FREE BLOG WEEKEND: Sure is nice up here on the mountain top!


Hello friends!  The Astros played into November for the first time and, as a result, the off-season dates will come a tad quicker for Jeff Luhnow, A.J. Hinch and the players who are wearing a new ring these days.

And, just so you know, opening day is only 140 days away. Hmm, that used to be a number important to Twitter!  Okay, nevermind. Pitchers and catchers start reporting, if you are wondering,  around February 14.

Yes, the Astros will need to squeeze in a lot of activity with awards, free agents, trade discussions, winter meetings, arbitration, discussions about extensions and more. Here’s a quick calendar if you’d like to keep track of some of these things:

  • Nov. 13-16.  GM Meetings in Orlando, Fla.
  • Nov. 14. Managers of the Year announced.
  • Nov. 15. Cy Young Awards announced.
  • Nov. 16. Most Valuable Players announced.
  • Nov. 20. 40-man rosters must be finalized.
  • Dec. 1. Tender/non-tender deadline. All arbitration eligible players on 40-man must be tendered/non-tendered.
  • Dec. 10-14. Winter Meetings in Orlando, Fla.
  • Dec. 14. Rule 5 draft.
  • March 29. Opening Day

And, to continue the discussion about standing pat or going with what you have, here are a few other thoughts.

  • Rotation: Consider if Hinch can get a full year out of Justin Verlander, Dallas Keuchel, Collin McHugh, Lance McCullers and Charlie Morton. With an occasional cameo from Brad Peacock.
  • Bullpen: Can you get Ken Giles to translate his regular season success to the post-season?
  • Infield: Whoa! Just give me 150 games each from Yuli Gurriel (139), Jose Altuve (153), Carlos Correa (109) and Alex Bregman (155)! These guys hit their groove together in September. How ’bout April? (Numbers in parentheses are # of games played in 2017). AND, those four started only 74 games together during 2017.
  • Outfield: For Reddick, see Giles above. A full season of Marisnick/Gonzalez/fill in the blank with George Springer in center and Reddick in right would be nice.
  • Catcher: More of Brian McCann and find a backup who can spell him for a 2-3 games at a time if necessary.
  • DH: Evan Gattis, unless you want to plug-in one of the young guns or find a suitable replacement on the open market.

Yes, you can make a keen argument to stand pat, or at least reload from within. But do the research. Most winning organizations are the ones who are constantly looking to upgrade.

In 2018, the biggest “upgrade” may come with an extension for Keuchel or Altuve.

And, a couple of other goodies before I let you go.

  • The Astros have had 10 different managers and interim managers since 2000. Take that in for just a moment.
  • A.J. Hinch has the best winning percentage of any Astros’ manager (.558) and next year should climb into fourth place on the all-time wins’ list.
  • If Hinch is named Manager of the Year, he’ll join Hal Lanier (1986) and Larry Dierker (1998).
  • Jose Altuve now has four Silver Slugger awards, one behind Craig Biggio.

And some questions for your weekend:

  • Without looking, do you know which player led the team in these categories: Doubles? Triples? Walks? IP? Ks by a pitcher? Games started (pitcher)?
  • The Astros scored an MLB-leading 896 runs in 2017. It’s not an Astros’ record though. Do you know which team scored 938 runs?
  • Do you remember when these guys were the Astros Top 10 prospects (2011)? Only one of them has made it big.  1. Jordan Lyles, rhp. 2. Delino DeShields Jr., of.  3. Jonathan Villar, ss. 4. Mike Foltynewicz, rhp.  5. Jio Mier, ss. 6. J.D. Martinez, of. 7. Jimmy Paredes, of. 8. Tanner Bushue, rhp. 9. Austin Wates, of. 10. Ariel Ovando, of.
  • A.J. Hinch should have his fourth complete season as Astros’ manager in 2018. Who was the last manager to make it four full years at the helm of the team?
  • It’s possible that Houston could add another Gold Glove winner or two in 2017. Do you know which players (yes, players plural) have won five Gold Glove awards for the Astros?
  • You read about Silver Slugger awards above, but who is the only pitcher to win a Silver Slugger award for Houston?
  • Bonus question: Would you take Carlos Beltran back on a $2 million contract for 2018?
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58 comments on “FREE BLOG WEEKEND: Sure is nice up here on the mountain top!

  1. When you look at that schedule, it shows wheels down from LA after game 7, and the FO goes straight to the office to start work on 2018. Last check the 40 man had only 35 with Beltran, Gregerson and the rest of the Usual Suspects off the current roster. So is JL looking to add to the bullpen with Rule V pick(s) ??

    Those Top 10 picks show that from AA ball to MLB, is the same distance as Earth to the Moon or perhaps the nearest Star.

    I would take Carlos Betran back at $2 Million to be the roving minor league hitting instructor. (insert sarcasm font on this paragraph)

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  2. Yuli had 48 doubles.. Is that enough? Total guess on triples. There were not many. Reddick? Fiers led in innings pitched in August, so I’ll go with him. K’s, Salty Morton? Starts, Fiers again.

    I quit. The questions are too difficult and it’s too early. I suggest we give some kind of award to the soul that provides the most correct answers.

    But no, there is no application for wasting a roster spot on Beltran, even if he came in as a volunteer. That’s a gimmie.

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  3. I have been watching highlights of Game 5 on Youtube because…well, why not? I absolutely love Alex Bregman. I love his competitiveness, his arrogance and confidence. He may be jumping to the head of my all-time favorite Astros. If you watch the highlights and see his reaction after he scored the 9th run on the Altuve double in the 7th inning you can just see this kid has something special in him that you appreciate when he plays for your favorite team. Fans of other teams may not like him because of his swagger, arrogance and confidence, but that’s part of the reason why I like him so much. He is not afraid of the big moments. I am just glad Luhnow didn’t cave to public pressure and include him in any proposed trade for Chris Sale. We aren’t sitting here today as World Champions if that trade was made last year.

    Liked by 1 person

    • This was his first whole season…..can you imagine how good he will be in 2-3 yrs.!! I said it all year, this kid came to play. PERIOD! He missed out on all the fun in 2015, because he was playing in the College World series! He actually flew through the minors, and once he got here he had no intention of going back!
      If George hadn’t won the MVP of the World Series, Bregman would have, simply because of he his defense.

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  4. Unless Luhnow knows something, that I don’t know, I wouldn’t trade a single infielder to include Margo Multi-glove.

    I know we need to plan for the future (insert Matthew 6:34) but there is only the bullpen replacements for this off season. We may not win it all, but I like our chances.

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  5. I count 38 on the 40 man. That includes 4 catchers and all our AAAA players. So without releasing someone, we can only protect 2 more. So with GM meetings this week and only 10 days to solidly the final 40, could be very interesting.

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  6. I don’t want the guys who spend time keeping this blog going to be discouraged, so I’m answering the questions.
    Who led the team in :
    Doubles- Yuli?
    Triples- Bregman?
    Walks- Springer?
    Innings pitched- Fiers?
    K’s – Morton?
    Games started – Fiers?

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  7. Heck, OP, if you got them all correct, I feel pretty good, because I’ve got mostly the same answers. I missed the walk question though. If it is George, it’s another illustration of how far he’s come already. We have to remember he only played 78 and 102 games over his first two seasons in what is just a four year career at this point. Seems like he’s been around much longer. But it was not too long ago that we were concerned about him being a strike out machine. He puts up solid OBP’s every year. That’s why I think he’s still got his best years ahead of him. He’ll get more and more selective at the plate.

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    • Yes, George led the team in Ks and walks in 2017. But, as you point out, he’s come a long way. I believe the biggest part of his game is that he’s clutch. He comes through at the right time and seems to a big game player!
      And, I agree, he’s got his biggest seasons ahead.

      That, at least in part, is what scares me about Luhnow. I fear that Luhnow will be forced to trade someone this winter or next to make room on the payroll and that George may be the first guy out of town. As you may recall, he’s been the most-mentioned in recent years.

      I do hope there’s a way to keep Altuve/Correa/Bregman/Springer together for a few years. How cool would that be to have those guys going for a third and fourth WS title later in the decade?!?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Chip, no doubt, that’s the biggest challenge. If Luhnow can figure out a way to keep those four guys together, it will cement in me his own value. And as I said earlier, there’s a lot of room for growth in those four. I’d have a hard time appreciating watching that growth in another organization.

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      • Like I said in the previous post, there is a way to sign those guys if they want to sign here.
        The first way to get that ball rolling is to get another 10,000 fans in the seats which means the teams sells an additional 810,000 tickets per season. I outlined a way to make the fanbase so excited that the attendance could jump to that level.
        And then I actually outlined the path to where the Astros could afford to get those four guys signed in a reply to daveb this morning on that previous post.
        The actual problem is: do those four guys want to sign a long term deal to stay in Houston. If some don’t, there is nothing the team can do, but they could still win at least two or three more championships with my plan and become one of the premier organizations in sports if they would take the chance.
        Also, if your team moves up into the elite class of baseball teams and organizations, does that not give those four guys a reason to want to stay. If you beat the Yankees and the Dodgers for three straight years and raise that attendance to 40,000 a game, who is the King of the Mountain then?

        Liked by 1 person

      • I have to think Keuchel will be gone after 2018. I just don’t think he will be worth the contract someone will probably give him (7/$150-160M). I will be more interested to see what happens to Marwin after next season.

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  8. You have to believe a number of things:
    – Luhnow will not do as many moves as last off-season
    – Luhnow will not stand completely still
    – There is a good chance that some of the players like Devo and Giles will be less deer in the head lights the next time they are in the playoffs
    – There is a good chance that someone (I’m thinking Reddick) will not be as good during 2018 regular season as during the 2017 regular season
    – This team with Verlander leading the rotation and with their deep lineup could set a new club record for wins
    – That if Carlos Correa can play a whole uninjured season that he could give the Astros back to back MVPs
    – That some team or teams is trying to duplicate what the Astros have done to tear down and rebuild their team.
    – That the WS win will push that attendance up over 3 million in 2018
    Very thoughtful piece Chip.

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    • DanP a note on another team rebuilding. The GM has to have a 5 year commitment from the owner and stick to it. That is a rare combination. As an example, the Phillies would be a logical start this year and rumor has it, they are looking at spending at least $77 million on Stanton. All of us on Chipalatta stuck with the Astros a LONG time. Yeah, I bitched a lot. Very few teams are willing to do what Crane, Luhnow, and a few Loyals in Houston did. Jeter’s group might be able to do it. Might.

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  9. On another note, I’m continually amazed at the way things turned out. I obviously did not buy into the “plan” until perhaps a year ago. And even then, we would not have reached the zenith without the Verlander deal, seconds before deadline.

    But what a march through the post season! Sox, Yankees, Dodgers. Game after game, something remarkable happening every night. Game 5, something remarkable every inning. The result is still sinking in. I’m watching highlights over and over. I might start watching entire games over.

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  10. From another sports blog:

    “Needless to say, locking up Jose Altuve would be a smart decision by the Houston front office, but at the same time, it will cost a pretty penny to keep him around. It’s a bold prediction, but I would say an 8-year deal worth between $210-$220MM would seal the deal. Potentially more if he hits the open market in a few years.”

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  11. If we want to lock up the core of Correa, Altuve, and Springer could we possibly do a trio contract and get them all in at the same time? I guess it all depends if they all want to play with each other and play here. Hopefully, it’s not always about the money. At what point do you say “No thank you?$25MM a year isn’t enough. I want $30MM.” Yes they could go play in NY or CA but remember the tax rate there is in the stratosphere. And Houston isn’t that bad a place to live. And with the money you make you can visit all of those other places any time you like.

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  12. So to follow an ac45 theme – how much slack against complaining does a World Championship buy you. Will we slacken up a bit knowing that this front office, manager and players know how to win it all….

    Liked by 1 person

  13. You guys make me laugh! You can speculate ’till the cows come home, but Sandy and Diane and I are still basking in the awesomeness of this club’s first World Series win!! I’ll let the guy who holds the money, and the guy who tells him what to do with it handle the off season moves! The sun is shining 🌞!

    Liked by 3 people

  14. If you haven’t gotten your WS tee shirts yet.. (of course I do!) Dicks sporting goods has a good selection. They have a nice selection of kids shirts as well!
    Also Hallmark has the WS Trophy Christmas ornaments too…..yep I got mine ordered!

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      • No love in Austin huh? Every one else must be Ranger fans.
        I’ve got hats, tee shirts, even sweatshirts and a hoodie. Don’t have a lot of money left but I’m stocked up on WS gear. Thanks for the tip Becky. Got to have that tree ornament as well. 😁

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