CHIPALATTA

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Two random and completely unrelated Astros thoughts


If you’re looking for a coherent theme to today’s Astros’ entry, too bad. It’s not going to happen. This is as random as that time all your buddies were talking about cars or football, and you suddenly said, “Is it me, or does it seem demeaning to men that most of the Disney princes don’t really have names?”

Not that I’ve done that.

Really. I swear.

But anyway, so changing the subject abruptly again, here are two random Astros thoughts. I hope you enjoy them. Like a fine wine or some other random thing. … See, now it’s like I’m not even trying to make a coherent thought.

1. Lance, Don’t Unpack

Welcome to the Big Leagues, Lance McCullers Jr. I hope you realize that your days in Houston are numbered.

Calling up McCullers is different than Preston Tucker or (eventually) Carlos Correa. (Side note: I have a friend who lives in El Paso. He went to Saturday night’s game. Said Correa was amazing.)

Tucker isn’t taking the place of an injured player. Instead, he’s taking the place of an ineffective player. And if he hadn’t shown signs of becoming effective, he would have been sent back down to AAA. Correa, when he comes up, will also be taking over for an ineffective player. I’m looking at you, Jonathan Villar.

Oh, sure, you could say, “No, he’s taking over for injured Jed Lowrie.” But if that were true, we’d have seen Correa in Houston weeks ago.

McCullers, though, is coming up specifically to take Brett Oberholtzer‘s spot. Obie got a blister. Lance is coming to Houston. It’s as simple as that. When Oberholtzer gets better, I’d expect McCullers to be sent back down — at least for a little while — unless Hernandez starts stinking the joint up.

Furthermore, I’d bet Luhnow is champing at the bit to send Lance back down to make sure he doesn’t qualify for Super Two (or does qualify, I’m not sure how to say it) status. So McCullers will make a couple of starts, then Obie’s finger will be better and Lance — unless he pulls a serious Collin McHugh impersonation — will be sent to Fresno.

Oh, and that idiot who wrote this is all to increase his market value for a trade is wrong. Look at it from Luhnow’s point of view. He can sell a phenom who is on the doorstep better than a phenom who came up and got knocked about a bit in a spot start. Because, and let’s be honest here, as good as McCullers is, there’s every chance he gives up four runs in five innings and takes a loss tonight. That version of McCullers doesn’t have the value of AA-dominating McCullers, and Luhnow knows it, so why risk harming his value for a potential trade.

No, this is just Luhnow saying Houston needs a fill in for Obie, and picking the best farmhand for the job.

2. Year to Year

So, as I write this, the Astros are 25-13. After the May 17 game in 2004, the Astros were 15-28. After the 38th game in 2004, the Astros were 12-26.

That’s a big turnaround. A 13-game turnaround.

How have they done it? Well, despite the 29th batting average and an OBP of just .302 (25th), the Astros have a slugging percentage of .419, which essentially ties them for 6th in the majors. Oh, and there’s the bullpen thing.

But the Astros also have a Defensive Efficiency Rating that’s fourth best in the majors. Last season, Houston finished 21st in DER. If you look at Defensive Runs Saved Above Average, the Astros have 15 (third best in the AL).

Suffice it to say, the 20 errors committed by the Astros is tied for fourth best in the AL. The 33 double plays is tied for fifth most. The .986 fielding percentage is tied for fourth.

If you look at 2014, Houston had the fourth MOST errors, not fourth least. The Astros were still a double play machine (sixth). But the fielding percentage of .983 ranked ninth. As for defensive runs saved, Houston had -15 for the season, which ranked seventh.

So you can tout the homers and come-back wins or that crazy-good bullpen. But I like this new defense.

Some things to think about:

1. When Obie gets better, what do you do with McCullers? Send him down? Put him in the bullpen? If you keep him, who goes away?

2. Is Tucker here to stay?

3. Does sending McCullers back down for Super Two reasons make you … Mad, Glad, Resigned to the fates?

4. Oddly, Houston’s outfield did not score well on Defensive Runs Saved Above Average. Marisnick was really bad. Does that confirm your belief that all defensive stats are voodoo?

5. What has been the biggest pleasant surprise defensively to you this season over last?

6. The change in the record is pretty amazing. After Tuesday, Houston will have played 40 games which is essentially the quarter turn on the season. What kind of record over the next 40 games will make you start believing in the playoffs?

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About BrianT

Brian Todd is a freelance writer working and living in Rochester, Minn.

80 comments on “Two random and completely unrelated Astros thoughts

  1. Chip Bailey
    May 18, 2015

    Okay, I’ll kick it off here…having been out of touch for the past 4-5 days. Couple of thoughts:

    1. This is not a showcase for McCullers. The Astros wouldn’t need to do that. MLB scouts are smart enough for themselves and can tell when a pitcher has it or not. Even if he bombs in his starts, his value isn’t diminished. No, McCullers is here because the Astros believe he’s legit.

    2. The bigger signal on the McCullers callup is that Carlos Correa is not far behind.

    3. I’ve been out of pocket, so the McCullers callup caught me off guard. I suppose the next thing you’ll tell me is that the Astros are first in the AL West with the best record in the league. Yeah, come on guys, you must think I’m dense.

    On to Brian’s questions:

    1. Depends on his starts and how he looks. Is he overwhelmed like Santana or can he hold his own like Tucker?

    2. Simply put, yes, Tucker is here to stay.

    3. Again, depends on his performance. I think the focus for him will be more on IP than anything when determining how he’s used and where.

    4. Not a huge fan of all the deep metrics. You can use numbers to make anyone look good or bad.

    5. Probably the consistency. And, perhaps that the Astros have maintained that consitency despite the consistency in the lineup.

    6. No specific prediction on record, but sort of taking the approach of winning series, the Astros will simply need to have more good streaks than bad to be in conention.

    Like

  2. 1oldpro
    May 18, 2015

    Defensively, I think the outfield shifting has gotten our outfield burned a lot. Marisnick and Springer have gotten beaten more because our pitchers don’t throw with heat and so batters have been able to adjust to our shifting more than they would other staffs. When pitchers throw 95 it’s harder to adjust. I have been surprised a number of times how our outfielders were shifted the other way and got burned, especially down the right field line. There have been a number of balls I thought they should have normally gotten to, but were out of position and rushed to get to the ball and then made a mistake.
    My biggest surprise defensively has been Altuve. The guy has been fabulous. I just could not rave too much about what he has contributed to Houston’s winning record with his stunning 2B defense. I admit I have not been able to watch him the past couple of years, but I don’t even recognize him from the guy he was defensively when he first came up. His turn on the DP is amazing! I’ll break this off and try to give my answers to the other Qs later.

    Like

    • Chip Bailey
      May 18, 2015

      OP1, forgot to mention this in Sunday’s entry, but I was blown away by the number of dramatic shifts I saw at the HIGH SCHOOL state tournament last weekend. The first time I looked up and saw the shortstop on the second base side of the bag, my mouth dropped open. I started looking around to see if Jeff Luhnow was in the house!

      The metrics have filtered down THAT far!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Lester J. Gillis
      May 18, 2015

      The one thing that makes me scream at the TV this season is how it seems we pitch AWAY from the defensive shifts so often. We move our infield to the left of second base and then pitch to the outside corner on a right-handed batter. I’m an old man, but even I might be able to coax a dribbler through the right side against that alignment.

      Of course, for the past two years, all I screamed at the TV for was not being able to watch the games at all. So, at least I’ve got that going for me.

      Like

      • 1oldpro
        May 18, 2015

        Lester, I noticed that, too, in the Blue Jay series, but I believe it was their statistically driven plan for the middle of that particular lineup. The Jays came in as one of the most potent lineups in the majors and most of it is from the right side of the plate.
        The Jays hit two bombs in the first inning of the first game and from that moment on the Astros decided to take the outside portion of the plate and move the ball up and down at all different speeds and make the Jays adjust.
        Donaldson and a couple of others made the adjustment for the first two games and beat the shift, but as the series went on the Jays became more and more frustrated with the Astros strategy and began to lean forward and flail resulting in weak contact and Ks. They actually got sucked into the infield shift by continually trying to pull the outside pitches on most of their at-bats. The result: lots of grounders, mixed in with strikeouts.
        I also noticed the Astros continually having the catcher set up outside and then throwing fastballs on the inside corner with a runner on second base. This was obviously to cross up the signs that were being sent to the batter about the pitch location. Conger did this a number of times with a runner in scoring position and it crossed the batter up and he looked at a fastball strike and fell behind in the count and then chased pitches on the outside part of the plate the rest of the at-bat.

        Like

      • Chip Bailey
        May 18, 2015

        Lester, I don’t find that odd at all. If a spray chart shows a hitter goes in a specific direction, then pitching him away isn’t going to affect his swing. He is swinging to pull no matter what. Pitching him away simply means that he will not be able to square up on the ball and get the “fat” of the bat on it. He’s swinging to the shift no matter what, so pitching him outside just lessens the potential impact.

        Actually, it’s exactly what I’d expect and how I’d pitch him…Does that make sense?

        Like

    • daveb
      May 18, 2015

      Altuve does keep getting better defensively. And I have not looked at his metrics.

      Like

    • Steven
      May 18, 2015

      Altuve’s work ethic is off the charts. I am not surprised that he has also turned himself into a fabulous defensive player.

      Did you watch that special on Altuve on MLB Network? He played SS until he showed up at Astros minor league camp. Not terribly difficult for such an athlete to adjust to a new position, but in the big leagues the details matter – and I would assume he went through a growth period at 2B that is now paying its dividends.

      Like

  3. Dan P
    May 18, 2015

    Brian I was going to point out that in a couple places you mentioned 2004 when you meant 2014 – though this is feeling more like the heady days of 2004….

    1. When Obie gets better, what do you do with McCullers? Send him down? Put him in the bullpen? If you keep him, who goes away?
    If McC is pitching well – I try to shake Obie’s hand with a handful of broken glass, sandpaper and nitric acid right on that blister… if McCullers is pedestrian or a young guy getting beat up – he will get sent back to Fresno (for awhile).

    2. Is Tucker here to stay?
    I love to watch this kid hit. Of course they may “figure him out” but I am not seeing a big hole in this kid’s swing. I think he stays.

    3. Does sending McCullers back down for Super Two reasons make you … Mad, Glad, Resigned to the fates?
    Hey I never expected to see him this season, so I see this as a special bonus gift to the fans. I would not be mad if they decide to send him back to AAA for more seasoning (unless he is lights out here – in which case I would be mad).

    4. Oddly, Houston’s outfield did not score well on Defensive Runs Saved Above Average. Marisnick was really bad. Does that confirm your belief that all defensive stats are voodoo?
    That is kind of strange, though it might take into account that Marisnick throwing has the accuracy of an outfield version of Jonathan Villar. There are times when he takes poor routes to the ball. All I know is that when the ball goes in the air I feel like there is a good chance someone will get there and catch it. I did not feel that way in 2012-13.

    5. What has been the biggest pleasant surprise defensively to you this season over last?
    Chris Carter is a decent first basemen. He is no gold glover on getting to balls, but he does a great job of making the right decision on which balls to chase and which ones to retreat to first base (Jon Singleton was amazingly bad at this) and he has been excellent at scooping out low throws.

    6. The change in the record is pretty amazing. After Tuesday, Houston will have played 40 games which is essentially the quarter turn on the season. What kind of record over the next 40 games will make you start believing in the playoffs?
    I would like to see them go 22-18 – which would take them up to 47-33 to 49-31 (depending on the next two games). I think that would be a nice goal to show they are still real.

    Like

    • BrianT
      May 18, 2015

      Dan, that’s what I get for writing a blog while watching Game of Thrones.

      Like

      • rj
        May 18, 2015

        wooohoooo brian. when do you think those dragons are gonna start attacking the queen’s enemies?

        Like

    • Devin_
      May 18, 2015

      I’d like to just copy DanP’s answers to the questions today…especially the one about JFSF’s arm.

      Like

      • Dan P
        May 18, 2015

        Plagiarism! Plagiarism! OK Devin – I will let you this one time agree with all my answers and copy them over. No copyright infringement…..

        Like

    • Steven
      May 18, 2015

      I think defensive metrics are pretty useless unless tracked over the very long term. I’ve read usually anything below 1000 innings can get trended too easily. I’ll take the seeing eye test on Marisnick and refer to the “catch.” Still rather have that guy playing D regardless of 40 games of metrics. Now offensively, he flat out scares me. Maybe he will go on another hot streak though, he is capable of them – but its the slumps that scare me.

      Like

  4. pencil01
    May 18, 2015

    I love this blog!.
    LMJ is here because they had no one at AAA that was better. If he does really well over his two starts, then I bet he stays. Don’t ask me why but I think Luhow and Crane are just waiting to show people that they don’t care about the Super Two date. Ok I’m an idiot but what the heck. If he just does ok or worst in his two starts, it’s back to AAA.

    Ok, why is Correa not here. The natural progression of things has him going to AAA. He himself said there was quite a difference between AA and AAA pitchers. He was batting what .348, but after an 0 for 5 last night, he’s at .286. An average still better than Villar and Margo, but the point is it’s going to be an up and down time for him and let the 20 year get some AAA bats under him before making him your every day shortstop in the majors (He’s only had 28 bats at AAA). You call him up the next time Villar makes 2 errors and costs us the game.

    I think Tucker is here to stay, and it will be interesting to see Hinch’s lineup over the next few series with all the lefthanders teams are throwing at us.
    I agree totally with OP, the defensive shifts in the outfield need to be scaled back. With the speed we have in the outfield, I think you shift more conservatively. Therein also is the problem with having Tucker in the outfield. He doesn’t have the speed and his path to ball on Saturday let it get by him, but getting him more ABs is worth that inexperience in LF.

    The change in the record is unbelievable. The Angels are heating up, Seattle is playing better. The only way, I’m thinking playoffs is if their record over the next 40 is very close to their record over the first 40.

    Like

    • BrianT
      May 18, 2015

      And we love our readers!

      Like

    • Steven
      May 18, 2015

      Altuve skipped AAA – and I think Correa is a better prospect than Jose was. Personally, I maybe the odd ball here, but I think Correa is such a special player that he could have started the season, this year, on our opening roster, as the SS and would be hitting near .300 against big league pitching. Why not? Robin Yount started at 19 at SS for the Brewers.

      Like

      • pencil01
        May 18, 2015

        Actually he was 18, I also love google!

        And I agree with everything you write, but I’m just a conservative person; the Astros are in first so why rush him.

        Like

  5. 1oldpro
    May 18, 2015

    Callups-
    I think Tucker is here because the team has continually seen him as the kind of hitter Luhnow looks to find for the long term and someone that the team was ready for now. He has proven out in his MILB career to not be a guy who comes to the plate and strikes out 30% of the time. He has shown an affinity to hit the ball for close to a .300 batting average with some power and with RBI effectiveness and will take a walk. That is the type of hitter the Astros are starving for.
    McCullers fits the pattern that Luhnow has established over the last two years. When he needed a sub starter he has looked at the day in question and then taken the AAA guy who fell into that slot and called that guy up for a start. It just so happens that LMJ gives them a prime opportunity to create a bunch of excitement, combined with the perfect moment to judge how far McCullers has come. Two years ago Lance was judged to have two plus pitches and not enough command. Now he is judged to have three plus offerings and better command. This is a no-risk deal.
    Correa is different. They want that extra year of control and he is close to providing it and close to being our SS and they would like that to happen with a much lower chance of him having to be sent down again.

    Like

    • Steven
      May 18, 2015

      I like Tucker, I would rather see him LF than flailing Rasmus, defense not withstanding. He did K at a pretty high rate at AAA last year, but improved it some in that fifth of a season worth of PAs this year. Carter’s K rates were only slightly higher through the minors though, sometimes you just don’t know until you know. Maybe Tucker stays under 20%, while maintaining a BB rate over 10%, making him the real deal as we know he will have some power and hit hard enough to have a decent, if not plus, BABIP.

      Like

  6. astrocolt45
    May 18, 2015

    4. OF Defense: Having watched Rasmus/JFSF/Springer go get the ball – I don’t care what stats show, I like these guys. Old baseball said you put you best arm in RF to make that long throw to 3rd. The long throw in MMP is CF to Home. Springer has a much better arm (today). 1. With one off day until June 11th – may need to keep an extra arm on the roster. 2. Let’s wait and see if someone gets traded. That will show for sure THEY think he is here to stay. 3. I am ambivalent. 5. Biggest, the Overall. OFers for sure, Altuve for sure, Carter for sure, Castro for sure, 3rd base for sure. Sounds like Overall to me. 6. Right now 4 games over gets you in the wild card. So if we play .500 for one of the remaining quarters and have over .500 the other two, we should make the playoffs. 14 -15 games over will get close to a wild card. They just can’t have a prolonged losing streak. Baseball is an interesting and entertaining “team” game. As long as each player contributes a little, they continue to have a chance for the playoffs. (Just a note on “interesting stats”. KKarter has more strikeouts than Altuve has hits but fewer RBIs. HOWEVER, with men on base, he almost never grounds into a DP. That ends my knowledge of “advanced metrics.”)

    Like

    • daveb
      May 18, 2015

      The right fielder has long throws to both third and home. That’s why historically the strongest arm has been kept in right.

      Like

  7. Kevin
    May 18, 2015

    First and foremost , ain’t it great to be in first for like 31 days or something close. I’m still amazed at our record , our defense has been good , pitching good , but 3 starters hitting under .200 and Villar and Valbuena barely over .200, simply amazing. Two teams have been World champs, leading the league in SB, HR’s and K’s. Old Yankees team 30’s and the reds in like 76. HMMM!

    On LMJ, heck I hope he rocks it, but still baffled at the call up, it’s just not Lunhole’s M.O.

    I was wondering the other day if he might be sending a message to Appel, like work hard. keep your head down and mouth shut, be a professional, and one gets rewarded. The the next day Appel pitches horrible so that didn’t work.

    Saw Yesterday Correa had his worst game at the plate 0-5, 2 k’s and WHAT Jason Lane pitching!

    Like

    • 1oldpro
      May 18, 2015

      In spring training, Heineman and Stassi both spoke with spit.com about Appels revamped delivery. He is obviously having trouble with his command and is working on that but is getting pulled from his games in the fourth or fifth inning, without exception. He has always hated that because he has said he worked out his problems later in games after he has rhythm.
      Appel’s record in his 7 starts is 3-0 and all of those are his 5 inning jobs. All of his no decisions are 4 inning stints.
      Corpus Christi is 6-1 in Appel’s seven starts.

      Like

      • Kevin
        May 18, 2015

        So were sa\ying that Appel’s, 4.70 ERA and 1.63 whip is do to new delivery and tandem pitching ?

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      • 1oldpro
        May 18, 2015

        That’s what i’m saying. It’s just what I was saying about Lance McCullers Jr’s mediocre performance in Lancaster last season. He was having lot’s of command issues and we all thought it was just bad pitching, but it turns out he was told to develop his changeup and forget about ERA, wins or losses or walks.
        I’m saying that is what Appel is working on, and I think he would be performing better if he had more innings to work on it. But the Astros are not willing to sacrifice their plan for keeping his innings down early in the season. The Astros are being super patient with Appel and I’m fine with that.
        What Appel is working on now will make him a better pitcher later on.

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      • Devin_
        May 18, 2015

        It’s probably just a dead arm period for Appel. I’m more concerned that the K/9 is so low for him than that the WHIP has inflated so much over the last four appearances.

        Like

    • pencil01
      May 18, 2015

      How about that Jason Lane!

      Like

  8. drbill14
    May 18, 2015

    “No, this is just Luhnow saying Houston needs a fill in for Obie, and picking the best farmhand for the job.”

    The key part of that statement is “best farmhand for the job”. I saw McCullers in person at Corpus. Unfortunately for him it was the only game where he gave up any runs and he got the loss. But he has the stuff and perhaps as importantly he has the presence. Getting him regular work after/if Obie comes back may be a little tricky but other than Fields we don’t have that kind of arm on the staff. I’d rather see Buchanan sent back or Deduno DFA’d and do an Oswalt with McCullers. If McCullers shows he can compete it does open trade possibilities involving Obie, Appel, and even Feldman.

    Defensively Altuve has indeed improved a bunch and Carter has been a very competent 1B. Some shine has come off Jake with his throwing woes but when he, Rasmus and Springer are out there I feel any ball that stays in the park and even some that are on their way out can be caught. When Correa comes up ours should be one of the premier infields in the game.

    I still wonder why folks are so concerned about the shifts making it easier for a power hitter to poke a simple opposite field single. That is the worst case scenario. Frankly I’m happy to have guys like Bautista and Encarnacion try to hit the ball on the ground to the right side. Means they’re not hitting balls on the train tracks. Plus I think the shifts get in hitter’s heads and that can be a very good thing.

    Like

  9. pencil01
    May 18, 2015

    Off topic, did anyone see the Call to the Pen article, titled Bud Norris return to the Astros? I busted my gut laughing.

    Liked by 2 people

    • BrianT
      May 18, 2015

      What time does the parade start?

      Like

      • Mr. Bill
        May 18, 2015

        It is hard to complain too much when what is clearly nowhere near the quality of team you expect to have in the next two years is still managing to win at a .658 clip and leads its division by 5 1/2 games on May 18. Yes, there are some positions on our team – especially on offense and at positions where we have suffered injuries – that are not producing at the level most of us think would be necessary if we are going to continue to win ballgames at the present pace, but as long as the winning continues the urgency to make major moves is just not there. The chemistry on the team seems to be pretty darned good notwithstanding.

        I’d love to see Tucker and McCullers stick and Correa come on board a winner after Super Two’s-Day, but at this point I am not interested in too many other changes.

        Did I really just type that?

        Like

    • astrocolt45
      May 18, 2015

      And on a similar note, Suzie just called me from Vegas and has decided after 50 years that she made a mistake and will I take her back. I told her that I needed to wait and see what Norris decided he wanted to do because I just KNEW the Astros would welcome him with open arms.

      Like

    • Becky
      May 18, 2015

      Crawling back??? I don’t *THINK* so!!

      Like

      • astrocolt45
        May 18, 2015

        Becky, I am SURE you are talking about Norris ! 🙂

        Like

    • rj
      May 18, 2015

      yes we really need that 1 – 4 record and 9.88 era. where’s that sarcasm font again?

      Like

      • 1oldpro
        May 18, 2015

        Not to mention the Astrolove that drips from his bitter lips. Gnu thank yew!

        Like

  10. daveb
    May 18, 2015

    Why is it Brett Oberholtzer’s “spot? Heck, he gave up 170 hits in 144 innings last year. Sure, he’s gutsy guy that does not give in and keeps grinding, but he also spends a lot of time out on the mound and his defense spends a lot of time hanging out behind him. It’s no fun standing out there behind a guy not having quick innings. If somehow McCullers comes up and is effective, then he should stay in the rotation. If the team was 13 and 25, I might not feel the same way, but being in first place carries a certain level of responsibility. The best 25 guys in the organization should be in the dugout.

    With that same theme in mind, Tucker controls his own situation. If he hits, he’s here.

    Sure I’d be pissed if an effective McCullers was sent down for any reason. We’ve got a hole in the rotation and if he plugs it, it would be stupid to pull that plug.

    Some of those advance metrics are questionable. They were designed by humans. But Marisnick has been unremarkable in centerfield. We’ve all seen that his arm has been far from accurate. And he does not always take the best route to get to a ball. I think part of it is that he’s just trying too hard. He’ll improve if he keeps hitting, which will keep him on the field. And the good news is that if he quits hitting righties, then we’ve got Tucker as an option.

    Biggest defensive surprise? Three way tie: Valbuena has made me forget all about Dominguez. Carter has done a serviceable job at first. Conger sucks behind the plate.

    I still have no idea what to expect from this team performance wise. But I will say that if the Tucker and Correa have a positive impact going forward and we solve the rotation concerns, then we’ll be playing meaningful games this summer. I’m leery about the starters though.

    Like

  11. Devin_
    May 18, 2015

    My only reluctance to keeping LMC the rest of the way, assuming strong performance, is the number of innings we put on his arm.
    2012: 26 IP
    2013: 104.2 IP
    2014: 97 IP
    2015: 29 IP and counting

    Ideally he is ready to increase the load, but MLB hitters should stress him like he has never been stressed before.

    Like

    • daveb
      May 18, 2015

      Good point Devin.

      Like

    • Chip Bailey
      May 18, 2015

      Devin, I had mentioned above the IP might be a consideration in how the Astros handle McCullers after his stint is up. If he pitches well, one option could be to put him in the pen a la Roy O. He’d get to expeience the majors, get a spot start here and there and not run up too many IP.

      Like

      • daveb
        May 18, 2015

        Chip, I knew you’d mention Roy O. coming out of the pen initially, so I did not. That might be the perfect way to acclimate LMC.

        Like

  12. Lester J. Gillis
    May 18, 2015

    Chip, I wanted to reply to your answer about my comment on pitching away from the shift above, but there was no reply button to use thee.

    Anyway, I certainly understand trying to pull an outside pitch usually will result in a weak ground ball to the pull side – that’s a virtual certainty in youth baseball and slow pitch softball where you quite often have inexperienced hitters. But big leaguers should be smarter than that. Pujols and Fielder, just to name a couple, seem to kill our shifts to the opposite field constantly. Of course, they don’t hit many out of the park when they do, which is a good thing.

    Maybe OP is on to something – setting up for a pitch on one corner an purposely throwing it to the other side so as to confuse the hitter. Stranger things have been tried in baseball before.

    Like

    • Chip Bailey
      May 18, 2015

      In this sabermetric world, it’s all about playing the odds and the Astros are playing the odds. Most hitters where teams put on dramatic shifts mean the hitter may be “smarter than that”, but they just can’t…Otherwise, they would be hitting to all fields. I’m sure Barry Bonds knew he needed to hit to the other field, but for some reason, he just could not or chose not to.

      Right or wrong, the Astros are just playing the odds and throwing an away pitch to a pull hitter maximizes the odds in Houston’s favor. I’ve called pitching at many levels and talked to college coaches about how they pitch hitters. This is one particular thing I’m confident about…

      Like

      • astrocolt45
        May 18, 2015

        As to the shifts, I bought the MLBTV package this year to see the Astros. So I have watched multiple games in both leagues. Almost all have gone to the over shift. Some not so dramatic as others. So my take is …. it must be working or somebody would junk it, and it must be very difficult for a dead pull hitter to change his swing. The drastic outfield shifts turn singles into doubles and some triples. Whereas the infield only gives up a single in most cases. (Again this is “eye ball test” only. I expect the drastic OF shifts to come back more in line but I see not reason to not continue to use the infield except when it gives a runner 3rd base.

        Like

  13. Chip Bailey
    May 18, 2015

    Deduno to the 15-day DL, Lowrie to the 60 to make room for McCullers.

    Like

    • Dan P
      May 18, 2015

      So what happened with Deduno – a pulled eyelash or did he sprain his nose hairs?

      Like

      • Kevin
        May 18, 2015

        I heard he and Cosart heading to Vegas, bet on the Rockets!

        Liked by 1 person

      • 1oldpro
        May 18, 2015

        He had a very sad look on his face, sitting all by himself in the bullpen during yesterday’s game.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Dan P
        May 18, 2015

        Deduno looked like the last girl unchosen to dance with at a middle school dance.

        Liked by 2 people

      • daveb
        May 18, 2015

        He sure did look lonely.

        Like

    • Devin_
      May 18, 2015

      Is that 60 day DL for Lowrie retroactive? I thought they would do that instead of DFA Torreyes (who got traded for PTBNL), but maybe that was forced by the ascension to Fresno of Correa.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Becky
    May 18, 2015

    Is Luhnow still pitching these guys in tandem in Corpus? That would be a problem, since McCullars would only pitch 4-5 innings if that. I wanna see him have a first start like Cosart did. Blow ’em away with good stuff!! FREE CORREA!!!

    Like

    • 1oldpro
      May 18, 2015

      McCullers last pitched on May 12th. He pitched the back end of a tandem. Four perfect innings 6 strikeouts. His start before that was five innings on May 7th.

      Like

  15. Pingback: Discover: Monday Around the Horn « MLB.com Blogs

  16. Becky
    May 18, 2015

    OP…….that’s what scares me. Burning your bullpen on one guy makes me real nervous. I hope Hinch puts his best guys on the field tonight…….McCullars is gonna need them! I other words please don’t put “you know who” at short.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mr. Bill
      May 18, 2015

      No worries, Becky. ‘You Know Who’ is not at SS. But he is at 3rd. And I notice that Preston Tucker has been moved up to the fifth position – even against a lefty!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Becky
        May 18, 2015

        OH LORD……….

        Like

      • pencil01
        May 18, 2015

        You didn’t tell her he was batting second.

        Like

    • 1oldpro
      May 18, 2015

      Becky, hopes and prayers. If he pitches well he can stay in because he’s a pumped up 21 yo, who has only 30 innings under his belt this year. If he doesn’t pitch well he won’t stay in and we wouldn’t want him to stay in too long and still give us a chance to come back and win.

      Like

  17. pencil01
    May 18, 2015

    My favorite team so far today-Blue Jays 10-Angels 6

    Liked by 1 person

    • Becky
      May 18, 2015

      I know right? HA! HA! HA! HA!! They beat the crap outta the Angels!!

      Liked by 2 people

    • Dan P
      May 18, 2015

      Well after playing that juggernaut – the Houston Astros – the Angels were like a little league team for them to play.

      Liked by 2 people

    • astrocolt45
      May 18, 2015

      What surprised me was the Angels not winning because they had Marc Krauss at DH and his .077.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Steven
        May 18, 2015

        Yea, nothing like piling on a guy with 14 plate appearances about his BA. Whats Houston’s DH hitting again after how many plate appearances?

        Like

      • 1oldpro
        May 18, 2015

        That’s not piling on. It’s commenting in a blog about a guy hitting .077 and playing the position of Designated Hitter.

        Like

  18. Chip Bailey
    May 18, 2015

    And, today’s lineup….Becky, please move on to the next comment. Thank you.

    Like

  19. 1oldpro
    May 18, 2015

    Astros traded Chris Lee, LHP in Quad Cities, to the Orioles for two intenational signing slots. Gives Astros and Extra $650,000 worth of slot money to sign foreign players. It allows them more money to sign top players and provides room to go over slot without penalty.
    There is no truth to the rumor that they have signed one hundred and twenty five 5’5″ Venezuelans to a contract.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Devin_
      May 18, 2015

      Boo!

      Like

    • Mr. Bill
      May 18, 2015

      Chris is a good looking young pitcher. I remember him striking out the side impressively for the ‘Stros in a cameo appearance during Spring Training. But he was going to be Rule 5 eligible, and we have this interesting problem of suddenly having way too many good looking young pitchers to protect from the losers’ rule.

      Like

      • 1oldpro
        May 18, 2015

        That is a top notch analysis of the reason for this trade.

        Like

      • Devin_
        May 18, 2015

        I must have my years mixed up – thought we grabbed him last year.

        Like

      • Mr. Bill
        May 18, 2015

        We took Chris in the 4th round of the 2011 draft. He’s been stuck in the lower levels.

        Like

  20. Becky
    May 18, 2015

    I just prayed for Lance McCullars tonight………I hope my prayers are answered!
    Good luck young man this is what you’ve been wanting your WHOLE life! 🙂 🙂

    Like

    • Billy Castillo
      May 18, 2015

      I dunno Becky. ..I think that first year of his life he was more concerned with milk, naps, and diapers than baseball. J/k

      Like

      • Becky
        May 18, 2015

        Oh Billy, you’re such a joker!! By the way the kid is doing ok!!

        Like

  21. 1oldpro
    May 18, 2015

    McCullers threw strike 3 to the guy that hit the RBI single, but the ump just flat blew it. It shook him up pretty bad and cost him another 15 pitches to get out of that jam.
    I’d say the young man did himself proud.

    Like

  22. Mr. Bill
    May 18, 2015

    Shhhhhh. Don’t tell Becky what Jon Villar just did.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. astrocolt45
    May 18, 2015

    Being old school (actually just old) I am not a fan of using gimmicks and replay and computers and ……… But after watching the wandering strike zone tonight, I would vote for a “technological home plate umpire” and let the “live one” just call the out or safe at home. Those can be reviewed and or reversed. He did not cost either team the game, but there was absolutely no consistency to what he called tonight.

    Like

  24. Becky
    May 19, 2015

    Well????? How did he look guys?? From what I could gather listening to the radio guys, he was poised, and got outta the bases loaded jam without giving in. Oh……
    and Mr. Bill—-I know what that little crap did, no need to remind me of it. And WHO was that umpire? I’ve never heard his name before………think he was a newby from
    the minors, or has he been around for a while?
    Heard the folks at the Park gave McCullars a standing ovation when he walked off the field!

    Like

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