It feels like critiquing Miss Universe because she has a few freckles on her arms or because one eyebrow is slightly higher than the other, but the World Champion Houston Astros had a few problems last year that they can hopefully address this off-season or during the 2018 season. Some of the problems are obvious; some are not.
Lefty in the Pen
Even when Tony Sipp was pitching well (and doesn’t that seem like ancient history) the team seemed lacking in this area. With Sipp pitching poorly as he has the last couple of seasons, this seems like a desert with no oasis in sight. Yes, they have right-handed relievers who do well against left-handed hitters. Still there is something about a lefty throwing across the hitter that is just so intimidating. The problem is availability. It does not seem like there is a lefty close to the top in the minors, so this will likely be filled (if at all) by FA signing or trade.
Help from Youngsters
It seems wrong to complain about the lack of help from the youth when you have Alex Bregman and Carlos Correa, both only 23 y.o. in your lineup and youngsters like Lance McCullers Jr., Joe Musgrove and Francis Martes on your pitching staff. . But the moves that the team made the last couple of years in signing Yuli Gurriel, Charlie Morton, Carlos Beltran and Josh Reddick and trading for Brian McCann and Justin Verlander has made the team older. They were 28.8 y.o. on the offensive side (6th oldest in the AL) and 28.5 y.o. with the pitching staff (8th oldest in the AL) in 2017. On the offensive side, the newbies who played significant time were Derek Fisher (.212 BA/ .303 OBP) and J.D. Davis (.226 BA/ .279 OBP) and they were below average. A.J. Reed, Colin Moran and Max Stassi barely got a shot glass of coffee in their small time in the majors. On the pitching side almost all the youngsters that saw time showed poorly. Francis Martes (5.80 ERA) and Michael Feliz (5.63) showed flashes of good, but Reymin Guduan (7.88), David Paulino (6.52), Jandel Gustave (5.40) and Jordan Jankowski (12.46) mostly did not. As the team continues to age, they need to be able to mix in young contributors along the way.
Help from the DH
It is rather ironic that the best offense in baseball had some of the worst contributions from the designated hitter. They were 14th in the AL in BA and OBP and dead last in OPS from the DH spot. This should be a little bit of addition by subtraction. Beltran will not be here and it is hoped that whoever they use in this spot will improve those numbers significantly. Will it be the streaky Evan Gattis? Will a Colin Moran or some other youngster pick up some ABs here? Will they pick up someone from the outside? It will be one of the more interesting decisions by the team headed into the 2018 season.
Add a Little Grey to the Bullpen
With the fall-off of veterans like Sipp, Luke Gregerson and the injury to Will Harris, the Astros bullpen was led by youth, especially Ken Giles and Chris Devenski. In the playoffs having to rely so heavily on youngsters showed itself as a big chink in the armor. It was obvious that adding some gravitas to the starting rotation (Verlander) lifted the starting five down the stretch and in the playoffs. Maybe picking up a grey beard or two who is still effective might help the folks in the ‘pen.
Smarter Base running
They were a very aggressive base running team, and were lucky a few times in the playoffs when the other team missed some easy outs at the plate. But the Astros were only 98 of 140 (70%) in the SB department for the season. That is just too low a percentage and begs for them to either lower their attempts or raise their success rate. The Yankees with a 90 out of 112 ( 80%) success rate would be a good team to model after. This is an area where Jose Altuve (32 of 38) and Alex Bregman (17 of 22) were good, but George Springer (5 of 12) was definitely not.
So, what are your thoughts about the “flaws” on this great Astros team?
It’s hard to be too worried about the weaker points you mentioned, in light of the fact that even with those shortcomings we ran away with our division and beat some really good teams to become WS Champs.
As off-season priorities, I rank:
– 1. a better BA, OBP, OPS, R, and RBI contribution from the DH. I should point out that I do not see Mr. Gattis as the one who will bring that to us. We have discussed at length on this blog the difference in Gattis’ numbers when he is catching [which are good, not great], vs when he is DH-ing [which are pretty ugly];
– 2. smarter base running [This has been a problem for us for a long time; fortunately, the Dodgers’ throws from the outfield were consistently bad, or we would have probably lost that series].
– 3. a true LH specialist in the pen. Fortunately we have some righties with high spin rates that seem to handle lefties pretty well [well, except for Joc Pederson];
– 4. more help from the youth. We just need Derek Fisher to come to ST with his confidence back and knocking the cover off the ball. That would solidify our OF and our lineup without costing us anything;
– 5. graying of the bullpen. The bullpen needs two good arms- I don’t care how old they are [within reason] as long as they don’t walk a lot of people or throw wild pitches in the late innings.
Not sure what you are talking about with Gattis. In 2016 his OPS when playing catcher was .992 vs. .709 as a DH. In 2017 it was .878 as a catcher and .580 as a DH. So he goes from hitting like Carlos Correa as a catcher to Carlos Beltran as a DH. No problem there – right?
Maybe they could have him warming up pitchers in a hallway below the dugout in between at bats? Maybe they could strap Virtual Reality goggles with a 3D video of someone catching between at bats? Maybe they could hit him in the mask, chest protector and cup with a baseball ever so often to give him the feel of the game?
It is just so weird and I have to think that these nerds in the FO have to have been looking at this. Right?
It is why DH-ing and pinch-hitting are so hard. You are not part of the game. You are not ‘up’ and involved in every pitch. You just sit there, like a Hessian, awaiting orders to aim and fire. [Can we say Hessian publicly anymore?]
Some can adjust to ‘I am here to be a hitter only’; others need to feel part of the action to step into the batter’s box even with the pitcher.
Yeah – probably the very best DH currently is the uber veteran – Nelson Cruz, who puts up the very best numbers at DH for over 500 ABs a year.
The Rangers have claimed Juan Centeno. Whatever Centeno knew about our pitchers and strategies, they now know.
So, he is kind of the answer to Carlos Beltran who brought all the Rangers’ secrets to the Astros last season? Or maybe we released Centeno to be a double agent on the Rangers….and are paying him a couple million to send their signs back to us – so our front office can get blackballed like the Braves’ front office
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This was a nice shot in the arm for the folks making at or near the league minimum….
If Evan Gattis is given the assignment of primary DH, I think he’ll figure out how to be good at it. The key is to make it an everyday job though. At least give him the role until the All Star break. Let him own it. Do not use the DH as a tool to get AB’s for other guys.
Gattis is the best DH they have right now, unless they get someone else.
I actually think he will be a pretty good one.
Loved your Thanksgiving post by the way ☺
Thank you Becky,
It’s a great home when everything works!
Mr. Bill…..the arlington little league also signed Mr. Fister to a major league deal today too. Can you remember how Fister would literally *MELT* down when we had to play them in arlington? Yeah, he’s gonna have a blast trying to pitch every 5 days in that 120 degree heat!! LOL!!!!
I wish Mr. Fister all the best. He’s kind of in the Mike Fiers category for me – he did some heavy lifting for us when we needed it but fell apart down the stretch. I can’t fault his effort, but wish the results had been better. I agree with you, Becky, that Arlington is probably not the ideal landing spot for him. I don’t think he’ll enjoy facing the Astros lineup either.
– The lefty in the pen is something Luhnow didn’t get done last year. I don’t think he makes the same mistake this year.
– My opinion about getting the older guys is that they made the team so good, they won the World Series. I ignore Beltran’s performance on the field because he helped teach the Astros how to win. 2018 is different, it is new and I would like to see the DH spot shine this season on the field.
– Rather than seeing more grey in the bullpen, I want to see more white-hot relief pitchers.
-I’d like to see more good baserunning like we saw in the World Series from the Astros.
– The biggest flaw I saw on the team this past season was ERA and I think it needs to be fixed. One of the ways to fix it is to stop the walks. Quit giving the other team rallies started by our pitchers.
The whole ERA vs. BB thing is kind of complex op. For instance, the starter with the worst BB rate at 3.9 BB/9 IP? Brad Peacock who had a very good ERA of 3.00. However, Mike Fiers who had the worst ERA had the second worst BB/9 IP – so there it makes sense.
The team as a whole had the fifth best ERA as a staff in the AL and the third best ERA for starters. The bullpen had the ERA problem with the 10th best in the 15 team league. In the bullpen the BBs tied to the ERA in some cases, but also the poorer ERAs tied to the inexperience of many of the pitchers. Guys like Martes, Feliz, and Guduan had bad BB/9 IP and bad ERAs. Though other players like Sipp, Gregerson and Paulino had good BB/9 IP and bad ERAs.
I think the ERA will improve if you can subtract out some of the worst offenders like Fiers and some of the youngsters like Martes improve.
Dan, I’d love to dig deeper into this, but don’t have the numbers available on a platter. My mind says we need to consider two things.
First, Peacock has always been a guy that walked too many hitters. He doesn’t tend to give in and give them a pitch to hit when he gets to 3 balls. Back before his hip injury we saw him throw a couple great innings, then walk some guys and give up runs in bunches. His walk rate was greatly down in 2017 and his K-rate was greatly up. I’d like to know if his swing at pitches outside the zone (particularly sliders) was up (Steven, wherefore art thou?). Fiers had the worst control of his career in 2017. He also led the league in hit batters. I think he just got worn down.
Second, it’s important to know when the batters walked. Peacock walked 13 of 187 batters with no outs. He walked 7 of 136 batters leading off innings. Fiers walked 29 of 209 batters with no outs. He walked 23 of 163 batters leading off an inning. That’s a pretty big difference right there.
Good to see Sickels as high on Armenteros as my thoughts that he’d have an 2018 ETA. Perhaps an impact, or “improvement from the youngsters,” as Dan put it? This list is very aggressive with Bukauskus and Alvarez as #3, and #4 respective. But it certainly doesn’t look bereft, especially in terms of who we have locked up and who we need to lock up (The Core). We’ll have all of next season to tinker with a few of these possible elite prospects!
If you could pick 10 C+ prospects who will at least be serviceable, within a few years, this is a helluva list from which to choose. We’re loaded and I think other than a lefty, we’re going to stand pat again in order to see.
Our first most important keys to next season are;
1. Fisher and Jake. Is there a steady improvement enough to give them all the innings with Marwin sprinkled in?
2. Relief. Lefty help. Is Guduan ready, can we get Sipp into nondescript innings, will C Perez be ready, or Framber? Will we add Free Agent Jake McGee?
2017 QOPA (Top 12% MLB)
Velocity (Top 4% MLB)
Location (Top 6% MLB)
Low Rise (Top 10% MLB)
Horizontal Break (Top 42% MLB)
Vertical Break (Bottom 42% MLB)
Late Break (Bottom 1% MLB)
Along the lines of relievers – do we go after Zach Britton? He’s a definite answer to the loss of Gregerson’s overall production.
Shouldn’t we go after a free agent like Adam Lind http://m.mlb.com/player/452252/adam-lind, who’d spell Gurriel and Gattis; or Beltran’s project, Yonder Alonzo?
3. Next we have to make sure Altuve and Correa are happy. Solidify their place together. These are my top three factors going into Spring.
I’m looking forward to a new guard coming in with Verlander passing on his secrets to preparation. I expect PLENTY of play from guys like Moran, Martes and Marisnick. Again, we’ll be good enough to rest a large stable of pitchers for a stretch, and under Luhnow/Crane run a tight ship for reserve $$ when needed.
We can expect more consistency from Bregman Correa Altuve and Gurriel gelling for a full season. No telling how good they can be defensively as they try to snag more hardware.
Hinch and the looong season. We ran the risk of peaking too soon, finding ways to keep the guys motivated through 162 games. The sweet taste of achievement – how do we do it again?
I don’t know much about Sickels but I like him. He called Armenteros a “pitcher”. He might have stolen that description from me. The 23 year old is wise beyond his years. And don’t forget, he was pitching to guys like Gurriel when still a teenager. He will be a good one.
Peacock improved from 25.7% to 28.4% of O-Swing, and since his slider was the wipeout pitch – imagine it’s a higher number as he mastered Jankowski’s grip.
Nice write-up on Kyle Tucker’s fall league play by JH:
“Unfortunately, I didn’t get to see very many of my Astros in action, but did get to see Kyle Tucker and a brief outing from Riley Ferrell. Some fans seemed to be worried about Tucker’s numbers for the AFL season. Don’t be. He looked fine at the plate, but wasn’t getting much of anything to hit during the two games I watched. He generally didn’t chase out of the zone and put up decent at-bats. But the last game I saw him in (in which he was 1-for-4 with a double) was his 142nd of the season, not counting Spring Training and the Futures game and the Rising Stars game. His season lasted longer than that of his parent team who played through to the World Series. I’m not worried about Tucker and you shouldn’t be either. One thing I would like to note, though, is that I really liked him in right field. He gets excellent reads and has tremendous range and a great arm and really shone in right.”
Saw a news blurb in the elevator that the Yankees are going to interview Carlos Beltran for their managerial job. Interesting – I sure hope he doesn’t go there, because I dislike the Yanks so much.
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On mlbtraderumor they made a list of players they think there is a chance (20%) or better of being non-tendered by this week’s deadline.
I would think Mike Fiers is likely to be not tendered….Evan Gattis is likely to be tendered
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So the Strangers took our 4th best catcher to be their 2nd best catcher. They signed a pitcher that was dropped by Astros and Angels. I wish both well unless against the Astros, but neither of these would be in the Astros plans except in the minors.
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DH – Gattis has an OPS about 100 points higher than Beltran. He would be in the top half of DHs, which right now are not really great except for the mentioned Cruz.
Bullpen: Needs some arms. The last 4 youngsters mentioned (RG, DP, JG, & JJ) can’t cut it until they substantially improve their control.
Lefty: JL will sign a lefty not named Liriano. Or maybe two.
Regarding those lefty relievers: Do the names C.R. Riefenhauser and Ashur Tolliver ring a bell?
Correction: CJ Riefenhauser [how soon we forget!]
They don’t ring a bell but I did hear a thud.
About the title…what’s wrong with freckles?
I personally like freckles but the beauty contestants will putty over such “defects”
From Richard Justice:
Astros GM Jeff Luhnow got “111” on his license plate after 2013 season (51-111) “to be reminded every day and night.” Winning World Series Game 7 gave Astros 112 victories in 2017. Luhnow says he’s getting a new license plate.
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I preordered the Astros World Series DVD last night! It will be released on Dec5th and if we never get back to the World Series I will always have 2017 to enjoy time after time, and I can’t wait to ge it!! GO….ME!!
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I’ve watched games 5 and 7 at least twice since the WS. Can’t seem to get enough Astros right now. I’m having bad withdrawal symptoms.
Dilly, Dilly to all and to the Pit of Misery for Becky’s favorite nemesis.
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I preordered mine too.
I’m very ready to move on from 2017. I watched game 5 once more last weekend. Time for the shelf. I want to see how this club gets tweaked and watch how the other clubs come after us when building their own rosters. I’m already thinking of who takes who’s place when the injury bug hits. Speaking of injuries, I see more and more use of the 10 day DL. We had to have the most rested, healthiest club in the post season. That was no accident. I’m wondering how many guys like Moran it might help us get a high end lefty. That might be where the youngsters help most. I’m looking forward to a battle for number 2 catcher. Can Jake give us an .800 plus OPS again?
I know this is not a political blog, but reading the news today (NBC, ESPN, ALL POLITICIANS, NFL, etc. etc.) I am so glad that our National Pastime has been able to miss all the junk and hope it continues to do so. I like Sports, for Sports, and MLB, so far, has delivered for over 100 years.
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Moving on from the 2017 Astros requires some assessments:
* Marwin Gonzalez is a very important and popular player on this team who is in his last season before reaching free agency. The Astros tied him up for two seasons in last year’s arbitration. He is the key to keeping the Astros players rested without creating a hole on defense or offense. Good pitchers get Marwin out and he feasts on mistakes, which are mostly made by average or below average pitchers. Kenley Janssen made a huge 0-2 mistake to Marwin, which was probably the turning point of the WS.
Marwin is a key player this year, who is probably going to make a lot of money in 2019.
* I personally don’t see Gattis as a non-tender candidate. He out-performed his salary in 2017 and that same performance would out-perform this season’s projected salary. He’s going to be in his year 31 season and I see him as either a DH/catcher on this team in 2018 or as a sign and trade player this winter for another player who fills a greater position of need.
* Gregerson and his salary are gone. I see his spot being filled by a big arm in the bullpen. Ultimately, I see Musgrove in that spot, with the added bonus of being able to go two innings when required.
* Tony Sipp doesn’t just cost money and a roster spot. Over the course of the season he costs the team wear and tear on the other bullpen pitchers because he doesn’t do his job. Something has to happen to complete this bullpen. Sipp has to go, one way or another.
* Chris Devenski has the Circle Of Death change up and it is not enough. He is like every other relief pitcher: he needs two plus-pitches. He needs that second one to advance his career in the pen. Take a look a his playoff stats. They are stunningly bad. He did not take a step back in his stuff in 2017. The batters figured him out and he has to adjust.
* I said it before, but it bears repeating. If Charlie Morton continues his 2017 performance in 2018, I would try to lock him up for 2019. He has indicated that he has thought about retirement, so he would probably like to end his career with a championship contender and sock away a little more money.
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I don’t think Charlie wants to pitch past 2018…..but who knows if he is presented with a good contract he might jump on it!
An interesting Q&A with Brian McT….
Not sure why they would want Lucroy over Gattis – he was good in 2016 but not very in 2017, though they might consider him better defensively.
The concept of how to use Peacock will be interesting, too.
Agree with with the post. But Sipp is a real problem. Do you dump him and replace with him with another arm? Then that spot becomes a $10-12 million spot by paying two salaries. Do you HOPE he finds his arm this year? Then what do you do if he becomes a Repeat Offender? No one appears to be ready in the minors. It would be great to trade him, but what could we expect to get in return? Last year the Astros used 24 pitchers (not counting JD, Aoki, White). Do you keep Sipp ONLY for losing blow out games. You can’t use him even if you are 12 runs ahead. Just a real problem.
I messed up. My reply was to 1OP and not to DanP.
It’s okay. This is the off season.
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Sipp is in exactly the same position as Neshek was last off season.
They try to do the same thing with him as they did last year with Pat.
OK – so how about this – if you ignore a 6 game period in late July when Sipp gave up almost half his runs for the season – Sipp had a 3.58 ERA for the other 40 games he appeared in….
Yeah I know – grasping at straws.
But, Dan, the team did not trust him to pitch in the playoffs. No matter what else you talk about the regular season, Sipp does not have the affirmation of the club. Again, he is one of the reasons the other pitchers in the pen were not effective in the postseason either. They had to constantly use their arms in the regular season covering for his spot in the bullpen.
Hinch regularly brought Sipp in and had to remove him immediately and that will not do the job on a championship contender. It’s like having only 24 guys on the roster.
Like I said – I’m grasping at straws.
It is weird – he does not strike me as a bad guy – like someone who would tank as soon as he got a contract. He had a lot of ups and downs in his career, but he was good in 2014 and then very good in 2015. And stinky since…… and yes the worst thing was when they would bring him in to pitch to a couple guys and he let them get on and they replaced him.
I mean if you packaged him with $6 million to cover his salary could you get anything – even a low A pitcher for him?
We will find out in the next couple of months. Neshek was bad in 2016 for Houston. They managed to get Philly to take on his salary and he worked out for them. Let’s hope that Luhnow can do something similar with Sipp.
OP – I’m in an argumentative mode today – Neshek was not bad in 2016. He Had a 3.06 ERA and a WHIP below 1.000 for the year. Before he gave up 3 runs in his last appearance for the year his ERA was 2.54. He had a few games early and late where he was not that good, but overall he was not bad for the season.
After Neshek messed up early he was taken out of his role as a late inning reliever and used by the Astros only in low leverage situations. That was his beef with the Astros, which he voiced after he was gone. But he put the club in a bad spot by not pitching well during the terrible beginning of the 2016 season when they really needed him to be good. They lost confidence in him because he was getting hit hard.
Sounds familiar. Last year of a three year deal and losing the confidence of the club after two of the three years of his expensive deal.
Not giving this up…..
– At the end of April Neshek did have an ERA over 5. In 10 appearances he had given up 4 hits total and 4 runs and 2 HRs.
– By comparison, Giles at the end of April had an ERA of 9.00. In 11 appearances he had given up 16 hits and 10 runs
– In the 48 appearances Neshek made between the end of April and Sept. 21
– He had a 1.87 ERA
– He appeared in the 7th inning or later 42 of 48 times
– He appeared in 26 of 48 games that were decided by 2 runs or less
So, I don’t buy your premise – he was still used late in games, he was still used in many close games and most importantly it was not like he was “pounded” early in the season – he gave up a couple home runs in a few games in April – not nearly as bad as Mr. Giles.
I’m not really concerned about Sipp and disagree with most people on here who are. He’s the last guy in our bullpen entering spring training and will be used as such, unless Luhnow can find another spot for him. As for 2017, he gave up three runs in a 13-4 win over Philly and 5 runs in a 13-1 loss to Detroit (Verlander got the win, LMJ gave up 5 and took the loss, Sipp entered down 6-0, gave up some runs and baseruners and Guduan let the rest in) in July, but otherwise performed like you would expect from a regular reliever. His velocity has never reached what he had in 2014 and 2015. My take was that he struggled with location because he was trying to throw harder to compensate for this. Will he regain some of this in a contract year? In 162 games there are plenty of low pressure innings to throw his way.
I agree with Dan. Neshek was not bad in 2016 for Houston. Giles and Gregerson were both bad in 2016 for longer stretches. The real problem was that Neshek had a really bad September and was effectively unavailable in the playoffs. Was that related to his foot injury? I’m not sure. Looking at the stats and game logs it sure looks like Neshek was a normal reliever – small samples lead to lots of volatility.
Sorry – to clarify, Neshek had a bad September 2015. None of the Astros were available for the 2016 playoffs.
Dan, I don’t give up either. My solution is to trade Sipp to Philly and Neshek to you. That way, everyone is happy.
I’ll take him op – in his “bad” year he was better than all our 2017 relievers not named Giles and basically even with Devenski.
I think Sipp will go as part of the deal that brings a high end lefty. We’ll probably pay part of the salary. I do not care. I’m very confident Luhnow will strengthen the roster. This is the best place to do it.
OK, about Neshek. I see a conspiracy in everything. So here goes. In 2014, he make $1 million with the Cards, was 7-2, WHIP 0.787 and Cards let him go at the end of the season. Signs with Houston. After two years on a 3 year deal, they trade him to the Phillies. Half way through the year, the Phillies trade him to Colorado. Positive WAR every year from 2012-2017.
I wonder if there is something past his performance that teams are considering.
This is an article in LSU sports on Bregman. We have a team full of “good guys ” that can play.
Great article AC. With one son on the autism spectrum and a brother with Downs Syndrome – that means a lot.
We have stats like BABIP. I hope some day we have a pitching stat of “DTPC” – which is distance traveled per contact. I know some of these guys may have decent stats, by if Springer and Reddick have to jump over the wall to save home runs, those can’t be considered great pitching performances.
When Neshek got to Philly he threw the Astro Organization under the bus, you know what the means ” to the pit of misery Patty me boy” Dilly Dilly
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I thought that Sipp’s issue was that his velocity was down but worse was that his fastball had absolutely nothing on it. To the opposing batters it probably looked like a beach ball coming at them. If we can’t unload Sipp he needs another pitch. The same holds true for Devo. To be a better pitcher next season he needs to develop another pitch. Giles is in the same boat only worse as he can’t get his slider or fastball over for a strike. Is it that hard for these guys to develop another pitch? A cutter, or even a curve just too keep the hitters guessing.
We were able to get to Jansen and other “unhitable relievers because we figured out their 2 pitch repertoire. These guys need a third pitch but maybe that’s easier said than done. As I said earlier, I think Giles biggest issue is in his head. Maybe a case of Brad Lidge Syndrome.
There is a name for guys with 3 pitches – starters.
Well OK – starters usually have 4 pitches, but normally only 2 or 3 good pitches. Most relievers have 2 reliable pitches and the fact that they will only be around for an inning.
Agree, but was looking for an alternate solution as we might just have a reliever dilemma. Either that or pitch improvement is needed.
I think a lot of the bullpen woes comes from being used so heavily during the first half of the season. Oldpro is right that if Sipp were more reliable (and trusted) then we would have saved a lot of innings on other guys arms. It’s not just the innings, though, it’s getting up in an inning that they don’t pitch. This is an area in which Hinch can improve. In fact, I’d go so far as to say better management of his bullpen might be the key to him winning that Manager of the Year award we talked about last week.
Devin, the guy won the World Series. At one point, didn’t we have all five starters down? He didn’t manage the pen? He was using half his pen to start games. I’ll take an equal performance out of Hinch in 2018. If we stay healthy, we’ll win it again. Manager of the year does not mean jack when you walk away with the big prize. Ask Molitor what he’d prefer to have on his mantle.
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AJ Hinch won Baseball America’s Manager of the Year.
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If we’re comparing managing performances, I think Hinch was better than Roberts, Girardi, and the guy Boston fired. If you’re happy how Devenski and Harris were used during the season, great, but I’d like to see both of them entering the playoffs strong next time. I will admit the Liriano appearances, Feliz injury, and inability of guys like Martes to transition to bullpen work impacted this, but I think the damage to the end of the bullpen occurred before the All Star break.
Remember Devin – Collin McHugh was not available until after the All Star break, Morton missed all of June and Keuchel missed almost all of June and July. Hinch was overusing arms in the pen because he had to use Peacock and Martes and Paulino in the rotation and the bullpen was getting more abuse because the starters were not going deep etc.
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That’s possibly true – there were a number of outings where pitchers (Paulino, Martes, etc.) melted down in the fourth inning. Peacock and Fiers, however, were pretty good to great during that stretch though. I’m not sure if we could have expected longer outings from LMJ, McHugh, and Morton during that stretch. Keuchel has generally been the starter who went the most innings in his starts.
If I were the Astros I would jump in to the Stanton fray. Why? First of all, he immediately becomes a core player who is already tied in at a salary that is current for a superstar(NL MVP). If he opts out after three years, you still got a superstar for his three youngest years. We talked about being able to tie up core players last week, right.
I would try to trade Marisnick for him because it would give the Marlins an outstanding young outfield, allowing Yellich to move out of CF and back into his corner outfield spot. Miami would also have the advantage of Stanton being traded to the AL, where they don’t have to face him.
How do we afford him? Adding him to the lineup would sell out MMP almost every night because you added the best hitter in the NL to the best hitting club in baseball. Have Miami pick up a few million of his salary, subtract Marisnick’s salary, trade Gattis for prospects or relief arms because you no longer need Gattis’s RH bat in the lineup because you have Stanton’s bat.(The Astros have indicated Gattis will not be catching much anyway so they wouldn’t need him to be a catcher either) Both White and Moran make league minimum and you let them fight it out for DH in the spring. Trading Gattis eliminates his salary.
When Kyle Tucker is ready you move him into the outfield to replace either Springer who might be a free agent or Reddick who is getting older and still expensive. Tucker would be a league minimum player for years and that provides the rest of the salary of Stanton by subtracting Springer or Reddick’s salary.
So the loss of Beltran’s salary, Gregerson’s salary and Fiers’s salary make up for the arbitration raises, meaning Crane just has to come up with the money for a couple of relievers.
In the meantime you would field a lineup of
Would pitchers like to come to the Astros to pitch with that lineup?
And you still have Marwin where he is best: everywhere.
The Astros would be an elite team and networks would be clamoring to get them on their prime time games. This move would make other teams feel the pressure to spend a lot of money that they didn’t want to spend.
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Im in where to I sign up!!!!
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Sounds good to me. Let’s get it done.
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How do we pull off that trade without giving up Tucker and Whitley? I’d love to see protection for Correa like that, but suspect the Marlins are getting better offers than Luhnow will make.
I do wonder if the Astros would enter Spring Training with an intention of Marwin rotating through 1B / LF / DH in your scenario, though.
The Cardinals and Giant’s have made offers and now the Marlins are telling Stanton he has to accept a trade, so that indicates to me that he doesn’t want to go to St. Louis or to the terrible Giants who have the worst record and one of the highest payrolls.
The Marlins don’t want to take on a salary in this trade, but they get a major league outfielder who had his best year and they will get him for $2 million dollars. My idea that this trade goes through is that Stanton will agree to go to the World Champion Astros and play with a great team and still opt out of his contract with them in three years if he wants to become a free agent and move to the West Coast. Getting Stanton to agree to this trade, getting a major league outfielder, and getting rid of his huge salary for a measly $3-4 million a year is what the Marlins should expect to get.
If Stanton chooses to opt out in three years and become a free agent, the Marlins contribution to his salary goes away.
I repeat: Every major league team had an opportunity to pick up Stanton for his contract alone when he passed through waivers and no one took advantage of that.
Now that the Astros have won the World Series, they have the finances to get Stanton, add him to an already great lineup and see how many years they can be serious contenders and establish themselves as a top franchise. Stanton is young enough to be a good outfielder for many years and then slip into a DH roll at today’s dollars, at a time when other players are making tomorrow’s dollars. And he will have the Crawford boxes for as long as he wants, which Beltran was too old to take advantage of.
Tucker and Whitley are untouchable. They are not even in play in this deal because Jeter has to get rid of that salary and he wants to do that by shedding Stanton’s pay, not by a complete teardown of his younger, lesser expensive stars.
Believe me, this is probably not a deal Luhnow ever planned on doing, but these are times and circumstances that nobody foresaw. This entire snowball started with the death of the Marlin’s star pitcher and that snowball is now huge. We are at the point where that huge snowball is on level ground and the Astros can take advantage of it being there for the taking.
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Wondering aloud here – would it be better for the Astros to get Stanton for three years or go after a good starting pitcher to fill in behind Keuchel and Morton?
I always feel like it is easier to get everyday help vs. pitching help, but an SP is going to require more resources/prospects (though as we saw with Verlander – not as much as we thought).
Can you count on outscoring the opposition? Well we did win WS games 7-6 and 13-12…..
That would be so intriguing to have that kind of bat in the middle of the lineup. I don’t know how opponents would scheme against that. It would be kind of like playing Monopoly and your opponent has hotels on all the properties from the Yellow Atlantic Ave through the Green all the way to Boardwalk. The kind of lineup that has you throwing out sighs of relief every time through or wishing to be put in Jail so you don’t have to move….
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Ok, there are a few things going on here:
1. Stanton passed through waivers without being claimed. A claiming team would have basically had exclusive negotiating rights with the Marlins to make a trade. They would then have to hope GS would waive his no trade clause. Miami was not going to allow the claiming team to take him for nothing.
2. Miami wants to move Stanton and his salary. If he refuses, they have (according to rumors) told him all the players around him will be traded as part of a fire sale / rebuild. For the sake of our discussion I’m assuming Stanton will waive the NTC to play with the best player in the AL, the best SS in baseball, and a host of other world champions.
3. TCB writers and comment thread participants make expect the Marlins will give him to us for Tony Kemp, Jake Marisnick, AJ Reed, and a bag of baseballs…but I suspect Derek Jeter knows he can and should get a much higher ceiling out of the return from this trade.
Having said all that, I hope you’re right that JL can figure out a way to spin spare parts and C+ prospects into a guy that could hit 100 HR in our home ballpark.
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Heck if you guys are all that serious about Stanton, then I can get on board, but I want you to tell me that George will be sticking around too. And from my standpoint, I might be pursuaded to part with Tucker Jr. too.
Devin, your first point is what I would reply to. Any team that would have claimed Stanton on waivers had to want him despite his salary and would have gotten him for taking on his salary only, if he approved the move. Miami had zero leverage over getting anything else out of the deal because the team that claimed him would have been the only team that could use the waiver claim and that team could have used the word “no” to giving up any extra prospects and Miami would have nothing they could do with Stanton, except keep him and start over at the end of the season
Two thirds of teams can’t afford him, another five won’t be able to afford him in five years and the other five are going to try to get him for as little prospects as they can give. Remember that Marisnick is better than 95% of prospects out there because he can play in this league. And he hits in that crazy stadium in Miami.
dave, George won’t be sticking around because we want Altuve and Correa to stick around. Sorry. But having 23 yo., league minimum salary Tucker to put out there in 31 year old George’s place is AWESOME. Tucker is a big part of the Astros future, especially when George plays out his time and wants to go to Boston.
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Remember there is a pecking order on waiver claims though. Any team putting in a claim in August on Stanton would have to feel confident that the Marlins would either give him away for free (or trade price they would pay) AND that he would accept a trade to that destination. If either of those conditions were not met, the team would move to the back of the queue for other waiver claims with nothing to show.
OP, I’m too much of a homie I guess. I want George, Carlos and Jose together in the mix going forward if there is any chance of it working. I don’t want Stanton if his arrival makes that impossible. This year should help me be convinced that Tucker is the guy most people think he is. If so, he’s my Reddick replacement. But I’m not convinced yet. Back to Stanton. He’d be great to see in the lineup come April. What a true Murderers Row! But I’m also thinking Jake can do what he did last year. Bregman will hit more. So will Correa. George had a career year, but I think there is more where that came from. I don’t think Yuli will stop hitting. We’ll get more from our DH. Maybe Marwin and Reddick step back a bit. But overall I think we’re a better hitting club even without Stanton. Does he put more people in seats? Maybe, but if our present group of World Champions can’t do it, shame on Houston.
OP, the Astros could add Fisher to that trade to sweeten the pot.
No real news here….
It will be news if anyone bites
But yes OP, George might want to go home for the big deal. I think his fiancé is from that neck of the woods too. I hope Biggio has his ear though.
I loved the comment the other day by a Marlins Fan.
“Hey Jeter, when you bought the team, did you forget that you needed to also come up with money for payroll?”