Random Astros’ thoughts in the middle of spring training


Just some random thoughts in the middle of the Astros 2016 Spring Training….

  • The shoulder soreness reported on young Lance McCullers Jr. forces one’s mind immediately to the big innings increase his 21 year old arm experienced last season. Is his soreness due to overwork in 2015 or just a little early ST problem?
  • The LMJ injury brings to the forefront how smart the reasonably priced pickup of Doug Fister was. Five starters is never enough and that wise move may be an early season savior for this team.
  • Does the Spring Training shakiness of Ken Giles mean anything as he has given up runs in each of his 3 appearances?
  • With Giles struggling and Luke Gregerson yet to take the mound is there a Plan C for the closer spot? Probably not.
  • Could the 1B/DH situation be going any better for the fans? Gattis is still out, Singleton is as bad as ever and Reed and White are ripping the ball as advertised.
  • Colin Moran may not make the team, but Valbuena has to be on a short leash as Moran looks ready to be the 3B soon.
  • Has the team ever had this situation before where they come to ST with a winning team, but also with so much talent a phone call away?

What are your thoughts with the Astros a couple weeks into Spring Training?

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76 comments on “Random Astros’ thoughts in the middle of spring training

  1. I am very excited about this year’s squad! We now see that the youngsters at first and third bases and at DH are very ready to step in and take the jobs. Of course, we all know the FO will not allow that to happen just yet… gotta keep that MLB clock management going.

    Then there is young Lance’s shoulder problem. He reported that he threw in the off season, even during his honeymoon! If the workload from last season was the culprit then it would have reared its head while he threw this off season. I feel he is trying to do too much too soon this early spring and has overextended the shoulder. He has nothing to prove now and he should just take it easy as the older veterans do.

    I feel Giles is pressing because of the expectations that the fans and the club have for him. Count me among those with the high expectations!

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  2. Stassi is back in Houston to have his thumb looked at. I smell a trade coming. I doubt Luhnow will keep one of the minor league catchers up, to start the season. That’s why I said I’m looking for him to make a trade……I might be wrong, but it’s no secret Luhnow likes Lacroy. And….if I never see Jon Singelton name in the line up again, it will be just fine with me.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Oh no…how long is he expected to be out? I checked the Chron, but as usual, the information was lacking, and in one case, faulty (they said his career BA in the majors was .245, when it’s actually .357).

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      • No idea…..he left camp yesterday to meet with the docs in Houston. Like I said, I’d be real surprised if Luhnow keeps one of these minor league guys up. I think he’s gonna make a trade for the Brewers Lucroy. My opinion only.

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      • I hope this doesn’t kill his chance to make the team. Would really suck if it did, as I was pulling for him.

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  3. hey dan. thanks for keeping the posts coming. ive been really busy but always come here when i have time late at nite to see whats up.
    i think lmj’s soreness is just a little st problem.
    not only does it make the fister signing look smart, but also the gomez/fiers signing from last year.
    you never know when a pitcher in st is working on something. sometimes this will skew results on the field. i think he will be ready when the season arrives.
    lets hope we never see plan c
    we have lots of options at 1b, thats a good thing
    i have supported moran for a long time, i think he will be up sometime next season, if not before if there are injuries or bad performance from others. i think valbuena will be in the lineup on a daily basis.
    i cant remember it if it has happened before. wooohooo astros.
    becky i think you are right about lacroy, he has been trying to get him pretty much all off season—i think the price has just been to high.

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  4. If the Astros make a trade for LuCroy it will be painful as far as prospects traded go, I bet Luhnow makes a trade for a backup catcher at a much lower price, similar to what the Rangers did getting Corporan last year. This is pure speculation on my part though.

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  5. My thoughts on spring training thus far are that Duffy and Tucker will get a lot of looks the rest of spring training.
    McCullers might not be hurt bad but could start the season on a rehab assignment.
    If that’s the case, Wandy might have a shot at a job.
    If Gregerson isn’t ready to go by opening day, Gustave might get a shot at the 25-man temporarily until Gregerson is ready. Gustave is on the 40-man.
    I think Hinch will continue to put Giles out there every third day or so until he is ready.
    Colin Moran looks good, but so does Valbuena and Moran needs to conquer AAA first.
    I would expose Joe Musgrove to some more major league hitters before I sent him to the minor league camp. I would like to see him make a couple of appearances this week, to let him know what’s ahead.
    I’m more excited about White than I would be another hot rookie in spring training because of that .362 batting average in AAA last season and that performance in winter ball. Added to his spring at bats, he is starting to show a pattern.
    I think they are taking it easy on Will Harris because of his lack of stamina at the end of last season.
    I think there is a good chance Neshek is ready to be the old Neshek by the start of the year.
    Rasmus could be a huge surprise this season.
    The Astros have a ton of talent.

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    • Good points all old pro.
      – They are talking like Gregerson will pitch Wednesday or Thursday – so to me that means he has a good shot at being ready for the regular season (since he does not have to build up innings like a starter).
      – Weird note about Stassi – where Hinch said he had an X-ray a few days ago but the results are not yet in…maybe the medical world has changed, but X-rays are one test where you get results immediately. Seems like a white lie to me.
      – I wonder if they would wait around and see if an experienced backup C gets released. I think there is a chance they would use one of the minor leaguers as a backup.
      – White is making a strong case for himself by continuing his consistency like you said op.

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    • For the players on the 40-man I think it amounts to an option, to the others it’s an assignment. Not 100% up on all the details.
      Apparently Jeff was not able to read my recommendation above on Musgrove until it was too late. I was driving all day yesterday and not able to post and I haven’t given him my cell number. Crane’s private jet to get me home from vacation might have solved this communications snafu, and saved the front office a minor mistake here. But the long drive was rewarding personally because I got to eat out all three meals!
      Ortiz complimented Musgrove in his twitter, noting that Joe was already working out in minor league camp early this morning.

      Liked by 1 person

      • My eyes are getting bad – or I am getting revved up . I read what you wrote about ‘Ortiz complimented Musgrove in his twitter’ and my mind instantly heard ‘Big Papie complimented Musgrove on his splitter’.

        Liked by 2 people

  6. Dave, as I was eating lunch I noticed a man in his nineties wearing a purple Sunday suit, trying to get a drink from one of those new fangled automatic soda machines. People were buzzing around him like New York cabbies, as if he didn’t exist and he was lost. He sat down at a table with two empty cups and suddenly he looked up into this big old white man’s eyes and I asked him if I could help him with his drinks. He smiled and said yes. He got up and walked to the counter and got his meal to go while I got him two cokes. I helped him to his car and opened his door and he stared at me and smiled.
    I went back in to finish my lunch and people just kept lining up trying to get drinks out of a computer. I told Mrs 1oldpro that I had met a beautiful old man and she looked at me with love in her eyes. It was a good day.

    Liked by 4 people

    • That’s a better story than any restaurant review would have been 1OP. It is a bit dispiriting that today, too many of us are so self absorbed that we don’t notice others around us needing a hand. And I’ve been lucky. Have not yet run into one of those computer dispensers. I’m going to stick with iced tea!

      Liked by 1 person

      • It’s a shame that most people are too self absorbed to take a moment to help others or speak a kind word or even smile. If we all did this, we’d sure have a better world.

        Liked by 3 people

    • OldPro…….you sir are my hero! I can picture my father, or any one of our father’s being that sweet elderly man, and my eyes filled up with tears. God bless you my friend…..indeed.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Lineup for today’s game against the Nats
    2B Altuve
    RF Marisnick
    SS Correa
    3B Valbuena
    1B White
    DH Singleton (DH in this case may mean Deemed Hopeless)
    CF Aplin
    C Pena
    LF Kemp
    And Cy Keuchel is on the mound….

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  8. Correa has a dinger for a 1-0 lead today and Keuchel has had two easy as pie innings so far – wonder how many he can get in today.

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  9. Well, typical Dallas Keuchel game – great pitching on his part and non-existent offense by his teammates. Oh well, a 1-1 tie is not a terrible thing.

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  10. Stassi had surgery for his hamate injury and will be out 6 weeks, which I assume is when he can come back and start working back towards playing – so maybe 2 months. So now what?

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    • My guess is that Tyler Heineman would have the upper hand. Stassi goes on 60 day DL, Heineman gets added to the 40-man, when Gattis returns fully healed he may get some work behind the plate against LH pitchers and resume some of his DH duties.
      So far, we have an injury to our backup catcher and our DH. We have had a pretty good spring injury-wise. I think Gregerson and Mccullers’ injuries are more precautionary waiting than anything else.

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    • Great, just great. I was glad he finally got his shot; now I fear when he comes back he no longer will have an opportunity.

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  11. Today’s lineup
    Springer RF
    Bregman SS
    Gonzalez 2B
    Gomez CF
    Valbuena 3B
    Duffy 1B
    White DH
    Castro C
    Perez LF
    McHugh P
    Astros face Gio Gonzalez of the Nationals.

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  12. Some observations:
    Getting Gustave back will turn out to be a big deal. He will either be in our bullpen in 2017 or a big part of a trade. He has major league closer stuff.
    Preston Tucker- He’s on the backfields of Osceola learning to be a major league first baseman. Hinch said we would not see him at 1B until late in the spring. His outfield defense has forced this move. He is more valuable to any team as a power hitting, average fielding LH first baseman, than he is as a power hitting, below average fielding, LH corner outfielder.
    Interesting that Bregman hits behind Springer and in Correa’s SS position the day after Correa hits a bomb. I think they love Bregman’s potential.
    I am much better seeing Valbuena and Rasmus’s spring stats and saying how well they have looked, than making excuses for them and saying “it’s only spring training, don’t panic!.” Much better.
    The pitcher who won the second most games of any pitcher in the American League last season(19), is the 155th ranked player in baseball by Fantasy Pros. Don’t think he doesn’t know it either. Beware of the quiet guy with a legitimate chip on his shoulder. I’m talkin’ about you, Doctor McHugh.

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    • Singleton also has something to do with Tucker working so much at first behind the scenes. They really want a lefty bat over there and I think for multiple reasons they still do not want to open the season with Reed.

      If I played fantasy, I’d be picking McHugh before the draft got around to 155. I hope he’s pissed!

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    • I haven’t paid much attention to the lineups this spring. I suppose Bregman will go to Corpus, but I think he is much further from the Big leagues than that.

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  13. 2 big hits and two RBIs from Margo and 2 hits and and RBI added by PTuck. Other than that, not much offense. We drew 9 bases on balls off Washington pitching – and LOST!

    Singleton is now hitting .103 while leading the team in ABs with 29. He has 1 BB to 12 Ks. Compare that to T. White’s .345 BA, with 2 BBs to 6Ks, and A.J. Reed’s .304 with 1 BB to 8 Ks, or perhaps PTuck’s .286 with 1 BB to 5 Ks.

    Marisnick is now hitting .174. Compare that to Rasmus’ .545, Springer’s .294, or even Gomez’ weak .231.

    Of course, it’s just ST, and not quite half way through. Let’s put the unpleasant Nationals experience behind us and move on.

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  14. Adam LaRoche is retiring with accumulated WAR of 14.1 and MLB earnings of $71.8 mil.
    Mickey Mantle retired with accumulated WAR 0f 109.4 and MLB earnings of almost $1.2 mil.
    Crap!

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  15. Chris Devenski was optioned to minor league camp this morning, but will return to make a start for the Astros in Mexico City.
    Lineup for today against the Tigers:
    Altuve 2B
    Springer RF
    Correa SS
    Rasmus DH
    Gomez CF
    Singleton 1B
    Moran 3B
    Castro C
    Marisnick LF
    Peacock P
    Astros face Jordan Zimmerman at noon and it is on Root and MLB Network.

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  16. ESPN’s Jim Bowden says the Astros are talking to the Brewers about the catching position. As I mentioned yesterday, the Astros have a young RHP in the minors and is on the 40-man roster. who throws 100 MPH and has the potential to be a closer. He is starting to look like a player others might want..

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    • Very mixed emotions for me on this issue. If Castro gives us 125 solid defensive games, we only need to find 50 more. Unless we feel the need to turn the catchers position into a real offensive threat, I think I’d rather make a minor deal for a back up catcher than trade another gun away and at least one more additional high end prospect. And maybe Castro too. But, it looks like more and more that the goal in 2016 is to win everything.

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    • I really hate to even think about losing Gustave. While I know ST stats are far from predictive of what will happen during the year, with closer-types the results are far less likely to be significantly skewed than is the case with regard to position players or even starting pitchers. So far, despite an admittedly small sample size, Gustave has quite frankly looked like a significantly better pitcher than Kenny Giles. Of course, both Gustave and Giles have pitched 4 times – one inning at a time – in ST. Gustave is 3 for 3 in save opportunities, has a 0.00 ERA, and has a 0.75 WHIP. He also has a nice 5/2 GO/AO ratio. Giles has pitched the same number of outings and innings for us, but over those innings his ERA is 9.00 ERA and his WHIP is a terrible 2.00. He’s been up in the zone, such that his GO/AO ratio is significantly higher than Gustave’s at 6/4. And, yes, one of the numerous fly balls he gave up left the park. And, of course, he’s walked three times the number of hitters Gustave has, and given up 3 times the number of hits Gustave has. And he blew the only save opportunity he has been given. Other teams are hitting .313 against Giles; only .133 against Gustave.

      So yes, I suspect other teams will be very, very interested in Gustave. Is acquiring Lucroy really worth losing Gustave’s upside? Lucroy, a righty, actually hit righties better than lefties last year. His line vs. righties was .267, .335, with 6 HR, 3 TPL, and 15 DBL. His line vs. lefties was .255, .298, .638 with 1 HR and 5 DBL. So while he’ll probably hit lefties better than Castro [who was atrocious last year] will, is he really the level of return we would want for Gustave? Maybe the Brewers would take either Minaya and Fontana or Reynolds and Marisnick for him. Gustave? I hope it doesn’t come to that. If the Brewers really think they need Gustave, how about giving us former Astro prospects Maverick Phillips, Josh Hader and Jacob Nottingham back?

      There are some things to like about Lucroy, of course. He has historically not been a high strikeout guy, and has shown decent OBP for a catcher. Last year was a down year for him, but he hit .301 for the Brewers back in 2014. And I suppose, if Castro does not improve at the plate this year, Lucroy’s salary [$3,300,000] is a little cheaper than Castro’s, and I think Lucroy’s contract has a 2017 club option on it, so if he came on board now, and learned the pitchers and American League hitters from Castro in 2015, we could let Castro go if he wants to walk, and keep Lucroy as our primary catcher for at least the club option year of 2017.

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      • After seeing Giles in AAA I wrote him off as less than Farnsworth as a pro in terms of potential. He has surpassed that to this point. I could see a regression, but we really didn’t lose anyone crucial. I advocated Velasquez as a potential asset for the bullpen, but his control issues and tendency to surrender fly balls raised some red flags.

        I think Gustave as a 7th inning guy is more valuable than Lucroy as a platoon catcher. There will be defensive specialists available at the end of spring training. Also, Gattis was serviceable as a catcher.

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      • I just want to point out that Giles had an 8.00+ ERA last spring. Don’t read too much into spring training stats. Also, if we trade for Lucroy he will be the starter and Castro will be the backup. It will take more than just Gustave to get Lucroy and I would prefer to go after another catcher with less prospects attached to him. What about Derek Norris of the Padres? He is on the block, will cost less in prospects than Lucroy and the Astros would have longer control over him. He’s not quite the offensive catcher that Lucroy is, but he is an upgrade from Castro.

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      • Before getting into a comparison between Giles and Gustave’s stats bear in mind that Gustave is pitching in the ninth inning of spring training games. He probably has not faced a single top of the order MLB hitter while Giles has been pitching in the third and fourth innings against the other team’s starters. Giles certainly has not been great but he is sharpening up against the guys he’ll see in the ninth inning in a few weeks.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I love it, actually. Let him work through the soreness slowly instead of rushing to make the opening roster. It may kill two birds with one stone.

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    • I am glad. Shoulder soreness at this time of the spring does not go away with use. It can ruin the entire year – or career – if the shoulder is not rested. I sure hope Fister returns to 2013-2014 form, though.

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  17. Would someone please call the Commissioner of Baseball – and the Joint Chiefs – and report to them that Loki of Asgaard has re-entered the realm of earth, has shape-shifted into the image of Jordan Zimmerman, and is wreaking absolute havoc today in Kissimmee, Florida?

    Could someone also call animal control and report that a peacock has imploded?

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  18. Uh oh…….looks to me like the Brad Peacock experiment has just gone down the drain. I really didn’t think he was going to come back this year, and be the reincarnation of Cy Young. Poor guy, I feel sorry for him….

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  19. Ugly, ugly day at Kissimmee – except for Singleton, Springer, Hoyt, and Moran at least.

    Peacock, Straily, Valdez – I hope you still enjoy transportation by bus.

    And someone, please put out an APB on the Astros’ offense. The further we get into ST, and the more we see of real major league pitching, the more our O-fers are starting to add up.

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    • I wouldn’t be surprised to see Peacock released in the next wave. I believe he’s out of options, but I cant be sure of that. And just because Singelton hit a homerun today doesn’t win him the first base job. Ug…ly game today.

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      • You know, Becky and Mr. Bill, this is the Singleton’s Fool’s Gold – which is also the Chris Carter and Evan Gattis (to a lesser degree) Fool’s Gold. Singleton now has 6 RBI’s (one of the most on the team) in his 13 games and it would be the equivalent of driving in about 80 runs in a full season – not too bad at first glance.
        But he only has RBIs in 2 games. He only has hits in 3 games. He is a bad offensive player who once in a great while runs into one.
        He should be losing his job based on the overall body of work, not winning it based on a couple of games….

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      • I was at the game today. Both of Singleton’s hits were off pitchers with uniform numbers above 60. In other words he is hitting AAA pitching, but still isn’t hitting major league pitching.

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      • That’s a bit of an improvement for him, as he wasn’t hitting AAA before. Maybe by the time he’s 30, he’ll learn to hit major league pitching.

        Just not for us…

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  20. Dan….I agree 100%. Frankly I think Luhnow has already made up his mind, and I think Tyler White has dethroned Singelton. Funny, but I don’t think Singelton gives a crap anymore…..he still gets his money. I’m looking for White and Duffy to brake camp with the big club.

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    • Duffy has cooled off since his fast start. I’m not sure if he makes the team, but I do think White will make it unless he really cools off the rest of spring training. Both White and Duffy are RH hitters so I think PTuck will definitely make the team, but we know MarGo, backup catcher and probably Marisnick make the team off the bench. Gattis will probably start on the D.L. so that opens up another spot and if Singleton starts in Fresno that opens up a spot.

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  21. More about the Adam LaRoche retirement is coming out…apparently he retired because he was told not to bring his son in the clubhouse.

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