Free Blog Weekend: Credit, better than ’17 and other starters

Free Blog Weekend is a Chipalatta tradition. Basically you can blog about whatever you want relative to the 2018 Astros.

But if you want a few starter questions….

  • Who is most responsible for the Astros repeat success? Jim Crane, Jeff Luhnow, A.J. Hinch or the players themselves?
  • We have been tough on this team expectation-wise. Did you realize the Astros are the first WS champion with 100 wins since the 1990 A’s?
  • The Astros play the Indians in the ALDS? If they get by the Indians who  would you want or not want them to face in the ALCS?
  • Who are the five most critical players headed into the playoffs for the Astros?
  • Did the tight pennant race make the Astros better, worse or the same as the 2017 version headed into the playoffs?

Hit those questions or any other subject of your choosing – the stage is yours.

112 comments on “Free Blog Weekend: Credit, better than ’17 and other starters

  1. Well, you’re probably not going to like my answer to the first question. I think the person most responsible for the repeat success is Alex Bregman.
    When the Astros stars were injured, he put the team on his back and carried them physically and then distracted them from their woes with the arrogant stare. His presence on the field, in the dugout and with the media brought this team out of their funk.

    Liked by 4 people

    • I’m very zen about this – I think Bregman was The critical everyday player like Brad Peacock was critical pitcher last season – super performance when their mates were hurt.

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    • I’m in total agreement concerning Bregman. When he was drafted, I posted that he had the leadership qualities, gym rat love of the game that reminded me of Biggio when I followed him in college. That preparation and energy rubbed off to the players in college and I think it has to be a positive for the Stros.I also feel that Luhnow in trading for Pressley and Osuna makes the team complete and more formadable. Thirdly, I’m impressed with Hinch in the gentle way that he’s trying to help Correa come back to himself.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. One of the things I would like to give an explanation for is my stance on Framber not being on the playoff roster.
    A couple of years ago, in ST, I touted Valdez as a future major league pitcher.
    His pitches moved everywhere and were hard to get good barrel on. He has since developed his changeup, making him harder to figure out from a hitter’s perspective.
    But! He has 21 walks, 5 HBP and 5 WP in 34 innings. Everything is magnified in the playoffs and those types of numbers could get the team in trouble against the best teams in baseball. I don’t want any kind of stigma attached to Valdez’s future. He has a chance to improve and become a big part of the Astros future and the Astros have a ton of relievers on this team. Don’t put him in a position he isn’t ready for. Let’s let him mature and improve his command and control before we throw him into the fire.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’d suggest Framber not face any RHH in the playoffs. If you look at his splits, walking 5 of 40 LHH is a little higher than I’d like, but he has only surrendered 4 hits (all singles) to those hitters. The 3 HBP against LHH are a little troubling.

      Liked by 1 person

    • As much as I’d like to see him on the roster, I tend to agree with your analysis. But I think he would be able to hold his own. Even in sticky situations he has come through and that smile of his says a lot.

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    • I am not afraid of his success in the playoffs but his potential failure. We have to look no farther than Lidge or Giles to see probably a carryover of playoff miscues. The lights are brighter and everything is magnified. Let’s use the veterans.

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  3. Players make it happen, imho, for better or worse. So players get the credit for success. That said, this is far and away the best FO we’ve ever had. Together it makes for a great dynamic. And I think the tight pennant race has to help, especially since there is still time to set the rotation and perhaps heal a few bruises.
    As to who we play, I don’t care. No one wants to play US. Astros have far and away the best ERA in baseball: ours is 3.13, next best is Dodgers at 3.43, next in AL is Boston at 3.71. This is a HUGE disparity. The Cubs had a similar differential in 2016, and of course were WS champs. Our pitching staff has similar dominating leads in categories including earned runs, strikeouts and WHIP.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Five most critical in order. Correa, Keuchel, Rondon, Altuve, White. I’m pretty sure the other key guys will show up. This is a first trip for White. And we need the Altuve back that owns the road.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Five most critical in order. Cole, Altuve, Osuna, Springer, Gurriel. JV vs Kluber is a match! But Cole needs to win. We can win without Correa, but not without Correa and Altuve. Not against this competition.
    Our closer needs to be a closer.
    Even as good as we hit last season, Springer was the key in the WS.
    Gurriel needs to pick up Correa’s slack. He hit last year in the playoffs.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. I just read an article breaking down the Red Sox/ Yankees series.

    My only thought was: “did you guys run this by the A’s first”?

    I think the A’s are going to have a big say in who ends up playing the Red Sox. I think they have a better than 50% chance to beat the Yankees in a one game take all and I think they give the Red Sox fits in a best of 5. If they can get to Boston’s bullpen I think they have enough offense to exploit the weakness.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. I’ll go way against the grain here and say the Marwin is the most valuable piece in repeating as AL West winners. Without him I don’t think we win the division and may not have held off the Mariners. With both Altuve and Correa out Marwin covered the gaps and kept us in the hunt.

    I like this years Astros over last year’s due to pitching. We added an ace in Cole and our bullpen is night and day better.

    I don’t care who we face, I like our chances. The Yankees have rotation questions, the Red Sox have rotation and bullpen questions and the A’s don’t have enough pitching to contend in a best of 7.

    Most critical player has to be Correa. If he doesn’t get out of his funk you have to look at a way to get both Gattis’ and White’s bat in the lineup at the same time. White at first and Yuli at third let’s you keep Marwin in right and put Gattis at DH. Does the improved offense overcome the reduced corner defense? I think so.

    Regarding Framber; I don’t care how many he has walked and how many he has hit, give him clean bases and he has proven he can control the damage. I like a 2nd lefty that is virtually impossible to square up on. If I am GM he is on my playoff roster.

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  8. 1. A perfect storm – all of the above. 2. Yes. 3. Not the A’s but 2nd choice is Bosox. 4. Correa, Correa, Correa, Correa and Correa. 5. A little of both. It makes them battle tested but did not allow a three week run up to rest and aligning the starters. I think the Astros have as good of a chance to repeat as any team, but history is never on the side of the previous WS Champion.

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  9. I gotta tell you……Correa is NOT in a good place right now. His timing is all off, man, I don’t know what they’re gonna do. We need him for defense, but we REALLY need his offence!! Lord, what are we going to do with him…I sure don’t know. We sure do need his bat (((jeeze))).

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    • As mentioned above about Framber and the young ego. Correa is actually one year younger than Framber. So I know that Hinch does not want to drop him to 7th or 8th in the batting order, but right now, that is the spot he has earned.

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    • Well just remember how hopeless George Springer looked against the Yankees and the first game against the Dodgers last playoffs.
      Sometimes it happens in an instant.

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      • CC has had plenty of chances. George’s was only one game. We haven’t seen any positives (or very few) in Correra’s case. He should play each game from here out and just try to hit line drives.
        BTW, Jake with a game saving catch to end it all. He is a shoe in for the playoffs.

        Liked by 1 person

      • With George it was also the 7 game Yankee series – he was awful.
        The key here is whether it is physical or not with Carlos. Is it because his back won’t let him swing like he should or is it that he’s psychologically afraid of reinjuring it. It could be a simple fix or it may wait for a procedure in the off season

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  10. 101 wins!! Impressive! If anyone asks me again why Jake is in centerfield, I will point them to the 100 times he lays out there saving a run, just like he did tonight. I just wish his bat was as good as his legs!

    Liked by 2 people

    • One more win ties the team record (the Big Unit year) – two or three more wins set the new record.

      I had two baseball related conversations at Disneyworld, both the day I wore my Astros shirt.
      I was talking to a Twins’ fan – thanking them for beating the A’s for us a week ago or so.
      He told me how much fun our team is to watch – how great a team they are.

      The other guy I was talking to was from Florida. He told me how he and his friends thought the Cubs WS was the greatest they ever saw….until the Astros win. He said Game 5 was the absolute best he had seen.
      So much fun to be connected to this team.

      Liked by 2 people

  11. Correa by month:

    April – .315/.382/.489 OPS .871
    May – .192/.292/.384 OPS .676
    June – .284/.367/.522 OPS .889
    July- Out with injury
    August – .169/.235/.225 OPS .460
    September – .175/.284/.211 OPS .395

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  12. I’m not one of those people who has time to research this (it’s why Luhnow has a complete set of stat nuts helping him out over in Nerdvana.
    But the playoff rosters will be based on matchups, opponents handedness, whether Josh James heat or Framber Valdez craftiness works better, etc
    And the team will likely change rosters between rounds, if they are that fortunate.
    There will be a ton of speculation between this weekend and Friday’s first game of the playoffs.

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  13. Thoughts on the Astros.
    -I thought the Astros would take 3 out of 4 from the O’s. I’m hoping that the game they won last night that they didn’t deserve to win was the one loss I was banking on.
    -The Astro are smart enough to figure out that Correa is killing the offense, right?
    – Baltimore had a good plan against Cole last night. They waited on his fastball and went to the power alleys with it. They hit a lot of balls hard that were caught. They lost because they just aren’t a good team, but they played hard and tried hard. I was proud of them for going out there and taking it to the Astros.
    -I’m ready to take a hard look at Yordan Alvarez in the outfield next season. And Straw. and Ferguson. and Kemp. I am so over Kyle Tucker. Is Jon Kemmer anywhere nearby? Teoscar Hernandez? Oh, dear.
    -Lord, I hope the Cardinals sit. I know it means the Dodgers would be in, but Lord, I hope the Cardinals sit. Thank you.
    -If the Astros had barreled balls last night they would have hit 15 home runs with the launch angles they were taking. As it turned out, they hit 15 popups.
    -Did anyone notice the pace of last night’s game? It was great. And Marwin, Mr. 3 Hour Game By Himself, was in there, too.
    -Could Washington afford to pay Harper $350 million and field a second place team for years?
    -You’re the defending NL champs. You’re carried all year by a former player that nobody wanted. You have more money than Satan. You have a full house of fans every game. You add Manny Machado and Brian Dozier at the deadline. And you are fighting for the wild card on the second last day of the season?

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    • Baseball is tough old pro. The Dodgers’ performance this year emphasizes how tough the turn around is from the World Series and how top notch the Astros performance has been.

      I’ll give up on Kyle Tucker when he is 25 and failing. Remember how overmatched Domingo Santana was when he was called up as a youngster and now he’s someone you would want.

      If Harper gets $350 million, what the heck does Trout get?

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    • OP you’ve made too many interesting points for me to ignore.

      I don’t care if the Astros finish with 101. They don’t either, as evidenced by pace of game last night. I don’t think it’s a sin. I’d like to see a couple of AAA guys step up and do something significant though.

      White is still playing first, Yuli has been playing third. Bregman short. Correa will certainly start on Friday in Cleveland, but there is a back up plan ready.

      By the way, and this is unrelated, but we might see Jake get a playoff start in the wide open center field spaces of Fenway or New York, assuming we get that far.

      I was fully ready for the Astros to send Tucker to the Fish, straight up for Yelich in February. I felt better watching Tucker in ST, but alas, he is a prospect. It’s still early for him and I think we brought him up too early too. But I think we could have had the best left fielder in MLB today.

      Yeah, the defending NL champ$ are fighting for a spot on the second to last day of the season. That’s why I’m so impressed and unable to find any real fault with our organization.

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  14. Who saw the Astros being in 11th place in MLB in number of hits for the season? Who saw the Yankees in 15th place and the Dodgers in 17th place in that same stat? Incredible.

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  15. Have we talked about this?
    The Astros pitching staff will lead MLB in Ks this season.
    Tri-City, Quad Cities, Buies Creek, Corpus Christi and Fresno each led their league in striking out opposing batters.
    Every Astros organization from advanced rookie through the MLB led their leagues in strikeouts. Every one of them made the playoffs.
    And that is one reason why it would be possible for the Astros to sign and win with Mike Trout. They already have Altuve and they have Bregman and they have so many good young pitchers in their system. But, beyond that, the Astros have a system in place to identify and acquire that kind of talent.

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    • First point – I pointed out the other day that the Astros set a MLB record for both starters and for whole staff K’s

      I did not know they were leading at every level

      True – cheap home grown pitching allows you to spend elsewhere

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  16. I’m not ready to give up on Tucker at age 21 and after only 58 MLB ABs any more than I was ready to give up on Bregman when he slashed .045/ .125/ .045 in his first month on the big team. The difference was that Bregman had luxury of time to get consistent ABs and work his way through the transition, even when he started 1 for 33. No such luxury on a WS contender in a season long battle for the division.

    As for the myth of a slow bat, it is just a myth. He loads in an unorthodox fashion that may fool the eye. His two- handed follow- through is unorthodox, but he is actually quick to the ball with great bat speed. You do not achieve his 91 MPH exit velo with a slow bat. Physics do not allow it. Bat speed creates exit velo. They are directly proportionate. Take AJ Reed, his MLB exit velo is 73 MPH. That is the result you expect with a slow bat.

    Tucker’s K rate is just over 20% and BB around 10 % which is pretty good for a hitter his age. The problem I see with KT is poor pitch recognition. He just swings at too many bad balls that just can’t be squared up. The fact that he does so and is still able to put so many in play while keeping his K rate low suggests that the kid has great hands.

    Before I posted this I went out and read several scouting reports on Tucker. I could not find a single one that questioned his bat speed. Most were consistent with this one: “Tucker has a smooth controlled swing with loft that generates plenty of bat speed. He’s a hitter with plus average and power potential.”

    I look for Tucker to come into camp next year and light it up. I would not be surprised to see him start the season with the big club, or be the first call- up when the service clock stops ticking.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Tucker will be just fine. Plenty of time for him to mature and define his swing.
    I can’t see the game, but it sounds like Verlander is working hard to get #17!
    Off subject but…..I really feel for the Oriole’s. We have been there, and it ain’t fun. Buck Showalter knows he’s gone after tomorrow, and I think it’s pretty classy of their ownership to allow him to finish out the year with what’s left of his team. I’ve never been a Showalter fan but I hope he can catch on with someone next season.

    Liked by 2 people

  18. Well….that was pretty ugly. If Verlander had gotten the win today he would be considered for the A.L. Cy Young. Boy does that piss me off. Please tell me *WHY* Harris is pitching. He’s a walking talking disaster.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Harris went 3 up 3 down. It was Smith that coughed up the lead.

    Snell was already a lock for the Cy Young. It would be highway robbery if anyone won it over him. 21-5 with a 1.90 ERA locks it up.

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    • They don’t automatically give it to a guy with 20 games anymore, but I’m sure Snell will get it now, that Verlander is out of it. They consider innings pitched strikeouts, and quality starts….OF which Justin had 100! Just joking, I think he had a LOT though.
      CORREA WITH A R I DOUBLE!! GLORY BEE!!

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  20. Looking at the Orioles roster, I know Adam Jones from his past glory, Chris Davis for his current failures and Bundy for his 70’s killing spree (oh wait, that was Ted, not Dylan – I remember now, Dylan is best known for his under- achievement and unfulfilled promise).

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  21. – You know how serious things are when JD Davis pinch runs for Altuve
    – It’s easy to say a 3 run homer off of Smith knocks him out of the playoffs but Hinch claims he won’t make judgments on what happens in the last few games

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      • I guess what I’m saying is that it is tough to really know what Hinch is using to determine the roster – he’s being pretty close to the vest

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  22. *103*….wins. I would have pulled Verlander after 70 pitches, instead of leaving him in to throw 99. Maybe Hinch asked him about it, and may have waived him off. Verlander is NOT one to mess with when he’s pitching, so who knows. Bottom line is the man is our *ACE*…and they are going to ride him hard in October. The arm has to be treated like a baby….tenderly! I’m kinda nervous about Charlie tomorrow, I sure hope he feels good. We are gonna depend on every single pitcher on this team, and I hope like heck Correa and his bat are both back!
    What about that Miles Straw! God love his heart❤ 2:00 tomorrow when every team throws the first pitch, of the last game of the year. Good or bad every one of these pitchers are gonna want that ball to take home. It is the last day for soo many guys, who will leave their team some not knowing if they will be back, or even see those friends again. Tough day for a LOT of guys. I remember when the 1st base coach walked up to Blum to tell him he wasn’t going to be back the next year. I saw a grown man stand at his locker and tears were rolling down his cheek. We are SOOO blessed to have this awesome team to watch in the post season, and who knows if our guys will ever have the chance to do this again. I feel terrible for the Oriole’s they go home tomorrow feeling dejected and horrible how this season has played out. I’m torn between wanting to win #104 tomorrow, or letting the Oriole’s win one last time.
    See you at 2:00 tomorrow folks!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I am with you Becky. Cheering for a 106 loss team, and then a 107 loss team, and then 111 losses, you have to hope on one hand that the Orioles, once a truly great team and system, could hold it at 115. But I still have to want the Astros to win every game.

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      • I may have posted this before, but as to the Orioles, their first round pick this year was Grayson Rodriguez. I am an old friend and school chum of his grandmother. No one wants to see him waste his career with a lousy team and lousy system. But I know each year, there are prospects that giving good coaching can make it. Not everyone gets selected by the 2018 Astros. Some get picked back in those 100 loss years and are playing on a playoff team now.

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      • The Astros are looking at their past when the play the Orioles. It’s crazy to think that was us not too many years ago.

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      • As a mom I know how deeply these young men care. I want to win every game too, just not tomorrow. They set a franchise record tonight, that should be enough. You know how much I love these guys, but as a mother I would cherish my son winning the last game of the year, on a horrible team.
        Who knows if any Astros team will EVER break that record!
        Let them win tomorrow 💖

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  23. Maybe it’s just me or maybe it’s age but doesn’t it feel like last year’s WS championship was a couple months ago.
    It’s been a much different run up to the playoffs this year, but we are back at the same point. After today – eleven more wins scratched out some way or another.

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    • Any team considering overpaying for Harper this offseason should read this article before making the offer. The one thing I hope the Astros do not do is add anyone that will disrupt their clubhouse chemistry.

      Liked by 1 person

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