Free Blog Weekend: What, me worry?

Today we salute two oldies but goodies on the blog.

First is Chip’s traditional Free Blog Weekend. There will be a few conversation starters thrown in here, but you are allowed to go anywhere you want with the post today within reasons of decency and avoiding controversial subjects like religion, the President, sex and Nolan Ryan going into the Hall of Fame as a Ranger.

Second is a salute to that famous comic slacker Alfred E. Neuman and his equally famous quote “What Me Worry?”. The following are ten reasons why we don’t need to worry as Astro fans heading into the 2018 season.

  1. Been there, done that. The team had one of the most self-affirming seasons in the history of baseball. They are a fire tested bunch like a biblical Daniel and there will be nothing in 2018 and especially the playoffs that should surprise them. (Oh crud – I brought religion in here).
  2. Facing adversity. They won the title in 2017 despite injuries to almost their whole starting rotation – Collin McHugh, Dallas Keuchel, Lance McCullers Jr., and Charlie Morton plus critical injuries to Carlos Correa and George Springer and rarely swooned.
  3. Facing adversity Part 2. No team in the Astros history proved that they were never out of a game, no matter how big a deficit they faced, how late in the game it was or how critical the game was. Go back to the top 10 games of the year for proof of that.
  4. Offensive depth. When hitting on all cylinders, this team was an offensive machine to behold – leading or near the top in nearly every important offensive category in the majors. Beyond that, they have such offensive depth that even when the inevitable individual slump occurs there are many hands left to lift the offensive burden.
  5. Rotational depth. As they sit right now (and there are rumblings that Jeff Luhnow may be looking to improve this area more) the team is very solid with their starting rotation. With Cy Young winners Justin Verlander and Keuchel, recent 18 game winner McHugh, youngster curveball artist McCullers, brilliant additions to the rotation in 2017 Morton and Brad Peacock and with young pitchers like Joe Musgrove, Michael Felix and Francis Martes backing them up – Manager A.J. Hinch has many tools in that toolbox to send out there.
  6. An active, focused front office. The trade of the year in the majors in 2017 was the last second pickup of Verlander from the Tigers. The front office has also been up front in signing two solid bullpen pieces already in Joe Smith and Hector Rondon early in the off-season and has showed they are not afraid to go out and pursue what this team needs.
  7. More mature manager. Like any manager, A.J. Hinch was second guessed quite a bit last season, but it is no hyperbole to say that he did the best job of anyone he faced during the playoffs. He did not let his team meltdown no matter the situation, did a brilliant job of using his extra rotation pieces in the bullpen when the bullpen was shaky and did not burn out his pitching staff in tough offensive friendly situations.
  8. Jose Altuve, MVP, nuff said
  9. Barely below. While Altuve was the rock and MVP of the team, it would be down right difficult to pick out the second most valuable everyday. Was it Marwin Gonzalez, who along with playing wherever Hinch needed him also led the team in RBIs? Was it George Springer who was the MVP of the World Series, but who also seemed to be the key to the offense? Was it Carlos Correa who we can only salivate when we think of what his 100 game numbers would extrapolate to over 162 games? They are 2A, 2B and 2C on this team. And that does not even get into the importance of Brian McCann to solidifying this team and its pitchers, the career season of Josh Reddick, or the first full seasons of Alex Bregman and Yuli Gurriel, who both had many key moments during the season and the playoffs.
  10. Secret weapons. Last season the under the radar moves included signing Morton and the use of Peacock as an uber reliever/6th man in the rotation. In previous years this included picking up MarGo for a song and picking up Will Harris and McHugh off waivers. Will this year be the Rule 5 experiment with Anthony Gose as a lefty fireballer. Stay tuned.

So….why aren’t you worried heading into 2018?


39 comments on “Free Blog Weekend: What, me worry?

  1. ESPN Beisbol has tweeted out that the Giants, Padres and Astros have extended offers to OF Carlos Gonzalez.
    What I gather is that fellow countrymen Gonzalez and Altuve are pretty tight.


    • It is an interesting player to chase – lefty hitter with good numbers even excellent numbers until last season, but……it sure looks like his numbers are jacked up by the Colorado factor.
      His home and road numbers for his career (which includes some of his rookie year in Oakland)
      Home – .323 BA / .383 OBP / .977 OPS
      Road – .252 / .308 / .735
      He just turned 32….
      Much better numbers against right handed pitching. He may do fine, but have to expect that the nice seasonal numbers he put up between 2009 and 2016 will come down at sea level.


      • Dan, I was lucky enough to see Cargo hit two homers in one game in person in MMP. I have only been able to go to two games there in my life but I got to see Cargo and Arenado play and it was a pleasure, especially with the Astros winning.
        What I think is that CarGo has a hunger to win a ring. He doesn’t have to put up his career numbers to play here. He just has to put up decent numbers. His best years came when he played a lot of left field and he will play better in MMP than in Denver, where every ball hit is a rocket.
        He is not old, as this is his year 32 season, and he’s not poor, as he has made $78 million in his career. What he might be is hungry, and I like accomplished players who are hungry.
        Bottom line is this: Luhnow is going after players who he thinks give the Astros a chance of repeating. He is not going after just anyone and I have to think that Luhnow thinks that Cargo is a winner in Houston at this time.
        And, looking at Gonzalez’s career OBP and OPS, this might be a guy that makes the other teams say Damn It, and the Astros players say OMG are you kidding me?
        If the Astros did indeed make him an offer, they are all in and it means they are not content with where they are, they want to get better. Cargo also gives them a LH batter who could DH against some righties to give him and Gattis a break.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I am fairly skeptical about guys with big numbers from Colorado – kind of like Lancaster used to be for us.
        However, I am willing to grant a couple things. One – how a guy who is hungry for the title might perform well and two – the synergy factor. Guys rolled into this lineup are going to hit better just because of the good hitting around them – having guys on base in front of them, having guys that can protect them behind them in the lineup. To me – this is what happened with Reddick who had always been a decent hitter, but was a very good one last year. If they add CarGo in to the mix – I will be behind it.


      • This other Gonzalez guy would not be a slouch defensively in left. 2017 is likely not what to expect out of him offensively. He won’t have to hit against lefties very often. On the flip side, I’m not thrilled with the K’s and the OBP. I’m interested to see what the contract might look like, but we’re not spending the money so I really don’t care about the cost. What pleases me is that we’re apparently still trying to improve left field, which allows our existing Gonzalez to focus on what he does best. (At least until the post season when he might take over left again). It also, at least for now, keeps Gattis as our DH. I think he’ll take that job and thrive there if given the role. Our lineup could be significantly better than 2017. Is that possible?

        Liked by 1 person

      • I looked it up – Carlos Gonzales hit zero triples last year. 534 plate appearances; zero triples. Can we stand to add another outfielder that will likely be out-tripled by Evan Gattis?


  2. I am not worried because:

    1. we are presently undefeated in 2018;
    2. our entire starting rotation has a 0.00 WHIP and an ERA to match.
    3. Ken Giles hasn’t given me a single ninth inning stroke by walking the leadoff guy or throwing a wild pitch.
    4. Our new DH has not struck out even once.
    5. Jose’ Altuve has not been picked off or thrown out trying to steal against either a lefty or righty.
    6. The Rangers, Angels, Mariners, and As all have zero wins.
    7. Aaron Judge has yet to hit a home run, and the New York broadcast teams have nothing to crow about. Well, except for adding some dude named Stanton over the off-season.
    8. What good does worrying do, anyway?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. In case anyone has forgotten, Evan Gattis slashed .218/.271/.580 for us in when called upon to DH last year. In 110 ABs as a DH, he hit 1 HR, had 13 RBI, scored 9 runs, and struck out 21 times. Him becoming an effective DH for us next year would be a miracle of the highest order.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I have not forgotten. But look at his numbers until the end of July. Then he went down for three weeks on August 3rd, losing the groove he was in. I firmly believe with enough at bats, he’ll give us an .800 plus OPS with good numbers from both sides of the plate. Without having to catch.


  4. Today was my goodbye to my 60’s….my brain and that old woman looking back at my in the bathroom mirror aren’t on the same page! I still think I’m 25yrs old but Father time has checked the books, and I really am 69 😦 I’ve decided 69 isn’t so bad, considering it’s 483 yrs in dog years!! GO ME!!

    Liked by 6 people

  5. A few free blog weekend thoughts:
    * 17 of the Yankees top 30 prospects are RHP. They may end up with Machado at 3B this year.
    * Don’t be surprised if Forrest Whitley vaults into the top 10 prospect list by the end of spring training.
    * Jon Heyman’s sources think the Astros might be after Greg Holland.


    • I read that article too. Don’t know if I see the logic behind that one. If we sign him then who drops off? I don’t think he’ll be cheap either. WIP, K’s, Walks, and saves look good from last year but a HR for every 9 batters faced is a big ?? Almost looks like an all or nothing guy.


      • Plus, he drags a qualifying offer bag of garbage draft pick with him. Has Luhnow ever given up a draft pick? Ever?
        The draft pick is why I talk about Darvish over Arrieta, Cargo over Cain, Spahn over Burdette.
        Wait. What?

        Liked by 1 person

      • I feel (hope) that Luhnow won’t make any moves where we will all be second guessing the decision via giving up high prospects, draft choices, etc. Kind of goes back to the saying, “in Luhnow we trust”.


    • Ain’t it strange how things work out. Who would have ever “thunk” it? What night have been viewed as a disaster at the time became an unmitigated success for the Astros.

      Liked by 2 people

  6. The Verlander Trade and the way Jeff Luhnow handled the Brady Aiken draft pick will be two of the best items on Jeff Luhnow’s resume’ by the time he is done. The word that seems to describe these two achievements is “justified”.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, and I initially picked on Luhnow about the way he handled the Aiken situation and was luke warm about the expense of a Verlander pick up. That’s why I’m here on Chapalatta acting like I’m the expert!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Getting 200 hits in a season must be an incredible feat, because not one projection that I have seen for 2018, so far, has Jose Altuve reaching that mark..
    Marwin was a 4.1 WAR player in 2017 and every projection has him between 1.0 and 1.4 WAR for 2018.
    The last time Jose Altuve DID NOT make the AS Game was in 2013.
    The last time Justin Verlander DID make the AS Game was in 2013.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. From his first game of last season, April 4th, to August 3rd, when he got hit in the head by the bat of Corey Dickerson, Evan Gattis had 264 plate appearances with a slash line of .278/.330/.490/.819. and 11 homers with 45 rbis
    After his three weeks on the DL, he suffered a wrist injury which put him back on the shelf. Both of those injuries are things that have a huge effect on a player’s hitting and from the time of his concussion until the end of the regular season Gattis had only 61 plate appearances, a slashline of .203/.230/.322/.552, with 1 HR and 10 RBIS.
    It’s pretty easy for me to see why the Astros would like to keep Gattis healthy and let him get the kind of at bats as a DH that he got before his injuries.
    He was a good productive power hitter with a much lower K rate when he was healthy. Gattis’s 1.2 WAR in a half a season of PAs in 2017 was 1.2, and his dollar value at $8million per 1.0 WAR means he was worth twice his yearly salary in only 1/2 year of PAs.


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