Eight things I think I think about the Astros

After a horrible night when Collin McHugh and the defense couldn’t get hitters out and the Astros hitters couldn’t square up on a pitch, Carlos Correa went 1-for-5 in his Grizzlies debut. I wonder how many Correa jerseys were sold in Fresno last night. In fact, this stretch of poor offense and squeaking out a few wins has a couple of thoughts running through my mind.

Okay, there are actually eight things I think I think about the Astros during this moment in time.

1. A good pitcher can shut down the Astros. Chris Heston dropped his decent 3.38 ERA to an outstanding 2.91 ERA. That said, I’m hoping some hurlers having poor seasons can jumpstart Houston’s bats. Tonight, San Francisco trots out Tim Hudson, who’s season has looked a bit like Scott Feldman‘s. Some nights he shuts down his opponents, others he gets battered around. Toronto’s Drew Hutchison sports a 6.69 ERA. His last outing — at home — was good, but is an anomaly among his outings. The Jay’s then trot out R.A. Dickey (4.50 ERA) before bringing out converted bullpen arm Marco Estrada (3.54 ERA).

If the Astros are going to gain some games on .500 this month, there’s no better time than the present. The only thing stopping them could be their putrid offense.

2. After Jose Altuve and Jake Marisnick — and the injured Jed Lowrie — the Astros don’t have a .250 hitter on the team. And aside from Colby Rasmus and Hank Conger, no Astros hitter other than the “big three” has an OPS over .700. Yep, that’s a lot of bad hitting. And with 20 percent of the season gone, I’ve got to wonder when this positive progression will start. Last night, two hits. The night before that, just one.

Fortunately, with Brett Oberholtzer, George Springer will get recalled from his injury.

3. Now the question becomes, do you ship Robbie Grossman to AAA along with his .143 BA and keep Preston Tucker, or does Tucker stay?

4. Speaking of Tucker, I keep hearing his name high on the draft board. Kyle Tucker sounds like a legit top-10 pick. If he’s better than Preston, I say we grab him. The No. 2 pick should be a college kid who can impact that 2017 World Series team. But the No. 5 pick should be all about the ceiling.

5. I’m not sure who the Astros should take at pick #37, but that’s about when Lance Nix will be available. Too bad Nix didn’t sign the waiver letting the Astros take him again. After all, he got some settlement, went to pitch for his agent’s “team,” and will certainly get his money. I don’t know what he’s angry about.

6. I do know what Brady Aiken is angry about. He got some bad advice and he took it. One list of draft prospects I saw listed Aiken as #21. That would be just under $2.2 million. And while I’m not sure about negotiating ettiquite, but I don’t think asking for above slot is cool when you’re recovering from Tommy John surgery with your undersized ligament. If he’d just taken the Astros’ offer — either the $3-plus million or the last-minute $5 million — he’d be rich.

7. Either way, with four of the top 46 picks, Houston’s rich farm system is about to get a little richer. And when you consider this system has teams that have won championship after championship lately, it seems like that winning attitude will continue. Quad Cities has lost just 7 games. Yep, I see another title from the farm hands.

8. Finally, I’m glad I have Chipalatta to read. I avoid the Chron (spit!) and while the Crawfish Boxes might get a bunch of traffic, it’s where disgruntled Chron (spit!) commenters go when they’ve been banned. And anyone not toeing the company line (Luhnow is right, all the time) gets shunned. Climbing Tal’s Hill is where good story ideas get short shrift. And the rest of the Astros sites are a poor imitation. So …

Tell me, what do you think about what you think right now.


66 comments on “Eight things I think I think about the Astros

  1. Here are a few things I think I think about the Astros in May.

    1. This team is streaky. Duh. You will ride the gamut of emotions, from elation to sheer despair this year. Where the team finishes will be determined by how good or bad the streak is at the end of this year.
    2. Who’d have thought that Carlos Correa would be an Astro in May or June this year. Yeah, you may have wanted it, but realistically, did you believe he’d been in Houston this summer? I predicted a couple weeks back he’d get a cameo in Fresno. That means up to a month, presuming he tackles that level as he has the others.
    3. The rotation is in deep, deep trouble. Brett Oberholtzer had best come back with his best stuff. You know all eyes (and I mean Luhnow, Hinch, Crane) are watching when Obie returns. It could buy some time and bridge the gap to at least get Houston through May and perhaps June before having to seriously make the move for a starter.
    4. How ’bout dat outfield? Tucker-Marisnick-Springer! Wow, if this group can do what it’s capable of doing, not even superstar stuff, Houston, we ain’t got no problem for the next decade.
    5. With the exception of Correa, the rest of the cavalry is in Corpus Christi. There is just no immediate big help waiting in Fresno. Singleton and Santana are okay in Fresno, but wouldn’t probably provide much help in Houston right now. If you think about it, that would make SI’s 2017 prediction absolutely right on target.


  2. Well, both Grossman and Chapman were optioned to make room for Springer and Obie. I think those were the right moves, but I don’t want Tucker here unless he is going to get regular playing time. Considering he and Rasmus are both LH I wonder where Tucker will get playing time. Also, Big Jon has started to heat up in Fresno the last week. Even at .169 last year he is 20 points higher than Carter now. It might be time to consider bringing up Big Jon as he can’t be worse than KK.


    • Tim, Tucker gets plenty of playing time or he wouldn’t still be in Houston. Whether it’s DH or LF, he’ll be out there six days out of seven…at least for the next couple of weeks…to see if he can cut it. The good news: only 2 Ks in 14 PAs, which means he didn’t “Santana” his first trip up. Remember Santana had 14 Ks in 18 PAs and looked overmatched.

      Perhaps the bigger question is when do Gattis and Tucker start getting acclimated at first. If Carter doesn’t pick it up, it’s bound to happen soon because then you can get both Tucker and Rasmus in the lineup rather than Tucker and Carter.


    • I am also concerned about his PT given that he bats with the same hand as Rasmus, and Rasmus is a better defender – which could cut into Tucker’s PT. Let’s face it, they aren’t taking Marisnick out of the lineup for his defense, Springer will play every day, so it comes down to the occasional Rasmus in CF and a platoon between two left handers.

      Optioning Grossman is the right move. He has been bad, and is not getting enough playing time to get himself back on track. Presley though would be a better backup than Tucker – a little faster, better defender, can play all 3, can pinch run, and isn’t in his development window. At 29, Presley just is what he is. We don’t need to mess with Tucker’s development as a hitter by letting him see 250 PA’s the rest of the year when he could get 450 more at AAA.

      Now, if the Astros have a plan to use 2 DH’s that I am unaware of……


  3. What do I think I think? I dunno. After last night I think I just dropped in to see what condition my condition was in. But I have three questions:

    1. When, oh when, will Gartis depart us?
    2. How did Jonathan Villar make himself look so much like Marwin Gonzales last night?
    3. Is .150 becoming the new Mendoza line? And from this point forward will it be renamed the ‘DisAstro-line’?


    • In any other organization he’s treated like the high prospect he is. In our organization he gets to come in to the sixth inning in relief of Mike Hauschild. He’ll probably get traded.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I know I am in the minority (in fact I may be completely alone). But I wish we would quit beating up two high school kids and last years draft. They had a choice and the Astros had a choice. It was made, so lets just move on. Suzie Porter dumped me the day of our Jr/Sr Prom. My world ended in 1960. I have no idea what happened to her but it is all in the past. No need to dwell on it. And the question I would pose, had you rather have Nix and Aiken with your #1 pick being on the shelf for at least a year, or rather have the large pool of cash and a “mulligan” this year.


    • Susie says ‘Hello’, AC45, and that dumping you was the worst decision of her life. She says she went to that prom without you, drank spiked punch, and woke up in Vegas married to a Cubs fan. Since then her life has consisted of one scene after another from Les Miserables.


      • I forgot to ask, AC, did you ever sign that Waiver form Susie sent that would allow her to draft you again?


      • Mr. Bill,

        AC45 has drafted another player by now and spent his allotted pool money for life, I’d wager.


      • Yes, I did choose another and then another if you get the picture. And YES, I did go “over slot” on all of them. That is why I believe your car’s rear view mirror is about 10 sq in and the windshield is 600 sq in. We need to live life looking forward. And you two guys – I think I had rather you beat up a couple of high schoolers and leave me alone.


    • 45, I don’t mean to beat up on those kids. I do mean to beat up on their “advisor” who called the Astros a bunch of crooks and shnooks for making what turned out to be a wise move.

      I’d rather have the Mulligan, and I wouldn’t draft Aiken if he begged us. Because even after surgery I don’t trust his elbow. I do think Nix is being short-sighted by not making himself available to the Astros in the draft. And, if he’d let us, I’d take him. But his “advisor” now has a vendetta against our club because he had to go with the Wisconsin marble instead of the Italian marble in the kitchen of his beach house.


    • I agree here. I hope the collective angst directed at those kids is a knee jerk response to the Astros getting dragged through the mud by Close and any media member who would listen to them.

      For what it’s worth, I think Nix still has a right to complain/grumble/whatever…but his beef should be with MLB and the CBA rather than Houston. He got screwed because his friend was hurt and didn’t sign the lower offers. As I mentioned, his settlement was reported/rumored as low six figures. He loses a year of pro ball, misses a chance to play at UCLA or use that as leverage, and likely gets less overall than Houston had offered last summer. I don’t like the way he has framed the organization in interviews, but concede that I am not even a fly on the wall. Luhnow and team need to remember they are dealing with kids here – many with strong senses of entitlement and fragile egos – who have never been told ‘No’ in their lives or failed at sports.


    • I’m laughing out loud while I read this exchange. It’s so true but the commentary is hilarious. I traded one of my ex’s for a “hot date” to be named later. Unfortunately, the opposing team is not living up to its end of the bargain. As for last years draft faux pax, it’s time to move on.


    • I don’t think of them as high school kids. I think of them as cash cows who ended up with bulldog calves. Now they’re at the final sale barn.


  5. 1. Has anyone noticed the lack of even one college outfielder near the top of this draft? Extraordinary! That is one reason why I would consider taking Tucker at 1.5. If he already has a beautiful swing and an athlete’s body, he’s at least got a chance to blossom.
    2. I think the Astros 10 game winning streak was incredible, considering how bad they are right now. It just makes me wonder how they did it and looking at them flail at mediocre pitching now, makes it all more amazing..
    3. Playoffs? What was I thinking?
    4. I have never, ever seen Marwin Gonzalez so helpless at the plate as this past week. He takes a called strike, fouls off a high fastball and lunges at strike three in the dirt. And he is doing it from both sides of the plate.
    5. Poor Preston Tucker. He flew into a leper colony and got infected overnight.
    6. It appeared there were about 114 people in the stands when the First Place Astros and World Champion Giants took the field last night. Another huge miscalculation by the much loathed owner of this team is that droves of people will come flocking back to a winner. If you want to turn the real Astros fans in Houston off, just play golf and cuddle a few times with the devil. This aint Delaware!
    7. Who was it that said Lowrie was very important to this team? I wonder what the batting average of this team is since he got hurt?
    This morning, that is what I’m thinking.


    • Did that 114 persons you saw in the stands at the game last night include the peanut vendors? The *spit * reporter? Orbit?


    • I am writing a book about the 10-game winning streak that we once knew, and its horrible aftermath I am trying to decide on a title. Here are the options I have come up with so far;

      1. Gone With the Windmills
      2. Astros Through the Looking Glass
      3. Looking For Mr. Good-Bat . . . Still Looking . . . Anybody?
      4. The Sound of Mucous
      5. One Flew Over Shin Choo’s Nest
      6. They Never Played the Game
      7. Mini-Ball
      8. Field of Real Short, Nonsensical, and Totally Unrealistic Dreams
      9. When AC Met Susie
      10. Nightmare on Crawford Street

      Other ideas are solicited. Due accreditation will be given.

      Liked by 1 person

      • 1. “Don Quixote Redux: Turning Windmills into Lossmills” 2. “A Tale of Two Seasons” 3. “From Here to Eternity” 4. “Who Moved My High Cheese?” 5. “The Lion, the Witch and the HalfAstro”. 6. “Catcher in the Poop”. 7. “The Eagle has Landed” and the follow up book – “And it was a Turkey.” 8. “Astroship Down” 9. “The Losses of Harris County” 10. “The Mark of Zero” 11. “To Kill a Winning Streak” 12. And finally “Strikeouts in the Attic” Put me down for 10% royalties.

        Liked by 1 person

      • K13 the Widowmaker.
        Slow and Curious 9- Call Strike Three
        Twister- Swinging Strikes
        Finding Carter II- The Sequel
        Legends of the Ball
        Driving My Mrs Craisy
        Saving Private Correa
        The Wind and the Pussycats
        Short Walk to a Long Dugout.
        Villar Rides!
        Lone Ranger-The Jose Altuve Story
        Oceans Ten


      • Keep ’em coming, guys. Here are a few more:

        1. The Pink Pansy Strikes Again
        2. Shallow Impact
        3. Total Freefall
        4. Kindergarten Pop
        5. Pretty Woeful
        6. Top Groan
        7. The Stink
        8. Blazing Skittles
        9. The Hinch Connection
        10. A Stall is Born


  6. I think you nailed it in one word putrid. What scares the heck out of me every game that goes by Carter and Gattis heading to the .100 mark, Castro is now a .230 hitter, Valbuena looks lost, Grossman sucks. How do we fix this many holes OH MY!


  7. So, what I’m thinking about Houston this AM after watching the Cubs beat the Mets and Noah Syndergaard last night is that I have buyers’ remorse on the 2013 draft.

    I don’t care if Houston hitters want to swing so hard their shoes come untied on strikes 1 and 2 … it’s time to stop striking out 1/3 of your plate appearances.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Devin, I don’t get it. How are you not satisfied with five average innings a week from our 1.1 in Corpus Christi?
      Where is that dang sarcasm font?

      Liked by 1 person

  8. The Nix we dealt with is Jacob. Peter Gammons reported he was given the full 1.5 million in settlement. He didn’t sign the waiver to let us draft again. Time to move on.


  9. I pushed the panic button last night. When your guys behind you bring their guns to the game…….you’re screwed. Granted McHugh had a REALLY bad off night, but if you keep it at 3-1 instead of 8-1, you still have a chance. What am I thinking today:
    The smoke and mirrors are starting to fade away….and everyone sees it.


  10. Was at the game last night and I am now 0 for 4 in wins watching the Hooks and Astros in person. I’m going to ask them to pay me to stay away. With regards to the crowd, it was poor but better than when I was at the Rangers game with Keuchel on the mound. There were a LOT of Giants fans. Where did they come from?

    OP, you mentioned Margo looking lost and I agree. I don’t think being the main guy suits him and the sooner he gets back to the utility role with lower expectations the better. As much as Luhnow et al may hate it we need Correa sooner than later so I hope he goes otherworldly at Fresno and makes it happen.

    Was much encouraged that Tucker stuck. If he can get some ABs I have every confidence that he will produce. With his splits against lefties better than against righties he ought not to be limited to hitting against right handers only. I mean who of the right handed hitters on the team outside of Altuve are hitting lefties? I just wish he would get ABs from Carter instead of Rasmus and Gattis.

    Springer needs to produce. And soon. It might seem heretical but if his K rate stays where it is I think a stint in Fresno where he is informed he will stay until his K rate falls below 25% might do him some good. A guy with that kind of athletic ability ought to be able to do improve his contact rate. I’d be thrilled to see him hitting a lot more singles with the potential to turn them into doubles with steals than continue the K merry go round. A guy like Bagwell concentrated on contact first and let the power develop as his career progressed. Springer would be well advised to do likewise. I bet that’s what will happen with Tucker.


  11. 1 and 2. We’re not doing much of anything to get guys on base. We’re not as bad a hitting team as we’ve shown lately, but we’re still a bad hitting team. Heck, just look at the batting averages and OBP’s and OPS’s we’re putting out there every night. And let’s not think Correa is going to just show up and ignite the bats. Not a fair burden to put on anyone. Like I said last night, our GM built this flawed line up. Springer and Altuve end up with too much pressure on them too.

    3 and 4. Really, would Luhnow actually have had the balls to send Tucker back and keep Grossman around right now? Based on body type alone, I’d be more excited about the Jr. Tucker. He’s a tall skinny kid with a good arm and can run, unlike wider brother Preston. He’s already showing power and will certainly grow into his 175 pound frame. But honestly, I really don’t know who else is out there.

    5 and 6. I feel bad for both of those kids. They had no control over their own destiny. Moms, Dads, agents, advisors, the system……blame them.

    7. I won’t be impressed until our rich farm system actually starts producing guys that excel on an ML diamond. I think we all agree that Correa will do it, but as a cautionary tale, we still have to wonder what our very talented George Springer will do, and none of us really have a pulse on Singleton at this point. Chiming in on McCullers, as far as I’m concerned, he’s way ahead of Appel at this point. I no longer have big expectations for Appel. I think he might be soft.

    And yes, I’m glad to have access to Chip blog. The effort is appreciated guys. The Crawfish thing is good to look at for a chuckle from time to time, but that’s really it.

    Maybe I’m in the minority, but I think by the end of May, this is a .500 club. Too many holes.


  12. As far as my personal draft – I took my personal 1-1 thirty-five years ago this weekend. It may have not been the flashiests of picks, but lo these many years later it is still paying dividends in spades.

    Liked by 3 people

  13. Man, reading today’s exchanges, if I was just coming out of a bubble, I would think we were 10 games under .500 and in the accustomed last place!


  14. Now as far as what I think…..
    1) I think that in the world of baseball which is the streakiest of sports to begin with, that the 2015 Astros may end up being the poster children for streaky.
    2) I think that someone / anyone is bound to start hitting – the odds are just too strong for someone to swing back towards their career norms.
    3) I was going to be snarky and say I think we really don’t need a SS who can only manage a .200 BA at AAA. But heck that .200 would have been higher than like 8 guys off of yesterday’s 25 man roster.
    4) I think that if the hitting does not pick up the pitching will start slipping as the guys try too hard (somebody mentioned this yesterday – one of the Bills or old pro?)
    5) I do think that chipalatta.com covers things in a fan-friendly – we are not going to jump on you for your opinion (unless you only have one note – bopert) and runs the gamut from fun to opinion to stats.
    6) I think the Astros need to get some pitcher on a fast track to the majors and I don’t care if it is McCullers or Appel or someone else.
    7) I think that OPS continues to be the most critical number for run scoring – as the Astros are last in the AL in BA, next to last in OBP, but slightly below average in OPS and runs scored. Take that Money Ball.
    8) I think that I have no clue where the Astros will be one month from now. It would not surprise me if they are 10 games down or tied for the division lead. I think it would surprise me if they are still 4 games up at that point. If they do that they may be for real.


  15. Very entertaining comments today fellas! Sorry to hear about Susie. The warts are starting to show on the team. Not unexpected just more amplified because it is happening in streaks. I guess I want this team to get to the point where nobody cares about the draft because the major league team is so good. Still a lot of questions in my mind about the ability to identify and construct the best major league roster. Examples include signing Pressley to an early million dollar contract, then out righting off 40 man. Giving Singleton an early 10M contract. What if Grossman and Dominguez had accepted their offers? Trading major league ready pitchers for a backup catcher and an injury prone DH that is Carter 2.0. I still think the Astros are a slightly under .500 team for the season. But so far the other teams in the AL West have been much weaker than I expected too.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Great point Nance – the baseball draft has never been as sexy as the football or basketball drafts because virtually noone makes it to the majors straight off the draft. The only time it ever becomes relevant for a team is when the team is so bad it is irrelevant.


    • Remembering the play-off years, and the absolute absence of talent we developed while we focused on getting to the WS for the 1s time, it seems we should have paid a lot more attention to the draft than we did. The system had a lot of lean years – and while part of that was traded and FA-signed away, the absence of thought and strategy sure did wind up biting us in the end.


  17. Vince Velasquez goes back to the hill for Corpus Christi tonight. Go get those Rough Riders, young man!

    The QC River Bandits came back and won big after falling down 7-0 in the first two innings. Over the remainder of the game QC scored 15 runs on 18 hits [3 by Jacob Nottingham (incl. 2 run HR, 3 by Nick Tanielu [incl 2 DBLs], and 3 by Jason Martin [incl 2 TPLs]. Record now 26-7. That team is fun to watch!!!


    • Actually, the Velasquez start for Corpus is Thursday night in Frisco. The 20-12, 1st place Hooks get a day off today.


    • They certainly have earned a day off…
      Just got offered a ticket to tonight’s Astros – Giants game. Obie we need you to channel your inner Keuchel. Batters you need to channel your inner Altuve (even if you don’t have a spec of that DNA in you).


  18. Oberholtzer ain’t got it tonight……..Deduno now in the game. WOW….that’s *all* we need tonight. Obie has opened up the blister he had. Time to call Wojo back up.


  19. Jon Singleton is doing his best incredible hulk imitation tonight. Four for five so far with 2 HR [one a grand slam], and 10 RBIs. You read that right – 10 RBIs!


  20. That’s a game we would’ve lost last year.

    Castro looks like he’s been working hard to improve. I’ve never been a fan but I’d rather him than Conger in a heartbeat.

    Becky’s friend had a big play late.

    I had just told my wife it may be time to send Springer down. She got as far as saying ‘no and i’ then he whacked the snot out of it.

    I like AJ as a manager. Perfect fit for this club.


  21. The Giants have to be kicking themselves saying “we let them hang in too close too long” or ” we had 16 LOB – no clutch hits.” But a GREAT win for the Astros. Starter goes down. Deduno hung in there and pitched on luck and guts. Then the GREAT bullpen showed up. And then Jeter played short in the 9th.


    • 18 RBIs in the last three games, but Tony D made a comment that has me concerned….”Early in the game I didn’t know whether he was locked in or not…”

      If Singleton is serious about getting back to the majors there should be no doubt about him being locked in!


  22. Ober to DL, Buchanan called up as reliever.
    Couple of notes on former Astros. Jordan Lyles hit badly on pitching hand by a Pujols line drive.
    Luke Scott signed to a minor league deal by Blue Jays. Scott was playing in Mexican Leagues


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