Hold that train filled with oranges just one dang minute!
Blame it on the day off. Or high expectations after an opening day win. Or the fact the Minute Maid Park roof was closed. But don’t get carried away. Not yet.
Houston is 1-2 after three games with some very early positive — if unexpected — signs. And, yes, some extremely discouraging — if expected — confirmations.
Hitting — long balls or otherwise — hasn’t been as previously advertised as evidenced by 8 hits in 83 at bats (yes, .096, one of nine AL teams at .202 or under thus far). It’s also eerily possible this team could be built on an 1986 foundation instead of an all-‘er-nothing, big bopper sand castle.
Yes, it’s too early to draw conclusions. Too early to suggest trends. Too early to give up on one player and declare another a world beater. No room for snap judgments as they’re more likely to backfire and snap back in your face.
Here’s the real news: New manager A.J. Hinch is now officially on the clock. The follow up press conferences, the meeting with coaches between series, one-on-one’s with players and this weekend’s lineups will bear watching. Closely. The easy moves — first lineups, rotation, home pomp and circumstance — are now behind. The real work is here, perhaps earlier than he had planned.
From the already-knew-this category.
- Solid performances for sure and very, very reassuring. Still, it’s one game for each. Don’t get down with the Asher Wojciechowski performance either. MLB debut. At home. With the opposing pitcher not giving an inch from the first pitch (or Astros’ hitters taking one). Keuchel ain’t got that mid-90s fastball, but could he develop into the next Maddux/Glavine clone?
- Was that a cry for Jon Singleton I heard in the distance? Come on! Yes, the Ks are potentially demoralizing. But tell me something we know today about the K-Kadets we didn’t know yesterday. Don’t get alarmed. Yet.
- Yes, Evan Gattis has 8 strikeouts in 11 at bats and has kept the air conditioning bill down for the first three days at MMP. And, yes, it puts him on an early pace for nearly 400 strikeouts and, we all know that won’t happen. It’s too early for drastic moves. What do you recommend? Other than biting your fingernails, dying your hair purple or kicking the dog?
Where are your eyes now?
- Perhaps you’ll be watching more closely the opening games at Fresno and Corpus Christi. Brad Peacock starts tonight and Singleton will be at first base. Just three days ago, most of you had bid Singleton a fond adieu into the night.
- To be sure, the prospects and DL guys (Peacock and Brett Oberholtzer) were always part of the cavalry. Again, nothing new, they are still the cavalry, but no closer to Houston today than they were Sunday.
It may be too early to go to the bank, but you may want to make arrangements for direct deposit on these three things for the Astros 2015.
Defense. D-Fence. Duh-fense.
- Hands down, this could be one of the best defensive teams to play in Minute Maid Park. Period. The best? Yet to be determined, but we’ve already seen some keen leather at both corners of the infield and the middle will be above average. The outfield? You have to go back to Hunter Pence and Michael Bourn days to find an outfield that was close. Even Jason Castro seems a little more nimble behind the plate.
Pitching…and more pitching.
- With the exception of Wojciechowski and a semi-shaky inning from Pat Neshek Tuesday, Astros’ pitching was phenomenal against a decent hitting Indians’ team. Sam Deduno — and you can argue Keuchel and Feldman — exceeded expectations. Remember, Wojo is the fifth starter. Two of the more seasoned pitchers — Collin McHugh and Roberto Hernandez — are next up for Houston.
- It’s sort of like 24-hour cable. Now that the Astros are on television more and may be drawing a longer segment on the local media because of higher expectations, scrutiny will be higher. The water cooler discussion will be louder, the radio talk will be higher pitched and the blogosphere will be more active. Hinch will do his team and organization a service by staying out in front of potential controversy and acting presidential. Yes, presidential.
Here are a couple of questions for you.
- What did you observe the first three games that you did not know on Sunday?
- Would you shuffle the lineup already?
- What scares, concerns or bothers you the most from the first three games?
- What most gives you calm?