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.
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.
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.
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.
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.