Winning makes even Astros’ blogging fun again


The art of Houston Astros blog posting (we are professionals – though we don’t get paid – so, don’t try this at home, though that is where we do our best work) is a lot more enjoyable when the local nine is in first place and kicking bottoms rather than (fill in any occasion since the Astros lost the 2005 World Series).

You need not look any farther than the two postings of May 6, 2014 and that of May 5, 2013 to see what a different place and a different tone blog posting has taken.

Last year on May 6, the Astros were 10-23, nine games back in the division. They had just lost four games in a row and had lost nine of their last 12 games. More importantly, they were not only out of contention for a playoff spot, they were in many minds getting ready to chase the catastrophe that had been the 2013 season. In the midst of this the following was published….

https://chipalatta.com/2014/05/06/assuming-you-are-still-astros-fans-why/

For those not wanting to follow the link, this loyal writer was asking the loyal readers and commenters “Assuming You Are Still Astros’ Fans – Why?” After all the PR disasters, the terrible players and worse performances of the previous few years, this seemed to be a reasonable question to you folks. Almost to a person, the answers echoed that great song from Fiddler on the Roof “Tradition”. Folks had been fans for so long that they just did not know another way of existence.

If we flash back two years ago, the Astros’ world was an even darker place. The Astros were 8-24 and 12 1/2 games back heading into a day off. They were on a six-game losing streak, had just been outscored 37-8 in a four-game sweep by the Detroit Tigers and two guys named Philip Humber and Lucas Harrell had just started and lost the last two games of that series.

At that point, this blog was also in a dark place, still at chron.com (Spit!!) and Chip wrote the following 52 Card Pickup posting.

http://blog.chron.com/ultimateastros/2013/05/05/rip-off-the-band-aid-its-time-for-an-astros-shakeup

It is almost stunning to see the names of those on the 25 man roster at the time Chip wrote this plea for the front office to rip off the band-aid and shake things up. It included Harrell, Humber, Rhiner Cruz, Hector Ambriz, Brandon Barnes, Paul Clemens, Jose Cisnero, Ronny Cedeno, Brandon Laird, Rick Ankiel, Carlos Pena, Fernando Martinez, Travis Blackley, Erik Bedard, Wesley Wright and Matt Dominguez. When you Google the word “hopeless” on-line you get the 2013 Astros team photo. Is it any wonder they lost 111 games that year?

There are only five Astros from that active roster still on the active roster just two years later: Jason Castro, Jose Altuve, Chris Carter, Robbie Grossman and Dallas Keuchel.

But getting back to the theme of this post, it is a pleasure to be able to write about positive and uplifting things this season. Instead of pleading for the release of Ankiel or Pena or the call-up of George Springer or Jon Singleton or Michael Foltynewicz or lamenting and highlighting the failures of Jeff Luhnow, Bo Porter and Jim Crane,  there can be posts about the brilliance of Keuchel, the power of Evan Gattis, the defensive magic of Jake Marisnick and Springer and even the quiet calm of A.J. Hinch.

It is a great time to be a Houston Astros’ fan, but an even better time to be an Astros’ blogger.

So, how has your view of this team changed since those dark days at the bottom in 2013?

 

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73 comments on “Winning makes even Astros’ blogging fun again

  1. I think the biggest difference is that our minor league players are two years closer to the majors.
    The Astros got beaten last night by a pitcher who was a pitcher on our 2005 World Series team.
    Fresno got beaten last night by a pitcher who was an outfielder on our 2005 World series team.
    How’s that for irony?

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    • Without looking, I am going to guess you are talking about Jason Lane – the former OF turned pitcher. I had not really tracked where he was this season.
      Last night was disappointing against Wandy – I will bow to you and Mr. Bill for correctly calling that one. This lefty-itis is ridiculous, but is certainly a trend.

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  2. Oh, Carlos Perez! Good for you.
    Singled in his first major league at-bat and then hit a walk off homer leading off the ninth. How’s that for a major league debut!

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    • Yeah, but we have Matt Conger throwing behind a picked off DDJ on Monday night and allowing him to move into scoring position and giving up the tying run for a hacked off Dallas Keuchel. So there…..

      Liked by 1 person

      • Dan, it is ridiculous to have Conger catching Keuchel in the first place. I hope he walked into Hinch’s office the next day and demanded a change. If the pitch framing can compensate for his other defensive deficiencies, the gain is pairing him with a guy like Peacock…not a guy with the best command in the league right now.

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      • Wow – I don’t know why I just called Hank – Matt – though maybe it is more like door mat….
        Yes – he has a couple dingers in those 22 ABs – but he has not impressed us very much and he has not thrown anyone out on the bases. The front office has made good moves, but this one is not likely to be one of them.

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  3. I’m thinking Correa SS, Tucker in left, Marwin or someone to platoon at first, Carter traded, a #3 starter , were in the playoffs. HMM but what do we do with Rasmus who I like?

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  4. DANG……when we see who was on this team in 2013-2014 it makes your jaw drop!
    Winning feels SOOO much better than losing! I wonder how many of those guys are still in MLB??? I think this team took to heart what Roger Clemens told them in spring training…….it’s time to start winning games, nobody is going to hold your hand anymore. I just hope Springer is gonna be ok, that crash into the wall last night looked horrible.

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    • OK – I love a challenge Becky – looked them up and only Wesley Wright from that list of 16 players has seen major league time in 2015. Wright pitched 1.2 IP for the Orioles before going on the DL early in April.

      I love the spectacular plays by Springer, but I would give up a few of them if it is going to cost him injury time.

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  5. Thanks for looking it up Dan! Speaking of pitchers on the DL……Matt Albers is
    once again on DL, due to a benches clearing brawl. He’s gonna have surgery on
    his pinky finger, and will be out at LEAST 6-8 weeks! Man…….that guy can suck down free money!!

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    • You know Becky before last season he had been a very consistent and healthy reliever. He is from here and I was hoping he would succeed here.

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  6. Ah, the 37-8 series. One of the highlights of my life. Went to every game. I root for the Astros against every team in the major leagues except the one I grew up with.

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    • Oh know Steeeeve – say it isn’t so……
      Oh well I guess Detroit has us beat in baseball history and Motown music and not a whole lot else these days….

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      • Detroit also has us beat in Stanley Cup Championships, city deficit and meaningless unions (sorry if I offend pro-union people, but I am definitely not one).

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  7. *How has your view of this team changed since those dark days at the bottom in 2013? *

    They were my team then, and they are my team now. The presence of players who make the highlight reels regularly [especially Altuve, Marisnick, Altuve, & Keuchel] – and actually lead the league in some positive categories – is refreshing. The absence of any real PR disasters helps. The fact that the farm is bursting with real talent – or at least real potential – is exciting. But when it comes right down to it, an Astroholic is an Astroholic – for better or worse.

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    • One thing to say – we had to be Astroholics to care at all over the last 4 years or so. And we are still here now and can go Nyah nyah to all the ones joining the wagon train while it is on the rise.

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    • Man that catch that Marisnick made on the hill in that win a few days ago was SPECTACULAR. The game may have been pretty much over, but it did save McHugh a run and should be played over and over at the end of the year when we make the Jake Marisnick for gold glove campaign video.

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      • His gold glove campaign video might be so long that he will need an intermission like with Ben Hur….

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    • I left out Springer, whose defense has been amazing as well. And as someone pointed out yesterday, Valbuena’s defense at 3rd and Rasmus’ in left have been a joy to watch as well.

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      • 2 seasons ago – Valbuena and Rasmus would be dueling for the title of our best defensive player.

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  8. Help is on the Way:

    Preston Tucker [AAA] is now hitting .320/.378/.650/1.028 with 10 HRs and 32 RBIs and only 18 Ks in 25 games.

    Carlos Correa [AA] is now hitting .398/.468/.735/1.203 with 6 HRs, 28 RBIs, and 22 runs scored in 24 games.

    Tony Kemp [AA] is now hitting .341/.455/.385/.839 with 18 BBs to only 13 Ks in 24 games.

    Chris Devenski [AA] has now thrown 23.1 innings of shut-out ball with 22 Ks and an 0.81 WHIP.

    Lance McCullers [AA] has thrown 20 innings with a .090 ERA, a 1.00 WHIP, and 28 Ks.

    And just take a look at Quad-Cities!

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    • The thing about Correa is that most players hitting .398 are just passing through on the way down from a good first week or two of the season. But Correa was hitting .274 after ten days into the season and has been steadily rising ever since.
      Oh, about that crap Luhnow mentioned about Correa facing teams the second time around to see their adjustments, here are his second time around numbers so far:
      Springfield- 5 for 11, 2 BB
      Tulsa- 3 for 8, 1 HR
      Frisco- 3 for 11, 3 BB
      Midland- 3 for 4, 1HR 3 RBIs
      It looks like he is the one handling them!

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      • I don’t watch that closely – but he must be batting .500 over the last few weeks because it seems like he has 2 hits every day….

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      • I like the way the AA pitchers are adjusting to Carlos. I think it’s called ‘Pray he gets promoted to AAA or MLB SOON!’

        Liked by 1 person

      • OP1, what do you think the fall-out at Fresno will be if Carlos goes to AAA as reported [instead of Houston]. It would seem logical to me for us to send Torreyes, who has really been struggling this year, back down to Corpus for some confidence building. If not, is it even remotely possible that Fontana could be headed to Houston? Or will Sclafani shuffled back to CC? Or will, with Duffy and Dominguez both on board, will consistently underperforming Matt Dominguez be given his release?

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      • That is a great question Mr. Bill – there are lots of scenarios there including someone being included in a trade…

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      • Bill, Carlos has put them in a spot. They can say a hundred times that they thought he would be this good in AA, but that wouldn’t be the truth. If they knew he was this good he would have been in Houston. So now they promote him to Fresno till they get to the Super 2 date and then cross that bridge when they come to it. A lot of people bobbled their heads and said “yeah, right” when Altuve talked about Correa at the end of spring training and told Drellich that he felt real funny about giving Correa advice because Correa was “already a better player” than he was.
        I’ve followed Correa every step of the way and knew this day was coming, but Altuve had no reason to say that unless he believed it and when I read that, that’s when I became convinced that Correa could play in the majors right now. All the stuff that’s happened in CC since then is icing.
        So what’s the choice. If you don’t bring up the best player we have in the organization, it’s because of the appearances of not following the plan. But if you keep Correa in the minors and he gets hurt down there, there will be hell to pay with the fans, because you did it while keeping Villar up here knowing he is not a major league caliber player. I am tired of hearing the word potential being used for a guy who belongs in the minors, and tired of hearing the word seasoning for a guy who does belong in the majors.
        I’ll say it one last time: Jose Altuve played exactly 35 games in AA before he was called up and he did not hit AA pitching like Correa has, and Altuve is one of the best hitters in baseball at age 24. We need a SS and we have one who can improve our ball club right now.

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      • Old pro – the only problem I have with Correa is that I don’t think he is very good at pitch framing….

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  9. Mr. Cynic checking in. I’ll keep it short. We wanted a right handed hitting catcher to compliment Castro. So we traded our own in house 24 year old right handed hitting backstop, with pretty good minor league stats, for a back up catcher who clearly has issues defensively. Granted, this deal could very well turn out to be a push, except for the fact that we also gave up on a 24 year old starting pitcher after only 4 starts in the bigs. And we’re pretty thin on starting pitching right now. Please butcher me if this deal does not end up biting us in the ass.

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    • I’m definitely leaning less toward the ‘push’ side and more toward ‘bite’ side on that one too, daveb. But on a positive note . . . .

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      • Devin, that’s exactly the point. You cant see how a guy plays defense without actually scouting him. If you were a scout and saw the defense we have seen from him in the first 27 games of the season would you have given up Trop and Perez for him. How did nobody know this guy was a klutz?

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    • I’m not even sure why you would have traded them straight up except for the major league experience on one side. Is this one where the pointy heads (think of Jonah Hill in Moneyball) were given sway over the baseball people because of “pitch framing”?

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      • You hit the nail on the head. What they didn’t do was find out about his defense. All they thought about was that pitch framing.

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      • I looked into the defensive stats available. Nothing told me he was tremendous, but nothing said worse than average. Some of it probably gets better – he has been extremely good at disallowing passed balls…but we won’t know for awhile.

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  10. Bill, my thought is that the two back up catchers might turn out to be the push, but I just can’t come up with enough value for Conger to justify unloading Tropeano.

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      • It has not made much sense from the beginning – maybe if you trade a young pitcher and a backup C for a starting C – I could understand that.

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  11. 1. We need another pitcher
    2. We need another pitcher
    3. We need another pitcher
    Did I say we need another pitcher? I gotta bad feeling about tonight’s game
    this team might just be handed their third loss in three days tonight. We haven’t
    been swept yet……..((((GULP))).

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    • Becky – here are the answers:
      1. We can just quick call Tropeano up from …..oh crap
      2. I can’t wait until I see Folty and his 100 mph fastball in the starting…. huh – what?
      3. Well Carlos Rodon has swept thru the minors after we drafted him last…you’ve got to be kidding

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    • Deduno will handle the Rangers just fine, Becky. He wants a permanent rotation spot, and this needs to be – and will be – his break-out game. Meanwhile after a series of getting shut down by lefties our hitters – especially Gattis, Valbuena, Gonzalez, Castro, Rasmus, and Grossman – are due for a breakout game to more than cover Sam where he needs a little help. Altuve will be Altuve. Meanwhile, we have Sipp, Neshek, Harris, Qualls, and Gregorson available from the pen when Sam gets tired. Go ‘Stros – tonight is the Return of the Avengers!

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  12. Is it just me or does that 10 game winning streak seem like a year ago? WE need pitching we have Kikes and McCugh and then a bunch of soft tossing #6’s

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  13. The Rangers offense woke up at the wrong time for the Astros. They are raking right now, but probably exposing our lack of rotation depth. It was fun while it lasted.

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  14. Just wonderful……….10-0 in the 5th inning.
    We need a pitcher. Put Villar in to pitch, he can’t be any worse than Deduno.
    JEEEEEEEEEEEEEZE.

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  15. Where in the “wide, wide world of sports” did our offense go? Two runs in the last 3 games. It looks to be a bad case of feast or famine. Hopefully, the team will spring back. And yes, I think it’s time to start seriously looking at those AA and AAA players that are ready to be “prime time” players.The last thing we want to do is endure a long slump after looking like world beaters.

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    • We were watching Blazing Saddles last night on cable so I love your reference Zanuda.
      First big challenge for Hinch – can he get them to shake it off and get back to winning.

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  16. I was looking at the HR Harris gave up and it wasn’t a bad pitch. Just above the knees on the outer third of the plate. Peguro looked like he was waiting for that one. He k’s three and only gives up that one hit. This guy is a keeper.

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  17. Perhaps there is some sunshine in Fresno. Obie through 3 with 0 runs 2 hits and 30 of 37 pitches for strikes. Hope he holds up and can provide some much needed SP performance.

    BTW, I’ve noticed the stat “Game Scores” for pitchers in the box scores but have not found what it means. Please enlighten an old traditionalist.

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    • Funny Dr Bill – I had just noticed this too.
      Going to Wikipedia – a pitcher starts off with 50 pts gains points for outs, K’s etc loses points for walks hits etc. Invented by Bill James to measure a pitchers strength in a game….

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      • Thanks Dan. Seems this stat has been around for awhile but I don’t ever recall seeing it in a box score prior to this season.

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  18. Springer to 7 day concussion DL, Lowrie moved to 60 day DL, PRESTON TUCKER called up and will be with the team in Anaheim tomorrow night. Good for him and I hope its not just for a cup of coffee. Seems like something must be afoot because for a 5 game replacement why not just bring up Hoes and not fool around with all the DL machinations? Singleton with 2 bombs tonight and Obie still dealing through 5.

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      • Dan, virtually all of his home runs last year came when the Astros were twenty games or more under .500. Early in the season, when the Astros were still close, he did nothing. Early this season, when the Astros are fighting for first place? Nothing!. Then, in the last inning of a Ranger’s sweep, with the Astros down by ten, BOOM!

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      • Yeah and April of 2014 was Altuve’s worst month of the season (which truly was not bad) and Springer stunk it up then too. If Carter is still doing nothing by the end of May I will surrender – but I don’t think it is a matter of clutchness with Carter – he is just a mega-streaky hitter and his streak is on the bad side right now.

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  19. Well………Merry Christmas fellas, Preston Tucker will meet up with the team while they are in California!! I’m excited to see (or in my case hear) this kiddo! I just hope all of Springer’s brains get well fast…….concussions are scary!!

    p.s. We need another pitcher.

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    • To the drbill comment that something must be afoot, I have two theories:
      1. Tucker taking the Lowrie spot ends question/speculation/suggestion that Correa take it.
      2. Tucker’s little brother is a serious contender for 1.5

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      • Saw that! Looks like he will go fast in the draft! Word on the street is Correa will be up in a couple of weeks……but who knows. We just need to get another warm
        body in the rotation, or we are screwed.

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  20. So the cat is out of the bag. I know I’m not the only one who was suspect about the rotation. Let’s face it, there is no way Keuchel can remain quite as effective as he has been. McHugh? Let’s hope. But I expect that Feldman and Hernandez will give us about career average. That’s a 4.50 plus ERA. Back of rotation stuff, if they both remain healthy. Thankfully, Oberholtzer had an excellent outing last night, but we’re going to need someone in town this weekend. I hope we’re not moving into a revolving door type situation. I’m sure not looking forward to Dan Straily. And is Oberholtzer really the answer long term?

    I continue to be chagrined in another respect. Foltynewciz won his second start in as many tries last night. He remains a work in progress, but he did get into the 6th with just two runs on the board before leaving a couple of guys behind that eventually scored. And yes of course, Gattis has given us six dingers and a batch of RBI’s along with his .226 OBP. But again, we gave up on yet another live young arm after just 18.2 major league innings in 2014 with us, for a DH, a guy who can’t ever pinch run or be given a glove to play out in the field. And of course we also gave up on a pretty good pitching prospect in A+ ball and a talented 20 year old third baseman.

    That Gattis guy might help for now, but is he really part of the plan? There’s that Tucker kid coming in tonight. Couldn’t we have kept Foltynewicz et al and just used Preston, that talented lefty hitter who can play a bit of outfield as our DH? That’s why this plan thing keeps getting me flummoxed.

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    • It did seem like a win now move amid a sea of future oriented moves daveb.
      I don’t ….. like…..giving… up….young…..pitching.

      Like

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