Not that we are giving up, but . . .


Can history repeat itself?

During the game Thursday night, the announcers mentioned how the 2004 Astros at a similar point in the season were 60-60 and 5.5 games out of the Wild Card. Those Astros went on a 32-10 tear from then to the end of the season to squeak into the wild card spot by one game. That team went on to win the first playoff series in the history of the team.

The Astros of 2016 started the night one game better than the 2004 team and also 5.5 games out of the wild card. But this team is not showing any signs of a rip roaring run to the playoffs. So, assuming for argument’s sake that some of the fans may have given up on this team competing, what will keep them interested as the team limps down the final stretch of the season?

Here is a list of possible compelling story lines unrelated to a non-existent pennant race:

  • Alex Bregman – After a horrific start to his hitting career (his fielding has never faltered) Bregman has steadily pulled that .031 average up to the .200 mark. Is he the answer at 3rd base or left field or DH or where?
  • Yulieski Gourriel – Will the Cuban make it to the bigs soon? Probably. Is he worth $45 million? Maybe. How will they work him into a lineup with Bregman? By moving Bregman elsewhere or by DH’ing Gourriel? Likely the non-$45 million man moves.
  • A.J. Reed – His 0 for 15 start to his mlb career has also been followed by a slow climb towards the Mendoza line. Will the 2015 Minor league whiz (113 Runs, 34 HRs and 127 RBIs) put up a strong final six weeks to the season?
  • Dallas Keuchel – Will the 2015 Keuchel return? Is he hurting? Is he exhausted? Did he pitch too much in 2015? Should they consider shutting him down when the team finally gives up too?
  • Joe Musgrove – One really bad start notwithstanding, the kid needs to start games the rest of the season and take his bumps and successes both.
  • Carlos Gomez, and any other player who is available to be traded after clearing waivers. The next couple weeks will be interesting to see if any of the players eligible to be traded actually are. This could include Gomez or other veterans like Pat Neshek or Doug Fister.
  • Chris Devenski and Michael Feliz – Will the Astros at some point give one of these youngsters a spot in the rotation?
  • Luis Valbuena, Colby Rasmus and especially Lance McCullers – Will any of these guys come back from injury and do the fans really want them to come back or sit out the rest of the season?
  • James Hoyt, Teoscar Hernandez, Tony Kemp and Tyler White – will these rookies be given much of a shot down the stretch?
  • Ken Giles – Will he be given a full chance at the closer’s role (if the team has any games to close)?

So – two questions. Have you given up? And if so, what will keep your attention down the final stretch of the season?

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165 comments on “Not that we are giving up, but . . .

  1. If I were the Astros I would take a look at Cashman as a FA in the offseason. There are only 3 reasons I would even consider him: 1) he is from Conroe and may want to play close to home after being on the WC for most of his career 2) He has great stuff and an electric fastball that touches 98 MPH 3) Confidence that Strom could get him to live up to his potential.

    Sadly, I have seen projections that he could be looking at North of $100M due to a weak FA market. His numbers don’t justify a contract of that size. I would pass at $100 but he could be worth a look at 5/$80.

    Another interesting look would be Shohei Otani from Japan. He has indicated a desire to move to the MLB. He throws around 100 MPH and is only 22 years old. In 2016 he has pitched to a 8-4 record, 2.02 ERA, and 140 strikeouts in 115 innings pitched. In one 7 inning game he threw 31 pitches between 99-101.

    What is really interesting about Otani is that he DH’s when he doesn’t pitch and has a .351/.459/.642 slash line, to go along with 11 homers and 33 RBI in only 181 at-bats in 2016.

    It would take a $20M posting fee plus a massive contract to get him. Probably more than the 7/$155M that Tanaka received. At least with Otani his offensive abilities would mitigate the risk somewhat.

    I’m not advocating they sign him, but I hope they take a good look and at least kick the tires.

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    • Please note that I did not say we should absolutely sign Cashman or Otani. I’m not a Cashman fan and I have never seen Otani play. I have merely thrown out a couple of names for consideration/ discussion.

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      • I would be shocked beyond belief if Luhnow gave a guy a $100 + million contract.
        Really no joke! The day Jim Crane signs someone for that kind of money it will be on the nightly news! This owner has NO concept of what it takes to actually OWN a MLB team. Luhnow hasn’t gone dumpster diving like Ed Wade used to do…..but he hasn’t exactly over whelmed any of us with his free agent signings. I’ll tell ya this, if he ever DID offer that kinda money to a guy…..he had better be a Mike Trout clone! This winter should be very interesting to see who is available, and how much they want!!

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      • Becky, I’m pretty sure you are right. I don’t see the Astros being in the Otani sweepstakes and I’m not sure it would be smart to take the risk. Right now Cashner is a #5 and I’m not sure one of our prospects couldn’t fill the bill for much cheaper.

        Dang though, if someone can get Cashner to live up to his potential he could be special. However, I said the same thing about Folty.

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    • I actually need to sleep for eight hours before I figured out who Cashman was. Now that I know you are talking about Cashner of San Diego, your comment makes more sense.

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  2. Valbuena may be done for the season, he injured his ham strain again while he was with the club in Baltimore. They sent him back to Houston this afternoon, to see the doctor this next week. Man…..do we miss his bat!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • If Valbuena could be signed for a reasonable contract I wouldn’t mind seeing him back next year. I think 3/$30 would be nice but I know he’ll be looking for far more than that.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yeah……I’d take him back for that price, but you’re probably right he’s gonna want more money. I like him, and he seems to like playing here.

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  3. Hey Tim, I’ve found your .800 plus OPS outfielder. Perfect for leftfield. Still hitting .298. And he’s got a .383 OBP and 47 steals. A switch hitter with good stats against lefties or righties. And can play a serviceable infield in a pinch. Under team control until 2021!

    But damn, we traded him for Cy Sneed. I’m sure that deal lowered Becky’s blood pressure, but I think it’s safe to say after 500 plus plate appearances, Jonathan Villar is for real. Even from a defensive standpoint, he’s gotten much better.

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    • Even Villar realizes he was a bad player with Houston. I heard an interview with him on Fox Sports last week where he said he needed a change of scenery to get his head right and become a good player. I’m glad he’s doing well but I am not upset that we dealt him.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Villerror needed to get out of Houston, before I hunted him down and beat the crap outta him. I’m glad he’s doing well……but I kinda like the short stop playing for us!!

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      • Vewill, seems that must have been the case. I’m happy for the kid and I’m still happy for Becky, but I don’t like the fact that a guy with so much obvious talent has to go somewhere else to find the key. Let’s face it, the 2016 version of Villar could have been a real economical difference maker on this club and changed the whole complexion of our line up.

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      • daveb7, I don’t disagree one bit! I wish he had been that player for us. His bat was always there but his head was not.

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      • Yes Becky, I’m very happy with Correa too. But I think even you would have come around had Jonathan played left for us this year and put up those numbers.

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      • Also may say something about our ability to develop talent to the MLB level. We have some success stories but we have some failures (JD, Villar) and I think that both Springer and Correa can be better offensive players than they are.

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      • Teoscar + Springer + Villar in the outfield would probably be the fastest outfield in the league. I’m not sure how well Villar would do on routes, but he has the arm for any of the three spots.

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  4. Daveb…..sorry your nephew is being sent down in place of Gurriel, but White was not feeling so good. He had a groin strain, that had kept him side lined for the past week or so. BUT…..I really, really like Tyler, and he’ll be back in a few weeks.
    I hope they aren’t thinking this Cuban guy is gonna be some kind of “Savior”….but we’ll see.

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  5. Falling out the race aside, this 2nd half has been fun…enjoying seeing the kids. I think Bregman is gonna be special.

    Interested in seeing how Gurriel does. I know next to nothing about him.

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  6. Looking to next year I really want the Astros to make a strong push for Cespedes. If they sign him imagine this lineup:

    Springer-9
    Bregman-5
    Altuve-4
    Correa-6
    Cespedes-7
    Gurriel-DH
    Reed-3
    Gattis-2
    Hernandez-8

    Assuming LMJ is healthy, and I realize that’s a questionable assumption, you have a rotation of LMJ, Musgrove, Keuchel, Devenski and Fiers/McHugh. Martes and Paulino will be very close and Rodgers is also an option. Marwin, Heineman and Marisnick form the bench and the bullpen is Giles, Gregerson, Harris, Hoyt (I still think he’ll be a solid setup man), Feliz, Sipp and a LOOGY via free agency. The last roster spot can either be another long man in the pen or offensive bench player. If Luhnow and Crane really want to go for it they can make a strong push to sign Chapman and forget the LOOGY as you have Harris and maybe Sipp rebounds. There is no doubt the Astros have the payroll flexibility to sign both Chapman and Cespedes, but will they do it? We can call them the Cuban Space Commanders.

    This team, to me, is an offensive juggernaut with a solid rotation and a dominant bullpen. They would have to be one of the favorites starting next year. Thoughts?

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      • Well, the top 4 along with Reed and Hernandez should have decent OBPs. Cespedes hits for a decent average so his OBP will be so-so. I put Gurriel at DH with the assumption this gets rotated throughout the season. Gurriel will get some starts at 3B and, maybe LF. I think the OBP is fine, sans Gattis, but as a catcher his 20+ HR power is acceptable, even with his low OBP.

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      • The lineup is definitely RH heavy so the last roster spot may need to be a LH reserve hitter. Of course, we also have Marwin as a switch-hitter off the bench.

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      • That would be making Springer happy and certainly be the way to anchor an outfield. But I’d leave Cespedes in left and move the kid to right, as allegedly, he’s got the arm for it. But not so fast. We can’t assume yet that Teloscar is going to hit. Right now, it’s looking encouraging, but much too small a sample. Same issue with Reed. He has not shown nearly enough with the bat to get pencilled in at first. But, Gurriel if he hits, could certainly be a candidate to play first. We need Reed to show up though, because of the previously mentioned shortage of left handed hitters.

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    • Teams would not go out of their way to throw LH starters at us, that’s for sure. Lots of RH pitching against us would be good for Reed.

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    • I like the idea of Cespedes. I also like the idea of Chapman, but I think the league will probably value him a bit higher than I would be willing to go. I like the idea of trying to trade for Archer, but the more I look at it the more I wonder why SD would entertain a trade for him unless they thought he was on the decline and wanted to sell high.

      I agree that our lineup would be plenty potent.

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    • We still have to nail down the catcher’s spot. Gattis will cost over $5M next year if you keep him. I don’t see him as a starting catcher. I also don’t see Heineman or Stassi as everyday catchers. I would definitely want a veteran presence to deal with our young rotation. Some FA cash will have to be spent for a catcher. I have no problem going after Ramos or resigning Castro. I don’t see much else out there.

      I also like the idea of trying to sign Napoli to a 1 or 2 year deal. He can play DH, 1B and backup catcher. He’s getting a little long in tooth but man that guy can rake and has some serious power.

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  7. I expect Luhnow to add Lourdes Gurriel to the organization this fall.
    After seeing Bregman at 3B, I don’t see Valbuena returning next season.
    I really like what I see from Teoscar, but I’m cautious. I loved what I saw of Towles for the first two weeks.
    All I ask of Gomez is that he does for the Rangers what he did for us.
    I would like Tyler White to rethink that open stance. Somebody help him! I’m sad that he got optioned after only one relief appearance, but I’m also not sold on him in the bullpen. Teehee.
    I’m surprised the Astros are moving Kyle Tucker up so fast. He has not hit .300 at any level yet. But, I have to admit, they are seeing him and I don’t get that opportunity.
    I kept waiting for Fiers to get bombed last night and it never happened. Peacock has provided some useful relief the last two nights and given our late inning guys a break.
    Cespedes would be interesting. So would Chapman. I think the Yankees want both of them.

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    • I like what I see from Teoscar as well, but let’s wait and see what he does when the pitching starts adjusting and trying to find his weaknesses. Sure looks to be a very pretty and fundamental swing, but he is still young and will go through plenty more struggles.

      I love Tony Kemp but I honestly don’t see any tool that suggests he will ever be more than a marginal utility player. I don’t see him sticking when Kemmer and Fisher get closer to the show.

      I really like Tucker. He has the most beautiful lefty swing since Griffey Jr. I hope he keeps progressing. He is still very young.

      I think Gurriell will hit but I honestly don’t know what to expect from him as he starts to see good to great pitching on a regular basis. I’d be happy with .250 – .260 with a good OBP and a little pop.

      I REALLY like what I am seeing from Bregman, both glove and bat. That short, quick swing should translate to solid offensive numbers.

      I’m not holding my breath for Chapman or Cespedes but agree that they would be excellent additions!

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      • You are right. I have the same concern about Fisher’s K rate. But they are both getting their first taste of AAA so let’s see if they pan out. They could go the route of Duffy or they could go the route of Springer. Springer had similar K rates in his minor league career and he made the transition (though I am not suggesting either is the next Springer). At least with them I see the tools to be major leaguers. Aparrt from speed, I just don’t see that in Kemp (as an outfielder).

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  8. Tarp is off the field…..so game can’t be that far behind. Currently the Rays are beating the other team in texas 8-4 !!! I’m watching it, just to do a happy dance when it’s over, it’s the bottom of the 8th inning. Dave Raymond is doing the TV broadcast, jeeze I miss that guy. He and Brett Dolan made listening to the game so much more pleasing than Steve Sparks…UGH.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I didn’t care for the current radio team when they first came aboard, but they have grown on me. I grew up listening to Gene Elston, who was one of the best ever IMHO. Of course, THE best is Vin Scully. And to think he’s been calling Dodgers games since they were in Brooklyn is just mind boggling!

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  9. You guys and girls post how Gurriel looks ok?? I’m not expecting him to go 4 for 4, but I’d really like to see him get a hit! Thanks!

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  10. They are gonna try to get this game in tonight……nobody wants to come back up there for a one game makeup in Sept. I guess it will be up to the visiting team, to make that decision. If I’m Hinch, I want to get it over. The Rangers still played the Yankees after a 5-6hr. rain delay in arlington.

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  11. What do you know he gets his first, on his first at bat! That’s a pretty cool memory when you’re 32 yrs old, and you’ve waited nearly your whole life to do it!!
    Good on ya Gurriel!!

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  12. Man….did they need that extra insurance run! Hang on boys, the M’S lost and so did the idiots in north texas! Every win is precious!! Look at Mr. Keuchel pitching into the 8th inning!

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  13. Getting this win sure would provide a glimmer of hope. This was a good night for Keuchel to be pitching. Anything close has been a strike. The umps don’t get to fly out on a charter.

    Is Marwin really better defensively at first than Reed? I don’t get that defensive switch. And why pinch hit for the new guy that you’ve just signed for 40 something million dolllars? I expect him to hit more than Kemp regardless of who is on the mound.

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  14. So the key to Keuchel is to have him wait around for four hours -have him pitch one inning – sit around for one hour and then pitch 7 more strong innings.
    Oh it helps if the umps want to get out of town and have a generous strike zone.

    Liked by 2 people

  15. Ok girls and boys….the fellas are leaving Baltimore feeling pretty good about themselves, let’s hope they carry this into Pittsburgh!! We gained a game and a half and they have GOT to keep it up! Raise your hand if you like the new look this club has! It’s starting to look like a pretty good team to me! And you can’t say enough about the rookie pitchers! I watched the Rays game while waiting or our game to start……and laughed, and laughed!!!
    Mr. Bill…..where are you???????

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  16. Look to the penny, my friends, look to the penny.

    The boys and I waited out both rain delays and my son kept the lucky penny in his sock all day. School starts on Tuesday and he plans to,wear it in his sock at school. I told him to never mess with a winning streak. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

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