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?

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

  1. 1. The A’s are the only team I’m going to be concerned about, unless the Rangers happen to win at least three of four next week.
    2. Right now, I’m hoping Urquidy can be that guy because I think McHugh best serves us in the pen, Whitley is a long term reclamation project or trade bait, Bukauskas is a question mark and the other guys are too erratic at this point.
    3. Plenty of teams can take a short series from us. There are quite a few good ones, Yankees and Dodgers seem to be the biggest threat right now.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. 4. White and Kemp go, one way or the other. Luhnow must be trying to get something for them, including them in a deal. But if it comes down to it, they will be released. The fast guy gets to stay if they think 12 on the pitching staff will work. Until the rotation gets settled, 12 might not work.
    5. Club sure looked good early. Injuries are frustrating and for some reason, they seem more annoying this year. Part of it is Correa and his credibility. But our organization has been exposed to a degree. Pitching has not arrived from the minors and had a real impact.
    6. Miley has been huge. Where would we be without him? But Luhnow gets an A or an A+ for all five. I hope Diaz can step back in and start producing as he was.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. 7. The sellers really have an upper hand. Everyone wants pitching. I’m hoping for right after the break, but I’m looking at the end of the month.
    8. I don’t think Stassi is a huge issue, but if Luhnow can improve back there, he will. Our regular catcher is catching too many innings. I don’t see Stubbs coming back up unless it’s due to an injury.
    9. I think Jose can still hit .300. He’s really running well. If Bregman improves only on his clutch stats, then I’m okay.
    10. Verlander has been getting guys out with pitches up and out of the zone. But more and more guys are catching up to that stuff and sending it out of the park. I don’t know how you’d rest him without pissing him off. If the pen gets settled, maybe we see more 6 inning starts and fewer 7 plus inning outings.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. 1. The team I fear most in the AL West is Houston. They are the team that can ruin my team’s chances.
    2. I still think Urquidy and Valdez can help the team with the bottom of the rotation.
    3. I think the Dodgers are the team to beat.
    4. When Correa and Diaz return, I think Straw gets optioned and White gets DFA’d.
    5. 2019 vs 2018 and 2017? I think we miss Charlie Morton.

    Liked by 4 people

  5. 1. A’s simply because they seem to always play us tough in head to head. 2. Unless “Other” starts to improve, I don’t currently see it. 3. Yes Yankees because they will buy up talent just to keep other teams from getting them. 4. Yes on one, Straw is the other because he can go back to AAA. 5. I don’t feel this team has peaked, so it is currently not playing as well as the other two. If this is their peak, then “not as good.” 6. Chirinos. I did not see him to be as good as Stassi. 7. Not sure, but fingers are crossed. 8. Stassi stays and Stubbs continues to play most games in AAA. Stubbs sitting and watching is not good for his future. 9. Altuve second half HAS TO improve over Altuve first half. He has to hit or move down to 6th or 7th or 8th or…. 10. I think he (and others) need to not pitch “high in the zone” as batters have adjusted to that scheme. (Another great post and thought provoking)

    Liked by 1 person

  6. 1. A’s. But as OP so eloquently put it, most of the time I fear the Astros the most.
    2. I don’t think so. At least not enough.
    3. It’s a toss up between the Yanks and the Dodgers. If we can’t get past the Yanks the Dodgers won’t matter.
    4. Straw will be sent down till September. Kemp will stay and White will go.
    5. Wish Beltran was still around. I really believe with out him we would still be waiting for that first championship. 17 was best, 18 was good, 19 still needs improvement.
    6. Chirinos was, by far, the biggest surprise to me.
    7. After the break, near the deadline.
    8. They will stick with Stassi.
    9. Altuve. If we have any chance. Love to see Bregman become Bregman again though.
    10. He needs to re-think his approach.

    Apparently Luhnow doesn’t believe in good coaches. But I would love to see what an experienced proven hitting coach could do with these guys. Time after time I hear Blum, Bergman, and Bagwell comment about things they would change.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. 1. None
    2. Framber When he learns to find the zone his stuff is electric.
    3. Dodger. Pitching + hitting.
    4. What Sandra said
    5. We miss the 2 coaches from ’17 (Beltran and Cora)
    6. Miley
    7. At deadline
    8. Stassi
    9. Altuve
    10. No. JV adjusted and dominated. Hitters adjusted and caught up. JV will adjust.

    Like

  8. Answers to your qustions:
    1. The A’S
    2. No
    3.No….The Twins scare me to death.
    4.Tyler White for sure, and?? Not sure.
    5. Better team than 2017, 2018…”when” they are all healthy (if ever).
    6. Brantley, and Miley
    7. A.S.A.P.!!!!
    8.Gotta get another Chirinos type catcher.
    9. YULI!!
    10. Probably…but I wouldn’t want to deliver THAT message!
    Garrett Cole throws 101mph on his 110 pitch…*WOW*!!

    Liked by 2 people

  9. 6. Biggest surprise among new Astros for me is Yordan Alvarez.
    7. I think the Astros will make their move for help in the last week of July.
    8. The last two years the Astros had a main catcher and a backup catcher. I think it’s the same this year. Not counting injuries, Chirinos is the main guy and Stassi will be the backup.
    9. We know Yuli is hot. I think Altuve will have the biggest improvement from the first half to the second half.
    10. I think Verlander needs a break, but he won’t get it because he’s too stubborn.

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  10. I check the Astros draft every couple of days and noticed 2 recent changes. the Astros signed Mississippi State starting pitcher, Peyton Plumlee. He was their 31st round pick and they gave him a signing bonus of $1000.
    They also signed this guy http://cfpatriots.net/sports/bsb/2018-19/bios/nix_james_mez1.
    They gave him a $250,000 signing bonus and he was their 35th round pick. They wanted this guy badly and he had options because he was a first year JC player. Take a look at those stats. His hitting stats were almost unbelievable. I haven’t seen anything similar since Abraham Toro’s JC stats and they were not as good as this guy’s.
    James Nix, Outfielder, to the Astros in the 35th round.
    I think the Astros are right at their draft slot limit for this year.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. George Springer agreed to take Andrew Heaney’s first pitch of the night on Saturday. He was asked by the Angel’s catcher to do so because Heaney, Tyler Skaggs’ best friend, wanted to honor Skaggs by throwing a big looping curve ball, which was Skaggs’ signature pitch. Springer agreed to it and the ump automatically(correctly so) called the pitch a ball.

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  12. 1. A’s
    2. its possible all but two of them help this year (even if its just burning innings)
    3. yankees in our league. dodgers in the other
    4. they celebrate
    5. i feel good
    6. chirinos and/ot alvarez (btw got to see the game sat, what a sweet swing alvarez has)
    7. im gonna say a week or two before the deadline as luhnow has been working on this for awhile. interesting though, to see how things change since this is the last deadline now.
    8. i thought catching was our weak spot as the season started, thank heaven chirinos has surprised me to the good side. a better backup would help if we are to go all the way.
    9. altuve moves closer to his norm
    10. he needs less innings to keep him from being worn out when we get to the playoffs.

    11. please bregman dont get all messed up by entering the homerun derby.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. JB Bukauskas is the only Astros prospect in the Futures game this season.
    Now, I’m just going to blurt this out. Bukauskas has been horrible in AA Corpus Christi this season. Does everyone else in baseball know somethin we don’t?
    Bukauskas has 2 Plus pitches. A fastball graded at 65 on a scale of 80 and a slider graded at 65 on a scale of 80. He has two pitches that are graded a lot lower.
    Is it possible that a guy with two great pitches is not throwing them and that most of what he is throwing are pitches that the Astros are trying to get him to improve.
    I don’t see any way this guy gets into the Futures Game with the horrible stuff he has been throwing. So I think it’s obvious he is going to return to throwing all his pitches from here on out.

    Like

  14. Asher Wojciekowski and Trent Thornton are the starting pitchers for the Orioles-Blue Jays game today at noon.
    As the Yankees face the Rays, it’s Paxton vs Charlie Morton.
    Dallas Kuechel starts for the Braves today.
    Joe Musgrove is the starting pitcher for the Pirates today.
    Daniel Mengden is the starting pitcher for the A’s today.

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      • Charlie WANTED to stay, of all the pitchers that have left us….I miss Charlie the most. I’ve never hidden my respect for Charlie. We don’t win the World Series without Charlie Morton.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Dan, we could have easily convinced Charlie to stay at a fair price, but it seems there was not enough confidence in house that he’d keep his health intact over two seasons. Time will tell. We sure do miss him right now though.

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  15. Today we can empty the pen. We might well win this game. But I’ve been hearing all season long, mostly from quarters outside of this little group here that we’ve got all kinds of pitching depth in our deep system. So far though I feel inclined to tell those pundits that that particular claim is a big pile of horse dookie.

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  16. Off topic a bit but what would it take to keep Cole? I know we’ve got JV for two more years but how about a back loaded contract (which I don’t like).

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    • Just a guess, but I assume he wants a multi year deal somewhere around $250 million for 5yrs. Count the Astros out on Cole.

      Like

  17. This team is so ‘Mary, Mary’ – when it is good, it is very good; but when it is bad . . . well, a whole lot of days like today seem to happen.

    Verlander and Cole – then go hide in a hole!

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Jeez just noticed a typo up above in my question 6. – Super rookie should read Yordan Alvarez – I’m going to have a talk with my proofreader as soon as I find a mirror

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Interesting- coming out of the AS break the Astros starters will be

    Thursday – TBD
    Friday – Cole
    Saturday – Miley
    Sunday – Verlander

    Hinch said he wants to split JV and Cole up by the lefty
    What he did not say is he wants to get Justin extra rest and Cole one more day of rest

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  20. Please God tell me their catcher will be ok. I couldn’t see it….but it sounded HORRIBLE. Someone please post PLEASE!!

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  21. I must not understand the rule. Catcher mishandles the ball, is blocking the plate, Jake try’s to avoid him, but can’t. Can someone tell me how that got overruled?

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    • They are saying Jake could/should have slid beneath or outside to avoid crash rather than go inside, whic to them looks he was trying to run into the catcher to dislodge the ball. He should have allowed to score

      Liked by 1 person

      • Lucroy had already misplayed and lost the ball before Jake got there. That’s what I can’t understand about the overrule. Jake was clearly not headhunting. The collision was nobody’s fault, but how to you put it on the runner when the ball is already out. I know the league wants to stop injuries at the plate, but I just can’t comprehend the rationale.

        Liked by 2 people

      • I agree with the ruling. Jake was started on an outside path. He veered back inside the baseline. Lucroy stepped up the line and toward the infield slightly to field the ball. Jake was fooled thinking he was coming directly into the line or toward foul territory I can understand that – it’s a split second decision of what’s happening. He apologized on twitter saying basically that – he intended to slide head first on the fair territory side to avoid the tag. Had Jake just not lowered his shoulder there would be no question he would have been ruled safe. There is a still shot on the mlb.com site showing Jake contacting him inside fair territory.

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  22. So far the hospital says Lucroy has a concussion and probably a broken nose.
    Lucroy has so far not wanting to wear the hockey gollie mask like Chirinos wears. The old mask he wears doesn’t give you much protection. It breaks my heart that he is so badly ingured…..there might be bad blood between the Astros and the Angels now. I certainly hope not.

    Liked by 1 person

    • There was just a story this weekend about Cervelli (Pirates) stating that he’s done catching after his latest concussion. The team has not agreed with him completely on that yet.

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  23. I hope he recovers and wears something more protective. I would hope the Angels would look at this and tell that it was a bit more of an accident – both parties getting in each other’s way

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  24. I left when it was 6-2. I don’t know what anyone on the Astros could have done to change Urquidy. He was on the corners and moving the ball up and down in the zone for 2 innings and then everything was in the middle of the zone in the third inning. He did the same thing the last time he pitched.
    I went to the gym and when I came back it was 8-4.
    I hate the call on Marisnick. You can watch the call a hundred times from the dugout camera and see him veer inside and then see Lucroy veer inside to block him, even though Lucroy didn’t have control of the ball.
    I kept thinking about the WS game where the Astros kept coming back and finally beat the Dodgers. Memories of that game kept me semi-sane today.
    Reddick is so lukewarm, but you just can’t help but notice how important he was in that game, even as a substitute. He made a great play on a line drive in LF that you had to wonder if Alvarez would have gotten to.
    The double in the 10th was just a picture perfect swing at a huge moment.

    Liked by 2 people

  25. I too have watched the collision at different angles…..I still can’t make out exactly what happened, but the remarks about that play have made me so very sad. People are saying Jake did it on purpose, and that he should be suspended for dirty play. There is NO WAY Marisnick would ever do something like that, to take a catcher out…..NO WAY! We all need a few days away from baseball that counts. I might watch Bregman tomorrow, and I will probably watch Verlander pitch.
    I hope like heck Luhnow is putting the final touches on another starting pitcher.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Listened to a bit of an interview with Luhnow before the game. He did not say specifically for which positions but he said that 30+ different players have been identified as ones they should have interest in (they could be from teams out of the race or ones not throwing in the towel) and they have made contact on all of them.
      He thought it more likely that moves will happen close to the deadline – felt like teams are going to hold out until late on deals

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  26. I finally got to see the Lucroy / Marisnick play
    My take – Marisnick was coming full steam down and the throw was up the line. Lucroy moved up the line on the foul side of the line. This forced Marisnick to move inside the line. Almost simultaneously Lucroy started sliding towards fair territory bobbled the ball and kept sliding inside and it was too late for Marisnick to miss him – unfortunately he really cleaned his clock.
    Bottom line – I don’t know what baseball expects a guy moving full steam down the line to do. He was too far away to slide and the catcher blocked his way outside the line and basically slid across and blocked his way past even as he was trying to evade him. Maybe if he could levitated or evaporate this could be avoided.

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  27. I’m irritated that many people think Marisnick is some kind of monster on this play. If Lucroy had been standing still – then I would say Jake was totally to blame – but from the point Marisnick swerved inside, Lucroy moved – what? 10 ft? I just don’t think it was on purpose.

    Liked by 1 person

  28. Of course I can see where Angel fans would be pissed and certainly there is a whole lot of raw emotion on the surface inside their club right now. And the more I read the rule, I can at least understand why the safe call was overruled. But the rule is flawed. It seems to read that if Jake had simply charged straight ahead, rather than trying to get around the play at the last minute (that’s how it appears to me anyway when he broke stride) then he could have legally leveled Lucroy at full speed.

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  29. I’m giving up on this one – apparently Jake Marisnick has changed his uniform number to 666 and is reenacting the early scene from “The Last Boy Scout” where the player carries a gun unto the field and shoots his opponents on the way to a TD.

    I am resigned to Jake getting both a fine and a suspension here and I think it is totally due to the severity of the injury to Lucroy and not to the violation of rules.

    I am just not going to argue it anymore and just pray that Mr. Lucroy heals up in a hurry.

    Liked by 1 person

  30. Some Astros related notes:
    – Four Astros relievers gave up runs on Sunday and they still won.
    – The Round Rock Express have 8 pitchers on the IL, 1 temporarily inactive and 1 on the restricted list.
    – Lorenzo Quintana’s second home run of the day for the CC Hooks was a walk-off grand slam, and was his second homer of the day. Quintana has been very good since coming off the IL on June 18th and his stats for the year in AA are very good.
    – Colin McKee, 25 year old relief pitcher from Mercyhurst College, has been promoted from CC to RR.

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  31. Yesterday:
    Thornton won and Wojo lost.
    Morton won.
    Keuchel won.
    Musgrove got a no-decision, but Francisco Liriano won in relief..
    Mengden won.

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  32. Carlos Correa was injured on Tuesday, May 28 and placed on the IL on May 29th. He was given a 4-6 week timeline for his return and All-Star Tuesday, July 9th marks the six week timeline day.
    It would be nice for him to have an extra day for a rib to heal and be ready to play on Thursday against our biggest rival, the Texas Rangers.
    How many of you think this is going to happen?

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    • As the late Jack Paar might say, “I rib you not, I have more of a chance of playing against the Rangers Thursday than Carlos does.”

      Like

  33. I have reconsidered my reaction to Jake and the Collision. We all want player safety and the owner’s need to protect their million dollar investments. So here are some rules that need to be adopted. 1. If two fielder’s yell “I GOT IT” at the same time, they can stop running and let the ball bounce. The batter is automatically out and the runner(s) return to their original base. 2. If a fielder touches the warning track in any part of the stadium, he can say “I GOT IT” and the batter is automatically out and the runner(s) return to their original position. 3. If a runner is headed toward any base and accidentally touches any baseman, the runner is out and the runner(s) can not advance. 4. If in the opinion of the umpire (not reviewable) any pitch would have hit the batter (even if he ducks and dodges the pitch) the batter is awarded first base and all runner(s) advance one base. A warning is issued to the team.

    Liked by 4 people

    • 5. If a second pitch in any game in the opinion of the umpire (not reviewable) would have hit the batter if he had maintained his original batting stance – even if he ducked or dodged the pitch – the batter is awarded two bases and all runner(s) are awarded home plate and the runs score. The pitcher, catcher, pitching coach and manager are automatically ejected and subject to a fine and/or suspension. 6. If a batted ball is deemed “too hot to handle” by the home plate umpire, the batter is automatically out and the runner(s) return to their original base. 7. If any ball, fair or foul, is hit into the stands, anyone attempting to catch ball must catch it without a bobble. If the ball is uncatchable, the batter is out and the fan(s) are awarded two season tickets to the follow year. (This rule does not apply to balls that land on the seats, or walkways).

      Liked by 3 people

      • For ultimate player safety – all games will either be virtual reality games played on Wii or they will re-run games from previous years or even decades.

        Liked by 1 person

      • The New Rules for Kinder, Gentler, MLB baseball:

        1. No tagging and trying to advance on fly balls. Any player who tries it [well, except a Yankee or Dodger player, of course] gets an automatic 7-game suspension.
        2. If one or more runners is on and a ground ball is hit on the infield, the Infield Grounder Rule [IGR] applies; if the ball’s exit velo is under 110 MPH every man on base when it was hit is automatically out – unless it gets through the infield, in which everyone that was on 2nd or 3rd when the ball was hit is automatically home plate [this is called the ‘new ground rule run’ rule] .
        3. Attempts to steal home are punishable by 2-20 years in Rykers.
        4. Any attempt to advance from third to home on a passed ball or wild pitch is prohibited; any runner who attempts such an advance is banned from Hall of Fame consideration.
        5. No trying to stretch a single into a double. Someone might hurt his or her arm trying to throw the greedy runner out.
        6. The only way a run can be scored is via home run.
        7. No hustling – or we’ll report you to the Vice Squad.
        8. No staring provocatively into the camera; but licking bats is not only accepted, but encouraged. After all, bats are always getting beat up, and they need love too.
        9. If you get someone on another team out, you must look him in the eye and say, from the bottom of your heart: “That was a really Nice Try! And by the way, Dude – you are a stunningly handsome man! How about dinner and a movie sometime?”
        10. If you hit a home run, the opposing pitcher and catcher have to lift you up on their shoulders to carry you around the base paths, and all the opposing players have to serenade you at home plate with ‘For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow’.

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  34. I’ll try to put our team in the Angels shoes for a minute.
    In one week they lost one of their starting pitchers…forever.
    They lost Tommy La stella to a broken leg when they were playing the rangers.
    They lost their catcher yesterday for who knows how long.
    I know Jake went to the hospital to check on Lucroy…..he’s just that kind.
    The Astros are getting hammered by EVERYBODY, yet we *KNOW* this was an accident, NO ONE on our team would hurt someone like that.
    I’m sorry it happened, I feel so sorry Lucroy is hurt, MLB will suspend or fine Jake. B U T….I want someone with this organization to CLEAR the air, and defend our team.
    I’m done.

    Liked by 2 people

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