Astros’ 2018: You choose, which is more likely…

Today’s assignment is to look at some scenarios and choose which one is more likely to happen for certain Astros and the team as a whole during the 2018 season.

1) Are the Astros more likely to….

a) Repeat as World Series champions.

b) Miss the playoffs entirely

No team has repeated as champion since the Yankees won three times 1998 through 2000. On the other hand in the 16 seasons since that feat, nine World Series champs have failed to make the playoffs the following season, including the 2002 Angels, 2003 Marlins, 2005 White Sox, 2006 Cards, 2010,’12,’14 Giants, 2013 Red Sox, and the 2015 Royals. But then again has a champion ever gone this unscathed into the next season, only losing a few small pieces and strengthening themselves at the same time?

2) Who is more likely to play 150+ games….

a) George Springer

b) Carlos Correa

In 2014, his rookie year Springer went down with 64 games to go. He missed 60 games in 2015, played all 162 in 2016 and missed 22 in 2017. In 2014, Correa played 62 games at Lancaster before breaking his leg. In 2015 he played more than 150 games between the minors and his major league call up. In 2016 he played 153 games, but in 2017 he only played 109 games in and around his thumb injury. Maybe they both make 150 games. maybe neither do.

3) Is Dallas Keuchel more likely to….

a) Be traded during the season

b) Play out the season and leave in free agency.

c) Play out the season and re-sign with the Astros

Dallas will make $13.2 million this season in his last arbitration year. He will turn 31 next New Years Day. He has one of three sports candidates for the Antichrist as his agent in Scott Boras (the other two are Nick Saban and Bill Belichick). He won the Cy Young award in 2015 and had an impressive 14-5 record and 2.90 ERA in 2017. His number of games started the last 3 seasons has slipped from 33 to 26 to 23 games. When it comes to signing him going forward, one is reminded of the Dirty Harry quote – “…you’ve got to ask yourself one question: ‘Do I feel lucky’?”

4) Who is more likely to win more games…..

a) Justin Verlander

b) Charlie Morton

c) Gerrit Cole

d) Dallas Keuchel

Verlander won 15 games last season between Detroit and Houston and last won more than 17 games in 2011. Morton’s 14 wins last season is four more than he had won in nine previous seasons. Keuchel had 14 wins last season in only 23 starts and is only two seasons removed from 20 wins in 2015. Cole won 12 games last season and is two seasons removed from 19 win season. Or if you want to vote for Lance McCullers (who has won 19 total career games, never more than 7), Collin McHugh (who won 13 in 2016 and 19 in 2015) or Brad Peacock (who won 13 of his 24 career wins in 2017) – have at it.

5) Who is more likely to hit 25 or more home runs…

a) Yuli Gurriel, who hit 18 in 2017

b) Alex Bregman, who hit 19 in 2017

c) Marwin Gonzalez, who hit 23 in 2017

Marwin hit 10 more HRs in 2017 than he did in 2016 in about 30 less ABs. Bregman hit 11 of his 19 HRs in the second half of the season and then went off for four more in 18 playoff games. Gurriel hit 12 of his homers in the second half of the season and then popped a couple more in the playoffs. Who is improving, who hit over their heads?


98 comments on “Astros’ 2018: You choose, which is more likely…

  1. I was looking at a post from last off-season and could not resist bringing over this prescient comment from op


    February 19, 2017 @ 11:22 pm

    Area’s of improvement, Charlie Morton.
    This one is easy. Charlie has never pitched for Houston. So an area of improvement would be for him to win 15 games and have an ERA under 4.00 and not injure himself at all.
    Charlie has been saving himself for this his entire career. It is a no-brainer. Charlie, if you have a breakout year like this, I think there will be a huge prize waiting for you in November.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Dan, doesn’t it make you wonder about how the Astros value Cole? They trade for him and will pay him $6.75 million this season and arbitration next season AND send four players to Pittsburg.
      They must have the same vision for him that they saw in Morton.


      • The biggest difference between the two is that Cole has some pedigree – he was very, very good a few years ago. Morton had a crappy career, but they saw his velocity spike in a short stint in 2016 and jumped on him.
        So, yes I’m betting they will have Cole concentrate on using his best pitches rather than pitching to contact and see if they have another guy who is ready to do a Morton or a Peacock or a McHugh and go to the next level.


      • I think Morton shows that they were willing to give up prospects and pieces to get Cole in part because what his salary is far lower than the going rate for expected WAR both this year and next (projected). This assumes he bounces back and is more similar to the TOR that everyone expected.


  2. I think the Astros are more likely to repeat as champions than to not make the playoffs. I think they improved their bullpen, their rotation and their lineup at the DH position. I think adding the Yankees 3B coach as our bench coach gives some perspective we can use and not having the WBC to distract a lot of our players will help their focus.
    I believe Altuve being recognized as the best player in baseball allows him to be the recognized leader of this team, filling the role he has inherited from Beltran.
    I believe Marisnick and Gonzalez are going to help this team during some rougher stretches and I think the Astros are going to be a tough team to win a series from.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. 1. I can’t imagine the Astro’s missing the playoffs. They are more likely to repeat, even though getting through the Indians and Yankees will be a minefield. 2. With the abandon Springer crashes into the outfield wall, I would lean toward Correa plying more games, even though I am very fearful of his head first slides. 3. I think Keuchel will play out the season and probably leave. The free agent riches might be disappointing to him and his agent though. 4. Verlander. I think that he will have a dream season and enjoy the defense and offense behind him. 5. I’ll go with my LSU guy. Bregman will hit his more mature stride defensely and at the plate this season. I say he will bat .300 and hit 25 or more homers . Yuli will do about what he did last year and Marwin will return to his career norm .

    Liked by 2 people

  4. 1a – Repeat is more likely because I don’t see a team in the West challenging for the title.
    2b – Both guys play hard and are targets for up and in fastballs, so this is really a push…but Carlos won’t have to worry about crashing into outfield walls.
    3b – I have this sinking suspicion he’s made up his mind already.
    4a – Verlander is the best pitcher with the highest durability gets the call. Age is still a concern though.
    5a – Gurriel started to find his power last year.


  5. The 2018 club is significantly better from the start of the season. Even if injuries take a real toll, Luhnow will make sure this group gets into the post season.

    I don’t think 150 games is a big deal for either of these guys. Maybe the plan is to keep them under 150. Keep them healthy and rested. Altuve might be the exception because he’ll scream for his 200 hits.

    Keuchel has one more season in the sun here. Then he goes and makes more money down the road.

    Tough question. We might have a batch of guys with 15 wins, none throwing more than 175 innings during the regular season.

    Bregman is the most likely 25 homer guy in that group. Much like Altuve, he won’t want a day off either.


  6. Who is more likely to play 150 games, Correa or Springer? That is a good question. I’d have to go with Correa because he already uses all the protective gear, he’s due for a full year, based on what happened in 2017 and the fact he is younger than Springer and has less mileage on his odometer.


  7. My responses will echo Larry’s. Bregman is my choice for the 25 HRs because, if we recall, he got off to a horrible start in 2017 and didn’t hit his first HR until May. He has matured as a hitter and I can see him getting the closest, if not achieving 25 HRs. I am expecting, like Larry said, for Marwin to regress the most this year and be closer to his career norms. On paper, this team is better than the team that won the World Series so a repeat is more likely than missing the playoffs. I would be shocked if they don’t win the division. They are just head and shoulders better than the other 4 teams in the A.L. West.


    • After reading the article you feel for the guy. As he said, God may have another plan for him. We just never know until we get there. Best of luck to Mark.


  8. He strikes me as someone who had never faced adversity in his life and when it appeared he did not know how to handle it. Maybe he should not have been sent to Lancaster. Maybe he should not have been stuck in the tandem system.
    But maybe he should have bucked up his Millennial a– and used the God given talent he was given and made it work. Funny – I’m kind of reminded of another Stanford guy – Jason Castro who did not seem to have that fire inside. Is it a California thing? A Millennial thing? Bad luck? Bad timing?


    • I’m going to do my usual thing and throw the Astros and their developmental staff under the bus. While I think Appel should have adjusted to the tandem better, he is not the first pitcher with great stuff to suffer in it. Look at Michael Feliz as an example. He alternated starts with eye popping stuff against starts where it just didn’t impress. But as to Appel, I think their tinkering with his mechanics impacted him mentally as well as physically. At Stanford he had good, late movement on his fastball. At QC and Lancaster it was straight as an arrow. How does that happen in such a short amount of time?


  9. on the ?’s
    1. more likely to repeat
    2. both will barring injury (of the 2 correa as springer may knock down a wall going after a ball)
    3. this one depends on how the season is going. i dont think he’ll pitch all year and return to the astros
    4. Verlander
    5. gotta go with Bregman


  10. I expect Verlander to have a monster season because of his durability and having a terrific defensive team behind him and an offense that is good enough to handle the #1 pitchers he is likely to be pitted against.

    I think Bregman will break the 25 homer barrier but Yuli may really surprise if he changes his launch angle just a bit. If I remember correctly he put up a great average exit velocity but relatively low launch angle which did result in a bunch of doubles.

    I think we get what we can out of Keuchel this season and then give him a qualifying offer and let him walk after the season. I think his finesse style is too dependent on cooperative umpiring and his combative attitude when he doesn’t get Tom Glavine like strike calls on balls clearly off the plate bodes ill for him long term.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Don’t mean to drink the Kool-Aid, but truly, this team has a chance to be among the best baseball teams of all time.

    Last year, their offense was among the best offenses of all time. Stat-oriented observers repeatedly compared them with the 1927 Yankees. And this year, sure there will be some regression from some guys, but there’s also real opportunity for growth on the part of other key pieces, like Bergman and Correa.

    But I think the real difference this year is going to be starting pitching, which was already good last year. In addition to addikg Verlander and Cole, Dallas Keuchel is in his last contract year and has a lot to prove. Moreover, Dallas is a pretty intense guy. He’s competitive and I don’t think he wants to be #2 to any pretty boy like Verlander. Add that to the fortifications we received in the bullpen, and this could be a really outstanding pitching staff.

    Absent major injuries, this team should win 100+ games easily. I could see them getting close to 110.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Welcome back token – haven’t seen you in a while! Yes, it is amazing you can have one of the best offenses ever when the one guy you have in place to hit only (the DH) can’t do it.
      This could be a terrific offense. I’m worried about Marwin and Reddick regressing, but agree that Correa and Bregman (and Gurriel) could get better. And hopefully Gattis or whoever will give us more than Beltran did.


    • I agree. Remember we won 101 games despite our entire rotation being injured for a bit and having to use guys like Dayan Diaz in the bullpen too. Our staff is actually deeper.


  12. Sports his a long history of someone looking great until they hit high level competition. A boxer’s first knockdown, Bo Jackson running over “the Boz” or a basketball slam getting put right back in your face. Mark Aguirre was the stud for the Mavericks. He got traded to the Pistons and Bill Lambert laid him out in PRACTICE.

    Some overcome it (Bregman) and some don’t (Appel).


  13. So how many folks went to Vegas and bet on Jon Singleton having a longer mlb career than Mark Appel? Please come get me in your private jet and we will fly to the golf course you own on Oahu.


  14. My answer to question 3 is that I think Keuchel is more likely to play out the season and become a free agent.
    My reasoning for this is Luhnow’s statement that the Astros’ #1 goal is to win the World Series this year. Since I believe Keuchel increases those chances to accomplish that goal, my belief is that they keep him and hope he decides to resign with them or that they get a draft pick with a QO or that he accepts the QO.
    I really admire Keuchel and how much he has accomplished in his career. He is a warrior. I don’t forget what a great fielder he is and how good he is at holding runners on. I don’t forget how swiftly he works on the mound and keeps his fielders on their toes. All of that adds to his abilities as a pitcher.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, I think there is less than 1% chance Keuchel gets traded anytime this year. This team can afford to QO him at the end of the season and reap the draft picks that will come when he signs elsewhere. This team is at the pinnacle of their window and there is just no reason to trade Keuchel during the season. The only way I could see it happening, and again this is less than 1% probability, is if the season just completely derails and they are, for all intent and purposes, out of the race by the trade deadline.


  15. Another feather in the cap of Luhnow. A lot of us pissed and moaned about all the people we gave up but truthfully we gave up nothing of value. Giles may not be another Mariano Rivera, but for once WE were the one to screw over the Phillies instead of the other way around as usual. Velasquez is a poor man’s version of LMJ with less talent and worse injuries but he is better than Appel.

    There was something interesting about his retirement story. He mentioned something about needing to get back on track and “become a healthy human being”. Possible drug problem? And I mean an actual drug, not a medicinal herb that was made illegal due to racism (seriously, look at its history and see Henry Anslinger’s comments on why he proposed the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937 against the strong disapproval of the American Medical Association). Something is not right with the guy.


    • He wouldn’t be the first person to get tripped up by personal vices and that could be alcohol or drugs. And I’m afraid that while the “medicinal herb” may well have been made illegal for the wrong reasons – it is totally possible (see Jon Singleton) that too much of even that drug might not be the best thing for someone to utilize when they are trying to be one of 750 major leaguers in the world.
      It was an interesting wording – “healthy human being” – it could even point to psychological problems. Truthfully I would hope he can someday get it together even if it is for someone else. I hate to see great talent wasted for whatever reason.


  16. As for the questions…

    1) A. Remember a few years ago I had a discussion with Bopert who at the time felt the Astros would never compete. I stated that if the young players all reached their full potential we had a chance to be a dominating team for years (like the 1991 Astros could have been the start of something had we kept Lofton, Finley, Caminiti,and Schilling). Well we’ve already won one Series and our guys still haven’t peaked!

    2) B

    3) B. If he has another injury filled year we should LET him walk.

    4) Verlander will win 21 games. You heard it here first. Or rather, read it.

    5)Bregman, who will be to Altuve what Bagwell was to Biggio.

    Liked by 2 people

  17. Regarding the playoffs, the Astros are most ‘likely’ to . . .

    I hesitate to say the the Astros are ‘likely’ to repeat as World Series Champions. I think it is a significant possibility – and that is good enough for me. How often in franchise history have we been able to say something like that? But ‘likely’ is a term that scares me. There are just too many variables – injuries, declining performances by key players, bad baseball luck, stolen signs, tipped pitches, bad calls by umpires at critical moments, etc – to say at this point that anybody is ‘likely’ to win the World Series. I do, however, think it is at least pretty ‘likely’ that the Astros make the playoffs, and that they will do so by repeating as champs of the AL West.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mr. Bill – maybe you are thinking too hard here. I was just saying which of the two options was more likely to happen. That could mean they have a 20% chance of winning the WS and a 10% chance of missing the playoffs and (unstated) a 70% chance of making the playoffs but not winning the whole thing.
      I personally think they have about a 40-50% chance of winning it all. But I am an optimist I know. I remember how many games were one play from going the other way. But just like the New England Patriots, the Astros were the better team and made the play that made the difference.


      • I was following you and nodding until you had to go and mention by name that team that epitomizes everything that is wrong about a league whose games I quit watching several years ago. As my granddaughter says when she laughs too hard: “YUK! Now you made me taste throw-up in my mouth!


      • I hate the Patriots too Mr Bill – but I would love for the Astros to be hated as much as the Pats are by the other baseball fans around the country.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Yes, you know you’ve reached success for several seasons when you become one of the most hated teams by fans of other teams. That is my wish for the Astros…to be despised by so many because they just keep winning. However, despite all their success I don’t find many Spurs haters, other than just envious/jealous Rockets/Mavs fans (and I’m a Rockets fan). It is probably because they handle winning with class and dignity and have never been accused of cheating in the slightest.

        Liked by 1 person

  18. Most likely to play 150 games?

    The two choices given for the advanced stat of ‘MLTPI150Gs’ are Springer and Correa.

    Correa has hit the 150 mark once in three seasons [153 in 2016]. Springer has done it once in four seasons [162 in 2016].

    Based on that, I’d say Springer is ‘most likely’ among these two -but I sure hope they both play in at least 150!


  19. What’s Going to Happen to DK?

    I am in the minority, I know, in not expecting much from DK in 2018. I expect him to have a big regression [due to a loss of 1 to 2 mph on fastball, and a slight loss of command, which for him has to be absolutely perfect to be successful]. I also expect him to spend 1/3 to 1/2 of the season on the DL, as the Club tries to salvage something of his season and get him fresh and ready for the playoffs.

    I don’t think we will be able to trade him at the deadline, because I think he will be on the DL, and not, in his time on the field in 2018 before going on the DL, to have a good [for him] ERA, WHIP, BB/9, K/9, HR/9, or IP/start, or even a good [for him] GO/AO ratio.

    So, I think the answer is a modified version of b- I think he will primarily sit out the season [instead of ‘play’ it out] and then leave to FA.

    I hope I am wrong, but that’s my gut feeling. Though he’s had some good games, he just hasn’t been consistently ‘right’ since he was brought in for that disastrous relief appearance in the 2016 ALCS.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Bill, I considered that angle with Keuchel. All good points. Imagine the guy turning into a burden that we can’t unload? Who knows. We never did find out exactly what his injury was in 2017. And you know, he might be the one guy that teams would rather face when you look at our rotation.


  20. Which of our stable of starters will be our “Big Winner”?

    This one looks to me like it should be a ‘shoe-in’ for JV. The issue in my mind is who will win the 2nd most amount. I expect Morton to have the 2nd most wins, followed closely by Cole with the third highest number. I suspect the next highest win total will be whoever takes over for Dallas Keuchel in the rotation when he falters, then gets placed on the DL. I suspect that will be either Collin McHugh or Brad Peacock.


  21. Who Will Join the ’25 Mashed Taters’ club?

    This is a toss up, to me, between Bregman and Gurriel. The question is, will Bregman start atrociously slow, and finish hot as a pistol, again like he has the last two years? If he starts slow again, Gurriel beats him to the Tater Basket.

    I may be wrong, but I don’t foresee Marwin ever hitting over 20 HRs again. I am just going to be forever grateful to him that he stepped up and had a career year for us in the year that we go NO PRODUCTION FROM DH or a regular left-fielder whatever.


  22. 1. More likely to repeat as not making the playoffs would be unimaginable and unpalatable.
    2. Got to go with the consensus here, Correa. However, wouldn’t we all love both to play 150+ games.
    3. I want to say DK will play out the season and opt for FA but with so many other FA pitchers next year and what’s happening this year there’s a possibility he’ll stick around.
    4. I’m going to go out on a limb and say Gerrit Cole. Something just tells me he’s real hungry and the Astro buffet diner is open for business.
    5. Alex Bregman is the man here. Marwin maybe if he gets to play more, and Yuli is more of a contact line drive hitter so I don’t think so .


  23. With a spring in their step, and the way our pitchers love the defense these guys bring every single game! I loved the look on Verlander’s face when he saw George go after, and track a ball and get it in his glove! First question I have no idea if they are going to go all the way again this year, but I look for them to go very deep in the playoffs. Correa and Springer both will play their hearts out, so that one might be a draw. While I love Keuchel and how far he’s come with this club, he will walk at the end of 2018…..I wish him well. Who will win more games? I’m giving it to the old grizzled husband of Kate Upton!! The more I see (when I’ve been lucky enough to see a game) him pitch the more I ” literally just love Justin Verlander”!! Last question is easy….Bregman is a baseball player who comes to play every single day. I “just literally love Alex Bregman TOO”
    We have a scary good team…..there are no holes. When was the last time we could say that.
    Tim I don’t want this team to be despised. I want other teams and their fans to be in awe of the Astros. I want other pitchers to say, “I want to learn to throw that pitch”. I want other fans to be green with envy that we have Altuve, Correa, Springer and Bregman for a long time. I want other GM’S to do what Luhnow has done, with great success! I want to meet back next February 1st 2019 still talking about what an awesome season these guys had in 2018!
    *13* more days!! Becky⚾

    Liked by 3 people

    • Anyone who watched the LLWS last year saw a ton of players listed Jose Altuve as their favorite pro player! That’s incredible. After the postseason you have to think there are now a bunch more who will list Altuve and a bunch who will pick some of our other favorites like Springer, Correa, Bregman, and Verlander.

      I want the other fan bases to be jealous of our team for our success, but not have any reasons to begrudge us that. In other words, as long as the team keeps the celebrations in check, plays hard, and respects their opponents I think people will not hate us. If they start to cheat, show up pitchers on every HR, etc. then they’ll be in trouble. Also, the fan bases themselves dictate this. How many Patriot, Red Sox, Yankee, Seattle Seahawk, Alabama, or Rangers fans do you know who are not obnoxious when it comes to their team?

      Liked by 1 person

      • I want to wholeheartedly second and agree with every word of this comment. Please can it be framed and featured on succeeding posts or permanently embedded on this site?


  24. -Yuli Gurriel has played in 175 games and has 192 hits.
    -In his age 22 season Carlos Correa’s slash line was .315/.391/.550/.941. That’s in the major leagues, not the minors. Sometimes you just have to step back and look at that to realize how good that is for any player, let alone a 22 year old shortstop.
    -Alez Bregman was not satisfied with his play last season and is working to improve his play in 2018. His own words.
    -George Springer hit .310 in the first half of the season and .241 in the second half. I think George will hit .300 for the season in 2018.
    -Last season in Alex Bregman’s first at-bat of the game against starting pitchers he hit .346. The guy knows what he wants to do.
    -In 540 PAs in 2017, Josh Reddick had 43 walks and only 72 Ks.
    -In 2016, Jason Castro had 376 PAs for the Astros and had 32 RBIs and 123 Ks.
    -In 2017, Brian McCann had 399 PAs for the Astros and had 61 RBIs and 58 Ks.
    -I kid you not! In 2017 Jose Altuve was the second best hitting second baseman on the Houston Astros team. Marwin Gonzalez’s slash line last season while playing second base was…. wait for it… .393/.431/.754/1.185.
    That was in 19 games and 65 PAs. Marwin had 5 HRs, 19 RBIs and only 7 Ks in 65 plate appearances as a second baseman.
    -In 70.2 innings pitched for the Astros last season in the regular season and postseason combined, Justin Verlander gave up only 39 hits.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Op, according to Sickels, 2B was Marwin’s best position in his prospect days. But several bloggers insist Marwin Gonzales will regress, or will only thrive as a substitute.

      I’ve got you one up! Who was the best LF last season with 144 wRC+, and a 149 OPS+?

      “He forced A. J. Hinch’s hand just about everyday, I’m not questioning him.” Maybe just maybe this is a “player that’s coming into the prime of his career, and he’s figured it.”

      It looked to me like last season filling out the lineup card started with Marwin.


      • I remember a few years ago that Chip was a real proponent of Marwin and I just did not see it. I thought he was a passable sub whose value was more how many positions he played and being a switch hitter rather than how well he played.
        Last year was an insane revelation – kind of like Charlie Morton – a year that was unlike anything he had put up before (though unlike Morton – MarGo was entering the prime years of his career as you said Grayson). It is hard to think of a player who so far outstripped anything he had done in the previous 4-5 years.
        2017 / Previous best
        .303 BA / .279
        .377 OBP / .327
        .530 SLG / .442
        .907 OPS / .759
        23 HR / 13
        90 RBI / 51
        9.5% BB / 5.9
        It is hard not to expect some regression after such a great leap, but maybe he will fall only a bit and still be a very good hitter.


  25. I was reading an interesting article on Rob Manfred’s efforts to speed up the game. He has the power to invoke anything he wants, but he went for buy-in from the player’s union on the 20 second pitch clock. The union shot it down.
    Now his new proposal is that he would like to invoke new rules and if they don’t improve things the clock may come back. What he’s proposing is:
    – The hitters don’t leave the batter’s box
    – The hitter and pitcher are ready immediately when the commercial break (which are supposed to be shortened) is over
    – And the tough one – Teams are limited to 6 mound visits (manager, pitching coach, catcher, infielder) in a game.
    I don’t know how that last one would work – if you have used up your 6 visits in an extra inning game and needed to replace the pitcher, would you just signal from the dugout? We know from the recent playoffs that there were probably a couple mound visits an inning by the catcher in the late innings as they attempted to change up the signals so signs could not be stolen. And the infielders are so used to coming in to calm down a pitcher. If an infielder catches a ball that has been thrown around the infield after an out and hands it to the pitcher is that a visit?
    Stay tuned on this one.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wish Manfred would leave the pace of the game to the players and umps, along reasonable time constraints.

      If you’re at the stadium, and you rush between innings to stand in line at the bathroom, then to buy a hot dog and coke – now you’ve missed a whole frame because it’s mandatory they start immediately after the break?

      Trying to take away every cat & mouse part of baseball just wreaks of more controls, for the sake of it.

      It also seems counter-intuitive to what the Astros are trying to do, and that’s create more things to do to keep fans at the venue after hours.


    • This is a tough one to address. I don’t like the pitch clock at milb games. I do like the idea of hitters staying in the box and not adjusting their gloves after every pitch. I agree with Grayson that missing game action while you’re in line to empty your wallet is pretty disappointing. I like the idea of limiting mound visits. The big problem is that baseball is not really set up to support a penalty system such as in football. The NFL has added yardage penalties, disqualifications, and even time runoffs in recent years.

      At this point, I’d suggest going a different route. I’d establish baselines for how long between pitches, number of mound visits, etc. and then attach a penalty to the teams that exceed those values at the end of the year. I would make the penalties mostly financial, but also perhaps extend them to forfeiture of draft picks or international signing involvement. Basically, tell the teams to figure out how to convince their players to perform within the expected parameters to keep the game moving at a better pace or pay the price.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I like a frank discussion with more points of view on this.

        It’s my feeling this has come about because of some other network, league or financial consideration that don’t take into Purists view that players themselves can settle all things. There are already rules in place that allow an ump to demand Marwin step into the box.

        If Marwin Gonzales is taking too much time (which he is leading the league), and the opponent yells, “get in the damn box,” well, that’s a better way than to have a clock in baseball, is my feeling.

        It’s pretty unbiased of you, my friend, Devin; or perhaps you don’t think Marwin employing a patient approach helped his numbers this past season, and you agree the stoppages need to be lessened no matter what?

        Tell you the truth, I was very glad to see LMJ and McCann constantly going back and forth. Who knows what kind of gems were needed with that young man? Where you’re suggesting, a player themself would have to make a decision in the middle of a World Series, which would jeopardize a future international signing? That seems over his pay grade, at a bad time to have to consider that.

        My thoughts are the league could threaten these things to teams who aren’t compliant in steering certain players toward quicker pace. And I’m somewhat okay with making MarGo keep one foot in the box, but even that makes me queasy.

        We’re ruining the game [in my crybaby voice.]

        Liked by 1 person

      • Devin and Grayson –
        I’m really torn on this one myself. Some changes to the game I like – I think that instant replay – though it occasionally takes too long – has really taken the missed calls at first base and on tag plays out of the game. However, sometimes when the sports try to get too cute with these things they cause more trouble than they fix. I think of what the NFL has done with the “catch” rule, which has gotten to the point that they might as well flip a coin to the interpretation.
        I don’t think I want a pitch “clock”, but I am sick of the constant stepping out. Guys, your batting gloves and helmets are going nowhere. No need to adjust them every time.
        On the other hand the mound visits can be a necessary strategy in the game .
        Hate to fiddle with the one game that is not based on time constraints.


      • What I suggest is not penalizing for a single instance of delaying tactics, but implementing a system where teams can steer their players toward improvement over the course of a season. Playoff baseball games end ridiculously late, but that is also an effect of the late start times.

        Ben Franklin once said “by failing to prepare you are preparing to fail.” Many of the mound visits to discuss strategy shouldn’t be necessary. I don’t like the idea of removing those visits whether they are for strategy, a quick breather, or something else – but players should have to consider whether it’s in their best interest.

        As to the financial motivations, the answer is yes. Always follow the money. The longer the broadcast times the lower the ratings (their current theory). They see sports like the NBA growing in viewership in the target demographic while baseball, football, NASCAR, golf, and pretty much everyone else is losing viewers.


      • So, cater to the declining American attention span?

        I understand the rationale, I just see baseball as a leisure sport, where there are other things to do than focus on the re-adjusting gloves. Actually what’s going on is the In-Game strategy that you can’t always predict before you step into the box. Surely Marwin is allowing time to surpass so he can pick up tells from the situation.

        To your point in watching prospect video of Kyle Tucker, I think it’ll drive me nuts if he hasn’t changed his routine of grabbing dirt after every pitch! I used to hate watching Len Dykstra do his thing, and thought it was rather “interesting” when Derek Bell adjusted his jock every AB. But it was part of their schtick, and I could choose to people watch if I were at the game, or maybe talk to my spouse if I’m at home – something as terrible as that?

        As easy going as I am about it, if they change the rule I won’t mind much.


      • I think there is a happy medium between strict enforcement of speedup rules and letting Marwin adjust his gloves or John Burkett think about what he rolled in the ninth frame the night before instead of toeing the rubber. If baseball is failing to retain viewers then they need to examine why. This is what they’ve settled on…and I doubt either of us can say whether they’re right or wrong without going into wild speculation.


  26. In 2017, we had plenty of injuries, but we also had plenty of career years. We had Morton come out of nowhere, Peacock become a force, we had the MVP, Verlander coming in late to anchor the ship. So much talent. I would not have traded our roster for any in baseball. But it still came down to the last possible game of the season to get that trophy. It’s incredibilty difficult! Then I think back a few years to when we got swept by the Chicago Bleeping White Sox. Baseball is a funny game.


  27. Becky, daveb, devin, roadthriller, Tim, Mr. Bill
    To be clear – I hope other fans embrace our team, but I know how human nature works. They were pulling for us because we had never won anything. This may change – like it did with the Patriots if we win too often. I think that the Pats cheating had something to do with how fans turned on them over time, but it could happen here if folks think we are using “modern” techniques to grab other team’s signals. And they may think our tanking was a way to bend the rules in our favor (which it was).
    I hope that the wonderful spirit of our team makes them more like the San Antonio Spurs – a team with a lot of success that other folks look at and say – hey they play the game the right way and they play it better than my team does.


    • Rather than stir the pot and accentuate the hating fans who don’t seem to have anything else to do, let me share a note my uncle wrote me after the World Series.

      “It was a great series. I’ve been a life long Dodger fan but I have to say it was was great seeing a bunch play that hard and that well against what many think was another great team. They deserved it and the city of Houston needed it. Congrats to all.”
      -Charles Daniel

      Liked by 3 people

  28. I don’t care one way or the other how non Astro fans receive the club. To me, the best baseball fan is the one that appreciates talent and recognizes how special a team is, whether it’s their team or not.

    I really appreciated our march through the post season so much more, watching our club beat two teams, the Dodgers and Yankees, both loaded with talent, a whole bunch of professional baseball players, playing the game the right way. I know there’s plenty of respect between these teams and I relish our next meetings.

    Liked by 1 person

  29. Want to make three comments.
    1 Let’s win 5-6-7 World Series and bring on the hate.
    2. I don’t understand the Florida teams signing long term deals and then have to dump salary- making good players worth less because the other team has to pay those out years.
    3. If we hope to at least win the pennant, why dump DK in s trade. It’s counterintuitive to me. Do we also dump Margo, Morton, and Gattis because they may walk?

    Liked by 1 person

  30. Lost in the cobwebs of an old mind:
    *Brad Peacock, Max Stassi and Chris Carter were traded to Houston on Feb 4th, 2013 for Jed Lowrie and Fernando Rodriguez. How wonderful would it be to have Peacock pitching to Stassi for the defending WS Champions, five years later. You just never know what will happen in baseball.
    *Charlie Morton was 46-71 in his 9-year career with Atlanta, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia and 14-7 in his first year in Houston.
    * Justin Verlander has made 406 regular and postseason starts in his career and one relief appearance. He made 5 regular season starts and 5 postseason starts for the Astros and has a WS ring to show for it. And he Actually wanted to go to the Dodgers. Amazing!
    * Will Harris has pitched in 290 major league regular season games, but only 279.2 innings. He has 14 wins, 14 losses and 16 saves. In 2017, Harris had 52 strikeouts and only 7 walks in 45.1 innings.
    * Joe Smith pitched 54 innings in 2017 and had 71 strikeouts and only 10 walks.

    Liked by 1 person

    • •Since Carter was the centerpiece of that trade, how wonderful that in Game 3, Peacock earned his first major league save by completing the final ​3 2⁄3 innings of a 5-3 win, allowing no hits and striking out four. It was the longest hitless relief outing since Ron Taylor’s four innings in Game 4 of the 1964 World Series, and tied Ken Clay for the longest hitless postseason save, first accomplished in the 1978 ALCS.

      •What a difference a change of scenery, and putting together the right combination made for Morton. It goes to show that an athlete can dig down deeper and play harder when the stakes are on the line, but when it feels thankless and unappreciated, one wonders if they even care after the ball has left their hand?

      Maybe Gerrit Cole and Charlie Morton will reminisce about the meaningless games they pitched in PIT. Smith and Rondon have pitched with the weight of a contender on their shoulders, however.

      •If my eye is right, Will Harris fell off a bit vs superior hitters last season. I know he battled real injury, but as big and powerful he’s one that may surprise and return to form.

      •One name alone decided the fate of the 2017 World Series. Justin Verlander wanted to go to LA. Someday it will be all the more richly spoken when he says he’s glad he didn’t!


      • Don’t forget the Pirates made the playoffs with Cole and Morton in their rotation in 2013, 2014, and 2015. In all three years they won a Wild Card spot.


      • Ah, you have me there.
        Because of their lack of depth, I never considered Pittsburgh formidable enough to win a NLCS, I should’ve written.


    • If this is a guessing game, I’m going to guess you were about to comment on the post from an agent, who is apparently very important but previously unbeknownst to me, calling out the owners for coordinated behavior to prevent his clients from signing outrageous contracts.

      There is some good information in the post, but it comes after the text of this agent’s statement. It mentions that half the teams in the league are currently positioned to enter 2018 with lower payrolls than in 2017 and at least 5 teams have yet to sign a major league player this offseason. My opinion is that the teams not signing major league caliber players has more to do with the asking prices and players trying to secure multiple years than anything else. Everyone is stashing money for next year…and the known rosters for Houston, LA, NYY, Chicago, and a few others make it seem like a good strategy. Why throw good money after bad?


      • Yes – it was a fascinating shot across the bow of the owners. “You guys better start handing out those big, big, big contracts or our clients are going to stage a boycott of Spring Training. We noticed that some of you have lower payrolls than before and some of you don’t want any free agents so far. Well, the players are hacked off and 1994 is just around the corner….”

        Since they have an agreement in place I don’t see where they have legs to stand on. What the agent did not mention is that along with their being no $200 and $300 million contracts being handed out, that there also don’t seem to be any players living up to the previous $200 and 300 million contracts.
        Collusion could of course be behind this or it could be that the teams are getting better at using advanced metrics to make true valuations on the players including what they are going to be worth 6 and 7 years out.

        If they union wants a certain percentage of the money coming to their players, they can negotiate something like the NFL has – but that includes a hard salary cap and not-guaranteed money. Baseball players have it good, even if no one wants to pay them quite as much or quite as long as they would like.


      • Exactly, and another thing the agent won’t mention is that social media is making the teams more concerned about giving out a bad contract. Go back to the NBA offseason of 2016 and look at the silly contracts given out and how it was received by the team. Do you really want to give Eric Hosmar $200 million so he can hit 20 HR a year for you? Heck, his numbers for 2017 were on par with Marwin Gonzalez…and you don’t hear any of us yelling for Luhnow to give him a $200 million extension before he hits free agency!


  31. According to McTaggart, some of our Astro heroes and hopefuls are already in Florida working out. Who?

    1. Jose Altuve
    2. Justin Verlander
    3. Dallas Keuchel
    4. Marwin Gonzales
    5. Brady Rodgers

    There may be more there – that’s just all that McTaggart mentions.


      • That’s good stuff. I’d like to see Yuli get in early too, because those hamstrings can be bothersome at his advanced age. And where is the A.J. Reed specimen? How bad does he want it?


      • I’d like to know the following were there, early, working hard as well:

        1. Frances Martes;
        2. David Paulino;
        3. Tyler White;
        4. Tony Sipp; and
        4. Evan Gattis.

        None will be more important for 2018 than the last one. If he’s our DH, and he appears to be, he absolutely HAS to hit for us. Oh, and since he’s not supposed to be catching much if any for us, also needs to get back in shape so he can leg out all those triples he’s famous for.


    • Oldpro’s link also shows Lance McCullers Jr. So you have two guys (Altuve and Verlander) who have nothing to prove showing how you get to be two guys with nothing to prove. You have one guy (Rodgers) with everything to prove. You have one guy (MarGo) who has no doubt been reading and hearing that he is bound to regress and wanting to call BS on that. And you have two guys (LMJ and DK) who have had a couple years with a lot of injuries and who are facing important seasons….LMJ might end up in the bullpen instead of the rotation…..DK wanting to win that one big contract.
      Of course this does not mean other folks aren’t working out where they are at – but there is something about this that makes me nod and think that these guys get it.

      Liked by 1 person

  32. If 30 billionaires that belong to the same country club all vote for the same sheriff candidate, is that collusion or is that 30 people exercising there right to vote by secret ballot?
    Depends on who won the election 😋.


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