 5 years younger than Gattis. For his career, he’s handled both RHP and LHP adeptly. Gattis has not fared as well against RHP…one of our admitted weak points from 2014. Other than that, I don’t think they are all that different of players. The biggest difference is that Singleton has a much better delta between OBP and batting average. Look at the numbers below:

      2014:
      Singleton – .168 / .285 / .335
      310 AB, 13HR, 44 RBI, 50BB, 134K, .117 OBD

      Gattis – .263 / .317 / .493
      369 AB, 22HR, 52 RBI, 22BB, 97K, .054

      Singleton (MiLB career) .276 / .386 / .468
      2101 AB, 87HR, 343 RBI, 382BB, 564K, .112 OBD

      Gattis (MiLB career) .307 / .371 / .557
      1186AB, 62HR, 215RBI, 79BB, 179K, .064OBD

      Assuming Singleton improves, and I think it’s reasonable to expect his average to be above .200 next season, his run production should improve as well. He wasn’t much behind Gattis, and Gattis carried the Braves the first couple months of the season. His .900 OPS in the first half was great, but his .672 OPS in the second half was not that exciting.

      When I say step-back I’m thinking about what it does for the franchise long term, but to be honest, there is an argument that Singleton still had/has some work to do at AAA so I’m perhaps a bit hasty there.

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      • His 2013 stats look eerily similar to his 2014 stats. In 2013 he had about as many at bats playing LF as C. I was actually a bit wrong though – he had a great June, but the rest of the season was not so great unless he’s used as a catcher. It’s basically the Jason Castro of 2013 story.

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  3. The Astros hit terribly against right handed pitching last year. Surprisingly, even Fowler’s OPS batting left vs batting right was 150 points lower, and the other lefties we had were Singleton, Castro and Marwin/Corporan.
    Adding lefties Lowrie, Valbuena, and Rasmus to the lineup, while hoping Castro and Singleton won’t repeat their almost comical hitting has to bode well for the Astros this coming season. When we face predominantly right handed pitching and are in the bottom five in all hitting categories last year, you could se a big swing run-production-wise with our lefty additions if we take advantage of the matchups.

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  4. I think .500 absolutely should be the goal and any win total below 80 should be considered a failure, barring a rash of injuries ala the 2014 Texas Rangers.

    Regarding deflategate, let me say I am not a Patriots fan, but a huge fan of Tom Brady. The guy just keeps winning and winning year after year, including the post season. I have gotten into some heated debates with friends of mine because I feel Brady should, without a doubt, be ahead of Peyton Manning when it comes to the greatest QB discussion. I have a hard time putting someone with a losing playoff reord as the best ever.

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  5. For some reason, Brady is despised by most non-Patriots fans and Manning is adored. I don’t understand the animosity toward Brady unless it is just jealousy because he as a super hot wife. 🙂

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      • Tim, it’s all about perception. Yes, there is probably a little bit of jealously involved, though I don’t think people feel the same way about Joe Montana as they do about Brady. There’s also something to be said about the way the Patriots have gone about their business. A bit cocky, the perception they either cheat or push the envelope with the rules.

        Look, they’re a great organization with a great owner. The element of having a great owner sometimes gets overlooked in how an organization does, but it’s a pivotal/critical part of the “game” and Kraft is a good one.

        As for Manning over Brady, Manning is from the South, considered a family guy and his dad was an NFL star and is considered one of the “good guys”. Brady really doesn’t make an effort to connect like Manning. Nothing wrong with that, just that Brady sometimes has that cold appearance.

        Brady is a Hall of Famer. Better than Manning, I dunno. They’re in the same, very small, rare class that has only a handful of classmates. I do think playoff wins also has something to do with it, though. Otherwise, John Fox would still be the coach of the Broncos. Just sayin’!

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      • Actually, she does not read the blog. However, she did have that particular entry read to her and replied with a peck on the cheek and a wink. 1oldpro then got thrown out trying to steal second base. I love Baseball!!!!!

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Have fans over-estimated the improvement? I think .500 is do-able – I think Mr. Crane’s playoff wish this season may be as silly as his .500 prediction last season. Hey – we don’t know who will break camp, who will get traded away or for, who will play where for a lot of the position players (much less who will play well or badly or get injured) – so yes we could be over estimated the improvement. We are fans – not Las Vegas line setters – we are allowed a little home town attitude – right?

    If Castro is traded ….I do believe it means that Gattis will get more reps at C than I thought he would coming in here. I keep worrying about his kness – but heck are his knees worse than Castro’s?

    Which of the suggested starters could the Astros most not afford to lose to injury? I think the Astros are thinnest at starting pitching – so Keuchel or McHugh going down for an extended period would hurt.

    Crane vs. McLane – Hey I always said that early Drayton was the best owner we ever had and late Drayton was the best. I would not mind Crane spending the $$$ Drayton spent per season – in a smarter manner.

    Deflategate? I am not a New England fan at all – hate that team….but I did notice that when Brady was using the allegedly deflated balls (I say allegedly because the NFL is taking forever to announce what their investigation found) in the first half of the Indy game the Pats were winning 17-7. When he had to use regulation balls after the half it was 28-0. Maybe he had the balls deflated to give Indy a break so he wouldn’t get bored.
    Wait a minute breaking news – The NFL announces the results are that the balls were deflated by Mr. Green in the Library with a candelstick.

    Will Gary Kubiak fare better in Denver than he did in Houston? Kind of an interesting question. Bill Belichick had some success at Cleveland before having huge success the second time around with NE. I think Gary’s problem is that he is getting Peyton Manning about 5 years too late….

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  7. I think the player we could not afford to lose to injury is Altuve. We already traded our top of the order guy. I also think losing Castro would be pretty bad.. Pitching wise, losing McHugh to injury would really hurt.

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  8. * Has Crane’s way of doing business caused you even in the least to wish Drayton McLane — perhaps the one from the early years — would return? *

    Give us a few years of consecutive play-off appearances, a dream-team trio like the killer B’s [maybe Altuve, Correa, and Springer?], a big three at the head of the rotation that dominates the league again, and someone will probably think of something nice to say about Mr. Crane. Who wants to be a champion today?

    But here are just a few Drayton McLane quotes for those who have forgotten:

    * We were hoping to have had something accomplished by now, or earlier, but we certainly have to respect that.*

    * We’re very, very excited about Preston Wilson. His enthusiasm is as sky high as ours is. He wants to be a champion, and we are still committed to being that champion. We want to go back to that World Series and win the World Series. *

    * If we could have gotten that one big hit, we could have won that game. We just didn’t get that hit. *

    * We told him we certainly needed an answer by the latter part of this week. We don’t want to be left out in the cold if we can’t get Beltran. Moises Alou has moved on. Steve Finley has moved on. *

    * I haven’t heard from Scott Boras since Thursday. *

    * You’re going to get me in trouble with the commissioner. *

    * The insurance policy, from their point of view, would be the strongest if he did not come to spring training. I’m unsure of where we are on that. *

    * Who told me baseball was easy? *

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    • Mr. Bill, without doing the research, most of the quotes came in the second half of McLane’s tenure, what Dan likes to call Drayton II. I ascribe to the theory that McLane was a great owner for the first half of his time as an owner, then he fell apart when he and Gerry went their separate ways and he tried to piece things together with scraps, including GMs, managers and players.

      Yes, I believe Drayton I may have been the best owner in Houston history. And, thus, it is possible that Drayton II was near the bottom of the all-time list.

      Crane still gets an incomplete obviously.

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      • Chip, some of us feel the adrenalin rush with the first couple of pitches; others only come alive once the umpire calls ‘strike two’. Give me the guy who finishes well, and I don’t care whether he looked like an idiot on the first slider or drove the first fastball 550 feet just outside the foul pole. So far, I agree totally, Drayton was here in the best days, and deserves some credit for that. But in the end the league – and the commissioner – still rang up the big ‘K’ to close out the frame.

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      • Was he a great owner or did Gerry just make him look like a great owner? I don’t think it is just coincidence this team started to free fall shortly after Hunsicker left. I think, early on, McLane listened to Gerry, but, even in the early years, he meddled too much in player personnel decisions. I am probably going to get some nasty replies on this comment, but I lost much respect for Uncle Drayton when he forced Gerry to keep Biggio over Jeff Kent after the 2004 season. He wanted the profits from Biggio getting his 3000th hit as an Astro over winning baseball games. At that point in their careers Kent was a much better player than Biggio. I am not much on sentimentality regarding long-tenured players finishing their careers with the same team. I didn’t lose much sleep when Hakeem went to play for Toronto and I would have rather kept Kent over Biggio. He still would have gone into the HOF as an Astro. Hakeem is still adored in this town despite his dalliance with Toronto. Of course, he was vital in bringing Houston its only championships. 😄

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  9. Was he a great owner or did Gerry just make him look like a great owner?
    ———————————————————————————
    Ah, Tim, indeed, he was a great owner in part because Hunsicker made him great! Absolutely, and that’s the way it is supposed to be. Surround yourself with people who can get the job done. That’s the beauty of being the person in charge. It was John Wooden who said: “The main ingredient of stardom is the rest of the team”.

    The two egos had a difficulty co-existing, but who knows what may have happened if Drayton played the role of owner and let Gerry play the role of GM or Vice President of Baseball Operations. Perhaps it wouldn’t have stopped with one WS appearance.

    And, not to digress and start another “war”, but that’s part of the problem in Dallas with the team that plays football there. Another day, another discussion.

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    • I wholeheartedly agree regarding the Cowboys. When Jerry finally listened to Jason Garrett and drafted offensive linemen instead of skill position players the Cowboys had their best year under Garrett. I am one of the few who is a fan of both the Cowboys and Texans. I always liked Garrett and felt JJ was holding him back.

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  10. Drayton was a pretty good owner in the mid 2000’s but he grew tired of baseball all together in 2010. I liked the way he treated those folk’s we never got to see, the behind the door people who kept the Astros going. Enter Jim Crane, who knows a “little” about baseball has had to grit his teeth, and endure some *AWFUL* years.
    Getting the first pick in the draft, but it takes those guys a few (3-4yrs.) years to make it to the bigs. We needed some guys who could actually play the game, and that took money…….something Crane’s investors were not real keen on giving.
    NOW, that we have some pieces in place to at least get to 500 ball, we see a little light at the end of the tunnel. Who knows, the “kids” might turn out alright this year.
    I don’t watch football, and the only reason I watched last Sunday, was the company
    and good food…..which was very good! I’m not sold on Stassi to take over if (or when) Castro is traded. Gattis’s knees are bad, do you wanna take the chance of losing a big bat, in case he get’s injured?
    By the way…….I “used” to be hot, and I used to be 25yrs. old …….but neither
    one of those am I ever going to be again!
    Astrocolt45…….*NO* VILLAR!!!

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    • Doggone, Becky. With Villar at first, instead of that boring 3-6-3 double play, we could have that 3-7-5-2-5-1-7-4 run down between 3rd and home. Of course there is always the possibility that both runners score – but it puts some excitement in the game.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. If Gattis will not be playing leftfield, and I’m still not convinced that that is the case, I don’t think both he and Carter will be on the roster come opening day.

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    • Well, he won’t trade Gattis so I am assuming you feel Carter will be traded, which is very likely, especially if the Astros feel Big Jon can handle 1B on a regular basis. Crane referred to other deals in the working and considering they attempted and failed to sign Ryan Vogelsong I am guessing starting pitching is the place they are looking to add.

      Personally, I would still like to add to the bullpen. How great would it be to have a shutdown bullpen from the 6th inning going forward? Don’t get me wrong, I love the additions so far, but I wouldn’t mind one more solid piece to solidify the pen. K-Rod anyone?

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    • daveb, I’ve suggested that from the time we learned that Luhnow didn’t project him as the team’s LF.Someone has to go. Well, not has to go, but is likely to go. Honestly, Luhnow has created a pretty flexibile situation for himself with the versatility. If a team is more interested in a young player like Singleton, he’s good. If a team prefers the more known quantity of a Carter and offer the return, good to go. If Luhnow can move Castro, he still has some flexibility there as well.

      Bottom line, I believe it’s hard for Singleton, Carter and Gattis all to be on the opening day roster. Or at least not for long. If that’s the way it ends up, then you’re pushing someone like Marisnick, Grossman or Presley off. Presley is signed (for whatever reason) and Luhnow traded for Marisnick late last year. Musical chairs, my friends, musical chairs.

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  12. Thoughts
    – Jon Singleton has the potential to handle 1B, but I struggle with the thought of just handing it to him.
    – So yes it is hard to picture Gattis not playing LF and having him and Carter on the roster – unless you just rotate Gattis between DH, 1B and C and Carter between DH, 1B and (gulp) LF.
    – Why do I keep thinking I will wake up and Luhnow will have traded Carter and Castro and used those bucks to chase Shields. (They say Shields will choose this weekend with SD the front runner).
    – The Astros could go after F-Rod – he was decent last season. The rumors had them talking to Jose Veras for a pen spot. Hey they could go after old Astros for the pen with Albers, Patton, Lindstrom and Leblanc out there (I would still pick Veras).
    – Any love for Joba Chamberlain who was solid last season and is only 29?

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    • Would you take Veras over K-Rod? I am fine with Veras, but he walks too many for my liking. I really like Joba, but I just wonder what his cost would be and I don’t think he wants to pitch here. I would take K-Rod and Joba before Veras, but this is not taking into consideration their salary demands, just their ability as a pitcher.

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      • We know Veras wants to pitch here and we’re not sure the other two do.
        Veras’s ability to pitch better for us than anywhere else does show that his performance seems to be linked to his heart. The question about Veras is this: Since he is a one inning RH pitcher, do we have enough of those to where we need another, or are we better off using his roster spot for another LOOGY or a long reliever, when one of those becomes available when final cuts are made around the league? Especially if we aren’t confident in what we have in those areas. We know what we have in Veras, but he probably won’t improve his performance at his age.

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    • Dan, I’m thinking Veras is Houston-bound. There may even be some type of verbal on it, who knows? But Luhnow will need to clear a roster spot before making it official and Crane said they are working on other deals, so that could be coming soon. Is Veras a better option than the others mentioned. I think it’s somewhat of a tossup, but he “wins” by virtue of wanting to pitch here. How many other players have publicly said that?

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  13. I like Veras – he is not perfect but a good reliever. 2013 he had a 3.02 ERA between Houston and Detroit – was a disaster in very few innings with the Cubs in 2014 before putting up 3.03 ERA with the Astros at the end of last season.
    I think he would be a good piece to add to a much stronger bullpen. Luhnow maybe seeing whose price is down the most from the relievers left out there.
    Of the 3 – Veras made the most last season – $3.8 mill, K-Rod – $3.2 mill and Joba – $2.5 mill

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  14. Evan Gattis is so hard to judge, based on his past stats. Something tells me Luhnow really depended on visual scouting a lot, when it came to Gattis.
    Gattis has sparse MILB numbers, especially defensively. It appears his best position on the diamond is behind the plate, based on the data I’ve seen. But we gave up a lot for him, so I can’t imagine him getting part time duty because of who we had to give up. At his salary for the next two years, I have a hard time not seeing him as a full time DH.
    Moving Carter and his salary to make room for a pitcher and his salary just makes so much sense, considering you have Gattis’s bat to plug into the DH for such a low price.
    If we move Carter, put Gattis at DH, and leave Singleton at 1B it makes sense to start the year. If Singleton can’t hit, we send him to Fresno, move Gattis to 1B and call up Tucker’s LH bat to put in at DH. That way you haven’t lost anything in your lineup and Gattis’s limited defense tries to replace what defense you got from Big Jon.

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  15. Don’t want to kick Singleton but his 1st year he was .168 w/.620 OPS. Brett Wallace first year .222 w/.615 OPS. Both had negative WAR with Singleton worse. So handing him 1st base probably HAS TO be done – but not for long. Castro’s worst year (2014) is ahead of Conger’s best year. Do we trade Castro and hand Conger catcher also. Sorry to be harsh, but apparently Carter or Gattis in LF is not being versatile – it is just having to have them play someplace because right now – 2 DHs is not allowed. Now if a couple guys find themselves (one being Singleton) – then it could be a brighter year.

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    • Not sure if it is a good excuse – but Singleton debuted at more than a year younger than Wallace – though Singleton had a lot more minor league games under his belt when he debuted.
      Not ready to hand him 1B nor give up on JS.

      Liked by 1 person

      • As noted before, Carter buys Singleton another 1/2 year. Most teams have few players with over 50 games hitting below .200 (An exception would be Chris Davis). Last year the Astros had Singleton, Krauss, Guzman, & Hoes. At least 2 are now gone. It is time for Singleton to step up or he has to be assigned to the minors. Not saying he does not have potential – just saying you can’t get to the playoffs (if that is the ultimate goal this year) with a team not hitting and striking out a ton.

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  16. On the Carter trade speculation, what kind of haul would everyone accept? Gattis has a low salary and more team control, but cost two top-100 prospects. If we could have received similar for Carter (or Castro for that manner) I think Luhnow would have already pulled the trigger…

    Liked by 1 person

  17. it’s mind boggling to be able to make $20 million a year throwing a baseball for three hours once every five days for a half a year. Why am I a fan? Maybe I’m just a baseball crackhead. But I’m in the middle stages because I still have moments when I am ashamed of myself.
    This is not the game or the players I fell in love with.

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    • oldpro – I used to drive up to the Kirby entrance to the dome to park for $1, buy general admission seats in the outfield for $2 or $3 each, buy some popcorn and a coke and be out about $10 total. You can’t even park for that these days.

      Liked by 1 person

  18. Question:
    What about Matty D. do you not like?
    His glove?
    His batting average?
    His lack of hustle?
    Before we totally give up on the guy, do you think he can over come his “flaws”?
    Matt never really has had to fight for his job at 3rd. base, and this will be an interesting spring training. I’m listening.

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      • Well now that Becky won’t let me play Villar at first – here is my smiling answer on Matty D. Mario Mendoza lifetime .215 batter and -1.6 WAR in his worst year. Matty D in 2014 was .214 and -1.6 WAR. He was officially below the “Mendoza Line.”

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      • Basically, you can’t have your starting 3B with an OBP of .285, and that was in 2013 when he had a better year. He can’t draw a walk, he Ks too much and the advanced metrics debunk the thought that he is a good defensive 3B. Essentially, he brings very little value to the team.

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  19. Becky, I don’t know about the others, but I have no beef with Dominguez personally. I was rooting for him to make it. But unfortunately he didn’t. He had his chances. He did not take advantage. His offensive stats are simply unacceptable. His BA [.215 last year, .233 lifetime] is only the beginning. His OBP [.256 last year, .275 lifetime] is worse. His OPS [.586 last year, .649 lifetime] just won’t cut it for a major leaguer – especially at a power position like 3B needs to be. Add to that the fact that he K’ed 125 times last year and had 23 GIDPs [which was the only offensive category in which he led the team], and alas it seals the deal. I’d much rather see Marwin or Sclefani pinch hit or sub/platoon at 3rd.

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  20. Ok……..then let’s play the “what if” game. What if he buckles down in spring training
    and improves his OPB. What if the hitting coach (or Bagwell) takes him on as a project. I know….I know…I hear ya thinking “he’s had plenty of time to show power”
    but what if he really get’s with the program, and surprises us all??? He’s not on a high school team, this is MLB, and we’re talking about money in his pocket.
    Personally, I love his defense, and his sure throws to 1st. base(unlike VILLAR!) for the out’s. Let’s see what shakes out in the next 6 weeks, if he has the same struggles he has had for the better part of three years……..we can talk. I’m not giving up on him, anymore than we can give up on Singelton. Matt has options left, so a trip out West might improve his outlook.

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  21. I personally can’t imagine either Matty or Villar as starting the season in Houston unless both Luis Valbueno and Marwin Gonzalez get hurt or quit baseball. I think the issue of whether we keep Matty in the system ‘just in case’, and invest any more money and playing time in him in the minors depends on three things: 1. what kind of ST he has; 2. where the front office winds up assigning the guy who is being projected (by management at least) as the third baseman of the future – i.e. Colin Moran, and 3. what the front office decides to do about Joe Sclafani and Ronald Torryes.

    If [a] Moran goes back to CC, and [b] the front office do not see Sclafani or Torreyes as being a better and more versatile candidate than Matty long term, Matty probably winds up playing third – at least part time – at Fresno.

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