A few early summer thoughts as Houston hitters fill in the gap and pick up their pitching teammates.
Much of the conversation surrounding the Astros these days is how many players will they put on the All Star team when the teams are announced for the mid-summer gala this weekend. George Springer, Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa may make up the up-the-middle lineup, but it wouldn’t be surprising if another one or two joined them.
The All Star game may be the conversation now, but when will it become fashionable to talk about the Hall of Fame and Jose Altuve in the same breath?
- Altuve is only 27, yet he’s light years ahead of Houston’s HOF second baseman Craig Biggio in a number of areas, including hits. Of course, Biggio prolonged his career several years and passed the 3,000-hit mark and helped put the Astros on the World Series map along with Jeff Bagwell. Altuve is headed for his fifth All Star Game, Biggio made seven in his career. Altuve is already over a third of the way to Biggio’s 667 two-baggers (227) and more than halfway to Biggio’s 414 stolen bases (213). Most other numbers are similar. Of course, Altuve need only do what he’s doing for another 12-14 seasons maybe. And, therein lies the only concern. While he seems to be a unique specimen, often times shorter, more compact players don’t hold up over the long-term. Will Altuve surpass Biggio as the best Astros’ second baseman of all-time and enter the Hall of Fame?
Oh, those lineups!
- With the increased use of statistical data, many teams have increased their use of different hitting lineups to take advantage of situations and pitching matchups. The Astros are no different, using 69 different lineups this year. However, the difference this season is that the Astros can use different lineups whereas in the past they have been forced to use different lineups. In other words, manager A.J. Hinch has the resources this year to almost pull his lineups out of a hat. In the last two years, Hinch used 151 (2015) and 143 (2016) different lineups, not including pitchers. One difference, for the most part, is that Hinch has his order set for the most part when his players are healthy. For example, Springer hits first, Altuve third and Correa fourth most of the time. Ten different players have hit in each of the eighth and ninth spots, though. What’s your favorite lineup? Would you dare make any changes?
Speaking of A.J. Hinch…
- The Astros’ manager has certainly made you forget the like of Bo Porter, Cecil Cooper, Brad Mills and even Tony DeFrancesco. And he’s moving up the list quickly. With an overall .554 winning percentage in Houston, Hinch trails on Larry Dierker in that category (.556). And, at 224 wins, he’s in 8th place all-time on the Astros’ managerial list and likely to pass and likely to pass Hal Lanier, Bob Lillis and Phil Garner into fifth place with a strong second half. Is Hinch the guy Houston has been looking for since Dierker left or is he just the beneficiary of Jeff Luhnow’s spending?
A few questions for you…
- The Astros have managed to stay well ahead of the pack despite its pitching issues the first half. What has surprised you most about that run?
- If Houston gets Dallas Keuchel, Charlie Morton and Collin McHugh back for the second half, does that make the team dominant? Wait, more dominant? Do the Astros run away and hide by the end of August?
- Possibly opening an old would, but do you still burn when you think of the Astros being forced to move to the American League? Or has that simply become an afterthought in this fun season?
I think my biggest win of the year to date if that’s possible when up 13 plus games.
Like I said last night after the defeat, we still have a chance to win this series. Real dramatic way to tie up the series.
By the way, Smoltz kept saying over and over in that last at bat for Giles not to throw Gardner a slider, but throw him a fastball up. Giles threw him a fastball up and Gardner nailed it. Smoltz had to have been glad about the great play to throw Gardner out so he could just walk away from the microphone and could quietly throw a crow on the grill.
I’m very disappointed that Paulino did PED’s. He knew when he did it, it was illegal and he did it anyway.
Tuned in the radio, coming back from “playing cards” (he-he-he), just as Yuli hit that double. Thought….oh Lord I’m not sure a one run lead will hold up ((gulp))…two down and he gives up a single. Brett Gardner thought he would test Riddick’s, arm…..bad mistake! Thank God for Correa’s, arm…..and Yuli with the tag!! I’m surprised you didn’t hear me screaming and clapping all the way to Oklahoma!!
Thank goodness I taped it, so I can watch that play over, and over! Man….if Giles didn’t have hair on his chest before tonight…..he does now!
By the way the cards were kind to me😎! Becky⚾
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With Paulino gone, we should see Musgrove back for te next road trip. I wonder how long Luhnow has known about Paulino…..dang it kid.
One more thing…if our bullpen could quit giving up grandslam’s, it would be greatly appreciated.
The look on Gardiner’s face as he looked past 2nd toward left field makes me wonder of Gardiner had not noticed that Hinch had made a rather daring line-up change in the top of the 9th, forfeiting the DH in case of extra innings so he could substitute Reddick (who had pinch run for Beltran, our DH, in the bottom of the 8th) into left field in place of the much slower weaker-armed Marwin Gonzales. It sure looked like Gardiner was shocked to see Reddick instead of Gonzales gearing up to make the throw back to the infield!
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If accurate, this from Rosenthal should make some happy.
The Astros’ two most untouchable prospects are outfielder Kyle Tucker and right-hander Forrest Whitley, sources told Rosenthal. Houston was unwilling to trade a package including Tucker to the White Sox for Jose Quintana over the winter, and the 20-year-old has since hit .272/.317/.544 in his first 124 plate appearances at the Double-A level. Tucker ranks as Baseball America’s 15th-best prospect, while Whitley, 19, isn’t on the list. The 6-foot-7 Whitley’s only a year removed from going 17th in the draft, though, and he has held his own in Single-A this season with a 2.91 ERA, 13.01 K/9 and 4.08 BB/9 in 46 1/3 innings.
Wanted to follow up on the bandwagon comments of yesterday. Some fan thinks we need to go back and get Castro to catch. (This is not meant to knock Jason, just a comparison)
Castro does have a higher caught stealing %.
Last year the Astros had 73 RBIs from the catcher’s position for the entire season, good for 15th in baseball. This season the Astros already have 62 RBIs from the catcher’s position, good for the #1 spot in baseball.
When you are constantly outscoring the other team and have the lead, other teams rarely try to steal bases.
I would rather have catchers that kick the other teams pitcher’s ass every day.
I would also rather have a catcher who, when he does strike out, walks back to the dugout like a man, rather than turning his back on the ump and then jawing at him all the way back to the dugout like some immature spoiled brat who can’t hit and blames it on the umpire.
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Most fans don’t know that Miguel Montero was 100% correct when he stated the Cubs pitchers weren’t giving him a chance to throw out the runners the other night (although he resembles Conger for the season). This is partially true for Evan Gattis – our pitchers don’t hold well and are often slow to the plate. Maybe Castro throws a few more out or blocks a few more wild pitches, but catcher defense is not costing us many games.
Some of that same group of souls is calling for the demotion or outright release of Bregman. I presume these are humans not real familiar with the game, but rather enamored by the latest bobble head doll or perhaps the newest hairstyles coming out of the clubhouse. Little details like the best won loss record in MLB are not real considerations.
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I just want to clarify I am not in that group, but do want to see Bregman continue to improve. Are people really calling for a release? What ever for? He’s been pretty good.