OK, this ain’t working! Now what!


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?
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407 comments on “OK, this ain’t working! Now what!

  1. Billy– I know Rasmus is a good guy! Hinch does something none of Colby’s, other managers have ever done…let him be who he is. He’s allowed to be weird and look and dress unusual! That’s the beauty of this club, they let you be yourself, and that is EXACTLY why he wants to say here…PLUS, the $15.08 million didn’t hurt. But you are correct he does a LOT for under privileged kids.

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  2. Daaang……I hope McCullers figures out his pitches for the rest of the game, because he can’t keep walking guys all over the place.
    George with another Springer dinger!!

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  3. Wow – Marisnick runs all the way to 3rd, is thrown out, but is given 2nd on a missed ground rule double and then without rest, he runs a 40 yard dash to catch one at the CF fence and another 40 yard dash to catch one in right center. Gomez would not have gotten to both of those and perhaps neither.

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  4. Springer, Valbuena hitting, lots of good leather including Marisnick and Valbuena, tough pitching again tonight and finally a 3 game winning streak.
    Apparently the 52 K’s by the Astros pitchers of the O’s beats the previous record of 48 for a 3 game series.

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  5. You gotta love minor league baseball. David Schmidt has been pitching for Corpus Christi without much success and he appeared in last night’s game against Arkansas in Corpus. Tonight he got a save in the second game of a doubleheader for Quad Cities, playing in Beloit, Wisconsin. How’s that for a full 24 hours!

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  6. Last night Lancaster was down 16-0 after 5 innings and lost 16-7.
    Tonight, Lancaster scored 19 runs in the first four innings and lead the same team, Stockton, 19-10 in the sixth.

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  7. Fresno with their first sweep of the year, 5-4 over the OKC Dodgers, who suffer their first sweep of the year. Good relief pitching by Gustave and Hoyt combine with HRs by Tucker and Kemmer. Kemmer is coming out of his slump with 3 more hits tonight.
    Corpus lost 8-4, as Kyle Smith got blasted again. He might have come back from TJ surgery too soon. Bregman was 2-4 with no Ks, a double, an RBI, and played 3B.

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  8. Speaking of cynics, I still qualify. Great to get the first sweep, but I’m not convinced all is well again. Pitching has been great, but we can’t expect the pen to keep putting up zeros every night, especially with Giles playing a vital role.

    We really need a more balanced offensive. It’s a lot of fun to see three dingers in a game, but when you’re only generating six hits overall, too often, that’s not going to be enough. We got three wins off ten runs because the pitching was so good.

    Let’s see what happens when the guys go back out into the world tonight!

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    • If there is good news from this, other than the sweep, is that they are winning while Correa and Altuve are slumping. Eventually, both of them are going to turn it around.

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      • Altuve’s is just a BABIP slump. He’s murdering the ball – just right at people. That will fix itself. Correa’s is a real slump. And he really looks lost.

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    • I agree, Dave. We scored a measly 11 runs in this series – mostly on home runs by Valbuena and Gattis. We just ran into a team that was coming down off a high and played like it had been on a bender. That is why our pitchers recorded a record number of strikeouts – because the Orioles were snow blind.

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      • It should also be pointed out that our hitters struck out a ton in this series as well. 31 strikeouts in 3 games – making for more than 10 Ks per game. Compare that to our hit total for the series, which was 22. We did not get more than 8 hits in any of the games, including the 13 inning one.

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    • Dave, the Baltimore’s defense was horrid. They practically gave us the series. This is still a poorly constructed baseball team. But it was fun to win

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    • I agree Dave. the Os looked like we did the first week of the season in this series with the horrible D and flailing at bad pitches. Apparently they didn’t get the scouting report on our starters. As far as the bullpen. I don’t know what to expect when Will’s arm goes dead. I think he is the glue keeping it together. But, we gained a half a gain on Rangers and Mariners since they had an off night, so that’s progress.

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      • If you watch the strikeout compilations from the Orioles series, you have to ask yourself – did major league ballplayers really swing at those pitches? I think the Angels will be a whole lot more patient.

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  9. We start our next series 8 games under .500, 9 games back, in last place [tied with Oakland], and 1.5 games behind the Angels. To get past the Angels in this series we would have to sweep them in their home park. Is it possible?

    Game 1:
    Fiers vs. Shumaker [both struggled early, but both are coming out of it; a toss up]
    Game 2:
    Keuchel v. Weaver [Keuchel has been terrible, esp. away; they could throw Pujols against him right now and win easily; advantage Angels]
    Game 3:
    Fister v. Tropeano [Fister has improved, but Tropeano is nails; advantage Angels]

    In other words, our boys had better bring their big boy bats, because the pitching match-ups don’t look conducive to a sweep to me.

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    • I said the other day that the only way the Astros have a chance to get back in the race is to go on a long winning streak. Here is their chance.
      We’re coming in with a three game jump on it and play six games against our closest rivals who have been playing mediocre ball. This is our chance. The Astros have a chance to break out of the doldrums right here. It may be their one good chance to turn this thing around
      I would play every game of these two series like it was the playoffs, because it probably is our playoffs.

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    • If we are basing the matchups on this year I would give tonight an edge to the Astros. Fiers has a 3.40 xFIP with 1.22 BB/9 and 1.26 WHIP while Shoemaker has a 4.30 xFIP, 3.16 BB/9 and 1.57 WHIP. On Saturday, Keuchel has a 3.72 xFIP, 3.75 BB/9 and 1.57 WHIP while Weaver has a 5.19 xFIP, 2.06 BB/9 and 1.51 WHIP so I would call this a tossup. For Sunday, Fister has a 4.53 xFIP, 2.96 BB/9 and 1.26 WHIP while Nitro has a 4.70 xFIP, 4.11 BB/9 and 1.47 WHIP. I would give the slight edge to Fister. However, I would give the offensive edge to the Angels if Correa and Altuve are still slumping.

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  10. Carlos does not want fastballs on the inner half of the plate. So pitchers are giving him fastballs there.
    Correa wants fastballs on the outer half of the plate and he wants to take them the other way.. So pitchers are giving him breaking pitches on that half of the plate.
    Carlos is down to two strikes on almost every at bat, and his frustration when that happens is so apparent. With two strikes, you offer him anything that starts off at the knees and breaks downward to the ankles.
    The inability of anyone in the Astros dugout to get him out of this is frustrating, but also leaves open the door to the possibility that this kid thinks so highly of himself that he won’t take advice. He may think he is baseball’s next coming.
    My biggest question is: who convinced him that fastballs in his wheelhouse were something to take? My next question is: who in the heck is going to jolt him out of this pattern that has him looking ridiculous up there?

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    • Something has changed in his approach or lack there of at the plate. My question like everyone’s, when does Uncle Jeff and AJ think maybe a different voice, set of eyes in the batting cage and film room might actually help?

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    • I don’t think that’s entirely right. He has been getting jammed on inner-half fastballs all year. Last year he was getting on top of outer-half fastballs. This year he is getting under them and either fouling off or hitting fly balls. What really bothers me are the get-me-over breaking pitches he takes to fall behind in the count. Someone (possibly himself) got in his head and is causing him to try to drive every pitch. He should be trying to get his average up and not worry about the HR.

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      • He was getting jammed because he commited himself to leaning out over the plate to hit the fastball on the outer half to the oppo. The last week or so he has stopped getting jammed on the inside fastball because he’s taking them for strikes.
        Correa needs to back off the plate and stop leaning forward to bomb the outside pitch. He needs to keep his hands in, use those fantastic wrists like he did last year to be a pull power hitter and just settle for base hits to RF on outside pitches, rather than trying to power them over the RF fence. That’s how he became the hitter he was last year.

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    • Carlos strike me as very intelligent. I think he got to this point by listening and learning from everyone along the way. Unless he’s had a complete personally change, I blame the Astros coaching.

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  11. Notwithstanding the extraordinary pitching, lack of hits and opponents poor play…..a winning streak has to start somewhere. This may be it.
    Ever hopeful.

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  12. Alex Bregman has played in 34 games this year. He has only one game that he has not gotten on base and that is the game he got hurt. His slash line for the season is .338/.434/.685/1.119. 34 games, 44 hits, 33 RBIs 12 HRs, 12 Ks, 18BBs, and the most wonderful stat of all: a .302 BABIP

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      • OK, you asked for it!
        I keep him in AA until at least the end of June. That gives him a full year in our system, gets him used to playing 3B for six weeks or so, and gives me time to see what direction the major league club is headed and who is interested in our players who have expiring deals at the end of the season and what the demand is for them.
        That also gives me some time to get Moran back to 3B at AAA.
        If the team is back in the race, making decisions is going to be tougher, because I know Valbuena is going to be a FA, I don’t want him accepting a QO and I would like him to have some value at the deadline and get something for him.
        So, if the team is in the race at the deadline and somebody offers me a good prospect for Valbuena, I have to take it and then decide who to put at 3B for the Astros for the remainder of the year. If Bregman is still blistering in AA, I bring him up to play 3B. It’s probably going to hurt Moran’s feelings and probably Duffy, too but I would do it anyway.
        If the team is out of it by the end of June, I’d probably try to trade Valbuena, bring up Duffy, play Marwin a lot at 3B, move Moran to DH in Fresno and promote Bregman to 3B in AAA and move Davis back to 3B in Corpus.
        I had better post this before I chicken out.

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  13. Kent Emmanuel makes his return from TJ surgery tonight for the Hooks. Emmanuel, a lefty, and a 3rd round pick of the Astros out of North Carolina, was the opening day pitcher for the Hooks last year before he went down to injury. He had TJ surgery in June of 2015. Welcome back, Kent!

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    • I wondered this morning when they had TBD as their starting pitcher and I went to their roster to see who they could pitch. Emanuel was still listed on the DL. and they had only one pitcher that looked like he was ready, so I guess that guy will be his tandem buddy.
      Martes really put a crimp in their style, only lasting two thirds of an inning this week and Kyle Smith getting hammered last night isn’t going to help.
      Sure wish we had Daniel Mengden back. What a mess that turned out to be.

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      • They may have to send A.J. Reed down to Corpus for a game or two and see if he’s still got the strike-out stuff he displayed at the University of Kentucky.

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  14. Guys I normally wouldn’t do this, and my apologies to Chip for hijacking this thread, but..

    As mentioned previously my family is being evicted due to being late on our rent for May, with court date of 2 June. Well, a friend of mine who is a member on a Beach Boys message board I am the moderator of set up an online fundraiser to help raise the money to keep a roof over our heads. Well, we got the money and went to pay it…and they’re evicting us anyway, unless we also pay *next month’s* rent too, by 2 June. So…yeah. The online fundraiser is still up, so if you or anybody you know are able to help out, it would be greatly appreciated, https://www.youcaring.com/billy-the-mod-571628 Any help is greatly appreciated

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  15. If anybody here is an ESPN Insider, I would love to know where Bregman is in Keith Law’s new midseason updated Top 25 Prospect list, which came out this morning. Thanks

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  16. I presume – and certainly hope – we have Akeem Bostick is working on a new pitch. I know it is Lancaster, but his stats are bad even by Lancaster standards. OP1, do you have any inside info on what’s going on with him?

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    • Bill, he made three appearances in Lancaster and then went on the DL. It’s been five weeks. I do not know what has happened to him. The Astros do this a lot. A minor league player goes on the DL, the club says nothing and then five months later they casually mention his surgery. That is the way the Tommy Shirley surgery got handled. When Bostick went to Lancaster last year he blew up. That may have been when they wanted him to try something new. This year, he’s hurt.
      His twitter account is active but he says nothing about not pitching on it. There must be some very stringent rules about anyone saying anything.

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    • He looks like someone photoshopped Dallas Keuchel with Brian Wilson (the pitcher, not the musical legend, although he himself had quite the beard in the mid-to-late 70s)

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      • Now if the two of them got together they could start a ZZ Topp tribute band.
        One weird trivia – ZZ Topp’s drummer is the one without the beard. And his name is Frank Beard…haha

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  17. Moran got his first runs batted in as well! I’m just glad they didn’t get shut out.
    Keuchel on the bump tomorrow…..let’s hope the 2015 Dallas Keuchel shows up!

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  18. At the end of the Fiers-storm there is light. Chris Devenski 4.1 IP, 0 R, 1 H, 2 BB, 4K. I like the way this kid just keeps doing what he does, no matter what the score.

    And congraulations to Collin Moran on his first hit, his first multiple hit game, and his first two RBIs.

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  19. Down on the farm I noticed Jon Singleton started the game in LF, but moved to 1B when A.J. Reed came out of the game early. Did he have a recurrence of his hamstring issue? I think them putting Singleton in LF is a sign of how little depth they have in the OF on the farm.

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      • Aplin, Kemmer, Perez, and Tucker, with Duffy and Singleton in reserve – they are not short of warm bodies who can play outfield. I just wish there was at least one in that group who was showing some impact player potential.

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    • The Phillies tried Jon in the OF when he was a youngster because he was blocked by Ryan Howard. It was a failure and is a large part of why they were willing to trade him. Doubt that the conversion has any better chance of succeeding now that he’s older and well compensated…

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      • I think they were trying some things out, but none of it mattered when Hauschild gave up 11 runs in five innings.

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  20. Fresno is a reflection of the Astros. One of the lowest BAs in their league, tops in drawing walks, #1 in strikeouts. Biggest difference is they are one of the lowest teams in their league in HRs.
    Danny Worth is the only guy on this team that is consistently hitting. Kemmer has started hitting but has stopped catching the ball in the outfield.
    I think the weirdest stat on the team is Singleton’s 13 HRs and only 3 doubles.

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  21. I did want everyone to know there is another post coming – I finished yesterday and hope it gets posted this morning. Work has been crazy but should slow down next week.

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  22. Darvish makes his first start for Texas today against the Pirates and Velasquez’ starts tomorrow against the Cubs and Lackey.
    I’m dreading the game against Weaver tonight for the Astros.

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  23. Watching that game last night it really hit me, if we have any hope of being a solid winning organization again , for the long term, soon we need to jettison everyone that is not going to be part of that. Someone else can do pitching staff, I see.

    Margo decent backup
    Tuve
    CC
    Springer
    Kemp maybe
    Gattis back up catcher/ part time DH

    After that I just don’t see anyone else that needs to be here. I like JFSM he is an amazing CF , but can you keep a .125 hitter

    I like Tucker and White just don’t see it.

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    • I guess I’m beating a dead horse here, but if you change the dynamics of a non-producing or under-producing organization, you can also change the individual production, too.
      You have a hitting instructor, but the entire organization is not hitting.
      You have a pitching instructor but the pitching was terrible in the beginning and now the starters are not giving the team innings and the relievers are not going to be able to give you four innings every night.
      You have a base running instructor but the base running is bad.
      I believe everyone is trying hard, but sometimes a good team with bad leadership has trouble winning.
      I think the organization as a whole is struggling and has traded away way too many decent prospects for players who are not proving to have been worth it. That starts at the top.

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  24. I agree OP, but how does this get fixed. This organization needs to admit they made mistakes and go from there. I don’t see anyone at the top doing that. So I can’t foresee any fix.

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  25. A few more nights like last night and maybe someone at the top will see the light.
    But I have to admit that the guy at the top is good at making money but not very good at picking his friends or owning a baseball team. But he was a college pitcher, you know.

    Liked by 1 person

  26. Old pro …..we will find out tomorrow when sweet Nicky Tropeano faces off with these guys, if what you say is correct. Perez usually catches him, and we already know he has become a better catcher with the Angels.
    The guy at the top WILL make another trade or maybe two before the summer is gone, and I think Jim Crane will sign off on them. As much as we have voiced our disgust with the trades Luhnow has made, we don’t run this organization or pay the bills. All we can do is wring our hands and b*tch and moan about it, which only makes our blood boil, and my blood pressure go up.
    The good starts by Fister, McHugh, and McCullers were quickly erased by Mike Fires last night…….let’s hope Keuchel can build on those guys success tonight!

    Liked by 1 person

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