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Astros 2015 – Kudos to the Grateful Dead


It is time to tip a cap to the seminal jam band, the Grateful Dead, and sing a chorus of “what a long strange trip it’s been”.  The Houston Astros 2015 season has been unexpected, exhilarating, maddening, inspired, expired, crazy, and one more time, unexpected.

The Astros were not supposed to be here. They were not supposed to be in a pennant race beyond April or May. They were not supposed to hang with the big boys, and hold onto first place for 3/4 of the season.

They were not supposed to go on a 10 game winning streak in the early season including 6 straight on the road. They were not supposed to be neck and neck or ahead of the Texas Rangers and the LAAAAAA Angels, teams with payrolls of $152 Million (Angels) and $140 Million (Rangers) respectively that are more than twice their own payroll.

They were not supposed to be contending with a team that was 14th out of 15 in the AL in BA and first (worst) in strikeouts. They were not supposed to be contending with George Springer missing 60 games, Jed Lowrie missing 90 games and Scott Feldman only making 18 starts.

They were not supposed to be led by wunderkind Carlos Correa, who has been doing his best “Derek Jeter with more power” impression. They were not supposed to have a reject manager named A.J. Hinch who is demonstrating that managing can be lovelier the second time around. They were not supposed to have an 18 game winner (Dallas Keuchel) and a 17 game winner (Collin McHugh) with 11 games to go, especially with McHugh’s up and down ERA clicking in at 3.93.

A 21-year-old named Lance McCullers Jr. was not supposed to leap from AA ball to the majors and produce 107+ quality innings with basically a K/IP and an ERA of 3.18. Will Harris was not supposed to be picked off the trash heap and produce a 1.65 ERA in 61 appearances.

30-year-old Mike Fiers, who had never pitched a complete game in his career was not supposed to make his first one a no-hitter in the middle of a pennant race. Luke Gregerson, who had never been the closer for a season, was not supposed to put up 7 wins and 28 saves and counting.

This team was not supposed to overcome the poor strategic and statistical hitting of Luis Valbuena, Chris Carter, Evan Gattis and Jason Castro. They were not supposed to survive the defensive butchery of Hank Conger.

But they have done all of this and are one game out of the division lead with the finish line just up around he next turn. What a long strange trip indeed.

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About Dan P

Dan Peschong is a full time engineer and a long time Astros lover from the days of Joe Morgan to the days of Jose Altuve.

140 comments on “Astros 2015 – Kudos to the Grateful Dead

  1. Zanuda
    September 23, 2015

    The difference is that of all the things things we did well in the first couple of months of the season which propelled us into first place have now done a 180 and those things are bringing us down.
    The starting pitching is still pretty good but has dropped off some. The timely hitting has disappeared altogether, and the bullpen has run out of gas. It seems like they can’t get batters out at crucial times.
    They lost this as a team but the bull pen was a big let down. Ramus misplayed that fly ball and he should have caught it. Whether he didn’t know where the wall was or just misplayed it it should have been caught. Harris, Nesheck, and Fields can’t get out of an inning w/o giving up a run(s) or hits and walks. Maybe it’s tired arms but we keep making the same mistake over and over.
    A few months ago I thought we might win 88-90 games. I don’t know if we’ll win 84 at this rate. Another note, when Carter got his double, he wasn’t even running but loping. Hell as old as I am I think I could have run faster. A great piece of hitting buy Springer, and of course the top 3 guys accounted for all of the RBI’s.
    We better get some guys who can consistently hit for average next year or we’ll be worse than this year.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Billy Castillo
      September 23, 2015

      That’s Karter for you…he loafs like Mrs Baird’s. I’ve seen more hustle out of a dead turtle.

      Like

      • Zanuda
        September 23, 2015

        Please don’t insult Mrs Baird’s like that. And the Turtles aren’t “happy together”. I always used “like molasses going uphill”.

        Like

      • Billy Castillo
        September 23, 2015

        Okay, then…Wonderbread, cause I wonder why this guy still is on the team.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Zanuda
        September 23, 2015

        Spot on with that!

        Like

    • Tim
      September 23, 2015

      I also thought Rasmus should have caught that fly ball. He seemed to have no urgency in trying to catch it when it was such a critical moment in the game. Heck, even David Freese thought he was out. It just seemed to me that Rasmus wasn’t giving his full effort to catch that ball. I have changed my opinion on bringing him back next year. I don’t want a player who can’t give everything he has to make the 3rd out in a crucial game in September. I want guys that care.

      Like

      • sandy
        September 23, 2015

        Saw the same lack of enthusiasm in Carter today. Some of these guys seem to want the season to end so they can go home.

        Like

  2. Zanuda
    September 23, 2015

    Leave them off the playoff roster if we make it.

    Like

  3. rj
    September 23, 2015

    when you come to the fork in the road, take it.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Devin_
    September 23, 2015

    Just watched the highlights and disagree with everyone on Carter and Rasmus loafing. That was a tough play because of our weird walls. We get burned s couple times each year. As for Carter, I’m turning into an apologist, but really think we probably win a couple more games the last two weeks with him penciled in at 1st or DH. However, he earned his spot on the bench by performing so far below expectations.

    Like

  5. Becky
    September 23, 2015

    Now we’re just nit picking. Carter absolutely knows he’s gone after this month. That’s why he isn’t really going all out….so does Rasmus. Luhnow said he could flip Gomez next summer, and get the same calerbel of prospects back that we sent to the Brewers for him. Now that’s just STUPID. We didn’t need another centerfielder, but we have him anyway. There are going to be trades and promotions all next spring, and I can only hope one of them is for a “good” catcher…and call the Conger trade a bust of epic proportions.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Billy Castillo
      September 23, 2015

      We have a good catcher..his name is Max Stassi. At the very least, if Castro is still here next year, Max at the very least needs to be platooning with him. Conger needs to be shipped for a 19 year old A ball pitcher.

      Carter is picking the wrong time not to hustle…he may be gone after this year (and better be!) but he’s playing to stay in the majors at this point, and he’s a complete idiot if he doesn’t realize it.

      As for Rasmus…I’m disappointed, in that I expected more.

      If Luhnow said that about Gomez, well…that’s….um…yeah.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. 1oldpro
    September 23, 2015

    I would like to make a few points:
    1. Luhnow received a contract extension. He is not going away.
    2. Crane wanted a playoff contender this year and he got one.
    3. He raised his payroll a lot from last year, but the crowds have not shown up. That has to be discouraging. Crane is disliked personally by a lot of people. That is one of the reasons people haven’t flocked through the turnstiles. I follow his team DESPITE my loathing of his values, his politics, his family life and his background. The thought of spending money in his place of business is something that is excruciating.
    4. I think Luhnow has done his best, but his lack of baseball savvy has hurt him in his efforts to build this team.
    5. If you think you know who is and who is not going to be with this team next year, you are kidding yourself, because what happens after this season ends is entirely up to Crane and Luhnow. Few of us have been able to figure out what they think.
    6. Luhnow flat out said that Rasmus was going to be trying to win himself a multi year deal with his play this year. Did Luhnow figure wrong? Did he think teams would be knocking down the door for Rasmus and they weren’t.
    7.Does anyone think Luhnow is going to put a $15-16 million QO on Rasmus, a hitter who struggled to hit .240 all year with a free agent deal within his grasp? That would be crazy! Rasmus would saddle us with that contract in a millisecond.
    8. I think Luis Valbuena is totally mystified that he cannot hit. He is stunned at his own ineffectiveness. I think that accounts for his body language.
    9.The only difference between Marisnick’s bat and Carter’s bat is that Carter is consistently awful and Marisnick is inconsistently awful. But Marisnick’s defense(and baserunning) is a good defense for keeping him and Luhnow has no defense for keeping Carter.
    10. Luhnow realizes he built the bullpen incorrectly. The bullpen needs to be better as the games get more important. Ours got a lot worse, because it was not composed of the proper arms. It was composed of guys with quirky deliveries and magic tricks that were deciphered by the 3/4 mark, especially by our division, who saw them too many times.
    11. Mistakes by our starting pitchers are magnified by our inability to hit the baseball. Fiers should have had five or six runs to work with today. Same yesterday and for the last two months.

    Liked by 2 people

    • sandy
      September 23, 2015

      OP I agree with everything you point out and I’d like to add my thoughts.

      2. Point screams at me that Crane/Luhnow will be satisfied with a ” contender ” indefinitely.
      3. He raised the payroll but also raised ticket prices.
      4. Very true. That’s what scares me. He is lacking in baseball savvy, he’s a headstrong man that’s not likely to change.
      10. You really believe he realizes he made mistakes? Doubtful.

      Like

      • 1oldpro
        September 23, 2015

        He indicated that he wanted some “bigger” arms in the bullpen recently.
        If you look at this team, not having clutch hitters is how we went from a top 5 team in runs scored in the 1st half to a top 15 team in runs scored for the year. Huge drop!
        He knows he didn’t have the bullpen for the home stretch. The losses and the numbers confirm it.
        He knows that the team has played worse since the deadline trades and the callups.
        Who is he going to blame for the losses? Nothing since the All Star game has gone right. He waited for Jed and George to get back and they didn’t help. He goofed. All he can do is blame players or injuries, but Texas is the team that had no players for most of the year and they walloped us. He knows that he made moves that didn’t work and he knows he didn’t make moves with the minor leaguers and kept bad players that ended up costing us wins. He knows it. He might not admit it publicly, and he can blame it on his concern for the future(rule 5 draft?), but if the future was the most important, he would have kept Phillips and Nottingham.

        Liked by 2 people

    • Billy Castillo
      September 23, 2015

      Well said, esp concerning our relievers’ delivery. Only thing I might quibble with is Crane…if I boycotted anything ran by people who had different political leanings than me, I’d have (happily) left Texas years ago! Personally, I remind myself of the fact that sports owners in general are people I’d never get on with if I met them personally, and separate myself from that.

      Like

      • 1oldpro
        September 23, 2015

        If I were boycotting him, I would not have gone to a game or bought a cap and a shirt. Every person’s perceptions and reactions to others are different. All I know is that when I see the guy, my stomach churns and I have to look away. When I saw him sit down in the front row behind the plate today, I wanted to look away and just forget he was there.
        But my feelings about him have not made me change allegiances from the Astros. But it has caused most of my family in Houston to drop the Astros. and they have money to spend. They no longer spend it on the Astros and they won’t, as long as he is the owner.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Billy Castillo
        September 23, 2015

        Oh yeah, i know what you mean OP…there’s quite a few people i feel like that about myself. I don’t know Crane, nor do I particularly want to based on his history, so believe me…I’m not sticking up for him!

        Like

    • Becky
      September 23, 2015

      Op…..you are 100% correct about Rasmus.
      He only signed a 1 yr deal, so I doubt Luhnow is gonna give him even ONE more year. Waaay too expensive. And you are right again about the runs on the board for these pitchers. I said out loud a one run lead wasn’t gonna cut it.I’ve given up trying to figure out why these guys can’t hit for spit..and Carter nor Valbuena are keeping their job next year, and we ALL know it. There’s too much talent in our minor’s to pay guys like that REAL money to just occupy a spot on this team. BUT….we do need a bonified closer.PERIOD.
      Next year we won’t have Qualls, Perez, or Thatcher in the bullpen, and Nesheck might be on the bubble. I think Gregerson and Nesheck are both signed for 2 more years…I think. Sooo we have some moves to make.
      You might have spoke too soon about getting to the playoffs….and if they don’t make it, I wonder how.pissed Crane will be about it.

      Like

      • Billy Castillo
        September 23, 2015

        Neshek seems to have Lance Berkman disease the past few years, in that he’s great, then mediocre every other year.

        Like

      • Tim
        September 24, 2015

        Neshek was only signed for 2 years so his contract expires at the end of 2016. Billy, I don’t recall Lance being inconsistent every other year. It seemed to me, when healthy, he was the Astros most consistent hitter.

        Like

      • Billy Castillo
        September 24, 2015

        Tim, there was a running joke in the early days of this blog that Lance was great on even numbered years and just ‘very good’ on odd years. This was said around the all-star break in 2008 when he was having a phenomenal season .(Oddly enough, then the home run derby happened, and from the second half on, was never quite the same player). It was part of a joke involving Morgan Ensberg, who really DID have an alternately good/bad pattern going on for a bit.

        Like

    • astrocolt45
      September 23, 2015

      I would like to comment on # 3. The casual fan would be more excited if we were finishing the season trying to get to 1st place than where we are. They lag performance. Most are saying “see I told you they would fold.” To be successful you at least need for them to buy the hats and shirts and crap. And as I posted earlier today. Crane and his TV/Radio deals do NOT exist in Texas Rangers territory. He does have a chance this weekend to sell a bunch of Rangers gear to those crowds.

      Like

    • Tim
      September 24, 2015

      I agree, especially with how this collapse is going to affect the limited fan base of the Astros. Outside of the greater Houston area it is almost exclusively Rangers fans and that is sad because it was the opposite 10 years ago. I don’t care for Crane as a person and his arrogance is annoying, but as an owner of a baseball team I think he has a better idea on how to build and sustain a winning organization more than Drayton. Drayton was a very likeable person, but the way he completely disregarded the farm system toward the end of his ownership is the primary reason the Astros fans had to suffer through the past 5 years with a horrible major league product. I applaud Crane and Luhnow for sticking to their guns and completely overhauling the minor league system. It was the best, and quickest, way to get the Astros back to being a very competitive team. Although I think Luhnow should stay and be allowed to continue with his plan, which was advertised as a 5-year plan and we are just finishing year 3, it doesn’t mean I think Luhnow is without faults. His trades, for the most part, haven’t looked good, but only a few can definitely be called misses, so far. In addition, as I posted earlier, he seems too concerned with the pending rule 5 draft moreso than the current major league team that is about to completely collapse under its first September playoff race.

      What concerns me going forward is I think the only team in the division to regress next year is the Angels. The Mariner’s and A’s will be better and, unless riddled with injuries, the Rangers will be adding an ace in Yu Darvish back to an already good rotation. If this collapse continues without even a wild card entry the Astros must have a marked improvement next year or completely lose out to the Rangers for the casual baseball fans in Texas. If this team regresses next year, barring major, unforeseen injuries, I may be on the ‘fire Luhnow’ bandwagon. As it stands now, regardless of how we finish this season, we are looking at a 10+ game win improvement from last year so Luhnow deserves the chance to continue see if the progression continues. I have to think he will look to balance the lineup with more high contact, high OBP players. I will be extremely disappointed if Conger, Carter and Valbuena return. I’m fine with Gattis returning, due to his minimal salary, but he should not be the regular DH anymore.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Becky
    September 23, 2015

    The Twins won today, and the *idiots* to our North, are currently beating the snot outta the A’s.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. sandy
    September 23, 2015

    If Ashby keeps ( in a subtle way) pointing out mistakes Hinch/Luhnow have made recently. He may be in the unemployment line in a couple of months.

    He talked a lot about Stassi being a very good defensive catcher without mentioning Conger. Also, some other remarks about the hitting.

    It’s about time someone started to call it like it is.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Billy Castillo
      September 23, 2015

      I’ve noticed that too.

      One question about Stassi…is this his last option year?

      Like

      • 1oldpro
        September 23, 2015

        I’m not sure. I read the rules and I’m not clear on whether Stassi qualifies for a 4th option year. We’ll have to ask David Stearns about that.
        Oh, wait!

        Like

    • Becky
      September 23, 2015

      That’s why Milo didn’t get along with Ashby about. Ash used to knock Drayton, and Milo was so in love with McLane…..it cost Ashby his job. Ashby knows carchers, and he knows a good one when he sees him. Stassi has been as stable as he can be, yet he has not, and will not get a chance up with the big club. As far as Luhnow is concerned Stassi has no worth, other than a life long minor leauger. Oh and by the way the guy who drove in the two runs in the ninth for the Angels, was in our system until Luhnow traded him to the Angels for CONGER. Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

      Liked by 2 people

      • Billy Castillo
        September 23, 2015

        I dunno…Max has been playing more than Conger lately (finally). Maybe opinions are changing, Becky. I thought with Max playing part of yesterday, that Conger would be starting today, and when Max was taken out today, Castro was put in. Maybe someone finally got a clue!

        Like

      • Tim
        September 24, 2015

        Becky, it was the 8th inning and David Freese knocked in the 2 runs. Carlos Perez had an RBI single in the 8th inning.

        Billy, I heard a report that Conger has a sore shoulder and this is why he is not playing. It may just be a ruse to not play him, but the Astros are saying he is injured.

        Like

  9. Becky
    September 24, 2015

    It will be *very* interesting to see who Hinch puts in to catch this weekend. The Rangers are liking their chops at the very mention of Conger behind the plate, because they absolutely know they can run on him. Castro my man…..you better get those legs of yours some good massages, because you are going to ge squatting for three days straight. By the way……WHO in their right mind would ever want to be a MLB catcher??!!! Good night ya’ll!!

    Like

    • 1oldpro
      September 24, 2015

      Buster Posey

      Like

  10. Devin_
    September 24, 2015

    I mainly agree with everyone on the bullpen, but let’s keep it in perspective. They tried to sign Robertson or Miller, but both took deals elsewhere. ChiSox got a lot of FA action, so I think players were convinced they were on the ascent. NYY get FA regardless of situation, but with them in WC1 I can’t quibble this year. Failing to get those guys allowed us to get Neshek and Gregerson. Both have been very good, but overused. We needed a guy like Fields to step up. We needed Velasquez to come be a one inning monster. If Feldman had been healthy or Fresno not in the hunt you might have seen LMJ as the eighth inning beast and Feldman/Oberholtzer/Straily eating innings down the stretch.

    If Luhnow could have a Mulligan he might not have done the Gomez trade. I don’t think he feels as badly about it as most commenter though. He overestimates Gomez’ value next summer much like his prediction of 30 Gattis HR into the Crawford boxes was way off the mark. Hopefully he is learning.

    Like

  11. astrocolt45
    September 24, 2015

    DanP: I am guessing you wrote this on 9/21 and was posted on 9/22. But all of those “holes” you mentioned are glaring now. We are no longer 1 game out. We need to sweep the Rangers. We are running out of games and to be honest, excuses. It was a great ride, but the train is pulling into the station and it is quickly ending with no rides in mid-October. As everyone that played sports heard time and again from their coach, a team “is like a chain, it is only as strong as its weakest link.” It is a team sport and as all on here have pointed out, it had and has holes.

    Like

    • Devin_
      September 24, 2015

      The bigger obstacle is being 4 games back in the loss column. With so few to play, HOU has to sweep the Rangers AND get help from someone else. Giving away two to ANA and seeing the A’s rollover really hurt our chances.

      Like

      • sandy
        September 24, 2015

        They may still make the WC2, but realistically, how far can we expect that to go.

        Like

  12. daveb
    September 24, 2015

    Maybe I’m thick, but I simply do not see Luhnow showing any consistancy in his decision making process as it applies to building a contender.

    I understood the Gomez trade at the time, because Springer was unavailable. And if Jake was producing offensively, the trade might have been avoided too. But once that trade was made, Luhnow shut down. That’s what really has me offended. Why make that trade, presumably to make a push for the playoffs and then fail to fix first and fail to fix the Conger mess and not get another arm, a power arm, for the pen?

    And why not just use the kid under our noses that never got a shot? Santana is playing everyday in the majors for the first time in his life and has a .381 OBP and a .902 OPS. Do we have any guys doing that? To me, it is inexcuseable for a GM not to have given him a shot and then compound the travesty by packing up some pretty damn talented prospects, prospects that might have an iimpact as early as 2016.

    I did not need to see a playoff run this year. It was not expected. And in his quasi attempt at reaching the playoffs in 2015, Luhnow may have actually set this clubs progress back, rather then making the club stronger going into 2016.

    I’ve said for sometime now, I do not see a plan.

    Like

    • Becky
      September 24, 2015

      The plan is to trade away any guy he did not draft. Plain and simple.

      Like

  13. sandy
    September 24, 2015

    I give Luhnow credit for building up a dismal minor league system. But really? He had the number 1 pick for about 3 years.

    He’s not impressing me as GM. What trade or acquisition has made an impact on this team? His contract extensions so far ( with the exception of Altuve) have pretty much a bust. I’ll be surprised if he’s even able to sign Keuchel to a multi year deal.

    Either Crain has him reined in and is really calling the shots or the plan is a failure and now he’s just winging it.

    Like

    • daveb
      September 24, 2015

      Sandy we could have formed a committee and built up a serviceable farm system. But more to the point, I think most ML GM’s, with those picks, could have produced similar results. Luhnow has had some very good moments in his drafts, but also so not so good ones. And I just don’t see him using that minor league talent to best benefit of the mother ship.

      Like

  14. Nance (@Bbfanlady)
    September 24, 2015

    It is starting to like the “plan” may have been good but the execution has been flawed because of misses on player evaluation in trades. There have been some pleasant hits in Rule V and waiver pickups. Can anybody imagine where we would be if Grossman and Dominguez had accepted those deals like Singleton? Jeff dodged a bullet there. I am glad for the depth we have in the minors, but other than Correa, how many stars do we think we have from those drafts? I also think the major league roster construction has not been ideal from a build for the future standpoint.Rant over. For now.

    Like

    • sandy
      September 24, 2015

      Oh, come on Nance, let’s keep the rant going.
      Do we really think we’re gonna get a good first baseman next year with Singleton signed for ( what was it) 3 years?
      What does the plan hold in store for Grossnan, Presley, and Carter? What effect will they have on the 40 man roster

      They have a lot of trade bate in the minors but what good is it if the GM is a terrible negotiator?

      Like

      • Nance (@Bbfanlady)
        September 24, 2015

        I think the Mets won the Gomez trade…..

        Liked by 2 people

      • astrocolt45
        September 24, 2015

        Baseball Reference says Singleton (including buyout) is due $10 Million through 2018.

        Like

  15. Becky
    September 24, 2015

    Jim Crane at the Sunshine Kids Golf tournament today…….
    “It will be a big dissapointment of we don’t make the playoffs”.
    Prepared to be “big” dissapointed Mr. Crane.

    Liked by 1 person

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This entry was posted on September 22, 2015 by in Astros.
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