Monday musings: Luhnow has gotten a lot — a LOT — right!

Well, friends, what can you say? What else can you say? What we have witnessed since April 6 is virtually unlike anything we have seen in Astros’ history.

You want relevant? Check.

You want competitive? Ah, well, yeah!

You want dominant? Yup.

You want fun and downright dizzying giddiness? Oh, yeah.

I’m going to go out on the limb and say this: There should be no — repeat NO — complaints at this moment.

This Astros’ ship is chugging full steam ahead, destroying everything in its path.

Now, a couple of things.

Jeff Luhnow got it right…

  • Evan Gattis can’t flat hit a baseball a long, long way.
  • Jon Singleton wasn’t ready to play at the MLB level. And he may never be ready for the big time in Houston.
  • A.J. Hinch. The less you hear about a manager the better and Hinch’s name has basically only been seen in post-game quotes.
  • Roberto Hernandez. Look, when you 4-guy pitches like Hernandez has, you move onto other issues on the team.
  • The fifth starter. We now recognize why Luhnow was looking for another pitcher. He was right. Even thought Asher Wojciechowski, Brad Peacock or Brett Oberholtzer may fill the need, it’s quite possible that none of the three will be long-term solutions.
  • The Plan. Debate it, shame it, despise it, shoot it down. You can not argue with the results to date. How does Sports Illustrated’s 2017 prediction look now?
  • And Jake Marisnick. You could argue that no one but Luhnow saw this one coming. No one. Hey, I’ll call you out, but no one in Houston foresaw his production and contribution.
  • George Springer. You NEED that arm in right field. You WANT that arm in right field. How many people screamed and demanded that Springer move to his “right” position. I think he’s there and could develop into a premier right fielder.

Now, let’s talk about change.

Lest we forget, the Astros are 18-7, best record in the American League (wow, that felt good!) and second best in all of baseball! There is no way — absolute no way — that the Astros should make a big splash right now. Fuhget it!

It is not the right time for a Carlos Correa, Mark Appel or perhaps not even a Preston Tucker. And, timing is everything! The longer these players incubate, the better. There will be a day — and it could be soon — that Luhnow will pull the trigger on Correa and/or Preston. That’s the delicate balance of a team’s development cycle, making the right moves at the right time.

Wait, for example, for the Astros to start down from the current high. That may not necessarily be measured in wins, but Hinch and Luhnow will recognize it in the clubhouse, in the dugout and on the field. When the team needs that burst and that pick-me-up, it will be Correa Time!

Jonathan Villar? Come on, the Astros are 18-7 with him in the starting lineup the last two games.

Roberto Hernandez? Really? He’s pitched at least six innings in four of five starts and Houston has won the last two he’s started. He’s the #4, for cryin’ out loud.

Chris Carter? Do you really want to ship him out, sit him down and give up on Mr. Carter right now? Remember, the team is 18-7. Remember, also, this can be a streaky team. If he gets hot when Gattis cools down, he could carry the team.

Hank Conger? Yes, he’s a backup catcher and it’s clear that Hinch is going to pencil in Jason Castro as the starter as many times as he can. At the current rate, Conger will get about 150 ABs this year. Folks, he may be good behind the scenes with pitchers and even with Castro. Want to talk about the trade or how much you miss Carlos Corporan. Okay, but the Astros are 18-7.

I could go, but I think you get the point. I am in a giddy mood. Far above the criticisms, complaints and even the concerns. At this point. Just enjoying the ride.

Regardless, you have to admit: Mr. Luhnow is lookin’ pretty good right now. What was it many of us said early on? In Luhnow We Trust.


48 comments on “Monday musings: Luhnow has gotten a lot — a LOT — right!

  1. Whether we would be better with others in the line up or on the roster, the big ingredient here seems to be the Chemistry. Wouldn’t it be ironic if we went to the WS and played the Cardials? It’s a long summer and many more left to play but it sure feels good right now.


  2. Chip I am overall good except for the continuing disaster waiting to happen that is Jonathan Villar. I know that I am poisoned by the game I went to early in the season, where he single handedly killed them in the field. He has 4 errors in 18 chances at SS – that is almost impossible to do.
    I know that they will not bring up Correa now – but how about moving Lowrie to the 60 day DL and bringing up Nolan Fontana. He cannot be worse.


  3. Like a lot of folks I want to see Correa now but not so much for the wow factor such a move would be but for his sake. Unlike Tucker Carlos has a position open to him. Putting him on the team now when he will have no expectations to be the savior makes a lot of sense to me. We have a ground ball pitching staff so infield defense is crucial to continued success. He is better than Marwin and infinitely better than Villar. Promoting him puts Marwin back in the utility role where he really excels and puts Villar in Fresno where I hope he tears it up and fools some other team into thinking he’s worth a trade. Seems to me bringing him up now signals we are playing to win and not merely trying not to lose. Why not bury the division early while we are hot and ease Carlos onto the team for his defense and put no pressure on him offensively? After seeing him in person this past weekend I can tell you Carlos is ready to get his feet wet in the big leagues now.

    As for Tucker, if he keeps up this pace you could have the luxury of trading Carter for rotation help, put Gattis at first/DH and let Tucker DH and play left some. But even with Carter gone there is no obvious place for Tucker since Rasmus is also left handed and is a far better outfielder than Tucker. Correa OTOH seems like a win-win all around if we bring him up now.


  4. Great thoughts and post Chipster,Giddy man. I have been somewhat bashed on here for saying I would be amazed if Singleton ever makes a difference in the majors, and same on Santana , hoping I’m wrong on Santana

    I wouldn’t do anything for now except show Villar the door, I’m hoping Carter just does what he can do, K a lot and hit some timely Dingers.

    Now when July rolls around or sooner, we may need a good 3/4 push Roberto to our 5, will need to package some decent players.


  5. Zanuda, you’re exactly right on chemistry! Good observation!

    Dan, Kevin, Dr. Bill others:

    The game moves faster at every level. From AA to AAA and from AAA to the majors. It’s why you see players’ stats drop initially — or longer — when they’re promoted. Pitchers are better, shortstops cover more ground and outfielders are faster, take better routes and have better arms.

    This is usually one of the filters that clears out players. It’s why players like Wallace can’t make it, his talent just doesn’t move any faster than AAAish. He has the skills, but it takes more than that.

    There is absoutely no doubt that Correa will play the game at a high level in Houston one day. Whether that is this month or next year remains to be seen. The more incubation time, the less the transition time for him. Same for the others. Every day in Corpus counts. Every day in Fresno counts.

    But just to note, there is a contingent of Houston scouts and front office personnel in CC this week and I’m guessing that’s no coincidence.


    • Well – while I would love to see Correa up here – I don’t think it will happen soon – but we sure need someone who can play better than Villar – maybe Fontana?


    • I disagree with you. In Villar’s year 20 at Corpus Christi he hit .231 and had 23 errors at SS and that was in only 3 months. He had 36 errors total between Lancaster and CC in his year 20.
      Now at age 24 he is a no-field, no-hit SS! He is exactly right now what he was in AA and AAA. Villar was and still is the most overrated player in our system, including Singleton. There is no way he belongs in Houston on this team.
      Correa has been the exact opposite of Villar his entire career and is going to be the opposite in the majors. He is the guy that has shown everything and now is the perfect time to bring him in because he doesn’t have to be Mr. Everything. He just has to play SS and that is what he does best and he allows Marwin to do what he does best, play everywhere as needed.


      • OP, not sure what you’re disagreeing with. Obviously, there are exceptions and, unfortunately, the Astros are still at a reconstruction stage that there are “bodies” at every level. In this case, it’s about depth since we wouldn’t even be having this discussion had Lowrie not been hurt. There are fillers at every level…and some fillers are filling at levels beyond their capabilities. Perhaps Villar’s highest effective “level” is AA, but I won’t disagree that he hasn’t cut the mustard so to speak. This is one that I’m not sure why Hinch keeps running him out there…at least as a starter. Pick and choose your spots…late inning defense (OF), base running, PH, etc.

        Perhaps Luhnow, DeFrancesco and the sabermetrics guys have also seen things on Sclafani and Fonanta (whom I like!) that we have not, I dunno.

        Still, the Astros are 18-7! Enjoy the ride!


  6. Those that have read my posts on here know I am probably the biggest Luhnow Kool-Aid drinker. My reasons for this are simple: First, we have tried 50 years of the traditional method of scouting and development and it has resulted in 0 World Series titles. Second, I am a strong believer that sabermetrics is the future of baseball and I like the fact we are probably the forerunner in using advanced metrics to evaluate our players, even more so than Billy Beane and the Oakland A’s. This is not to say I think Luhnow is immune to mistakes as he has made several, mostly on the public relations side, but I think his plan will work and I believe Houston will have a World Series title in the next 5 years.


    • i’m right there in line for the kool-aid with you tim. the “plan” as stated early on was to first rebuild the minor league system and identify core players already on the team. after years of pain i think we all for the most part can check that off. once that was accomplished, players were to be moved upward when ready and as needed and in a way that is sustainable year after year, along with some fa signings to supplement. i think that is pretty close to being checked off. next came trades for major league talent rather than all prospects, that makes us competitive for the division. (arguably checked off) and at some point to come when we we are 1-2 players away from (dare i say it) winning the league/world series THAT trade (which will be painful) but brings the player(s) that puts us over the top.

      man it sure is fun to win. and that puts more butts in the seats and that brings more revenue and that brings a bigger budget and that if used wisely will bring more success.

      and wooohooo i finally get to see a few games this week!!!!!!


  7. Correa is 20, and regarded by all as a top flight talent – next year! We don’t want – or need – to rush him, and we sure don’t want to set him up to fail. But what about Fontana (23), or Sclafani (age 25)? After all, V.R. has shown us what he can do, and it’s just not major league quality. This team has a good vibe at all times EXCEPT WHEN V.R. IS PLAYING ON THE INFIELD. This spring he played hard and allowed himself to be re-invented as a utility outfielder. That was fine, except [a] we don’t really need a utility outfielder on this team right now, and [b] we DO need a good-hands, scrappy, play-maker kind of guy to fill in at shortstop or infield utility while Jed Lowrie is recuperating. Unfortunately being a good-hands, scrappy, playmaker kind of guy at SS is the one thing V.R. has proven that he is not.

    So, we have a choice to make. Either we put MarGo on short and leave him there, and let V.R. take up a roster spot providing no return whatever, OR we give Nolan or Joe a chance despite both having meh years thus far in 2015. Nolan at least can play D and take a base on balls with the best of them. His lifetime BA in the minors is .252 with an OBP of .423. He’s also got 34 SBs in the minors, so he can do that, which V.R. doesn’t. Joe may not be Correa on D or Altuve on the bases, but he is a scrapper and a winner, and he can’t be worse at D than V.R. has been. Joe has a lifetime BA in the minors of .286, to go with a .373 OBP.


  8. It is lunch time and I just enjoyed my crow. I am about to believe that JL’s “plan” was all smoke and mirrors and his “real plan” was to do what he has done this year. He traded prospects for power. At MMP, it serves us well with the short porch down the line. He struck out on the low risk, no rewards guys in his first couple years. He has hit home runs this year on others. This team may be only a couple players short of the playoffs, but could make them anyway. The OF is repaired. With Lowrie back, we need to improve at first, and the IF is solid. Carter may do this on his own. No pressure on Castro to carry the team. And a SP or two. But I have to give a “hats off” to JL for what he has done in three years. If JFSF and Altuve go into a slump, we may need shutouts each game.


    • Remember AC, we don’t actually know that the 2015 trades, etc. weren’t part of the original plan all along. We’ve never seen the plan and only heard bits and pieces. I do believe he intended all along to trade pieces for the ML roster, but it’s a calculating challenge. And, you can bet his sabermetrics guys are feeding/have fed him complete info on everyone involved.

      What I’ve noticed most is that he’s keeping position players in the pipeline and continuing to develop them for the most part. It’s the pitchers he’s using to bring talent in.


      • Chip, I think now would be a good time to insert the Reagan line of “they are not ignorant, they just know a lot of things that just are not so.” I enjoyed the interview with JL on the broadcast. He praised the scouts and coaches plus Hinch. When he was asked about Correa and Appel, he immediately mentioned Tucker. He took little to no credit. And after the interview, I thought “he is smooth, I know nothing more than what I knew before the interview.” The one exception was he mentioned moving Correa up to AAA and not moving Appel. So he does not play his cards close to his vest, they are in his back pocket. Good pitching, good defense (except a little Donny & Marie of “One Bad Apple’) some power: Put a couple Redbirds on a bat and use those for Astros uniforms and they would look like the Cards in the past.


  9. Three things (not trademarked by TCB):

    Marisnick. Get Luhnow drunk, and even he will admit he didn’t see this coming.

    Correa. Needs more time at AA. That said, if Marwin’s OPS drops below .690 for more than 2 weeks (he’s fine right now), then I would pull the Correa trigger. Maybe bring up Fontana as the backup instead of Villar.

    Tucker. Leave him be in case we lose an outfielder to injury. That said, I’d clear a 40-man spot just in case and leave it open.


    • Just putting Marwin at shortstop every game saves us temporarily from the V.R. virus; but it creates another problem in that it means we have no first baseman beside Chris Carter. I am pretty sure that with Mr. Hinch’s propensity to mix up a line-up, if Evan Gattis could play even a passable 1B we would have already seen him there, since Carter has continued to be a weak link [.159/.266/.280/.546 and 35 Ks in under 100 PAs] in an otherwise surging offense. Some may say Castro can play first, but that puts Conger in the starting line-up with no back-up catcher [Gattis hasn’t had the pads on since the trade, and isn’t likely to be putting them on ever again].

      For this reason, I wonder if it might be the Carter Catatonic State, more than the V.R. virus, that ultimately motivates the front office to call up either Fontana, Sclafani, or the Smallville-aged version of Clark Kent.

      Chris, oh Chris – are you watching films and doing your homework on the Ranger pitching staff? Now would be a good time for you to step out of the rather uninspiring Bruce Banner persona you’ve been sporting and go all Green and Incredible on the Invading Asgardians of Arlington. Hulk smash!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. If you’re interested in winning……..NOW, then you put your VERY BEST defense on the field EVERY SINGLE DAY. Correa is just fine where he is……his next stop will
    be in Fresno, and that is where I hope he stays until he’s making fools outta AAA
    pitching. I’m pretty sure Luhnow is working the phones looking for another pitcher…(I hope)!!
    Fontana COULDN’T be worse @ short than Villar is There comes a time when your other teammates quit covering up for you. That time is now. If Gattis had not hit that homerun yesterday……this streak would have been stopped. NO MORE EXPERIMENTS. Put your VERY best 9 on that field everyday, and let the other team beat you fair, and square. You DON’T allow your own player to lose the game because his brain isn’t in the game.
    By the way……..Luhnow reads this blog.


    • He should read this blog. The writing is far superior to much of the the paid baseball journalism in the city these days.


  11. Being able to watch the Astros now for the first time in a long time, I have to admit that I never realized what a wonderful second baseman Cano is. He makes everything look so easy over there.
    That being said, I would not trade Altuve straight up for him. I like Jose more. His career is just getting started and Cano is starting to wind down.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. some more ammo for all this giddiness – out of the first 80 picks in the upcoming draft the astros have #2, #5, #37, #46, #79.


  13. Congratulations Jose [AL co-player of the month] and Dallas K. [AL pitcher of the month]. You both earned it! May you be inspired and outdo your best April performances tonight. NO POST-AWARD LET DOWNS WILL BE ALLOWED. 🙂

    In other news Corpus and Fresno will both be playing at home tonight as well with some pretty good arms on the hill as well. Mark Appel is pitching for the Hooks and Jake Buchanan will go to the bump for the Grizzlies. Somebody grab a bat and a glove and back ’em up out there!


  14. If he were pitching for Houston, he would be the worst pitcher on the staff with his 2015 stats. His WAR is the same as Chris Carter, -.6. He has given up 9 HRs in 29+ innings. His K rate is low, and his BB rate is somewhat above average so his struggles are reflected in the stats and why would guys walk when they find him so easy to hit.. He makes 11 million this season and will be a free agent next year. He is 36 so he ain’t getting any better. That HR rate would make me shudder to see him in MMP. I would pass. I think he is one of the Brewer’s big problems!


  15. Why people think that calling Correa up now will stunt his development. The mariners called Arod up at 18 and again at 19 and both time had to send him back down because he wasnt ready. Yet he has had a good career and it didnt stunt his development. Correa is more than ready at 20 and should be called up now.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Sure, Hank, throw behind Delino Deshields!
    Ever notice that the guys who are bad defensive players, hurt you in tight games with bad defensive plays.
    It’s because bad defensive players panic when they have to make a big play.


  17. Another great game by Kid Keuchy. Well done Altuve, Gattis, and Gonzalez. Even Robbie Grossman contributed a hit. As for the rest of the line-up … you owe your teammates something tomorrow night.


  18. Was at the game tonight and was excited with the quick start but dismayed that we could not generate more offense against Detwiler who entered the game with an ERA north of 8! I think Carter needs to bat tenth for a few games. He reminds me of one of my sons who was a poor baseball player. He swung at the same place every time which worked in tee ball but when balls were pitched he swung in the same place regardless of location. He did OK in dad’s pitch because I got pretty good at hitting his bat. Perhaps we should ask the opposing pitchers to have a little mercy and try to hit Carter’s bat. Makes me wonder what he does or perhaps doesn’t do in the off season to assure a lousy start every year.


  19. Just read that the Hooks won tonight with a 4 run rally in the ninth capped off with a walk off bases loaded double with two outs by none other than the best shortstop in the organization. He was a mere 3 for 5 and ended the night at .383 and 25 RBI in 22 games played. Put Jed on the 60 day DL, bring up Carlos, put Marwin at 1B and Carter on the pine and Villar in Fresno and start another 10 game win streak.


      • Tyler Heineman 2-4 with two doubles a walk and and RBI is now hitting.333. Unfortunately, he also had a passed ball.

        At Fresno, Preston Tucker hit HR number 10 and Joe Sclafani went 2-4 with an rbi triple and 2 runs scored. Nolan Fontana was 1-3 with a BB, but did not figure in the scoring and had an error.


  20. The Kid pitched lights out tonight……such a joy to see him pitch. The boys had their chances, but lost focus near the end of the game. You have to know DeShields was gloating over the fact that he was a part of the win. Wandy pitches tomorrow night,
    go get’em tomorrow boys!


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 )

Facebook photo

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

Connecting to %s