“BGO”: One for the Astros’ fans’ bucket list

Seeing the Houston Astros finally win a World Series championship is the ultimate bucket list item, but watching life-time Astro Craig Biggio inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown is at least one tick off the list for most fans.

Fans knew this time was coming from the day Biggio retired. It was just a matter of when. “When” happened on Sunday and it was a magical day for a very humble and deserving player.

Watching clips of Biggio baby faced and hustling was a reminder of the great days when he was leading by example and showing other players that playing a game for a living was a privilege not given to all mortals. His friend and former teammate, Detroit manager Brad Ausmus did a solid job of describing his all out hustle on every grounder to the mound and what a great athlete he was to shift from All Star catcher to All Star second baseman and solid outfielder. It was even fun to hear Ausmus chide Biggio for trying to impossibly stretch his 3000th hit into a signature double. Biggio was great, but yes he had his flaws.

One of the things that always tied Craig Biggio closely to the fans was the fact that he was not a JJ Watt, 6’8″ 280 pound super human. Sure, the fans love JJ, but more like a Norse god, not like the normal everyman that Bidge represented. Biggio was a great athlete, but he looked like the guy next door, the guy who runs the local hardware store, the guy who used to deliver your papers when he was a kid (which he did).

Craig Biggio gave a Hall of Fame acceptance speech that was a grand slam. This was not the baseball cliche riddled interview blurbs he would give after games during his career. This was heartfelt and warm and reaching and a piece of his soul. His most emotional moment was talking about his late parents and what they meant to him and what they did for him and how much he missed them this day. One of the most poignant moments though, was seeing the tears welling up in tough Matt Galante‘s eyes as Biggio singled him out for making him the second baseman who earned the Hall of Fame.

There were many wonderful moments of thanks from his beginnings of baseball all the way through to his current days of coaching the St. Thomas High School baseball team. He revealed that the impetus for his dedication to the Sunshine Kids was seeing what leukemia did to a family he threw newspapers to back on Long Island. His tributes to his two sons and daughter were touching and his tribute to his wife Patty was the type of moment that makes all husbands think hard about what their wives mean to them. For those who keep wondering whether Craig will one day become the Astros’ manager, this portion of the speech and the many sacrifices that Patty made to keep the family afloat during Craig’s eight months of absences each season, may have answered that question.

Craig Biggio thanked the fans of Houston. He thanked baseball itself for what it did for him. All we can say is the thanks are all ours.

131 comments on ““BGO”: One for the Astros’ fans’ bucket list

  1. I never really had anyone to idolize as a kid at home. That would have been my older bother, whom I shared a room with, but never saw because I was in grade school and he was in college. My dad was traveling all the time trying to make a living for a really big family.
    So, my idols were baseball stars. I would check out library books and read about Campanella and Mantle and Ashburn and Banks. They were my heroes and they were larger than life to a young boy falling in love with baseball.
    But after I married and had my own family, along comes this little guy with all the talent and drive and hustle that I looked for in the “giants” of my youth and I was astounded by his play and his ability to lead the Astros from the top of the lineup to heights I had never seen before.
    Sunday was the final chapter of that story. I couldn’t watch his speech live because it was too emotional for me. I recorded it, then read about it, and then watched with Mrs. 1OP last night. We were moved, and yet we are well aware that we may be privileged to be watching the start of the career of another HOFer in an Astros uniform right now.
    I have followed baseball for over sixty years, but I have only seen guys with the ability to pull off a play like Correa pulled off in the ninth inning of Saturday’s game maybe five or six times. Never have I seen it done by anyone so young. We may be watching one of the greats of baseball right now on our team. I am too old and too hurt to attend many games, but the people of Houston have a rare opportunity to hold onto something special and embrace it now. I encourage Houston fans to take advantage of a once in a lifetime opportunity to watch poetry in motion at MMP.

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    • I said the same thing to my husband yesterday. I hope I’m still alive in 20yrs to see
      Correa up on that stage!! We fans in Houston are blessed to have Biggio, in the hot
      and I hope we see a few more in the hall in the next decade. By the way….you made me cry reading your post, but it was a good cry!

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  2. Great Post OP , it was an awesome speech about faith, family values, integrity,and giving back, and oh yeah Baseball. I hope we get to see Bagwell there some day and Young CC.

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  3. Craig and Patty are two of the nicest people in baseball whom I have ever met. Hearing the speech, seeing the fans, and knowing there is a bronzed placque with his face and bio means a lot to this Astros fan. As for specifics from yesterday, however, I loved the shout out to Matt Galante and six weeks of hard work in spring training. I hope the younger generation takes it to heart.

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  4. Craig Biggio made us all believe again that Houston could be the home of sustained excellence and perennial excitement. He played the game hard – and he played it the right way. He took a lot of hits, but he got a lot more. He, though not a home grown talent, delved wholeheartedly into making Houston his home and teamed up with another guy from a long way off, Jeff Bagwell, and many others, to bring respect to both this town and the Astros’ organization. Congratulations, Bidge! You made us – and did yourself – very proud!

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  5. Oldpro – Loved your write up on Correa. Before I wrote this post about Biggio – I had thought about writing one about Correa. In my mind he is already the best SS in Astros history, though I know there are folks who would say – small sample. But it is plays like the one you described Saturday, very difficult and with the game totally on the line that make you go – wow!!! He is not yet 21 years old.
    He is hitting .395 with RISP and .470 with RISP and two outs. He has been thrust into the meat of the order and has not flinched or blinked.
    And let me say this….there was all this talk about him having to move to 3rd base because of his size. I mean maybe when he is 35 years old and slowed a step, but for the time being, unless the clone of Ozzie Smith comes up, he will be giving up SS only when they pull his cold, dead fingers off of that glove.
    Yes – he is the next likely Hall of Famer from this organization after Bagwell eventually makes it. You watch him and you watch more greatness.

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    • There is something that Correa has, that is unique to him and the SS position he plays. It is the speed of the ball off of his bat. Twice this week he hit ground balls to the infield and the ball was past the fielder before he could reach down and get it. This trait is reserved for the power hitters of baseball, the Trouts and the Tejadas and the Bryants. There aren’t any SSs who hit the ball 108mph. It is unheard of.
      I won’t say that Correa will be a SS until he is 35, because of the toll it will take on his body and the shifting the Astros do and may continue to do for years. If I were to pick a guy I want to cover the entire left side of the diamond on shifts it would probably be my best fielder and that is Correa. The question to me is can he come in and field bunts and throw underhanded like a third baseman does?
      If he can do that he could end up a third baseman because the shifts are totally redefining the roles of the SS and 3B.
      Remember that Correa is 20. Shortstops who end up at 3B are guys who start out at 25 or 26 in the majors. Correa is different. He could be a 5 time All-star by he is 25 and if he remains a .300 power hitter he will spend a huge amount of time running the bases. He will be 6’4″ and 220 lbs. You may have to move him to 3B to preserve that body and that bat for another 12 years or so.
      Most good players have a time span of 10 productive years in the majors. But if the Astros help Correa out, he may have 15 years of top tier production in that body because he’s starting out younger than 99.9% of the players, and he’s starting out with top tier production from day 1.

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      • By the way, I made an error. I meant to write Cabreras, not Tejadas, a real slip, if there ever was one.
        The Astros have never had a player picked to start the All Star game at SS.

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  6. Flaws in Correa’s game:
    – No matter how good he plays for some reason he cannot lift Chris Carter’s game
    – We can’t legally take him out for a drink yet
    – When I went to see the Astros a week ago Saturday, the hot dog Correa sold me between innings tasted just like all the other crap they sell there
    – His cape some times gets in the way of his fielding
    – Mother Teresa is slightly more beloved than him
    – He does not have a room for a batting cage in the Bat Cave
    – He puts his pants on one leg at a time just like the other guys

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    • He is not all that convincing when he puts on a green hat and says ‘Top O the marnin’ tooya’ on St. Patty’s Day. I don’t think he’s really Irish.

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    • Sometimes you have to remember that he isn’t old enough to go into a bar yet.

      It is amazing that this kid is out there playing with grown men, professionals that have spent years working on their game, and having success like he is.

      No doubt an amazing player.

      Let’s hope he is an Astro for his entire career. If he ends up as good as we all think he will though, are the Astros going to hand him the key to the middle market team by paying him 25-27 mil a year? Teams like Houston can only afford one of those cats, I would say when his time comes he will be the right one.

      I wouldn’t discount Keuchel or Springer as greats either. Keuchel is going to have do what he is doing for a really long time given the bias against non power pitchers – it will have to be Glavine like. Seems a power pitcher can have a 12-12, 4.50 ERA season every once in a while and not get discounted as much. Springer has a lot start, and a few people, including myself, probably worry about his durability, but the talent is there.

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      • Woops – *late start.

        I forgot Altuve – another special kid. If you never saw the ESPN special on him, I know, its the 4 letter network, but check it out. He grew up exactly the way you think an undersized athlete that hungry did – dirt poor, playing with sticks, and driven by desire for success.

        And to think I am still hyped about Reed. I don’t know that he is in the other guys class, but he could be. If the Astros are lucky with health, and the baseball gods shine a light on a good TV deal that pushes them where they belong as a higher end mid market team instead of lower end, it could be a very interesting 10 year run they go on.

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      • I’d like to see that Altuve special. Please sound the alert if any of you folks know when it will air again.

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  7. Biggio had such an intuition for the game. He literally could have played anywhere on the field without embarrasing himself. All Star Catcher. All Star secondbaseman. Capable centerfielder at the age of 37 with no complaint. Those guys just don’t exist. They never existed. He was so good on the bases. Did not get picked off. Knew when and when not to take an extra base. It did matter to him how he got on base either. He never winced when he took a fastball in his side for anonther HBP. And in his 20 plus years, he never ever dogged it on a play, not even once. And he hit too. Those number speak for themselves. Any kid, or adult, having had the good fortune of being able to watch Craig Biggio play the game thoughout his long career, could not help but to take a life lesson or two away from what Biggio gave us.

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    • Given the current crop of future HOF’ers like Jose Reyes and Jhonny Peralta having been on BB’s top 10 list to start the season his competition is light. The mid 90s, SS was a whose who list. Now – its a whose that list.

      Tulo is having a pretty good season, but even he isn’t the Tulo of 5 years ago. Correa is definitely the hottest comodity in baseball, a 20 year old playing a key position on the field, and being the best one in the league at it.

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  8. Biggio was a pretty regular guy away from the office too. I actually met him all the way down here in Nevis, when he was down staying at the resort on a Nike trip, way back early in his career. Met him and his wife, they had not even started a family at that point. But what a great kid. I made sure he was upgraded. He let me know that I could count on tickets whenever I needed them. Course we already had the family seats so I never took him up on the offer. It was not until maybe 15 years later when I ran nto him after a game at Wrigley, at the bar Murphy’s Bleachers, just outside the park. I walked up to say hello, and he said, ” Hey, you’re the guy from The Four Seasons in Nevis”. Then he bought me a Budweiser.

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  9. Good news, everyone! Carlos Correa made a call and got the Taylor Swift concert this October at MMP moved so it won’t potentially conflict with a playoff game. I’m assuming he’s the only one with that kind of power in the organization.

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  10. I’ve told the story before, but back in the early 90’s – they were opening a Sporting goods store in Sugar Land called Sports Town (long ago went out of business). A young Craig Biggio was coming out to sign autographs for the first 300 in line.
    I took my two oldest who were playing Little League at the time.

    Craig came breezing in about 5 minutes late. At this time he was still a catcher I think.
    He sat down and started signing the autographs, but it was not scratch – scratch get out of here kid. He talked to each of the boys, asked them whether they played, what position they liked, etc… He was as sweet and genuine as can be. Took his time and made them feel special.

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  11. Because of the talk about picking up a rental corner infielder, combined with the talk about AJ Reed and his spectacular work, I wanted to do some digging into Tyler White, Fresno first baseman.
    He is having a terrific year, too and I couldn’t quite figure it out. He has come from nowhere, really and is listed as 5′ 11″ and 225 lbs. and has very nice numbers in the minors up until this year, but nothing to knock your socks off.
    In digging around I saw a youtube interview of him by Jayne Hansen and it is mostly about his time playing in Panama in this past offseason.
    But in the first minute of the video he says something that is probably the key that I was looking for. He casually mentioned that he was losing a lot of weight in the offseason, and that the Astros encouraged him to keep it up in Panama and he did.
    He said he was now at the weight he wanted to be. The video was in early May 2015.
    If you are looking for a real concrete reason for a player to make a big move in his career, dropping weight and getting in a lot better shape could be the reason we are seeing a new Tyler White this season, and why the Astros might find a rental corner infielder to finish the season here, but might look at 25 year old White with great low K numbers next spring at first base.
    Then, when Reed is ready for the bigs next summer, White might be a terrific RH DH to alternate with Tucker, because Tucker really hits righties and White really, really hits lefties. When I see White, I see a RH hitting Tucker, and who absolutely can play 1B.

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    • There isn’t any reason Tyler White can’t handle major league from what I see.

      The roster is full of DH/1B types. Some of those will have to go. If Gattis is still here as the DH, White will have to play superbly in order to displace someone else given that in the AL there is only 4 bench slots open – and you know 1 will go to a catcher, at least 1 OF’er, and 1 guy that can play some middle infield. Lowrie and Valbuena combined probably suck up that roster spot. It helps that Valbuena and Lowrie both have played all over the IF. I don’t know if we would want to see a current, older, bigger Valbuena play SS, but he does have 250 innings in the majors at SS – and the hope is anyone backing up the Kid (he gets caps) at SS would only see 30 innings there.

      I would rather have White than Carter, Valbuena, Singleton or Gattis – but something will have to give roster wise to make that happen. I really think that Luhnow sees Gattis as his DH for the foreseeable future – even if we are unhappy with his OBP, strikeouts, and generally unathletic play.

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      • I agree with you. But I do anticipate some movement of players. Though Luhnow likes Gattis at DH now, that doesn’t mean he is going to go with Gattis at DH next year. He is going to step back and look at Gattis’s wrc+, his really low .274 OBP and that WAR hovering just above zero and not want that again next year. He might not want a DH who adds nothing to the team defensively, and I mean nothing. We talked about interchangeability on defense and Gattis flies in the face of all of that. Somehow I just don’t see Luhnow satisfied with a DH with a .274 obp on a team he wants to compete for an AL West title next year.
        Domingo Santana looms big in 2016 in my mind. If he can translate his success in AAA to a RF job next season, moving Springer back to center where he belongs, it pushes another player out of the picture who has underperformed this year, namely a terrible RH hitting 1B or CFer or both. Then I look at a first year player, Tucker who is outperforming Gattis at the plate already, and I see really good things at DH next year for Tucker.
        Finally, surrounding Valbuena with guys who hit homers, doubles, who hit for average, go the other way for a hit and who will be patient and take a walk, and maybe that will show Valbuena a whole different Astros look than he saw with the Home Run or Strike out mentality this year.
        By the way, how would everybody feel about next spring’s starting rotation of Keuchel, McHugh, Kazmir, McCullers and Velasquez versus the starting rotation we had on April 6th of this year? With Feldman as the #6/long relief.

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      • Since May Evan has given us good production at DH. Before that, well . . . he was an absolute disaster and a strike-out machine that made the heart of our line-up leak like a sieve. Now that Evan has gotten in a groove, he is most definitely not the reason we have been losing regularly to league average to excellent pitchers – that’s squarely on Carter, Valbuena, Castro, and Marisnick, usually with help from at least one of our usual offense producers [Altuve, Correa, Tucker, Gonzalez, and Rasmus] who just happens to have an off-night. With four regular black holes in the offense, even one ‘off-night’ from one of our producers makes us black-hole heavy [5 out of 9]. When 2 or more of our producers don’t get hits – well, we just don’t have a chance to win.

        The issues on Evan no longer center around whether he is performing at league average for a DH. He is. Maybe a little better – though not to the point of real excellence. I think Evan’s got the role this year based solely on performance at expected levels since May. The issues are real though. And those issues are:

        1. would Tucker or White be an upgrade?
        2. Is Evan – or Tucker or White – likely to provide a better DH for the money over the next few years?
        3. Is someone wanting Evan – with his low salary – to be thrown in with some prospects [and hopefully Chris Carter] in a trade for someone we seem to really need [i.e. a 1B rental til A.J. Reed – or at least Tyler White – is ready].

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      • Mr. Bill the numbers don’t lie and you cannot just exclude Gattis’s April/May numbers. That would be making the same mistake the team is making right now by continuing to play Carter because of the second half numbers of last year. Carter has duplicated his bad and not duplicated his good.
        Gattis’s wRC+ and his accumulated WAR are bad. What you are remembering is just what you want to remember and what you are forgetting is a lot. Continuing to throw Tucker in LF, when he could outhit Gattis at DH would not be a good call. Gattis is past his prime age and his numbers will not increase in his thirties and he certainly won’t improve defensively and next season is arbitration, so his salary doubles. You can almost bet money that Tucker is going to improve his offensive output next year because he’s only 25 and has shown improvement at each level once he made his adjustments. The team needs to find a decent LH bat with good defense to put in the OF with Springer and Santana in 2016 until Phillips and Reed come in late in the year and change everything from the left side. If that means signing Rasmus to another one year deal and using him against righties and another guy against lefties, that aint a bad idea either. But this offseason is the time to make the changeover from the low agerage/high risk offense to the Cardinal style juggernaut Luhnow has always envisioned. That’s the kind of offense where the .265 hitter is the lowest hitter in your lineup, not one of the highest.

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      • OP1, I totally agree. I would be fine with Evan Gattis being traded tomorrow and Preston Tucker being given the DH position permanently. That would also allow us to give Santana a real look – at least until Springer gets back.

        I see Preston as a .300 to .325 hitter with high OBP, high RBI totals, and just as many HRs as Evan.

        All I was saying above is that [a] he’s not the reason we can’t beat good pitchers; and [b] I think Luhnow is extremely high on Mr. Gattis – and I am not talking about the pizza franchise.

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    • Mr. Bill, where did you see this about Bregman? By the way, for anyone on this board that has any concerns about Bregman, I, as an LSU fan and having watched him for three years see him with an attitude and skill level comparable to a young Billy Doran/Biggio.. He’s obviously not Carlos Correa, but I think he’ll be a valuable asset in Houston. He doesn’t strike out, is a gap hitter and is a very good defensive player. He will fly through the minors.

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      • It’s all over Twitter – the usual sources. Sean McMullen also up from Quad Cities to Lancaster. Edison Frias up to Corpus from the Jet Hawks. Jose Fernandez demoted to Quad Cities.

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      • He was drafted 1.2 by Jeff Luhnow. That’s all I need to see. I don’t agree with everything Luhnow does, but the guy can draft!

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  12. Don’t look now, but Tony Kemp’s BABIP is turning on a dime. He’s 3-4 today with a triple, 2 runs scored, and 2 RBI. Sclafani has extended his hitting streak. Santana has a homer and is 3-4 with 2 runs scored. And Max Stassi is . . . never mind, carry on.

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    • And continuing with the Fresno offense report, Andrew Aplin is 4-4 with a run scored and 2 RBIs. Unfortunately, the pitching has been as bad as the hitting has been good, so the score is presently 11-10 Tacoma with just one more inning to play. This one is wild and crazy – as games tend to be when played in Tacoma.

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      • What does George Strait sing?
        All our pitchers live in Texas.
        That’s why they hang their heads in Fresno, see?

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  13. Op……got any info on the relief pitchers in Fresno? I know Kevin Chapman isn’t doing very well, but how about the other guys?? Saw where the Mets got Tyler clipped today……the Astros were actively trying to get him, I wonder why luhnow wasn’t able to get him.

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  14. Becky, that roster is about as pitching-poor as it can get. Tyson Perez, Hoyt, Veras, Stoffel so undependable. Chapman is as good as it gets and it aint good. If I were to pick two guys from the team to make relievers out of it would be Straily and Rodgers, and they have been starting. They are two who have stuff good enough to be one inning relievers. I think it was Rodgers who got bombed today.
    The only guy I see helping in relief is Feliz at CC. And he hasn’t been relieving, other than the tandem.
    That’s why Luhnow is looking for help outside. His biggest failure is to not have developed any relievers in four years. Velasquez yesterday is as close as the team has come to having one of their own as a good reliever in the majors.

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  15. Thanks!! I knew I could depend on you my friend!! Now…….this is the latest on Cole Hamel’s. Luhnow is pushing “hard” to get him. I really don’t want this drama king on this club. And…….either we give up the dang farm to get him, and or….Jim crane coughs up a *ton* of money for him. Ugh.

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  16. Also in the promotions today was RHP David Paulino from QC to Lancaster. Pretty soon 21 year old Paulino will pass up the guy he got traded for, Jose Veras.

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  17. File this under useless information, but does anyone remember Mike Hessman. He hit 35 homers for OKC in 2012 but never got a call up. He is now 37 and has hit 431 HRs in the minors. He is one away from the record.

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    • Hit .300 against lefties and under .200 against righties. Never got a chance in Houston because we were covered with Brett Wallace at 1B. I think he did have brief stop at the majors for one club before he came to the Astros org but I am not positive about that. He struck out a ton!
      Never could understand why they didn’t let him come up that September, just for kicks.
      Turns out we didn’t need him because we are still stacked high with AAA first basemen

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  18. Regarding Hamels, I have read that the Phillies would like Santana back in the package for him. I wonder if they still think Singleton has value. I wonder if a package of Santana, Singleton, Kemp and Appel would do it. If so, I would be open to the trade.

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    • Luhnow might be moving on with the Hamel’s trade. It was publicly known the early part of last week that he would not come here. Why in the he!! Would luhnow keep pushing for a trade???? Now the club is in on the Craig Kimbrel deal. The Padres
      did what the Marlins did about 4yrs ago……sigh big names to big contracts, then try to trade them all by the all star break. I don’t get *it*.

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      • Becky, I believe the quote is “far away talent always looks better than up close talent.” Everybody that has worked a couple years or more in industry saw that “great new hire” come in and then you have to train him/her.

        I hope we don’t fall into that pit.

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      • I also think that the longer it takes for the deal to be done, the more likely the Phils can call the shots. There will be only two options – take whatever deal the Phils negotiate or STAY IN PHILADELPHIA through the 2015 season – and watch the playoffs on television.

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  19. The fact that the Astros are interested in Hamels is interesting in itself considering he’s not that interested in the Astros. And you can tell I’m punching this in at 6:20 in the morning as I use some version of interested 3 times in one sentence.
    That would be quite a rotation (unless McHugh or LMJ is part of the package). But the Astros hitting has been more a key to their ups and downs lately.

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    • I would hope that a hitter is also being pursued. If you add Hamels then you can move LMJ to the bullpen and, along with VV, gives the Astros 2 strong arms out there. Then they will need to add a 1B, preferably a LH hitting 1B, and I think they are set for a strong run to this season. If the Astros can re-sign Kazmir in the offseason this sets them up to have a strong rotation for the next 3 years with some quality still left on the farm.

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    • Dan, in some jurisdictions using the word interest, or any variant thereof, three or more times in a sentence violates the local laws of usury. And while that’s just a misdemeanor in Mississippi, it is a phull-blown phelony in Philadelphia.

      We can acquire all the pitching we want, but unless the stallions we put in the stable can all simultaneously reduce their individual and collective ERAs to 0.00 [and assuming no runs are given up via miscue], the offense still has to function. If we are talking playoffs, we will be facing only the other team’s top three pitchers, at the top of their games. That’s our problem. We don’t hit guys like that very well. We don’t hit home runs or get EBH’s against them. We don’t walk against them. And we have too many black holes and lumbering strikeout artists in the line-up to go station to station and win with small ball.

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      • I would agree and I am not looking at this year as our World Series Championship season. However, you can never have enough pitching and we can always upgrade our hitting more in the offseason. When Lowrie and Springer return it helps out this season, but even if they don’t win it all this year they will be set up to be contenders for several more seasons with a rotation of Hamels, Keuchel and Kazmir, if they obtain Hamels and re-sign Kazmir. They will also, in all likelihood, still have LMJ and VV for future seasons as well.

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  20. Obviously, the returns of Lowrie and Springer should help some (though Springer is a Special K kind of guy too, but at least produces too), but it is tough to get consistency out of an offense when you have so many rally stoppers in the lineup.
    In July…
    – Carter is hitting .100 BA / .428 OPS
    – Castro has 0 HR and 1 RBI
    – JFSF has 0 HR and 1 RBI batting .182 BA / .472 OPS
    – Valbuena has 0 HR and 5 RBIs hitting .191 BA / .552 OPS
    – Singelton has 0 HR and 4 RBIs hitting .171 BA / .468 OPS
    – Rasmus is hitting .186 BA / .611 OPS

    It is almost amazing they are 9-11 in July sucking that bad for big chunks of the lineup. The lack of hitting not only does not produce direct runs by the bottom portion of the lineup – it also does not turn the lineup over as often. So many guys getting hits every 5th or 6th AB does little for the offense. Scoring runs at the bottom of this lineup has been a matter of scarcity lately.

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  21. The addition of Hamels to the Astros’ pitching stable opens up a lot of possibilities.
    It allows the Astros to use him as a rental for the rest of the year and then market him in the offseason to a money laden team who wants him and has room to spend on him now that they are free of some contracts. This would allow the Astros to have a run at the pennant, perhaps using some Philly money thrown in to actually pay for Hamels 2015 salary, and then recoup Hamels’s value in prospects to refill the stable after the Rule V draft in December. If the Astros were to give up prospects for Hamels from their excess, (pitching prospects), and then deal him for prospects at positions of need(Catching, COF), they would be increasing their stable rather than decreasing it.
    BUT, Hamels aside, you may recall my comments the other day about the focus of the Astros scouting should have been in the Colorado series this weekend? Well, Tulowitzski was dealt last night and Cargo was put on the market this morning and he is the guy I was talking about for the Astros.

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    • OP1, I used to think our system was chock full of excellent pitching prospects. But watching the way most of even our best guys are getting manhandled since McCullers and VV got promoted, I now think we are only very, very slightly above average in pitching in the minors. Perhaps with some playoff positions nailed down they have all been ordered to spend the rest of 2015 working on change-ups, splitters, sinkers and cutters, no matter what the result. But the early success we were seeing has turned into some pretty ugly losses – replete with a lot of walks, very few Ks, and a whole lot of EBHs and home runs allowed. Look at Brian Holmes’ outing last night as an example. If we give up our best pitching prospects at AA and above to get Hamels or Cargo, or whoever, the cupboard looks to be bare for a long, long time. We would have to pray we can keep Kazmir, and that neither he, Hamels, McCullers, VV, or Keuchel goes down to an injury. And the bullpen? It looks like we’ll be active in the free agent reliever market for several years to come. I’m starting to miss Mengden more than Nottingham, to be honest.

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      • For those of you who are not aware, Mengden, who was dealt by the Astros to Oakland in the Kazmir deal, turned around to face his old teammates (less Nottingham, of course) at Lancaster, and this was his result against our guys:\\
        5.0, IP, 1 run, 1 ER, 1 H (a HR), 0 BB, 8K.

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    • I think if you can get Hamels for Appel, Moran and Santana you take it. That probably means no salary relief. I would be fine with that because I think they are 3 overrated prospects and it’s not my money.

      If the Phillies start looking at Phillips, Kemp, Hader or Reed (especially Reed), I probably would balk.

      I think it comes down the deal. As OP said, he is still tradeable as a cheap “ace” to other teams reloading, like Detroit will be. Or if he is playing here on his reasonable deal as a number 2, and you can get Kazmir back for under 15, you have a great 3 headed monster to put with McCullers/VV spelled by Feldman next year.

      One thing we have to keep in mind with all the glamour around a Hamels deal, this guy has never won a Cy Young, nor has he ever finished in the top 4 balloting for it. The best finish he had was 5th, 3 years ago. He is a very good pitcher being pushed by the franchise that owns him as a franchise guy. You don’t give up Reed’s for Hamels.

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  22. Correct me if I’m wrong, but in the 80’s it seems we had good and sometimes great pitching but could never get the hitting on track. As a result, we never got to the WS. Fast forward to the 90’s and early 2000’s. Same story. Our pitchers were great but the hitting was always on the short side. That’s not being critical of some of those players of the era but it always seemed that the other team got the big hit whereby we always came up short.
    Therefore, how about looking at the hitting for a change? Even if we got Hamel’s, I lay odds that we would not win the WS because we didn’t have the best bats at the plate.

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    • JL can either make moves trying to reach the postseason or stand pat – that’s true. I wouldn’t justify the latter by saying that our offense can’t win once we get there. Why? David Freese. Juan Uribe. Edgar Renteria. David Eckstein. Jermaine Dye. Scott Brosius. Pat Borders. Cole Hamels. George Springer.

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  23. Another thought – Hamels, Keuchel, and Kazmir are all lefties. Do we really want three lefties in our rotation? Does it matter?

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    • I don’t think it matters when they are lefties that all routinely keep righties under a .250 BAA as well as lefties. I wouldn’t do that in my BP, because a BP lefty is in the BP for a reason, probably because he can’t get righties out – but in my rotation, I just want results.

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  24. I may be nuts , but i think we have enough pitching to win the division. However not sure on the bats, Cargo might look Good inn the OF

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  25. I was just looking at the stats for 1B, 3B. Our guys are dead last in the categories. Our chances of the playoffs drop precipitously because of that and more so getting to the WS.

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  26. The thing I struggle with in the back of my mind is that if the Angels continue to be on a roll, our improvement from trades could still result in only a wild card one and done scenario for this season. I feel like we need another bat but also feel we have a better chance of getting hitting help from the minors than pitching help.
    I sure wish Appel was 70% of the player that our other 1-1 Correa already is.

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    • It may change in the next four days, but you will notice that the players getting traded are big players and prospects. Right now teams aren’t trading players with low stats and status.
      You can bet that teams are trying to dump their disappointing players, but nobody wants them. Hopefully in the next four days teams will settle in and trade their disappointing players to other team’s for their disappointing players.
      If the Astros don’t trade some of them, they will be putting them on waivers in August. I, for one, will not spend July complaining about players who produce little or nothing, and then whine in August when they are traded or waived for little or nothing.
      I don’t want to see the Astros with 13 strikeouts in a wild card game with guys who have been striking out all season and wasting all the pitching we have been trying to accumulate.

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  27. the chron (spit) has an article saying the team still sees another starter as the top priority. this puzzles me after the addition of kazmir. the only sense i can make of it is if they are really serious about limiting innings with mccullers and vv. they both go to the bullpen and/or AAA. don’t know if that is the best plan. i would prefer a reliable power bat.

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    • rj, if they trade for another starter, then they don’t have to trade for another top reliever. LMJ and Valasquez in the bullpen is not a bad thing at all, because they would get experience in high stress situations and it will make them better starting pitchers in the future and it does not change their status as starters in 2016 and beyond, if that is what the front office desires. The experience that those two have gotten so far will also make them valuable as relievers in the playoffs if that is what the Astros want. I like those 97 MPH fastballs in the BP.
      And, getting a starter does not eliminate them getting a bat, too.

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      • Interesting take, OP1. The only prospects we have left in the system above A ball that I see as desirable by suitors as prime ‘hauls’ for a guy like Hamels are:
        Santana, Phillips, Reed, Marte and Bostick.
        Kemp, Hader, and Devenski might make the fringe of that category. But other than that, our system – at least above low A, is just not strong right now. Our AAA product is scary bad right now – especially if you take away Santana and Kemp and keep Sclafani and Heineman on the bench. AA is highly questionable as well if you take away Reed and Phillips. Without Reed behind him, is Moran going to hit .300? The minor leagues look good when the stars are out. Take the stars away [and we’ve plucked or are talking about plucking most of them], and they suddenly look very, very ordinary.

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      • You left out Musgrove and Appel and Paulino and White and Teoscar. And although they are not currently tradeable, you also have our 3 top draft picks who will be added to the system at the end of the year.
        Plus you have players who are on the Astros 25-man who are tradeable.
        One thing I would like to point out is that a top prospect’s year does not hurt their current ranking. If you look at the stats of most team’s top 20 prospects, more than half of them are not having good years. I looked at the Red Sox top 30 prospects and you would not believe some of the lousy stats they are putting up this year. Some of the Ranger’s prospect’s names that were being thrown out there in return for Hamels, you would laugh at their stats, especially if you set them right next to the stats of our top prospects or even Tyler White, who’s stats blow most guy’s out of the saddle.. Appel is the exception to our top guy’s performance this year. How about a top 10 prospect of the Red Sox who is hitting .220 in A ball. Our top 30 guys are putting up real solid numbers and a bunch of them are raking.
        Colin Moran will end the season as one of our top 5 guys. I am convinced of it.
        What about Jake Marisnick? He’s not a prospect, but I would bet there are a bunch of teams who would like a 24 year old stud outfielder who still has a chance to improve at the plate.
        For Hamels you need to trade a top prospect and two more decent prospects and a guy from the 25-man, in my opinion.

        Liked by 1 person

      • op i agree with your logic on how the pitchers would be benefit, but i just think a bat is a much higher priority at this point. if we don’t trade for a starter mccullers stays in the rotation. if we do trade for a starter he goes to the bullpen with vv. I’m good with either of those scenarios. but the problem with getting a starter especially a TOR like hamels for example is what do you have left in the tank to get a good reliable bat. i don’t think you can do both without too much being dealt away. if i gotta have one or the other i pick bat at this point. now if somehow they can do both and still have a good pipeline (like maybe trade some major league players ala carter/rasmus/carter rather than all prospects) then woohoo lets do it.

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  28. I guess the key to any trade going forward is what value other teams may have for some folks that the Astros may not have in their future plans, packaged with someone they do have in their plans.
    For example, does Santana’s minor league offensive production numbers over-ride his high K past? Does someone think they know the key to Jon Singleton?
    If you could get Hamels for:
    McHugh or Velasquez
    Santana
    Bostick
    Moran

    Would you do it?

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  29. Amaro has told any teams interested in trading for Hamel’s to present him your deal before tomorrow. Let’s hope luhnow doesn’t get punch drunk and present him half
    the farm…….#idontwantcolehamels.

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  30. A very important series for the 2015 season starts tonight. McHugh vs. Wilson. The line-ups are out, and Hinch is leaving in Valbuena to face their left-handed strikeout artist, but is benching Preston Tucker. We are leaving in left-handed hitting Rasmus in the line-up, but are putting Gattis in LF. And the DH is Chris Carter.

    This is going to take a miracle. Roger, JP, George Knox and Al, are you going to be in the stadium – and if so, which side will you be on?

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    • Valbuena is 4 for 4 lifetime against Wilson, with a homer and a double.
      Rasmus has three hits and two walks off Wilson
      Tucker has never faced Wilson
      Carter has nine hits and 6 walks lifetime against Wilson and has 27 ABs against him
      Gattis has only 8 ABs against Wilson, but his two hits are a homer and a double w/ 4 RBIs
      Jake is 4 for 8 lifetime against Wilson.
      Altuve has nine hits, including two HRs career-wise against Wilson.

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      • I know Hinch is playing the numbers, OP – as he has been instructed to do. But those are old numbers, and two of those guys are in a total death-spiral funk right now [Carter and Valbuena]. A third has about as much consistency as the weather in Texas in springtime [Marisnick]. The Chris Carter Wilson will face tonight is not the same guy who is 9 for 27 against him lifetime; the Carter Wilson will face tonight is the guy who is 0-for the memory of man in Summer, 2015.

        And since Gattis is the one guy who Luhnow will not, under any circumstances, allow Hinch to sit on the bench, we have no choice but to hope that he puts the bat on the ball and something good happens. Altuve smacked Wilson – and everybody else – around last year and looked good against him earlier this year. Jose seems to be coming back around a little. In my mind the key will be McHugh keeping it close, keeping Trout and Pujols in the field of play, and gettting a lot of help from Correa and Conger – the latter of which knows everything there is to know about Wilson from his days with the Angels. Add to that mix Colby Rasmus, who is the one guy in that group who might be the most likely guy on this team, at this time, to actually do damage against Wilson when he is not striking out.

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      • Mr. Bill,

        Are you suggesting Hinch bench a player who is 4-4 against C.J.? The Astros success this year has been predicated on playing the numbers so why stop now?

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      • All I am saying is that this line-up scenario just highlights the same old problem we all know we have and can’t seem to do anything about – i.e. that we do not have either a 1B or a 3B that can produce for us at anywhere close to league average. We have to use our supersub at one of those positions almost every game. But, alas, MarGo can’t play both 1B and 3B at the same time, so, ipso facto, Hinch absolutely has to put one of our worst offensive guys in the lineup every game. This time, since MarGo is on 1st, Luis Valbuena absolutely has to play. There is no option. But expecting something good from him tonight based upon the success he had early in the year when he was actually new to the league and looking like he might be a hitter is a little bit like expecting to get an ace and jack the first two cards every time the cards are dealt just because you had a nice run of pure luck when you sat down for three games at the gaming tables back when the casino opened in April. We have no one better at 1B or 3B, so we get either Valbuena or Carter – or, in this case, as has been the case so often with so little success, we get both. If no one else sees this as a problem, cool. But as I see it, with this configuration we not only get both of our worst hitters in the same line-up, we also give up one of our best hitters just because he’s never had the opportunity to see if he can hit this guy.

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      • Um, Mr. Bill, when has Valbuena been good this year? His average has hovered around the .200 mark all season. However, when you are batting 1.000 against a pitcher you ride that success. It is a no-brainier, in my opinion.

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  31. MLB Pipeline just released the Astros top 30 prospects. Our top 3 picks this year are all in the top 5. Also, Frances Martes is #10. Does anyone still think the Astros lost the Jarred Cosart trade? Luhnow should be arrested for robbery.

    Liked by 1 person

    • wow! after looking over that list and considering the rest of the system, maybe we DO have enough for a starting pitcher and a reliable power bat. it will HURT though. maybe thats the way luhnow clears up the bottleneck.

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  32. Here’s my perfect example. Bottom of 5th, 1st and 3rd – no outs.
    Strike out, pop up, strike out.
    Yes have they been hanging in there. Yes. But winning teams take advantage of these opportunities

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  33. You can’t stop him – you can only hope to contain him – ha ha.
    I’m also liking the 5 RBIs for Altuve. Conger and JFSF setting the table for him.

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  34. The Astrosecond have c.j. willson’s number. What is this the third or fourth time this year that they have hit him hard? Gotta give it up for A.j. HINCH tonight. He went out in the first inning to tell the guys neither he or they were going to put up with disrespecting our club. Uncle Albert had no reason to stare down McHugh tonight
    love the seventh triple big old Gattis had tonight!!!

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