CHIPALATTA

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Oakland A’s: AL West Division rival’s review


Dan and Chip are taking a look at the Astros’ AL West competition over the next several days. Last week, Dan started things off with the Mariners. Today, Chip takes a look at the Athletics’ chances against a toughening western division.

Oakland A’s. Entering their 49th season in Oakland.

2016 Record. 69-93, 5th in the AL West

Last Playoff Appearance. 2014.

World Series Appearances/Wins. 6/4. Last appearance 1990.

Best Franchise Season. 104-58 (1988)

Worst Franchise Season. 54-108 (1979).

Manager. Bob Melvin. Entering 6th full season with A’s (462-447)

GM. David Forst, 17th year with A’s, second as GM.

2016 Payroll (from spotrac). $61.4 million (27th in MLB).

2017 Payroll (projected by spotrac). $73.1 million (27th).

2016 Offense. 653 Runs (15th in AL), 169 HRs (12th), 50 SB (14th), .246 BA (14th), .699 OPS (15th)

2016 Starting Pitching. 4.51 ERA (14th), 1.34 WHIP (9th), 464 BBs (9th best), 1188 Ks (13th), .263 BAA (13th best), .744 OPS against (9th)

2016 Bullpen. 4.01 ERA (10th), 1.27 WHIP (6th), 42 Saves (10th), 23 Blown Saves (3rd most), .245 BA against (7th) .694 OPS against (6th)

While the A’s appear to be mired in a rebuilding stretch, the organization should never be counted out of reach of competing as long as Billy Beane is around. But it’s difficult to place the team higher than the cellar with an ever-strengthening division at hand. But bless their hearts, Beane, Forst and Melvin will have their work cut out for them if they want to even sniff 70 wins, much less contend.

Infield. The Athletics had the worst fWAR in all of MLB in 2016, and between poor base running and fielding, 2017 doesn’t appear to yield much improvement there. Essentially, the left side of the infield (3B Ryon Healy and SS Marcus Semien(.238/.435/.735) could help determine the success of failure of the A’s season. The A’s know what they’ve got in 1B Yonder Alonso and 2B Jed Lowrie, a former Astros’ player who has not played a full season since 2013.

Outfield. You think the Astros’ have had an interesting list of no names, resurrection projects and revolving door? Try Jake Smolinski, Brett Eibner and Matt Joyce. But the signing of Rajai Davis for CF last month may be a game-changer for the A’s in the OF. This is the depth chart as it stands now, but Melvin is quite certain to juggle, flip and platoon his way to multiple OF assignments before the start of the season. the likelihood of any of those three lasting the season is small. Khris Davis may see some time in LF, but he is seemingly headed for most of his time at DH. See below.

DH and C. Khris Davis (.247/.524/.831) will serve as DH for the A’s. He had a career year in ’16 with 42 HRs and 102 RBI. Steven Vogt is a decent bat, but horrible catcher and he could be pushed by NRIs Bruce Maxwell and Josh Phegley.

Starting Rotation. The rotation may rise and fall on the success of RHP Sonny Gray‘s effort to return from an injury-plagued 2016. If he’s back to his 2015 All Star form, he could once again be dangerous. LHP Sean Manaea could eventually surpass Gray at some point as the team’s ace and very well could be poised for a breakout season after making his debut last April. Kendall Graveman will eat plenty of innings and Jahrel Cotton and Andrew Triggs will fill out the rotation.

The ‘Pen. There isn’t star quality here, but the A’s should be solid with closer Ryan Madson leading the way. Santiago Casilla, who was originally signed by the A’s in 2000 but spent the last seven years in San Francisco, is back in an A’s uniform at 36 and should help solidify the pen.

Prognosis. It will likely be another long year and the A’s will likely be the first team out of the AL West race. A Gray rebound and some quality seasons from players like Rajai Davis and Healy could soften the blow of an otherwise cellar-dwelling season. Projection: 65-97.

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About Chip Bailey

Chip Bailey lives in Colorado Springs, CO, and is an author and former sports editor and sportswriter who has followed the Astros for more than 40 years. A native of Natchitoches, La., Chip enjoys watching baseball at most any level, especially pro and college. Several years ago, he worked as an associate of Pastor John Bosman, who enjoyed giving nick names to his staff. He came up with Chipalatta, and it’s stuck.

101 comments on “Oakland A’s: AL West Division rival’s review

  1. Tim
    March 6, 2017

    If Gray returns to somewhat of the pitcher he was before last year their rotation could be one of the best in the division, but the offense is brutal and they still don’t play great defense. The bullpen is decent and I think they should move Dull to the closer instead of Madson, but either way it’s not a top level bullpen, but not a bottom dweller either. The A’s will be competitive, but, as you mentioned, they are probably still going to finish 5th in the A.L. West this year. With that being said this is the team I see challenging the Astros in the division a few years from now, probably around 2019. The other 3 teams will probably be in rebuild mode.

    Like

  2. Dan P
    March 6, 2017

    The one thing that happens to teams is they sometimes get an edge – such as the A’s doing the Moneyball thing and valuing OBP and other statistics. That allowed them to compete with a smaller payroll until….. Some of the higher priced teams started to copycat that idea (see Red Sox).
    Fans complain about the Astros payroll but it has been on a steady rise. The A’s are stuck down low forever it seems….until they move to Las Vegas???

    Like

  3. 1oldpro
    March 6, 2017

    The A’s will be in trouble as long as they are in Oakland. It’s just a money thing.
    It’s interesting that the AL West is looked at by casual fans as being weak but most experts see it as a strong division.
    Last week when I was looking for a reason for Altuve having trouble ever winning a MVP Award I came across a stat that was telling. It is Fangraphs rating for baserunning, BsR. The two best baserunners last season in all of baseball were Mookie Betts and Mike Trout. Jose Altuve was 72nd.
    The AL West was the worst baserunning division in baseball with 4 teams in the bottom third of the rankings and the Rangers rated at #12.
    It seems like a little thing, but in tight division race, it has to hurt that you are a young team with a lot of fast players who are bad on the base paths. Maybe your coaching staff is flat lousy at teaching players the fundamentals of baserunning, because you can’t find it in stat sheets.

    Like

    • sargeh
      March 6, 2017

      I agree. The ability to navigate successfully, on the basepaths, is a necessity to garner runs at the plate. On that note, the Astros need a REAL baserunning coach.

      Like

      • Chip Bailey
        March 6, 2017

        What’s Jeff Bagwell doing these days? He was one of the best baserunners in Astros’ history, wonder if that could translate in teaching players the same? Never a speedy guy, but smart, savvy and knew when he could take the extra base and when he couldn’t.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Gov
        March 6, 2017

        Game is changing so much now with positioning.

        The other day, 1-out Springer held up running on 2B with a ball hit up the middle; George had to spy the SS, who almost made the play, before taking off to 3B (and not scoring!) That’s just crazy, but if the Pitcher & Catcher know SS is holding runner, they’re calling for a ball on the right third of the strike zone vs RHH. In Bagwell’s day, you knew almost certainly where a ball was hit whether it was in a hole – nowadays things are done in better concert with the battery and infield studying batting trends. An uncanny runner (like Lou Brock), Bagwell himself admitted it’s overwhelming the time/study commitment to coach full time.

        Along those lines, haven’t heard much about what Bags, or Scrap Iron is contributing? I think Everett is the Infield Coordinator.

        Like

      • Devin
        March 6, 2017

        My recollection was that Alex Cora was a very good baserunner despite having mediocre speed.

        Gov, I wonder if the Astros have asked certain players not to be aggressive in spring training games to limit chances at injury. The Mets broadcasters were horrible the other night, but they were talking about this perception we have of current ballplayers as lazy and not willing to run out ground balls when the reality is that guys give full effort when they think can smell a hit and jog on expected routine plays because they are trying to make it through a full season.

        Like

      • sargeh
        March 6, 2017

        In a recent game, the Astros had a runner on first and the other team had a shift on for a left handed batter. The Astros’ baserunner took off to steal second with the SS standing on the bag before the pitch was thrown. Kind off stupid baserunning there.

        Like

  4. Devin
    March 6, 2017

    I concur their starting pitching is going to have to carry them. The bullpen will be aided by playing night games in their home ballpark. They do, however, have a number of their top 10 prospects who are banging on the door. 2017 would seem a lost cause, but if Texas loses Darvish and Anaheim doesn’t figure out a way to start improving I could see Oakland jump into the division’s top 3 discussion next spring. With Seattle aging they could make a big jump.

    Like

  5. astrocolt45
    March 6, 2017

    One has to root for the A’s trying to compete with that payroll. But it can’t happen this year. Their defense was terrible and is no better short of a miracle. Most of their current trades appear to be “throw it on the wall and see what sticks”. Money may not win but it sure helps.

    Like

  6. Gov
    March 6, 2017

    WARNING – none of this comment is helpful.

    I liked that ’75 team!
    They newly acquired Phil Garner, and of course you had Ray Fosse (.196) coming off a Jason Castroian season which gave way to Gene Tenace playing catcher, who hit 29 HR’s. Rollie Fingers, Vida Blue, Bert Campanaris, Reggie Jackson and ol Sal Bando!

    Now, where were we?
    Voyt is an underrated bat, and will platoon well in RF, and DH. Sonny Gray is from my neck of the woods. He must be healthy if the Stros pursued him.. the A’s are scrappers, like the Twins at home – easy to overlook. I hope they do damage all over the league, except when we play.

    Like

  7. 1oldpro
    March 6, 2017

    Sometimes, the drag of the Astros makes me want to get out and find something else to do with my precious time. My relationship with this team is five years longer than the relationship with my wife, but our relationship still is exuberant, whereas the relationship I have with the Astros is draining me.
    Then I read something like this and it helps a lot: http://m.astros.mlb.com/news/article/218136346/for-gregerson-wbc-17-a-chance-to-pay-tribute/
    I know that I probably will not see the Astros win a championship, because I have been in love with baseball my whole life and know when something feels right and when it doesn’t. Very little about this team makes me feel confident. There isn’t a baseball feel to this team. It is like a well orchestrated movie that makes you feel great, but after a while you realize it’s just a movie and not real.
    Until they become a baseball orientated team, it’s just going to be year round dress rehearsal. The Astros are like walking down the dusty street of a western movie town. all the buildings look real but you know they are a facade created by designers and carpenters, and not the real old west. To me the Astros are a sleek movie set, crafted by artisans and mathematicians, They sound good and look good, but they’re not the Cubs, and they probably never will be, because they aren’t real cowboys, they are actors made up to look like cowboys. They are run by video game players, made up to look like baseball people, and they are owned by a jerk in a tuxedo.

    Liked by 1 person

    • astrocolt45
      March 6, 2017

      That is a great, great story about the Gregerson family.

      Perk up, 1OP. We have cheered for these teams since 1962 when Lou Brock of the Cubs stepped into the batters box. No reason to give up now. We have cheered for a lot less talent. This may or may not be the year, but it is far better than some of those teams. (And probably not as good as others)

      Liked by 1 person

    • sandy
      March 6, 2017

      Im so afraid you are 100% correct.

      Like

    • daveb7
      March 7, 2017

      You know OP, I understand where you’re coming from. I’m having some trouble getting motivated this season, to date anyway. But I’m hopeful winning 7 of 10 to start my season will get the juices flowing again.

      Back to J.R. Dan. Then we lost Sambito in early 82 and Thon during the first week of 84, neither guy ever to be the same ball player again. Those three guys had a huge impact on those early 80’s clubs. And to this day, I agree on James Rodney. I never heard of a hitter looking forward to digging in against him.

      But OP, back to 2017. We’ve got a bunch of guys that can spark this club. I’m hoping it becomes contagious.

      Like

    • pencil01
      March 8, 2017

      Thanks for sharing that article

      Like

    • roadthriller
      March 8, 2017

      I am also a fan since 1962. Having lived a life full of Astros and Oilers and Texans I know full well disappointment is likely around the corner. But for this team, I am pumped! I think we will see a hitting contagion and I feel good about DK returning to form, Correa breaking out and even Charlie Morton stepping up. Let’s give ’em a chance to earn it!

      Like

  8. Mr. Bill
    March 6, 2017

    The A’s projected line-up, vs. the Astros’ projected players at the same positions,
    goes like this.

    Rajai Davis – OF [Houston counters with George Springer – advantage Astros]
    Stephen Vogt – C [Houston counters with Brian McCann – offensive toss up]
    Ryan Healey – DH [Houston counters with Carlos Beltran – advantage Astros
    Khris Davis – OF – [Houston counters with Josh Reddick – advangate Astros]
    Matt Joyce – OF [Houston counters with Aoki – toss up to advantage A’s]
    Marcus Semien – SS [Houston counters with Carlos Correa – advantage Astros]
    Trevor Plouffe – 3B [Houston counters with Alex Bregman – toss up]
    Yonder Alonso – 1B [Houston counters with Yulieski Gurriel – advantage A’s – look esp. at Alonso’s stats vs. Houston last year – .311/.408/.916 with 12 RBIs]
    Jed Lowrie – 2B [Houston counters with Jose Altuve – advantage Astros, but Lowrie is good against us with .294/.333/.804, 3 HR and 12 RBI]

    As seen above, Houston should have a substantial advantage in offensive performance – but the A’s are definitely not without punch. The real key to this matchup is going to be in the area of pitching. Their rotation projects to be significantly better than ours, but our bullpen projects to be substantially better than theirs. We need to win this series with timely offense – and late heroics, because their starters will probably keep them close – or in front – in nine out of ten ballgames against us. Hopefully, our defense will also be substantially better than theirs, and that plus our bullpen will tip the scales in our favor.

    Like

    • Mr. Bill
      March 6, 2017

      Correction, it is Ryon [not Ryan] Healy, and while I still choose Beltran overall, Healy can and will hit. Last year he slashed .305/.337/.861 overall; he just did not hit well against us [.182/.229/.593 with 11 Ks in only 33 ABs]

      Like

      • Mr. Bill
        March 6, 2017

        I think a little joke, with tongue in cheek, about predicting where cow patties will land carries its own smiley face. Your posts, on the other hand, carry their own swastickas -always have, and apparently always will.

        Like

      • Tim
        March 6, 2017

        Nice reply to yourself.

        It’s funny when you take a jab at someone it’s all in good fun, but when others do it they’re Nazi’s. It sounds to me you were embarrassed that OP proved your statement wrong and didn’t know how to react so you chose the path of least resistance, which was to ridicule his accurate response.

        Liked by 1 person

      • astrocolt45
        March 6, 2017

        MB: If you do have the software (pun intended) to predict the bowel movement of bovines, you can make good money at the Elgin Hogeye festival. And there “splatter matters.”

        Like

      • Gov
        March 6, 2017

        The WAR comment was hilarious, Bill!

        Tim, you’re as ever hopeful Stros are on the right track as all of us – love that!

        Op, some days are diamond some days stone.

        Devin, agreed!
        Too, I trust a Mgr to have a certain amount of patience for lack of effort (jogging out routine GB), but esp in big markets where you have an albatross and a need to blame lossss on something simple for the masses, it usually hangs around the neck of general sloth – something palatable, unsavory. You can see the difference in Max Effort (Pence, Springer).. they have a new defensive metric this year, too. Studies arch of batted ball, speed of player, route – I’m sure you know about it! There’s going to be nowhere to hide anymore as a player Lol

        All these projections, everybody wants to get rock ‘n rollin’!

        I suppose my .02 cents on ST is that you’re looking for flashes of brilliance toward sustained success. It’s hard to judge Tuve, to which you know what he’s capable. At the same time, it’s kind of in the demeanor.

        That certain chip on the shoulder like Devo and Musgrove and Martes? We got some fellas that are really going to breakout this year. The facade you see today works both ways … when we flip the switch!

        Like

      • Tim
        March 6, 2017

        Gov,

        I love that you’re the peacemaker. Sometimes it gets contentious in here, but it helps to have someone direct us back to normality. Thanks, bud.

        Like

    • 1oldpro
      March 6, 2017

      Their pitching does not project to be “significantly better than ours”.
      Fangraphs:
      Astros rotation’s projected WAR is 15.5 and Oakland’s is 12.5.
      Astros bullpen’s projected WAR is 4.2 and Oakland’s is 3.4.
      Projections are not feelings. The numbers are out there.
      The Astros batting WAR projection is 12.7 wins higher than Oakland’s but don’t undersell the pitching projections. Manea, Mengden and Graveman had some success against the Astros, who fielded half of a lineup last season. Projections don’t expect the same results this season.

      Like

      • Mr. Bill
        March 6, 2017

        ‘Projected WAR’? Seriously? That’s what geeks use to project where in the pasture a cow will drop its load, based upon how long ago it was last ate stink-weed, and how many chews it gave the stink-weed. What was Keuchel’s ‘Projected WAR’ last year, I wonder?

        Like

      • 1oldpro
        March 6, 2017

        Bill, your comment was: “Their rotation projects to be significanty better than ours”.
        So I provided projections by Fangraphs that show your statement to not be true.
        If you do not want to use WAR, here is a projection of starting pitchers for all clubs with all the other stat projections included. The Astros staff is rated #8 in this and the Athletics are rated #20. Compare the individual stat projections for Keuchel vs Gray.
        Again, you used the word “projects”. I called you out on that because I have seen nothing that projects their rotation to be as good as ours.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Tim
        March 6, 2017

        Well, Mr. Bill, it is easy to criticize OP’s comment without offering any substantive reasons for stating Oakland’s rotation is ‘substantially better’. So, I ask you, why is Oakland’s rotation ‘substantially better’? Baseball is a sport based upon statistics so if you’re going to refute WAR as a justifiable statistic then please provide some statistics to back up your statement. Otherwise, there is no reason to believe the A’s rotation will be better than the Astros this year.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Tim
        March 6, 2017

        I also find it humorous that you use the failed projection on one pitcher who battled an injury all year as justification that projected WAR is not a viable statistic. There are outliers in every situation and projections are rarely 100% accurate, but they do give you a good idea on what you can expect.

        Like

      • 1oldpro
        March 6, 2017

        I failed to put the link up that has all the projections for different stas. Here are those projections:http://www.fangraphs.com/depthcharts.aspx?position=SP

        Liked by 1 person

      • Tim
        March 6, 2017

        Good info, OP. It is interesting that Fangraphs actually projects Oakland with the worst rotation, per WAR, of any team in the division. I can see this, assuming the Angels starters return to health, but I do like the long-term projection for the A’s starting rotation.

        Like

    • Mr. Bill
      March 6, 2017

      Okay, Tim, here you go.

      Let’s look first at Sonny Gray vs. Dallas Keuchel. Both are coming off bad years – and both had some level of injury to explain it. But:

      Gray’s lifetime ERA and WHIP – 3.42/1.24
      Keuchel’s is 3.78/1.257

      Sean Manea’s rookie year numbers are: 3.86/1.189 – and he’s trending up
      McCullers [our best pitcher] is: 3.22/1.326

      Kendall Graveman’s career numbers are: 4.09/1.349
      Colin McHugh’s career numbers are: 4.13/1.249

      Jharel Cotton’s career numbers are: 2.15/0.818
      Charlie Morton’s are: 4.54/1.441

      Andrew Triggs’ career numbers are: 4.31/1.225
      Mike Fiers’ are: 3.86/1.254

      So, losing the ‘gut feeling’ aspect of things – which is that Gray, who has better stuff, will revert to form and Keuchel will not, and that both Fiers and McHugh will lose ground while Graveman, Cotton and Triggs will at least hold their own], the sheer numbers show that the A’s starting pitching is actually just SOMEWHAT better overall than the Astros. It does indeed take the subjective element [which is what the Fangraphs ‘Projected WAR’ thrives off of] to take the A’s rotation from just SOMEWHAT better [which the stats bear out] to where I ‘project’ them, which is ‘SIGNIFICANTLY BETTER’.

      Of course, this is all just a crap shoot. We won’t know til they get on the field in real games and face off. But last time I looked, this was a blog, and everyone was welcome to express an opinion. I guess that only applies, however, if the opinion agrees with the blog nazis. So be it. I don’t like nazis much, so I don’t cowtow to them.

      Like

      • Tim
        March 6, 2017

        I’m not the Nazi who referred to OPs post as “what geeks use.” He called you out on your erroneous post and you took offense to it.

        The projections, which is what you stated in your post, show the Astros to have the better rotation in 2017. It’s fine to be wrong, but try to take it in stride when you are. The A’s rotation is young and long on potential, but it’s not projected to be substantially better than the Astros. I doubt you’ll find any projections that say otherwise.

        Like

  9. Becky⚾
    March 6, 2017

    Sean Manea
    Kendall Graveman
    Daniel Mengden (remember him?)
    Sonny Gray
    These guys had our number last year….don’t ever count these guys out, EVER.

    Like

    • Mr. Bill
      March 6, 2017

      Add in Jharel Cotton, too. If Sonny Gray is healthy, they are one of the best rotations – especially as they match up against us – in either league.

      Like

  10. Mr. Bill
    March 6, 2017

    Can our rotation be good enough to win the division? That’s a tough one. To a man, they have to do three things: 1. They have to start getting ahead early in the count [which they do not do well]; 2. They have to start missing bats with two strikes [which, with the exception of McCullers, they do not seem to be capable of doing consistently at all]; and 3. They have to stay calm, and keep from irritating and drawing retaliation from the league’s extremely vindictive and punishing set of umps. I hope that McCann will be better at calming down his pitchers – especially Keuchel, McCullers, and Fiers – than Castro or Gattis was last year. One of Keuchel’s biggest problems is his attitude. Umpires do not appreciate his arrogant, argumentative approach, and last year they made him pay dearly. If he’s going to be any better this year than he was last, he’ll have to calm down and pitch with his arm instead of his heavily bearded lip. Can McCann get that through to him? We will see.

    Like

  11. Kevin
    March 6, 2017

    Ill leave this Oak vs Astro pitching debate to you smart folks. Astros have gotten 2 of Sale, Kemp base hit against a tough lefty now batting .462, and Devo has struck out 5 in 2 inning wahoo.

    Like

    • Kevin
      March 6, 2017

      Dang with 2 outs in the 3rd I jinxed Devo )({&(&(&

      Like

  12. Tim
    March 6, 2017

    Another tie for our West Palm Beach Nine. Hey, that is 2 straight games without a loss. Should we start printing World Series tickets now?

    Like

    • Tim
      March 6, 2017

      If you haven’t read this article I encourage you to do so. If Charlie Morton can remain relatively healthy he could be a real gem in the Astros rotation.

      Like

      • Dan P
        March 7, 2017

        It is weird – how does a guy suddenly pick up velocity at this late an age? (OK – I need to re-watch Dennis Quaid in the Rookie). Did he change the way he uses his legs in his delivery – just odd in these days when they are tested for those things that could help you gain a couple miles on the fastball….

        Like

      • Tim
        March 7, 2017

        This article back in November touches on it. He is throwing his 2-seamer more frequently and his sinker a bit less.

        http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/allow-me-to-sell-you-on-charlie-morton/

        Like

      • Steven
        March 7, 2017

        My guess is he entered a prime time age wise without heavy use due to other injuries, most of which were not arm related. Put that together with today’s understandings and rehab processes, and I can see how a guy gains a tick or two. He also changed grips on his fastball.

        I stay away from being too optimistic, I mean if our hope of improvement lies in the arm of Charlie Morton, we should be prepared to be disappointed. Admittingly though, those of us expecting disappointment could be pleasantly surprised.

        Ah, the wonders of baseball.

        Like

      • Tim
        March 7, 2017

        I guess it’s better than hoping our improvement lies in the arm of Doug Fister.

        Like

  13. John Marshall
    March 6, 2017

    Chip, the Athletics are going into their 50th year in Oakland; they began there in 1968. (1968-2017 = 50 years inclusive) A minor point, but a point nonetheless.

    Like

    • Tim
      March 6, 2017

      Hey, I recognize that link. 🙂

      Like

      • 1oldpro
        March 6, 2017

        I was definitely not paying attention.

        Liked by 1 person

  14. Gov
    March 7, 2017

    https://www.google.com/amp/www.crawfishboxes.com/platform/amp/2017/3/6/14830718/tcb-2017-top-30-astros-prospects-list

    I’ve appreciated this guy’s research before … nice to see some validation more inclined to how I’d rank these prospects (on top end). But again what is so frightening for the rest of the league is the sheer depth. Just like last season when 11 prospects contributed, as you can see the blistering pace Whitley and F Perez are on – this list is still missing the likes of Tyson Perez, and has Guduan (29) Gustave (19). It’s almost overwhelming what’s in the cupboard.

    The A’s window is a few yrs – we’ll be ready for them then, too.

    ___________

    Have to give props to AC45 for the Elgin Hogeye Splatter Matters mention! Very PC of you to include those good folks, lest they take to the streets wielding ham hocks [consider their signage].

    __________

    Anyway, I’m glad Mr. Bill doesn’t rely so heavily on past numbers as gospel. Last season, many such comments about Rasmus Valbuena Gomez coming back to their career numbers simply didn’t follow.

    It’s really brought me back to the post that asked, “what’s your fave stat?” I’ve been thinking lots about this, and offensively I’m looking for a guy who slugs vs better pitchers, in games where we’re behind, and weighted toward later innings. I’m looking for clutch.

    One night yrs ago, I was watching a game with my dad, Bonds came to the plate and they flashed this stat.

    “In Bonds’ last 17 AB’s he hit 11 HR’s after the 7th inning”. It just doesn’t translate to what you’re seeing if you lump a guy in with Batting Average, or some of the limiting stats we often choose to make our point. That’s where I think the “arguments for/against” begin, because of the limitation of stats.

    Like

    • 1oldpro
      March 7, 2017

      How is it that Framber Valdez isn’t in their top 50?

      Like

      • Gov
        March 7, 2017

        Good point, Op. I only saw Framber once this Spring so aside from pitching to contact and not seeing a lot of sharp late movement, it’ll be interesting to see him ascend.

        We have another lefty to which all eyes are affixed.

        https://mobile.twitter.com/astros/status/839129491096145932?ref_src=twsrc%5Egoogle%7Ctwcamp%5Eserp%7Ctwgr%5Etweet

        Like

      • 1oldpro
        March 7, 2017

        Valdez has been the biggest surprise of the Astros camp this spring.
        The things people forget about Keuchel is that he is the best fielding pitchers in the AL and is always in the top three in allowing the least steals against in the majors. Yordano Ventura was the the best in that category and he was so good, but his passing means Dallas may now be the best at holding runners. Neither of those two traits figures into pitching stats, but they certainly figure into how good a pitcher is.

        Like

      • Gov
        March 7, 2017

        Kind of helps when those come-backers are nubbers, too, which Keuchel is adept at inducing. His economy in 2015 was so evident, and a return to form for he & Lance is going to silence a lot of this preseason speculation.

        It probably helps to have had those early April issues last season, so we’ll be cognizant of what went wrong. After Cards’ Alex Reyes went down, that was another wake up call (perhaps?) to ease into this season. Pitching depth is King.

        I’ve been moving furniture all week, and haven’t had much time to chew on Spring stats.

        I know our relief pitching is stacked, think we’re all waiting for the hitters (ahem! McCann) to pull their end. Meantime, enjoy some WBC!

        Bregman said he was going to try and pick the brains of those All Stars, soak in their preparation and hopefully he & Luke will have a chance to represent us all well!

        The two guys I’m pleased to see doing well: Kemp / Gustave

        Like

  15. Gov
    March 7, 2017

    https://www.google.com/amp/s/amp.mlb.com/217811816-better-fantasy-value-astros-or-rangers.amp.html

    Here’s a good starting point for the stRangers, but I think this one could draw more debate than usual. So much of this one surrounds whether someone is 100% healthy, and considering last season’s numbers. Most everyone agrees our Star is on the rise, while there’s is somewhat setting …

    After spending some time in Denton last year, I can tell you there are a lot of Rangers fans who rooted for us when their team wasn’t playing. As much as we vilify them, Hinch and Banny Rooster are friends, the Ryan connection, and players on the field seem to get along. We need to bury the hatchet and brandish the bats as priority #1

    Like

  16. Dan P
    March 7, 2017

    Want to remind everyone to keep Becky in your prayers. I think she said she will be having surgery tomorrow and we want that to go perfectly well. I’m praying for you on the bus in everyday Becky!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Diane
      March 7, 2017

      Thanks, Dan. I was going to say something if no one else did.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Gov
        March 7, 2017

        I believe she said the 8th, but anytime is fine😉

        I’m having surgery March 8th, couldn’t plead my case against it. They are going to open me up, and see if they can find what’s causing me so much pain. I’ve been reading your post, even though I haven’t commented, I’m still here. I don’t care if it IS spring training……I like to win!! Becky⚾

        Liked by 1 person

      • Dan P
        March 7, 2017

        Gov tomorrow is the 8th

        Like

      • astrocolt45
        March 7, 2017

        We can lift each up with prayer. And hope to see Becky banging away on the keyboard soon.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Kevin
      March 7, 2017

      Ty for that reminder

      Liked by 1 person

    • Tim
      March 7, 2017

      I will definitely lift Becky up in prayer. She is a real asset to this blog and a strong woman. I have confidence she will pull through like the true warrior she is.

      Liked by 1 person

  17. Gov
    March 7, 2017

    I hope they get out what’s causing pain for Becky tomorrow, too! Thanks, Dan.

    Happy Birthday, JR Richard!
    https://mobile.twitter.com/astros/status/839143714886991877?ref_src=twsrc%5Egoogle%7Ctwcamp%5Eserp%7Ctwgr%5Etweet

    Like

    • Dan P
      March 7, 2017

      There is no doubt in my mind that if that man had not suffered the stroke we would have won it all in 1980 and maybe beyond. His slider was faster than most guys fastballs – so dominating.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Tim
        March 7, 2017

        I still think, to this day, that James Rodney was the best pitcher in Astros history. His career was short lived, but before the stroke he was the most dominating pitcher in baseball, even more than Nolan Ryan. It’s a shame his career was cut short.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Gov
        March 7, 2017

        He threw so hard that it likely caused his stroke – an overdeveloped shoulder causing a blockage of his arteries in right arm, according to his doctors.

        I was watching an ESPN show last night about a startup company catering to baseball by offering real time medical monitoring, while athletes are in the game. It verges on medical privacy/who has a right to see what, but offers the ability to diagnose physical issues immediately. As you read JR’s case, he still wonders why they couldn’t have seen a stroke coming..

        Like

      • astrocolt45
        March 7, 2017

        When you think about the medical advancements, you have to think how sad for pitchers like JR, but also old timers like Dizzy Dean or my favorite because I saw him in the Texas League – Karl Spooner. Perhaps even Sandy Koufax. It is wonderful that we can extend the careers and even lives of the players today and even ordinary folks like us.

        Liked by 1 person

      • roadthriller
        March 8, 2017

        Nastiest righty I ever saw: JR Richard in his prime.
        Nastiest lefty = Koufax.

        Like

  18. Gov
    March 7, 2017

    Got yourself a pretty awesome blog here Chip ‘n Dan when astrocolt45 is talkin’ about Karl Spooner! That is a relic of knowledge ya don’t just find laying around, whereas it’s a wonder itself to have you all around!! And telling Astros stories.

    I sorely wish we could requisition the club, or commandeer it ourselves to have a Chipalatta Night at the Park?

    We should at least set a goal, and say that if we lead the division on May 1, we’ll start planning an event?

    Liked by 4 people

    • Tim
      March 8, 2017

      I like this idea, Gov. I have already had the pleasure of meeting the lovely Becky and the lovely Sandy. It would be nice to put faces to names. I will be at opening night and I will be at the game on April 19th against the Angels (I conveniently scheduled my insurance license update in Houston around an Astros game). I am always open to attending another game. I would probably bring my 2 boys, but if it is in May it will probably have to be on a weekend. Once school is out we could do a weeknight game.

      Like

  19. Tim
    March 8, 2017

    Here is a great story in the N.Y. Times about Yuli Gurriel.

    Like

    • Gov
      March 8, 2017

      4 yrs ago with Cuba’s ‘relaxed’ travel laws, Jose Contraras was the first to be able to go back home to see his family. That news probably heartened Yuli and his brother back then.

      I also get a sense that Luhnow’s experience scouting the Latin players gives us an edge long-term.

      ____________

      Last night I listened to Julia Morales Talkin Stros, and she commented how loose everyone is. Spring is the only time to get these comical sides out of them. With Beltran though, he’s all business.

      She said she saw Beltran with 4 chairs all circled around him and it was like he was “preaching a sermon to Altuve Correa Marwin about hitting, or Life.”

      But the two guys who came in ready to go since the last day of last season – “they knew what they had to do to make this team” – were Musgrove and Devenski.

      She said we’re probably opting for 13 pitchers and two lefties (Guduan), citing a M’s lefty lineup, and that it will take a monster Spring for Reed. Reed’s trainer said they planned on a June call up and that was if he’s still mashing. So, there’s your roster answer..

      I’m so pumped Musgrove is going to make this rotation!

      Liked by 2 people

  20. Diane
    March 8, 2017

    Becky, I know you are “elsewhere” at this moment, but I thought about you every time I woke up last night (which was a lot) and now again this morning. Wish I had thought to ask you to ask your husband to post here after surgery. Anyway, that’s where my head, or heart, is. ♥

    Liked by 3 people

    • sandy
      March 8, 2017

      Me too Diane, I thought the same thing about someone in her family letting us know how it goes. Wish I had asked her last week.

      Becky, our thoughts and prayers are with you today. We’ll be waiting for an update as soon as you are able?

      Liked by 3 people

  21. 1oldpro
    March 8, 2017

    If Gov is right, then Jake, Kemp, Tucker and Teoscar are fighting for one position, Stassi has to pass through waivers to stay with the Astros, and White and Reed would have to beat out Marwin. which isn’t going to happen.
    If Gov and Julia are right, that’s the reason Framber was brought to the major leaguie camp, along with Tolliver, Reif, and Chapman. We’re gonna need an extra lefty to face the lefty lineup of the Mariners seven times in the first ten games. If Chapman and Peacock don’t pick it up, they’ll be cut.

    Like

    • Tim
      March 8, 2017

      Many may disagree, but I’m betting Jake gets the 25th roster spot. He is comfortable being a bench player and his exceptional defense and baserunning is still an asset. We are all well aware of his offensive ineptitude, but he does provide value in other areas and he will probably only start about once/week. I can live with this since he can be subbed in to replace Beltran or MarGo late in the game with a lead if they start in LF.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Gov
      March 8, 2017

      Shame we didn’t package Peacock and Stassi, although Max has shown me a thing or two – they’ll both get picked up..

      I don’t think Peacock is another Straily, but it wouldn’t shock me if he lands on his feet.

      We’d be wise to watch the wire ourselves from teams who are just as loaded (Atl, NYY, LAD, Cubs).

      Like

  22. Gov
    March 8, 2017
  23. The Amazin' Billy C
    March 8, 2017

    Wait…were there roster moves done? I can’t find any info, and the Chron twitter feed seems to be talking more about Tony Romo than baseball.

    Like

    • The Amazin' Billy C
      March 8, 2017

      Weird…it says my comment is “awaiting moderation”…?

      Like

      • astrocolt45
        March 8, 2017

        BC, that is universal for you anywhere. The entire world knows to moderate anything you say. 👍

        Like

    • The Amazin' Billy C
      March 8, 2017

      lol

      Like

    • Devin
      March 8, 2017

      I don’t think Tony Romo can fix our rotation.

      Like

  24. Dan P
    March 8, 2017

    Over in Florida – Morton salted away 3 hitless innings against the Mets…. see what I did there? Good game for the good guys so far with Gurriel leading the offense, And if JFSF could just hit this well – I would hand him LF and not look back.

    Like

    • sandy
      March 8, 2017

      All I got to say about this game is “Tony Sipp”

      Like

  25. Gov
    March 8, 2017

    Teoscar hits a 24 degree bullet!

    https://mobile.twitter.com/DingerTracker

    Like

  26. Mr. Bill
    March 8, 2017

    Excellent effort all around today. Timely hitting. Power. Good pitching. Getting called third strikes and missing bats. McCann getting off the scheid. Gurriel driving in runs. Now, if we can just get a good report concerning Becky, we can rejoice for certain!

    Liked by 1 person

  27. Steven
    March 8, 2017

    Interesting that the Vegas lines dropped this week for win totals – and the over/under on the ‘Stros was 87.5, putting them far behind the Red Sox and Indians, and definitely not in “confidently favorite” territory for a division crown – though they are favored.

    I think they have the most potential of any franchise to both over perform that number and under perform that number, because to me this teams season is going to depend on three guys – Can Keuchel get his ERA back to at least under 4, can McCullers make 25+ starts, and is Morton the guy with his career numbers or a breakout candidate? To me our only breakout candidate is another M, Musgrove – but does he get a shot to do it, or is Fiers that number 5?

    No matter how good you think your offense is, they can’t bash everyone into submission. Even if you have 9 guys that don’t provide easy outs you still have major league pitchers that are going to navigate our lineup to at least decent lines, and if our starters are not responding with at least quality starts themselves it will be a long, disappointing campaign. Our offense gives us potential to win more games, but the rotation will decide if we win those games or not – and Vegas doesn’t seem to think we are terribly much better off then last year.

    And if you are in love with statistical projections, I am too, just keep in mind Vegas does this every year and they have been closer in their wins projections than Fangraphs or Steamer.

    Like

    • Tim
      March 8, 2017

      Was the opening line set at 87.5 or was it bet down to 87.5? The site I use opened with the Astros at 90.5 wins (this is over/under for betting purposes for those that don’t understand). and as of today it is still 90.5.

      Like

      • Steven
        March 8, 2017

        Pretty sure it was bet down to that.

        Like

      • Steven
        March 8, 2017

        Take that back, I think it was the opening. At least that’s the way SI reported it.

        Like

    • Dan P
      March 8, 2017

      Well so far I am buying into Morton and his increased velocity and super spin rate. I believe that Keuchel will end up somewhere between 2015 and 2016 – let’s say he gets 3.5 ERA. Musgrove will bump out Fiers. LMJ will make 27 starts. McHugh’s soreness will go away.
      Excuse me while I go get a glass of this fine Koolaid that the Astros sent over to me….

      Liked by 1 person

  28. Steven
    March 8, 2017

    Here you go Tim – I am not into betting myself, except betting if my garage door wants to open in -30 today or not (yes it is literally -30 in Fairbanks this morning). This article has their vegas line at 87.5. Personally I think they outperform it because I believe in my heart of hearts that McCullers will make 26-28 starts and Musgrove will spend the second half making us wish we opened the season with that guy in the rotation – but I don’t expect DK to bounce back, at least to Cy Young contention. I’ll be happy with him if he wins more than he loses and keeps the Astros within winning range in 80% + of his starts. I think Morton’s success or lack thereof will put us in comfort zone or having Seattle breathing down our necks all year zone.

    http://www.si.com/mlb/2017/03/06/mlb-over-under-team-wins

    Like

    • Dan P
      March 8, 2017

      For whatever it is worth – among the teams that had a winning record in 2016, only the Mets are predicted to have as much as the Astros 3.5 game increase in performance.

      Like

  29. The Amazin' Billy C
    March 8, 2017

    Last 3 years I predicted the Astros to be at 72, 85, and 87 wins , so I’ve been pretty darn close each season. This year? 91-71. Take it to the bank.

    Morton’s the real deal, too. Just watch.

    Like

  30. 1oldpro
    March 8, 2017

    So far, not even paying attention to records or results, the pitchers and hitters we will be depending on are healthy and performing decently. Sipp and Devenski are struggling but Devenski could be pressing because he is trying to start and not relieving, and Sipp is trying to rework his delivery and arm angles and that is not easy.
    Aoki showed well, Gurriel looks good and Jake has looked good.
    Keuchel and LMJ have been babied, but that appears to be working. So now we start pitching them into form and baby the heck out of McHugh until he’s ready.
    Spring training health is going well so far.

    Like

  31. Gov
    March 8, 2017

    Best news of the day: Harris did fine! Would’ve been a real kick in the groin if he’d come up lame.

    As it is, Sipp is going to take someone like Gustave’s spot. Not happy about that!

    Like

  32. Billy C
    March 8, 2017

    test

    Like

  33. Gov
    March 8, 2017

    Nothing wrong with the arm, or glove here, Devin.

    https://mobile.twitter.com/astros/status/839668635442503680/video/1

    Like

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