Longing for — and remembering — the simple, old days

I long for the simple, old days.

The days when the man wearing the Texas star walked out to fill up your gas tank, check your oil and clean your windshield.

The days when you could go to a real doubleheader and enjoy a “great day to play two”!

The days a baseball game was a baseball game and a football game was just a football game. Rather than a stage for protests, statements and politics.

The days when you could get to September and enjoy a pennant race and players were real people, not mega celebrities and multi millionaires doing photo opps and cameo appearances.

The days when pitchers threw nine innings — or extra innings in a few cases — and regularly pitched on three days’ rest.

Whatever happened to that?

Remember when it was easy to tell the good guys from the, ummm, bad guys?

Remember Wilbur Wood starting both ends of a double header? Remember when Fergie Jenkins and Nolan Ryan regularly pitched 300 innings? Now, most pitchers struggle to reach 200!

Remember when you could take the family to the ballpark for a hundred bucks or less! And still feed ’em!?

Remember when the Astros were perrenial players in the playoff race?

Remember when baseball was fun?

Life happens, but the game has changed and  has threatened to leave a generation behind.

Remember the Saturday Game of the Week, when only one game a week was on TV?

Remember when you actually knew the names of the Astros’ announcers? And listened to the radio broadcast?

Is it just me? Or has the game lost some of its luster?

The Astros have some great players, no argument there. But do you get the same feel when you hear names like Carlos Correa and Yulieski Gurriel as you do with Jeff Bagwell, Craig Biggio and Ken Caminiti? George Springer and Cesar Cedeno?

Perhaps the players are as talented, but the game has changed. The era has changed. Times have changed.

If you don’t believe that, just tune into the presidential debate Monday night.

I long for the simple, old days. You?

Advertisement

176 comments on “Longing for — and remembering — the simple, old days

  1. OMG, Chip, please don’t get me started.
    I did everything I could do to instill God, family and country into the beloved ones that were my responsibility to raise. My sphere of influence gradually shrunk as my words and actions were overwhelmed by the roar of the world.
    Now I sit back and look in amazement at what is occurring and I know that my time to make a mark is gone and my voice is falling upon deaf ears, because the opinions and desires of my generation are used the same way as the opinions of all others: to gain traction for the thousands of wealthy and powerful people who control billions of not-so-wealthy and powerful people.
    What is left for me is to pray, vote, and do what little I can do for those that I love to help make their lives better for what I know is coming.
    Baseball was part of the salve I have been using for years, but the salve works less and less every day as the wounds become harder to heal and the salve gets watered down and too expensive to buy..
    Television is the only thing holding baseball together and, ironically, is the only means that I have to enjoy it. It is ironic that television is one of the things that makes the game harder to watch because it has taken it from a game to a business and a bunch of statistics and the people in the TV industry strive to become as legendary as the stars of yesteryear and today. Baseball is sick, but it is such a great game that I can’t give it up, only watch it deteriorate, like everything else.
    Finally, a star losing his life in a speedboat in the middle of the night is a lot easier for me to handle than five people being killed in a mall by someone they don’t know and for no sane reason. There is perfect reasoning for what happened to Jose Hernandez. There is no reasoning for what happened in Washington State yesterday. I mourn for them.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Forgive me. Jose Fernandez, not Hernandez. My attention span is slowly dwindling, which is why I gave up getting into banter with Tim. He is too sharp for me and I can’t quite keep up any more, as most of you have probably noticed.
    I love Chipalatta. Thanks for the platform.

    Liked by 2 people

    • OP, I have never had the pleasure of meeting you, and at times we may disagree, but I love the person I know here on Chipalatta. You’re knowledge of the game is impeccable and I enjoy our banter, even when we are in disagreement on this team we love so much. You’re a treasure and I look forward to reading your comments. Keep on keeping on, brother.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Ironic, I was thinking just last night that I’m not all that relevant any more. In all likelihood, I won’t be making a real significant impact in the world at this point in time, although I still have a couple of ideas up my sleeve! Sure I can still give more than I take and make a positive impact in a small way here and there. And continue to share the same values my parents started instilling in me 61 years ago, passing them on to my loved ones. That’s pretty much my goal at this point in time.

    I do get a bit melancholy though It’s pretty apparent that we’re not going to be leaving a better world to our kids than the one we inherited. At least I can’t envision a better world moving forward. And I’m not sure what we could have done to keep what’s happened from happening.

    Ah, but baseball. My fondness for the game has not waivered. I just experience the game in different ways. I went to 78 home games one year, plus playoffs. This year I’ll be at the park on Wednesday afternoon to see the final home game of the season, my only live experience of the 81 played. But I see kids like Altuve and Correa and Springer and some of the others and appreciate the fact that they could be throw backs. They certainly respect the game as much as the guys that played a generation or two ago. In fact, they probably keep themselves in better shape. So when the guys are actually on the field playing, it’s still the same for me.

    I just don’t like the business of most any professional sports these days. I’m a Houston fan. From an ownership standpoint, it’s all luck of the draw. I’m stuck with Jim Crane, at least for now, whether I like it or not. I can’t control my own destiny in this regard. I’m really hoping the Cubs win it all this year, for the simple fact that their fans fans sure deserve it after all these years. They’ve been pretty loyal even through some long, lean stretches.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Old Pro stole my thunder and I fully agree with him. I recall going to the Colt 45 games in 1962, watching that one game each Saturday, and watching the World Series in the late 60s on a small television set while in school in the 8th grade. Dr. John McMullen opened the floodgates on players’ salaries when he offered Nolan Ryan the first one million dollar contract.

    I actually worked at a gas station filling up cars back then. It was not child abuse for a young teen to work.

    Amazingly, players are stronger and larger now than back then but they are pampered, perhaps not trained as well from childhood, and are seemingly brittle. Just what can the difference be between those 300+ innings eaters and now? Perhaps it is all between the ears.

    I have sworn off of professional and collegiate basketball because of their politics and pro football joined the spot in my book of ire recently with their politics. At least America’s Pastime has not fallen victim to this mentality… yet!

    All players, whether amateur or professional should do what their job is… entertain us not shove their politics down our throats. As a party precinct chair, I pull for my conservative values. I know who my candidates are. Listen wisely to the debates, my friends who are still sitting on the fence. The upcoming election will chart the path for our country for generations to come.

    Baseball forever!

    Liked by 1 person

    • The media is shoving the players’ politics down our throat, not the players themselves.
      In any case, I usually enjoy reading blogs like this because it usually is an escape from reading about politics.As a liberal trapped here for at least another 2 years, it is a requirement in order to maintain my sanity

      Like

    • Because of the roads Gattis traveled before he chose to play baseball for a living, I think he is still growing and learning as a baseball player. I misread his abilities after last season and I think Luhnow did a better job in judging his talent than this OTBG did. But I never saw Luhnow using him as a catcher because he absolutely avoided that last season. I wonder if Gattis went to Jeff and Hinch at the beginning of the offseason and told them he wanted to catch and that changed everything, including their thinking. That might also been the reasoning behind his arbitration settlement, which was exotic, to say the least. It also might have been the reason for his dropping all the weight and becoming stronger in the offseason.
      I wonder what kind of year we would have gotten from Evan if he had not needed an operation this spring.

      Like

      • OP, I’ve wondered about the Gattis move to catcher as well. Wondering if perhaps it was the admission finally that Castro was not the answer and would be moving on at the end of the season. Plus, the stats guys surely would have seen what we have seen…that Gattis hits better when he’s catching!

        Perhaps Gattis also made overtures as you suggest, but having him at catcher next season and going forward certainly plugs a hole that Luhnow won’t need to worry as much about in the off-season.

        Like

      • I think last year’s arbitration snafu was the beginning of the end for Castro in Houston (well, besides his weak offense throughout his career minus one fluke season).

        Like

  5. Ain’t nothing gonna stay the same…..and remembering how things were when we were growing up is all we have left. Life was pretty smple, you ate with your parents EVERY night, you knew if you screwed up, there would be consequences. I reared my own children with the only map I had, they all are responsible good people. I hope they will continue parenting like they have. I have 8 beautiful, talented, good grandchildren. Out of all my kids, I had a girl who was #1 on her golf team at Kingwood High School….non of the rest were athletically inclined. But…..2 of my grandsons eat, sleep baseball! You know how happy that makes me! My late husband and I had season tickets (when they were reasonable) to the Astros games in the Dome for seven years, a move to Corpus Christi stopped that. Now you have to figure out if the tickets to a series are considered “dynamic pricing” or not. The price is triple for those games. I only like day games, because downtown Houston has gotten so dangerous to be at night. Really creepy people hang around the ball park at night. As long as we as a nation are not allowed to have an opposing voice, we will continue to see free speech crushed, and our colleges spend more time filling our youth with something more than history or math. I feel sorry for my children spending so much money on my grandchildren’s, education….I hope they get their mony’S worth. I’ll say this, going through cancer….I know I’m on my last 15-20 years on this earth, if I’m lucky. I’m kinda glad I won’t be around when our country is destroyed from within by its own people. Not meant to make anyone mad, but it’s just the way *I* feel.
    P.S. Musgrove is pitching extremely well today! Doesn’t hurt that our guys have hit 3 homeruns! Now……here comes the bullpen😢

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Yes we all realize how things have changed. I spent my first 12 years living in Pasadena, attending S. Shaver Elementary. I was a “patrol boy” in the 5th grade and we took our bamboo poles with a yellow flag and stopped traffic on Shaver, Garner Road, or Allendale Road. That was before we all lost our innocence.
    We ate burgers at the Chuck Wagon or drank 5 cent mugs of root beer at the Grove, played baseball at Strawberry Park and played miniature golf at the place at Shaver and Queens road. My parents bowled at Gulfgate lanes and I remember when they were giving out free hula hoops at a store upstairs.
    My dad worked for a company by the Ship Channel and he also worked concession at Busch Stadium and also a concession stand at Rice stadium. I got to watch Southwest conference football and Houston Buff games.I suspect that others on this blog had similar memories and experiences.
    My point is it’s all changed, some for the better, some not. I remember my Dad getting upset when the Astros signed a utility player for $250K. If he could see it now
    Baseball will always be there but we all know it’s not the same as when we were much younger. A lot has changed but I can say we have not abandoned our Astros. We get frustrated and get to cheer at times and cry at others. Let’s hope that 2017 will be what the prognosticators predicted over a year ago. “World Series champs”.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Wow such a good post, Chip even if a bit melancholic. I’ve been busy today and just getting around to doing this justice.
    Many thoughts…..
    – I have to disagree about the starting pitchers inability to go 9 innings. They all go 9 innings, but sometimes it takes them 2 or 3 starts to get there….
    – I think the guys like Nolan Ryan, who pitch properly (use their legs to carry the load) and have the right mechanics can do the 3 days of rest thing and never get a bad arm. Larry Dierker hurt his arm at a young age with too many innings and was gone by 30 years old.
    – Old pro, every generation has problems with this thought of “leaving a better world for the next generation”. One of the biggest problems is that the next generation’s idea of a better world rarely matches what the previous generation thought it would be. I’m sure my parent’s generation thought they were leaving us a better world, but a lot of “youngsters” did not want a world where the Vietnam War occurred or where JFK, RFK and Martin Luther King Jr. were gunned down.
    – Along those lines, I don’t like many things that are occurring in the world, especially the terrorism. But there are social things that bother me that don’t bother my kids and they are the ones who will be running things.
    – I think what is bothersome is that some cultures revere the old – but the one I live in does not.
    – Getting back to baseball….if you told 10 year old Dan P that one day there would be more than one game a week on TV and in fact basically every game would be on TV and beyond that, every Astros game would be on TV – I would have been over the moon.
    – I loved listening to every game that was on radio because there was no other choice, but the few Astro games that made it on TV were precious.
    – I am excited about new players like Altuve, Correa, Bregman, Gurriel, Gattis (lately), Keuchel (last year), Musgrove and Devenski just like I was excited about Biggio, Bags, Cedeno, Mike Scott, Jimmy Wynn and all my heroes through the years.
    – I remember moving to Spring Branch in NW Houston from Dallas with my parents in 1965. I had no idea where the Dome was but my head was on a swivel thinking we would drive by it any second. Going to my first game at the Dome, I remember how it just seemed to growing as we grew closer and closer. Colt Stadium which was in the parking lot looked like a little league stadium in comparison.
    – It does bother me that baseball does not have quite the draw to the young folks that it did when I was growing up. It bothered me that when the team went to the World Series that a more corporate and less rabid clientele was at the games.

    I think we deserve a championship here. I don’t know if it will happen soon or 100 years from now, but I know the great folks who are true Astro fans deserve something to warm their hearts and make the many years in the desert fade into the background.

    Like

  8. Alright, so it looks like it won’t happen for us, but we have to hope TOR can sweep BAL and CLE has enough pride to try to do the same to DET. With six games left and trailing BAL by three games, we cannot afford to lose a single game to SEA.

    Like

  9. I’m excited by Peacock. He gave up 1 hit in five innings against a team that scored nine runs against the guys who relieved him. He has allowed only 16 hits in 27 major league innings this fall and he seems to be maturing. This is the best Peacock has looked in his career. I think he is gaining confidence in his pitches and that will help him eliminate some of the BBs.
    Musgrove looked good again.
    Musgrove, Devenski, Peacock. They all have good fastballs, too.
    Now if we could get Rodgers going, we might have something.
    Home runs by two rookies and our power hitting catcher today. Doesn’t that sound good?
    Springer had three hits and a walk today after four hits yesterday. Maybe he hits better when he’s exhausted. Maybe he doesn’t swing as hard.
    The Mariners come into Houston in the exact same situation we are in. They cant afford to lose any games either. The Mariners magic # is 5 and our magic # for elimination is 4.

    Like

      • Heck, Sarge, I’ve been cautious about Peacock for four years now. He came to the Astros with Carter and Stassi in the deal for Jed Lowrie and Fernando Rodriguez.
        It’s been a long road for all of these players. But Peacock has always had a good arm. He just couldn’t control his stuff and couldn’t throw the same pitch for a strike twice. A lot of pitchers learned how to pitch when they approach 30 and next season he will be 29. It’s not unreasonable to think he might be able to contribute to a team or teams for a number of years.

        Like

  10. I can remember as a youth growing up in the mid 70s in Upstate N.Y. grabbing my glove and my bat every summer morning and heading to the schoolyard for a pickup game. There would be times we would have enough kids to play 9 on 9 and this was a regular occurrence almost everyday while school was out for the summer. Part of the reason I love baseball so much is that it reminds me of the innocence of my youth. My first memories of watching baseball was Carlton Fisk hitting the walkoff HR in game 6 of the 1975 World Series and I have loved the game since that moment.

    Unfortunately, you don’t see kids playing pickup baseball anymore. My kids will play in our backyard (we have a sizable backyard) with a plastic bat and rubber ball and if you hit the ball on the roof it is a HR. Football and basketball seem to be the game of choice for most kids playing pickup games today. All you need is a football or basketball (and a court) to play so it’s much easier to get a game going.

    We are a baseball family and it will always be my favorite sport until He decides my time here on Earth is over. I just pray that He allows me to stay here long enough to witness one Astros World Series victory. I can then leave this world in peace and live eternally with our Heavenly Father and my family and friends that have departed us. Viva el Beisbol!

    Liked by 2 people

    • What you say is so true – getting 18 players for non-organized baseball is tough as a kid. The neighborhood kids improvise a bit, but I’m not sure how I feel about games where there are soccer goals on two ends, one ball, two oversized plastic bats, and perhaps some quidditch rules thrown in for good effect.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. I’ll give you a false hope a day, dear.
    I’ll give you a false hope a day.
    I’ll let you smell the play-offs, then I’ll take a few days off,
    and let Pujols and Trout have their way.

    I’ll give you no pennant or ring, dear.
    I’ll give you no pennant or ring.
    I’ll give you free-swinging heroes, that when the chips down are zeroes,
    backing pitchers who’ve lost all their zing.

    I’ll give you a heartbreak a day, dear.
    I’ll give you a heartbreak a day.
    I may smash all your dreams, but hon, I’ll still be your team,
    when all the young studs you love choose F.A.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I was thinking about Teoscar Hernandez and Tony Kemp and about how they haven’t exactly set the world on fire this season.
    But then I sat back and realized how young they were and about how they haven’t ever seen this kind of pitching before. I’m talking about pitching where the very best pitchers in the world are on the mound every day, followed by relievers who may have even better stuff than the starters. They may never have been out in the field when their own pitcher was throwing 99 MPH, but the opposing batters were still getting base hits off of those 99mph pitches.
    So I did a little comparing.
    Tony Kemp’s first year batting stats: .240/.310/365 with an 84 wRC+, and making the league minimum in his first try at major league pitching. Tony’s had a BB rate of 9.4% and a K rate of 20.9%
    Compared to the stats of the guy he replaced in LF, Colby Rasmus, who has had thousands of major league at bats: .206/.266/.355 with a 75 wRC+ and making $15.8 million. Colby’s had a BB rate of 10.3% and a K rate of 29%
    Now, about CF:
    Teoscar has stats of .202/.292/.395 with a wRC+ of 84, while making the league minimum, and carrying a 10.4 BB rate and a 26% K rate in his first major league try.
    Cargo had stats of .210/.272/.322 with a 60 wRC+ after many thousands of MLB ABs and making $10 million this season. His BB rate was 6.5% and his K rate was 31%.
    Let’s not embarrass Jake by including his numbers here, but it’s pretty safe to say the Astros could possibly have gotten more production at the plate had they started out with Teoscar and Kemp in the outfield all year and would have saved $26 million or so.
    But it’s definite that they are better off right now with those two in the outfield than the Rasmus and Gomez we got this year.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yes, OP, and my instincts tell me they will both just get better. Add in Bregman in place of Valbuena at 3B, Gurriel in place of Gattis at DH, and Gattis in place of Castro as starting catcher, and our line-up is SIGNIFICANTLY improved over the one we put on the field the first half of the year. The only questions are the classic Abbot and Costello inquiry: “WHO IS ON FIRST?” and Does anybody who can pitch in this league want to be a Houston millionaire?

      Liked by 2 people

  13. I still think it’s premature to pencil Tony and Teoscar into starting roles in the outfield come April. We really don’t know if they will hit enough. And neither is remarkable defensively. Hernandez still needs work on throwing the ball. Gurriel is an excellent third baseman, more advanced than Bregman, who will become an excellent third baseman. Gurriel would be somewhat wasted at DH. I’d leave him at third. I’d put Bregman in left. We already know he’s got a lot more bat than Kemp, and at least a bit more arm. Bregman is a great athlete who will be a solid left fielder, at least for the coming season. And as a couple of us have said so many times already, Springer should go back to center where he’s played his whole life. Let’s find a right fielder from outside. A solid bat in right, along with Springer and Bregman would give us a much, much better outfield. The more I think about Valbuena at first, the more it makes sense. Against righties, his OPS has been over .800 for the past three years. He can sit against lefties. That’s where Marwin comes in. And he’s better than good defensively at both corners. If he’s happy here, Luhnow might just get a deal done with him. I don’t think we can afford to rely on Reed over there at this point. DH? I don’t want to rule out White. Like I’ve said before, he’ll hit for someone.

    Like

    • Dave, my pencil markings are very, very light. But my dislike of bringing in expensive FA OFs who come to Houston to die [Carlos Lee, Colby Rasmus] is strong, and the bad taste in my mouth from the last few OF trades this FO has made [for Gomez, Grossman, Vazquez, and Fowler] is even stronger.

      Like

      • Was that bringing Fowler in or sending him to Chicago? I mean, Lyles and Barnes were ok players for a bad Houston team, but I think Fowler was better even considering his injuries. Sending him to Chicago for Straily + Valbuena still feels like a simple salary dump to me…and I feel like they obviously won that one.

        Like

      • Devin, I liked the Fowler acquisition. But he only managed to play in 116 games, but he loafed around CF, but still would not move over to left to make room for a much better defensive player in George Springer. And thought he hit .276, and had a great OBP, he was with us only one year – a year in which we as a team lost almost as many games as he played.

        Like

      • Mr. Bill, I read you loud and clear. It’s a tough call. But after such a dismal offensive outfield showing these past two years, I think we’ve got to make a move. And it’s likely Springer will stay in right. I’m prepared for that. Maybe it’s the guy that does not get the contract he wants and works something out to come here for a year at the last minute. This is where Luhnow gets to earn his living. We’ve got to improve the outfield.

        Like

      • I forgot to mention one other outfielder our F.O. acquired by trade. That, of course, is Jake from State Farm. Heck of a defensive outfielder, and has a head-full of really cool hair; but an offensive powerhouse he is not.

        Like

      • Billy, I wouldn’t say terrible, but Barnes’ best OPS was .635 for Houston, didn’t walk much, and he struck out far too often. His defense was an asset and on a real team would have been a decent 4th or 5th outfielder rather than a 400+ at bat guy. Lyles was really inconsistent for us and couldn’t strike enough guys out to have a future in our rotation or bullpen. However, a 25 man roster is almost always going to have some guys who aren’t in contention for the all star team each year.

        Like

    • I wasn’t pushing for Kemp and Teoscar for next year. I was merely pointing out that although they didn’t set the world on fire in their first try, they outperformed Rasmus and Gomez, as far as I’m concerned, for 5% percent of the money.
      I already stated the other day that Bregman should be in LF and Springer in CF and a free agent in RF. Gurriel at 3B Correa at SS, Altuve at 2B.
      I don’t have a problem with Valbuena at 1B where we can also use Marwin occasionally. I still like Tucker and White as a platoon DH because if they excel there, they are much more valuable than they are now on the bench(or in Fresno) where we are not using their best assets, their bats.
      In my proposed lineup for next year I had both Kemp and Teoscar in Fresno, along with Kemmer. I would like to see Lourdes Gurriel in a Fresno Grizzly Taco uniform next season, too.
      If I had to choose between Valbuena/Marwin at 1B or Reed/Marwin at 1B I would go with Luis, because of his LH bat, which we need another one of. Put Reed at 1B in Fresno and see if he rakes, and I mean really rakes, not .265 rakes.
      This lineup leaves us so much money to spend on another outfielder because only Gurriel, Valbuena, Altuve, and Marwin would be making more than league minimum.
      There are two premium closers who will be free agents next month and I think we should go headfirst after one of them, prepared to spend what it takes to get one into our bullpen. I prefer Chapman because he is LH. He will get the highest contract ever for a closer. Of all the free agents I have seen throughout the years, I think Chapman has the best chance to fulfill a huge contract because of how he does his job, how he projects to keep doing his job and how he sets up to affect every potential win for Houston for years. On a winning team, Chapman will have many more appearances than any premium TOR starter will, and that makes him super valuable.
      Not only does he affect the Astros more than any team he has pitched for except this year’s Cubs team, he helps make the Astros a potentially top five franchise for as long as he is here, because what TOR starter wouldn’t want to come be the TOR starter for Houston if they have a great lineup and Aroldis Chapman in the bullpen, along with Giles, to preserve their wins?

      Like

    • Barnes was released a week or so ago by the Rockies and, last I looked, Lyles was in the bullpen and not doing well. He has a Mile-High ERA and WHIPWHIPNAENAE.

      Like

    • Sorry…too many memories of Barnes getting caught stealing multiple times. No idea why he ran so much when he was so bad at it (and not even particularly fast…)

      Like

  14. Hinch before tonight’s game:
    Rasmus seeking help for hip/groin issues. Will not play again this season.
    LMJ on rehab assignment in Florida. Is throwing.
    Bregman practiced today and is doing real well. Could play this week, but not certain.

    Like

    • BEST. NEWS. EVER.!!!! If Bregman is well, he could allow Correa to rest his hurt shoulder!! I’m glad Hinch is resting Gurriel tonight, the guy must feel like dog poop grounding into so many double plays yesterday. I like what I see with Gurriel he seems to be a real good guy.
      OP…..I just don’t see Crane spending the kinda money on Chapman, that’s gonna take to sign him. I heard the Yankees want him, and the Dodgers and Red Sox are going to be in the mix also, that’s why the Cubs probably won’t be in the mix either.
      I can’t even IMAGINE the contract Chapman will get!!
      Tough news about Rasmus…..I hope he gets the help he needs to get better.

      Like

  15. I still Like gurriel at 3, CC tuve, marwin and Luis at 1B,. Bregman in LF , Springer in CF, find a solid RF. White DH, Gattis and somebody catching, Kemp on the bench
    I guess keep JFSM , find #1 TOR ( right) and a lefty in the pen, Chapman, we might get into Oct baseball

    Like

  16. If you close the holes in the order at DH, 1B and catcher I like the up- the- middle defense that JFSF brings and believe that he would make us a stronger team being in the lineup. You could then utilize his speed to bunt more and stay aggressive on the bases. CC @ SS, Altuve @ 2B and Jake in CF gives you one of the best up- the- middle defenses in the league and will help our pitchers. I’m comfortable with an OF of JFSF, Springer, Teo, Kemp, Gurriell. I like Gattis at C if his legs will hold up for 100-110 GS per season (if he does he will become extremely expensive at the end of next season). Marwin has become a VERY good 1st baseman but his bat doesn’t justify a corner spot. If we can get him back to the super utility role we can use him to give multiple positions time off and keep them fresh for the finish next year. I really like Tyler @ 1B, but I think we should seek out a veteran FA to hedge our bets. As I have said before I favor going after Napoli to give a veteran option at C/ 1B/ DH. I think Bregman should be entrenched at 3B for the next 10 years. I think he will be a super star both offensively and defensively and I would not be surprised to see him become the best player on this team in the next year to two. I’m not sure what that means for Yulie but his bat will ensure that there is a place for him somewhere.

    I want to see the bulk of our attention focused on pitching. I want them to go strong after Archer, Sale or Quintana. It will cost us in prospects but should result in multiple playoff appearances. I’m still up in the air on Hill but if they offer him 3/36-48 I would sure take it as a sign that this team is willing to do what it takes to win. I’m not on board with signing Hellickson.

    With all we have faced this season, it is easy to lose sight of the fact that if DK had won the same # of games he won last season we would be leading the division. If both Keuchel and McHugh had 2015 win totals we would be WS favorites. Add pitching and this is a VERY good team even if no other moves are made.

    Like

    • Vewill1, if you think we are set in the outfield offensively, we’ll be in for more of the same run producing problems that we’ve experienced for years now. God Bless Jake, he’s a real talent in centerfield, but he’s had over 1000 plate appearances at this point and his lifetime OPS of .607 and his OBP of .269 is simply not enough. Whether he’s trying to drag bunts to get on or not, he just does not get on enough. And 19 RBI’s from a starting outfielder? He’s had almost a half season of at bats. And he’s not getting better, he’s become an easier out. Thankfully we’ve already got one of the best defensive center fielders in MLB on our roster. He’ll keep our defense up the middle a real strength. We’ve got to think in the mind set of continuing to upgrade in all areas. And Keuchel probably won’t win 20 again. When Luhnow is building his 2017 roster over the coming months, I hope he’s far more critical of our of our realities.

      Like

    • I’m with Dave on Marisnick. He will do better if he isn’t as exposed, but they treated him as a 4th OFer this year when he is really a 5th. What’s the difference? The role you play. The 4th guy is the first one in when someone is going to miss a few for a sore hammy, the first one in to replace a 15 day DL guy, etc. Caused him to see too many at bats. He should be the 5th guy, the guy you use as a defensive replacement, pinch runner, etc. You could even use him as a pinch hitter in a tough spot against a lefty, who like most right handers he hits a little better against. What you don’t want is to see his name in lineup 4 to 5 at bats today against Kluber. It just isn’t there, and I am not one of those guys that subscribes to either theory that his defense makes up for it or the rest of the lineup hits. He still gets the same number of at bats as the guy batting 2nd, 3rd, 5th, etc, maybe one less in most cases, still too many. To me a good offense is consistency up and down, not automatic outs scattered in.

      Jake has a spot on this team in my view, at least until arbitration forces the Astros to seek another limited talent to replace his growing salary, but as a starter or even a guy I want to see bat even 200 times, no thanks.

      Like

  17. I do a lot of coaching clinics. This weekend I conducted a coaching clinic for new coaching candidates in a coupe of local Little League programs. One of the topics we cover is batting order. Following is from my coaching manual and is ONE of the approaches I share with them. This is a statistical approach that places value on outs based on statistical analysis. Based on this approach, how do you see the Astros’ order shaking out?

    Lead-Off
    OBP is king. The #1 comes to bat only 36% of the time with a runner on base, versus 44% of the time for the next lowest spot in the lineup, so why waste homeruns? They also come to the plate the most times per game, so why give away outs? The lead-off hitter is one of the best three hitters on the team, the guy with the highest OBP without homerun power. Speed is nice to have, as this batter will have plenty of chances to run the bases with good hitters behind him.

    The Two Hole
    The #2 hitter comes to bat in situations of equal importance to the #3 hitter, but more often. That means the #2 hitter should be better than the #3 guy, and one of the best three hitters overall. Since he bats with the bases empty more often than the hitters behind him, he should also be a high-OBP player. You tend to be looking for a player with exceptional bat control who usually strikes out less than anybody else on your team.

    The Third Spot
    The #3 hitter comes to the plate with, on average, fewer runners on base than the #4 or #5 hitters. So why focus on putting a guy who can knock in runs in the #3 spot, when the two spots after him can benefit from it more? Surprisingly, because he comes to bat so often with two outs and no runners on base, the #3 hitter isn’t nearly as important as we think. This is a spot to fill after more important spots are taken care of.

    Cleanup
    The #4 hitter comes to bat in the most important situations out of all nine spots and is equal in importance to the #2 hitter once you consider the #2 guy receives more plate appearances. The cleanup hitter is the best hitter on the team with power.

    The Number Five Guy
    The #5 guy can provide more value than the #3 guy with singles, doubles, triples, walks, and avoiding outs, although the #3 guy holds an advantage with homeruns. After positions #1, #2, and #4 are filled, put your next best hitter here. This spot in the lineup is all about the RBIs and often being the last chance to drive in any base runners left by 1-4. You are looking for a player who strikes out less than the player you’re sticking in the six spot, with a bit more emphasis on hitting doubles (if your choice comes down to doubles and homers with strikeouts). You also want to make sure this player has some power, at least enough to make teams think twice about walking your clean-up guy.

    The Six Hole
    The average lineup really isn’t going to offer much from your 7 to 9 guys, so this will often be the last spot you can expect good production out of. For this reason you really don’t mind having a good home run hitting, striking out, average OBP/BA guy in this spot. The six spot is tailor made for those guys who swing from the bottom of their shoes every pitch with no regard for situation or circumstance.

    Seven Hitter
    Your seven hitter tends to be a less talented version of your 6th hitter.

    Number Eight Man
    This player has a number of jobs and responsibilities depending on the situation. Most often, he’s called upon to get on base and make sure the ninth spot in the lineup is cleared. If there are 2 outs in an inning you would much rather have your #9 hitter make that final out and start with the top of the order than have your 8-hole end it and have to start with your #9 hitter. A player hitting in this spot should be a good bunter with good bat control, who is able to either sacrifice a player, hit to the right side of the infield to move a player to third, or hit the ball into a hole and get on base.

    Number Nine
    This is a great spot for a speed demon type who isn’t the greatest hitter in the world – especially if he can drop the occasional drag bunt and get on base. If he can get on and cause problems that’s great.
    Final Thoughts

    Another way to look at things is to order the batting slots by the leveraged value of the out. We want to know how costly making an out is by each lineup position, based on the base-out situations they most often find themselves in, and then weighted by how often each lineup spot comes to the plate. Here’s how the lineup spots rank in the importance of avoiding outs:
    #1, #4, #2, #5, #3, #6, #7, #8, #9

    Like

  18. Well……..they didn’t quit, and didn’t give up. They HAD to win this game, to stay in it but it just wasn’t our time. I gotta tell you they sure did make it exciting!! Tough loss.

    Like

  19. Tonight’s game was a perfect reflection of our season.
    The starting pitcher gives up runs early.
    The Astros strike out with runners on or hit into double plays
    The third base coach makes a huge mistake and gets a runner thrown out at home by twenty feet.
    The worn out bullpen adds to the deficit by giving up another run.
    The Astros fight back, BUT:
    The other team’s best hitter hits a bomb to give them the winning run.
    The Astros gave everything they had, but they are not good enough to beat good teams.
    The Astros need to get a lot better to compete. The ball is in Luhnow and Crane’s court, now.
    I think the turning point in the Astros season was a blown call by the umps against Cleveland after the Astros had taken the first two games of that series. It’s almost as if their balloon burst that night. They are 8-11 since that call, while everyone they were chasing have had winning records.

    Like

    • I thought Hinch should have pinch hit Gurriel for White in the ninth with the winning run on 3rd. White was about to strike out for the third time and Gurriel puts his bat on the ball more often.
      They ended up doing this in the 11th and Gurriel hit a fly to left.

      Liked by 2 people

      • I was thinking the same thing. The time to PH Gurriel was in the 9th with the winning run on 3rd and 1 out. He may have popped out, but you know he would put the bat on the ball, which is what the Astros needed there. In the 11th I probably would have just stuck with White as I think he would have had a better chance to get a hit than Gurriel, but alas, that is not what Hinch decided to do. After Detroit and Toronto lost I was keeping a glimmer of hope for the playoffs, but the loss last night has definitely closed the door on the 2016 season for me. I’ll watch the playoffs and root for whoever is playing the Rangers, but I have moved on from the 2016 Astros and am eagerly awaiting the start of the Hot Stove League.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Dan – I disagree there. With Diaz bringing 98mph heat I didn’t want to see a cold Gurriel step to the plate in that at bat. I wanted to see White step to the plate and do what he’s done his whole life EXCEPT when playing in Houston…take the outside fastball and line it into right field for a easy single. Instead, he watched strike one like he was expecting it to be something high and tight. For strike two, he tried to put an up and away fastball on the train tracks…when we just needed a single. For strike three…well, he swung through an inside slider that seemed to really confuse him.

        Contrast this with Cano. He knew that Gregerson was throwing a slider on 1-2. He was completely comfortable and in rhythm as that ball was delivered.

        Like

      • Going to have to agree to disagree Devin. Even with Gurriel coming off the bench he has shown that he is a professional hitter and has the ability to cut down his swing and make contact. It was obvious White was having a bad night and it cost us our last real chance to get back in the race.

        Like

      • Dan – I do agree with you that Gurriel approaches each at bat like a professional hitter and likely would have put the ball in play.

        Like

  20. A lot, did I say a lot of holes to address in this the 6th year Of “THE PLAN”. That is if we really want to the Astros to compete for a WS, now if you like .500 baseball and a lot of “prospects” were good.

    Like

    • I couldn’t sleep after the game last night. I wanted to piece together a lineup for the Astros and could not put faces into it. I think maybe the y have worn me out, too.
      I did go back and looked at last night’s box score at 2:00 am and noticed that positions 1-4 in the lineup had 9 hits. Positions 5-9 had 1 hit.
      That also summarizes the season. When pitchers got past Correa, they usually had pretty smooth sailing for the next two innings.

      Like

      • You could see how badly Altuve and Correa wanted it last night. I don’t think players batting 5-9 wanted it any less, but it’s a joy to watch those young men go out and play hard every game. Also, give some credit to the Mariners. Teoscar hit a ball that’s a sure single in the minors, but Cano had him positioned and started his break before the contact was made to make a play up the middle look routine. The popups and strikeouts, well, I’ve got nothing there you haven’t already heard me say.

        Like

      • That’s why I firmly believe that we can’t be prepared to give up any spots in the starting line up to a defensive specialist or an unproven AAA talent unless we are also going to be prepared to accept another season of disappointment in 2017.

        Like

    • It looks like you might need to retake remedial math. Luhnow was hired in December 2011, which was less than 5 years ago. As usual, your take on the team is well off. Yes, there are some holes, but not as many as you think. The injuries to key players down the stretch is the main reason the Astros did not make the playoffs. Very few teams, if any, could have stayed competitive after losing their top 2 starting pitchers and 2 of their top 4 hitters.

      Like

    • And here is what the Astros have in payroll lined up for 2017, with the figures in red being salaries that the Astros can option out of, for a price.
      http://www.spotrac.com/mlb/payroll/
      If the Astros decide they don’t want to pay Neshek’s $6.5 million, they can pay him $500,000 and he becomes a free agent and the Astros have only $39 million committed for 2017.

      Like

      • Not that they will, but they could also free up another $5.2M if they non-tender Gattis. It’s ironic because at the beginning of the season I would have considered him a strong non-tender candidate, but now I am thinking he is a bargain at $5.2M. A catcher that hits 30 HRs and throws out roughly 50% of guys trying to steal is probably worth well north of $5.2M in today’s game.

        Has anyone else noticed Gattis’ walk rate has increased in the 2nd half of this season? He is walking at around 9% of the time now as opposed to 5% and this might be why he is hitting so much better. He’s swinging at more pitches in the zone and with his power this makes him much more valuable.

        Like

      • Thanks, Devin. I lost internet service and couldn’t make that correction, and then I got to move a tree stand to a prime spot and then shot a new crossbow that my son bought me.
        It is the first time I have ever shot one and I nailed it. I have a lot of confidence it from forty yards in. Bow season starts on October 1st here and this gives me a chance to get a deer before the bumper crop of acorns fall.

        Like

  21. I had a dream last night. In the dream I was driving to a game at MMP park. As I took the exit off Gulf Freeway I was met on the ramp by a Volkswagon convertible going the wrong way. In the driver’s seat of the VW was an old guy with long gray braids flowing out from under a red bandana. Riding shotgun was Jeff Luhnow. In the back, sprawled out across the back seat, was a very high Jim Crane. They were singing a song familiar to all Texans. It went something like this:

    On the ropes again.
    Like a bunch of losers we went down so easy.
    So like a flock of hens
    I guess we’ll watch the Cubs and Rangers finish this on TV.
    Don’t look now but we’re on the ropes again.

    On the ropes again.
    We’ve made Pujols and Cano look like friggin’ ninjas.
    They dashed our hopes again.
    And who in their right mind does the things that fool Hinch does?
    Someone please pinch us . . . ‘cause in this bad dream we’re on the ropes again.

    Be careful out there – these folks could even bring trouble to Lukenbach, TX.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Let’s hope that our guys can attack Felix early, and often tonight. I have more faith in Fires tonight, than I do Mr. Fister tomorrow😢….and I’m going to tomorrow’s game.
    If it looks like we are going to blown out tonight, and if the bad Fister shows up tomorrow, then it’s time to plant Correa’s butt on the bench. If Bregman comes back for a couple of games, that’s a plus but if not, Marwin can take over for Carlos and put White at 1st base. A loss tonight, will assure our play off chances will officially be over. I’d much rather use Cranes money over the winter, rather than trade the rest of what’s left of our good prospects. Becky⚾

    Liked by 1 person

  23. I just hope the FO and owner set their expectations higher for this team so we don’t have to watch a bunch of SP’s that we keep trying to put “lipstick on a pig”, try and spin some positives on all the guys with 4.5-4.9 ERA;s Look at the Cubs SP

    Like

  24. Hmmm….doesn’t look too good for our boys so far. Man the ground outs and double plays are killing us tonight.😢 Gurriel, Kemp, Castro and Jake are worthless tonight.

    Like

  25. Man, they ain’t going down without a fight! Hopefully Bregman’s clutch hit with a bad hammy serves as their Rocky moment of inspiration. 6-4…let’s hold on guys!

    Like

  26. Am sitting on a plane “watching” the live play by play. Go Go in flight does not provide enough juice to be able to watch the live video feed, but this is a pleasure regardless. OP, I’m sure you’ve noticed that 9 of the 10 Astro hits have come from the top 5 guys in the line up. Bregman, pinch hitting for Castro ( our past) has the 10th hit. Let’s get the rest of our starting line up filled in for 2017 and make all nine slots in the order a tough out! Am looking forward to a beautiful day at the park tomorrow, hopefully with the roof wide open.

    Liked by 2 people

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s