It’s not over until it’s over, but…I think it may be over

No one wants to give up when you can still see the thresh hold. Yes, Yogi Berra, no one wants to say it’s over, until it’s over. No one wants to be the one saying “What if?”.

But, frankly, for the Astros in 2016, it may have been over for quite some time. I wrote of 2016 season Perfect Storm back in August and, that may have been more true than anything. Too many things — unpredictable things, unexpected things, unforseen things — happened along the way that just mounted up.

Still, with 16 games remaining, the Astros are one good hefty run of backing into the playoffs. The reality of that news is that everyone knows Houston would probably not last long with the Red Sox, Indians and, yes, ‘dem Rangers.

That 2017 World Series is now upon Jeff Luhnow and he has some adjustments to make — more than just tweaks — if the Astros are going to be that dominant 93-95 game winner next season. He can’t just add another journeyman starter or continue a revolving door at first base. This team needs a strong, solid outfielder, a definite answer at first base going into the spring and more.

That said, the basic nucleus is in place for years to come. Yes, years to come. Here’s some of what we know.

The infield is star-studded, sans a first baseman.

If the Astros can find a regular first baseman, the infield is not only one of the best in the majors, it could be one of the best all-time. In Houston or anywhere. If Yulieski Gurriel can slide into the position, look out. More than likely, he won’t be the answer there though and Houston will continue to play revolving doors with the position. That doesn’t detract from just how dang good the infield will be in 2017 though.

Finally, Jason Castro will be gone.

Frankly, Castro has been one of the better at his position for a couple of years now, his hitting — or lack thereof — notwithstanding. His detractors will be happy to see him playing elsewhere next season. Another team will pick him up in free agency and be happy to have the light-hitting catcher. Evan Gattis will likely be the everyday guy with another understudy stepping in from the wings to back up the backstop.

Pitching. Pitching. Pitching.

The #1 off-season pitching move is to figure out what happened to Dallas Keuchel. #1A is to determine if the team can depend on Lance McCullers in 2017, and beyond. Without those two in 2017, the Astros will need to replace from the outside. In fact, Luhnow would be well-advised to find a significant upgrade to the rotation, whether it’s a #1 or absolute, solid #2.  The problem is that he would likely be forced into the trade market since the free agent market will be slim.

Why can’t this team hit?

What’s the hitting coach’s name anyway? Doesn’t seem to be clicking for some reason. Something ain’t right. Hitters don’t hit when they come to Houston. Carlos Gomez isn’t any better in Texas than in Houston, but it’s clear there’s a problem. What is it? That may actually be Luhnow’s chief concern over the winter. How he addresses it may be the tipping point for 2017.

The bullpen.

Fill in the blanks on this one. Geez.

The outfield.

What a mess.

Obvious keepers for 2017.

A.J. Hinch. Jose Altuve. Carlos Correa. Gurriel. Alex Bregman. George Springer. Keuchel. Collin McHugh. McCullers. Gattis. And a handful of others.

The “What do we do with” bunch.

Ken Giles. Luis Valbuena. A.J. Reed. Mike Fiers. Doug Fister.

So, in addition to the above fodder for you to consider, ponder and comment on, here are a few questions to start your day.

  • Is it over?
  • Should the Astros just shut down some hurting players (e.g. Correa, Keuchel, etc.)?
  • Biggest need/focus for the off-season? In other words, if the Astros do nothing else this winter, the team should…
  • A.J. Hinch will return. Should his coaching staff?
  • Is the team really poised for a World Series run in 2017?

106 comments on “It’s not over until it’s over, but…I think it may be over

  1. Why can’t this team hit? Apologies for being a broken record, but it’s the strikeouts!
    Springer 159K in 674PA
    Correa 125K in 599PA
    Rasmus 120K in 410PA
    Castro 114K in 343PA
    Gattis 113K in 442PA
    Marwin 107K in 459PA
    Honorable mention, Gomez, 100K in 323PA (What? How is that possible?)

    No one else is reaching 100 for the season, but here’s some other ignoble achievements:
    Bregman 51K in 212PA
    Valbuena 66K in 324PA
    Marisnick 66K in 263PA
    Reed 44K in 133PA
    Tucker 40K in 144PA

    In case you’re wondering, yes, Houston currently leads Tampa with Minnesota running third in K’s in the AL.

    Liked by 2 people

    • So, is Luhnow bringing in the wrong players, those who are strikeout artists? Or is the system broken? Frankly, it’s hard to believe that a system is so broken and coaching is so bad that it pushes that many players to high K rates.


      • It might be a little of both, Chip. Luhnow has brought in guys like Carter and Rasmus, and Gomez who everyone knew strike out a lot. But guys like White [milb career, 190 BB, 194 Ks, in 1401 PAs] and Preston Tucker [milb career, 162 BBs, 310 Ks, in 1767 PAs] and Tony Kemp [milb career, 205 BBs, 213 Ks in 1727 PAs] sure seem to strike out a lot more and walk a lot less under Mr. Hudgens’ tutelage.

        Liked by 1 person

      • My guess is those guys strikeout because they have no confidence.

        I’m a stat driven performance guy, and the overall says Hudgens is probably getting replaced (and should be).

        But I also think some this is on the manager. Playing 22 and 23 year olds sporadically, not defining their roles, and yanking them everytime they show a little push back is the best way to mess with their heads, kill their confidence, and send them into slumps.


  2. Yogi-isms for the day:

    For Mr. Giles: “I wish I had an answer to that because I’m tired of answering that question.”

    For Mr. Altuve: “Even Napoleon had his Watergate.”

    For Mr. Hinch: “I just want to thank everyone who made this day necessary.”

    For Mr. Kemp: “90% of the game is half mental.”

    For fans of the 2016 Astros: “The future ain’t what it used to be.”

    For Mr. Hudgens: “When you come to a fork in the road take it”

    For Mr. Crane (from the mouth of the GM): “We’re lost, but we’re making good time.”

    For Astroholics: “It’s not too far; it just seems like it is.”

    For Mr. Bill: “I never said most of the things I said.”

    Liked by 4 people

    • For Mr. Fiers: “All pitchers are liars or crybabies.”

      For all rookies not drafted #1: “You can observe a lot just by watching.”

      For Mr. Gonzalez: “He hits from both sides of the plate. He’s amphibious.”

      For Mr. Reed: “Slump? I ain’t in no slump. I just ain’t hitting.”

      For Mr. Castro: “How can you hit and think at the same time?”

      For Mr. Marisnick: “I never blame myself when I’m not hitting. I just blame the bat and if it keeps up, I change bats. After all, if I know it isn’t my fault that I’m not hitting, how can I get mad at myself?”

      For all the Astros starting pitchers this half: “It gets late early out there.”

      For Gary Pettis: “In baseball, you don’t know nothing.”

      Concerning the rest of the season: “The other teams could make trouble for us if they win.”

      For the entire F.O.: “If people don’t want to come out to the ballpark, how are you going to stop them?”

      Liked by 4 people

  3. I would see what happens in Seattle if we don’t win 2 , shut all the hurt guys down

    I would say bye to fister, friers castro, Colby no jack, jfsf, hudgens.

    Now ol Valbuena great glove, streaky hitter with pop, could we sign him for 2 years and play him at 1st, I don’t see it on Reed or white, YET.

    Gurriel in left, Te dulche in center , Springer in RF , got another solid OF, and a ton of SP somewhere somehow.


    • Te dulce is not ready to be the starting CF in Houston in 2017. He needs to get better in the OF and at hitting. He is not quick enough at the plate, YET, to pick up the difference between a fastball and a slider coming out of the pitcher’s hand. That is why his BA has plummeted since his fast start.


      • You may be right, OP. But what I am looking at is the fact that in limited playing time, in his 79 PAs, Teoscar has 15 hits and has walked 10 times while striking out 18. His OBP is higher than Gattis, Bregman’s, Margo’s, Rasmus’, White’s, Reed’s and Marisnick’s. He has all the tools. He just needs the ABs and defensive chances.


  4. Castro is a backup catcher. MMP is tailor made for his oppo hitting but he can’t do it. We have young inexpensive backup catchers. Let him go.
    Valbuena is a free agent. he has not hit consistently in the two years here and he cannot beat the shifts. Let him go.
    Fister is a free agent who earned his money early and the league has now caught on to him. When his curve doesn’t break he gets bombed. Let him walk. We have young pitchers in Devo, Musgrove and Rodgers/Peacock/Feliz that I trust more than him or Fiers for 2017. And I like the young pitchers because they are getting better and neither Fister or Fiers can get better because they don’t have the arms to get better.
    The bullpen- Find a good, hard throwing LH reliever.
    Obvious keepers- add Devenski, Gregerson and Musgrove to your list.
    What do we do with Giles? Let him pitch! The guy is going to be terrific. Let him pitch!
    Why can’t this team hit? That is not as hard to answer as it seems. This team cant hit because it has a number of players on it who are not good hitters, it has a hitting coach who is not good at getting the most out of his hitters and the players who can hit on this team are getting worn out from carrying the non-hitters on their backs.


  5. Chip, you asked five questions. I’ll be brief.
    1. Is it over? Yes
    2. Should the Astros shut down some hurting players( Correa/Keuchel/LMJ? Yes
    3. Biggest need this offseason? A good hitting/good fielding free agent outfielder to put out there for two or three seasons, at least, full-time. A guy to put in the lineup for 155 games a year who can take away another bad spot in our lineup and in our outfield.
    4. Should Hinch’s coaching staff return? Some of them, yes. The hitting coaches, no! The pitching coach? Ask your pitchers about this in private conversations at the end of the season.
    5. Is the team really poised to make a run in 2017. No, not as it is.
    a) They need Rich Hill
    b) They need two hard throwing relievers, one of them left handed.
    c) They need that new outfielder that can cover RF and move Springer to CF.
    d. They need Steve Pearce at 1B to fill another vacant spot in the lineup. That allows Gurriel to move to 3B and that allows Bregman to move to LF giving the Astros the best lineup they have had in years. Allows Reed another season to adjust to better pitching in Fresno.
    Can they do these things? They can do them if Jim Crane was not lying about giving Luhnow a Top 10 payroll when they became contenders. That time is here.


  6. I’m not opposed to bringing Valbuena back for 1B, but I think he will get an offer elsewhere that is more than I’m willing to pay him. I’m also open to bringing back Rasmus if he’s willing to take a salary commiserate with a 4th OFer. Since that’s not likely then let him go. The Astros will have some serious payroll flexibility going into the offseason. My preferred gets are Cespedes, Fowler and Aroldis Chapman in that order. Those 3 alone would add roughly $50M annually to the payroll. The flexibility is there, but will Crane give Luhnow authorization to spend that much. My guess is no, but I’ll wait and see. They can front load the contracts to give them some payroll flexibility for 2018 where there will be some legitimate TORPs available via free agency. The trend I’m seeing with the Astros is trying to corner the Cuban market so this gives me hope on Cespedes and Chapman as they may feel comfortable coming here with other Cuban players and a G.M. that is fluent in Spanish. We will know by the time free agency starts whether Lourdes signed with the Astros. If this happens I like our chances on getting other Cuban players to come here.


    • I’m with you all the way on the Cubans.
      I am OK on Valbuena but he will get 2 or 3 years somewhere else. He has a great glove and arm for 3B, but we don’t need a third baseman. He is so streaky that half the time he is a complete void in the lineup and he has some real shaky footwork at 1B. What I like about him is that he can play all four infield positions, but he is too expensive for a utility guy and is not a very dependable pinch hitter.


  7. Yeah, it’s over. So let’s put Keuchel and McCullers on IR and see what the kids do over the next couple of weeks. And more importantly, stop pitching the arms off our reliable relievers. We don’t need to screw someone else up now. Same for Correa, Bregman and Altuve. I’d love to see Jose get 200 hits again, but if he’s wounded, it’s just not worth it. I’d hate to see any of these guys rehabbing over the winter.

    Our biggest conundrum is at first base. What we do there impacts us in several areas. Initially I was ready to simply pencil Gurriel in at first, if White or Reed do not step up. But I think our best infield has Gurriel at third and our rebuilt outfield has Bregman at left and Springer at center where he has belonged all along. So as Tim mentioned a ways back and OP has again noted, I’m good with a veteran presence like Pearce at first. We know he won’t strike out as much as some guys and we know he’s got a lifetime OPS of .852 against lefties. And if Reed comes to camp 30 pounds lighter next year and hits like we think he’s capable, that’s a good platoon. And in a more perfect world, White figures things out and owns the DH job. But that still leaves us needing a real right fielder. I know this is controversial, but I’d sure like to know what Puig would cost. I’d include Hernandez in a deal.

    I never thought I’d say this, but I might consider a six man, or at least a partial six man rotation in 2017. I just don’t know if we’ve got any guys around ready to give us 200 innings. But I can’t even begin to guess what that group will look like next season. It’s got to be Luhnow’s biggest challenge.

    The pen has a good core, but I’m guessing we’ll see at least two or three new faces, including Hoyt. And I’ll be surprised if Gattis/Heineman are not our backstops, at least to start the season.

    I think Hudgens needs to go, even though I think the hitting coach takes more blame for guys not hitting than is deserved. And for the first time, I’m willing to suggest that Hinch might be a bit too soft. We see too many teams playing a crisper brand of baseball against us. Our guys are not very disciplined, especially out on the bases. Who’s fault is that ultimately?


  8. – They are still alive but the vital signs are weakening. If they had come out of this string of games against first place teams 5-1/2 games out or worse it would be over.
    – If Correa could further hurt himself like requiring surgery they should shut him down
    – They need to add by subtracting – less ABs by big K guys. Hudgens needs to go.
    – Hudgens needs to go
    – They are ready for a playoff run in 2017 but need some hitting and SP help to make a WS run


    • Now hold on there, Dan. If Hudgens goes -and then he goes again – that doesn’t mean he comes back here, does it? Please tell my you’re not still picturing a Friday the 13th scenario!


      • Mr. Bill, exactly my thought. Either two wrongs don’t make a right or we have double negatives, which seems to result in a positive. So “don’t go” twice results in a “no go”. Is that correct?


      • I’m trying to emphasize that Hudgens needs to go is the answer to 2 of the 5 questions.
        So if Luhnow fires him and Crane rehires him due to incriminating pictures – he needs to be fired again by a coup of the other owners.


      • Well I heard some blogsters talkin’ just the other day.
        And they said Dave’s career was goin’ up in flames.
        Our guys stay near the top in Ks,
        ’cause they swing out of their PJs,
        and a couple of solo jacks won’t win most games!
        – So he’s already gone!
        His account’s long overdrawn!
        Come on sing, sing along . . . Woo, hoo, ooh-ooh, ooh!


  9. I just am not a fan of how Hinch runs the show.

    I don’t know who the answer is at first. I personally would try Reed full time next year. It’s hard to judge a player that is in and out of the lineup and gets no opportunity to get a rhythm. Sometimes you have to watch their bad to get to their good. The Tigers are getting the good results of us watching a players growth. So are the Brewers with Villar. So are the Twins with Grossman. There are probably 2 or 3 others I’m not thinking of off the top of my head. We as fans want immediate results, and the front office wants it, but they aren’t all the talent levels of Correa and Altuve. Players with limited skill sets take time and need to have confidence that their opportunity is now and they won’t be pulled at the first 2-30 streak.

    I’m afraid that we say goodbye to Tucker, White, Reed, Kemp, etc. at some point in the near future, and 2 or 3 of them go on to become the very thing we need in this lineup for someone else. We are a different team right now if JDM was our starting LFer. We would have never even signed Rasmus, and we are better in the middle of the lineup. Most of these guys we just let go. Just cut. No return. Well, return for other teams, so far.

    I don’t know about who is where. Whatever they decide, I hope its done with a better plan than I’ve seen the last 2 years. We cut Grossman after 54 awful plate appearances. Now granted, they were truly awful. Epicly awful. His line this year – 10 dingers with a .381 OBP. I got it, he can’t hit .154 with very average, if not slightly below average, defense and a high K rate. But it was 54 plate appearances, and the “experiment” with the then 24 year old, is over.

    You have to roll with guys. You have to give them a chance to grow. If Reed gets the job, don’t pull him after a first month because he is hitting just .210. Give him an opportunity to get a rhythm and not be staring over his shoulder. I often wondered what Whites final numbers would look like if we simply rode the bad wave out. The guy is a professional hitter, he has been successful at every level of baseball, over his entire life, including a first few successful in the bigs. He would have turned it around I have to believe. But we never found out.

    A baseball team reminds of my platoon in the Army. We have a commo guy. He knows his role. He gets his job done. We have field sanitation guys, medical guys, we have our leaders, machine gunners, we have all these roles. It takes everyone doing their role to be a good platoon. I see platoons that constantly switch guys roles on them mid training exercise, inconsistent leadership, and they are not near as successful. When you name a closer, don’t switch closers 3 times. How many world champions have switched closers 3 times in a season? Name your starting 9, name your bench, have guys that know, hey I’m the first option as a PH for a lefty/righty matchup, hey I’m the guy they are calling on the 7th with runners on 2nd and 3rd with one out to get a strikeout, hey I’m the starting 2B and run producer, do my job.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Steven I totally agree with most everything you’ve said above. I think a big part of the problem is all of the advanced metrics fed to Hinch daily. He’s supposed to use that crap to put the best team on the field to win that day. Unfortunately, at a result, we never get to see what some guys might have done if given a real shot.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Right on Dave. I think most people like you that have been around this blog for years – I think I’m creeping up on a decade now going back to chron days – would assume I am the metrics guy. I’m really not. I think metrics tell you a very good story, but they don’t always tell you the whole story.

      I remember the year the White Sox beat us in the world series. I remember that pitching staff. What was so remarkable about it – because there was no bona fide ace, Cy Young contender – but it was 12 guys that all knew their role. The 5 starters all knew their roles, and their place in the rotation. The bullpen saw very little turmoil all year. It was an average staff handled remarkably well – they also had some luck with health, but part of that luck may have come from the consistency. Is there even a HOFer from that team? Maybe Thomas, but he was not Frank Thomas anymore.

      Getting a capable guy settled in works wonders. You don’t have to be the BEST team talent wise, the White Sox certainly were not, you have to be consistent in message, consistent in play, consistent in management (without getting too predictable to your opponent). I don’t see this in Hinch. I see Reed get 5 starts in a row, get 2 hits in 5 games, then go a week plus without playing because he struggled. Then I see him back in the lineup, and repeat. This is no way to manage a young player, and it makes his “metrics” useless.


  11. This is probably another topic, one that I’ve been exploring writing soon. But I’ll drop it here. This team doesn’t need another top draft choice to make it. This team doesn’t need another young player. It needs a veteran or two — tried and true — to step in. A top player or two already seasoned to add to the young mix of Correas, Bregmans and even Springers and Altuves (though he’s about as seasoned as it gets).

    The difference in the Astros and Cubs? A LOT of it is in a seasoned Theo Epstein at the top and a seasoned/proven manager in the dugout. The Astros are not working with either.

    Liked by 4 people

    • if you want to add a veteran to the outfield, is anyone interested trading the Braves out of Nick Markakis? He’s a ‘4th wheel’ for them when their rookie CF gets back. He doesn’t strike out a ton. He’s hitting .270 this year with a .346 OBP – and he’s contributed 12 HRs and 84 RBIs to a really bad team.


  12. So what I’m getting from all the above — stop me if I’m wrong — is that basically the Astros are playoff bound next year. All we need is hitting, pitching and coaching.

    Liked by 2 people

      • As long as you have broached the subject of the interrelationship between baseball and football, I will float some ideas that have been running around in my head for awhile now.

        Question #1: Why do MLB baseball teams have General Managers instead of Athletic Directors?

        Question #2: Why do MLB teams have ‘hitting coaches’ instead of an Offensive Coordinator [who covers all aspects of offense, including baserunning]?

        Question #3: Why don’t MLB teams have ‘special teams’ coaches, to be responsible to devise and implement strategy, and train players, to cover situations like closing out games, special defense and offensive strategies in close games, the squeeze and suicide squeeze bunt, and situational hitting]? and, most importantly,

        Question #4: Why don’t MLB teams have cheerleaders? [Okay, that should NOT be taken seriously. But marching bands performing between innings could be a nice treat!]


      • My only partially tongue-in-cheek point on that was that ‘General Managers’ are managers of money and PR, but should not try to be – or be expected to be – managers of athletes and their athletic performances. I get the feeling our GM thinks he’s both – and tries to – and therefore doesn’t really do either to the level of excellence that it will take to get this franchise to the WS.


  13. well everyone by now should know that i dont like to give up. given all the current injuries, state of the rotation, bullpen and loss of offense, its gonna be really tough not to. BUT i think there is still hope in that the team has not given up and is still fighting AND our remaining games are 3 at mariners, 3 at A’s, 4 at home v angels, 3 at home v mariners, 3 at angels. just coming off of a stretch of 6 with the rangers, 3 with the cubs and 4 with the indians, that remaining schedule looks much more favorable. so, no i dont give up yet, i wont until we are mathematically eliminated. whoever has that voodoo doll, dress it in mariner colors and start sticking.


  14. my answers for chip’s questions:
    is it over? no not yet. look at the schedule and see who is playing who and you can see that fairly rapid change in the wc standing are possible.
    shut down players? if there is chance of further damage, yes. lets hope that rest is enough and they can still contribute.
    areas of need/focus? well like most every year pitching is at the top of the list as is an outfielder (or two), 1b. but like many i would like to see a change at hitting coach. as a suggestion maybe that asst. hitting coach of the rangers that all their guys love would like to come over here and be the head man instead of an asst. there.
    coaching staff change? definitely hitting, i wouldnt mind seeing better results running the bases, execution of bunts, steals, hit and run, squeeze, throwing to the proper base etc. if that takes a coaching change then change.
    world series in 2017? as the team is constructed right now, i wouldnt bet on it. but they arent that far away either in my opinion. i have stated previously i’d take this infield for 3 – 5 years. (gurriel at 1B) gattis included. so if you can find a big bat for DH and a good hitting LF, you have a pretty dang good lineup. but moves need to be made there and with pitching, so it comes down to what moves they make. i do believe there is a wave of pitching help from within, but we need a #1 type.


  15. I have liked Gattis’ big bat that has come through late in games, but am I the only one who noticed his ability to catch the ball is pretty suspect? Sometimes he seems to be treating balls out of the zone like they are knuckle balls. I think he needs more work on this part of his game.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Off subject for a moment.
    I just finished reading the Astros site blog ( yeah, I’m bored)
    Chip & Dan, my greatest compliments to you for giving us interesting subjects to talk about. And to my fellow bloggers, compliments to all of you for your adult conversations and respect to each other.


    • Thanks Sandy – it is fun and interesting here. Chip and I start the conversation, but y’all really take it a lot deeper with your comments.


  17. Jeeze…….it looks like we are screwed with the possibility of Altuve and Bregman, AND maybe Correa being shut down. They do have “fill ins”…..but those three guys are nearly HALF of the run producers on this team. The M’S rotation is on a roll, while ours has taken a nose dive. You know what we need on this team…..we need an Adrian Beltre at first base, but unfortunately he plays 3rd base, for an A.L. team that I despise. The Fresno kids (except Bregman) HAVE been looking over their shoulder waiting for the long arm of Luhnow to jerk them back to AAA. I agree that Reed needs to lose 25-30 pounds before he comes to spring training, but I ALSO don’t want to lose Tyler White to another team, unless he’s included in a trade!!
    Unless Luhnow wants to fire Hinch just to do something, I doubt Hinch gets the ax.
    Unfortunately this off season is gonna be slim for starting pitching, and the position players ya’ll are tossing around are gonna cost us prospects…..and Luhnow traded most of those away last year for Kazmir, and gomez. Soooo unless you are putting Bregman and Musgrove in the talks….I don’t see a BIG arm coming here. There’s always Rich Hill…but hes on the wrong side of 35yrs old and looking for a 3yr $45-50 million deal.
    IS the season over for these guys, probably.
    *Gurriel’s, little brother Lourdes is a centerfielder, AND A short stop! FYI


  18. Astros 10- Point Improvement Plan:

    1. The lineup needs to be in ink not pencil. 25 men need to have a clearly defined role and understand that role. They need to know where they fit in and what is expected of them. They need to have consistency. They need to know that they have adequate leeway to succeed despite the fact that they may go through some slumps. They need to know that if they continually fail they will be removed and someone else will assume the clearly defined role that they once held.

    2. If you are invaluable to the team but have no clearly defined everyday role (see point 1) then you are a utility player. Now your role is clearly defined. We need to understand that a “utility player” is not “a person who plays every night in a different position”. He is a person that plays strategically to give everyday players the rest they need to be ready come September (see point 8).

    3. We need to hire an assistant to manage the Jumbo Sharpie and Big Chief tablet that consumes so much of Hinch’s attention in the dugout so that he can mix it up with the players, get out from behind the screen and manage “from the steps”.

    4. We need to better manage our pitching staff. When a pitcher does not have “IT” he needs to be pulled. There is nothing to be gained from having a pitcher stay on the field to get hammered by batter after batter. We don’t need to leave him out there until the game is lost and his ERA has ballooned. This fact should be recorded for posterity on the Big Chief Tablet (see point 3). I wonder how much lower our staff ERA would be if our manager had a quicker hook?

    5. We need to get better at strategically managing games. We need to know when to run, when to bunt, when to shift, when to pinch run, when to change pitchers and when to substitute in the field. These facts should be recorded for posterity on the Big Chief Tablet (see point 3).

    6. We need to understand that an RBI double with a man on second (RISP) and 1 out is infinitely better than an RBI double with a man tagged out trying to advance to 3rd, leaving the bases empty and 2 outs. This should be recorded for posterity on the Big Chief Tablet (see point 3).

    7. We need to understand that if you carry only 2 catchers, substitution rules dictate that the backup catcher CAN NOT be the DH. That fact should be recorded for posterity on the Big Chief Tablet (see point 3).

    8. We need to understand that in today’s game players need a rest from time to time to stay at their highest level. The time to get rest starts in week 3 and extends through the middle-to-end of August. Come September key players should have had sufficient rest throughout the season to ensure they are ready to play at a high level every day down the stretch. This fact should be recorded for posterity on the Big Chief Tablet (see point 3).

    9. We need to understand that statistics are an extremely accurate indicator of what has happened in the past but a far less accurate predictor of what will happen in the present or the future.

    10. We need to understand that a lefty/ righty that hits .275 is probably a better option than a lefty/ righty that hits .200 regardless of which arm the pitcher is using and regardless of what the Big Chief Tablet (see point 3) says.

    Liked by 3 people

    • VW had put this in the previous post after everybody came over here, so I suggested he copy it over, because it is full of such good baseball basics.
      The toughest one on here is the hook question. If you hook them too soon they never learn how to work through problems. But if it is Doug Fister and he is struggling the same way for the 5th straight game to get through 5 innings without giving up the farm…..


      • The other problem with the ‘hook’ suggestion is over taxing the bullpen. We are all familiar with the bullpen meltdown in Sept/Oct 2015. That was primarily due to overuse during the season. There’s a delicate balance between yanking your starter and giving your bullpen plenty of rest. It’s up to the manager to manage that balance.


      • No, the worst situation is when you have a 5-1 lead in the seventh and Joe Musgrove walks a batter with his 103rd pitch and Hinch leaves him in to give up a two run Home run.


      • I don’t know. A gassed Harris being allowed to give up five consecutive hits to open the 8th against KC last year might be my worst situation of all time.


  19. Until the Astros incorporate more baseball knowledge into their “process” it is unlikely they will ever win a World Series. You have all made some excellent points on consistent lineups, rookie development, veteran leadership, etc. I wish AJ and JL would implement your ideas. This is the type of baseball knowledge that appears to be absent.

    I would like to see the Astros throw the stat book out the window the rest of the season and say “the only time you are allowed to think is on the base paths. Go play and have fun.” Might be interesting. I think all of the overload of information has players thinking in the batter’s box instead of “see ball, hit ball”. Altuve and Gurriel appear to be the only exceptions.


  20. I hear Lou Brown might be available as soon as he gets finished changing the tires on the car.
    i kind of thought Bregman would be OK since he was making good contact, just not finding the holes. With so many others the only hole is over the fence which is very small indeed.


    • Thanks oldpro, and thanks Jayne if you’re reading along. That list is a bit depressing, though. I’d really like the Astros to whoop up these last 16 games on Anaheim, Oakland, and the streaking Mariners to make me at least optimistic we’ll have something to cheer for next spring.


  21. Assuming there is a better place for Yuli Gurriel to play next year than 1B, is a Colin Moran/Tyler White first base tandem to start the season [till Reed is ‘ready’, in that he gets in shape, shortens his stroke, and increases his bat speed] considered by anybody a workable alternative to what would probably be a very expensive trade for an established veteran like the Orioles’ Steve Pearce?


    • Mr. Bill, I don’t know if Moran/White is any more attractive than Reed/White. And did we ever determine that Reed really does lack bat speed? We do know he lacks something and has too much of something. The good news is that Pearce is a free agent. He’s had a good year (stunning against lefties) but is kind of a part time guy. He made 4.75 mil this year, so 6 or 7 might get it done, although like everyone else, he’ll be looking for multiple years at the age of 34. Like others here, I’d be happy to see him signed, but not for more than two years.


      • I suspect he was in the chase lounge by the pool, Dave. I also suspect this means Mr. Bregman is going to miss several games, and one place we will probably not see Mr. Moran is 1st base.


    • Pearce is a free agent at the end of this season. That’s why I threw his name out there. He won’t have a QO attached to him(unless the Os want to pay him over $16 mil for next season.)
      He’s only going to cost money. We have money. And his main position is 1B.


  22. To roll back a few posts and address comments about my suggestion for a shorter hook on pitchers, I will clarify my point.

    In my first point I stated: “25 men need to have a clearly defined role and understand that role………. They need to know that if they continually fail they will be removed and someone else will assume the clearly defined role that they once held.”

    If you continually need the hook after a short start you should and will be replaced in your role.

    I understand letting pitchers work through difficulties but I don’t understand leaving a guy in the game when the other team is rounding the basis like they are on a merry-go-round. Or as OP commented, leaving them in after a 100 or so pitches and watching balls fly out of the park.


  23. I just heard on the radio that Bregman suffered a fairly severe pulled hamstring and is not traveling with the team on this road trip. That’s a real downer!


  24. Moran recalled from Fresno…..sounds like Bregman is still in Houston getting treatment on his leg……BUMMER!!! Moran is already on the 40 man.


  25. More bad news….Bregman is probably done for the season , as well as Keuchel.
    If the Astros starts to fold, Keuchel says he’s probably not gonna pitch. If they REALLY need him, he “could” possibly make another start next weeK at the earliest.
    I think Altuve lobbied to get in the lineup tonight, because he is so close to 200 hits.
    Gurriel is manning 3rd tonight, and batting 2nd in the lineup. Good luck tonight fellas….something tells me you’re gonna need it. On a positive note at least the bullpen is rested and ready to go!!!


  26. The boys are playing some good ball tonight! Top of the 5th 6-0!!!
    The one guy who will be the best pick up for the team up in north texas, is lucroy.
    Long after beltran, is an after thought lucroy will produce. Shame we couldn’t have worked out a trade with the brewers, but I think we gave them WAAAY more than enough for gomez and Fires. I purposely don’t use capital letters on players, and teams I despise.
    Yeah veill1……I’m REALLY worried since we’ve not heard ONE THING about McCullers in forever.

    Liked by 1 person

      • If we’re talking about the Verducci Effect being just the result of a sudden innings increase, then the tandem system is the big criminal, because that has kept McCullers’s innings low in the minors.
        I’m more inclined to think LMJ’s chance for injury is due to his delivery, motion, and explosive stuff.
        At any rate, his lack of innings this year, would keep the same Verducci Effect for next year, wouldn’t it? If that’s the case, we had better get Martes and Paulino ready to pitch in the majors next year because we are probably going to need them. Of course, they’ve never pitched more than 100 innings in the minors either, damn it!

        Liked by 1 person

  27. Brothers and sisters I give you COLLIN MCHUGE!! Man….did we need this! Thank goodness Felix had an off night, plus having 3 errors behind him didn’t help his cause. A lefty tomorrow and another one on Sunday, won’t be easy….I’ll be at the Casino if ya’ll need me!

    Liked by 1 person

  28. Last night demonstrated the dilemma. Astros played great and won and still are 4 games back. They have to keep winning and hope for outside help.


    • Yes, the 5-8 record against the good teams might have finally put the Astros where the Astros were meant to be. Just barely outside looking in, when it comes down to separating the good teams from the not-as-good teams.


  29. It’s no surprise to me that AJ Preller is a slimeball. He came from the Rangers.
    What I don’t understand is why the Padres don’t get penalized for screwing all these other teams. Seems to me that the Astros will never get paid for the damages caused to them by the Cardinals organization if this commissioner has no sense of discipline in him. This seems like the second instance of one organization blatantly screwing over other organizations and not having to pay for what they did.

    Liked by 1 person

  30. Been over feeding the in-laws – been enjoying another good starting pitching effort tonight. Gurriel had the big clutch hit, but I really hated Springer’s K when we just needed contact, not a 700 foot swing and miss by George.


    • Me too, dave. It seems like Gurriel has helped this team a lot. Not just hitting, but coming in so late in the year and showing guys that it can be done and the Astros can do it.
      So all three hits in the game-changing sixth inning were from our rookies, and the same comes from the guy we paid so dearly for. The win comes from a guy we got in the Gomez trade that I want to send down the creek. You just don’t know about this team. They are resilient, but these are games against teams they are supposed to beat. Maybe next year they will be good enough to be everybody.


      • I don’t agree the M’s are a team they are supposed to beat. They were the hottest team in baseball on a 9 game winning streak coming into the series and ahead of the Astros. These are not the Angels.


      • It’s the next series that concerns me the most of the remaining games. Oakland, basically, eliminated K.C. by sweeping a 4-game series from them and, if not for another Madson blown save on Friday, would be riding a 6-game winning streak. I’m actually hoping Texas takes it to them today and cools them off.

        On a side note, how does a team 27 games over .500 only have a +11 run differential? Welcome to the 2016 Texas Rangers…America’s luckiest team in history. It’s conceivable they could finish with a negative run differential and still have home field advantage through the A.L. playoffs.


      • I think the Mariners are a team the Astros are supposed to beat because they have made a habit of it for the past few years and the two have the same record.
        I think the Rangers are a team the Astros are not supposed to beat because the Rangers have destroyed us the last two years and the Rangers have a better record than us.


      • Tim, the Rangers are something like 32 and 10 in one run games. That’s more than luck. To do so well in tight games you’ve got to execute situationally at the plate, bring in the right pitchers, not lose outs on the bases, make big defensive plays, and sure, have some luck. I think that run differential stat is overrated. If a team loses a handful of games 14 to 4, that alone will skew things. To be where they are today, it’s about winning the close ones late.


    • You know OP, I still don’t have any real confidence in either McHugh or Fiers. I suspect both will be a part of the equation in 2017 and I’m not thrilled about that.


  31. Who is this guy Fires? DAAANG…..this guy is such an enigma. He pitches like Mike Scott one game, and like Mike Fires the next. Coming back from the casino, I peeked at my phone and saw *perfect game* beside out game. All I could think was WHO was pitching the perfect game? Please baseball Gods don’t let this guy throw a perfect game against these guys…..and then out of nowhere Teoscar gets a hit!
    My Score app buzzed my phone, and I saw we were ahead 2-0. Never in a million years did I think these guys could hold ’em, but when I saw Devo coming into the game…..I thought we got this! Can we dare dream that Mr. Fister will pitch like McHugh and Fires?
    My MVP for 2016 is Devenski….hands down.
    I *won* too!

    Liked by 3 people

  32. Devo gets my “Surprise of the Year” award. Jose is still my MVP. Seems a bit like a “what have you done for me lately” situation. I hope number 27 gets a couple of hits today so that he can just relax a bit and finish strong.

    Liked by 1 person

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