The Astros’ four-game losing streak, where they followed three “close but no cigar” 2-1 losses with a 9-2 meltdown, is in the bank as a negative deposit. They have sunk to ten games out in the division race and 8.5 back in the second wild card chase. They have lapsed into poor offensive habits and the cherry on the cake is that their ace, Dallas Keuchel is pitching more like a joker these days. They don’t seem to be having fun, showing much life or even showing anger at the situation. So the question is ….Now what?
There are plenty of actions that could be taken, but which ones, if any will result in positive results in either the short or the long-term?
Dump hitting coach Dave Hudgens.
This will not solve the problem of having so many high K, low contact hitters on the roster. But for the last two season and a quarter, it is hard to point at any hitter not named Jose Altuve, who has shown improvement. Colby Rasmus? Well he is leading the team with 31 RBIs, but he is only hitting .238 BA / .781 OPS – not great BA and OK OPS. Tyler White? It seems the longer he was under Hudgens the more he hit like everybody else on the team. Carlos Correa? He is far under-producing in his sophomore season, striking out more and knocking in a lot less clutch runs. And on and on….
Dump manager A.J. Hinch.
So, is he a worse manager because the choices he makes are resulting in worse performances or are the worse performances making his choices look bad? Will it make a difference replacing him or will the next manager be a front office puppet just as everyone suspects Hinch is? The lineup decisions seem to drive everyone crazy with the way veterans (Luis Valbuena, Carlos Gomez, etc) can fail forever, while young players like White are not allowed to work out of slumps. Can the manager overcome the type of players he is given and produce better results? Hinch seemed to do this in 2015 and now is taking the blame for not doing it in 2016.
Send GM Jeff Luhnow packing.
OK, we know this is not happening at this point in the season, but this has to be on the table if the team heads into the off-season as lost and dead as they are now.
Start the Fire Sale.
The Astros have sets of veterans who are either not performing well or who will be up for a new contract or free agency at the end of the season. Most of these players were never part of the long-term plans for the team. But they should be under consideration for heading elsewhere in return for restocking the prospects or bringing in a specific need with the big team. Players who could be considered include, Rasmus, Valbuena, Gomez, Jason Castro, Pat Neshek, Luke Gregerson, Mike Fiers, Doug Fister Tony Sipp and Scott Feldman.
Dallas Keuchel should not be traded at the bottom of his value. They really should be making sure he is not hiding an injury. Collin McHugh is still cheap and under control for a while. Carlos Correa can not be touched at his age and talent. George Springer would require being part of a blockbuster trade to make it worthwhile.
Let More Youngsters Have a Shot
This is likely going to take a little time, but at some point A.J. Reed is going to be ready (we pray). What about Joseph Musgrove, James Hoyt, Reymin Guduan, Thomas Shirley, Alex Bregman, Derek Fisher, David Paulino or Brendan McCurry?
The questions for you are:
- Which way or ways would you want the organization to go?
- Which way or ways do you think they will go?
- Is there anything above that you think can save a putrid 2016 from continuing to occur?