Astros’ off-season: Would you rather?


The Astros entered the last off-season as the World Champions facing minimal turnover and very few personnel decisions. That was then and this is now as the Astros come off a very good season with a lot more question marks and personnel decisions on their plate. So, to check the pulse of the fanatics, today we will play a little game of “Would You Rather”.

Would you rather…

  1. The Astros re-sign Marwin Gonzalez or Charlie Morton?
  2. Have a return to greatness of Jose Altuve or Carlos Correa?
  3. The Astros sign Gerrit Cole or George Springer to an extension?
  4. Have a repeat of 2018 by Alex Bregman or Justin Verlander?
  5. J.B Bukauskas or Forrest Whitley come up to the big club in 2019?
  6. Have Josh James join the rotation or the back-end of the bullpen?
  7. The Astros pursue Catcher J.T. Realmuto in a trade or sign Wilson Ramos or Yasmani Grandal as a free agent?
  8. Have Kyle Tucker break camp as the full-time left fielder or use him as the centerpiece of an off-season trade?
  9. The Astros fill open rotation spot(s) with internal options (James, Collin McHugh, Brad Peacock, Framber Valdez) or with a Charlie Morton (circa 2017) free agent or trade pickup?
  10. The Astros make Ryan Pressly the new closer or keep Roberto Osuna as the closer or pursue a free agent closer like Zach Britton?

Just a few questions to whet the Astro appetite today and feel free to throw in a few “Would You Rathers” of your own…..

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108 comments on “Astros’ off-season: Would you rather?

  1. 1. I would rather the Astros sign Morton because there are not many times he has let me down. I worry that both of them have physical problems, so this is a tentative answer, at best. I am just inclined to let them get their money and for the Astros to develop into a younger team.
    I like this post because it could lead to a lot of great ideas about a lot of different subjects.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. 1. If the Astros can bring back Marwin and/ or Charlie at a reasonable cost, I would do so, but it may be time to move on from both. We have Kemp as an extra outfielder/2nd and White for 1st or 3rd. We have these young pitchers that just might take up the slack from an aging Charlie. 2.a return of Altuve and Correa to their expected norm is my choice to have the Astros be a more formidable club. 3. I cannot imagine the Astros braintrust not trying to extend Cole and Springer. 4. I think Bregman is only going to get better. Verlander is going to deal his age at some point, hopefully we can get another vintage season from him. I think Bukaustis is going to make us all happy when they bring him up, maybe a reliever at first. I think Whitley will give glimpses of a first rate starter, but we probably won’t see the best of him for another year. 6. I really like Josh James for three or four innings, but I’m not sure he can get to the 6th or 7th inning . 8. Everyone likes Realmuto but we would have to trade tremendous assets (Tucker). Keep Tucker and get the free agent Ramos. 9. McHugh seems like money in the bank to me and Valdez can pitch. 10. I’m not sure Britton at this point is as good as Pressly or Osuna.

    Liked by 4 people

  3. Question #2. I would rather Jose Altuve return to greatness, because he has actually been great. Correa has been good, but has never been great.
    Now, if you asked me if I would rather see Altuve return to greatness or Correa return to goodness, that might be a different answer.

    Liked by 3 people

      • And he did that in only 109 games . . .oops, therein lies the problem. IF HEALTHY he’s a stud but can he stay healthy? To be completely fair Springer missed significant time in 2014 and 2015 and I had concerns about his proneness to injury. But in 2016 he played in 162 games and 140 in 2017 and 2018. I also think I’m equally concerned about Correa’s mental approach.

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      • Dan, Altuve has 3 batting titles, 6 All-Star games, a Golden Glove, 4 Silver Sluggers, an MVP and a Player of the Year. That is greatness.
        Carlos having an excellent 109 game season is not greatness.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. 1. morton (if healthy)
    2. correa (altuve remains great)
    3. oh i want both but if i only get one, cole.
    4. bregman (carry us for a couple of months alex, what the heck)
    5. whitley
    6. back end of bullpen, although that back end is starting to get crowded.
    7. i’d go the fa route as that is only money and the other would cost us terrible pain in the prospects it would cost. revenue is up they can afford to add some salary.
    8. break as lf if he has actually won the job.
    9. i think they will have to do both of these but i would lean heavily on in house. (get eovaldi)
    10. osuna

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  5. 1. Marwin by a landslide. His versatility makes the bench potent. I love Charlie but his end of season slide and shoulder issues are red flags for a guy his age. Charlie is a guy who has never thrown 200 innings so figure him for 25 or so starts vs Marwin being available almost every day.

    2.Altuve for the reasons OP1 cited and because I think Jose can be even better, especially if he can close in on a Bregman like approach.

    3. This is a tough one but again I’m going to opt for the everyday player who has a longer history with the club. Plus Springer is a leader in the clubhouse who would be hard to replace.

    4. Okay, I’m sounding like a broken record, but give me Bregman who may have an even greater season in 2019.

    5. Another tough one. Whitley probably has better stuff but Bukauskas is older and more mature. Toss up.

    6. James for the rotation. He’s the kind of big body that can hold up to the grind of starting.

    7. I’m starting to think Realmuto is kind of pie in the sky and would be costly in terms of who we would have to trade and how expensive he would be when he reaches free agency. I’m not thrilled with Ramos or Grandal. Like I mentioned in another thread I’d rather target Salvador Perez.

    8. I want to give Tucker another good look in the spring, especially against the other team’s A guys. We need Tucker to succeed.

    9. I like McHugh coming back to the rotation. Spending 2018 in the bullpen spared his arm some wear and tear. I also think Valdez can be useful. He’s not Dallas Keuchel yet and it may take a couple of seasons but Keuchel didn’t reach 2015 levels of performance his first year or so either.

    10. Pressly is intriguing. Osuna has more experience closing but Pressly’s stuff is nasty. I’m not willing to spend a lot of FA $$$ on a reliever like Britton who has significant health issues. At least his injuries were not arm related.

    So there you have it. I’ll now sit back and wait for Luhnow to call me.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Correa just turned 24 in September
    He’s played only 471 games, the equivalent of about 3 seasons for the Astros
    He is already the career leader for Astros SSs in HRs, and RBIs
    He has the highest BA, OBP, SLG and OPS for SS’s and is in the top 10 for all Astros in SLG and OPS
    He has more career WAR than any other Astros SS

    Again – if he gets back to what he was in 2017 he will be the best SS in the majors

    Like

  7. Altuve will be himself again and might even reign in his game a bit, More selective at the plate, less SB attempts. I’m hopeful the best of Carlos is yet to come. Toss up.

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  8. 1. Morton
    2. Correa. If Jose is regular Jose, then a return to 2017 Correa is a huge overall improvement.
    3. Cole. Ace pitcher vs good CF: gotta go with the ace. Don’t see why you couldn’t extend both.
    4. Bregman. As in item #2: a mortal Verlander is still pretty darn good.
    5. Whitley
    6. Back of the bullpen (see #10 below)
    7. Free agent…and figure out a way to draft a good young catcher
    8. Tucker as our full time LF fills a huge need, esp if Marwin is not back
    9. Internally. Plenty of options
    10. Let Pressly/Osuna be the 8th/9th inning tandem, in whatever order you prefer. Add Josh James as a 7th inning guy and relive the days of Lidge/Dotel/Wagner.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. 3. This is tough because they are both good players. I go with Springer because I said previously he is already one of my core four. Good, powerful CFers do not show up in free agency often, whereas the Astros have a ton of RHP in the upper minors and have pulled off two trades for TOR pitchers in the last two years. How many good CFers do you see out there on the trading bloc or in free agency, for that matter? If I have to choose between Springer and Cole to spend big bucks on, I think the return on Springer would be greater.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. DANG…..This like asking me to choose between my children! I’m not a fan of either or. The elephant in the room is McCullers. We can’t keep him in the rotation if he misses 4-6 weeks every year. He’s either healthy, or he’s not. I’d love the thought of McHugh back in the rotation, but he has been money for us outta the pen. I have to put some thought on my post later…..
    OP….LOVED your post on yesterday’s comments!

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  11. 1, Love both, but in order to improve, I say “save the cash.” 2. Altuve is my favorite Astro to watch. However, Correa has the “potential” to be ahead of him. Right now, it is not close, but it is time for Correa to reach stardom. 3. Springer. 4. JV. I for one expect a little regression from Bregman unless Correa and Altuve give him more protection. If you can walk a batter with no damage to your pitching, then he will continue to be walked or at least pitched around. 5. I know nothing about either. So it is a “pick ’em.” 6. James place has a lot to do with what happens to LMJ. With 2 starters already gone, someone has to start. However, you never have too many good arms in the pen. 7. Sign a FA. Lots of competition for them, so it may come down to trading with Miami or resigning Maldonado. 8. Right now Tucker has not impressed me at bat nor in the field. However, he is only 22 this season. But him for Realmuto in a second. 9. If we lose Morton, DK, and LMJ – there better be a FA in our future (Maybe one of the two we thought were leaving). 10. Very few FA’s relievers are better on paper. But if you can snag one, do it.

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  12. There are strange things that happen with the Astros that we can only speculate “What is going on?” But Sig Mejdal leaving does not surprise me. What does surprise, is for what reason was he sent to Tri-Cities to coach this season. Was it an attempt to please him? Was it a brief exile? Was he scouting for his new employer? Did JL think he needed to see what happens in the field? To me a very strange set of circumstances with a guy that might be leaving in the coming off season.

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    • Mejdal was sent to Tri City in 2017. He was back in the front office this season.
      I don’t think there was anything sinister or weird about it. If he wanted to move up in the sports world and get a look from other teams to work his way to a GM post, he needed more exposure to baseball itself in the trenches.
      He’s a numbers guy and he needs to be able to be able to combine those numbers with baseball knowledge and people skills.

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  13. I was looking at the salary structure for “committed” salaries for the Astros. Right now only JV, Springer, Gurriel, Altuve, Reddick, Smith and Rondon are under contract. Of course the arbitration numbers have not been settled yet. I then see that Jon Singleton gets another $500,000 this year, and $250,000 for the next two years. Talk about $1 million going up in smoke. Actually $10.5 million in total.

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  14. The three finalist for the AL Cy Young are Cory Klubler, Blake Snell and Justin Verlander. Of these three Verlander was the best! It will come down to Snell and Verlander, my money is on Justin! We’ll find out Nov 14!

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  15. Dan P answers Dan P’s questions –
    1. With the Astros possibly losing 4 starting pitchers between now and next off-season – I would like to sign at least one of them back – Morton
    2. Correa – His 2018 version was a lot farther from his 2017 version than Altuve was.
    3. Springer – I’m going to reverse my answer to 1. because I think George is the emotional hub of the team
    4. At 35 + I’m more worried about a repeat performance from Verlander, especially with a baby coming – so Verlander
    5. J.B. with his college is more seasoned – would like to see him come up
    6. I think James would be lights out in an inning or two late in the game
    7. Go get a free agent catcher, they need to start promoting their top prospects not trading them
    8. Would like to see Tucker break camp with this team and get a steady chance to perform (like Bregman was given)
    9. If the Astros don’t re-sign Morton, then I want them to fill one spot with McHugh or Peacock and one spot with a youngster like Framber – if this does not work they can trade for help later in the season
    10. I think they should keep Osuna as the closer…..for now

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  16. #4. I think I would rather have a repeat of 2018 by Alex Bregman, because I think he will still be an Astro in 2020.
    #5. I think I would rather see Bukauskas come up because he is older, and has seen a lot more baseball than Whitley has. Plus, I know that Whitley will eventually make it, so that means that both of them would be ready in 2020, when we will need them.

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  17. #6 is a tough one for me because in previous blogs I have put Josh James in the bullpen. But I truly believe that James has the body, the arm and the stuff and stamina to be a starting pitcher and I would love him to win a starting job in the rotation this coming spring.

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  18. #7. I would like them to go after Wilson Ramos as a free agent with no draft pick attachments, and match him up with Stubbs behind the plate.

    Like

  19. I think the Astros bring back both – in a choice I’ll take Gonzalez, he seems to be important to the structure of the position players and helps keep the rotations sound, and he helps keep Marisnick out of the batting order. As much as I love that Charlie finally stayed healthy enough to show off that star potential people saw in him at 25, he is a health hazard, longer in the tooth, and we still have McHugh waiting for a shot to get back in a rotation spot that he never truly lost due to performance.

    Return for Correa – because Altuve is already there. Health was in his way this year, Carlos seems like he let his head and ego get in the way. One could argue that since Jose has his money, and if Correa just settles in as a good player and not A-Rod level, that it maybe possible to keep both long term.

    Cole – because finding star pitchers is a much more difficult proposition than outfielders.

    Verlander or Bregman – I am confident in both guys. Long term keeping Bregman is going to be difficult, this team already has a number of guys that are looking at the 20 mil + plateau, with Verlander and Altuve already there, Cole and Bregman and Springer all knocking on that door, I don’t know. Hopefully they figure it out and keep it together as much as they can. In the end I am sucker for hats, and if the Astros can stay like this 3-4 more years, and Verlander wins 2 more WS in that time, and maybe even a Cy Young, we might see that third Astros hat in the HOF and not a stinking Tigers hat.

    There is no questioning James stuff, but there is questions on 5th inning command and third pitches working his third time through. We won’t know unless we try it, but right now the house is crowded, so he may get Peacocked, that is good enough to be in 25 teams rotation, just not this one.

    What I would like – a Realmuto trade. What I think happens, cheaper options, maybe a return of Maldonado. On one hand watching games I thought Martin struggles handling high velocity pitchers, and really looks uncomfortable catching McCullers curves, but the staff knows him, he knows them, and he won’t cost 10 mil. That money needs to go somewhere else.

    You all might remember I hate breaking camp handing a starting job to any rookie – we’ve been Singletoned now by Jon and AJ, you never know where they are going, but I would go into camp letting the guy know here is his chance to make an impact in ST and earn that job. He is cost control in a time where the rest of your team is not going to be.

    Internal – too many options. McHugh, Peacock and James would all be in some teams rotation. Don’t spend money, try and use that for Correa and Springer and Cole in the very short term.

    Keep Osuna, he isn’t another Kimbrel, but he is more consistent than a lot places we’ve gone.

    Liked by 2 people

  20. Which five among these organizational position players do you think are the most -and the least – likely to see playing time on the big club next year?

    Kyle Tucker
    Myles Straw
    Yordan Alvarez
    Garrett Stubbs
    A. J. Reed
    Derek Fisher
    Drew Ferguson
    Randy Cesar
    Taylor Jones
    Jack Mayfield
    Nick Tanielu
    Carmen Benedetti
    Alex De Goti
    Ronnie Dawson
    Abraham Toro-Hernandez
    Stephen Wrenn

    Now, which of them would you be willing to package in a trade for Realmuto or Paxton?

    Liked by 2 people

      • The only ones of the position players listed above that I would label ‘exempt’ from trade for Paxton or Realmuto would be Straw, Stubbs [can’t lose any more catchers], Alvarez, Benedetti, Dawson, and Toro-Hernandez.

        Like

  21. Which five among these organizational pitchers do you think are the most -and the least – likely to see playing time on the big club next year?

    Forrest Whitely
    JB Bukauskas
    Francis Martes
    Rogelio Armenteros
    Trent Thornton
    Cy Sneed
    Ryan Hartman
    Corbin Martin
    Yoanys Quiyala
    Dean Deetz
    Brock Dyxxhoorn
    Akeem Bostick
    Brett Adcock
    Brandon Bailey
    Alex Winkleman

    Now, which of them would you be willing to package in a trade for Realmuto or Paxton?

    Liked by 1 person

      • The only ones of the pitchers listed above that I would label ‘exempt’ from trade for Paxton or Realmuto would be Whitely, Bukauskas, Corbin Martin, and Yoanys Quiyala.

        Like

  22. Here’s my votes on the Super Dan 10 questions:

    1) Marwin. I don’t think we win the division in ’18 without him. I don’t think we win the ’17 WS without him. He is at least as important as any person on the team. He’s a plug and play at a number of positions and can carry the team when he is hot.I’m worried about Morton’s ability to hold up for the duration of the season.

    2) Correa, hands down. Altuve is a great player but he is a table- setter. Peak Correa can punish the opponent. If Correa returns to greatness there is a much better chance that Altuve returns as well. The fear of a “great” Correa will make Altuve see a lot more hittable pitches.

    3) Springer. This is a different team without Springer; different clubhouse, different dynamics and different mojo. A totally selfless superstar that embodies all that is great about this game. I love Cole too! I bet that having Springer locked up will help in the efforts to extend Cole.

    4) JV- We are going to need another great season from JV more than we need a repeat from Bregman, just because our SP will not be as good or deep in ’19. If JV has a significant fall- off ’19 could be a tough slog. Having said that, I think JV will be solid- to- great and Bregman will be among the best players in all of baseball.

    5) J.B. – Only because Whitley is so, so special of a talent that they need to be careful with him. With low IP in ’18 he will need be ramped up properly to protect that golden arm. I think we will see him with a managed workload at AA then AAA before joining the big league pen in September.

    6) I love JJ in the pen, but his true value is in the rotation. He’s got a wicked fastball, some nasty stuff and the big body to hold up to starters workload. His build and delivery are not unlike JV’s. The back end of our BP is solid. With a proper ST and full season I think Osuna will be money.

    7) Everybody on this site knows how much I love JT, but I’m not giving up my best talent for 2 expensive arb years when I could get Ramos or Grandal for close to the same money and without giving up the talent. Both Ramos and Grandal are very good and it is arguable that Ramos is as good offensively.

    8) Tucker stays. Remember these prophetic words….. Tucker will be a bona- fide superstar and a member of the core 4 within 18 months. Unless it is to monkey with the service clock, I would be surprised if he ever plays another minor league inning.

    9) Combination. McHugh to the rotation. JJ, JB and Valdez to round it out. If you can sign Keuchel, Eovaldi or another high caliber arm for a team friendly contract do it, otherwise sign another “Morton- like” reclamation project and roll the dice. Save the young talent to make a deadline move if things aren’t working at that point. We need to roll in at least a prospect a season to keep the window open.

    10) Just say no to Britton. We already have a very good bullpen and Osuna with a full ramp- up is elite. If he was as good as he was this year after missing half a season and being thrown straight tot the wolves, how good will he be next year with a normal routine?

    Liked by 1 person

  23. With LMJ out for the entire 2019 season due to TJ Surgery, DK almost certainly leaving, Morton probably leaving, and Verlander perhaps wanting to move out West for family reasons, the Astros’ rotation is suddenly a major question mark. Even more reason to shore up the offense, esp. at DH and C, if not also in LF and RF.

    Like

      • I hope he stays. But if he decides he wants out, for whatever reason, I’d like to see him traded now, while his stock is at its highest, as the prize catch of a trade package that would bring in a system-boosting haul.

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  24. I think that if you did move him you would have to eat some contract to get any decent return. I’m not sure what the prospect return would be for 1 year of JV at $20M, but I assume you would be hard pressed to get top prospects out of the deal.

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  25. WELL CRAP. Now that McCullers is gone for at LEAST 14-16 months it makes signing Charlie that more critical! Ya know…..I’m a little miffed about this.
    Altuve had his knee operated on, as soon as he could…..and McCullers “could” have done it then as well. He’s known his elbow was going south in Sep.
    His wife is expecting their first child this month (as well as Verlander’s wife) and I guess if there is a bright spot, he will be home getting to know their child.
    There are *29* more teams out there looking for starting pitching..Jeeze.😳

    Like

  26. #2. Correa. Altuve was still great while playing hurt…just not amazing. Truthfully, though, I think Correa bounces back in a huge way. He has some arrogance, but far less than some people seem to suggest. He has always been considered a first class teammate and student of the game. We know these things about him. You also know this is one of the longest offseasons of his life.

    Liked by 2 people

  27. My only “Would You Rather..” would be to ask the old retired folks on here: Had you rather watch HGTV for three back to backs of Carribean Life or three back to backs of Hawaii Life. (Sarcasm)

    But my vote is Caribbean Life. I can’t afford to even WATCH real estate in Hawaii.

    Like

    • I sense a Chipalatta connection here.
      Daveb could host a Carribean Life or least tour us around some spots on the islands
      Old Pro could host a Back to the Land session
      I could cover Condo living
      Any other volunteers?

      Yes, the Hawaiian life is kind of out there. “Here is a lovely 2 BR/1Bath – 700 sq ft condo with a view (if you stick your head out your bedroom window and look to the right over the garbage cans) for $1.2 million”

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    • I’m travelling this week for work and couldn’t get a room at the same place as my co-workers. I had to settle for a place that doesn’t appear to have been updated in 30 years. Why is the other hotel booked solid? Apparently lots of HGTV shows are shooting here right now and their crews are taking up space at the good places. They are spending freely at the hotel bar from what I hear.

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  28. Just remember if you pursue James Paxton three things
    1) He’s controllable for two seasons through arbitration
    2) He’s not been a JV 33 to 35 start workhorse – the last 3 seasons he’s started 20, 24 and 28 games
    3) That while he’s a good pitcher – he’s not as good against everyone else as we’ve seen against the Astros

    Like

      • I consider myself a pretty good baseball historian, but had to google that one.
        For folks like myself who might be saying Frank Lary??? He was a fairly successful pitcher in the 50’s and 60’s, who was known as a Yankee killer – so Lary was to the Yanks as Paxton was to the Astros…..

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      • What made Lary’s record of 27-10 against the Yankees unusual, was for all those years except one that he faced the Yankees, they were in the World Series. So he earned the nickname of “Yankee Killer.”

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  29. This is the only place on the planet where there has been any talk about Verlander not pitching for the Astros in 2019.
    Please, stop it. There is so much real stuff here to talk about.

    Liked by 3 people

    • The only thing I could see happening is if the Astros fall on their faces (which I don’t think will happen) – I could see them looking to unload him at the trade deadline – otherwise he is here for the season.

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    • I think it was me initially that opened my big mouth, wondering aloud if Mr. and Mrs. Verlander might want to be settled on the West Coast with baby on the way. Anyway, he’s not going anywhere. And at this point, I don’t think it’s out of the question that Keuchel that might be back. Either way, one of the strengths of the organization remains with pitching depth. There are very few teams that have a five or more guys ready to fill a rotation. We can do that today. And I’m confident Luhnow will put together a solid group for opening day.

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  30. His problem while pitching was mental. At least it appeared to be that he was trying to pitch to a moving home plate. So at 39 he plans a comeback? Dreams die hard. But good luck to him.

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  31. I just read that the Blue Jays hired Dave Hudgens as their bench coach.
    So we will see what life will be like with another hitting coach.

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  32. Lance McCullers knew in August that he needed TJ surgery. The doctors told him when he was on DL. THAT is what chaps my a$$.
    I’m glad Hudgens has moved on…..the Mets fired him for exactly the reason I and others on here had issues with. I hope the next guy brings more to the team.
    Luhnow needs to find a catcher and stick with him, and quit the revolving door.
    Not feeling well tonight….can you tell 😦

    Liked by 1 person

  33. – I feel better knowing LMJ’s situation than I did not knowing about it. You can’t fix a problem by finding another pitcher unless you know if you have a problem with your guy in the first place.
    – If the Astros knew about LMJ’s problem, why didn’t they make a QO to Morton. I am more convinced now than ever that Morton has physical problems, because the Astros didn’t make that QO commitment even knowing LMJ was hurt.
    – Dave Hudgens is gone. Now Luhnow and Hinch can look for another hitting coach. I wonder if the Astros would have promoted Jeff Albert if they had known Hudgens would be leaving two weeks ago.
    -Mike Fast was hired by the Braves and there is a rumor Mejdal could be headed there, too. It’s not just us losing coaches and front office guys. The Dodgers lost their GM, their pitching coach and their 3B coach. But worse than that, they still have Roberts.
    -I think a lot of really brilliant people will be applying for jobs with the
    Astros.
    – Bukauskas was crazy wild today and in trouble for all four innings he pitched. Yet, he gave up only 1 earned run. Double plays, outfield assists, runners caught stealing and a few good pitches saved his tutu.

    Liked by 3 people

    • That made me laugh! Kinda like our guys when Framber kept walking guys all over the place! Our infield had to work hard to keep runs off the board in his first start! My humor is dark tonight!

      Like

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