YIE: The 2016 Astros’ flip side


Last year this blog invented the acronym YIE (Yes It’s Early) when 18 games into the 2015 season we presciently pointed out that the way the Astros were winning during an 11-7 start might bode well for a full season.

Check it out.

Well after collecting millions on T-shirt and souvenir sales (The YIE lunch boxes brought in $250K on their own) – YIE is returning at a 90 degree angle from last season.

After a 5-11 start that has a lot of 2013 stink to it, the natural thing to say is “YIE, but this does not feel like it will be a special year like last season”. So, what is bothering the loyal fans so much about this season?

  •  Starting Pitching – Last season, the Astros led the league in ERA as a staff and the starters were 2nd in ERA at 3.71. It is no surprise that they are 14th (next to last in the AL) with a 5.51 ERA this season. They are last in BA against (.301) and OPS against (.849).
  •  Relief Pitching – Last season they were 4th in the AL with a 3.27 ERA. Right now, they are 13th in ERA at 4.78 and have given up the second most HRs in the league. Last season they gave up 45 HRs in 157 games appeared compared to 11 in 16 games this season.
  •  Hitting – They were 5th in runs scored in the AL last season and they are 6th in runs scored this season, so no problem. Ha! As we all know they are not only leaving ducks on the pond, they are leaving swans, geese and various aquatic fowl all over the lake these days. The Astros are worst in the AL in strikeout % at 26.9% and they are worst in putting balls in play at 59%. As has been pointed out before they have an AL worst .174 BA and .229 OBP with RISP and this becomes a microscopic .111 BA and .172 OBP with RISP and two outs.
  •  Fielding – Last season they had the third least errors in the AL, this season they are tied for the 3rd most errors in the AL. Surprisingly, they only show giving up 4 unearned runs this season. That seems low, but a lot of the time errors don’t always result in runs, but in extended innings that sap the pitchers.
  •  Stupidity – They have been caught stealing 6 times in 21 attempts, including 2 times they were picked off and thrown out trying to make it to the next base. They have been picked off without attempting to advance another 4 times and 5 times they have been thrown out on the bases (trying to stretch a single to double or advancing on a sac fly attempt). One of our loyal readers had pointed out that they were losing a preposterous runner per game.
  •  No comeback kids – Last season, especially early, they specialized in come from behind wins and owned the late innings. This season 4 of the 5 games they won, they held the lead the whole game. Only in the opener against the Yankees did they trail, scoring a run in the 6th to tie the game and 3 in the 8th to win it.
  •  The black holes…..
  •  Jason Castro – In 42 PAs, he is putting up (actually putting down) a .132 BA/.214 OBP / .451 OPS line. Only 1 run scored and 1 RBI and no HRs for Mr. Castro.
  •  Carlos Gomez – In 55 PAs he is just a tad better with a .189 BA / .218 OBP / .482 OPS line with 3 runs scored, 1 RBI and 0 HRs.
  •  Luis Valbuena – Compared to Gomez and Castro, he is putting up an almost robust .214 BA/ .283 OBP / .545 OPS with 3 runs scored, 3 RBIs and 0 HRs.                  So how do you feel about YIE and a harbinger for a bad year after 10% of the season?Can they snap out of this without a big shake up?
  • Is this just normal baseball where teams have these types of streaks hit them in different parts of the season?
  • This could go on, but it is depressing. On top of this, the guys are not having fun. Was Hank Conger the center of fun for the team last season?
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141 comments on “YIE: The 2016 Astros’ flip side

    • Don’t hold your breath……..Luhnow is gonna make Hinch keep running him out there.
      Remember….this was Luhnow’s, BIG signing.

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  1. Strom and the brainiacs need to view video of Giles from last year and compare that to a video of this year to see what is happening.

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  2. I might be nuts, but I’m still optimistic. Correa is starting to hit. White will get past his inevitable first slump, even Gomez will hit .250 or so at some point. Correa and Altuve won’t keep making three errors between them. Devenski has been stellar and maybe will get a start with Feliz coming back up. Except for Fields and the new guy, the pen has been mostly solid. Giles looks like a scared kid out there.

    On the flip side, our rotation is very suspect. It’s awfully demoralizing to be down three runs before even coming to bat. We lead the league in first inning incompetence. And instead of McCullers throwing live games in CC or Fresno, he’s in Florida. Not a good sign.

    That national exposure on Sunday Night Baseball was not ideal last evening, especially as it took 5:03 to lose another sloppy game on front of the world followed by a lengthy red eye to Seattle. Maybe the guys will show some soul and get back on track.

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  3. If Giles is not going to be sent down, then I suggest he pitch the 1st inning of any game he is going to play. Then, the team will have a measure of how many runs they need to overcome to win. When you bring him in toward the end of the game, you have so few outs left to get back into the game. (Where is that sarcasm font)

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Regarding Giles, I still remember reading that Astros were trying to get him to make some changes during spring training and learn to pitch up in the zone. I wish they would have left him alone. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. I don’tthink there is a one size fits all approach to pitching but it seems to me like the Astros computers do.

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    • That thought holds true for some of the other pitchers we’ve acquired like Kazmir. He had that same “deer in the headlights” look too.
      I wish we had more baseball people in the FO instead of geeks. I’m not totally against computers but this isn’t fantasy baseball, these are real people.

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    • That’s scary. The difference between Giles and Kimbrel last night was that Kimbrel’s fastball could miss bats and Giles’ could not. Guess what? They both blew it. Kimbrel threw to the wrong location twice. The first one should have been caught in RF. The second got caught in the stands. Giles looked to be hitting locations, but that fastball is straight, has no deception, and isn’t quite as fast as he had been billed. He looks the same as the guy I saw at AAA for Lehigh Valley.

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  5. I don’t get the Giles criticism. All night long Astros batters failed. The Astros’ middle infielders had 3 errors and absolutely should have had four because Correa bobbled that ball and they still gave Boston a hit.
    Giles pitched the 12th and the Astros should have been on a plane by then if the position players had done their jobs. Rasmus is doing all the work on this team and every other position player is not, whether by committing errors, getting picked off or other bad baserunning or by leaving countless runners stranded.
    Giles gets the loss but this game was lost by the team that played 12 lousy innings, not by the pitcher who pitched the 12th. The Astros were 2-13 w/risp and batters failed all night long with runners on, including Marwin, who hits homers w/ no one one and who never hits one with runners on, ever!

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    • I agree 100%. I just want to see Tyler White, Springer, and Gomez go to the plate with the goal of hitting a single every time. We have lost so many games because guys didn’t do their job and overswung.

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    • Dave, I agree that Ken Giles is by no means solely responsible for the embarrassing funk this team is in – or even the disheartening extra-inning loss last night. But i do think it is understandable that when a guy who cost us a stunning fortune in young, high-end starting pitching prospects, among other things, comes over and thanks us for our confidence in him by staggering to an 8.31 ERA and a 1.85 WHIP over his first 9 games, allowing a series of devastating hits and home runs in situations where the game was on the line, he is probably opening the door to a healthy bit of criticism from highly-disappointed fans. I hope he gets himself together, because right now he and Josh Fields [8.64 ERA and 1.80 WHIP] are running neck-in-neck for the award of the least reliable relief pitcher in the major leagues.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Who would have imagined that Tucker, Gonzalez, Castro, Gomez, Gattis, Marisnick and Kratz all added together would total only 9 RBIs, 3 HRs, 13BBs in 253 PAs? They have 87 Ks to go with those BBs. That’s a 31.6% K rate and .5% walk rate. I had to figure that twice because I could not believe that those seven guys could have a combined walk rate of one-half of 1%, and a combined K rate of 31.6 %.
    Nine RBIs for those seven players combined!
    Un Be Leave Able!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Bill, it looks like the Astros are not going to be very good, much to our chagrin and theirs. There are lots of bad teams in the majors every year and this is no exception. Washington was a bad team with good players last year.
      Major changes have to come at a time when it is going to benefit the team.
      I don’t see a managerial change as being beneficial at this moment.
      I don’t see a GM change as being beneficial right now, unless the Astros’ players hate Luhnow’s guts and that is the reason they are playing badly.
      I don’t see major changes in personnel as being beneficial now because you just give players away that way.
      Change for a losing club has to happen in good baseball time, so as to gain something out of it. Gomez may suck now but getting rid of him now won’t change the team’s fortunes if they continue to be last in the league in clutch batting and last in ERA. If the team is bad, they’re gonna lose. Gomez getting better may help the team some on the field, but not enough to make a difference. But his improvment may get us a decent prospect at the deadline vs nothing now.
      Every year losing teams have a historical order to making their major changes. I think we need to follow that order.
      When we call for major changes right now, we’re just swinging for the fences and the chances of that paying off are very low, as we are reminded of almost every day.
      Have you noticed that Rasmus is hitting home runs and driving in runs with a really smooth stroke, while almost all his teammates fall down swinging at air.
      The Astros lead the majors in strikeout percentage and are near the top of the league in home runs. Hinch says that’s just how the Astros roll. Well, they’re not rolling. So at the appropriate time that philosophy needs to change, because it’s not working.
      At the end of the year, an owner may bring in a new GM. A GM may bring in a new manager. Who brings in a new owner, GM and manager? That. may be what is needed here.
      Right now, I am reduced to discovering tonight whether Tommy Shirley is a AAA illusion or if he is finally a LHP who might be able to get major league pitchers out. Does he still have a 94 mph fastball or is it 89 mph since his surgery and he’s just an older, craftier pitcher getting AAA hitters out?

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      • OP1, the ‘major changes’ I think are needed right now are:

        1. 3rd base coach needs to be fired and replaced by someone with a baserunner’s instincts;
        2. hitting coach needs to be fired, and replaced by three full-time hitting coaches – one to work with the outfielders, one to work with the infielders, and one to work with the catchers and pitchers [the latter as interleague play begins]; the focus needs to be on shortening strokes and adjusting to pitching patterns [like Correa’s inability to deal with pitches on the outside part of the plate, and Tucker’s inability to handle the ‘ladder’ strategy of alternating high and low pitches; and everyone is required to work on 2-strike hitting and on going the other way with outside pitches.
        3. Bagwell or someone is brought in as a special, on-field consultant to work with Altuve and Springer, in conjunction with the new third base coach, on base running protocols, sign recognition, and decision-making;
        4. Our Stanford graduate catcher is instructed to come up immediately with, and teach the pitching staff, a plan that assumes the other teams always have intercepted and decoded our pitch and location signs, and that therefore keeps shifting and disguising those signs in a strategic way, situation by situation, so as to catch the other team guessing wrong in critical situations;
        5. Tyler White and Preston Tucker – both of whom I really like a whole lot better than the veterans who I know will take their place, get sent down to AAA to try to get their heads back on straight and get one-on-one coaching to assist them in making adjustments so they can hit what opposing pitchers have been throwing to them and beating them with;
        6. Carlos Correa is moved down to #7 in the line-up for at least three games to get his attention;
        7. Carlos Gomez becomes the right handed, late innings pinch hitter or pinch runner off the bench [this puts Rasmus in CF and Eury Perez, Tony Kemp, or Marwin Gonzalez in LF].
        8. With Tyler White gone, Valbuena and Gonzales platoon at 1b;
        9. Collin Moran takes over 3B;
        10. Devenski and Fister switch roles – or Fister gets DFA-ed;
        11. Giles goes to AAA and Hoyt comes up;
        12. Hinch is given until May 15 to develop a detailed, F.O. approved plan to get the team to a level of playing .500 ball by the end of the year.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Not to over emphasized the point but as a team the Astros suck.I’m not sure what the problem is but were now almost a month into the season and I don’t see any signs of improvement. I could rag on some player but we’ve all been there, done that. I’m just frustrated. I didn’t even see Rasmus’ HR last night as I’m on EDT and after the 1st out I thought all over. It was but it lasted another 3 more innings. Rasmus’ is definitely earning his salary but so many others are not.

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    • Zanuda, there is plenty of blame to go around. But in the end the reality is that it is all happening on the watch of A.J. Hinch.

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      • I tend to agree with you. A manager’s job is to get the best out of each and every player and while I don’t know what Hinch is telling these guys or what he’s doing to help them, I think they all need a swift kick in the A$!.

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  8. Op pro…..I’m not calling for Giles head….but something ain’t right with the kid. It’s becoming agonizing to watch him struggle out on the mound. He through nearly 40 pitches last night, before the night closed the book on him. Luhnow is doing the kid no favors by putting him in such stressful games. My opinion only, but I would send him to Corpus where he can get his MOJO back. The pitching coach down there is obviously getting the best out of his young pitchers. STOP….before he is so mentally damaged that the trade that brought him here blows up in Luhnow’s face.
    As far as getting a new manager….that’s silly. The manager doesnt pitch, he doesn’t hit, he doesn’t run the bases and he doesn’t make trades. I have suspect the guy who the team is unhappy with is Jeff Luhnow, Crane really likes him so I doubt he’s going anywhere. Just because you’re unhappy with your boss, playing like crap isn’t going to get him fired. Getting picked off base isn’t going to get him fired, pitching like crap isn’t going to get him fired, striking out isn’t going to get him fired. YOU… have to have enough self respect not to do stupid stuff like these guys are doing. I promise you….not ONE of these guys are trying to lose on purpose.
    This team needs an enema.

    Liked by 1 person

    • 14 pitches, I believe, were to their catcher (Hanigan). He had no intention of putting a ball in play, but rather was just spoiling fastball after fastball. I think he was sitting on the slider and hoping for a hanger. Giles finally switched to the slider, but couldn’t throw it over the plate. It hurt seeing them get the hit and go up by two in extras, but I’m not going to pile on Giles for it.

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    • I don’t think they’re playing like crap on purpose. Management tells them when to run, what to pitch, how to swing, how to set up defense, and on and on. That’s why they are unhappy. The way they are playing is unnatural.
      I bet each and every one would improve on another team.

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    • I thank not being closer shook him up and probably pissed him off. On top of that, a change in pitching philosophy. That would screw up any pitchers head. I don’t think it’s the high leverage situations. I think it’s feeling like what he did before coming here wasn’t what they wanted. I think Strom and Astros are excellent with softer throwing finesse guys like Keuchel and McHugh. I don’t think they have a clue what to do with hard throwers or how to handle them.

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  9. I think a lot of the players need to grow up mentally and take the game more seriously. I think the “fun and games” to stay loose has gotten out of hand and is causing a lack of focus. That is on the manager to control. And yes, I think some degree of having fun and relaxing improves performance, especially with hitting, but too much fun is detrimental. Players seem to be putting more effort in to the attention and notice they get for their hairstyles or beards than accolades for their performance on the field. Get off my lawn you nimcapoops and play ball!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. For the 3rd week in a row the Astros have the A.L. player of the week. Rasmus won the award this past week following Tyler White and Jose Altuve. I’m going way out on a limb here and guessing that pitching is the main reason for our 6-13 record.

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    • Open Letter to Colby Rasmus:

      Colby, you are our beloved non-conformist. Please continue to be that way. Please do not conform to the pattern established by your teammates who have won personal awards. Dallas Keuchel won the Cy Young last year, and this year he can’t get the ball over the plate. Carlos Correa won the ROY last year, and this year he looks like he spent the off-season practicing with Jonathan Villar. Tyler White won player of the week and has not hit a lick since. Jose Altuve shared player of the week and has not been able to run bases or hit worth a flip with RISP since.

      Please, Colby, do not step off into the ‘I won a personal award, look at me now!’ quicksand! As a team we are 6-13 and getting handed our hats easily and regularly by teams with lesser talent. This team desperately needs a leader, Colby. No one else is exerting one ounce of leadership – including our manager or GM. So how about you?

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  11. We have finally reached a point again where the Astros’ minor league affiliates are every bit as boring and bad as the MLB team. At least over the past few years when the MLB team struggled we could look at the minors and say ‘help is coming’. Now, every box score and stat sheet up and down the system consistently screams ‘from top to bottom, this organization is incurably sick’.

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    • Going through the minor league box scores every night before my meds kick in is what I do. It has been very, very hard to find any consolation there.
      When I find something good, I try to share it here, with my sisters and brothers. Thus, the Bregman stories and the Guduan stories, and, yes, the Tommy shirley story, too. The minor league teams have not been winning. They pitch when they don’t hit, and then they hit when they don’t pitch.. Last night, Fresno was down 12-0, before they scored the last seven runs of the game.

      Liked by 1 person

      • When you mentioned him up above by last name, I was going to say “And don’t call him Shirley,” just to try to get a smile. But it’s an old joke and smiles are hard to come by.

        Liked by 2 people

  12. And not to beat a dead horse (see I’m jumping off on that Seattle Slew reference) but Chris Carter and Domingo Santana seem to be liking the atmosphere (space reference) in Milwaukee. Perhaps there is a hitting coach or fewer distractions?

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