Astros 2018: Weekend wonderings

This week’s discussion on whether the Astros would have drafted Alex Bregman if they had drafted Kris Bryant instead of Mark Appel brought to mind other “what if” questions.

What if…..

  1. The 2018 Astros did not have Alex Bregman? It is hard to picture the Astros being in first place without Bregman carrying this team both physically, plus the psychological boost of his “Stare” silliness.
  2. They had started the season with the following starting rotation….. Dallas Keuchel, Charlie Morton, Lance McCullers Jr., Collin McHugh and Brad Peacock after not trading for Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole?  They would certainly still have a good rotation, but it would not be the best in the league and the bullpen would not be as top notch as it has been.
  3. They had successfully traded for Zach Britton and/or Brad Hand instead of for Ryan Pressly and Roberto Osuna at the trade deadline? Hand (Cleveland), Pressly and Osuna have been very good for their new teams, while Britton has been meh for the Yanks and Hand and Britton would have cost the Astros a bunch more prospect-wise.
  4. OF Ramon Laureano had not fallen off the cliff in 2017 with AA Corpus Christi? He had been dominant at 3 minor league levels for the Astros in 2016, but after a nasty 2017, he was traded to the Oakland A’s for a so-so pitching prospect and now has sprung from the minors into a solid player with the A’s.
  5. The Astros could play at home like most top AL teams play at home? The other four likely playoff teams, Red Sox, Yanks, Indians and A’s have won a combined 65% of their games at home. If the Astros had done that they would be 99-47 and 10.5 games up in their division.
  6. Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa, Marwin Gonzalez and Josh Reddick were producing like 2017 (or even 90% of 2017)? It is pretty easy to picture a team that would have this division wrapped up already with them hitting somewhere between 2017 and 2018.

So… what are your answers to these questions? Do you have some “what ifs” to pose of your own?

81 comments on “Astros 2018: Weekend wonderings

  1. I don’t have any more answers than anyone else. And no what ifs from me. What I do know is that after 147 games we are 92 and 55 against arguably tougher competition than a year ago. Last year at this point we were 89 and 58. That means little now of course. A year ago there was zero pressure at this point. Everyone was lose. But dynamics change every year too. I sure wish everyone was healthy and hitting and winning at home was not a nightly nail biting proposition. But I’d still rather not be any other club right now than the Astros.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. The fact that they walked Gurriel on 4 pitches (what was essentially an intentional walk) to get to CC tells you just what other teams think of CC’s ability at the plate right now. There is no fear of pitching to him right now.

    Naturally, he left the bases loaded with no runs once again.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I just don’t understand how you can’t protect with 3-2 and bases loaded. Foul something off. Just don’t watch a ball right down the middle and leave the bat on your shoulder. The only pitch Godley can throw for a strike is the deuce. You have to know its coming.

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  4. Yee Ha! I don’t know how everybody else feels but it’s refreshing to have Bagwell in the booth. He brings additional insight and fun to the broadcast guys. Springer looking real good last few games. Doesn’t try to hit it out every time, just make contact and he goes 4 for 5. Altuve getting back in the groove also. Lets get them again tomorrow guys.

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  5. Sooo proud of Charlie, he has NEVER won 15 games before! He is a cerebral pitcher…..often misunderstood. Congratulations Charlie!! Take a bow you deserve it!!

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  6. Stassi needs to start playing a bit because McCann is done, as much as I hate to say it. Maldonado is and should be the starter but McCann is looking like 2017 Beltran at the plate and honestly shouldn’t be on the playoff roster as an active player

    Liked by 1 person

  7. My vote for post of the year goes to Astrocolt45 with this absolute gem after Frisay night’s game:

    “……But there is no excuse to have the right fielder sitting in the 3rd row of the Crawford Boxes with the game on the line. ….. Common sense says you NEVER give up two extra bases on a ball that the first baseman needs to run down because you have your outfielders holding hands in left. First triple I have ever seen that did not make it to the warning track.”

    Right fielder sitting in the 3rd row of the Crawford boxes and outfielders holding hands in left. EPIC comment!!!!

    Liked by 3 people

  8. What a great win, McCann is Melba toast, CC could end up the best number 9 hitter in baseball maybe , not sure getting engaged has helped him LOL. Plus what awesome plethora of Dilly- Dilliy’s

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  9. I want to answer some of Dan’s questions because, if we don’t, he might get bored and stop writing. If he gets bored and stops writing, well, you get the picture.
    1. If the Astros didn’t have Alex Bregman, they probably would have Colin Moran at third base. If they had Colin Moran at 3B, they wouldn’t have had Gerritt Cole, McHugh would have been starting and not relieving and they would be in second place 7.5 games behind Oakland.
    2. My answer to #2 is basically included in #1.
    3. If the Astros had traded for Hand and Britton, they would be tied with Oakland and would not have Corbin Martin and Yordan Alvarez.
    4. If Ramon Laureano had not fallen off a cliff offensively in September, I would be more apt to be upset with his trade, which I believe had more to do with his attitude than his play. That is just my opinion. Brandon Bailey’s contributions to the Astros over the next few years might even this trade out. That’s what you hope for in every trade.
    5. I’m more worried about Carlos Correa than I am about the regular season home and road records.
    6. If the four guys mentioned had produced like they did in 2017 we would have the best record in baseball. The way things are, our pitching staff will have to continue to be the #1 staff in the playoffs for us to come out on top, and the Astros will need to be the best at winning on the road in the playoffs to win the WS.

    Liked by 4 people

  10. Do you think that Laureano might have been subject to the dreaded “I won’t get to crack the MLB roster because of the guys in front of me”? His numbers look to be skewed somewhat but the trend was upward. It would seem that we were trying to restock the pitching in our system and that outfielders were in excess.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I’m in the daveb camp. We are 93-55. Better record than last year. We all see things every day that drive us crazy: the GIDP, the base running rocks, the bad approaches at the plate, the disappointing production from some of our key players. Some points that help keep me on an even keel:
    1. By Pythagorean records, we are 7 games under where we “should” be and the A’s are 4 games over where “should” they be. Using that as a rule of thumb we could easily be 11 MORE games ahead of the A’s right now. Of course Pythagorean is not “should”, just a rule of thumb, but it certainly includes “could”.
    2. Our hitting is still quite good. Last year our team Adj OPS+ was 124. Next in baseball was the Marlins at 107. We were better than all of baseball by a wide margin. This year our Adj OPS+ is 111: tied with the Red Sox for the best in baseball.
    3. Our pitching last year was mediocre, in the middle of the pack in MLB. This year it’s phenomenal. Our Adjusted ERA+ this year is 128, next comes Boston at 120. Our staff has the lowest ERA (3.12, next best is the Dodgers at 3.46), given up the fewest hits and runs, has the most strikeouts, the lowest WHIP, the best SO/BB ratio.
    4. In one year we have gone from a historically good hitting team with average pitching (and a WS crown), to a very good hitting team with fantastic pitching. If pitching wins in the playoffs you have to like this team over last year’s team.

    Liked by 4 people

  12. If anyone thinks Verlander is coming out of this game…..think again!! I’m glad the Rays did us a favor this afternoon! I don’t ever do this, but I turned my television to the arlington little league, and I’m watching Jacob Nix pitch for San Diago.shame we couldn’t have kept him.

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  13. 5 to 1….and McHugh walks a guy, and gives up a single. Why am I soo nervous in the 9th when one of our relievers comes in???? I gotta go take a blood pressure pill. LORD.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. 4 games in front. Do you guy’s think Verlander will be in the conversation about a Cy Young this year? Daveb I am falling in love with your slightly over weight nephew!! What a clutch hitter!

    Liked by 2 people

  15. A’s loss today combined with Astros win put the first nail in the coffin. If the Astros go 7-6 over the last 13 games, then the A’s will need to go 11-1 over their final 12 to catch them. That’s a lot to ask from a makeshift pitching staff.

    I still think the A’s will pass the Yanks for #1 WC spot. The A’s have a cupcake schedule to close out. After a rest day on Tuesday NY plays 13 straight days: 6 @ home with Red Sox and Orioles, then close out the season with 4 @ Tampa Bay and 3 @ Boston. That’s a tough final road trip. Travel NY to Tampa and back to Boston with no rest day. Unless Cora decides their lead is so big that they can play their AA roster, they’ll be lucky to go .500.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. My Xmas wish this yr, a shutdown closer. I agree, McCann looks washed up, rather see Stassi instead. CC moves to the back of the bus until he starts hitting. If his back is inj do they risk playing or shut down. GS really looks good these days. I hope he never, ever resorts back to swinging George ever again. Tuve is backkkk. Knowing we’re a tm to reckon with as is, let a few more sticks heat up!!!!!!!

    Liked by 2 people

  17. -I am glad Collin McHugh and Roberto Osuna got that badness out of their systems.
    -Ryan Pressley looked unhittable today.
    -I think Altuve is starting to warm up.
    -George Springer is back.
    -Will a bloop double shake Correa out of his funk?
    -Maldanado’s RBI in the 8th was HUGE!
    -The Twins are in second place in their division with a 67-81 record. Major League baseball has some problems.
    – The Rays beat the Astros 4 out of 7 this season. But they helped us the last two days. The Rays were 5-2 against Oakland this year.

    Liked by 3 people

    • – I know this is not the popular opinion here, but when I see McHugh’s stuff I can’t quit thinking “smoke and mirrors”. I don’t like him in any high leverage playoff action.
      – Osuna’s performance today is what happens when you warm a closer up, sit him down, warm him up and bring him into the game with dirty bases. No excuse but it is often the case. If you warm up a closer put him in. If you sit him back down leave him sitting.
      – In my opinion Pressly is the best BP arm on the team. He is just making hitters look stupid. I would have absolutely NO problem seeing him close a few down the stretch.
      – I watch Maldanado hit and I get confused. How is this guy hitting only .225? His defense is absolutely beautiful. He blocks pitches better than any catcher in the league and he absolutely shuts down the running game. It’s a shame because we rarely get to see that canon of an arm in action any more. How can a guy that big be so athletic?

      Liked by 3 people

      • vewill1…Your opinion is spot on as far as I’m concerned. I wanted to see Deetz in for the 9th. McHugh seems to have lost something in the last month so he isn’t what he was. On the other hand, Pressley is lights out. While I agree with you that Osuna was up and down, I’m still not convinced that he’s our best alternative for closer. He pitches too much to contact. Maldonado and White with key hits today. What I think this team might be figuring out is that you don’t have swing for the fences every at bat. Case in point, the reemergence of George Springer. Kudos to JV for a well pitched game. A combination of 9 wins or losses by the A’s and we’re the ACLS Western Division Champions for 2018. How about some home cooking with Seattle to get a little revenge for the last home stand and eliminate them from the playoff picture.

        Liked by 2 people

  18. I was chatting with a friend from another city re: Astros. I was dogging the team for GIDP, TOOTLBAN, LOB, BP, BA w/ RISP, CC’s BA after ASB and all the other acronyms that go along with baseball.

    His response (I copied and pasted so that I would not misquote): “you have the best hitting team in baseball, you have the best rotation in baseball, you have the best bullpen in baseball, you have the 2nd best record in baseball and you have the best odds of winning the WS in baseball. You have one of the best farm systems in baseball, one of the best GMs in baseball, one of the best managers in baseball and 3-4 of the best players in baseball. You have the deepest lineup in baseball and the deepest bench in baseball. Everyone wants to be the Astros except the Houston fans. You guys are a bunch of spoiled crybabies with nothing better to do than trash a near perfect team because they are not perfect.You guts get mad, not because they don’t win but because they don’t win EVERY game. And win EVERY game by 10 runs!”

    I must say, that kind of opened my eyes a little bit!

    Liked by 4 people

      • I agree with your friend. But I can handle hitting into DPs, our pitchers hitting other batters (see Morton at 17 for the year), even swinging strikes, but poorly executed baseball at the plate, in the field, or on the bases gets me going.

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    • It’s always a lot easier to look at the team and fans from the outside looking in. For those of us that waited 56 years for a World Series win I believe we’ve earned the right to be somewhat demanding of our team. I was writing a short story to emphasize my point but I think we all know how we feel about our Astros. We’re behind them no matter what and there’s nothing wrong with a little constructive criticism now and then.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I guess we are spoiled.
      I’m trying to learn how to be more grateful for our team.
      But geeze, if we could just see what TW could do in the cleanup spot.

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  19. vewill –
    Tell your friend that we are taking to heart the slogan of the 2018 Astros themselves – Never Settle.
    Y’all know how I feel about this – I love this team as I have since we moved here in 1966. This current team may be the most talented we have ever had. They are not the best hitting team this year like they were last year and I think that is what is bugging the fans a bit. But I just believe that they are peaking at the right time and I think that no one will want to play them in the playoffs. Beyond that – anything can happen in a 5 game or 7 game series – but there sure can’t be anything that this team did not experience in their wild playoff ride last year….

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