Sunday thoughts on the last day of the 2016 season

Some random thoughts on the last day of the season while wondering which 3-4 games the Astros might have won over this 162-game season to have backed into the playoffs today.

George Springer.

I’ve watched a few of your comments following the last blog entry. Several seem obviously okay trading the Astros’ right fielder (okay, center fielder). Here’s how I look at it. If Jeff Luhnow is forced to trade a key asset this winter, he will obviously look at which player(s) can bring the highest return. And, it may depend on which team matches up the best for what the Astros need as well.

That said, here’s a thought from the Astros’ perspective. Which player — if forced to trade to bring a TOR pitcher — would be the easiest to replace. In other words, who replaces Springer in the already-thin outfield? Now, I’m not necessarily suggesting Houston trade Carlos Correa or Jose Altuve, much less Alex Bregman, but a Hunter Pence like outfielder doesn’t come along everyday. And, there is nothing in the system even close. Nothing!

Frankly, I can’t bring myself to trading Bregman, Correa, Altuve or Springer. In my opinion, the Astros should exhaust every other opportunity to improve before that discussion even happens. And, then, resist the urge and temptation with great restraint if possible.

Collin McHugh.

When speaking of the rotation, most comments and eyes turn to Dallas Keuchel and Lance McCullers Jr. But McHugh has quietly done his work since arriving in Houston via a waiver claim a few years ago. The move is arguably Luhnow’s best move in his tenure. Certainly in the Top 5. Since he’s not even arbitration eligible until next winter and won’t become a free agent until 2020 — and with other key players hitting arb-eligibity — McHugh is very critical to the picture over the next few seasons.

Moreover, he has been effective. Is he that top of the rotation guy. Of course, not, but he’s a solid #3 whom the Astros can plug in and almost forget about.

Consider this: Over the last three years, he’s 43-26 with a 3.71 ERA. Keuchel is 41-29, 3.21.  While some of his indicators were up (or down, depending on how you view it) this year, he’s been steady for the most part and dependable in the least. He generally goes out every five days and most often gives the team a chance to win.

In three years in Houston, his FIP is 3.54 with a 8.4/2.5 K/BB ratio. Go find another $529,000 pitcher with those numbers!

Again, his 2016 numbers were off a bit, but most of the team was off this year too.

What am I saying? McHugh should get the credit due him. He may not be a candidate yet for extension, but in a rotation that lacking depth, the Astros have a dependable cog in the wheel.

Coaching staff.

Methinks this should get the most attention during the off-season. Why is it that the Astros have so much trouble hitting. Hitting in key spots. Hitting with the game on the line. Hitting in Houston.

Why is it that players fare well before coming to Houston, then fall on their faces when they get to Houston? Then, go to another team and pick up where they left off before Houston? Those are serious concerns that need to be addressed.

Pitching coach? Yes, review and examine, but not as concerned here.

strength and conditioning? Why are so many players hurt here? Is it the all-out style of Altuve, Correa and Bregman that keeps everyone else pushing so hard? Or is there something else?

After only one season in the playoffs under Jeff Luhnow and with expectations for a World Series run trending upward, it’s time for a thorough review.

Thank you.

And, on this last day of the 2016 season, a simple thank you to Dan, Brian and the hundreds of you who make chipalatta a refreshing haven for conversation. We are blessed my friends.


186 comments on “Sunday thoughts on the last day of the 2016 season

  1. Just a few comments on the Gurriel situation.
    Yulieski said before he signed with the Astros and after he signed with the Astros that the reason he defected was because he and his brother wanted to play together in the major leagues. Yuli did not necessarily want to leave his country but he finally did make that choice.
    From the beginning, Yuli was thought to have major league talent, but Lourdes has been considered the real prize because of his talent at age 23. Lourdes is the long term investment. Yuli is the investment that pays off now.
    It was interesting to read Yuli’s comments about the offseason where he said he is going to get himself in shape and get fully healthy and ready to play next year.
    I think he found out that he was not in shape. I think his hamstring was not fully healed and it affected his swing a lot.
    I also think that he will be a real asset to his brother, because now he knows that his brother is not quite ready for the grind ahead of him and he can help Lourdes with that.
    Finally, the Astros entered the Gurriel race with their eyes wide open. They know these players and have scouted these players. If the Astros sign Lourdes, I would not be surprised to see him become the Astros #1 prospect. So if the Astros think he has the ability to be a starter on their team for years, they will pay what it takes to get him. I’m sure they have talked at length with Yuli about their intentions in regards to his brother.
    Lourdes will become a free agent before any major league players become free agents, so he actually gets the first shot at Crane’s money. Whether or not they sign Lourdes will help them determine what other moves they make after that.


    • oldpro, I seriously hope that whether Lourdes signs in Houston or not has next to no bearing on what Luhnow does the rest of the offseason. Crane and Luhnow need to have set aside a special budget for that signing that doesn’t impact other moves or you can write off 2017. It’s great to sign talented players for the future, but if we’re not trying to win now with Altuve, Springer, Correa, and friends what are we trying to do?


      • I don’t think you understand what I meant about his affecting what we do.
        When I said he will be added to our top prospects, that means he is another top prospect added to our organization and that means that we could then move another prospect in a trade, that we didn’t want to move before his signing.
        He would give us another bullet in our gun that might allow us to trade a bullet that is now excess, rather than critical.
        Also, if you know you have Lourdes due to arrive soon. that could allow you to sign or trade for someone for a year or two, rather than someone who is looking for a four year deal.


      • devin, i think signing lourdes is a win now addition. maybe he doesnt start the year in houston, but if he (as op speculates in his comment) is ranked #1 on OUR prospect list, it wont be long before he is. the stated goals are OF, DH, starting pitching. lordes can help fill the OF void or for example play 3B so bregman can. it will be a good signing.


  2. exactly right op. i will be totally surprised if we dont get lourdes. of course i guess boston could offer 18 jillion bucks, but we offer a good fair amount AND playing with his brother.


  3. I would like to spend a few minutes on Correa’s comments on his hitting.
    To put it bluntly, he’s not satisfied with it.
    Here are some of the reasons why:
    His batted ball breakdown in 2016 shows him hitting 226 ground balls.
    It shows him hitting 118 line drives.
    It shows him hitting 77 fly balls.
    It shows him hitting 8 popups.
    Since he has one of the highest velocities of ball off bat in the majors, he knows he’s hitting way too many ground balls. Ground balls result in outs(117 groundouts this season) and never in home runs.
    Carlos hit 92 balls to right field and only 64 balls to left field this year. He is giving up too much of his power trying to go oppo.
    Carlos hit 54 fly outs this year, but, unbelievably, only four of those flyouts were to left field. When Carlos tries to pull, his swing flattens and he hits the ball low and on the ground. When he goes oppo, he hits the ball in the air but wastes a lot of his power because he has all his flyouts from CF to RF.
    Only four of Carlo’s 20 home runs were pulled to left field.
    I think Carlos wants to work on utilizing his power to his benefit, rather than giving up so much of it going to the opposite field and to the biggest part of the ball park, Center field.
    I think he will work on pulling the ball more and more in the air.
    Finally, think about how many times you saw Carlos swing and miss at balls low and away. Because he was going to the opposite field a lot, he chased that pitch to try and take it the other way. If he commits to pulling the ball more, that is a pitch he will start to lay off of and he will be ahead in the count instead of being behind in the count so much, like he did this past season.
    I don’t know how he will go about changing things, but it’s not hard to see why he wants to change things.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Those are Correa’s comments? I might focus on some other things.
      – Correa put the first pitch in play 63 times
      – Correa reached 1-0 count 263 times
      – Correa got behind 0-1 count 332 times
      – Correa had 13 HR through June
      – Correa had 7 HR over the last three months
      – Correa had 3 SF
      – Correa was 17 for 216 on balls in the infield (.079)
      – Correa was 40 for 109 on pulled balls (.367)
      – Correa was 74 for 234 on balls up the middle (.316)
      – Correa was 44 of 95 on balls to right field (.463)

      If I were him I would continue trying to drive the ball the other way, but start looking for more pitches on the inner half to pull early in at bats.


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