What they said, what they meant: Mostly Hinch edition

Time again for that fun version of WTSWTM that features the man who has to be the early favorite for AL manager of the Year, A.J. Hinch. All quotations are actual and taken from chron.com (spit!!) followed by what the speaker really meant.

Hinch talking about Lance McCullers Jr. after his first major league win.

  • What he said. “I thought coming out of the ‘pen, obviously he’s got a ton of arm strength. When you look at the first pitch, it’s in the mid-90s, that doesn’t surprise you. I thought the command of his breaking ball was huge today. He was in the strike zone against a lot of righthanded hitters, which is key because then they can’t just look for his fastball, or they can’t disregard his breaking ball in the zone, out of the zone. He didn’t have a lot of lefties to show his changeup and he didn’t use it against righties. Really was a two-pitch pitcher today.”
  • What he meant. “Except for Josh Fields nobody is much of a window smasher around here and then this kid shows up. I know he spent most of last season working on his change-up, but when you throw a 95-97 mph heater with hop and then a Daryl Kile twelve-six curve ball why would you need a third pitch? The kid is a stud!”

Hinch on Chris Carter and his early season struggles:

  • What he said. “I think average wise is where we got caught up in judging performance sometimes, and I realize he’s well behind where he’s going to be. From a power production standpoint, I think he’s ahead of where he was last year. He’s walking enough. He’s playing great defense at first base, which doesn’t get talked about enough. But there’s no doubt that the more time that you have in this league with the performance history, it will lead to a little more belief that better times are ahead, especially when guys are struggling.”
  • What he meant. “There are a lot of guys who can play first base defense reasonably well, who are also batting better than .175. I keep hearing about last year and his bad start. Well, this is not last year and the team is still playing significant games heading toward June and he needs to start showing that 37 homer power, or he will be hitting .175 somewhere else.”

Hinch on Jon Singleton tearing things up in the minors.

  • What he said. “I believe Jon Singleton can help us. Obviously that means it’s at the expense of somebody here. Right now with the way Preston Tucker’s swinging the bat, that extra bench spot that we’ve used for a couple different guys is taken. With the 13 pitchers we’re carrying, the extra position player becomes crucial where he plays. (Jonathan) Villar most of the nights is on the bench as a super-utility, the extra catcher. The room is pretty full right now, but the better he’s playing the more he’s pushing his way into opportunity.”
  • What he meant. “Do I have to spell this out for you? Singleton can help us plus there is no room on the bench for him right now plus Chris Carter is hitting .175 = what? Come on you know this – this is not tough….”

Jason Castro on “help” with stopping base stealers:

  • What he said. “Strommy (Pitching Coach Brent Strom) I think has done a really good job with the pitching staff, really emphasizing being mindful of guys on base, whether that’s actual pickoff moves or just varying holds and times and different things like that. Dallas as an example: he doesn’t necessarily throw over a ton. He’s quick to the plate and he varies his looks and his holds and times and all that stuff, so guys aren’t able to get big running jumps.”
  • What he meant. “Let’s see – last season the league stole 81 bases against me and I threw out 22 percent of the base stealers. This season, all of a sudden I am throwing out 40 percent of the base stealers and they are on pace to steal only 63 bases on me. Sure I worked on my techniques, but I did not visit Iron Man in the off-season to have him install a bazooka in the place of my arm. There are a whole lot more veteran pitchers here this year and they know how to hold those guys on and vary their deliveries.  It is that simple.”

Hinch on the “fact” that the Astros have had the easiest schedule so far in 2015.

  • What he said. “I think every game’s hard. Strength of schedule to me is — I get it, it can range based on how teams are doing. … The A’s we played last series didn’t make me any more comfortable just because they had a bad record and haven’t won these one-run games. I don’t know enough about what people put into strength of schedule, because from my seat, every day’s hard.”
  • What he meant. “You give me a team that has been pretty rotten for the last decade including a few years that were historically rotten. You give me a few extra professional parts, but all my power guys are totally hit or miss and I have had (until recently) no real fifth starter and I have them playing this well and you want to dump this on me? Screw you guys and the guys who figure out strength of schedule.”

Hinch on Jose Altuve’s recent struggles.

  • What he said. “He’s not in a slump. It’s a tough league, man.”
  • What he meant. “He is in a slump. It’s a tough league, man.”

BONUS QUESTION: Altuve (who is in a slump) on sitting out his first game of the season.

  • What he said. “I don’t feel like really good because I want to be able to help my team, but I think that’s baseball. I got into a good start but now I slow down. I’m not doing good at all right now. I think there’s a lot of season left. I think I’m going to come back and be able to do my thing.”
  • What you think he meant ………

49 comments on “What they said, what they meant: Mostly Hinch edition

  1. What Jose said: ” I’m not doing good at all right now. I think there’s a lot of season left. I think I’m going to come back and be able to do my thing.”

    What he meant: “I really, really enjoy knocking the little red threads off the beisbol. The reason I haven’t been doing much of that lately is that nobody in our line-up has been hitting well enough consistently to scare opposing pitchers as much as I do. I am hoping with Preston Tucker batting behind me, especially when Carlos Correa comes up and gets slotted into the order at #3, followed by Preston, I’ll finally start to see some decent pitches again.”


  2. * What he [A.J. Hinch] said: Iowa is a special place for me.*

    What he meant: “Except in the movies, Iowa doesn’t have a major league baseball team, so I am quite content to be hanging out in Houston, Texas. Minute Maid Park is my field of dreams now. I’ll take a 30-17 start and a 6 1/2 game lead in the AL West over walking through Iowa corn fields talking with the ghosts of Shoeless Joe Jackson and Moonlight Graham any day.”


  3. What Hinch meant to say about McCullers: He was in AA and now he’s in the majors with THAT kind of stuff. I wonder if there’s anybody else in the minors who might help us. DUH.
    Hinch on Carter: He’s real bad most of the time. But he’s real good when he’s not real bad.
    Hinch on Singleton: He’s helping us right now in Fresno. We hope somebody who has a good pitcher to trade is paying close attention.
    Castro on base stealers: Give me another good pitcher who doesn’t allow many base runners, and they’ll have even less guys stealing!
    Hinch on the competition: Their records are bad because we’ve beaten them a lot.
    Altuve on sitting out: It’s going to take me a day longer to come out of this, if you sit me down!


    • I was going to point out what you just did – their records are bad because we’ve been beating the **** out of them. What are their record outside of our doing that?
      Thank you for that comment. I have not calculated – perhaps someone here can, and then we can post that on all “major” sports bloggers/analysts when they try to say this. If true.


  4. * What he said’ He [Altuve] is not in a slump. *

    What he meant: If you want to see what a slump looks like, look in the dictionary under Jake Marisnick and Chris Carter.


  5. What Castro meant, “Teams above the high school level steal bases off the pitcher and not the catcher. Well, unless your name is Mike Piazza…then it doesn’t matter who the pitcher is…everyone gets a free pass to second.”

    What Altuve meant, “There were only four players who got into all 162 games last year. My name isn’t Dexter Fowler. Why are we talking about this?”


  6. What Altuve meant: Do I look like a guy who is comfortable sitting? C’mon. I can’t work through this if I’m not working through this. Now write my damned name on the damned lineup card.


  7. What Hinch said about Tucker:
    “I don’t know where Tucker will end up eventually, but his at bat quality
    is getting him more playing time”
    What Hinch meant:
    “He will end up at the bottom of the dog pile when we win the World Series”

    Liked by 3 people

  8. What A.J. Hinch said about Springer leading off, and Altuve hitting behind him:
    “I love their combo together. George is locked in here in Baltimore: he is more selective at plate than Altuve”

    What he meant: Jose Altuve is hopelessly addicted to swinging at the little white ball with the red seams on it. He will swing at anything, anywhere, in any situation, at any count. While he usually manages to somehow hit whatever trash they throw at him, during those rare periods, like right now, when he’s not consistently able to make a lot of the trash he’s thrown fall for hits, I at least want the outs he makes have a chance of being productive outs that move a baserunner. Meanwhile, Springer’s hot as a pistol, so I want to give him as many at bats as possible.


    • Springer has got a .415 something OBP in May, with 15 BBs and just 19 K’s. If he can do that, Altuve can get more selctive too. More good things to come. Jose will hit .340 again when he decides to lay off.


  9. Wanted to continue on a line brought up above by Mr. Bill – does it really matter who is hitting behind Jose Altuve? Is it just a matter of everyone has slumps sometimes? On the broadcast last night they were showing how the pitchers have really upped the amount of breaking balls he is seeing lately, much more than prior to the slump. Is he not able to adjust?


    • Dan, I agree with your premise. Think about 2014 when Altuve won the batting title. He had absolutely no protection whatsoever, but managed to hit .341.

      He’s just in a little slump or maybe even has a minor injury we don’t konw anything about that he’s trying to play through or it could just be pitchers/teams are starting to make some adjustments and it’s his turn to adjust. Either way, I doubt that anyone here or in the front office or the dugout is concerned…Altuve will be Altuve.

      And that’s my 60-second rant…


      • Chip, I certainly agree that Altuve is a once-in-a-generation talent, and that he will ‘be Altuve’. But the idea of ‘no protection whatsoever’ is not the way I remember it. As I recall he had either a high-OBP guy named Dexter Fowler, an amazingly hot George Springer [before his injury], or an amazing imposter wearing Chris Carter’s jersey, behind him last year. Behind those guys, of course, you are right, and there was not much follow up.


    • That’s interesting, Dan, because for the game Tillman threw 12% more fastballs than usual, 11% fewer breaking pitches, and 1% more change ups. I’m wondering whether other teams/pitchers are attacking them like this and whether our hitters can take advantage.


    • The main reason it matters who bats behind Altuve, in the long term, is that the two guys behind him need to be really good at BARISP. I expect that from Preston Tucker and from Carlos Correa. Somehow this year, due in no small part to Marisnick’s jackrabbit start and Valbuena’s rare but always well-timed power surges, we’ve managed to win a lot of games without much help at all from positions 3-8 in the batting order. With both Marisnick and Altuve slumping, our winning per centage is going down.

      Speaking of the possibility of an Altuve injury, did anyone besides me see Jose wince and lay on the ground in seeming pain when he got blocked from and tagged out at the plate after trying to score from third on a grounder to SS?


      • I read that as frustration at getting a bad read on the ball and knowing he made a mistake breaking for home instead of keeping two runners in scoring position.


      • It was pain from having to slide over the bat. As he slid the bat ripped his uniform to shreds on the back of his thigh and I’m sure it left a strawberry on his thigh.


      • Nance your comment just gave me a Ray Stevens flashback.
        “Pardon me, sir, did you see
        what happened?”

        “Yeah, I did. I’s standin’ overe there by the tomaters, and here he
        come, running through the pole beans, through the fruits and vegetables,
        nekkid as a jay bird. And I hollered over t’ Ethel, I said, “Don’t
        look, Ethel!” But it’s too late, she’d already been incensed.”


  10. Luhnow on visiting Fresno:
    “Therre a lot of guys out there that could help us here in Houston”.
    What Luhnow meant:
    “Im working the phones 24/7 to TRY and get some one to take Carter, Villerror, off my hands cheap……..so I can trade ’em for another teams “ace”.
    What the Astros players heard:
    “Carter and Villerror are down to their last 10 at bats before they are gone, and I bring Correa, and Singelton up” And…..Oberholtzer just got “wally pipped” because McCullars is straight up a better pitcher”…….any more questions?


  11. Following up on the Altuve “protection” for 2014 – it is a mixed bags folks.
    – Altuve batted 1st about 50% of the time and 2nd about 40% of the time
    – Good – Dexter Fowler batted in front of him about 30% of his 114 games, so he did bat behind Altuve in 2nd – 4th about 70 games. He was not Babe Ruth – but OK
    – Good – Chris Carter batted in 3rd or 4th spot in about 70 games
    – Mixed – Springer actually batted his best in the 2nd spot and 6th spot – he was in the 2nd spot only about 20 games, his numbers in the 3rd and 4th spot were poor and bad respectively
    – Bad – Castro batted in the 2nd thru 4th spot about 60% of the time
    – Bad – guys like Guzman and Matty D had some ABs in the 3rd and 4th spots.

    Bottom line – Altuve hit well consistently throughout the year and it did not matter who he had behind him.


  12. what they asked. “when will correa get here?.” what hinch said “we don’t want to rush him, he needs at bats at AAA before he comes up”. what he meant. “you can’t get him here quick enough for me, but luhnow says not until have the super 2 date has passed. now who should i listen to, the fans most of whom haven’t seen a game in person or luhnow who has built this first to thirty team?, come on super 2 date”


  13. Kudos to Chris Carter. A 1-out double off the wall of Camden Yard in the 2nd to score Evan Gattis and give the Astros and Colin McHugh an early lead. Could this be the start of something big for the big man? Let’s hope!


  14. Man, did it just get ugly for the Astros in the 4th! Colin is suddenly on the ropes. 5 straight no-out hits, 2 of them HRs. Paredes steals home. Suddenly it’s 4-1 and the ball is flying off the Orioles’ bats. Is there another comeback in the guys’ hearts today?


  15. WOOOOOO HOOOOO!!!! Let’s start this game ALL OVER again!! Thank you Gattis!! I’ll cook you your favorite dinner tomorrow!!!


  16. Hinch Said: “It’s hard to score on us late when we can hand it to the bullpen.”
    What he meant: “Spoke too soon today.”

    Machado on Correa: “Hey, I mean, let the kid play. The only way you’re going to get better is by playing at the level that you need to be playing.”
    WHM: “Boy, if I were drafted by the Astros, I am still in Bowie.”

    Hinch on fastest Astros club to 30 wins. “That’s good. We need more wins, but that’s a good accomplishment.”
    WHM: “Where do these clowns get these stats and questions? Does an IPhone & Twitter account make you a sportswriter today?”

    Hinch on Springer and Altuve – the top of the order: “They both responded well and obviously it’s good to have those guys on base. If we continue that, we’re going to score more and more runs.”
    WHM: “For God’s sake, somebody in the middle of the order has to run into a pitch on occasion.”

    Hinch on Marisnick and the Umpiring: “He’s been emotional before. Obviously, no hitter likes to have the at-bat taken away from him, whether it’s on the plate, close or a ball. When at-bats end out of your control, you can get a little frustrated. That’s pretty animated for Jake.”
    WHM: “Hey, even a blind hog finds an acorn on occasion. However, umpires are not that lucky.”

    Luhnow on Singleton: “Jon is in our plans. The challenge for us right now is the roster in Houston, having Gattis and (Chris) Carter, and now (Preston) Tucker. But we are looking for an opportunity to get Jon on the team.”
    WHM: “As soon as ANYONE will take Carter – Jon is on 1st.”

    Villar says he plans to visit Italy after this season.
    WHM: “E-6 in Italy is the fifth bedroom down the hall from the Pope.”

    A.J. Hinch said. ”When we’re right, we have a complete offense that offers a challenge to the opponent all the way through.”
    WHM: “But when we are wrong, I have 12 Dos Equis. Stay thirsty my friend.”

    Liked by 1 person

  17. So what is everyone’s impression of Hinch to date? Is he a prime example of a guy learning a lot from his first managerial job and applying it to his second chance?


    • I didn’t pay much attention to his first managerial job. But he seems to have this team down pretty well. Even when his moves don’t work out, they look like they were the right move.


  18. There is some satisfaction in knowing that if we are ever in that situation with Tucker at MMP, that fly ball lands in the Crawford Boxes.


  19. DanP–I like Hinch, he keeps any communication to one of the guys inside his office, and not the Chronicle…..or the media. He ‘s got a tough job right now trying to figure out who on this team can actually HIT the ball. We need some fresh blood up here BAD!


  20. Angels lost, Rangers lost, A’s lost, Mariners won. Houston’s lead is six games over Seattle.
    Guess what tomorrow is? OFF DAY!
    We shall see what we shall see.


  21. I know it’s late but I’m pi$$ed. Keith Law and his sanctimonious drivel needs to
    shut up. I watched Baseball Tonight……tonight. Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr


    • Becky – any details on what Mr. Law said? I mean was he talking about the Astros being Cinderella waiting for midnight to strike or something?


  22. What A.J. Hinch said about Colin McHugh’s performance Wednesday:
    “”He made some pitches that were hittable,”

    What he meant: “When you figure out how to throw only un-hittable pitches, hot shot reporter, please report to training camp. “


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