Astros 2019: Early spring training thoughts


Spring Training can be a little bit of a let down in the blog writing world. You bop around for a few months trying to stretch from the playoffs (if your team is lucky) to the start of spring training, throwing off every speculative non-story subject you can think of just waiting for ST to start. And then you realize that ST is a much too long period of time (as confirmed by Manager A.J. Hinch the other day) with almost as much speculation and non-story subjects.

The games don’t mean a whole lot. Most of the spots in the 25 man are decided. You can speculate on whether a good start by fill in the blank helps him to get a leg up on the competition, but there is not a lot of meat here. So…. it is time to just let the mind wander and hit on some subjects that might keep the reading horde mildly interested.

  1. Is the next J.D. Martinez sitting around here? I was watching Derek Fisher hitting on Sunday (and no, I don’t think he is JDM-lite or anything), but it made me wonder, which of the players who may never get a good shot at the majors with such a set Astros lineup will eventually move on and become a success elsewhere. Guys like Fisher, A.J. Reed, Brady Rodgers, or even a Jake Marisnick or a Francis Martes may never quite get there with a loaded Astros club. But could they be the next big thing elsewhere?
  2. To quote, Slim Pickens in Blazing Saddles “What in the wide wide world of sports is going on here” relative to the length of Spring Training? Counting split squad games the Astros play 33 games before the games start to count. I guess they all paid big money (or the local municipality did) for these wonderful spring training stadiums and need to justify them and pay for them, but wow that is just a lot of opportunities to hurt players. And there are oodles of people paying to watch games where there is no one who is making this team playing after the 4th inning.
  3. Last Spring Training, there was no real thought that the two prospects who would make the biggest splash during 2019 would be Josh James and Framber Valdez. Who might be an under the radar player who gives the Astros a boost during the season? This is often driven by injury, which drives opportunity. And starting pitching often is hit with more injuries – many times minor, sometimes major – that affords the opportunity. So, might a Rogelio Armenteros or Alaskan hunter, Cy Sneed come out of nowhere to be somewhere?
  4. If you were giving a “Looking over their shoulder” award for the 2019, season, who would you give it to? This would seem to be Josh Reddick. If he does not hit well, he knows that the Astros would like to ship him and at least part of his salary elsewhere, while giving playing time to a Kyle Tucker, Myles Straw or even a Yordan Alvarez.

So, any thoughts on these thoughts or any thoughts of your own???

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42 comments on “Astros 2019: Early spring training thoughts

  1. It is early, but Nick Tanielu is putting up a pretty good case so far for being the next J.D. Martinez. No way he breaks through on the Astros any time soon unless he learns to play 1B or catch.

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  2. So Pitch Forrest Pitch – Young Whitley follows up JV’s two perfect innings with two perfect innings of his own including 3 Ks.
    Minor league infielder Nick Tanielu has 3 RBIs giving him 6 for the Spring so far. Tanielu has slowly moved up the chain and is an infielder with a good BA and little pop who played at AA and AAA last season.

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  3. With regard to the length of ST, I have mixed emotions. On the one hand, I am just happy to see white round spheroids with red seams flying through the air, smell the sweet scent of leather, and see orange and blue unis with ‘Astros’ on the front. On the other hand, I really don’t want to see any of the Astros starters in for any more than a cameo 1 or 2 inning appearance before the 2nd week in March.

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    • With our organization being where it is [and it sure is nice to have an organization in the top 10 after years of substandard status], these early days of ST seem focused on ‘showcasing’ potential trade candidates for other teams. The best tactic is to play the hot minor league hand as long as he’s hot – e.g. Nick Tanielu and, to a lesser extent, Ronnie Dawson. Of course, the opposite side of that is that some guys will perform so badly that they throw any trade value they may have had in the toilet [see esp. ‘Emmanuel, Kent’].

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Let’s see, spring training thoughts.
    * The Astros would have won Monday’s game if they hadn’t been so awful running the bases.
    * Dan, if the Astros have hung in there with Brady Rodgers this long, they sure as hell should hang in there with Francis Martes.
    * Michael Brantley hasn’t played yet.
    * A guy who seems to have a chance at making the biggest splash on the Astros this year is Cionel Perez. After all, he’s already on the 40-man and he is left handed, two big things in his favor.
    * Peter Solomon reminded me of James Hoyt today. He looked so nervous and got hit so hard. But, he hung in there and didn’t give up any runs. Wring out that uniform, Peter.
    * I finally get to see Yordan Alvarez on TV and he is the exact same player I see described in his scouting report.
    * Justin Verlander is a fit, awesome site on the mound.
    * Dear Brett Strom: eat healthy and take your meds, please!

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  5. and now a public service announcement:
    dear harper, please sign somewhere-anywhere you want, but just sign. we are all sick of it.

    (this expresses my opinion alone and not necessarily any other chipalattas (although some may agree). i alone am responsible for its content. dont expect me to repent.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. Here is what I think about spring training so far.
    *That a guy’s stats are not as important as how he is hitting the ball.
    *How a guy is fielding is important.
    * The only thing that matters is how you did against major leaguers. Minor leaguers against minor leaguers happens all year long.
    * Are they healthy?
    * Are they healthy?
    * Are they healthy?
    * The fact that JD Martinez and Pat Neshek played lousy for us and good for somebody else doesn’t mean diddly to me. They are gone.
    * I hope somebody signs Evan Gattis. I like the guy.
    * I really like Seth Beer’s swing. He struck out on a great changeup on Monday. Credit the pitcher.

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  7. Still haven’t been able to “see” the games, but I’ve seen several videos of today’s game as well as yesterday’s. Verlander is EXACTLY where he wants to be at this point in the spring, and he has one of his biggest fans behind the plate! Chirinos is star struck! Daveb…..it looks like nephew spent the off season eating Doritos, and drinking beer. Sorry dude but you didn’t spend enough time at the Gym. Luhnow has a problem right now, there is soo much talent in Corpus, but our AAA guys are blocking them.

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    • By now you probably know, but it’s because he was only scheduled for 15 pitches, and they must’ve felt he’d exceed it in the 2nd. He got that work done in the bullpen session.

      Ivey took the lumps today so far, and Max Stassi has looked bad at the plate. Advantage Stubbs.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks Grayson – 15 pitches is a bit of a silly small number, but he only threw 7 in the first inning. Hey, I don’t care as long as he didn’t feel something wrong in the first.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Hey, Dan, some nice work went into this stat. I think it portends well for the future, even in the worst case scenarios of injury.

        2018 #Astros, team pitching strikeout ranks + gross totals + runners-up.
        AAA Fresno: #1, 1330 (#2: 1179)
        AA Corpus: #1, 1319 (#2: 1161)
        A+ Buies: #1, 1272 (#2: 1190)
        A- Quad Cities: #1, 1514 (#2: 1263!!!)
        SS-A: Tri-City: #1, 741 (#2: 684)

        Liked by 1 person

      • Wow blast from the past – Bateman was one of the better catchers we’ve had and Giusti was a solid pitcher. I don’t think Realmuto and Corbin will be installing cabinets at their age

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      • One of my favorite John Bateman stories was Wynn and Morgan were on the team. One of them got on the team bus and was angry. Some fan had mistaken him for the other player. Bateman listened to his rant and then said, “All you Japanese look alike.”

        Liked by 1 person

      • And Pete Runnels was from Lufkin. He lead the league in 1960 and 1962 in hitting. He was interviewed on the local Lufkin station about his hitting. All I can remember was he talked about an hour about how Ted Williams could see the spin of the ball coming out of the pitcher’s hand and knew what it was going to do. Pete said it was all he could do to see the ball and try to hit it.

        Liked by 1 person

      • im in!! would love it. my schedule is sometimes a bit wonkie, but i bet i could work it out. im embarrassed to say i have never been to the stadium in RR. now that the rangers are gone and the astros are there, its time to rectify that.

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    • dan, i think i am in a small minority on this, but i dont think our starting staff is all that rock solid. now, of course, the top two ARE rock solid, but after that we could possibly have some potential problems. i think mchugh is a good pitcher, but he relieved all year long last year and could have problems stretching out and possibly will have problems getting near 120 – 150 innings. miley is also a good pitcher but was injured and also will have trouble reaching 120 – 150 innings. and now our #1 choice for #5 is ruled out by injury for the rotation. dan’s link above says hinch rules out 3 of our young guns for the rotation. that leaves 5 pretty good but not very experienced pitchers to fill the last position. so that begs the question what happens if one of the big 2 or really any of the rotation goes down with injury? or what if someone just doesnt pitch well? suddenly we are relying on inexperienced prospects. what if we have multiple injuries or poor performance? i just dont think the starting staff is near as solid as last year.
      ive argued against this all year, but if we can at the right price and short term deal get keuchel back, it may be a good idea. we may have to hope the offense can make up for a drop in pitching.

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      • I don’t think you are that far off from most of us – the Astros had the very best rotation in the majors in 2018, but without Keuchel, Morton and McCullers they don’t. They won the World Series in 2017 without the best rotation in the majors, but with the best offense in the majors. They will need an improved offense and at least very good, if not great pitching to repeat. And the rotation is the biggest question in my mind too.

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  8. I’ve considered the possibility that Devo is done with us. The league has stopped swinging at his stuff out of the strike zone.

    I’m sure Luhnow is talking to Keuchel or Boras, looking for that shorter deal. Losing both McHugh and Peacock out of the pen would not be ideal.

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