Top of the Week: That Fiers guy, the nucleus and word association

For the first time in years, the Astros appear to have a surplus in starting pitching. And the list doesn’t include borderline names like Brad Peacock, Sam Deduno, Dan Straily, Jake Buchanan, Lucas Harrell, Paul Clemens or Philip Humber.

But what to do with this Mike Fiers guy?

  • Fiers has pitched five times since the Astros acquired him via trade from the Brewers at the break. In his four scattered starts, the 30-year-old is 2-0 record with a 0.67 ERA, allowing two earned run in 27 IP. He is somewhat of a late bloomer and may still be revealed as a flash in the pan. However, in a stretch run where every run allowed is magnified with a sometimes-anemic offense, where does Fiers fit? With only an age difference, Fiers somewhat resembles Collin McHugh who was picked up off the trash heap on a waiver wire pickup.
  • Could Fiers develop into a solid starter down the stretch and be a key component in the rotation for the next 3-4 seasons?
  • Should the Astros add him into the regular rotation?

The future stars and nucleus.

Three years ago, everyone was looking for another player or two to build around Jose Altuve. Frankly, he was it. Now, there are at least half a dozen players on the current roster who are or might become build around types. Altuve is still a key piece, but he is no longer the key piece to the puzzle. Even a year or ago, the nucleus had to be considered as future. Now, you can argue, much of the nucleus has been assembled at Minute Maid Park. Sure, other pieces will be added — perhaps soon even — but there are at least four players on the current roster who deserve “build around” status. And, there are a few others who fit the first round around the nucleus.

Here are the nucleus players who are likely to be part of the organization into the next decade and who would star on any team.

First ring players.

Would you add any other players to either of those groups? Using my logic from a few years ago, if the Astros can add a player or two every year to either join or surround that nucleus, they will be World Series potential contenders for the next decade.

Let’s do a little name association. I’ll list a name and you give the thing that comes to your mind in one short sentence or less.

  • Mark Appel. A #1 pick should be missing more bats by now.
  • Jon Singleton. What a waste of good talent. Sad.
  • Hank Conger. No comment, it’s a family blog. Besides, any comment would be direct at Jeff Luhnow and I’m taking the high road.
  • Jonathan Villar. Who?
  • 2017. I’ve moved up the anticipation to 2015 and 2016, thank you.
  • Chris Carter. See Singleton, Conger and Villar (by next year).
  • Correa. Still early, but perhaps better than Craig Biggio and Jeff Bagwell, assuming similar longevity.
  • A.J. Hinch. Hoping he’s as brilliant in the long run as he’s looked so far.
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108 comments on “Top of the Week: That Fiers guy, the nucleus and word association

  1. Appel- thank God we didn’t pick him a year earlier.

    Singleton – never will be anything worthwhile.

    Conger- Even more useless than Castro.

    Villar- See Singleton.

    2017- Two years from now.

    Carter – My least favorite player on the team.

    Correa- Future league mvp.

    AJ Hinch- Larry Dierker redux.

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  2. I’ll quibble with the placement of both McCullers and Velasquez on the build upon and first ring player lists. Both have a lot of talent but as McCullers showed yesterday he still lacks consistent command and Velasquez’s lack of innings pitched due to his injury history makes him a question mark for me. I would certainly place Springer in the build around class. I just hope his early injury problems will be Bagwell like flukes instead of a Lowrie like pattern.

    Losing Castro is a tough one. He gets beat up on a lot of blogs but his defensive work has been way above average and his offense compares favorably with other catchers around the league. No one complained about Brad Ausmus not being an offensive juggernaut. Castro may not be as good as Ausmus defensively but he’s been pretty darn good.

    Carter and Conger should both be gone and I’m hoping Stassi will hit enough against LHP to earn the backup spot. Perez was a nice experiment. Too bad it didn’t work out well. Perhaps we can get over this fixation with Loogys and go with our competent guys in the pen who can get out guys from both sides of the plate.

    Appel concerns me because I would have thought his pedigree would portend consistent regular improvement but he’s often one step forward and then two steps back. His promotions have been like moving a kid up a grade because of his age but he hasn’t really done anything to deserve it. If the adversity of Lancaster was too much for him to overcome how can we expect him to perform in the big show? I guess if he fails at the MLB level we’ll have to promote him to the intergalactic league.

    Let Singleton and Villar blossom in another organization. I wonder if Lunhow would have drafted either one?

    Kazmir is another tough call. Is he going to be our tough luck starter who doesn’t get enough run support to be a consistent winner despite providing quality innings? I fear that if he is lights out in the playoffs he will be real expensive to re-sign and if he’s not lights out do you want to even try?

    I’m going to the game tonight so I’m hoping to see Keuchel continue his home dominance, Correa back at SS and hitting third, Stassi behind the plate and Carter securely fastened to the bench although it would not surprise me at all to see him at first since he found a pitcher yesterday who could hit his bat. I sure hope Marwin is at first tonight.

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    • Sir, don’t mind your quibbling, so I’ll quibble back atcha. Didn’t see the game or his performance, but McCullers delivered a quality start, kept his team within range and gave six innings. Yes, he walked 4 and may not have had his best stuff, but the Astros had a shot.

      On Ausmus, friend, just go back to the blogs from the middle of last decade. Indeed, fans complained vehemently about the “black hole” that Ausmus provided along with Adam Everett. Yes, he had impeccable defensive skills, but they were often lost on fans who wanted more offense. I think Aumus is one of the smartest players/managers in the game, but FTR, there were many complaints.

      I now yield the floor back to the fine gentlemen for more quibbling.

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      • McCullers walked three in the first yesterday, but the first guy only saw two pitches outside the strike zone. That got to him a bit and he couldn’t find the zone. He settled in and was fantastic the rest of the time he should have been in there. The last two runs came on pitches he shouldn’t have been on the mound to throw. I see a lot of early Oswalt in him.

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      • Mark Appel-Not hungry
        Jon Singleton- He thinks he is great, but that career AAA batting average of below .260 tells us he isn’t.
        Hank Conger- Worst thrower of any major league catcher I have ever seen. Nobody can fix a catcher with a lousy arm.
        Villar- The Barney Fife of Shortstops.
        2017- the year Luhnow can finally have a team of players he drafted and not players he had to settle for.
        Chris Carter- A hologram of the player Luhnow and his groupies think he could be.
        Carlos Correa- will be even better next year.
        Hinch-A magician who somehow took a bad hitting team and kept them in first place for most of the year.

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  3. With regard to Fiers, how can you not like a guy who comes into the middle of a pennant race and performs? He seems to give up a lot of fly balls which makes me nervous but with our outfield that may be OK as long as they stay in the park. He’s pretty cheap so I think he takes Feldman’s spot eventually.

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  4. I concur with Dr. Bill that Springer should be on the list, but I think you can include LMJ as well. He does have some things to work on, but he has electric stuff and, as we have also seen, can be dominant when he is on. Every young player has things to work on so I wouldn’t exclude LMJ from the list. Oh by the way, Dr. Bill, I will also be at the game tonight in section 118, row 27. If you’re in the area come say hello to a fellow Chipalatta blogger.

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  5. Word association:
    Mark Appel: Schizophrenia milb style.
    Jon Singleton: Worst sideburns in the game; highest paid minor league in the org
    Hank Conger: Is this a joke?
    Jonathan Villar: Nightmare on Crawford Street.
    2017: When the trades of 2015 begin to really hurt
    Chris Carter: Stick a fork in it
    Correa: Big, big smile . . .
    A.J. Hinch: Could I have another, sir!

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    • Surprisingly, I agree will all, but 1 of your comments above. We will not hurt in 2017 from these trades. In fact, I am fairly confident we will be a better team in 2 years than we are now. Everything else you said is spot on.

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  6. Fiers: I see a guy that pitches like JFSF bats. Lots of moving parts. He has control issues but so does LMJ and V V. If he can get consistent in his form, he will be equivalent to Feldman if not better.

    Nucleus: Most good teams only have a couple super stars. But they have few – if any – marginal players. If JL removes those listed at the bottom, then this will be a constant contending team for a few years. And Yes, Springer deserves to be in the first group.

    We could also add Tucknick or Marisner if we were allowed to combine talents.

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  7. I think Fiers is a pitcher with good enough stuff and a deceptive motion, that the Astros’ formulas of pitch tunneling and pitch sequencing will make a huge difference for him for a couple of years. Eventually his complicated delivery might be his downfall, but he might just be a good BOR pitcher for us for a couple of years. The ball just seems to explode out of his hand.
    The five players mentioned as the nucleus are spot on, but the rest of the team is down in the minors and will be ready by the spring of 2017. Reed, White, Moran, Bregman, Fisher, Heineman, Davis, Musgrove, Martes, Feliz and maybe Duffy, if somebody wakes up to him.

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  8. Mark Appel Not what I expected
    Singleton Needs a change of scenery
    Conger Big JL mistake. Worst defensive catcher in MLB, nothing to brag about offensively either.
    Villar Head case
    Carter Should’ve been gone 2 months ago
    Correa Agree, he just may be better than Jeff and Creig
    Hunch A wonderful surprise

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  9. When folks get down on catchers for poor offensive performance I suspect they have no clue as to how difficult catching is. The pitcher and catcher are involved in every pitch delivered. The only time a catcher is not involved in the individual play is when the batter puts the ball in play. But for every pitch not put in play the catcher is involved. And catching MLB pitches is not easy even when you know what’s coming. Then you have the foul tips that beat them up from the mask to the toes. Or the 58 footers that have to be blocked with whatever part of the body is available. The catcher also has to know each hitter on the opposing team and how each of his pitchers can best attack them. While the starting pitchers come out every fifth day for six or seven innings the catcher is out there at least nine innings probably 4 of 5 games. For me, any catcher who can contribute a little offensively is just gravy. But they MUST perform defensively. Castro certainly qualifies but Conger is woefully weak.

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  10. The Astros have a 6-game home stand starting tonight and the Rangers are embarking on a 10-day road trip. After that road trip Texas has the vast majority of their games at home. I think it is imperative that the Astros get some separation from Texas during the next 10-11 days. They need to go 5-1 on this home stand and then 2-1 on the first 3 games of the 10-game road trip against Oakland. Otherwise, and this is not just pessimism, but a strong feeling based upon the Rangers schedule and how well they have been playing since the ASB, I fear the Astros will be looking at a wild card spot instead of a division title.

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  11. Off subject, but noting the change in the strike zone from pitch to pitch (see Devin above). I was (note past tense) against the instant replay and challenge initially. However, it is great that they get 99% correct these days.

    With that in mind, I would at least like to consider taking the balls and strikes calls away from the home plate umpire in Spring Training. I am sure over time it evens out, but it makes it difficult to see a person called out on a pitch that is farther wide and farther low than a previous pitch in that at bat that was called a ball. And it goes both ways. Maybe have the umpire just stand to the side and only call fair and foul balls to the bases and plays at the plate. I for one am ready to at least give it a try.

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    • I agree. It really irritates me to see an umpire give the benefit of doubt to a well known established pitcher And then nit pick a rookie pitcher in the same game.

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      • It only irritates me when the Astros pitcher gets squeezed and the opposing pitcher get the wide (or high or low) pitch called a strike. Sarcasm (sort of).

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    • I think a most welcome offshoot of electronic pitch calling will be an uptick in offense since a hitter’s strike zone will be his no matter what venue. You will still have some subjectivity on checked swings and perhaps you need an ump to determine foul tips. I often hear it said that hitters and pitchers have to adjust to an umpire’s strike zone. I thought the strike zone was defined by the rule book and not by the umpire. Consistency in calling pitches correctly assists the offense and that’s something I think we need.

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  12. OK, according to Drellich, Tyler White will go to the Florida Instructural League to be tried out as a catcher. And he will probably go to winter ball, as he did last year.
    I don’t have a problem with this. I cannot find a scouting report on his arm because nobody cared about whether he could throw. He was just a low round draft choice that one scout liked and nobody thought would end up being a hitter.
    Obviously, he can throw some because he was a third baseman. He wouldn’t have been on third unless he had an arm. So combine that assumption with his fire hydrant-type build, his ability to pick balls out of the dirt as a first baseman and that bat, and you can see why they would want him to try catcher.
    What I like about this move is that they can teach him everything that is correct about catching and not have to worry about breaking bad habits. They also have a full year to see if he can do it before they have to protect him in a rule 5 situation, and by that time his bat will have shown whether he is a fluke or a fact.

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    • I like this plan, too. From what I can tell (and not having ever seen him play), fielding is not his ticket to the big leagues. If they can teach him to catch, even just to be a back-up, his bat might be of use on the big club some day.

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    • I sure hope it works out for Tyler and for the organization. The only thing that somewhat irks me about this is the fact that our present first baseman on the MLB is still going to be Chris . . . well, I think I’d actually rather say ‘Chronicle’. And while Tyler goes and embarks on the most difficult journey any position player could ever be assigned, Chris Chronicle *spit* gets another pass, and lives to kill another rally.

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    • I’m hoping that White has caught somewhere down the line. High school, college, summer league, anywhere. I don’t see how he could be a major league catcher if he’s never been a catcher. I did it as a teenager and my son did it for eight seasons in high school(Fall and Spring). It is so hard to do and then you add 20 MPH to the pitches we were trying to block. Then add in the length of the season and the speed of the base runners and the new statistical information that a catcher has to absorb and it is enormous. Plus, your going to waste at least one year of his bat, maybe two, in the minors, when he might be killing major league pitching as a 1B/DH.

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      • OP1, the good news, if you want to call it that, is that if he’s catching for the Astros, with rare exceptions the pitches he’ll be assigned to catch will probably only be coming about 10 mph faster than pitches at the high school or independent league level. Our F.O. does not seem to value pitchers who hang out in the high-nineties to triple-digits as much as other clubs do.

        But you are so right. For a position player in his mid-twenties, whose primary skill is hitting, to suddenly have to try to shift away from everything he has learned so far about baseball into the experts world of handling a major league rotation against major league competition is going to mean Tyler is a minimum of two to three years from being ready even for a legitimate cup of coffee. If by some miracle the ‘remaking of Tyler White’ plan works out – and that is an absolutely HUGE if – the Astros will certainly be better off for it. But for Tyler this will at the very least push his MLB debut back to his 26th or 27th year, and very likely will than mean his baseball career is effectively over before it begins.

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  13. Astros DFA Jake Buchanan. No surprise. Thatcher comes up and will face lefty batters. Perez will face lefty batters. One will maybe make the playoff roster. If they want to do that, they had better get lefties out in this playoff run.

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      • I wish Hinch would have used a lefty to pitch to Logan Morrison. What good is it to have three lefties sitting on your bullpen bench in the eighth inning and you leave your righty in to pitch to a lefty and he hits the game winning homer? What the hell good is three bullpen lefties if you don’t use them to pitch to lefties? And Neshek had just let a lefty get a base hit before Morrison hit the homer. So Miller’s hit was a prelude to Morrison’s homer. Nobody saw this coming?
        Even stupid McClendon swapped out lefty/righty to try and win the game, and they aren’t even in a pennant race.
        How about that at-bat by Conger, pinch hitting for Stassi! OMG. Swing at two sliders in the dirt and take the third one right down the middle.
        Of course, you have a chance to get back in it with a leadoff triple, but the next three batters look like pee wee hitters and that is the ball game.

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      • I guess the only caveat to this, OP, is how many RH hitters did McClendon have left on his bench? With September call ups Seattle may have had several other options available. Then it comes down to deciding if you’re more comfortable with Neshek facing Morrison or Thatcher/Perez facing a RH hitter in that situation. I will admit, though, I was nervous with Neshek facing Morrison and my fears were confirmed. I might have rather seen Will Harris start the inning instead of Neshek as he gets LHs out better than Neshek.

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      • Tim, Morrison was a pinch hitter, so Hinch could have done a “touche” with a lefty and either faced him or forced McClendon to make another move and waste Morrison.

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      • Yes, that was my point. If LM was a PH and McClendon had plenty of options off the bench with Sept. call ups he probably would have brought in a RH to face our LH reliever.

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  14. Greeneville, our farm club with Tucker2 and Daz on it, plays for a playoff spot tonight in their last game of the regular season. If they win, they’re in.

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  15. Really enjoyed this Chip.
    I guess the answer on Fiers is that after Feldman left with an ouchie in his shoulder last night that he will be a regular part of the rotation. Mike and his pine tar glove….

    ■Mark Appel – Is moving a lot slower than a 1-1 should – good thing guys like Correa and LMJ moved quickly
    ■Jon Singleton – Is he the newest version of Brett Wallace?
    ■Hank Conger – MLB power in his bat – Little League power in his arm
    ■Jonathan Villar – Great skills below the neck
    ■2017 – After slow going 2012-2014, the schedule is accelerated
    ■Chris Carter – One step above tee ball is called dad’s pitch where dad’s pitch to the kids and try to hit their bat – you get what I am saying
    ■Correa – The complete ball player mentally and physically at 20-21 – Amazing
    ■A.J. Hinch – Pleasant surprise – doing great by this young team

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  16. Kudos go out to Jose Altuve and Jake Marisnick, both of which got two hits and drove in a run in last night’s loss to Seattle. Altuve’s K to end the game was not what we wanted to see, but he’s done so much for us it’s hard to hold that one against him.

    Kudos as well to Max Stassi who drove in a run with an opposite field base hit in his first at bat since being called up. Alas, when the game was on the line in the 9th, with a runner on 3rd and the tying run at the plate, Max was pinch hit for by [insert joke here], who – you guessed it – whiffed.

    Kudos to Evan Gattis who at least walked twice and scored a run, to Jed Lowrie who got a hit, a walk and scored a run, and even to Carlos Gomez who got a bunt single (with two outs, strangely enough) and at least managed a sac fly when he came up with the bases loaded.

    Yes, and kudos to Colby Rasmus for leading off the bottom of the 9th with a double – only to be stranded because no one after him could make contact with the ball.

    The rest of you guys? Gonzales, Conger, and Valbuena especially – you get another chance Wednesday, and you owe your teammates – not to mention the paying customers at MMP – something good.

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  17. A couple of notes that some might find interesting:
    -Justin Maxwell was DFA’d by the Giants yesterday.
    -Wesley Wright is one of the Angels’ September callus.
    -Nathan Kirby, once considered a sure top 5 draft pick in 2015, but ended up going to the Brewers in the supplemental round, just had TJ surgery and will miss all of 2016.
    -Don’t be shocked if Scioscia and the Angels have a parting at the main fork of the trail. The right words seem to be there, but something smells fishy.
    -Dan Jennings will be invited to not be manager in Miami next season. Nothing fishy here. It is a barbeque.

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  18. Last night is the kind of loss that can hurt you in a pennant race. The Rangers sweep the O’s at home and we should be doing the same to the M’s. We are ahead of schedule, but still have a way to go to be considered a WS contender, in my opinion.

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  19. Tim, we all know it doesn’t have to be this way. White & Reed are both hitting nearly 400. Do you really think they need to play in the fall league?

    Might we still have Carter at first next year?

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    • As much as Carter and Conger irritate me by just being on the roster, we really don’t know if the success White and Reed have had in the minors would translate to success on the big league level. This year? Maybe, maybe not. Next year? Maybe a better chance. But it may be a stretch to expect any positive impact in a pennant race this month. A better solution would have been to find some big league experience prior to the trade deadline.

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  20. I absolutely agree. But to keep on throwing guys out there with sub 200 averages and expecting them to suddenly start hitting is insane.

    Surely they understand what a huge impact making the playoffs would have on this area. I have a hard time believing it’s the money they’re saving. To stubborn to deviate from the “plan”?

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  21. thinking ahead, the way the pitching is lining up keuchel will pitch in all four of the upcoming series with the LAA & rangers. then also will pitch one of the last three against arizona while LAA & rangers play their last four against one another. keuchel will miss two series with the A’s and one with mariner’s. we’ll see how the other pitchers are aligned.

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  22. Sandy….this is how it translates to me, neither one of these guys have enough time to be protected in the rue 5 draft, and if you put them on your 40 man now…you have to keep them on the 40 man all of next year, or take the chance of losing one or both to the rule 5 draft. WHEW!!! That was a looong sentence! Does that make sense to you? It took awhile for me to understand it!! While I would LOVE to see one of them up here I’m ok with leaving them where they are for a while longer…..NEXT year will be an AWESOME year for this club!!! We have a TON of talent on the way, and I can not WAIT!!!

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    • The big issue I see is that we are going to have to put on our big boy pajamas and cut ties with some of the guys we have now to make room for the talent that is on the way. Will Jim Crane and Jeff Luhnow be willing to do that – even if it means admitting that some players they highly valued are just not able to provide the exceptional level of quality this team should field going forward?

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    • Yes it does make sense. Guess spending some time studying the rules might help with my frustration.
      I really respect your ability to keep up with all this while not being able to see the games.

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      • Thanks girl!!! Yes, it would be heaven to be able to actually SEE the games, but it might be a blessing sometimes!! I get soooo angry with them when they can’t score runs for a pitcher throwing his best stuff, and getting no help. I’m talking about you
        Kris Karter.

        Liked by 1 person

  23. A conversation overheard in the Astros dugout before the game tonight between A J Hinch and Jose Altuve.

    AJ: Jose, I need to speak with you. The computers tell us that you are hitting too many first pitch strikes.
    Jose: O.K. When I see a strike, I try to hit the ball hard.
    AJ: Well the computers tell us this is no good. You need to watch Chris Carter and do what he does. Make the pitcher throw you at least 4 pitches each plate appearance or strikeout trying.
    Jose: Chris is my teammate and friend, but he is a terrible hitter.
    AJ: Jose, you are wrong there. The computers tell us he is our best hitter. He sees 4.3 pitches per plate appearance. You are the worst hitter in the league with only 3.25.
    Jose: But my batting average is over 130 points higher.
    AJ: Our computers say that does not matter.
    Jose: But my on base percentage is higher. I have an even higher slugging percentage.
    AJ: You are not listening. You need to go to the plate and do exactly what Chris does. If the ball is over your head, swing like you think the ball is in the dirt. If the ball bounces on its way to home, swing like you think it is over your head. There is a reason he is making over $1.1 Million more than you are Jose.
    Jose: But when do I get to hit the ball?
    AJ: The computers tell us that on the 3rd strike, a hit and a strikeout are equal. So go ahead and try to hit the 3rd strike.
    Jose: But Skipper, that makes no sense.
    AJ: (in a soft whisper) Jose, it makes no sense to me either, but the computers tell us what to do. In fact, where we play in the field, batting order, who pitches where, it is all done by the computer. I have the best job in the world. I have a great seat at the ball game and make no decisions. I can’t be fired because I only do what the computers tell me to do. Well sometimes I have to touch my nose, rub my face, or pull my ear but those things mean nothing. AND I make $1 Million a year. By the way, do you know anything about Tyler White?
    Jose: Yes, he is doing great in Fresno. He has 53 RBIs in 50 games and is hitting .380.
    AJ: Guess again. He is such a poor hitter; they are going to send him to winter ball to make him a catcher.
    Jose: Really.
    AJ: Yep, the computer says any guy that hits that needs to get nicked and banged up by foul tips. Do you want them to make you into a catcher?
    Jose: No sir.
    AJ: Well that’s good because we have two excellent hitting catchers and you would have to go back to the minors and relearn everything. You better start looking like a real major leaguer. You need to imitate Chris Carter. The computers say he is our best player.

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  24. The Astros are in a situation of being where they never thought they would be, not quite sure how they got here and not wanting to do anything to mess up the ride they have had getting here. They didn’t know then, they don’t know now, and they are afraid to mess with the formula that gave them the team with ninth best record in major league baseball. Somehow, they think that doing nothing will eventually allow them to beat the eight teams in front of them in the last two months of the season.
    We are happy with the team we have. Famous last words.
    For a guy who has spent the last four years accumulating prospects, and who has gotten so much out of four or five of them this season, Luhnow now would rather field a team with guys who aren’t hitting, rather than bringing more prospects up, that he drafted, to try and get some quality situational hitting. All of a sudden, bad is preferable to what you have spent the last four years building.
    Players with negative WAR are not what got you here to this point. They are what kept you from being farther ahead!

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  25. Kid Keuchy just won his 3rd A.L. pitcher of the month award this season. Unless he or the Astros implode the last month I think we are looking at the A.L. Cry Young award winner.

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  26. And Conger costs the team a run with his passed ball, because the runner would have been on first base and could not have scored on a ground rule double. This after killing the rally with a double play ball.
    What a player.

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  27. There is an implosion in Houston. MLB tonight was saying the Rangers are poised to take over 1st place. If that happens we might not even make the playoffs. I sure hope not. Somebody on this team or organization prove me wrong. Ne-Shucks blows it for second night in a row.

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  28. What a crappy way to lose a game. Man, oh Man……can’t keep playing like this. I’m going to bring out the old “smoke and mirrors” analogy again. We ain’t fooling anyone.

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  29. It looks like the team is pressing again and this can be expected from a young team experiencing a pennant race for the first time. Let’s hope they can right the ship against the Twins or it could get ugly real fast.

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  30. I’m watching the Rangers game…….wishing we still had Brett Wallace (playing for the Padres now) at first, Bud Norris is pitching outta the pen for the Padres…..now how weird is THIS??!
    Score is 4-3 Rangers in the top of the 10th. Damnit. The Astros had better watch out the Rangers are playing some dang good baseball………
    And just like that our lead is *2*.😟😟😟

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  31. i wouldn’t even mind missing the playoffs if it wasn’t to the stinking Rangers. I could handle this Sept. collapse if it was the Angels or any other team, but losing out to the Rangers and having to listen to their fans rub it in will be hard to swallow.

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  32. Kinda hard not to listen when a lot of my cousins live in the Dallas area. I’ve never liked the Rangers but I could ignore em when we were separated by leagues. Now they’re in my face every day. Yuk

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  33. Well, shall we all become Angels fans this weekend? Cheer on the lesser evil.
    Maybe George will be back Friday and light a fire under these guys.

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  34. Unfortunately, if you look at both rosters with an unbiased opinion, you have to admit the Rangers are just a better team than the Astros right now. With the additions to the bullpen, which was their main weak spot, they are just a better team. If the Astros miss the playoffs it could hurt their attendance next year as the fans will be jilted and skeptical.

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    • The thing about those projections is that all it takes is a small win streak by the bad guys and a small losing streak by the good guys to change the outlook significantly. There is plenty of time left to win or lose the division.

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  35. Meanwhile, on a brighter note:

    Joe Sclafani got to hits and drove in a run in a rare start for Fresno last night. Fresno won 3-0, getting a masterful outing from Lefty Luis Cruz [7 IP, 0 R, 4 H, O BBs, 9 Ks]. Catcher Tyler Heineman and DH Jon Singleton also got 2 hits apiece for Fresno. Tyler White was 0-4 with a K, bringing his BA down to a mere .364.

    Corpus Christi also won by shut-out [5-0] with Frances Martes spinning the gem [6 IP, 0R, 5 H, 3 BBs, 9 Ks]. Danry Vasquez got 4 hits and catcher Alfredo Gonzales got 2 with a BB. Reed was 1-5 with a RBI, but he struck out 3 times.

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    • Yeah, DaveB – he’s the sparkplug guy who is hitting .301 and can neither crack the regular line-up at Fresno or help us at the MLB level.

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      • Ever thought there might be a reason why he hasn’t gotten a shot? I would imagine there has to be something we don’t know. It seems rather odd he’s been on the ‘inactive list’ (as opposed to the DL) a couple of times. Any insight?

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      • Not a lot of deep insight here. Joe was at ST this year. Perhaps part of the problem is that he is 25 years old. Maybe it is because he went to College at Dartmouth. And perhaps it is that, while he is by no means an error machine like Jonathan Villar, he is also not likely to challenge Carlos Correa as a defender. His primary value is as a high OBP switch-hitting DH [if we choose to go that route rather than stick with low OBP, power stroke, but league average at best producer Evan Gattis] and as a super utility guy that can fill a lot of places like Marwin Gonzalez. He doesn’t strike out a lot, so one would think he could at least be a pinch-hitting asset to the big club down the stretch this September. But what do we know?

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      • Only looking at stats for 2015 and with limited number of games. 62 hits with 72 total bases – so not much power this year. 10 errors in 255 chances. Not knocking him but just looking for a reason a .241 hitter plays and a .287 hitter rides the bench. The starter appears to have 9 errors in 380 chances with 84 hits and 125 TBs. Don’t see a wide difference there.

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      • I’ve never had a chance to actually watch Sclafani play. But the kid hit .339 with a very high OBP last season at OKC and then immediately became a part time player in 2015. He’s a good baserunner and a good base stealer. He’s unremarkable defensively. He’s a light hitter. I’m sure there are several factors why he’s been largely relegated to a bench role, even though he’s had much more success than the #2 pick. One might well be that Fontana projects much better than Sclafani. I don’t buy that argument though. I just don’t think there is really a place for him in this organization based on computer generated assessments. I hope he gets a real chance somewhere else in 2016. There are organizations lacking depth at second base.

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      • If Luhnow didn’t draft him he becomes expendable, or irrelevant. I don’t know, and.neither do you why Sclafani has never even been in the conversation for consideration to the majors. Who knows what Luhnow thinks about anything…..I gave up trying a long time ago.

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  36. Well, the Astros are still in 1st place. But these next couple games are as crucial as any. The Scottish boys need to go deep into the game and give the bullpen another day or two of rest. Then hold our nose and cheer for Richards and Weaver to do the same.

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