For the Astros and you, it’s a twofer Tuesday

On a red hot Tuesday in the city of the tottering Astros who still lead their division, league and all of the majors with their record….here are two subjects for discussion and disagreement.

1) The Four Dwarfs

The Astros are off to a great start to the season, even with their recent stumbles and injuries. Thetros even with injury problems are not likely to blow their lead by their performance only. One of the four dwarfs trailing them will have to play better than they have to date. If the first two and a half months are any signal of future performance, it is tough to guess which of the teams in the AL West have improvement in their gut.

W. Dallas Rangers – 34-34 (11 GB)

331 Runs (5th in AL), 93 HR (7th), .243 BA(13th), .315 OBP (11th), .732 OPS(12th)

Starters – 4.17 ERA (5th), 1.34 WHIP (T – 7th);   Relievers – 4.68 ERA (12th), 1.43 WHIP (14th),11 out of 23 saves

The Rangers started the season in a 13-20 rut and then rode a 10 game winning streak to be three games over .500. That is their high point for the season as they’ve bumped along going 11-14 since and are currently sitting at an even-steven 34-34 and 11 games behind the Astros heading into Monday night. Like the Astros they have been struggling with pitcher injuries with Cole Hamels, Andrew Cashner, A.J. Griffin and Jake Diekman currently on the DL. Their 2016 one run luck has run aground as their 4-10 record in one run games shows. Their offensive stats such as OBP and OPS would not seem to support being 5th in runs scored. Their starters are good, their relievers are bad.

Prognosis – It is going to be tough to sustain long runs in chasing the Astros without a consistent bullpen.

LA Angels of Anastasia – 36-37 (11.5 GB)

309 R (12th), 79 HR (12th), .242 BA (13th), .310 OBP (10th), .701 OPS (15th)

Starters – 4.37 ERA (6th), 1.32 WHIP (6th);  Relievers – 3.56 (4th), 1.18 (T4th), 16 out of 26 saves

The Angels came into the season with two potential starting pitchers (Nick Tropeano and Andrew Heaney) out for the season after TJ surgery. Garrett Richards their potentially best pitcher has missed most of the season with a long term injury and Matt Shoemaker is currently on the DL. Oh and Mike Trout one of the best players on the planet has missed and will continue to miss time with a torn thumb ligament. They have been the most consistent team in the AL West – consistently blah as they have never been more than 4 games under .500 (7-11) or more than 4 games over .500 (6-2). They were not a good offensive team even with Trout and that is holding them back overall.

Prognosis – This is the team to fear overall. If they get Trout back as solid as before and perhaps trade for another offensive piece or two – they are the scariest team behind the Astros.

Seattle Ancient Mariners – 34-37 (12.5 GB)

338 R (4th), 73 HR (14th), .264 BA (4th), .334 OBP (4th), .744 OPS (9th)

Starters – 4.95 ERA (14th), 1.41 WHIP (12th);  Relievers – 4.48 ERA (10th), 1.27 WHIP (8th), 12 out of 23 saves

Seattle’s season has been one of falling below .500 on road trips and then struggling to get close to .500 with good home play. Their low point on the year was 21-29 after 50 games and their high point was 31-31 before clunking along to their current 34-37 record. They had bad long term injuries early with SP Drew Smyly and SS Jean Segura and have seen two other starters King Feliz Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma spend some time on the DL (though both are returning for the Astros series). They are a good offensive club, but their SPs have been their biggest sore spot, while their bullpen is mediocre.

Prognosis – Getting Hernandez and Iwakuma off the DL might give them a shot at a run, but they were pretty middle of the road with them to begin with.

Oakland F’s – 31-38 (14.5 GB)

298 R (13th), 98 HR (5th), .242 BA (13th), .310 OBP (14th), .741 OPS (10th)

Starters – 4.72 ERA (12th), 1.34 WHIP (T – 7th); Relievers – 4.95 ERA (14th), 1.38 (10th), 15 out of 26 saves

The A’s are a good team at home (22-13) and awful on the road (9-25). They have less injuries than the other teams in the division with Kendall Graveman and Marcus Semien the most significant at this point. They are poor at scoring runs and poor at preventing runs. But they do have a GM who was played by Brad Pitt in a movie. That has to count for something.

Prognosis – Hard to see Oakland as anything but the least likely team to challenge the Astros

Do you fear anyone from the Astros’ division?

2) Trading Partners

From the Department of Obvious Observations …. it takes two to make a trade. So, right now what does that look like for the Astros?

The American League has so much parity below the top few teams that it is tough to pick out a team that is ready to throw in the towel. The Tampa Bay Rays and Chris Archer? Currently in the 2nd Wild Card spot at 37-35. The last place Blue Jays (33-35) – 2 GB of the playoffs – 0 games in the loss column. The last place Chisox (31-37)? 4 GB and 2 in the loss column. Even the bad Oakland A’s are 31-38 and only 4.5 GB of the Rays. So, yes you may be able to get Brad Pitt’s doppleganger to trade you Sonny Gray, but he can certainly plead that you need to give him a bunch of players to give up his very alive playoff hopes.

Now, the National League is definitely the other hand  here. Since the three best teams in the league (Rockies, D’Backs and the Dodgers) reside in the same division, the 2nd Wild Card is currently filled by either the 44-26 D’Backs or Dodgers. This basically has resulted in a number of teams in the NL East and West being way out of the playoff hunt already. The NL East teams best shot is pretty crappy as they are chasing the very good 42-27 Nats. The Braves, Mets, Marlins and Phillies are between 10.5 and 19.5 games behind the Nats and farther behind the 2nd WC spot (12 to 21 GB).  In the NL West, the Padres at 16 games out of the WC and 17 games out of the division lead and the Giants (18.5 and 19.5 GB back) are toast.

The teams in the NL Central all have one shot at the playoffs and that is to catch the slightly above average (38-33) Brewers. The Cubs, Cards, Pirates and Reds range from a close 2.5 GB to a fringy 7.5 GB, though the Reds recent 1-9 plunge may set them up to put up a white flag.

So, it would seem that the best shots for finding a trading partner would be to look over at the “other ” league.

Is there anyone pitching for the Braves, Mets, Marlins, Phillies, Giants, Padres, and Reds that you would like to see Jeff Luhnow chase? Do you think he should wait until more teams are out of the running? Do you think he should trade with someone who is going to drive a hard bargain because they are still in the race?



172 comments on “For the Astros and you, it’s a twofer Tuesday

  1. Oh, I forgot to mention it yesterday. James Hoyt’s accumulated major league service time no longer allows him to be listed as a prospect.
    Elian Rodriguez has entered the Astros Top 30 Prospect list at #17


  2. Wow! After sending catcher Stephen Vogt to the wolves last night by sticking him in LF against all those Astros RH hitters, the Athletics DFA’d him this morning.
    Maybe he will find a cloud with a silver lining in all of this.


  3. We all know there is a “Big foot”, that “W” crashed the twin towers, and the shots came from the grassy knoll. So lets add another conspiracy to “known facts.” (And not from Alex Jones)

    Rob Manfried has decreed he wants to speed up the pace of the game. He therefore has instructed his umpires to call anything within 6″ of the strike zone a strike. (An obvious fact). If you want to argue, then please explain how time after time, all Astros and some others get called strikes – no matter the location.


    • It goes both ways. Back in the day they called it, “make up calls.” Whether you believe in conspiracy theories, or not, what seems rather obvious is that the bigger markets (which generate bigger profits) seem to get the majority of the calls. Almost every sport has instituted measures to get the call correctly. Tennis is the best example of doing everything within their power to make it fair. Baseball and football have allowed the excuse of “human element” with umpires and officials having instant replay, while still maintaining judgment call ability.

      To put it another way. What Astros fan will ever truly trust a call, if they get on headphones back to the corporate office to make a final decision?


    • It could be worse. Try watching the College World Series and tell me the umpires aren’t giving six inches on both sides of the plate and still calling strikes on pitches at mid-shin.

      I’d believe just about anything you tell me about Manfred though. It sometimes feels to me like he will float an idea out there, testing the waters, knowing that it won’t be implemented, but also knowing that it lessens the blow for the changes he does plan to implement. Hopefully my perception is just wrong.


      • Devin, to your point about floating ideas, trying to separate politicking and baseball is impossible. Even blogging, we’re all just trying to make a case based on the many splendored angles from which we’re sitting. It’s not a bad thing if one is open to discovery. Rather, it’s a beautiful thing when someone died-in-the-wool learns and admits a new trick.


    • Reminds me of a story about the time when, during a final season game of the Astros, long ago, the home plate umpire instructed both clubs to be swinging the bat because any pitch was going to be called a strike.


  4. Pretty bad when you put a catcher in right field to try and track balls coming at you over your head….and then get fired because you’re not able to get to them. That’s a pretty crappy thing to do. Altuve is getting a much needed day off…..and so is Jed Lowrie. Brian McCann’s, tongue must be hanging out trying to guide these pitchers from behind the plate! He gets the day off as well.


    • Can’t see the game but on Gameday I saw Springer got hit by pitch and had to leave the game – where did he get hit? On the hand?


      • I’m going to watch the game now … will report back.

        I don’t even know the answer, but before I see. This is a case in point that we can still win games comfortably without Springer in a game, because we’re so deep, and with the luxury of having someone full-in admirably in the OF. The same as when George went down with a hammy, the same as when Josh had a concussion (protocol), the same as when every player hit the temporary DL, and including McHugh. Just relax, we got this Lol!


      • However – I have gone through too many times without Bagwell out with a broken bone etc – I know we have depth but hate to test fate with too many injuries


  5. He got hit on his left hand….A G I A N!!!! He’s lucky that ball didn’t kill him, it came in and up on him. I’m not happy…..not happy at ALL. GRRRRRRRRRRRRRR


  6. On 3-1 count to Springer the pitch glanced his shoulder and appeared to hit the hand while on the bat. He was replaced by JFSF. Before we see another conspiracy, Hahn is wild as a March Hare. 2-0 Astros after 1 inning with 2 sac flies and no hits.


    • They didn’t show a closeup of it, but even from far away, the back of his hand looked swollen up badly when they took the glove off after a couple of minutes.
      Blummer talked about Bagwell getting hit, but I seem to remember Springer himself getting his hand broken by a Kansas City pitcher and had to miss two months.


  7. Great news on Springer. Jake and Marwin, WOW! Becky, Paulino is throwing a curve that is starting out over some of the batter’s heads and finishing up at the knees. Of course, it’s been 45 minutes in between pitches, but he’s getting plenty of rest.


    • His lankiness reminds me of Ramon Martinez, but Paulino is taller and has more velocity. He had some unnecessary walks in the early innings and is up over 100 pitches here with one out in the 6th inning. It would have been nice to see him get through a full 6.


      • He’s stretched out nicely. Why the nit pick? Paulino is gold!! Dang, what is it with chip’s – he’s a prospect.

        Did you see the moment where paulino and Martes sitting together on the bench? Martes looks discouraged (just as I said). This is a guy (both of them) we have to find a place for!! The stuff is there!! Young arms, 12 to 6 like no other. Just need to harness it.


      • Not sure I understand, but he could have finished the sixth if a couple of the earlier innings had gone smoother. This would have put Hoyt on the mound in the 7th and likely prevented a 12-9 final in a game where we had a 10 run lead at one point.


  8. Very interested in seeing Morton, Akeem Bostick, Framber Valdez and Forrest Whitley making starts today in our minors, although Thornton is listed as the starting pitcher for Fresno.


  9. They are making this way too close.

    I think Gattis may be a trade candidate. ..his defense at C isn’t good enough, and his power seems to have evaporated

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s so weird for you to mention that. His wRC+ is 101 which is great for a backup catcher. He has .4 WAR, which is terrific for a backup catcher. He is much loved by the fans and by his teammates, which is terrific for a backup catcher. This year, he has positive numbers defensively for the first time in his career, which means his defense is good enough.
      Finally, your criticism of him comes a half hour after the end of a game in which he had three RBIs that might have been the difference in a 12-9 game. I don’t know what more you want from him. He’s driving in runs and striking out way less than in previous years. Some people like home runs, but I want a freaking trophy and if Gattis hitting singles helps them win a world championship, let Marwin and Jake hit homers and let Gattis do the other stuff. I don’t mind a little bear holding up that trophy at all.

      Liked by 1 person

      • True. I’ve actually been a big supporter of Gattis. all fairness most of the games I’ve gotten to watch have had McCann starting at catcher


  10. If McCann goes down at any point for an extended period of time, we’ve got the perhaps the best back up catcher in the game to take his place. If Gattis gets more at bats in the second half, he’ll heat up. Those homers will come in bunches.


  11. You guys know me, and know that I have never been an Evan Gattis fan. But right now El Oso Blanco is hitting .16 points above his lifetime BA, and giving us .24 points above his lifetime OBP, and is striking out less than he ever has. His penchant for solo HRs never made him a difference maker for us; his singles with men in scoring position, on the other hand, are scoring runs in bunches. I still don’t see him as a great backstop – but I’ll take what he is giving us this year in a backup role any day!


    • Long day here in CO , but Ditto Mr Bill. They only thing we need is to get our SP healthy and dump Sipp . The chemistry on this team is so good, we are 26 games over .500, don’t F with success right now.


  12. Charlie Morton seems to have pitched well tonight for Fresno, The only damage he allowed was a homer by somebody named Justin Ruggiano.


  13. A stat that many may not have noticed is that the AL West has the second most wins of the six divisions, behind only the NL West. The AL West has been kicking the AL East for the last week.


  14. The Astros team batting average hit .380 today. I wonder how long it has been since the Astros had a .280 team batting average this deep into a season.


  15. I’ve recovered from my little “hissy” fit this afternoon. But I’ve got a message for every starting pitcher from now until the last game is played:
    I can’t wait until Saturday so they can send that little guy who nearly lost today’s game back to Fresno, never to be heard from again. You girls and guys saw both of them pitch, but if I had my choice for a potential rotation spot, I’d pick Paulino. One of the differences, I see between Martes and Paulino, is the high pitch count Paulino has. Looking at next year, we will see Keuchel, McCullers, Morton (?) Mchugh? Musgrove, and Paulino, OR Martes if they aren’t traded at the deadline + a secret pitcher Luhnow has yet to sign. WOW!! With the entire team coming back next year (minus?) Beltran……..this team is set! Next year might be as much fun as THIS year!!
    For what it’s worth……Gattis ain’t going anywhere. No one is ready or very good on our farm. I sure hope these guys can give Big Joe some run support tomorrow!


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