ChipalattAwards for 2019


After a season that came up 8 outs short of the trophy, it is time to hand out the ChipalattAwards for the 2019 Houston Astros.  As always, this is one person’s opinion and all other voices are welcome.

Best Position Player. Alex Bregman.
It is easy to pick on Bregman in retrospect. His playoff performance did not match his regular season. He hit only .250 with runners in scoring position during the regular season (though his OPS was still a solid .889). He had another slow start to the year….he was still only hitting .259 BA through the end of July. Yes, if he ever starts hitting a little earlier he will be unbelievable. Yes, if he hits better with RISP (like he did in 2018) he will be even more awesome. Yes, if he would not stand there and stare at his HRs in the playoffs, the baseball gods might not bring bad karma on his and the Astros’ heads.

But the man was only 25 this season and he led the Astros in runs scored (122), HRs (41), RBIs (112), walks (119) and OBP (.423). Down the stretch he was incredible putting up a slash of .372 BA/ .486 OBP/ .750 SLG/ 1.236 OPS the last two months of the season. He has had to carry the load while Altuve, Correa and Springer missed time the last two seasons. Maybe if there is more health around him, he will take another step in his development in 2020.

Runner-up. George Springer.
This was George’s best season only tamped down by the 122 games he played due to injury. His .292 BA/ .383 OBP/ .974 OPS was the best slash of his career. If you projected his 96 runs/ 39 HRs/ 96 RBIs to 156 games (the number of games Bregman played this season) he would be at 122 runs/50 HRs/122 RBIs and he would have been the guy challenging Mike Trout for MVP this season.

2018 Best Position Player – Alex Bregman / Runner-up Yuli Gurriel

Best Starting Pitcher. Gerrit Cole.
First of all this pick has nothing to do with the post season. But honestly, if someone gave this to Justin Verlander instead (which may happen in the Cy Young Award race), I would not have heart burn over this. Cole trailed Verlander by one win with 20 wins, but had a better winning percentage (.800). He had a slightly better ERA (2.50) and of course his 326 Ks and 13.8 Ks/9 IP led all of baseball. The biggest reasons to give this to Cole have to do with him settling in after a few poor starts and not losing from the end of May to the end of the season and also how many dominating starts he had. He had 6 starts where he gave up 0 runs, 13 starts where he gave up 1 run and 7 starts where he gave up 2 runs. JV was good at this too, but a few games less than Cole.

Runner-up. Justin Verlander.
If you wanted to give JV this award there were certainly good arguments for it. He won one more game, pitched more innings (223 to 212.1) and had a better WHIP (.802 to .895) than Cole. And of course he had the totally dominant no-hitter late in the season. The Astros were fortunate to have the two best pitchers in baseball in their rotation this season.

2018 Best Starting Pitcher – Justin Verlander / Runner-up – Gerrit Cole

Best Relief Pitcher. Ryan Pressly.
Pressly gets the nod here over the runner-up for two reasons. One is that he pitched in the most high leverage situations of anyone on the staff. Two is that he was just so unhittable for so much of the season. He gave up 14 runs on the season and 7 of those were in two games towards the end of the season where he was likely fighting his leg issues.

Runner-up. Will Harris.

It is a shame that Harris’ season ended with the taste of giving up two homers in the last two games of the season, because at 34 years old, this was his finest season. 4-1, 4 saves, 1.50 ERA, 0.933 WHIP and he became the solid 7th inning set-up man and even slid back into the 8th and 9th inning down the stretch.

2018 Best Relief Pitcher – Ryan Pressly/ Runners-up – Collin McHugh and Roberto Osuna

Most Improved Player. Will Harris.

Considering Tyler White won this spot last season this may be the kiss of death. Harris more than halved his ERA from 3.49 to 1.50, knocked down his WHIP from 1.094 to 0.933 and had 4 saves as opposed to 0 the year before. And most importantly he became a constant in the higher leverage parts of the game.

Runner-Up. Yuli Gurriel.

Yuli was probably the most improved from early in the year to the end, but he also was one of the guys who had a much better 2019 than 2018. In 2018, he hit for a good .291 BA, but his power numbers were down across the board. In 2019, he set career highs with 85 runs, 31 HRs, 104 RBIs, .343 OBP and .884 OPS. Remember that before his discussion with new Mets manager Carlos Beltran in early May he was hitting a nasty (in a bad way) .234 BA/ .289 OBP/ .650 OPS. Don’t be surprised if the Mets are one of the most improved hitting teams in baseball next year.

2018 Most Improved Player – Tyler White/ Runner-up Alex Bregman

Biggest Surprise. Yordan Alvarez.

Yordan was one of the top prospects in the organization, so it was not a surprise that he was called up after tearing up the minors the first half of the season. The surprise was that he treated major league pitching much like he did the minors. His .313 BA/ .412 OBP/ 1.067 OPS slash was stellar while putting up 58 runs, 26 doubles, 27 HRs and 78 RBIs in only 87 games was incredible.

Runner-up. Jose Urquidy

It was a small sample, but the young man came up and pitched with terrific poise in some pressure packed situations with the Astros looking for help with the Wade Miley melt-down. His 2-1 record with a 3.95 ERA and 1.098 WHIP in 41 innings puts him towards the front of the pack for one of the open starting slots in 2020.

2018 Biggest Surprise – Tony Kemp/ Tony Sipp

Rookie of the Year. Yordan Alvarez.
Nothing more to say….

2018 Rookie of the Year – (Tie) Framber Valdez and Josh James

Most Disappointing. Tyler White.
Some guys lose their chance through an injury or through some bad luck along the way. Tyler was given a “tee the ball up in the middle of the fairway” chance to be the solution to the Astros’ DH situation and blew it by not being in shape. Being thrust into the middle of a lineup where you are not expected to carry the load, plus having so many good hitters around you was a perfect situation, but he punted it. (I wonder how many non-baseball sports metaphors I can fit in here).

Runner-Up. Max Stassi. 

Max did not have to be an offensive force to hold down the backup catcher spot, but his hitting was so bad (.167 BA/.235 OBP/ .446 OPS) that it was almost like having a pitcher hitting on days he caught. Well a pitcher not named Zack Greinke. It was not a surprise when he was sent packing and Martin Maldonado was brought back to catch behind Robinson Chirinos.

2018 Most Disappointing – Carlos Correa / Runners-up Josh Reddick and Ken Giles

Top Coach. Brent Strom.

Maybe we should retire this award, but he continued to get most of his minions to pitch out of their gourds in 2019. It helps when you have Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole to work with, but both those gentlemen, plus Wade Miley, Ryan Pressly, etc. pitched better on his watch than for their previous teams.

2018 Top Coach – Brent Strom

2019 Biggest Distraction 

In 2018, injuries derailed the team at he wrong time. In 2019, they had the Brandon Taubman meltdown occur at the very worst time as far as distractions go. Will they let Roberto Osuna go to head off any continued hot media attention on this issue? Stay tuned.

2019 Under the Radar. Michael Brantley. 

We just did not know how good this guy is. Jose Altuve is another one like Brantley where you tend to take him for granted. Of all the money spent to sign on Free Agents last off-season, the pickup of Brantley may have been the biggest bargain. A professional hitter who gives the team great ABs every time up.
Now it is your turn.  Any disagreements with the awards above? Any additional rewards you would like to hand out. It is your turn….

82 comments on “ChipalattAwards for 2019

    • I’m not familiar with the author, but have a very unfavorable opinion of the site and their business practices. Regarding your distraction award, above, it should be noted that every article written this offseason will have at least one paragraph mentioning the incident.

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      • Devin- I just grabbed that article off the top of the heap, but the real source of it is the Brian McTaggart tweet that they included in the article – I have no allegiance to bleacher report – nor does Diane

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  1. Overheard in the Control Room of the Starship Enterprise a Few Minutes Ago:

    Mr. Scott: Captain, the ship suddenly seems to breaking apart. I think it’s gonna blow!

    Captain Jim: Scotty, don’t quit on me, friend. You’ve got to find a way to hold this thing together til we can make port!

    Mr. Scott: I’m givin’ it all I’ve got, Jim – but I’ve gotta tell ye that even the rats in the engine room are abandonin’ ship as we speak!

    Captain Jim: Spock, Spock!! What’s going on, Vulcan? Why is this happening to us?

    Mr. Spock: Captain, all I can deduce logically from this is that we have someone on board that needs to be headed for Nineveh!

    Liked by 2 people

      • In more news
        – Fred Crane was made the new GM of the team – Jeff Luhnow has been named the new Lead Sanitation Engineer for MMP
        – Harriet Crane will be the first female Manager of a baseball team – AJ Hinch will be in charge of all Massage appointments for the team
        – Jim Crane Jr. will be the new second baseman of the team. Jose Altuve will be an ice cream stocker at the local HEB

        (where is my sarcasm font)

        Liked by 1 person

  2. You know, our club is getting a rep for being penny pinching away from the field. Bad PR today. This last month has been pretty sloppy. I guess Crane did not care much about pissing off Nolan again. Surely he had to know what the reaction would be. Any chance Reid is being assigned as the fall guy for the Taubman mess?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. It looks like it is going to be a very interesting off-season – not about on-field personnel this year as much as it is going to be about who is left to run the F.O.

    I wonder where Jeff Luhnow [a/k/a Mr. Scott] stands in relation to all of this?

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Lived without Nolan when he was a Ranger. I can do it again.
    I was a fan when the Judge was around
    I was a fan when Ass McMullen was around
    I was a fan when the Grocer was around.
    I was a fan during the lean years and the feast years.
    I’m allright. Don’t y’all worry ’bout me.
    I’m expecting more guys and gals to leave.
    I haven’t seen it all, but I’ve seen a lot.
    Good post, Dan.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Daveb (Unclenucknuckle) you might have just hit the bell, with having REID Ryan take the fall for Brandon’s, debacle. I still haven’t seen if Manfred is either going to ask Luhnow to resign, or Crane getting a fine for it. Losing our GM would be a disaster, so I don’t see that happening. There have been 2 front office guys who have quietly left the team as well. Hmmmmmm???

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    • I tend to agree with you Becky. Maybe Reid Ryan was the guy who initially said BS to the charges involving Taubman and the SI reporters,….or he’s the fall guy. Nolan’s comment says a lot but we aren’t quite sure how to interpret it just yet. I suspect that there’s probably more controversy coming down the pipeline both involving the front office and the players. Or maybe we’re just speculating. Regardless, it will prove some interesting reading and blogging in the next few months. I suspect that we’re about to see the management of the team engage in a salary dump but that’s speculation on my part.

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      • A salary dump? I don’t see that coming, but I’m pretty sure Crane was not happy with the results of the season after going all in financially and not coming out with the prize.

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      • daveb, I’m not sure Crane really went all in. He committed a bunch of money down the line to Verlander and Bregman, but he and Luhnow made sure to stay below the luxary tax. Also, MLB apparently had record revenues this year and the postseason games provide a bump for the Astros as well. If we’d flamed out it would be a different story, but then again we’ve probably learned not to trust anything anyone says about MLB’s books, right?

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  6. Chris Rock has a spiel about no “wealthy” black guys. He stated Shaq was rich, but the guy that signs his check is wealthy. All major sports teams are owned by wealthy people. The teams are wealthy people’s toys. Lots of egos mixed in there.

    So we can at least be thankful that Jerry Jones is in Dallas.

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  7. Nothing ever stays the same. We may never know how REID AND Nolan Ryan and Jim Crane went sideways. We now have 3 guys who got Silver Slugger Awards tonight!
    Bregman
    Springer
    Greinke
    Now….that’s good news!

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  8. First, I need to correct Z-man. Speculation, conjecture, and opinion are NEVER allowed on this blog. So here goes. We have Nolan, Reid, Crane, Luhnow, and Harriet Tubman, who was Asst GM of the railroad. Someone called a bunch of ladies (reporters?) liars. Then that lie fell apart. So maybe 1. Reid took the fall or 2. Reid pointed out who should have taken the fall or 3. Someone asked Nolan his opinion and he gave it or 4. The Front Office is dog eat dog.

    So what we can deduce is Crane wants to keep Corpus and Round Rock. That means 2-3 years of paying Reid to not come to the office. Nolan is 0-2 in Front Office battles. So either he is not the person we see on TV or he is – and is a twice failure at Office politics. He has not learned when the head man asks your opinion, he just wants you to agree. And finally, and the worst speculation of all – maybe Bopert has been right all these years.

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  9. If we just wait awhile we will know the whole story. Or maybe 4 or 5 stories depending which enemies of the Astros has one side of the story leaked to them.
    Anyway, we’re going to find out.
    I suspect it might even have to do with the Astros’ desire to own their AA and AAA ballclubs, because that is the tie that bound these families to each other.
    The Astros have never made a secret of wanting to own their own minor league clubs.

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  10. I did want to say to y’all how much I appreciate the tone on this blog due to y’all being civil folks. I also write a fanpost on the Battle red blog during Texans season. On the main blog (the professionals) they have been having some problems and having to temporarily ban people because of how much they are attacking the writers. Acting like they hate the Texans just because they have honest comments about the team that are sometimes negative.
    The tone here is almost always great – folks can disagree with each other or me without it being personal.
    Thank you for that.

    Liked by 2 people

      • On a more serious note, something has happened during my lifetime. I can remember growing up, people laughing about “I am canceling your vote” at election time. There was room for a difference of opinion. Those days appear gone. And that is rather sad.

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  11. 45, I got a kick out of your point that perhaps Nolan might be a failure at office politics. I’m pretty sure Nolan simply won’t be drawn into the BS of office politics.. He’s down the road, I’m sure of his own accord. Maybe he’ll take Ruth on a vacation. He’s just not the kind of guy to deal with too much foolishness. I’m reminded of Robin Ventura.

    As 1OP notes, if we wait around long enough, we’ll probably get the poop. It’s just too bad there are no real sports journalists in the city to dig into this stuff and provide us with quality writing each morning.

    In the meantime, I encourage further speculation, conjuncture and opinion. This is good blog fodder during a down time. Bring it on!

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  12. One of the reasons why I suggest this episode may involve the CC and Round Rock ownership by the Ryans is because of MLB’s proposed radical plan to totally realign and redo MILB.
    The proposal would eliminate as many as 42 minor league franchises and radically realign leagues to correspond with their parent clubs geographically.
    Somewhere included in this plan I read that MLB would incorporate the Sugarland Skeeters into this plan.
    If that happened, could we then understand why the Ryans might end up parting ways with the Astros?
    Maybe the parting of ways merely is from the Cranes supporting this plan and the Ryan’s being against it.
    This scenario would then make sense from the standpoint of Reid leaving to tend to his other businesses.

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    • oldpro, I think those are some good instincts on the situation. I have to ask, however, what ever happened to the plan of putting a team in The Woodlands? Did Becky get on the phone to Crane and veto it, did it fall apart for other reasons, or was it pure speculation from people not in the know?

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  13. OK – so here are the top totally speculative reasons that Nolan is leaving:
    – When he heard his son was being demoted, he went all Robin Ventura on Jim Crane and hog tied him like one of his steers
    – He found out Minute Maid Park is going all vegan and his burgers are no longer welcome
    – He suggested that Crane’s son be forced to finish grades 1 thru 12 in a week in order to get a spot with the leadership team
    – They told Nolan Ryan that his new season seats would be next to Bob Uecker’s
    – After the Ryans turned down Crane’s offer to buy the minor league teams, Nolan woke up with his favorite horse’s head on his pillow
    – Nolan doubled down and said that not only were the SI reporters liars, but that a woman’s place was back in the kitchen
    – Nolan is working on a comeback in case Justin Verlander catches him in no-hitters

    (There are Billy Madision, Miller Lite and Godfather references up there for anyone who might be confused)

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  14. A bunch of stuff has happened in the last few weeks that has been painful. In some ways, losing the Series is the least of it. I know this is big business with baseball icing, but I’ve stuck with it so far because it’s a tenuous thread to my long-gone hardworking daddy who toted me out to get mosquito bit on South Main, and to the Buffs before that. Baseball was what he got for faithfully holding a low-paying job and never failing his family. I know there will be more news coming, but I’m thinking I might not want to hear it. I still love ‘Tuve and Springer and others, and my heart goes out to A.J. Hinch, because as I wrote here in the playoffs, he was showing extreme fatigue — not just physical but mental — and it might have even affected his ability to make crucial decisions in that last game. These are highly paid human beings, but human beings nevertheless, and I’m thinking the season is too long. When you play almost every day and travel too, it’s asking a lot. That and cash considerations are taking us over a cliff.

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    • Diane, A.J. looked much refreshed on the golf course this past week. But his team was favored to win it all and Crane had provided the resources, so guys like Hinch and Luhnow ultimately are the ones to take the heat. Great potential reward, but a whole lot of pressure, day in and day out. Players get traded. GM’s and managers get fired. If the same thing happens in 2020, then heads might really roll.

      One thing we know. The season will not be shortened. It’s got to be a tough job when there are no weekends from February to November. And the GM and manager likely never see a day off at any point, once the players report until the end of the season. It’s a tough, cut throat business. But A. J. and Luhnow are in it of their own accord.

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  15. I’ve recently received damaging information from my contacts in Russia and Kazakhstan (I used to work in both) that it’s evident that Crane is searching for players and a possible franchise move to Moscow or Astana in one or both of these countries. It is even purported that Hinch might even be a plant in the organization. I bet if you check his twitter feed you’ll find evidence to support this. It’s speculative (there’s that word again) that Nolan was on to the group and that he was told that “you’re either with us or against us”. Obviously, he decided that he did not want to be in the “doghouse” so he has mooo-ved on to greener pastures. As to the fate of Reid, that remains to be seen but I would not be surprised to see him back on the range combating bovine flatulence.
    In other news………

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    • Jake and Josh, 868 plate appearances. and a 2.1 WAR. That’s a whole lot of dud at bats. And that’s 16 million dollars.

      We got 1.4 from Straw and Tucker in 200 PA’s.

      Although I remain unsold on Tucker, I don’t know how we can justify either Jake or Reddick on the roster in 2020.

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  16. i think the best thing we can do is like op said above, wait and see. the facts will come out eventually.
    one thing i will mention is that it has been reported in here and elsewhere that nolan ryan is NOT well thought of by his neighbors near his ranch. he was a baseball hero of mine and will always be, but that doesnt say anything about his personal demeanor or business dealings.
    i have been unimpressed by reid ryan, the tv mess is still a mess and that was his top priority at one time.
    there is change and turnover EVERY year after the season ends. look at last year after the season, lots of change and there wasnt any big controversy driving it that i remember.

    Liked by 1 person

    • rj, I wrote to Nolan Ryan when he headed up north years ago because I was so upset. Ruth Ryan wrote back to me, a long handwritten letter, which is still buried in a box somewhere. The only thing I can recall is her saying “Nolan is not bitter.” I know nothing of how his neighbors feel about him and, like you, I still view him as a baseball hero whom I met when he signed my copy of “Throwing Heat.” Undoubtedly I have invested too much in the current turn of affairs and need to get back to real-life problems.

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  17. Just saw a photo of a rather fit looking, much thinner Tyler White. Seems he had an undiagnosed thyroid problem that has now been treated. An Instagram photo from Whites own page was posted Wednesday on Dodger Nation. Purely conjecture at this point, but if this is the case, then I’m a bit flabbergasted that a diagnosis could not be made here in Houston. I sure would like to see Nephew make a come back and I’m felling a bit guilty for calling him tubby.

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    • Well now I am feeling a bit guilty for giving him my most disappointing player award. Still – I mean if I was an athlete and I was doing all the right stuff (supposedly) and I was gaining weight…. like you said he was in the city with one of the premier medical centers in the world and this went undiagnosed. Weird

      Liked by 1 person

      • Dan, we may hear more about this too! I just hope Astro team doctors did not miss a diagnosis that the Dodgers figured out. Anyway, Nephew looks great if the photo is really a recent one. Don’t know who here has an Instagram account, but he’s easy to find.

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      • wow!
        I don’t know what’s more shocking.
        The weight he lost or that the Astros knew about this problem and didn’t want to treat it.

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      • I would love to see Tyler turn his career around and become the player I believed he could be.
        Even if it’s with the Dodgers.

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      • Hey, I’m guilty too. You’d think that with all the doctors that we have available that somebody would have discovered this. Of course maybe it’s because nobody even thought of it. However, some people are predisposed to be heavy while others are the opposite. Not to blame anyone but you have to look at all options and possible diagnosis and don’t necessarily discount anything until you’re positive. TW looks great in the pic and I wish him well even if he never gets his baseball MOJO back.

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  18. I guess it’s safe to say that the loss of Cole would leave a hole in the rotation. If we get a 6.0 from Verlander and a 5.0 from Greinke that should make us happy. But we’ll still need three more guys to give us roughly 3.0 each, or a batch of different guys to be mostly effective when they start.

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    • Fangraphs’ projections has LMJ at 26 starts and exactly 3.0 WAR.
      They also have Jose Urquidy making 28 starts at 2.2 WAR.
      The Astros will be looking for another starting pitcher.

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      • Well 1OP, I guess per Fangraphs, then we’re in pretty good shape. I hate to lose Cole, but it’s almost inevitable. And I’m pretty sure Luhnow can find that other 3.0 at a fraction of the cost of Cole. Wheeler? Heck, and then maybe Forrest will be asserting himself at some point in 2020.

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    • We always talk about Luhnow’s tendencies, and one that really stands out is not giving away that draft pick that Wheeler carries around.
      Reddick, Miley, Morton, Chirinos, Brantley. All free agents and no QO.
      Luhnow believes in getting the max out of his players during their major productive years and letting their free agency run it’s course after trying to extend them. All while getting the draft picks if they leave as a free agent. Then he tries to find value in players like Brantley and Miley and Chirinos without giving up draft choices for players who got QOs and carry huge salary demands and long terms and whose price is driven up by competing teams.

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    • That is one of the reasons I believe the Astros will take a serious look at Kyle Gibson, if he is healthy. Gibson has outperformed his traditional numbers last season, as indicated by Advanced Metrics and he is a good K-type pitcher who delivers ground balls and his projections are to deliver more WAR(2.9) at age 32 than any other year in his career. (Fangraphs)
      No QO draft pick to weigh him down.

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      • All good points. But Luhnow has never been all that predictable either. I think we’re all going to be surprised at some point, maybe more than once. If we sign Wheeler, we lose a pick, but we also get one when Cole departs. So that part is a push. And for me anyway, Wheeler would lessen the blow. All I know though is that I’ve very rarely seen coming what Luhnow ends up doing. So I’m looking forward to seeing how he rearranges things again.

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  19. I got caught up in the comments and forgot to respond to the above.
    MVP: Bregman. Runner up : Yuli
    Cy Young: pick’em
    Relievers: Yes
    Most Improved: Same two, but swapped.
    Agreed down to disappointment: Tied with Tyler White has to be Guduan and Runner Up would be Cionel and Framber with Whitley’s brain freeze close behind.

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    • I remember reading that Espada was interviewed during the World Series. That shouldn’t happen. I consider it unprofessional but then again we live in a convoluted world. However, if he is chosen, good luck to him.

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  20. With out giving away the “tease” – what I’m writing is a little different and a bit ambitious and the farther I get into it the longer it gets…..

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  21. If you are going all John Galt on us, I’ll check be in sometime next spring when you get the post out. But you’re going to miss all the Luhnow maneuvering, Christmas, The Super Bowl, and life as we know it today. But who knows, some good stuff might happen. We’ll report back to you.

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  22. For anyone who is totally confused by anything written here – John Galt was a central character in the Ayn Rand novel Atlas Shrugged. Anything else I would say about that would require a spoiler alert……

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  23. Been out of pocket over a week and a half, trying to catch up. Man, that T. White pic shocked me, much different looking guy now. Hope nephew get’s back on track soon enough

    Liked by 1 person

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