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. Unfortunately, I have given up on this season. If they were healthy with Rasmus, Valbuena and McCullers playing and Gurriel on the horizon I would keep the faith, but they just don’t have enough firepower in the offense or quality starting pitching to make a serious run this year. This is not to say I don’t like the prospects for 2017, but this year is over.

    I think this offseason will be very telling on whether Jim Crane is willing to spend money to upgrade the major league team. He’s spent money in the draft and on international players, but he has really held off on signing top level free agents. The Astros will have some legitimate payroll flexibility going into this offseason and they need to upgrade the offense, but will Crane allow Luhnow to spend money on a quality free agent? This is one of the main reasons I am more pro-Luhnow than others on here. I just don’t know what constraints Crane has put on him in regards to spending in free agency. His draft success is very good and his eye for low level prospects developing into top level prospects is very good, but are his trades for guys like Gomez and Kazmir an indirect result of Crane’s budget restraints? Was Luhnow prohibited from going after better trade pieces that cost more? We know he made a trade for Hamels that was rejected, but was there other trade candidates he wanted, but didn’t pursue due to the players salary?

    I think I’ll have a better feel on Crane and Luhnow at the end of the 2017 season. A few blogs ago Dan used a term that I really liked when he said he doesn’t want to play 52 pickup every 3-4 years. Changing GM’s means we are probably getting an entirely new FO and new manager, which means turning in a whole new direction. I don’t think now is the time to do this. The farm system is strong and the pieces are there to be a contender, but it will take a dedication from ownership to strengthen the team with some quality free agents or trades. Another solid OFer besides Springer that can put up an OPS above .800 is needed. Also, a healthy Lance McCullers is a necessity. I think if this happens they are back to being a legitimate contender in 2017.

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  2. I haven’t given up. I don’t see any reason to raise the white flag, but that doesn’t mean we need to keep our prospects and AAAA guys on the pine come September. They have a ton of rookies out there for two reasons. First, they are all players who performed well in MILB and have potential to be major leaguers. Second, injuries, ineffectiveness of veterans, and inability to fill holes (by the FO) necessitate it.

    I’m hoping we have a major dilemma on our hands where the rookies and call-ups play well enough to get us into the second wild card and Luhnow has to decide which players make the playoff roster. We would then see whether he learned anything from last year’s bullpen debacle.

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  3. I have given up on the Astros being in the playoffs this season. I’m pretty sure they have, also.
    Musgrove was the last hope I had for them to turn it around. I have no idea why he threw everything up and had nothing out there yesterday. His fastball was down 3-4 mph and it was up in the zone and he had nothing.
    The team looks lifeless.
    I’m looking forward to seeing Gurriel play. That holds my interest. White was fun to watch yesterday on the mound, although I would have preferred to see Reed out there pitching.

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  4. I agree 1OP, Reed was a terrific pitcher for Kentucky. I am looking forward to seeing Gurriel play also, but I am not fond of moving Bregman who has very good infield abilities and at this point in Gurriels career, I question whether he has the range of Bregman. Luhnow has said Bregman will go to left field, so that’s it.

    I just hope they play the youngsters as much as possible whether the playoffs happen or not. Without a #1 starting pitcher, this is a very flawed team.

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  5. I hate giving up – because it just means another year marked off my endless annual calendar of no championships. I did not think they had a great shot at the championship this season, but thought they had a good chance at the playoffs and once you get there – anything can happen. This is like 52 seasons of frustration for me and I know others have more than that.
    On the plus side – they will have some dollars to play with in the off-season, one would think with Rasmus, Feldman, Gomez, Fister, Castro, Valbuena coming off and someone like Neshek likely bought out but some of that may be used on long term contracts (Keuchel – while he’s down?) and obviously they may try to re-sign Valbuena or Fister.
    There will be growing pains with playing the “Yutes” but better this season than later.
    I just wish I trusted them to sign the right guys and trade for the right guys.

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  6. Why trade for Gomez? If you trade for Gomez you have to pay his salary, plus give up something for him.
    Why claim Gomez? If you claim him you have to pay his salary for the rest of the year.
    Wait and let the Astros release him and let them pay his salary and then pick him up for almost nothing. If he does nothing for your team, you broke even. If he does something for your team you win and the Astros look for excuses.

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  7. I really do not have faith in Jim Crane spending money to restock this team… I really dont. I will eat a YUGE plate of crow if he goes after a BIG dollar pitcher, or a big bat.
    I don’t know if Luhnow has been constrained, and told he had to make do with a few pennies, and prospects. This season was essentially over by the end of April, they dug themselves in a big hole early. Gomez getting released was a big black eye on Luhnow’s costly trade last year. I don’t know if the word has gotten out there that Houston isn’t a team you want to get traded to, or what……but something ain’t right.
    I’m still an A.J. Hinch fan but I’m afraid he might take the fall for this season…..and you know it’s not gonna be Luhnow. Broke my heart last night to see Joe Musgrove get rocked last night….but the O’S don’t have ANY holes in their lineup.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. There is still interest in watching Bregman, Reed, Hernandez, White, Kemp, Musgrove and Hoyt for the rest of this season. Hopefully Giles will get some killer confidence. Altuve and Correa are just fun to watch! That’s what is going to be most entertaining for me. There is still a chance (for the wildcard spot)…right ?
    I am in complete agreement with Tim’s wish list ….a solid hitting OFer and a GOOD pitcher added to the current stable of players. I really do see good possibilities for next season!
    Reference was made in a previous topic about elite players not wanting to play in Houston. Even though I am born and raised in Big H and most proud of what it once was, I do feel a bit insecure about the fact that we seem to be pretty high on most players “no trade” clauses. I would understand about some other cities ..much more so than Houston. And it’s not like the Rangers don’t attract good talent. I don’t know what it is, but it is problematic for us and has been during the Drayton era as it is now. Maybe a reasonable explanation has been offered by someone that I did not read…..but I don’t get it.
    That leads to my primary concern that Crane will do like he did when he initially purchased the team, which was go out and do nothing more than acquire a bunch of low cost unknown foreign players that had little chance of improving the team.
    Its not that I am impatient about winning and seeing Houston put a good product on the field, it is simply that I am running out of years to see it. 2005 was a long time ago and we were…ohhh so close.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hypothetically, if an MLB team offered you a contract with a limited no-trade clause, which teams would you pick? Let’s assume it allowed you to pick 15 teams. I would pick mine based on geography and potential revenue from the marketplace. If your family lives in Connecticut, you probably don’t want to get traded to Arizona. Then again, if you are from Connecticut but an avid surfer, perhaps San Diego doesn’t get placed on that list.

      It would be interesting to see the most frequently chosen teams where a player gets the right to refuse a trade.

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  9. Sandy, I agree with you.I am not impressed with the “adjustments” that we are making by trying to convert people out of their position. Yes I know it sometimes works out but that doesn’t happen that often. I like others am extremely disappointed in the teams performance, as well as the management and ownership. If we don’t show substantial improvement next year I feel like all of it is for naught because the Altuves’ Correra’s, Springer’s , and mcCuellar’s will want to go play for a contender.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yep. And I didn’t blame them.

      Bergman is the best fielding 3rd baseman we’ve had in a long time. With his bat potential we could be set at that position for years.
      Gurriel is still an unknown. Why not DH him?
      It’s not like anyone else has that position nailed down.

      The way this organization treats their prospects drives me nuts.

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  10. Hoyt needed to go back down to catch his breath……Hinch used him a lot while he was up with the Astros. Maybe Hinch needed another long reliever in the bullpen.
    Actually that was a pretty good move, since no one in our rotation has gone longer than 5-6 innings lately. There is only ONE Chris Devenski, and that kid has been golden this season!!
    Peacock will help the bullpen out, and since he’s been starting who knows he slide in there and take a start from Fires or Musgrove.
    Saw a unkind article today about Luhnow talking about no trade clauses……. sorry I don’t diss the players for having a no trade clause. One line said that guys who have played with the Astros are thought of “property instead of human beings”. I can’t disagree with that, because we’ve heard that before by guys who have played for the Astros. Marwin in left again…..if I’m Kemp, I’m wondering why I’m even here, if I’m not going to play.
    Oh well…”Not my monkeys not my circus”!!

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  11. Luhnow is not going to let the young guys play everyday until he’s pretty much mathematically eliminated. That means Gattis will still be at DH, Marwin will still be starting more often than not, and we won’t get an everyday look at the guys we need to get an everyday look at. And how’s that for a vote of confidence with James Hoyt? He gets shell shocked last night and immediately sent down today for a guy we’ve already seen plenty of. Before last nights debacle, he had given up 6 hits and 3 runs in 8 outings. I saw promise. But that’s the way we do business. Or am I missing something about Hoyt’s demotion?

    Tim, I think it would be stunning to have another outfielder with an .800 plus OPS, but those guys don’t grow on trees. There are only 24 outfielders in all of MLB over .800. I think our more realistic shot would be to find guys to play on either side of Springer that will both give us something over .700. And yes, that would preclude Jake from a starting job on our club. He’s back to his norm again, with a .581 OPS on the season, hitting .215 and an OBP too embarrassing to mention. Jake keeps proving himself over and over again!

    I have not given up, but I would not be surprised if this club finishes 10 games under. I want to see us sort out some guys for next year though. I don’t want Gattis and Marwin to take at bats from White and Reed. If Fister and Valbuena are not a part of next years plans, I don’t want to see them either. And I sure did not want to see Hoyt dismissed.

    I’m still shaking my head here. As OP reminded, Luhnow likes this club. We were right in the hunt at the All Star break and did nothing. That’s probably mostly on the owner, but it’s hard for me to take this operation too seriously. I don’t even want to call it an organization.

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  12. Miley is a lefty pitcher and Hinch is going with his RH batters. If the O’s come in with a righty reliever and Marwin is coming up, he just switches to batting LH from the # 6 spot and Hinch doesn’t have to pinch hit. Marwin actually has a stronger and more accurate arm than Kemp so they are better there defensively also.

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  13. I honestly have not given up on this season. There are a lot of games left and while the playoffs are definitely a long shot…..this is still baseball. I am excited that Bregman is showing that he is a really legitimate major leaguer. If he continues to hit and Reed and White continue to progress we have a chance to finish strong. I just have a sense that they are about to turn a big corner and I could see at least one of them being a “game changer”.

    If Valbuena comes back and picks up where he left off, or Rasmus comes back with some without vertigo and starts crushing the ball like he did the first month AND Gurriell gets the nod and produces as the FO expects, then we have a chance to contend. Playoffs? Probably not, but stranger things have happened.

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  14. Assuming that Tim is correct, and the Astros are not going to make changes the GM and Manager’s spot, I would at least see some differences in their hitting and pitching philosophy. Getting away from the all or nothing hitting idea and going to a buzzsaw kind of line drive mindset and going with more power on the pitching side.
    I like the idea of having guys who hit the ball a lot, let bad pitches go by and hit for hard contact. I think we have a core there of Springer, Bregman, Correa, and Altuve who can start this thing going. Follow them up with guys like Gurriel, Teoscar, Kemp, White and Reed with the idea of driving the ball hard and letting the homers happen when they happen. Maybe even Tucker can adapt to being that kind of hitter if we can find a hitting instructor who can help him and the others become line drive hitters. They are going to need some more help from others to do this. They need a catcher who can hit for average.
    If they don’t have the salaries of Castro, Valbuena, Rasmus, Neshek, Fister or Gomez, they would have plenty of money to go shopping for a catcher and for a power pitcher to put in the rotation.
    As far as leadership, I don’t buy Neshek’s premise that they don’t have the guys to lead. Now, if they want to get serious about leadership, maybe their core guys need to shave and grow up a little so that they lead with their bats, forget about dousing each other in the dugout and just do what Jose Altuve does: literally beating the crap out of the other team’s pitchers and then doing it again.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. And McHugh promptly gives it right back.

    I would venture to say our #1 and #2 are pitching more like a #34 and #14 this year…

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  16. I agree with everyone wanting Bregman at third. The way he’s going right now, I’d glue him to that spot. If he continues the way he’s playing now, both offensively and defensively, it’s one less position to be concerned about. Hopefully that’s why Gurriel has been playing left the past couple of days.

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  17. 15-8 It’s about TIME these guys kick somebody else’s butt!! After the first inning I really thought it was going to be another blow out. Thank you baseball Gods for letting us get this win….these guys needed it!

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    • That’s what can happen when the bottom of the order hits. And what about Bregaman? He has the potential to be a special player. Good job by Teo as welll! I like our young players.

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  18. Ho Hum! Jose Altuve has 3 hits (single, double and HR) and 5 RBI (yes, that is correct FIVE RBI) and no one even talks about it. It’s not even a big deal. He is playing so well that it is just expected. That is a career game for probably 70% of the players that ever lace up the spikes and its just ho hum for Altuve. That’s when you know your good!

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  19. 29 other teams would give their right arm to have Altuve on their team. He doesn’t get the hype because he plays for the Astros. Remember when he won the batting title? All you heard from the media was *CRICKETS*.

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    • You are right. If he’s in NY or Cali his face would be all over the screen and he would be a shoo in for MVP. Not to touch a cared cow, but did Jeter ever have as good a season in the field (no, Jeter was never considered an above average fielder) or at the plate (no, as good as Jeter was with the bat he vever approached Altuve’s #’s for this season). Point made!

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  20. Before the game started my oldest son found a penny, heads up, at Camden Yards. He came to me and said this is the lucky penny that will begin the Astros turnaround and lead us to the World Series. After the O’s hit 4 HRs before an out was recorded I was bemoaning our bad luck and he says “Don’t worry, Dad, the lucky penny will prevail.” He put the penny in his sock and will be putting it there tomorrow and Sunday. Hey, who am I to argue with fate? The darn penny may just be magical.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Did you grin from ear to ear when the boys put on a show for you!! Priceless memories you’re making with those boys. I’m sure they love their gadgets….but NOTHING is better than experiencing a live baseball game with your dad! My dad never watched baseball, but his two daughters LOVE it!! You stay safe up there!

      Liked by 2 people

  21. That was the kind of lineup I was talking about in my comment before the game started. One where they just keep hitting the ball for line drives and if the home runs come they are appreciated, too.
    I said to follow Altuve and beat the crap out of their pitchers, and then do it again.
    A lot of confidence accomplished tonight by the young players.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Arkansas staged a big 3 run rally in the ninth inning to pull within 1 run of Corpus Christi. The Arkansas manager put in a pinch runner at second with two outs and the next batter singled to LF and Bobby Boyd threw out the pinch runner at home for the 3rd out to preserve the win.
    CC wins, 4-3.

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  23. Again…..I know I sound like a broken record. ….but WHERE would this team be without Chris Devenski!!!? Did you know he is in the top 5 for AL rookie of the year??? Hinch should buy that kid the *biggest* Porter house steak Baltimore has!
    He has come in soo many times and cleaned up after one of our starters, or in tonight’s case won the game for them! What a kid!

    Liked by 2 people

    • If Fiers does poorly tonight Hinch will have to give strong consideration on moving Devo to the rotation.

      Originally, we didn’t have tickets for tonight’s game. My oldest son wanted to go so during last night’s game I told him if the Astros won we would go tonight. Well, it looks like we’ll be going to all 4 games. Besides, we will have the lucky penny with us so we have to go.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Becky, There are some things that you can’t say too much!

      Devenski was absolutely terrific again last night. I think he will make a very good SP in this league. Probably a solid #3 with the ability to show flashes of #1 from time- to- time.

      My question is: Does Devo have more value as a MOTR SP or by staying in the long reliever/ fireman’s role he is filling this year?

      He has 10 appearances of over 3 innings so far this season. WOW!

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      • Devo needs to develop a 3rd pitch he can throw for strikes consistently, to be a solid MORP, in my opinion. I noticed at the stadium last night every pitch was either a fastball or changeup. It appears he throws both a 2-seamer and 4-seamer fastball as the difference in the velocity, according to the stadium gun, was 3-4 MPHs. Does he throw a curveball or slider? If he can develop one of those pitches along with his other pitches I can see him as a solid MORP.

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    • He does have a 12-6 curve and does throw it. I think he does not have full command of it, though, and that may be what he works on this winter to get himself in line for a rotation spot. I think the big curve that starts off at the batter’s eyes and ends up by his ankles is harder for Devo to command because of his follow through falling to the side. When that curve is working, Devenski is devastating, because his motion distracts and with three pitches working, batters just don’t know what’s on the way.

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  24. Hey I just looked and I can get to the ballpark in about 3 hours. Maybe it’s a good time to drive to Baltimore from PA. What better way to spend an evening than watching my favorite team live.

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  25. I have to tell you, my friends, that I am stunned. Watching the Astros leading off with a homer and then having the next five batters strike out, while McHugh gives up four homers before getting an out, I was stunned that they got five RBIs with two outs and got back in the game. When McHugh gave up some more, and we came back again I was floored.
    It was so exhilarating to see the Astros just keep hitting and pushing. To see the young guys meshing with the older(21-26 is older?) It wasn’t until Altuve jumped that high inside pitch for a bomb that I realized we were going to win that game. It was crazy. It’s still crazy and I have to go back and look at the box score again to realized what they did.
    Earth to Grampa, please come home!

    Liked by 1 person

  26. Yes – if you told me how the game started and then told me it ended 15-8 I would have nodded – of course we lost that bad.
    I would never have expected this win. Great for the offense, but we need our starters to pitch well again.

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  27. YOU. ARE. NOT. GOING. TO. BELIEVE. THIS!!!!
    The team that plays in arlington is nearing a deal for Gomez! If he can’t run down games at our park…..he’s gonna be lost in THAT park. Maybe they just want to pick his brain about Hinch and Luhnow!! I think it’s funny, actually.

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      • i agree sandy. sometimes it seems just a change of scenery does something for a player. and most any hitter could expect to find a place in their lineup where they get better pitches/protection than in a lineup like the astros. i dont hold much hope in catching the rangers, but i havent given up on going on a hot streak and contending for a wild card spot. maybe the big comeback yesterday ignites the team.

        Liked by 1 person

    • I like it. Marwin looked horrible last night. He needs a break. I very rarely like Gattis at DH and I know his numbers are terrible there, but he looked very good yesterday so I’m giving that a pass tonight. Tyler White looked absolutely horrible against RHs. He did have a near HR off Miley, but the rest of the night he didn’t look good.

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  28. If I’m not mistaken – Gattis has caught the last two McHugh losses and struggled boxing the ball around a bit. Did McHugh pitch differently (hold back on his big curve) with Gattis back there? I did not see last night’s game so I don’t know if I am in out in right field or not.

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  29. In response to earlier posts from Tim and OP regarding Devenski. Devo throws a plus fastball with pretty good command, a plus plus changeup and a pretty decent curve. He actually throws two changeups; a power change that looks like he is using a vulcan grip that comes in mid-to-high 80’s and a circle change that comes in high 70’s to low 80’s. His curve looks to work at mid-to-high 70’s. As the well thrown changeup can arguably the most devastating pitch in baseball it is very normal to rely heavily on it when it is working. This philosophy that a starting pitcher must have 3 to 4 plus pitches is simply not true. A pitcher needs a fastball that he can command and locate and a change of pace pitch that he can shape, as needed for different situations. If one of the pitches is a true plus plus pitch and the other is a plus pitch the pitcher can have a long and successful career. The 3rd and 4th pitches need not be plus and can be used to keep the hitter off balanced. In Devo’s case the curve is actually pretty good, bust not needed when he is commanding the fastball and changeup.

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  30. I do not expect the Stros making the playoffs this season, but who knows, anything can happen. I do hope Hinch continues to fill the lineup card with the youngsters though. Watching them thrive and grow will keep me interested. I truly enjoyed the slugfest last night and they are back at it again today (4-0 in the 2nd). Bregman and Reed sprinkling hits and should only get better with more PT. Bregman esp looks like he’s going to be special & I really like him at 3rd. Teoscar not looking to bad either. The jury still out on Gurriel we know but can’t wait to see how he does at the Show. Correa seems to be struggling at the plate some, killing rallies, but he’ll bounce back I’m certain.
    I’m with old pro, bring in a #1-2 P with some heat, and a vet bat that can hit & help show the youngsters how it’s done. Pls, no more bargain basement fillings, and no more trading prospects for marginal hopefuls. It’s time for Crane to open the checkbook & show the Astro community he is committed to fielding the best tm possible. This winter will be telling in that regard I think.

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