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Astros’ spring training: Surprises thus far?


The Astros are near the halfway point in their 2016 Spring Training and while there have been many things happening as expected, it must be stated that there are a few surprises to date.

Some items that may be seen as surprises to this point:

  • The Astros 2015 were led in HRs (27) and RBIs (88) by Evan Gattis, who is recovering from hernia surgery and has not played to date. The team has clicked along as though they don’t miss him. (Fill in your own funny retort at this point).
  • Jeff Luhnow said that while 1B was Jon Singleton’s to lose, that there would be an open competition for the spot. The surprise here is that he has been true to his word and Singleton, Tyler White and A.J. Reed have all had significant time in the lineup at 1B and DH…..with varying degrees of success.
  • That outside those three 1B candidates, who have appeared in between 10 and 12 games to date, the players who have appeared in the most games have been Colin Moran, Tony Kemp, Andrew Aplin and Eury Perez.
  • That in 12 ABs through the Ides of March, Jason Castro has the same amount of hits (3) as all the other catchers in camp have had in 40 ABs.
  • That the team would be led by Marwin Gonzalez with 4 HRs so far this spring.
  • That Jandel Gustave would have a 0.00 ERA and 3 saves and closer-heir apparent Ken Giles would have a 9.00 ERA and 0 saves.
  • That Dallas Keuchel would have pitched spotlessly to this point giving up 2 hits and no runs in 5 IP – oh, wait a minute, wrong list.
  • That Wandy Rodriguez would be pitching (2.25 ERA / .625 WHIP) as though he should be considered for a spot on the 25 man with Lance McCullers starting the season off on the DL.
  • That Jose Altuve would gather 3 walks in one game.

So….

Anything that has surprised you to date or anything on the above list that has not surprised you to date?

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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.

109 comments on “Astros’ spring training: Surprises thus far?

  1. Billy Castillo
    March 17, 2016

    Singleton being challenged is a happy surprise for me. Never thought he’d pan out…always hated when we’d make trades with the Phillies…we got hosed pretty much every time.

    Amazing what two years can do…
    https://chipalatta.com/2014/03/26/evil-crane-and-his-igor-luhnow-hatch-plot-to-ruin-prospects/ I lol’d at the Gattis mentions, too.

    Like

  2. drbill14
    March 17, 2016

    Not to let the air out of the balloon regarding Gustave but bear in mind that he has been pitching in the ninth inning of spring training games and has therefore probably not faced many top of the order MLB hitters while Giles has been pitching early in games and facing the other team’s front line. I do think its great for Gustave’s mental development to be placed in relatively high leverage spots but Giles has been there and done that. Frankly I don’t give a rip about Giles’ saves in the spring until and if the other team is keeping their first stringers in the game until then.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mr. Bill
      March 17, 2016

      Regarding Mr. Giles, let me respectfully state the case of the loyal opposition. First, let me say that I don’t care about his saves either. He has only had one save opportunity thus far, so saves are not the issue. I do care about his horrible location, his wildness, his walks, his wild pitch tendencies, his lack of Ks, and his imminent hittability. The loyal opposition questions whether the fact that the guy for whom we traded Vince Velasquez and Mark Appel has had an absolutely horrible spring start this year can really be laughed off by citing the fact that he also had a horrible spring last year. Last year he was just a scared rookie who had never played for a major league team or faced major league hitters before. His bad spring performance two years in a row just tells me that he has a pretty dangerous achilles heel, in the form a strong tendency to do exactly what he’s doing right now, which is to be extremely – and dangerously – wild, to drift up in the zone way too often, to throw flat pitches, to walk batters his team needs to keep off the bases, to give those guys a free pass into scoring position via wild pitches, to get nervous and give up dingers, and to be imminently hittable by patient hitters [like the guys we will face in Arlington and Kansas City] despite his much bally-hooed velocity. But if he can’t throw strikes consistently, the guys on the teams we have to face will figure it out pretty quickly, sit back, and wait for him to make a mistake. Maybe Ken can get it – and his nerves -under control once the season starts, and keep both under control in the midst of a highly stressful pennant chase against some of the best hitters who have ever played the game. But he is not engendering confidence right now. Guys who throw 100 – but can’t control it or get any movement – get bombed regularly in the American League. And Giles is not a rookie with low expectations any more. He’s now a guy who is expected to be a superstar with a team who paid a dang high price to get him. Let’s hope he gets it together soon – or that Luke Gregerson is lights out when he comes back.

      Like

      • Dan P
        March 17, 2016

        I have not gotten to see him yet this spring, but Giles was not a rookie last season – he pitched in 44 games in 2014.
        I guess a concern that has been there all along is that his WHIP moved from an excellent 0.788 in 2014 to a pedestrian 1.200 in 2015. This was built on being more hittable and an uptick in BBs. Now his Ks were very strong both season, so I expect that to go back to normal. I just don’t know if he is just a kid who throws really hard and needs to find his control during spring training or a guy who throws really hard and does not know where the ball is going.

        Like

      • uncleknuckle
        March 17, 2016

        Helluva of a paragraph Bill. Hang in there. It is still early.

        Like

      • Mr. Bill
        March 17, 2016

        LOL. I am hanging indeed, Dave. I just have never had much of a taste for Kool-Aid, snow jobs, or ostriches.

        Like

      • Tim
        March 17, 2016

        It’s spring training. Come down off the cliff. Giles will be fine just like he was last year.

        Like

    • Devin_
      March 17, 2016

      I only take issue with the fact you did not cite Hoyt as a guy who may be better against MLB hitters NOW than Gustave. We have some depth and options.

      Like

  3. 1oldpro
    March 17, 2016

    I’m pleasantly surprised at Moran’s play at 3B.
    I’m surprised that one of our pitchers hasn’t stepped up and done something about our batters getting hit.
    I would like to know something, anything about Thomas Shirley.
    I’m not surprised that the pitchers who are getting hit hard, are the pitchers who are getting hit hard.
    Next year, at this time, will we be talking about Riley Ferrell the way we are talking about Gustave?
    Reed has almost as many Ks as Singleton.
    Having seen Kemp, Fontana, Sclafani and Aplin hit, does anyone doubt how valuable Marwin Gonzalez is?
    Jon Singleton and Jake Marisnick appear to be the same players we have seen in the past.

    Like

    • Dan P
      March 17, 2016

      I guess my feeling is that I would rather have someone who is hitting .300 and strikes out too much than somebody who can’t get above the Mendoza and strikes out too much.
      But… likely Reed needs more seasoning while Singleton may just need to have a fork stuck in him.

      Like

      • 1oldpro
        March 17, 2016

        Yes. Reed needs more seasoning. I ignored his BA, like I am supposed to in spring training, and focused more on his lack of power and his being overmatched in many PAs this spring. What I do like is the fact that he has now seen major league pitching and knows what he will need to do to hit it.

        Like

      • Mr. Bill
        March 17, 2016

        More seasoning perhaps – it couldn’t hurt. But that was a nice 3-run, go ahead oppo-boppo dinger A.J. just crushed against grizzled MLB veteran Jim Johnson.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Mr. Bill
        March 17, 2016

        And it is a game-winner!

        Like

    • Mr. Bill
      March 17, 2016

      OP1, you are so correct about this spring really highlighting the value of MarGo. I expected absolutely nothing out of Fontana, so his failure to show us anything this s spring just confirms my expectations. But I really thought Kemp was ready to take the bull by the horns and impress everyone. And, I hoped our resident unappreciated long shot, Godfather Sclafani, would seize the day and blow us away [metaphorically speaking, of course]. Meh – not so much.

      Andrew Aplin at least has had a couple moments that showed his potential. Kemp made one great play, but he also booted a couple of easy ones. Sclafani and Fontana showed us zilch to be excited about.

      I hope our A and AA infielders [guys like Bregman, Hyde, Mayfield, Moon, Arusz, and Tanielu, among others] mature better than these guys have – at least as far as what we have seen this spring. Fortunately, we have Altuve and Correa at 2B and SS, so the fact that neither Kemp nor Sclafani nor Fontana look like they are ready is not really a major problem. MarGo has earned the right to be our utility guy for the foreseeable future – and there are no legitimate challengers anywhere close to dethroning him.

      Like

      • 1oldpro
        March 17, 2016

        Bill, Fontana has been on the top 30 Prospects list since he was drafted. Now he is in AAA, is on the 40-man protected roster and has never played in the majors, but is gone from the list. That tells me everything. First pick in the second round of Correa’s draft. Wow.
        By the way,, there are some interesting new names and shifting positions on the Astros Top 30 Pipeline list, if you haven’t been there in a while.

        Like

      • Mr. Bill
        March 17, 2016

        Well, in the interest fairness I will point out that Nolan Fontana has walked 4 times in 18 plate appearances, and has only struck out 3 times; that Tony Kemp is 2-2 in steals; and that Joe Sclafani has not struck out once in 9 plate appearances. They are good ballplayers, and each one brings something to the table. They just haven’t pushed the people above them to this point.

        Like

      • Tim
        March 17, 2016

        I hope we are able to keep Danny Worth. He won’t make the major league team, but he’s looked great this spring. I was at the Braves/Astros game today and his only out was a HR taken away by a great catch. He would have had 2 HRs today. He looks like a nice depth piece to have in Fresno.

        Like

  4. Mr. Bill
    March 17, 2016

    One thing that has pleasantly surprised me is that our starting pitchers [and I most definitely do not include Mr. Peacock under that label] have pretty much been lights out. While Mr. McHugh was not at his best last time out, other than that one outing so far our starters have hit the mound throwing like it was July. Here’s hoping they keep up the amazing work as Mr. Hinch stretches them out, and they start to face real major league hitters more than one time through the batting order.

    One thing that has not surprised me is how well Tyler White has hit the ball. The guy is a hitting machine. Methinks our dear ailing friend Evan Gattis needs to learn how to catch and throw runners out on the bases again when he takes his rehab, because we have found a much better DH in Tyler White than Evan ever was or will be.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mr. Bill
      March 17, 2016

      So, after I lavished praise on our starters, it stands to reason that one of them – Fiers – would get smoked today by a rebuilding team. 3 innings, 3 runs [2 earned] on 5 hits, 3 BBs and 2 Ks for Mike. At least he didn’t give up any EBH’s. And to some extent we can say he was victimized by an error in the field behind him [Fontana]. Get ’em next time, Mike.

      Like

  5. uncleknuckle
    March 17, 2016

    Yes, no doubt, Moran, besides his hitting .400 something, just seems to have an excellent field presence. He looks like he belongs out there. And more and more, I think he does.

    But it’s so hard to determine much of anything after two weeks of spring games. I’m guessing there are a fair amount of folks here disappointed in Singleton’s big game yesterday. We’ve already pretty much written him off. And we might be right, but he perhaps he’ll hit .500 over the next two weeks and win the job.

    Odds are that Reed is going to play some AAA ball. But he won’t be gone for long. White seems to control his own destiny at this point. If he keeps hitting, then I think he’s got DH wrapped up (until Gattis gets back) and maybe some first base. But if Singleton continues to produce what he has over the second half of the month, I’m looking more and more at Tucker getting his shot to start the season over there. We pretty much know he’ll hit righthanded pitching already.

    I just want to see people stay healthy and stop getting hit by pitches. I can’t be glad for McCullers being delayed, because you never want to hear that part of your future has a sore arm. And if our guys get plunked another time or two, we’re going to end up with a rumble on the diamond, and we don’t need that crap at Spring Training especially.

    Like

  6. 1oldpro
    March 17, 2016

    My guess is that David Stearns wants three specific Astros prospects for Jonathan Lucroy and that the Astros don’t want to give up all three of them.

    Like

    • Mr. Bill
      March 17, 2016

      If you or I can just be allowed to pick the three prospects, OP1, we can get this deal done.

      Liked by 2 people

  7. Mr. Bill
    March 17, 2016

    Another thing that has surprised me is that, perhaps in deference to the injured Mr. Gattis, not a single Astro has hit a triple this year.

    Like

    • Mr. Bill
      March 17, 2016

      First triple is now official. Thank you George Springer.

      Like

  8. uncleknuckle
    March 17, 2016

    A guy like Joe Sclafani is never going to win a job by getting 9 plate appearances in ST. Reality is that there simply is no job for him in this organization. It would take a significant series of injuries to lift him up out of playing part time AAA ball and onto an ML diamond.

    Like

    • BrianT
      March 17, 2016

      He would benefit from being traded. Definitely.

      Like

  9. Dan P
    March 17, 2016

    The bats are back alive today – putting up 3 runs in the first and 2 in the second with mostly top of the lineup participation and Michael Feliz has added a couple more shutout innings to a good spring showing so far.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Dan P
    March 17, 2016

    2 home runs and 7 RBIs between Correa, Tucker and Duffy. I’m wondering when they will debut Tucker at first base or if he will be the DH against righties……

    Like

  11. Kevin
    March 17, 2016

    Good showing today Duffy and Springer and of course as always C2. Pitching staff solid again .

    Like

  12. Mr. Bill
    March 17, 2016

    Tyler Heineman broke out with 3 hits today, including a double.

    Like

  13. Dan P
    March 17, 2016

    This kid Correa (.435 BA / 1.283 OPS) has been pretty good this spring, but maybe we should waive him and keep Danny Worth (.412 BA / 1.324 OPS). What do you think?

    Liked by 1 person

    • BrianT
      March 17, 2016

      Worth all the way.

      Like

  14. BrianT
    March 17, 2016

    Billy C., thanks for that trip down memory lane. I remember writing that and thinking, can ‘o worms (chunk, buzz zzz zzzzzzzzzz) … opened.

    I think OP was ready to string me up.

    Like

    • Billy Castillo
      March 17, 2016

      LOL. When I read Gattis’s name, I had to do a double take!

      And man, that line up….Grossman batting 2nd pretty much says volumes/ And thank God Porter is long long gone.

      Liked by 1 person

    • 1oldpro
      March 17, 2016

      Oh, but I was so much older then, I’m younger than that now.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Dan P
        March 17, 2016

        That old folkie – Robert Zimmerman

        Like

      • Mr. Bill
        March 17, 2016

        How many times must a prospect excel, before he reaches the show?
        How high an OPS must a big-guy put up, before they’ll call him a pro?
        Yes and how many years must he toil in triple A, before they make him a ‘Stro?
        He needs more moon shots my friend, blowin’ in the wind!
        He needs more moon shots a-blowin’ in the wind.

        Liked by 3 people

      • Dan P
        March 17, 2016

        Another instant classic Mr. Bill!

        Like

  15. Kevin
    March 17, 2016

    AJ Reed 3 run dinger in the other game,

    Like

  16. uncleknuckle
    March 17, 2016

    Fun day at the ballpark(s). Dan, I am going to lobby for Tucker at first against all righties to open up the season. I want White to have a chance to DH most everyday. He’ll hit lefties and righties. And maybe Gattis will get Wally Pipped after all!

    Liked by 1 person

  17. BrianT
    March 17, 2016

    Marwin goes 1 for 3 and his BA drops like a rock. I really think he’s figuring this thing out.

    Like

  18. 1oldpro
    March 17, 2016

    It seems the Astros regulars can beat Toronto’s backups and our backups can beat the Braves regulars.

    Like

  19. Dan P
    March 17, 2016

    Lots of fun stuff here on the blog.
    Nice link Billy C to the bad old days that seem long long ago in a baseball galaxy far far away.
    daveb – Yes, give me that old time religion and a big chunk of White and Tucker ABs.
    Brian T – Marwin is the secret weapon
    Mr. Bill – Glad you reverse jinxed the lack of triples this spring
    old pro – that thing about beating their backups with our regulars and their regulars with our backups takes me back to the late great Bum Phillips who said about Coach Don Shula “He can take his’n and beat your’n and take your’n and beat his’n.”

    Like

    • Billy Castillo
      March 17, 2016

      “He can take his’n and beat your’n and take your’n and beat his’n.”

      Not only do I not know what that means, I don’t even know how to *pronounce* that lol

      Like

      • uncleknuckle
        March 18, 2016

        And there’s only two kinds or coaches; ” them’s been hired and them’s been fired.

        Like

  20. 1oldpro
    March 17, 2016

    After today’s game the Astros sent Jordan Jankowski and Alfredo Gonzalez to minor league camp.

    Like

  21. 1oldpro
    March 17, 2016

    Ground Control to Major Tim.
    Ground Control to Major Tim.
    Dan says get your cell phone out
    And please report to him.

    This is ground control to Major Tim
    We need to hear from you
    We need to really make a grade,
    And our heads just may explode today.

    For here are we sitting in our tin cans
    Far, Far from Kissimmee

    Ground control to Major Tim
    Your circuit’s dead
    Can you here me Major Tim?
    Can you hear me Major Tim?

    Oh, darn, I have to go work on the cattle guard! My cover song will have to wait.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Dan P
      March 17, 2016

      You guys are like the Astros – killing it today. I want to see op in his Ziggy Stardust get-up. Or maybe not.

      Like

      • BrianT
        March 17, 2016

        Not.

        Like

      • 1oldpro
        March 17, 2016

        Oh, my!

        Like

    • Tim
      March 17, 2016

      Reed crushed that HR today and I want Danny Worth remaining in this organization. I hope he accepts our Fresno invitation as we have little middle infield depth outside of MarGo.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Dan P
        March 17, 2016

        Thanks for checking in Tim – hope you and your kids are having a great time. Any other observations?

        Like

      • Tim
        March 17, 2016

        Yes. Don’t panic on Giles slow spring training start. 🙂

        I agree with others on here about Moran. He gives a quality AB each time and puts the bat on the ball. Considering we have a 30 HR SS we can survive with a 12-15 HR 3B. I don’t think he makes the team out of S.T., but I definitely feel he is our starting 3B next year. Also, Straily will be DFA’d if they can’t find a trade partner. Finally, I’m not sure if Peacock has options left, but if not he will also be DFA’d.

        Liked by 1 person

    • uncleknuckle
      March 17, 2016

      Damn Pro, you are really exposing yourself. It’ll probably never happen, but I’d sure like to have a beer with you guys one time, and Becky (Bud Light) and Sandy too, one of these days. I might qualify for the longest trip. It’s a boat ride, a taxi, and two flights if all goes according to plan! And Brian, I’d sure like to hear comments from you on a regular basis and heck Chip, we (at least I do) sure miss your daily dose.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Dan P
        March 18, 2016

        I drink beer too…

        Liked by 2 people

      • Devin_
        March 18, 2016

        Dan, I assumed you were considered one of the guys. I think daveb singled out the gals to be polite.

        If we’re drinking something other than Carib you can count me in.

        Like

  22. MarkW
    March 17, 2016

    Trying to juggle who makes the team, a few players are litterally making the difference in their future. I think it was Op who suggested Jake get more AB’s in AAA (seasoning), and I cant agree more bc we have adequate defensive speed to make up for his plus tools, and it opens spots for two guys I want on 25-man, Hoyt and Wandy. I think we’re pretty exposed as the 3 best teams we face are RHP killers (Rangers, Royals, Jays). I’m also not *quite sold on Neshek’s return – his stuff looks pretty flat right now. I am higher on Fields, though, as a possible hot hand toward closer.

    Right now, the biggest question to answer is Reed. If there were no question he’d help the team, owner’s possibly saving money vs winning now would be a bigger debate. But it’s going to take the whole Spring for me, leaning toward adding him. That makes PTuck the beneficiary of Gattis injury, and possibly Feldman gleening a few starts via reigning in LMJ.

    Wandy over Jake in order to keep Duffy’s late inning power in lineup. If Jake had Willie Tavares’ bunting skills, I’d give the edge to him. Thats how I look at it.

    The question is Tucker, Wandy or Jake – probably only get two, and thats until LMJ and Gattis return. By then, we should be able to determine what to do with Heineman over Gattis at C, if Tucker is hitting like he should; and we’ll know more about BOR, which are bigger question marks than McCullers to me.

    Keuchel
    McHugh
    FISTER
    FELDMAN
    FIERS/1st up Feliz
    Wandy/1st up Cotts
    FIELDS
    Gregerson
    Giles
    Neshek/1st up Hoyt
    Sipp
    Harris

    Reed
    White
    Cc
    Springer
    Tuve
    Tucker/1st up Jake
    Gomez
    Marwin
    Duffy
    Vb
    Colby
    Castro
    Heineman

    After seeing Duffy hold down the hot corner with a bit more slugging potential, I have him slightly ahead of Moran until we’re sure about Vb’s season.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Tim
      March 17, 2016

      I would love to see Hoyt make the team. I actually prefer him over Fields, but Fields will make the team.

      Like

    • 1oldpro
      March 17, 2016

      I like Hoyt, also and once he comes up, he has the stuff to stay.
      Moran could be hard to keep down in Fresno, especially if he pulls the ball a little bit more with that breeze blowing out every night in Fresno, instead of a gale blowing in from right like it did in Corpus last year.
      There are 22 pitchers on the Astros 40-man right now and 17 more on Fresno’s roster. Something is going to have to give. Some pitchers will be looking for jobs.

      Like

  23. uncleknuckle
    March 17, 2016

    Mark, good thoughts. Wandy is a tough sell because he is not real good at getting lefties out. That’s why I think Cotts might be a better situational lefty pen option. But I’m still waiting for that Cotts feel good story to get published. He’s been through sone tough stuff as a baseball player. How can you mot root for a guy that missed 3 plus prime years, but kept coming back. Lefties hit .186 against him in 2015. But, who knows, Wandy could win the long relief job.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. uncleknuckle
    March 17, 2016

    By the way, whatever happened to Hal? Brian, wasn’t he living in your neck of the North Woods? I’d like to see more varied opinions on this blog. Chip, I sure hope you are doing well. Your viewpoints are missed. I’m a youthful 61 at this point and time in life. And I’d love to go, in a friendly toe to toe, with a 20 something. Do we have anyone in that age bracket willing to show their meddle?

    Like

    • Dan P
      March 18, 2016

      I’m hopeful that the regular season will bring out more and varied folks to the blog. I know that Brian is about to have more time to write which will help because I am feeling like a dry hole of ideas. Only so many ST posts from afar stories.

      Like

  25. uncleknuckle
    March 17, 2016

    Tim, what are you guys up to? Yep, I’m asking for another review. I’m not looking for another generous 1OP life lesson, but including your bonding sessions with your boys, what sticks out? I’ve always wondered why the toll booth collectors don’t get combat pay these days. Do they even get free masks? And is there a best hotdog? I hate to push the envelope, but is there any chance we might get your guys to publish here, an account of their ST escapades?

    Like

    • Tim
      March 18, 2016

      Dave,

      This is our 4th trip for Astros spring training (only 3rd for my youngest son as he was still into Thomas the Train instead of baseball in 2012). This is, by far, my favorite vacation with my boys. I wish I could upload a photo of us taken in front of Osceola County Stadium the other day. You can just see the joy and happiness on their faces.

      I’m really looking forward to seeing the new stadium in West Palm Beach. My older son starts high school next year and if he makes the baseball team we may have to put our trips on hiatus until his baseball playing days are over. The high school teams play during spring break.

      The concession prices here are much more reasonable than MMP. A bag of peanuts is only $3. My boys, like most kids their age, still like chicken tenders as their meal of choice at the ballpark.

      The memories from these trips have left an indelible mark on me and I think it has done the same with my boys. The rest of this week involves non-baseball fun. Today we are going to Blizzard Beach (Disney World waterpark), tomorrow is a relaxing day at our resort and then Sunday is a visit to Magic Kingdom. We fly back home on Monday as I saved nearly $800 by flying on Monday instead of Sunday. The boys can miss a day of school with that savings. 🙂

      Finally, as a graduate of Stephen F. Austin State University, I must end with an Axe’em Jacks! Beat West Virginia today.

      Liked by 3 people

      • uncleknuckle
        March 18, 2016

        That’s great. Keep on enjoying!

        Like

  26. MarkW
    March 18, 2016

    Escapades?! Thats a good one, daveb! Yes, do tell, Tim…
    I like the regular homers at Crawfish Boil, sabermetric crowd. See if we can coax them into mixing it up at our humble abode? Or to roust Chip out it may take his schedule allowing it, and regular season play. Which I’m all ready to begin!

    Like

    • uncleknuckle
      March 18, 2016

      Mark, I take a peek in over there from time to time. Indeed, there are a few guys with very strong opinions. Might be fun having some “guest appearances” over here. We’re got a few folks here that won’t got down easy!

      Like

  27. MarkW
    March 18, 2016

    While on the subject, Dan.. I can remember for a long time how thorough and timely your comments on Chip’s chron articles were, the heir apparent-ness of your passion and depth. In fact, you can do no wrong bc we here share an affinity for all things, as Garner said, “Astronauts.”

    As deep as we get into the stats and W/L’s, it’s important not to lose sight of the most redeeming qualities of the fans, and that is making it an experience of a lifetime for the kids; finding one to give a foul ball, connecting w the players as real people, learning the lessons of hard work/teamwork.

    For me, just turning a half century last week, I’ll transport you to 1976, while I lived in St Louis and my idol, meeting the great base stealing artist, Lou Brock! Then, to Pittsburgh in 1979, the greatest year for a sports town; we are family, and the steel curtain. 1980 was a move to Houston – Renfro made “the catch”, JR Richard and watching Nolan Ryan operate stole my baseball affections for good. I know on this blog, I’m a relative rookie.

    The clarity that shows up here is pretty uncanny, but what I notice is elasticity for a veteran readership. Always reserving the right to change your minds, eh? When you’ve weathered as many ‘a long seasons, you know. Its who finishes strong, and I’m really going to be surprised if we don’t often dominate this year.. You’ll have to bear with me when Marwin and Springer prove their WAR over & again, as I’m dyed in the wool they’re going to outperform their projections.

    Like

    • Dan P
      March 18, 2016

      Mark W – thanks for all you shared on this post. One of my concerns about baseball as a whole is that the youngsters are not as in to it – it does not have the frenetic pace or hype that seems to drive the kids into basketball and football fan-dom. I think the type of outing that Tim is having with his kids is just wonderful and is the way to create life long fans.
      Except for a 7 year hiatus in the 1980’s to escape the Oil bust I have been in Houston since 1966, so I’ve seen it all and lived and died through it all from Luv Ya Blue to Run and Shoot, from the 1980 Phils heartbreak to the 1986 Mets heartbreak to various Padres, Braves and Cards heartbreaks along the way (and 2 Rocket championships) – so I knew that when some folks who posted here said the Astros would never be competitive again that 5 years can be a lifetime and a complete shift change for a franchise.
      I want this team to do it all this year, but I know from so many disappointments in our past that the loss of a key player or pitcher can throw it all down the drain. So I’ll watch and pray.

      Like

      • Devin_
        March 18, 2016

        Dan, I agree, but have an honest question. If Bud Selig retook the reigns as commish and awarded Carlos Correa and Dallas Keuchel to the Cardinals as pain and suffering compensation for their horrible hacking ordeal, how would you feel about this organization’s chances to
        1. Compete
        2. Win the West
        3. Win a championship within 3 years

        I can forgive the naysayers and alarmists because our cupboard was emptied as we made a run to 2004 and 2005 playoff success and they did a terrible job restocking it until the 2012 draft. I’ll consider 2011 as a win for the George Springer pick, too.

        Like

      • Dan P
        March 18, 2016

        Well, Devin like I say above “the loss of a key player or pitcher can throw it all down the drain”. I will say this – the team is better positioned than any time since the 2005 season to sustain some injuries and lost time. Just look at last season – they competed down to the end for the division and won the wild card despite…
        – Long lost time for Springer,
        – Long lost time for Lowrie
        – Long lost time for Feldman (which mattered last season as he was the #3 starter coming into the season)
        – Early season without Correa
        – Early season with Roberto Hernandez and a 5th starter by committee (Asher, Deduno, Obie, Peacock, Straily)
        – Early season without LMJ or Tucker

        My point is that I thought the Astros did not have to outspend folks to be competitive. I would not mind if they spent more especially if they get to mid-season and have a gaping hole due to performance or injury. But I felt building the right way they were bound to be competitive again and they are.

        Like

      • 1oldpro
        March 18, 2016

        Being an Astros fan since the beginning has been an exercise in torture.
        Our best shot at a fabulously talented infielder was Joe Morgan, and we traded him and watched him become a HOFer.
        Our best shot at a Pitcher for the Ages was JR Richard and he had a stroke as a young man. Unbelievable!
        Our next best shot at a great homegrown pitcher was Don Wilson. Suicide, Devastating!
        Our best shot for a great SS was Dickie Thon. Career ended by a fastball to the face.
        Our best shot at a great 3B was Ken Caminiti. Traded. Drug abuse. We didn’t even know.
        Home grown great player? Rusty Staub, who got traded for a guy who never showed up.
        All World outfielder? Cesar Cedeno. What happened?
        HOF 1B? Debilitating shoulder disease and a strike shortened MVP year.
        HOF pitcher Nolan Ryan? McMullened!
        Best Catcher in our history? Became a HOF 2B. Who knew?
        One World Series and got swept in it.
        Yep, us old Astros fans have definitely learned elasticity.

        Like

      • Dan P
        March 18, 2016

        – Moises Alou being sidelined by his treadmill (supposedly)
        – Mike Cuellar traded for peanuts
        – John Mayberry traded for more peanuts
        – 1980 playoffs against the Phils – blow the leads in the 8th inning of games 4 and 5 and lose in extra innings
        – 1981 playoffs against the Dodgers have a 2-0 game lead in best of 5 and then score 2 runs in the last 3 games to go home
        -1986 playoffs against the Mets – game 3 blow a 4 run lead in the 6th and a 1 run lead in the 9th, Game 5 lose 2-1 in 12 innings and Game 6 blow a 3-0 lead in the 9th and lose 7-6 in the 16th

        I can’t do anymore – I am about to throw up from just this….

        Liked by 1 person

      • 1oldpro
        March 18, 2016

        Matsui’s ca-rear ending injury?

        Like

      • rj
        March 18, 2016

        lol op, too funny!

        Like

  28. MarkW
    March 18, 2016

    So much talent, Dan, along with expert development staff,… solid, brainiac, vigilent-type FO, and no restraining contracts ala Carlos Lee? I’d say we’re in the Pole Position for making the necessary adjustments this year.

    Give me a .385 OBP at catcher and a #4 LHP at this point (ala 2013 Castro, 2013 Wandy) and we’re cookin’ with grease! OK, if we’re making this list: 2013 Feldman, 2014 Gomez, 2014 Fister.. We have the pieces, the staff and energy of this clubhouse will do the rest.

    2016 Mantras
    Pound Down
    Pitch to Contact and Positioning
    Dont Chase Low and Away
    Have Fun!

    Like

  29. 1oldpro
    March 18, 2016

    After his outing yesterday against the Astros, Brad Penny retired.

    Like

    • Dan P
      March 18, 2016

      Another one of “those” guys – who made about $50 million in his career with a total WAR of 18.9……

      Like

  30. 1oldpro
    March 18, 2016

    I had to go to MLB Gameday to get today’s Astros lineup. Could not find it from any of my regular sites.

    Like

  31. 1oldpro
    March 18, 2016

    Chris Correa’s sentencing date put off till early June. It is three days before the draft. How’s that for timing?

    Like

  32. MarkW
    March 18, 2016

    It must have seemed like the game had passed him by getting owned the way Penny did by our frontline.

    Assuming Tanaka is Yanks ODP, as well as we’re seeing and swinging it right now – can’t get here quick enough.

    Does anyone think besides Reed that there are any positions, barring injury, that are still up for grabs? Meaning, if Hoyt threw no-hit ball, or Wandy followed suit? Can anyone say from here on will make a difference? Jake could play his way on (they love him in the clubhouse), Tucker his way off.. that sort of thing?

    Like

  33. Mr. Bill
    March 18, 2016

    Hate to put too much pressure on a new guy during ST, but with LMJ out to begin the season, we are really going to need to see Mister Fister blowing people away like Twisted Sister. Might as well start today. Go out there and tell the Blue Jays ‘We’re Not Gonna Take It Anymore”. We’ll just call you ‘Twisted Fister’.

    Like

    • Billy Castillo
      March 18, 2016

      That sounds dirty lol

      Like

    • Mr. Bill
      March 18, 2016

      Maybe today we’ll have to call Doug ‘Blistered Drifter’.

      Like

  34. Kevin
    March 18, 2016

    Watching the game today. love the person and the athlete (JFSF), but man he looks lost so far. I know he is working on a new swing, but wow. TW just keeps hitting.

    Like

  35. Becky⚾
    March 18, 2016

    Fister is doing his best impersonation of Lucas Harrell today.

    Like

    • Kevin
      March 18, 2016

      Yup the only one he is fooling in the bat boy (-;

      Like

  36. MarkW
    March 18, 2016

    Fister, Redding, Munro, Samson, Moehler?
    Good for 5 innings, need run support to win?

    Like

  37. MarkW
    March 18, 2016

    This Jays game serves me notice that we cannot afford to leave Fister in when his change of speed isnt working (or Wandy, Feldman). Therefore, we need to be too heavy with long relief! There goes the extra position player in favor of 13 pitchers.

    Like

  38. Mr. Bill
    March 18, 2016

    Clamp! Suture! Our starting pitching has suddenly sprung a bleeder.

    Like

    • Becky⚾
      March 18, 2016

      Me thinks trying to catch lightening in a bottle again with Doug Fister was a waste of money. A move to the bullpen?

      Like

      • Mr. Bill
        March 18, 2016

        I doubt that the FO will be willing to bail on their big investment just yet. From his strikeout #s, Fister obviously still has some movement. He just doesn’t have any velocity, and so he has to have pinpoint command. That is not there yet – and the last two outings his command has actually been getting worse, not better.

        Unless Mr. Sale wants out of Chicago worse than I think he does – and Chicago feels the same way after the ‘bald-faced lie’ fiasco – the ‘Stros appear to be stuck with either Fister, Wandy, or Feliz as our 5th starter untll LMJ gets back [probably mid-May at the earliest]. Fister’s history in 2015, plus his absence of any real velocity at all, pretty much rule him out as a bullpen guy. Either he Tom Glavine’s batters to death or he gets massacred. Lately, Glavine has been quiet, and balls are flying everywhere. Wandy? As the Rangers found out last year, at this stage in his career Wandy is probably not good for more than one or two starts – all in April. So that means we really need to give Mr. Feliz at least one more start with the big club, and a good long look as our 5th starter.

        Like

  39. astrosfan57
    March 18, 2016

    I am one of the youngsters on here, having not been born until 1986. But I have been a die hard Astros fan for as long as I can remember.
    I’m truly happy that you and your boys are having a good time Tim, me and my dad have talked about making that trip for the last 10 years but something always comes up so instead last year we went on a trip thru Kansas City, St Louis, both Chicago teams, and Cincinnati. It was a lot of driving to do in six days but we loved every minute of it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dan P
      March 18, 2016

      I’ve got shoes older than you af57…. That sounded like a fun trip going through the heart of America with America’s past time.

      Like

      • astrosfan57
        March 18, 2016

        Yeah it was great.
        I unfortunately now live in the Dallas area and am constantly surrounded by Ranger fans, I would love nothing more than for Houston to show up this year against them and demolish them on their way to a world series title.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Diane
      March 18, 2016

      1986. The year of The Big Hurt.
      Maybe you’ll bring it full circle with a perfect -30- for a WS championship season.

      Like

  40. Tim
    March 18, 2016

    Hoyt with 1.1 IPs and 3 Ks today. Man, I want that guy in our bullpen.

    Like

  41. Mr. Bill
    March 18, 2016

    Okay, we are over half-way through the Grapefruit season now. Who is hot and who is not?

    Team leaders [Offense]

    Games played: Singleton [15]
    At bats: Singleton [35 – next highest Marisnick and T. White with 29 each]
    Runs scored: MarGo, Correa, and Springer [7 each; Altuve has 6]
    Hits: T White [11 – Correa and MarGo both have 10]
    Doubles: Altuve [4]
    Triples: Springer [1]
    HR: MarGo [4]
    Total Bases: MarGo [24] – next is Correa with 18
    RBI: Rasmus [8 – Duffy and T. White tied for 2nd with 7]
    BB: GoGo [6 – Duffy, Springer and Valbuena tied for 2nd with 5]
    Ks: Singleton [13 – closest is A.J. Reed with 10]
    BA [20 ABs] – Correa .435 [Worth and MarGo are also over .400]
    OBP [20 ABs] – Springer .531
    OPS [ 20 ABs] – MarGo 1.500

    Team Leaders [Pitching]

    Games: Chapman & Hoyt [6 each]
    Starts: Fister [4]
    IP: Fister 11.2 next is Feliz with 10]
    Hits allowed: Fister with 16; next is Straily with 11]
    Earned runs: Fister 9; Straily 7
    HRs allowed: Fister, Peacock and Straily with 2 apiece
    BBs allowed: Peacock 6; Cabrera & Fister with 5 apiece
    SOs recorded: Fister and Hoyt with 10
    BAA [5 games]: Hoyt .087; Keuchel with .118
    WHIP [5 games]: Hoyt 0.90
    ERA [5 games]: Chapman 0.00
    GO/AO; Valdez 3.00

    Like

  42. 1oldpro
    March 18, 2016

    I remember having Fausto as our #5 pitcher and Wojo as our #4 last year. I’m not going to panic during spring training about Fister. I like having Wandy and Feliz as sixth or seventh starters if they are needed. It’s too early to make judgements. Fister got hit by the best hitting club in baseball today and we did not have our big guns out there, especially leading off! We could not have put a worse leadoff guy out there than we had, because he never could walk and right now he can’t hit.
    If I can take something good from the game I take Duffy getting another hit that’s not a homer, White with a single and an RBI off of a tough RHP, Pena with a line single in his only at bat and the pitcher who threw and didn’t give up anything, Hoyt.

    Like

  43. Tim
    March 19, 2016

    Axe’em Jacks!

    Sorry, wrong blog, but I’m still flying high from that big win last night. Continue on with the Astros talk.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Dan P
      March 19, 2016

      Watched a good chunk of the 2nd half and SFA played great ball and dominated. Loved how they swarmed to the rebounds against a bigger team. Great win.

      Liked by 1 person

      • uncleknuckle
        March 19, 2016

        My nephew goes to SFA and of course picked that upset. He got 28 out of 32 winners in the first round. My bracket has red lines all through it!

        Liked by 1 person

  44. Mr. Bill
    March 19, 2016

    20 Observations from the 1st half of ST:

    1. Mr. Singleton is being given every chance to succeed. If he doesn’t make the team, he will not be able to blame management for not getting a chance.
    2. Mr. White is being given a good look – and so far is looking really, really good.
    3. Mr. Reed is not quite ready – but he’s not far away, and when he gets here, he’s going to make us proud.
    4. Mr. Springer, Mr. Correa, and Mr. Altuve could be the best 1-2-3 in baseball.
    5. Mr. Rasmus wants to play baseball in Houston – looks to be really comfortable here – and looks primed to have the best year of his career.
    6. Mr. Fister and Mr. Giles have talent, but really need to settle down and settle in to earn their money this year.
    7. We sure do miss Mr. Gregerson.
    8. We’ve almost forgotten about Mr. Gattis.
    9. Mr. Castro and Mr. Marisnick did not exactly get their offensive skills ready over the offseason.
    10. Mr. Feldman looks healthy again – and with Mr. McCullers down that is really good news.
    11. Mr. Keuchel . . . aaaaaaayyyyy. [NOTE to the confused: just channel your inner Arthur Fonzerelli for a moment, and you will begin to understand]
    12. Mr. Gonzales has a spring bee under his bonnet. And I like it.
    13. Mr. Rodriguez might still have a little ‘magic wandy’ left in him after all – at least for April.
    14. Mr. Worth is showing his worth.
    15. Mr. Hoyt is throwing some filth.
    16. Mr. Duffy is showing some grit.
    17. Mr. Sclafani doesn’t strike out – but so far can’t get a hit.
    18. Mr. Peacock still can’t seem to throw strikes or get outs when he needs them.
    19. Mr. Straily is working really hard on a DFA degree.
    20. Mr. Gustave seems to thrive on the challenge of the save opportunity.

    Liked by 2 people

  45. 1oldpro
    March 19, 2016

    I did some digging last night. Even though the Astros had a good record last season at the end of April, Castro, Valbuena, Rasmus and Springer were all hitting .200 at the end of April. Carter and Gattis were hitting .150 at the end of April. We didn’t have Correa or McCullers, or Tucker at the end of April.
    What we did have was Altuve, Marisnick, Marwin and Lowrie carrying this team on their backs until Lowrie got hurt and the pitching staff was incredible, especially the bullpen.
    Carter never had a BA over .200 at the end of any month throughout the entire season and only carried a BA over .200 into 13 games the entire season.
    Last year we didn’t have White or Duffy or Correa or Fister or Tucker or Gomez or MCcullers to start the year and we didn’t have one decent reliever to count on in AAA. I think we had Downs, Stoffel, Veras, Straily, and Buchanan to somehow use from AAA to back up Thatcher, Qualls, Fausto and Wojo.
    By the end of the season, Qualls was gone, Neshek was hurt, Gomez was hurt, Valbuena was hurt, Lowrie was useless, Thatcher’s one pitch was figured out, Harris and Sipp were worn out, and Hinch trusted nobody at AAA. enough because he didn’t know them, including Feliz and Velasquez. Springer finally got healthy but didn’t hit well in the playoffs and neither did Gattis.
    And yet, the Astros had a good season.
    This year, they have so much more and will have so much more in AAA ready to fill in when needed.

    Liked by 1 person

  46. Becky⚾
    March 19, 2016

    Since they have today off, I would assume Hinch and Luhnow will use today to look at who will go back to the minor league camp. The next 10 days are going to be the last chance to show their stuff. The clock is ticking boys!! I’m crossing my fingers and toes for Tyler White!!

    Like

  47. 1oldpro
    March 19, 2016

    Not one Astros major league position player has had an error this spring. Errors have been committed by minor league players and pitchers only.
    Three of the players with the most ABs this spring are three players the Astros really wanted to see a lot of: Jon Singleton, Jake Marisnick, and Andrew Aplin. Their numbers at the plate are dismal.

    Like

    • uncleknuckle
      March 19, 2016

      Yes 1OP, Marisnick has left the door wide open to date for Alpin. He has not taken advantage. I’m not sure what could happen at this point for White NOT to be on the opening day roster. He’s going to keep hitting.

      Like

      • Mr. Bill
        March 20, 2016

        Dave, your mis-spelling of Andrew’s last name made my old eyes do a double take. At first I thought you had typed AlVin instead of ALPIN. I fell through the looking glass, and I saw a precocious chipmunk named AlPinstepping up to the wide-open door to the Mellow Marisnicks condominium. And then I heard him singing:
        Graperfruit baseball time is here,
        Time to flash gloves and drink some beer.
        I might not hit, but I’ve got game,
        please A.J. call my name!
        [Marisnicks] Oh to stand out on Tal’s Hill . . .
        [AlPin:] Oh to show defensive skill!
        [AlPin and the Marisnicks:]
        We can hardly stand the wait,
        Please A.J., please don’t hate!

        Like

  48. Mr. Bill
    March 20, 2016

    Someone has apparently invented another game with a round ball. The ball is much larger than a baseball, made of leather or plastic, painted orange, and filled with a large quantity of air. They don’t use a bat. They don’t wear gloves. They bounce that big,puffy ball around on a wood floor for about 20 seconds or so, then someone throws it in the general direction of a bushel basket looking thing made of fishnet, suspended from the ceiling on a sheet of glass. It’s madness – March madness, they call it. Can we please go back to the baseball field now? I need to hear the popping of leather and the cracking of bats!

    Liked by 1 person

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