10 mid-season questions for the Astros

Your loyal servant has a few minutes to toss out a post, so here are 10 questions near the mid-season mark for the Astros and their fans?

  1. Which team in the AL West do you fear the most this season? Entering Saturday the A’s are 6 1/2 games back, the Rangers are 8 back, the Angels 10 1/2 back, and the M’s infinity back…
  2. Is there anyone from inside the organization, who can help the Astros with their bottom of the rotation problems? Collin McHugh? Framber Valdez? Josh James? J.B. Bukauskas? Jose Urquidy? Forrest Whitley? Others?
  3. Are the Yankees the biggest hurdle for an Astro’s championship this season? The Twins and Rays are very good teams. The Red Sox are always dangerous. The Dodgers are slightly ahead of the Yanks in-season record though the Yanks have done a lot of it with an All Star team on the IL. The Braves are solid but untested.
  4. What will the Astros do when Carlos Correa and Aledmys Diaz return after the break (some time)? Yordan Alvarez is up for good. Myles Straw can be a game changer at times. Are both Tyler White and Tony Kemp at risk of a DFA?
  5. How do you feel about the 2019 season compared to the 2017 and 2018 seasons as far as this team’s chances are?
  6. Who has been the biggest surprise for you this season among new Astros? Smooth consistent Michael Brantley? Powerful Robinson Chirinos? Super sub-Aledmys Diaz? Super rookie Aledmys Diaz? Quietly effective Wade Miley?
  7. When (not if) will the Astros make a deal for another starter for the pitching staff? At the All Star Break? Shortly after? At the deadline?
  8. What will the Astros do about the backup catcher spot with Max Stassi (great pitch framer, hopeless at the bat – .179 BA/ .475 OPS)? Bring Garrett Stubbs back up? Search for another Martin Maldonado?
  9. Who do you think will improve the most in the second half of the season? Jose Altuve, who has had the worse start of his career? Alex Bregman (who has been terrible with runners on base)? Yuli Gurriel who has just caught fire after a lesson from Carlos Beltran? Other?
  10. Does iron man Justin Verlander need more than an All Star break (which includes playing at the ASG) as a breather?

What are your answers to these questions? Do you have any other questions you want to throw out there?


124 comments on “10 mid-season questions for the Astros

  1. May both Mr. Lucroy and Mr. Marisnick – and all the self-righteous crazies insisting on second guessing decisions that had to be made in a millisecond – get over this, and back to baseball, quickly.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. What does the rest of July hold?

    7 games with the Rangers [4 away, 3 home]
    4 games with the Angels [away]
    3 games with the As [home]
    3 games with Cardinals [there]
    2 games with the Indians [there]

    Can Mr. Correa and Mr. Diaz please come out and play?


    • Becky, I’m not saying it would make a difference, but the Astros have one of the best farm systems in baseball and the Yankees have one of the worst. The Yankees do have to give something in return.
      The White Sox are going to trade their first baseman, Abreu, so that is why they claimed Reed.
      Over the weekend, Luhnow said the Astros had identified a total of 33 players they were interested in and have contacted the clubs of those 33 players.


      • Then why does seem that every single guy they go after, they get?
        I saw what the Yankees did to Sonny Grey last year, and I was sooo glad he was traded. I’m not sure if the Blue Jays want both Giles AND Stroman to go in a package deal or not. If I was a pitcher I would jump through hoops to come here and pitch along side Verlander and Cole!
        By the way Charlie got his 10th win yesterday….and a few sports writers are keen on him to get the AL Cy Young award this year!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Devin
    The Lucroy / Marisnick link you sent was for the mlb.com overall web site.
    What I was saying was that there was no articles on the Astros sub-web site


    I was expecting to see something on there including what the team’s response to the Brad Ausmus call for suspension was – etc.
    Just surprised there was nothing here


  4. Here’s the official MLB rule on a catcher blocking home plate:
    Rule 7.13

    1. A runner attempting to score may not deviate from his direct pathway to the plate in order to initiate contact with the catcher (or other player covering home plate). If, in the judgment of the Umpire, a runner attempting to score initiates contact with the catcher (or other player covering home plate) in such a manner, the Umpire shall declare the runner out (even if the player covering home plate loses possession of the ball).

    2. Unless the catcher is in possession of the ball, the catcher cannot block the pathway of the runner as he is attempting to score. If, in the judgment of the Umpire, the catcher, without possession of the ball, blocks the pathway of the runner, the Umpire shall call or signal the runner safe.

    I have no problem with the umpire’s ruling that Jake initiated contact with the catcher. While I do not think it was an intentional deviation that initiated contact, there is nothing in the rule about intent. If the umpire judged that Jake deviated and initiated contact, then by rule he should be called out. But……

    There is no argument that Lucroy was blocking the pathway of the runner without the ball. Rule 7.08 (a) (1) defines the base path as no more than three feet away from a direct line between bases. Jake was by no means outside of his path to the plate. The rules are very clear that “The base line belongs to the runner and the catcher should be there only when he is fielding a ball or when he already has the ball in his hand.”

    In a very worse case, Jake was out on rule 7.13 (1) and safe on 7.13 (2) and should have been sent back to third.


    • It is kind of an oddly written rule – I mean “A runner attempting to score may not deviate from his direct pathway to the plate in order to initiate contact with the catcher”
      In reality the only way that Marisnick deviated from his pathway in order to initiate contact with the catcher would be if he knew that somehow Lucroy was going to end up 5 feet into fair territory. I agree he deviated from his pathway and it ended up initiating contact, but it sure did not look like he went inside in order to initiate contact.
      Joe Torre (former catcher) said they are reviewing the situation in order to judge what punishment if any to mete out. I suspect something like $25,000 and five games. Not because he deserves it but because in our modern world, if the mobs are clamoring for something – it will happen.

      Liked by 1 person

      • By rule, he owns a direct path to the base that is 3′ wide. Clearly Lucrow blocked that path without the ball.

        Nevertheless, I agree with you that Jake will probably be unfairly punished.


      • I guess I really don’t understand the ‘newthink’ approach of ‘Someone’s hurt playing baseball, so we have to punish somebody else’ logic of this age at all. It could have just as easily been Marisnick who got injured, because Lucroy – wearing armor all over his body – was blocking the plate illegally without the ball. In fact, the person most at risk of injury in this situation was not Lucroy, but Marisnick. The only thing that kept Marisnick from being the one injured was his incredible speed, and the fact that the off-target throw kept Lucroy from getting set to deliver a punishing blow.


    • The rule is vague. It’s got to be the most judgmental call on the baseball field. It can’t get called the same way twice because every such situation is unique. If Jake followed the rule to the letter, never broke stride, came straight in and flattened Lucroy, I think the outcome would have been the same (from New York) and Lucroy might have been hurt worse. Dan, you are right. This is how MLB will try to rid itself of contact at the plate. Imagine the same situation and outcome in a World Series game? It might very well depend on the participants. And I hate to say that.

      Liked by 2 people

    • After JD Martinez, Astros were gun shy about giving up too soon on a HR hitter in a system with so few.

      Martes is another we lost relative value on, and possibly Fisher. But, they might still figure into the future yet.

      Dan, I think we’ll audition a few more non-40-man pitching prospects before, and during expansion (Bielak Peredes Ivey are leaders in clubhouse). As you say, we have feelers out for a few dozen guys, so I can see a few pitchers and a LH 1B possibly. Since Yuli is surging however, we might have to ride with Diaz, and make our cuts with White and probably Kemp. Kyle Tucker is still under Super Two consideration, so Sept. is the reason for his delay. He certainly has the talent to be on the big club now, but there is no playing time available (Brantley Springer Reddick Alvarez). I’m sure the Astros would love to trade White when Diaz is ready to return.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Sad to say but AJ Reed is just the latest and won’t be the last. We all hope that Tucker, Beer, Whitley, etc. etc. etc. don’t fall victim but probably one or more will. There are zero “can’t miss” prospects in baseball.


  5. Just got back from Corpus where I caught all 4 games against Midland. The pitching was really good during the series and the bats came out to play. Beer was absolutely destroying the baseball. If it wasn’t for his video game production, Toro would have been the star of the show. Both are ready for AAA now.

    I have a hunch that Beer will see some at bats at the MLB level come September. His swing is as sweet as Tupelo Honey, just like honey from the bee! (credit to Van Morrison)


    • Vewill1, Beer may well be playing in MLB this year. If Luhnow thinks his future is as a DH, his bat might well help us get some of the pitching we so badly need.


    • That’s a good report on Beer and Toro, thanks! Ya had to be a little impressed with JJ Matijevic too, especially considering what he’s overcome this year.

      And Beer as a Sept call-up is a welcome sight. But make no mistake, Kyle Tucker is first man up, and is the top hitting prospect in all the minor leagues.

      It’s going to be very interesting what the Astros do to keep Alvarez Beer JJ (poor defenders), and Straw Tucker on the field in 2021. Astros are currently using them all in secondary positions for that reason.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I’m definitely not the smartest bird in the cage. But, if the Astros are healthy in September, I don’t see them taking up a spot on the 40-man for Beer then. He has been in the minors for a full year as of right now and doesn’t have to be protected for two more years.
      There are guys in the minors who will have to be protected from the Rule 5 draft this fall and the Astros will want to do that and also bring up pitchers from the minors to give our playoff bound pitchers some rest. Now that Alvarez is up, they will probably bring up guys who are already on the 40-man, like Tucker and Straw and Stubbs to give players a rest late in the season.
      Beer is hitting well in AA. In a couple of years there may not be a Reddick or a Brantley or a Gurriel(or,heaven forbid, a Springer) and by then we will have had a chance to see Seth Beer in AAA with that SuperBall baseball and we would be in a perfect position to slide him into the lineup when we might really have a need for him.


      • I agree on the existing 40-man considerations. I meant more that Beer may be that far ahead of schedule (even though there’s no room in the inn).

        Astros are going to have tough decisions with Reddick and Gurriel in the off season, because of depth and budget. Right now, both those guys making improvements and striving to play out their contracts in 2020.

        Even so, I’m so glad all the prospects got their feet wet this year. Nobody would’ve given much chance to Mayfield, or Urquidy in December, for example. And based on 2018 Corpus, AZFL, MiLB ranking him lower, and not hitting HR’s in Spring Training really made Alvarez a surprise to those who didn’t see him coming. Our minor league development and depth is amazing. Thank goodness for Luhnow, and Crane.


  6. Bregman’s home run derby could not have gone any better. Out in the first round. Hopefully, he found out how to hit line drives again and stop popping up.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. I’m assuming we will hear about Jake’s possible suspension fine – tomorrow. They don’t want any bad news opposite the Home Run Derby / All Star Game

    Liked by 1 person

  8. One of the few pitchers who have performed well this season for the Astros minor leagues, Christian Javier, got removed from the game with outs and the bases loaded in the second inning last night for Corpus Christi. Willie Collado relieved Javier, gave up a bases loaded triple and the 14-1 Frisco rout was on.


  9. I promise this is my last post about Jake and the Collision. But all the rules talk about “possession.” Had Lucroy caught the ball, I still would not like the call, but can live with it. But since he “muffed” the ball and NEVER had possession AND was obviously in the base path, this is just a miscarriage of the rules.

    And finally if Jake is suspended, it will not do much harm to the team, BUT IT STILL STINKS.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Go ahead and suspend Jake. Pissing off the Astros is something that the other teams may regret.
      Everyone who cares about Jake recognizes that this was an accident that he tried to avoid and couldn’t. A suspension will just inspire Jake and his teammates to put it to the rest of baseball.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Really like this take on the matter, Op.
        Similar to when Cole pitches mad, that’s not a good strategy to upset him.

        AC45, I agree with you, but there is one reason why Hinch agreed with the umps interpretation. This is the part of the rule ‘vewill1’ left out.

        “Notwithstanding the above, it shall not be considered a violation of this Rule 6.01(i)(2) if the catcher blocks the pathway of the runner in a legitimate attempt to field the throw (e.g., in reaction to the direction, trajectory or the hop of the incoming throw, or in reaction to a throw that originates from a pitcher or drawn-in infielder).

        Despite Berkman claiming, “you can’t tell me Lucroy wasn’t trying to block the plate without the ball, it’s instinctual.” The rule states that Lucroy can block if the ball takes him into the path.

        I completely agree Jake didn’t mean to initiate contact when he launched, but being in the air was a “loss of control” on his part, and he IS responsible for his part. I thought it should’ve been a No-Call, but the rule does cover this issue.


      • I’ve tried my hand on the “juiced ball” debate.

        Before reading your article, I’m currently sympathizing with Verlander because the ball is marginally smaller (less wind resistant), and the core seems to create a bouncier effect. Manford claims it’s not materially different, and the league has stood by it’s decision to use the same baseball manufacturer’s specs.

        What it smacks of to me is the steroid issue, where the league was complicit in allowing it to boost the entertainment value, knowing it would draw fans back after the Strike. Instead of being honest with fans. The question was always ‘when did MLB know?’ and since it was a NYY trainer/employee testifying against Clemens, it seems pretty likely that organizations and the league already knew.

        Baseball knows this ball travels farther, and they need to address it.

        One last comment — AZ and COL use a ball treated in a Humidor, to normalize it at altitude. The PCL (AAA) has gone to the same ball as MLB, but not the lower levels. My question if anyone can find it is: since the PCL has so many venues in altitude (Reno, Vegas, Salt Lake), do they also treat the baseball?


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