Time to throw in the Astros’ towel?


While the Astros have been 2-8 in their last 10 games, the Rangers have been 7-3 and expanding their 2 1/2 game division lead to a 7 1/2 game lead over the local team (seven games over the Mariners). At the end of the night, they will be either four games behind the Tigers or 4.5 games behind the Red Sox for the second wild card spot.

There is a feeling that this latest free fall has doomed the team. The offense is sputtering on only a couple cylinders. The bullpen looks worn around the edges and seems to be giving up runs every time out, led by Tony Sipp, Will Harris and Ken Giles. Chris Devenski who had been fairly untouchable lost Sunday after being used a couple days in a row.  There are injuries and illnesses and players missing like Luis Valbuena, Colby Rasmus, Luke Gregerson and Carlos Gomez.

A lot of fans are throwing in the towel. But wouldn’t the fans lose it, if they thought the team was throwing in the towel?

There are a lot of negatives to be said about the Astro’s recent failures. But giving up is not one of them. Sunday they overcame a three-run lead in the eighth and ninth innings by scratching back and never giving up in a game where their offense was again lacking. There are many times this season when they could have folded, but they have not folded.

They are 57-54 with 51 games to go in the season. During the 51 games starting on May 24 the team was 35-16. Yeah, they aren’t likely to repeat that streak and end up 92-70 on the season, but it is not impossible.

So the questions for you dear readers today are:

  • Have you given up and thrown in the towel on this team?
  • Do you want this team to throw in the towel?
  • Does throwing in the towel mean playing all the youngsters and sitting the under performing vets?
  • Do you think this team can get it back together and start hitting in support of a starting pitching staff that deserves better?
  • Are you thinking about 2017 or still holding out for 2016?
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327 comments on “Time to throw in the Astros’ towel?

  1. You know Becky – you need to stop that teasing here. This baseball is serious, life and death business, not some of that frivolous stuff like cancer and chemo.
    (And yes that is done in my sarcasm font).

    I do think that we tend to get to0 high and too low on the GM based on how the team’s last few weeks are.

    It is not likely that Luhnow is going anywhere, but the ownership should think about the following. Some guys are good for one role and not another. Some people are the perfect entrepreneurial person to come up with a billion dollar idea and get it to the marketplace. A lot of the time that is not the right person with the right skills to run a company from that point onward.

    It is possible that Luhnow is the right person to lead a team from the bottom to the middle. He may not be the right one to lead them over the top.

    I am not ready for a change in the front office yet. I am sick of 52 pickup. I think there is a lot of potential for a better team next season after some of the flotsam has moved on and some of the “Yutes” get more than 75 ABs under their belts. I like the pitching base, but somehow this team has to get better at all the positions they stink at.

    If I were in charge – Luhnow would be starting to move from a free rein to a short leash. We need results at the major league level that are above middle of the road.

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    • EXACTLY! Like I quoted Bob Hulsey yesterday….”building for tomorrow ….eventually you have to answer for today”. NEWS:
      Prince Fielder’s…career is over with this second neck surgery. Press conference this afternoon. Milwaukee had a insurance policy on him, that carried over to that ugly teaM in arlington.
      Tim Lincecum has accepted his outright to Angels AAA team.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Leave it to Dan to have the most rational and articulate response in the GM debate. I can’t disagree with anything you said, even if I wanted to, and everyone knows I like to disagree with others. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Having prayed the Serenity Prayer many thousands of times about the Astros, I am calmly resisting the temptation to join in the love Jeff/hate Jeff fray. Like it or hate it, Jeff is our franchise’s GM – and is making a whole lot more money than Carlos Gomez, Doug Fister, and Jon Singleton combined to be our GM. None of that is not going to change any time soon. In the meantime, the Boys of Summer still have 50 games or so to play in 2016. If we can win half of the games from here on out we will not finish below .500, and we should end up in 3rd place in the West. That’s better than cellar dwelling.

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  3. Let’s say we needed another outfielder until Colby Rasmus returns – assuming he comes back this year at all. Who would you want to join the mix with Springer, Marisnick, Gomez, and Kemp.

    Option #1: Teoscar Hernandez – .309./.360/.860, with 4 HRs and 21 RBIs in 36 games?

    Option #2: Jon Kemmer – .276 (and rising)/.346/.811 with 12 HRs and 45 RBIs in 93 games?

    Option #3: Andrew Aplin – .224/.295/.613, with 5 HRs, 27 RBIs, and 18 steals?

    I don’t think any of the above guys are on the 40-man, but I could be wrong. Or would you rather just keep Preston Tucker as extra outfielder? Or put Bregman back out there for a game or two?

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    • Tucker does not have tool to play up here. He’s a good guy but left field eats him up, the only thing I think he COULD be is DH. Give me Kemper or Hernandez….both are excellent out fielders! Alpin could be interesting….I don’t think he’s hit his stride yet.

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      • Agreed Becky (and I’ve been saying it all year, so I better agree lol j/k ) What hurts is that his offense is not and will not be good enough to DH either.

        1OP- send down Tucker to make room. I think Valbuena will be out for the year,anyway.

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      • We let Carlos Lee patrol LF for years. Tucker has to get a chance to show if he gets consistent playing time he can, or can’t, hit. DH should be handed to White for the rest of the year.

        I say this because Tucker’s skill set does not translate to 4th OFer. He is terrible defensively. He can’t pinch run. I wouldn’t even say he is much of a pinch hitter as most “power first” hitters require consistent at bats in order to get their confidence level to the point that they are seeing the proverbial bowling balls. Contact guys make good pinch hitters because they are better at maintaining their craft without regular playing time. Think Orlando Palmeiro.

        Tucker is useless if he isn’t playing everyday. His strength is that he might be able to hit .260+ with 20+ HR power in 450 plate appearances. If you aren’t going to give it to him then he takes up a roster spot better left to the Marisnicks of the world.

        The Astros are in a position. If Rasmus is done they are going to be defensively handicapped unless they play Marisnick everyday. Otherwise, its got to be Springer moving, or they let Kemp do it. I’m not sure Kemp has the arm but I would rather have his bat in the lineup and him not make the throw I would like twice a week then watch Marisnick continue to go ofer day in and day out.

        If Kemp does play CF then LF is there for Preston, defense or not. Seven week trial to see if he can hit major league pitching. Put White at DH, Reed at 1B, leave Bregman alone to do his thing despite his average. A PLAN. Tell them they are it, each one can earn it, and if they do, great. If they don’t, have a plan.

        But no matter how much we want it, Gattis and Castro and Gomez are going to get playing time not benched. So is the way of the world.

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    • I don’t think we need another outfielder. If Rasmus is hurt and Gomez is on the bench, the Astros have Kemp, Springer, Marisnick and Tucker already on the team. When Gurriel comes up he is going to play 3B and Bregman will be another outfielder. That’s plenty of outfielders for a team who needs to look at their youts and is out of the race. When Valbuena comes back, which doesn’t sound too promising, someone is going to have to be moved down or out.

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      • I think we saw Go-Go’s highest and best use Sunday afternoon when he was used as a late-inning pinch runner who raced home from second to score [barely] on Tony Kemp’s second single. For some reason, the FO does not seem to want to consider Kemp an outfielder [though he played centerfield all his life until he moved to 2B his last year at Vandy]. Is it because he doesn’t have Springer-like arm strength? Heck, look at the guy who’ll be his cut-off man – CC has perhaps the strongest and most accurate arm on the team.

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      • Kemp makes up for some of his arm strength problems by being a blur getting to the ball. Charging the ball and getting there quickly can help overcome some of the shortcomings. And it helps that he actually hits the ball and gets on base – unlike CarGo, who only gets on base if he is pinch running lately…

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  4. The twitter feed on Astrosdaily.com has some good conversation with Gurial! Pretty interesting!! Lineups are not posted yet….any bets???

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  5. OP…….Keegan Yuhl makes his Fresno debut tonight!! Can’t wait to see how he does!
    Kemp in left, Marisnick in center White to DH…..no Gomez in sight!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I watched Yuhl pitch a couple of times this year and was highly impressed with his poise and polish. It’s great to see him really come out of nowhere to be one of there top arms. Yuhl will pitch in the bigs one day I am sure.

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  6. Jeff Lunhow is excellent at identifying and securing young talent, “diamonds in the rough” if you will, and that is a major component of a GM’s job. He has also proven adept at identifying talent in players that other teams have given up on and putting them in positions to succeed. This is also a key component of a GM’s job. Without question JL is good to great in those two areas.

    There are other components to a GM’s job and the jury is still out as to whether he is any good in those areas. A blatant fact is that the team they are fielding now is not performing and the key negative drivers are JL’s “blockbuster” moves via trade and FA acquisition. It is healthy to give both credit and criticism where it is due. To say JL is a good GM at this point is not a place I am willing to go. The jury is still out. If it is still out at the end of next season I would move on from him.

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    • Great for Obie. He will be better than Timmy was. Man, their staff has been decimated by injuries like nothing I have ever seen before. I hope Obie does well against everyone not named Astros.

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    • If you can throw a baseball you can have a job with the Angels. Tough situation they are in, and the A’S too! Look, if the team in north arlington are so disparate they now have Harrell in their rotation, you KNOW they are in trouble.
      It’s good to be the Astros!! We have a great rotation!!!

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      • In 2012 my family watched Harrell throw a complete game shutout over the Padres. They won the game 1-0 and the sinker was un- hittable. Literally nothing hit hard enough to get out of the infield. I looked at my oldest son after the game and told him that I had just witnessed one of the best pitching performances I had ever seen. I also told him that he had not seen the last of Harrell and that e would be a star in this league for years to come. A year later they DFA’d him.

        And that is the reason that I have never been offered a GM position in MLB!!!

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    • That was kind of the way I understood it. If I remember right there was less than $5M difference (about equal to NY state taxes) difference in the offers but Drayton wouldn’t budge on the NTC. That one really still hurts too much to think about. What a great player. What do you think of his chances to make Hall of Fame. I think he’s a lock if he has a solid post season this year.

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  7. I love it when a player sticks it to the Rangers. This from MLBTradeRumors.com:

    2:07pm: Rosenthal clarifies that Fielder is not technically retiring (Twitter links). Doctors won’t permit him to play, so the proper designation for his situation is that he is medically disabled. Retiring would cause Fielder to renounce the money in his contract, which is not what will happen in this case.

    I hope they enjoy paying the $7M or so remaining in 2016 plus the $96M remaining through 2020!! I love it!!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I always thought it bush that a sizable representation of Houston fans have continued to give Beltran a hard time, regardless of what the definitive story was back in 2004. He brought more excitement to the city that summer then all but a very few.ever have.

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  9. I remember reading about the no trade clause, and it was basically Drayton who screwed the deal……as he did over, and over again. I’ve never booed Beltran OR Uncle Albert. As a matter of fact I admire Albert, because he’s just a good guy and a GREAT ball player! This whole argument around Beltran was over blown when it happned….and still IS. My 2 cents.

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  10. Here are the salary commitments for 2017 Astros:

    Gurriell – $14M
    Gregerson – $6.25M
    Nesheck – $500k buyout of ’17 option ($6.5M if they keep him)
    Sipp – $6M
    Altuve – $3.5M
    Gattis – $100k buyout of ’17 option ($5.2M if they keep him)
    Singleton – $2M

    Everyone else is controlled.

    I would buy out Nesheck and Gattis to free up ~ $11M to spend on FA signing. I would also look to restructure Altuve and lock him in for 10 years at $150 – 175M. I think it would end up being a bargain but I don’t think he would take it. I would also offer Keuchel a 5 yr/ $50-75 deal, but I doubt he would take it either. Last, I would try to buy out Springer’s remaining arb years similar to how Altuve was handled. Again, I don’t think he would take it. Some of our arb. eligible players are going to start costing us, but the totals will be manageable. This is the window to be aggressive in the offseason. Go for 2 big bats via FA. Handle pitching internally, or via trade.

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      • If they buyout Gattis they better re-sign Castro. I’m not comfortable going into the 2017 season with Heineman and Stassi as our catchers. Not that I don’t think Heineman will eventually be a serviceable major league catcher, but we are all aware of that dreaded adjustment period and Stassi just plain stinks offensively.

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      • Small sample size, but Stassi has hit MLB pitching better than AAA. Actually, he hit *every* level better than AAA. Not saying he should be the starter per se, but the backup.

        We need someone new as our starter imho.

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      • Billy, Stassi has 49 plate appearances. He has a .467 BABIP. He has a 30% K rate. He has been flat out LUCKY. The guy is not a major league hitter. He has been worse in the minors than Singleton and Carter have been, and worse then Carter has been in the majors. The guy is depth because he has power, can run into one, and plays decent defense. I like having him on the roster as long as we have control. I hope to everything holy they don’t go into the season with this guy as part of their plan for the position. He is organizational depth.

        5.2M for Gattis is a penance IF he is going to catch.

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    • Buy out Neshek and cry every time I signed the check to Sipp. Accept the fact that Altuve and Springer are going to become Dodgers, Red Sox, or Yankess and plan accordingly. Buy out Gattis and try to resign him as a back up catcher for less than 5M. Release Singleton and chalk that up as another mistake. I would not make a contract offer to Keuchel yet.

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    • I’m guessing this is going to cause many to cringe, but I would even consider 4/$60M for Castro. He’s still relatively young and calls a great game with very good pitch-framing numbers. Upgrade the other weak positions and keep Castro.

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      • I would definitely do 3/30 and would probably do 4/60. I think he helps our staff a lot. I also think he will return to a .240 hitter with some pop. We can live with his bat if we address DH and CF offense.

        Dang Tim, we agreed on something!

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      • Actually, I agree with you. A good catcher is far more than his batting average.I think Castro is good for this pitching staff.
        Of course if they do resign him they will have to upgrade like you say. I’m not fond of Gattis as a catcher, unless it’s for backup. Backup only and not a platoon.

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      • Why on this green earth would you give a guy 15 million a year over 4 years that has this bar as his K rate – 20, 26, 29, 30, 35. He is progressively getting worse. Every year. There is no outlier. He is hitting .206 this year, with an above league average BABIP. If he doesn’t return to his 26% or less K rate he will never even sniff the .220 that he hit before. Watermarks are generally maintaining a .300 BABIP and 25% or less K rate, that can buy you a .250.

        Again, he isn’t terrible at 5 million if they staff loves him. But 15 million? Really? And four years at that?

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      • He’s actually a bargain at $5M/year. He is getting on base more this year than last year and he has well above average pitch framing numbers. Do I think he’s worth $15M/year? No, but I don’t trust the alternatives and I feel really good knowing Castro is behind the plate. Now, if Gattis can show a vast improvement in preventing WPs, despite his below average pitch framing, I would consider making him the everyday catcher at $5.2M as he does throw out baserunners at a very good clip (assuming he doesn’t turn into Hank Conger here). You can make a case the Astros are better off with giving Heineman the everyday job and keeping Gattis as the backup at a much reduced rate. I can’t imagine Heineman can be worse than Castro offensively, but I never thought Gomez would be this bad offensively either.

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      • I guess the point is that it isn’t our money. I think a mid market team has to be wary of spending 15 million a year of their budget on a guy that is going to hit at that clip just because he calls a good game.

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      • There’s more to it than simply ‘calling a good game’. You may not be a proponent of pitch framing or just don’t care about it, but it has value and the Astros place a high value on it.

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    • Castro is just as crucial to the Astros success this season as Altuve or Correa? I’ve gone on record as saying we could do much worse than having Castro (and probably will) behind the plate next year, but I don’t care how remarkable his pitch framing is. No way he provides anything close to the value of Altuve, a guy who would be in the mix for MVP if this club were to go to the post season. The writer would have retained a whole lot more credibility without that claim.

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      • I agree. But I also also think that the catching talent is so thin in MLB that he is probably well above average and will get paid handsomely this offseason. I’m not sold on Gattis as an everyday catcher and would not turn over a young staff to anything less than a proven veteran.

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      • I’m a fan of Gattis as a person, and as a hitter (only whilst catching!) but he has more passed balls than I do passed stones.

        Looking at the free agent catching crop…yikes…I’ll take Castro/Stassi next year.

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      • There have been 28 WPs allowed when Gattis is catching in only 29 starts. Castro has allowed 31 WPs in 74 starts. Gattis needs to work on blocking balls in the dirt. He is allowing too many runners to advance that Castro doesn’t.

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  11. I’m gonna change the subject…..
    1. Why in God’s green earth does this team REFUSE to play small ball????
    2. What would we do without Marisnick and his defense???
    3. The way Gattis is letting balls go through his legs tonight…..we need to KEEP Castro. I don’t trust Gattis to catch more than twice a week anymore.
    4. Grossman will probably go J.D. Martinez on us.
    5. STOP putting Gomez in the game for ANY REASON. PERIOD. GRRRRRRRRRR.

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    • – Instead of playing small ball – we play micro ball
      – That throw out at home was so perfect by Jake – charge the ball, great on a line throw right to Gattis’ glove and he actually caught that one
      – Not that Gattis is a good defensive C but he had been decent until lately and tonight just bad
      – Nah Robbie will not be a big power hitter but he sure gets on base a lot
      – CarGo – that was a little league running mistake

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  12. OP….Keegan Yuhl final line:
    6 innings
    7 hits
    4 runs
    0 walks
    9 K’S !!!
    Not bad for his AAA debut!!

    Good win tonight! As of this afternoon we were 9 games back, with this win we will be 8 games back? All that stuff confuses this old blonde lady!
    It won’t happen….but if I never see Gomez in another game it will be too soon.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Saw the replay of Bregman getting thrown out at home in the first. He had to stop and hop over Altuve’s hit. But the 3B coach was windmilling him home so it was not his mistake.

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    • Both Bregman and Pettis need to recognize that the ball was not hit deep enough to score from second. A charging outfielder on a shallow slow rolller wins that battle every time.

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      • Vewill, in all due respect, Bregman’s job is to fully follow the direction of the guy in the box at third. He did his job. It’s not his decision to make in any way. You’ve been watching the game long enough than to put that on the runner.

        Liked by 1 person

  14. Giles and his wife are expecting their first baby anyday, and he might have to leave the team during this road trip. The fellas were busy over the winter weren’t they!!!

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  15. I am of the belief that the club should go to “closer by committee.” It appears that when Hinch proclaims someone to be the “closer,’ then that closer gets allows a run each time he comes out. See Gregerson, Harris, and now Giles.

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    • Let’s not give up on Giles so soon. It was a 3-run lead and the last thing he wants to do is walk the leadoff guy. He challenged him and gave up the double, but then buckled down and closed out the save. Giles has the stuff to close out games and going to a committee right after his first save chance as a closer, which he converted, could really send a bad message. I’m a bigger proponent in using your best reliever in high leverage situations, but most teams don’t do that. However, if any team starts doing it I can see the Astros and their front office going this direction.

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      • And as mentioned above…this was his firs run allowed since June, and he’d been lights out. Look at his K/9 ratio too!

        He should be our guy unless he implodes, IMHO

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  16. The wild pitch thing is interesting. The Astros as a staff have 65 WPs on the season – the most in the AL by 10 over the next team.
    The 28 WPs allowed when Gattis is catching and the 31 allowed when Castro is catching are both more than the 23 by the Rangers (least in the AL).
    On the other hand, does it mean anything as the Astros lead the league in both ERA (3.78) and runs allowed per game (4.04).
    This tells me that the pitchers are following directions to concentrate on throwing pitches that are tough to hit and to catch. We know they do a lot of low breaking / high fastball combos.

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    • Gattis, try as he might, simply does not have the mobility back there. And lately, he looks more and more exhausted catching. He’s a head scratcher. You’d think we’d be in love with a guy who hits 17 homers in 84 games as your back up catcher and part time DH. But at 5.2 million or whatever the club option is for next year, I’m hoping he disappears.

      Problem is, I think Castro will get offered much more money than we’re prepared to pay, by multiple clubs. And I don’t want two new guys behind the plate. So we might end up with Gattis and Heineman. That would be my guess.

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    • This is why I’m uncomfortable with Gattis as the primary catcher. As many pitches that we throw in the dirt we need a catcher who can block and prevent WPs better than Gattis. Maybe he can get better, but right now he’s abysmal and is allowing too many runners to advance.

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    • I’m telling you, the wild pitches are 95% curve balls thrown purposely in the dirt by Houston pitchers because they do not have the fastballs to get batters out consistently. Harris has a decent fastball but it is straight and after batters see it fifty times, they hit it because it isn’t moving and it isn’t fast enough to make them jump at it. So he bounces curves in the dirt to get strikeouts. Gregerson, McHugh, Keuchel, Fiers, Fister, Feldman and Feliz are the same way. Feliz’s fastball is straight and he does not mix in two other pitches, so batters sit on one of two pitches. That is why Feliz and Harris lose their mojo late in the season. They feature two pitches and only one of them is deceptive, the curve.
      If you are going to feature only two pitches as a reliever, your fastball has to be a plus pitch and a 93 MPH straight fastball is not a plus pitch.
      How do you fix this? You make Feliz throw his third pitch in AAA until he has it. The Astros haven’t done that.
      You let Hoyt relieve in the majors because he has four pitches. That keeps Harris and Gilesmore mysterious, because you don’t use them as often.
      You make Devenski throw that curve more so batters have to look for it and his fastball becomes more of an out pitch.
      You throw Musgrove and Rodgers as starters because they have four good pitches and they don’t have to bounce balls in the dirt to get guys out.
      Bottom line: Power pitchers!

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  17. Go to Fangraphs and look at Jason Castro’s stats for the last three years.
    His defensive runs saved this season are darn near one third of last year’s
    His WAR is way down.
    His wRC+ is way below replacement level.
    His batting average is .206, despite a very, very high(for him) BABIP of .319. That is regression looking to happen.
    His baserunning is even a big negative, whereas it was neutral last season.
    His K rate is amazing(35.2%) because he knows that he is overmatched and is swinging weakly or just taking strikes that he knows he can’t hit.
    His SLG is the lowest of his career and his groundball rate and K rate is the highest of his career, by far. His homers are down because he’s not catching as much because he’s terrible at the plate.
    Wild pitches with him catching are way up lately because he’s slower.
    His dollar value to the Astros this year, according to Fangraphs, has been $3.7 million. He is making $5million and the Astros went all the way to arbitration with him over $250,000.
    And people here are talking 3/$30 and 4/$60 for this guy?
    I swear to you that Heineman can hit .206 and provide equal defense for a half million dollars. And don’t worry about respect. Musgrove, LMJ, Devensky, Rodgers, Hoyt, Hauschild, Gustave and Feliz have all been pitching to Tyler Heineman for years and trust him.
    Forget about Castro and don’t look back. He is 30 and his best year is behind him, by three years.

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    • Mark my words, Castro will have multiple offers between 3/30 and 4/60. Possibly over that amount. There is no comparable catcher on the FA market. It is not a reflection of how good Castro is, it is a reflection of how bad the overall catching talent is. Having watched both Heineman and Stassi quite a bit, I would say that Stassi is the better defensive catcher and Heineman is the better offensive catcher. I would also say that neither are very highly regarded, nor are they in the same class as Castro, however they may be with time. You either try to sign Castro or commit to the youngsters and go get a veteran backup on the FA market. If he’s on a roster and owns a mitt he will cost you at least 3-5 on a 1 year deal. Gattis is not that guy.

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      • You’re probably right….that’s why I floated a McCann trade yesterday. Stassi and or Heineman will NEED a veteran catcher at the major league level to help guide them.
        Gattis knees and back are not good….and catching a couple of days a week is all your gonna get from him. Why do I have a feeling were gonna see Castro back next year!!!?

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      • But you make my point for me. If overpaying is a result of bad catching talent, then have bad catching talent for one twentieth of the money. Why pay a guy huge money and get nothing? Pay a young guy minimum salary and get the same result until you have someone better.
        What happens if Heineman hits .235 and hits three home runs and knocks in only 30 runs next year and throws out 35% of base stealers, but scores 15 more runs than Castro has scored this year because of more speed to actually score from second on a single? That’s Castro’s production right now. You are a lot better off with that than paying a bad catcher $10-15 million.
        Spend that money on an outfielder.

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    • Also, I would not pair a young staff with a rookie catcher. Whatever good you can say about our catching prospects, they have NO major league experience. A catcher is invaluable in helping young pitchers navigate through the change to big leagues.

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    • If other teams are going to pay him 15 million, something I highly doubt, let them.

      Jason Castro is nearing the end. It happens to catchers faster than it happens to others.

      If you can get him to 2 years with a total of 11-12 million, take it, but even that is hard to swallow for a mid market team that probably needs to address CF, a starter, and a lefty specialist this offseason already – and none of that will be cheap.

      Stassi is no answer either. At least he can run into one every once in a while, but he will just be another around .210 bat that is going to strikeout at 30%. Heineman I have some confidence in as a hitter. I think it would be reasonable to assume a 18-20% K rate as a rookie, and if that comes with just an average BABIP he will hit .260.

      The question is are you willing to hand the pitching staff to a rookie catcher.

      As bad as Gattis can be defensively, I think the Astros moved him back to it because they saw the writing on the wall when they went to arby with Castro over a small amount. Castro has spent this entire season proving Luhnow right. In a year where he should have been motivated by FA, motivated by being taken to arby over a quarter, aggravated at being doubted, he should have responded with a good season. Instead he has been dismal. I suspect the Astros are more than willing to part ways with Castro and Gattis will catch 90 games next year, with the other 70 going to some combination of a free agent or Stassi.

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      • Stassi at least has (limited) MLB experience. I’d start with him as backup next year until Heineman is ready.

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    • I with you here I think Castro can get some crazy deal for 3 years, however lets not make it Astro money. I think about 4 million a year is right for Castro’s production and I hate that framing conversation. It’s time to move on, has to be another catcher better than Castro behind the dish and hit .226. Let Heineman be the backup and who knows.

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      • Why do you hate the framing conversation? The Astros value pitch framing very much and it was a large reason why they made the ill-fated trade for Conger.

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      • Tim – you may have answered your question. What I want to know is this: if batters decide in the first 10 feet whether a pitch will be a strike or a ball, why would umpires be greatly influenced by the receiving of the pitch? Are you thinking they are delaying their decision on borderline pitches? I agree quieter catchers are likely to get you a call as they do not distract the umpire behind the plate.

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      • Bam who trades for Conger, no one and because of this pitching framing deal. Good Lord . Lets get a quality OF next year and go with a new mix behind the dish a vet and H man.

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      • Statistics have shown that catchers that frame the ball the best get more ‘out of the zone’ strikes called. Why do you think the Astros, among other teams, value pitch framing so much?

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      • How is good pitch framing judged? Is there something measurable about what the catcher does which ignores whether a ball or strike is called?

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  18. I would like to dispel 2 myths. 1) Closers need multiple pitches. Virtually every closer in the game is a 2 pitch pitcher. The best ever was really a one pitch pitcher. Mariano Rivera lived off of the fastball. He threw a 2 seam cutter, 2 seam sinker and occasionally a 4 seam. They are all fastballs. Wagner, Lidge and Hoffman threw fastball/ slider. I really can’t think of a successful close that regularly threw more than 2 pitches, though I am sure there are examples. That is generally why they find themselves in the closer role vs starter role. 2) The breaking ball in the dirt is somehow related to fastball velocity. The breaking ball in the dirt is very much a purpose pitch. Successful pitchers make it look just like the fastball out of the hand and have late breaking action (12-6/ 1-7/2-8 – curve/ sinker, 2-8 changeup, 12-6 – sinker or 2-8/ 3-9 cutter). The goal is to make it look like a FB low in the zone and late break to a point where it is unhittable (i.e. in the dirt). Greg Maddux threw predominantly well located fastballs round 90 MPH. He would mix in a few circle changes and 1-2 curves per game. He generally got swinging strikes on his offspeed pitches that broke late to the dirt. Ditto Nolan Ryan, Randy Johnson, the aforementioned relievers, Roger Clemens, Pedro Martinez (best changeup ever?) and the list goes on. A pitcher that can not master the 59.5′ breaking ball will have a short career. The catcher whose defensive skills take this weapon away from the pitcher will likewise have a short career. The 12-6 curve ball is the pitch most often thrown “in the dirt” looking for the swinging strike. The Astros ave a lot of pitchers that throw very good curveballs so it is natural that they will have more balls in the dirt, though they definitely do not lead the league. The catcher that they select needs to be better than average on balls in the dirt or he will remove one of their best weapons, especially in key situations such as a runner on third.

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    • Most relievers are relievers because they can’t command more than one pitch. If you can command 2 pitches and throw 2 more you generally get to stick to starting.

      Mariano threw his cutter more than 80% of the time every year his last 5 in the league – with one season over 90%. He mixed in a straight fastball the other 10-20%, the same velocity, just a different movement.

      This is why I always said Bud Norris would have been a great closer. He can have a bulldog mentality, he stood on the mound with a presence. In the end, starting is inconsistent for him because in reality he only has absolute command of one pitch, his slider. Now his slider is mean, arguably a top 5 slider in the game. His pitch trax values suggest that if he threw his slider exclusively his ERA would be almost a point lower than his career mark. Now we know that isn’t true because most major league hitters would kill even the best pitches in the world if they can sit on it, but the point is he is dominant in one pitch, and the rest of his pitches exclusively would all raise his ERA.

      If Norris is a closer, he can throw his iffy FB 30% of the time, enough to keep them off balance, and that specialized slider 70% of the time. His K rate would go up, BAA would go down. Heck, his FB would probably be better since he likely adds 2mph to it pitching an inning at a time.

      I never understood why no one has forced that transition on him. Maybe it was his ego, which we know is big and fragile.

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    • Last time I looked, we did not have any Joe Niekro knuckleballers or Mike Scott splitter throwers on this team. The guy who calls both pitch and location therefore knows exactly what is coming, and knows from catching each pitcher multiple times exactly how much, how sharply, and how close to the plate the pitcher in question’s hook, slider, and cutter break. Unless the pitcher badly misses his location, a professional catcher of major league experience who catches non-knuckleballs and non-splitters should almost never let one by.

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    • It’s not a myth that closers need multiple pitches. You just threw out the names of the best pitchers ever in our lifetime. They were great because they had plus-plus pitches and plus plus command. Why would you compare Harris or Gregerson to Mariano and say they don’t need more than two pitches? He had the best pitch of any reliever, ever. They don’t, and that is why they are great one night and bad the next. If they are going to be great they are going to have to be great with different stuff. They don’t have Rivera’s sinker that nobody could hit. If they did, they would be great all the time.
      That’s why we’re talking about this. If our closers produced like Lidge, Hoffman and Mariano over and over again, we wouldn’t be talking about this. Most closers don’t have one pitch that nobody can hit, so they have to reply on the batter guessing wrong while they mix up their pitches.
      Have you noticed that our relievers and starters have been walking more guys lately. That’s because batters have caught on to curves in the dirt and are not swinging. They sit on the fastball and we don’t have enough pitchers with huge fastballs to blow it by hitters, so we need guys with multiple pitches.
      Most closers do have two pitches only. And that is why most closers aren’t great. They either need a pitch that can’t be hit, or they need at least three good pitches so that batters have to guess right only one third of the time rather than just half the time.

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      • OP, you make a great comment in your last paragraph and I now understand we don’t have an argument. My interpretation was based on really legitimate closers. Those guys that come in and dominate night in and night out. You are correct, there are not many of them and its why they are so sought after and get paid so well (i.e. Miller, Chapman, Kimbrell, etc.). You are correct, if you are just a reliever filling the closer role (i.e. Harris, Gregerson, etc.) you dang well better have enough of an arsenal to keep them off balance.

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  19. Meanwhile, Derek Fisher hit his first AAA home run last night. He did it in the State of Texas – well, in El Paso. Unfortunately, that’s the only run the Grizzlies scored for the AAA debut of Derek’s running buddy Keegan Yuhl. In 6 innings Keegan struck out 9, and walked none – but he gave up 7 hits [one a HR], and 4 runs, to make his first AAA decision a tough-luck loss.

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    • If I’m not mistaken, El Paso has the highest team batting average of any team in organized baseball. That is a tough way to begin AAA for Yuhl.

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  20. Jeff Luhnow, I am proud of you. No matter what happens in the rest of Gomez’s career, this is a good move by Luhnow and is vote of confidence to every young player on the Astros and in AAA. The front office is willing to eat salary to move on from badder.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. I am a serious Jandel Gustave fan and I love his 100MPH tailing fastball. I think he will be a great bullpen power arm. However, I believe we need to get some bench depth up here. We could always add Gustave in September.

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  22. I was probably the most patient fan with Gomez, but I realized after Monday they had to cut ties with him. He wasn’t a clubhouse cancer, as some suggested, and from all reports he was well liked by his teammates and coaches. It just reached the point where it was clear he wasn’t going to improve and his skills had just eroded where he was providing negative value to the team. Marisnick, while still an offensive liability, is such a great defensive OFer that he is now a much better option than Gomez. It was the right move by Astros management, as tough as it may have been to make. If Gomez returns to MMP in another uniform I won’t boo him (I won’t cheer either), but I do wish him well wherever he ends up.

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  23. I liked Gomez I liked his personality, his passion. his quirkiness, and think he was a good teammate. I don’t remember reading that many concerns about him in those regards. That guy crushed us when we were in the NL. I just was socked at how his skills had eroded this year. some injury issues, but wow he was really bad.

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  24. From mlbtraderumors:

    If he goes unclaimed and Houston releases him, another club could sign Gomez for the prorated league minimum. Of course, that would be an enormous drop for a player who entered the season as a candidate to sign a $100MM-plus deal as a free agent during the upcoming winter. In fact, in his preseason free agent power rankings for 2017, MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes wrote in March that a bounce-back year could have put Gomez in line for a $150MM contract.

    WOW!! From a multi- year $150M potential to probably 1 year at $3-5.

    I gained a lot of respect for Carlos reading his comments. He was aware and not happy with the fact that he was not performing. He did not blame anyone and had good things to say about the Astros organization. That’s the most class I can ever remember him showing. I wish him well in the future.

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  25. The move was inevitable.
    I would never boo him because I believe he gave his best. Something was wrong with him. Either an injury or possibly something mental.
    Sad for him but relieved JL made the right move.

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  26. Age 28-32 (depending on whom you listen to) is supposed to be the prime years for a male athlete. I just can’t understand the rapid decline in offensive and defensive skills that we witnessed with Gomez. I also do not think it was effort. He seemed to be a high effort/ high energy guy and no one would tank on a walk year.

    My question is: if Gomez slashes close to his career numbers next year what will that say about the Astros, if anything. Will it bring into question their overall approach or if we find out he was not healthy will it bring into question their handling of injured players.

    I can’t seem to get it out of my mind that he had major regression after his injury in late 2015. Playing through it down the stretch may have been his downfall.

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  27. To answer Devin’s question about judging pitch framing by catchers. It is a well known fact that all catchers are judged against the catcher from the movie Naked Gun. He was able to get the Umpire (Frank Drebin played by the hilarious Leslie Nielsen) to call strikes before they even got to the glove.

    Liked by 2 people

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