This was supposed to be one of “those” posts. You know, a wonky stat-filled romp through the needs of the Astros from starting pitching, through left-handed relieving, past failures to close games, and across the bad offense from the DH, 1B and 2/3 of the OF with stops in Prospect City and trade possibilities.
But there is too much anger here after more than half a century of cheering, cajoling and praying for a result that feels like the bridge too far. Sure, the team faced a lot of injury and performance challenges this season and came “close” to the playoffs. As Adam Sandler said during a depression/anger rant in the “Wedding Singer” – Whoopitty doo!!
Speaking for the many fans with the same helpless, hopeless psyche and situations, what they want is a fairly short and simple list:
- Jim Crane. We don’t want to hear about the team being short at this position or that position due to budgetary constraints or considerations. We don’t want to hear about development personnel being cut from the minor league system. You are a very rich person. You hang out with the President and Tiger Woods. The team is worth a heck of a lot more than when you bought it. If you have some cash flow problems – sell a flippin’ golf course.
- Jeff Luhnow. A lot of Astros’ fans live in Houston or used to live in Houston. We know all about what happens to the smartest guys in the room when they hit that brick wall labeled reality. I can personally see the former Enron building two blocks north from my office floor downtown. Most fans know that stats are critical in today’s baseball. But in reality only one stat really matters. Wins. We are sick of the team not winning enough to get in the playoffs, to advance through the playoffs and to win the championship. You need to finish putting together the team that can do that for this deserving city, We don’t care how or whether you look like a genius or idiot doing it. As Al Davis said once, just win baby.
- A.J. Hinch. Fans know you are a bit handcuffed by the talent given you. We know that you did not always have good choices for the batting order after the cleanup hitter until later in the year. We know that both the starting pitching and the relief pitching could shine or stink when called upon. But we also know there were questionable choices made by you that may have been the difference between going to the playoffs or going home. You need to step it up, especially against the Texas Rangers who seem to have a psychological and emotional edge over your team. Your team needs to split with the Rangers in 2017 or how about beating them more than they beat you?
- Dave Hudgens. Eleven of the twenty-two every day players who played in 2016 hit .210 or lower. Nine of them had OPS’s below .600. The team was bad in situational hitting and very few hitters improved in 2016 and most of those who came up from the minors hit way below their norm. You need to do better or go away.
- Brent Strom. You have earned some slack with how well the pitchers did, especially in 2015. Sorry for the “what have you done for us lately” attitude, but the pitching was the biggest reason behind the digression of the team in 2016. If it is all due to sore arms, then you have an excuse, but if a chunk of it is due to the other teams figuring out how to work against your pitchers in the world of shrinking strike zones, you need to change the game plans.
- Astros’ hitters. Quit swinging for the fences no matter the count. Quit watching the good pitches and swinging at crap. Have better at bats when a duck is on the pond. Move that runner over; bring that runner home. More runs equal more wins.
- Astros’ pitchers. Relievers watch video of what Chris Devenski did last season. Throwing strikes. Moving the pitches around. Changing speeds. What has always worked still works today. Starters, if you are hurting, ‘fess up to it. In seasons where a game or two makes a huge difference, we don’t need to be putting damaged goods out there. It would not hurt the healthy folks to watch video of Mr. Devenski either. He was a pitcher, not a thrower in 2016.
That’s it. That’s all we want. Go do it.