World Baseball Classic: plus or minus for the Astros?


It seems strange to have an Astros team make it this far into spring training and have so little feel for how it will perform as a whole, especially on the offensive side. That is totally because of the local team’s “donations” to the World Baseball Classic currently occurring at locations around the globe. SS Carlos Correa and DH Carlos Beltran have helped lead a Puerto Rican club that will be moving to the next round of the WBC. Similarly, LF Nori Aoki is riding onward with the undefeated Japanese team. 2B Jose Altuve should be back in camp and the lineup soon as Venezuela has been eliminated, and USA team players, 3B Alex Bregman and RP Luke Gregerson will be moving to the next round as a result of their win Saturday against the Dominican Republic.

So basically 5 of the 9 position players expected to start most of the Astros’ games in the field are not in camp and will have missed varying lengths of times with their teammates. For two of those players this is a brand new team that they will be joining. There are probably folks experiencing angst over their absence. But in the end….what does it matter?

Baseball, unlike the other major sports in the US, is more of an individual sport. Perhaps if C Brian McCann was on the US team and losing out on opportunities to learn his pitcher’s strengths, weaknesses and locations, there would be cause for some concern.

Here are quick thoughts on each of the players:

  • Biggest concern that is not that big – Bregman. He has the least amount of time in the majors by far of the six Astros involved in the Classic and he is not getting many ABs. The fact he could come off the bench for his one start and his only ABs and get two solid singles and one walk in four plate appearances show that maybe playing everyday in the spring is  not that necessary.
  • Small concern for a new Astro – Aoki – Let’s face it the biggest concern here is that veterans Aoki and George Springer figure out how to not bang into each other in the OF. Big whoop.
  • Small concern for Astro working with a new Astro – Gregerson is not getting to work with his new main battery mate, McCann. These guys are both grizzled veterans. It should take them a few outings to get in synch. Maybe they had it figured out before Luke headed to the Classic in the first place.
  • No concern – Beltran – He’s the almost 40 year old designated hitter and very part time outfielder. There is nothing he hasn’t seen. His biggest concern is figuring out where he will sit in the dugout. On second thought, the senior member of the team gets to sit wherever he wants.
  • This is a positive – Correa and Altuve – These two guys do not need to waste time learning about each other in spring training. The truth is that they are getting critical at bats for their homelands in place of the mindless, who cares, at bats they would normally have during the spring.

So where do you stand, if you care at all, about the Astros participation in the WBC (no – not the World Boxing Council)?

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178 comments on “World Baseball Classic: plus or minus for the Astros?

  1. Sitting here listening to John Denver’s Sunshine and wondering:
    Why in the world would anyone think the cash strapped Astros would spend a lot of money early on Charlie Morton, if they didn’t think he could make the rotation?
    Why would anyone doubt Jake Marisnick would not be the fourth outfielder on this team?
    How Stassi could have stayed on the 40-man roster if McCann and Gattis were healthy. It wasn’t going to happen.
    How much effect the WBC will have on the Astros players who played in it? Are they more mature after the experience? The stage was big last night.
    Does Reddick look as good in RF as he looked in LF the other day?
    Did Gurriel’s 3 run blast to RCF answer some questions about his bat?

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    • *Why in the world would anyone think the cash strapped Astros would spend a lot of money early on Charlie Morton, if they didn’t think he could make the rotation?*

      I have no answer for that specific musing, of course. But I personally suspect that at the time they made this acquisition they probably planned to have a new ace in the stable by now, to have dealt either McHugh or Musgrove along with A.J. Reid, K. Tuck, and maybe another lesser known prospect for that new ace, and to be aggressively shopping Mike Fiers for a reliable lefty reliever and a lower level 1B prospect to replace Reid.

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    • *Why would anyone doubt Jake Marisnick would not be the fourth outfielder on this team?*

      Double negative noted and nod of respect granted.

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    • *How Stassi could have stayed on the 40-man roster if McCann and Gattis were healthy. It wasn’t going to happen.*

      Gattis is hitting all of .216 with an OPS of .561 this spring. That stinks, but it was significantly better than what Stassi offered with .150 BA and .500 OPS. Neither is encouraging. So glad we at least have McCann. But it just reinforces my desire to NEVER see Evan Gattis slotted in at DH or above 8th in this year’s improved line-up ever again.

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      • Adam Jones hit 200 in the classic but should’ve been MVP for his clutchness. Gattis has been limited w shoulder, but the quality of his AB’s has me relieved. 6 SO in 39 AB’s, I’ll take that all day out of Evan.

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      • I’d have to read up on the rules, but Stassi was going to have to pass through waivers to go to Fresno being out of options, so Luhnow probably figured it was as good a time as any to free a 40 man spot at the same time. It doesn’t fix anything, though, as we still need a C to be available for callup should one of McCann or Gattis need to go on the DL at some point…but unless they give the 40 man spot to a player of another position they can cross that bridge later on.

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    • *How much effect the WBC will have on the Astros players who played in it? Are they more mature after the experience? *

      I suspect the memories will be cherished by the individuals involved, but that the Astros will probably be significantly less of a cohesive unit/team – at least for the first couple of months of the season. I figure by mid-May Odor, Bannister, Bush, and one or more of the other Rangers will shoot their mouth off and/or do something stupid and insulting toward Altuve, Keuchel, or Springer that will re-kindle the Astros team loyalties and put the hype and nationalism and soccer-game like atmosphere of the WBC into the ‘distant memory’ realm where it now belongs.

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  2. *Does Reddick look as good in RF as he looked in LF the other day?*

    I don’t know, but on offense why does he suddenly look a whole lot like Jake Marisnick?

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    • I don’t think we lose a whole lot defensively with a polished Reddick, or Aoki in the field.
      ______________

      Any more hope than getting our core back healthy is just plain greedy after Alex Reyes or Ian Desmond’s Spring. I saw a couple of guys get dinged up in WBC, so just chalk up the time away from ‘gelling Astros’ to ‘seeing what the next wave can do.’ With that, we witnessed Reed Moran and Fisher get valueable reps.

      Being able to compete with these respective All-Star teams is probably better for Beltran/Correa/Altuve than hitting v prospects anyway. When things really start to count again, you’ll see the cream rise!

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  3. * Did Gurriel’s 3 run blast to RCF answer some questions about his bat? *

    The last several days have certainly made me feel better. His saavy plate approach and hitter’s instincts are beginning to show. Now if he can just stay healthy and motivated over the course of the season.

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  4. *Sitting here listening to John Denver’s Sunshine *

    Sunshine . . . on my Astros . . . makes me giddy.
    Sunshine . . . on spring stats . . . can make me cry.
    Sunshine . . . on the Rangers . . . looks so ugly
    May sunshine . . . give them heat stroke . . . come July!

    Liked by 2 people

    • * NOTICE TO THE PUBLIC: No actual Texas Rangers were harmed in any way in connection with the writing or publication of this jingle. So please do not call animal rights activists! *

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I really like what I’ve seen of Morton this spring. If he carries this over to the regular season, Luhnow’s going to look mighty savvy for this signing.

    I am a bit concerned about Reddick though.

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    • Angels with broken wings: Luis Valbuena pulled that troublesome hammy again. He will be out an estimated 4-6 weeks – so he will miss at least the first month of the season. That means earliest he could play against us, if rehab goes well, is May 5.

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      • Davis has a cannon, too. I always thought he was a candidate to pitch, but the glove plays *pretty well. Saying all along that J. D. is blocked, these showcase opportunities help his trade value. Unfortunately, 3B is at a premium in our league. To his credit, in one year’s time he (and Bregman moving Yuli) forced White and Moran to find new secondary positions.

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      • Okay, so what other possible animal characters do we have?

        Altuve – Koala [“I hate Rougned!”]

        Correa – Simba [I just can’t wait to be king]

        Aoki – the Crouching Tiger

        Springer – Tigger [woo-hoo!]

        Marisnick – Tarzan [it’s all about the hair – not the loin cloth!]

        Beltran – Raksha, the Leader of the Wolf Pack [wise, kind, and fierce at the same time]

        Gurriel – Bageera the Panther [Puma lite?]

        Keuchel – Wild Goat [the beard, you know]

        Gregerson – Eagle

        Others?

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  6. https://mobile.twitter.com/jakemkaplan/status/845255250743365632/photo/1

    What a gem! Gregerson and the eagle. Must say that pride in this country has been sadly lacking for many years (overall), but beside some dastardly war to get behind, baseball has been a great way to bring us all together. The ovation from the Cardinal fans in ’05, like the congrats from Team Puerto Rico. Let’s just settle our differences on the diamond with respect.

    _________

    Those who predicted Keuchel as OD starter get the nod. With Morton on the bump v Syndergaard today – Let’s get it on!!

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      • How many teams have more than one possible ace, Dave? Count them on one hand. I’d have no problem starting our top four starters on opening day Morton Musgrove McCullers or Keuchel, but our concern varies. It’s a lot less important until post season anyway..

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    • Yes – I am first in line. I don’t believe for a second our coaching staff has done anything to pump out big arms or even foster their growth.

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      • Morton apparently fixed a flaw in his delivery with Pittsburgh and intentionally started throwing some pitches harder if I recall. On Perez, I couldn’t tell you much other than that offseason workout regimens and nutrition are usually not controlled by the teams.

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  7. Rodon is going to start the season on the DL. Unless the White Sox get a few game ready starters for Quintana, it’s looking like that trade is dead for awhile!

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  8. Derek Fisher is going to command somebody’s attention. He’s got mine. I’ll bet Jake is looking at him pretty carefully right now too.

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  9. Morton’s line today: 4.1 IPs, 3 hits, 0 runs, 4 Ks, 2 BBs. I am getting more and more excited about this signing. We just need him to stay healthy and he may end up being the best signing of the off-season, which is saying a lot.

    Liked by 1 person

      • I believe it was simply pitch count. I was watching the game on MLB.tv and there was no mention of any injury. I should also note he had a 7:1 GO/AO today.

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      • I saw the replay of his strikeouts – I am lovin’ the late, quick movement on everything he’s throwing.

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  10. Kinda getting discouraged with the lesser enthusiasm here. Look at the lineup we mowed down yesterday! From Gustave Diaz to Reif (who took top lefty from Guduan and possibly Tolliver). Morton Fiers Musgrove McQ if not for money whose your number 3?

    Musgrove. Are you kidding?!
    He’s money.

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    • I don’t understand the lack of enthusiasm for Musgrove. In many, recent seasons he might slot in as Houston’s #1. His numbers, in small sample, approach Quintana’s (except ERA) and he hasn’t reached his ceiling.

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      • I love the kid!! He’s gonna be a part of this rotation for a long time. His mantra is: “I ain’t afraid of nothing”! He’s an exciting young pitcher!

        Liked by 1 person

    • I’m optimistic. We’re going to hit the ball. We’ve got a pen. Keuchel and LMJ are healthy today. Musgrove is doing what I had hoped for. Salty is doing far more than I had hoped for. I will be extremely let down if this club does not win the division. But Spring Training ultimately does not tell us a whole lot. Almost time to play real baseball. Then our conversations will not be largely conjecture.

      Liked by 1 person

      • The sermon at 2nd Baptist billboard promises Ed Young will discuss, “Scientific Faith”.

        What most of us here do when explaining what we see is use numbers/stats to back things up. But unless you actually watch & know those crucial situations; a xbasehit is needed, or a walk to get the best hitter a chance, or a defensive play looks the same in box score as any other but vital to a Win.

        Those players are special, like Billy Spiers or Billy Wagner. Guys who are nails, despite lackluster numbers.

        On Musgrove’s ERA, didn’t he have one rough outing! And Hinch might have saved him HUGE EXPECTATIONS by letting him get a Lil roughed up. He’s shown the determination working out with Devo and Hoyt in San Diego over the break. They’re all beasts in the weight room!

        I’m so psyched! Lance on TV and Beltran/Correa/Bregman ready to roll. WOOHOOO!!!!!!⚾️

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      • I did not mean Wagner had lackluster numbers ha!

        Nolan Ryan btw said he thinks Wagner threw harder than anyone he ever saw.

        Billy Wagner Hall of Famer sounds good, and Lance Bergman!

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  11. I’m actually getting to see them play today – I have seen only a handful of innings this spring.
    – LMJ looking good but still not keeping the pitch count down.
    – Nice line drive on a breaking ball by Reddick.
    – Next post will get into the rotation a bit

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Saw the video of McCullers after his start today……doesn’t sound like he’s too worried about his outing today. The kid gets himself in trouble in the first 2-3 innings just like last year.
    Saw where Rasmus is still not healed after his surgeries last year, and will probab,Y start the season on DL. I’m gonna miss that” strange brew” this year!

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    • There might be a little too much Nolan Ryan in him – that mindset that he’s not going to give in and is going to force it past the hitter. I hope being on the bench with Keuchel during the other guy’s starts will help LMJ learn how to effectively pitch to contact when possible to keep his pitch count down. You have to like his confidence though.

      Like

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