A quick look at young Astros’ arms

The Astros head to camp this week with catchers and pitchers reporting on Thursday. With the probability that the Astros will be relying on some of their young arms to get them through the 2020 season and beyond, let’s take a little time to give you some background on some of the most likely candidates.

Jose Urquidy. Jose, will turn 25 one month into the 2020 season. He was signed as an international free agent out of Mexico in 2015. He has made a steady trip up through the Astros minor league system interrupted by Tommy John surgery, which stole the 2017 season from him. He made the jump from A- to A+ ball in 2018 and then leapt from AA to AAA to the majors in 2019. He has shown pristine control throughout his many stops, normally hitting below 2 walks per 9 IP in Justin Verlander territory. He became a fan favorite in his 41 regular and 10 postseason innings, culminating in 5.2 IP of scoreless ball and a win in the World Series. It would appear that the 4th spot in the rotation is his for the taking.

Bryan Abreu. Abreu will turn 23 right before the season starts. He was signed at 16 y.o. as an international free agent out of the Dominican and his big arm and strikeout potential brought him to be added to the 40 man roster in 2018 (to protect him from the Rule 5) and had him called up for a cameo in 2019. In his 8.2 IP at the major level his 13 Ks and 4 hits stand out. He is not showing Urquidy’s control, but he has a dynamic arm and may well earn a roster spot out of Spring Training or sometime during the season.

Francis Martes. It should be pointed out that even though he would seem to be a Methuselah among the many Astro pitching prospects, he just turned 24 and is younger than Urquidy and only a year older than Abreu. When we last saw Martes in 2017 he was the top pitching prospect in the system not named Forrest Whitley and was given a chance to fill in for an injury-ravaged pitching staff. He then had to undergo Tommy John surgery and while recovering from that he was sentenced to an 80 game suspension for PEDs. As a result he has only pitched 24 Minor league innings in the last two seasons, along with 5 innings in the Dominican Winter League. In those innings he has posted ERAs above 6. It is a big question whether he can show why he was considered a high end prospect way back in 2016.

Forrest Whitley. Fans are praying that we are not seeing the second coming of Mark Appel in Whitley and that this kid’s mind will finally catch up with his 22 y.o. body. He was the team’s first-round pick (17th overall) back in 2016. Between injuries, brain freezes and an illegal drug suspension, he has only totaled 248 innings between minor league ball and Arizona fall league over the last four seasons. Last year, he put up a 7.99 ERA over 59.2 IP in the minors before pitching pretty well in the fall league. What we don’t know is what he was working on (other than growing up) in those 59.2 innings. Often times the teams have the kids trying to hone a third or fourth pitch or line up their arm slots so that all the pitches have similar looks and release points. That many times looks real ugly in the stats, but eventually pays off. Anyways, it would take a miracle for Whitley to join the team out of Spring Training, but if he settles down and produces well at AAA this season, a call-up is not out of the question.

Cristian Javier. Javier, who turns 23 in March has been the anti-Whitley in his 5 seasons of minor league ball after being signed as an international free agent out of the Dominican. His ERA is a sterling 2.22 over 377 innings in his rise up the Astros system and he was particularly excellent in 2019, going 8-3 with a 1.74 ERA over 113.2 IP across three minor league levels (A+, AA, AAA). Will the Astros promote a guy out of ST with only 11 AAA innings under his belt? Well Jeff Luhnow did not do this, but this might be an interesting case on which new GM James Click can cut his teeth.

Rogelio Armenteros. Armenteros finally made his MLB debut last season and pitched decently in a small sample. He had pitched at AAA for at least part of the last three seasons and had worst stats each successive season than the one before. Again, perhaps he was working on “something”. Armenteros turns 26 in June and was another international free agent, in his case signed out of Cuba in 2014. If he does not make it this year with the Astros he may have to go elsewhere as younger arms pass him in the pecking order. He might be a good candidate for the bullpen or as a swingman in long relief and spot starts.

Framber Valdez. Framber is a 26 y.o., who was signed as (another) free agent out of the Dominican back in 2015. Overall, he has been good to very good in his minor league stints. In his two stints at the major league level he has shown wonderful movement on his pitches, but not wonderful control. The big leaguers are not offering at his pitches like the minor leaguers do and as a result his strikeout rate between minors and majors goes down from 13.2 K/ 9 IP (at AAA) to 8.5 at the MLB level while his walks go from 3.4 BB/ 9 IP to an unacceptable 5.7 in the majors. Can he suddenly find his control? His future may depend on it.

Cy Sneed. The 27 y.o. is probably on the wrong side of the cusp for being considered a young arm, though he is mostly new to Astro fans. He came over from the Brewers in the Jonathan Villar trade after the 2015 season and finally made his debut last season. After mostly working as a starter in the minors, he appeared in 8 games for the team out of the bullpen. His K rate was a solid 9.7 / 9 IP, however his hit rate was a poor 11/ 9 IP and his home run rate a terrible 2.1 / 9 IP. He would seem to be a very dark horse for a shot at this pitching staff.

Josh James. The soon to be 27 y.o, after spending most of his minor league career as a starter, switched gears to pitch pretty impressively out of the bullpen after his call-up in 2018. The 34th rounder who famously treated sleep apnea and found his 100 mph fastball doubled his ERA from 2018 to 2019 (2.35 to 4.70) in a season when he seemed to be trying to pitch through some injuries.  Will the Astros give him a shot to stretch out and return to his roots of starting? Probably not, but he is performing before a new coach and GM.

Cionel Perez. With his slight build, Perez may end up as a bullpen staple. But Cionel, who will turn 24 in April, has started quite often since being signed as an international free agent out of Cuba. His biggest problem in his two small stints at the majors has been in keeping the ball in the park giving up 6 HRs in only 20 innings. Being a lefty might give him a slight leg up on others, but he is going to have to cut back on the long ball in the new MLB.

Brandon Bielak. A non-roster camp invitee, Bielak, who turns 24 in April has shot up the system after being picked in the 11th round in 2017. He’s shown a good 2.95 ERA in 272 IP of minor league ball doing a solid job of keeping folks off base and while striking out a little over 1 per inning. He could be on the short list for a possible call-up in 2020 as he put in solid numbers at hit heaven AAA in 85 innings in 2019.

Ryan Hartman. Oh boy, a lefty and another non-roster invitee, the 9th round pick in 2016 will turn 26 in April. After a terrific 2018 at AA (11-4, 2.69 ERA) he struggled at AAA in 2019 (6-7, 5.88 ERA). So, it is likely he is being brought along to give the hitters some left-handed exposure in camp, but if he puts up better numbers in another stint at AAA, he could be up with the big club sometime in 2020.

Now two non-young arms, Austin Pruitt and Brad Peacock may have something to say about who if any of these youngsters get a shot at the rotation or bullpen in 2020, but that is an article for another day.


106 comments on “A quick look at young Astros’ arms

  1. Go to astrosdaily.com, and read the Astros twitter feed. Looks like Beltran brought the idea for “it”, and carried it out through 2017. It’s just now being put out on the Internet, so I think by he end of the week everything will be out.
    I posted about this on the other subject, and since I’m a gambler I bet this might just keep Beltran out of the HOF. Go read it yourself.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Just watched MLB Tonight and here’s the take a ways:
      This was pretty much done by the younger players.
      Beltran and Cora were the ring leaders. They were trying different things that didn’t work but when the desired results weren’t forthcoming they went to the video sign stealing scheme.
      Allegedly, Brian McCann spoke out against it but he did not prevail. Beltran and Cora apparently were driving this train to it’s inevitable conclusion.
      Marwin Gonzales apologized today for his participation but he did not answer any of the “lingering questions”.
      We can expect to see this stuff continue to leak out for who knows how long.


      • Disclaimer on Marwin Gonzales

        6 total bangs prior to June 11th. The other 700-something came after. From March 1st, 2017 through June 10th, 2017 Marwin Gonzalez hit .322/.412/.630 with 12 dingers. He struck out 18% of the time, and walked 11.8% of the time. We can essentially call these the “pre-banging stats.

        From June 11th through September 24th we get the “post-banging stats.” Gonzalez hit .283/.343/.466 with his other 12 homers. His strikeout rate was 21% and his walk rate was 7.5%.

        —Excerpted from a post going up on Twinkie Town in the AM

        It appears the banging didn’t help.


  2. Sorry Dan I didn’t mean to hijack your hard work, but this is pretty important.
    Jim Crane is having the entire team to come to Florida on Wed to have a talk with them, and there will be an open clubhouse for the media on Thursday to meet with and apologize publicly. It’s one thing as a parent to catch one of your kids doing something wrong and making them own up to it….but it’s another thing to make full grown men stand there and humiliate themselves in front of national media.
    This can go one of two ways:
    Try to explain why they did it and take ownership for it..NAME NAMES!
    Get defensive and closed mouth about “it”, pi$$ off the owner and punch your ticket out of Houston.
    Which one will it be fellas?


    • Becky, I think I agree with you. If Crane instructs his employees to go out, apologize, show contrition, etc., then I don’t think this goes well. However, I think it’s important for them to get together in one room to talk about the damage to his and the organization’s reputation. All through the spring, after 162 regular season games, and hopefully after another successful postseason the players will be answering questions and being accused nightly.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. The articles I’ve read put the blame almost totally on Beltran, and Cora. I guess we will see how this unfolds. Any way it takes shape won’t take away the hurt and anger all of us feel. *NEVER*.


  4. Dan….how rich is THIS, Alex Cora “warned” the Washington Nationals about the sign stealing the Astros were doing. What a total *SCUMBAG* he set it up in Houston, and does the same thing in Boston. I hope I never see his name or his face the rest of my life. GRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR😠


    • Yeah, that is quite a bit bothersome Becky. Is Cora the key? Or Beltran? Is the key really Luhnow, who seemed to turn his back on responsibility for any of thise, but who might have been ultimately responsible for all of this? Did Hinch have to agree with this or risk losing his job? Was that why he was not as sure of himself in 2017?
      I think we are going to be fed a filtered version of the facts by MLB, who want to contain this as much as possible to one team and a few outliers (Cora and Beltran).


  5. Most Boston writers are inclined to believe Cora will be back in the Sox dugout next season. A Boston radio show yesterday had one of their experts claiming Cora had been thrown under the bus by the Astros. The Astros will always be portrayed as the real bad guys in this whole affair. Look for MLB to soften the roles of Cora and Beltran when with the Astros and going forward. It will take other real journalists to accurately portray them as guys well into cheating even prior to joining the Astros. I wonder if this made them more attractive to Luhnow?


    • I have to wonder, since Redman and Hoffman are too old for it, who do you think will play Rosenthal and Drellich in the Hollywood adaptation of the scandal? Do you think Hinch will be painted in a similar light to how Art Howe was in the Moneyball movie? I don’t believe the actual book was as critical of him.


      • Meant to reply to dave.

        Never did read Moneyball, that’s actually a good point about Hinch and Howe.

        One of my majors before grad school was Speech Comm, so the spin angle has always interested me too. Having read memoirs of past Editors of large media syndicates (becoming increasingly conglomerated with no creativity), it’s easy to see how certain stories are “bent” to protect corporate interests that support the News orgs.

        One need only look at the Cardinals hacking to see the Fall Guy vs the GM/Owner. It was unthinkable to punish DeWitt, even though his team benefitted. The Braves got their GM suspended for life over the Int’l draft improprieties..

        Fact is, the game is much bigger business than it used to be, carries more liability and more to lose. Manfred can only accomplish the short-sighted “investigation” with all the force of these news teams pushing his narrative, and downplaying other teams’ involvement. He’s been careful to keep punishment within reason; even allowing Brandon Taubman a chance for re-instatement, to keep these lawsuits at a minimum.

        He’d be happy to see Opening Day with this scandal pretty much blown over. I would too, because I can foresee some brain dead fan mouth off to an Astros mom which offends a dad, and all hades breaking loose.

        Astros have already been punished, so at this point, anything that happens as described is his legacy.

        Manfred could assuage these things by explaining there’s enough proof other teams were engaged in at least *illegal decoding* even after the memo, but that punishment is meted out once and for all to the most egregious. The next one caught will carry stiffer penalties. In this way, teams will surmise they don’t want to go through the “humiliation” we’ve experienced.


    • By other journalist — I’m sensing you didn’t read Jared Diamond’s findings? The Astros already had Codebreaker (spreadsheet), and the “dark arts” before the 2017 season. Beltran claimed that was “behind the times,” compared to the Yanks organization.

      While Beltran portrayed as “steamroller,” and Cora in charge of coordinating field staff, they are not solely responsible … in the least! Then-intern Derek Vigoa, Tom Koch-Weser and Kevin Goldstein are just as culpable. And obviously, Luhnow Hinch and Jim Crane bear the heaviest burden, because they were the only ones with the authority to stop it.



      • The mention of Cintron is VERY curious to me, too. I recall thinking in 2017 when certain players got a hit and he met them on 1B, he seemed to be making hand gestures like, I told you I told you.

        He’s subsequently was promoted to hitting coach with Snitker. He was also filmed by the Yankees shooting them the bird from the dugout, as if to say, “we know you are filming our signs!”


      • There’s conflicting “evidence” out there right now. It’s obvious everyone with a stake is going to try to come out with someone else taking the blame. The issue is not whether the electronic sign stealing worked but rather the fact they were doing it when they knew it was against the rules and following the memo from the commish. A lot of people point to McGwire and Sosa in 1998 and claim they weren’t really cheating because steroids weren’t against the MLB rules. This is false. All anabolic steroids are classified as controlled substances. Thanks to the cocaine usage in the 80’s, MLB did have a rule strictly prohibiting any use of a controlled substance without a subscription. They chose to look the other way. They also chose to look the other way on electronic sign stealing. Then they chose to stop looking the other way and the Astros were the only team dumb enough to get caught (so far).

        But the interesting thing is always the spin. Without railing against the downfall of journalism too much, the articles attribute to Beltran a quote to the Yankees saying the Astros system was “Nothing no one else was doing.” The NY/NJ papers are positioning this to show that the Yankees hired Beltran, but distrusted him and likely wouldn’t allow him to actually do any work? The Boston media is probably using this as proof that Alex Bregman had dirty pictures of Alex Cora and forced him to cheat. The rest of the places I’ve read have basically presented it and allowed us to form our own judgement – either Beltran was intentionally downplaying the system for fear of getting in trouble or he was being honest knowing that the Yankees got caught with their own camera (and then destroyed the evidence), the Indians got caught and their cameras disappeared, and lots of other teams were accused. Like I said, the Astros were clearly too arrogant and stupid.


  6. I see the potential for three or four of the guys noted above to be on the Opening Day roster. Urquidy, Abreu, and James are almost locks to me. I sure like Javier, but the forth guy is going to have to have a standout Spring. I don’t care about a lefty. We need guys that can get those three batters necessitated by the dumb new relief rule.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I tend to agree with you daveb. In my mind Armenteros might be the other guy to make it out of spring. I think the Devenski and Biagini situations may drive this too. They could earn spots by showing well, or lose spots by not, or be traded one way or the other.


  7. If the entire team or if a select group of players apologize, it will not satisfy the sharks. I think this is a PR mistake. This appears to be what happened.

    Someone planned to rob a bank. That person(s) probably was not on the robbery team. Multiple planners may have been involved. Four or more men entered the bank. Two carried guns and the rest carried sacks to haul out the cash. There was also a getaway driver. The bank was robbed and the team was caught. We are now trying to decide who was the most guilty.

    As their unpaid lawyer, I recommend they say NOTHING. It is not going to make the bank robbery never happen. And they are all guilty because each person could have stopped it by going to the proper authorities. Did the Owner Know and Approve? Not important as is was HIS team and HIS employees. The getaway driver is no more or less guilty than the rest. JUST STOP ROBBING BANKS.

    Liked by 1 person

    • As to the post, if these guys solve their control issues, they will be serviceable pitchers. Most appear to miss bats. They will not all pan out but currently we need a couple or three to come through to fill in the holes on the roster. But time is running out on 25+ players who are still in the minors. There are late bloomers but they are few and far between. This current team and its money situation present a golden opportunity for each of these above.


      • Dan, kudos for holding down a full time job, and churning out a good discussion topic. Let’s pick some nits? If this is too long for some readers, kindly disregard.

        As the Astros decide whether to add a Danny Salazar reclamation type, they have to consider big picture.

        Very importantly, two pitchers do not have an option; Pruitt and Peacock. Unless one comes down with 2017 McQ’s “dead arm,” which allowed Peacock to make the rotaton w/o DFA, the other pitchers in question depend as much on them for roster space, as they do Biagini and Devo.

        Shuttle Candidates throughout the season:
        Armenteros, Martes, Perez, Javier, Sneed, Emanuel (relievers Biagini, Taylor, Paredes) still have at least one option. All of these pitchers are ready for action, but [bold print] we must option them if they are close in ability with someone without one. Per Devin’s comment, Martes battled several things last yr, and weight problems was one of them. After a Winter in the Dominican, the long-awaited return of Frankie Tuesday will be in session.

        The top 4 most promising are Whitley, Abreu, Bielak and Javier. What is very different from the days we debuted Jordan Lyles is the Astros don’t need any of these to push us over the hump. As of this sitting, they are icing on the cake in 2020. By comparison, the A’s NEED Luzardo and Puk to shine.

        Not sure how I could object any louder to the Whitley Appel “bust” comps, but his arsenal alone should speak for itself. Even if Whitely pitched in HOU (or the AAA Championship series) at the end of the last season, we simply didn’t need him then. He is still VERY young – 5.7 years younger in RR! His issue is not immaturity (far from a head case), but precise command and inexperience. The Astros teach early in the process to rare back and throw hard. Guys like Bielak, championed by pitching coach Bill Murphy, came in with more college experience, and was simply able to implement sooner.

        The obvious miss from the list is Tyler Ivey. There seems to be question about a Grade 1 elbow (slight) tear that hasn’t been widely reported. I think the Astros are trying Rest, instead of Surgery for now. Ivey himself said his main goal this year is to stay healthy. I’m inclined to take it very slow. He is R5 in Dec, as is Peter Solomon. The Astros may want to shelve them in ’20 to get the lost year back — the problem is they have to be on the 40-man to do that. (This is a big deal! Nova, Solis are two others to be concerned about in R5.)

        My darkhorse is Ralph Garza — bet ya can’t find that in print anywhere — but Paredes and Jojanse Torres both throw 100 mph, and could sneak in before September.

        My SP5 depth chart today is — Peacock, Valdez/James toss up, Abreu Armenteros, Pruitt. James Click described Pru in Peacock terms, “very laid back, and will take any assignment.” Blummer and Sparks agree that Josh James is a frontrunner for SP5.

        Hartman is a stretch. Although I’ve watched him for several years, he’s more of an over-achiever, who defies poor metrics (per Matt Collier). Brad Lyle at The Runner Sports ran an article highlighting him Jan. ’19, entitled the Wacky Southpaw. I have him 4th on lefty depth chart — behind Framber, Cionel and Blake Taylor.

        Cautioning again – “Earned runs are the most arbitrary part of evaluating a pitcher’s performance because it doesn’t actually measure how well a pitcher performed. Earned runs also take into account the defense behind the pitcher which is completely out of their control.. and quite simply, we don’t have a good way to evaluate defense.” Fielding Independent Pitching compared to ERA, or BABIP compared to ERA would seem to suggest a better predictive model.

        Questions, comments welcome.

        As for the scandal, Astros caught stealing — that happens in baseball. It’s not a sport like golf, where intergrity is EVERYTHING. Hinch and Luhnow were the men ultimately in charge. Where they failed someone like me is coming off sincerely, yet turning out to be bold faced liars. Hinch gets no brownie points for being concerned about his daughters, since he knew what the Astros did and could have, 1.) stopped it, or 2.) expected the consequences. When you fail in a trust capacity, you are no longer worthy of the position. But honestly, I know that is only naivete. They are called “front men” for a reason.

        I don’t care about apologies. The league and Astro enemies have already shown they will crucify us. I can connect the dots well enough. Sign stealing goes back to the 1800’s! The Yanks were masters, when Beltran came over he said we were “behind the times.” 20 other teams are just as guilty (10 were “too lazy” according to reports) — none of them were stupid enough to bang on a trash can. According to the WSJ, the Astros were already involved in Codebreaking and “dark arts” in 2016. It is not ALL on Cora, or any one person.

        Two men deserve credit in this. Tony Kemp never cheated, and Brian McCann tried to stop it. All the others, Morton Keuchel Musgrove regret not trying harder to do the same. This pitchers article is much more “timely,” moving on with guys who deserve a fresh start and new outlook! It’s a disservice to prospects working their tails off to keep looking back.


  8. Ok, I’ll attempt to stay on topic for once. I think you’re going to see a bounce back year from pitchers across the league. It’s really hard to predict how the staff will be handled. Dusty gets a lot of flack for how he used Prior and Wood, but my recollection was that he has always let the studs go deep in games and been quick to pull the more average of his pitchers from the games. The intelligence and feel for pitching from Verlander and Greinke should play into this…they should have an opportunity to throw a lot of innings and pitch out of jams. This could help space out the bullpen usage so that arms stay fresher. Regardless, I think we’ll see Peacock and Urquidy open the season in spots 4 and 5. I am most interested in seeing how Martes throws this spring. If he can return to the form he showed before the elbow injury I think he has the best chance to provide a boost to the staff of anyone listed. I’m interested in what Whitley shows in spring training as well.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m not sure about letting guys go deep into the game. It was pretty obvious that some of our pitchers were gassed by September. I remember that we had to have JV pitching every 5 days even if there was an off day. JV pitched on day 5 and the 5th starter didn’t. He and Greinke ain’t no spring chickens any longer so don’t burn them out. Same for the bullpen guys. Our object #1 is to get to the playoffs and then the WS. No use to getting there if the pitching staff is out of gas.


      • I wrote in late August that Hinch has the two huge favorites to win Cy Young on the same team, he absolutely needs to give more rest to Cole and JV in September. True to his ineffectual ways of letting the players decide, it came down to Game 7, and Cole was gassed. Pulling Greinke early, going back to the Harris well again, like in 2015 — history repeats.


      • You know, I was far more concerned about Verlander being gassed than anyone else. And I really thought, wrongly of course, that Hinch would have taken those six stunning innings from Geienke and opened up the 7th with Cole to get those last 9 outs. And I’m pretty sure Cole wanted the ball too. Do we really know that he was gassed?

        Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, we do.

        Go to his post game interviews. In his first start vs Nats, when asked, he said he had more in the tank. In the next one, he said that was all he could give.


      • I’ll see if I can find that for you, because I may be thinking ALCS vs WS.

        At any rate, Cole smirked the first time. The next start he literally said, “that was all I could give.”


  9. Chandler Rome is reporting the Vultures are circling:

    “Good morning from West Palm Beach, where a crew of reporters is waiting outside the Astros’ closed facility and photographers are snapping shots of cars as they drive by. Seen entering so far: Joe Espada, Tom Koch-Weser, Jose Urquidy, Joe Biagini.”


      • Ralph Garza is a great story, too.
        He didicates each game to his mom, who he lost in 2011.

        [On a similar note to a comment Becky made about Joe Smith and Huntigton’s — I watched a very gripping movie about Alzheimer’s last night called, Still Alice. The same author, Lisa Genova, said her next work would be on Huntigton’s. It is an “orphan disease” they call it, meaning there are only 30,000 cases, and science is less interested in finding its cure than for those more common. it’s also 100% genetic.]


    • More likely the sharks are in the waters waiting for the ship to go down. They might not get the desired answer if they hassle the players, etc.


  10. Grayson – in reference to your long tome above….
    – Yes I try to squeeze these topics in even with a full time job – thanks for recognizing that
    – One heck of a comment up there – I think your comment may be longer than my post – haha
    – I mentioned Devenski and Biagini instead of Pruitt and Peacock because I am 90% sure that Pruitt and Peacock will be on the opening day roster, while I think the % for Devo is probably 70% and Biagini 30%??
    – The reason I did not list Tyler Ivey is because he isn’t on the 40 man and is not one of the Non-roster invitees – but yes, if his arm is back to good, he could be a consideration later on in 2020 – just not someone we will see in Spring Training.
    – I personally don’t think that Whitley is another Appel, but he straight out needs to pitch more and better this season. He’s young is still true, but he is getting older fast
    – Love to hear about dark horses like Ralph Garza – will be watching his progress
    – I blame Luhnow more that Hinch as we go along, because he worked for him and was not that secure in his position and because I think Luhnow was far deeper involved in this than we know. Yes, Hinch should have done more – but I have worked in places where the culture from the boss over-rides everything below them. Perhaps he should have gone to Jim Crane, but that would have been really a ballsy thing to do.


    • -Fair enough on Ivey.
      -I’d mentioned before listening to Biagini on Astroline a few weeks ago. I would’ve said less than 30% before I heard it too. Now, I’m almost sure he will stay on the roster, unless he lays an egg (even then he has an option and may have trade value at that price. Would be nice to see a longer lasting return for that Fisher trade, since we traded Cal Stevenson and Sanchez is out.) The Genie, somewhat of a comedian, said the Astros were unwavering in their commitment to him, and they attributed his struggles to trying to implement admittedly too much information. He was very impressed how initally Astros had bigger plans than he had for himself.
      -On Devo, he’ll be in top shape. Such a good dude, I’d hate to trade him, but seems like NL would be good for him, since they haven’t seen his changeup much. Again, if we don’t have someone like Brandon Bielak who forces an opening on 40-man, we probably stick with Devenski. it’s kind of a toss-up to me though, because I really like Javier.
      -I see what ya mean about Luhnow, that helps a little. Thanks.


      • Yes, sir.
        Pitchers and catchers report soon Woo Hoo!

        Lance McCullers is planning on being there early with his wife. Probably our biggest question mark. What with so many pitchers coming back stronger after TJ these days, lots to be excited about there. The return of Yordan Alvarez — will he play more LF? I’m pretty high on Kyle Tucker, so how that RF situation shakes out is big news. I’ve tried so many Reddick trade scenarios, but I think I’m resolved we have to give too much away, we might as well platoon him. Can we start driving in RISP? How will Dusty mesh with the guys, and will he try Springer as a cleanup hitter? Can the guys gel as a unit?

        They asked Bagwell, is this year going to be Us against the world? He told Blummer, “[heck] yes!” I can’t wait to go to OAK, and lay down the law.

        Liked by 1 person

  11. This:
    Tomorrow morning 8:30 central the guys have to talk to the media, it will live stream on astrosdaily.com. For a straight shooter like Mike Brantley tomorrow will be very painful.
    Bregman has been mentioned more than once.
    Tomorrow this organization will be lit on fire, in every newspaper, on every mainstream media, for a very looong time.
    I need to get thicker skin A.S.A.P.
    Where is OP???? I need his voice of reason.

    Carlos Beltran and Alex Cora should be banned for life. PERIOD.

    How long is it going to take for Cionel Perez to show us he can be successful with the Astros? He’s had plenty of time to do so…..they NEED his arm.


  12. As for the topic at hand…

    Mark my words…Urquidy is gonna be a great pitcher one day. He may be our # 4 but I can see him as an eventual #1 or #2. Not only his stuff but his poise.

    I think Peacock will either be our #5 or a swing man. Hard to believe he’s been an Astro for as many years as has been.

    Not impressed by Valdez at all.

    More to come


  13. I just listened to the press conference where Crane and Baker took questions and Bregman and Altuve made very brief statements of apology. In no way will this exercise have a positive impact on the Astro effort to move on from the entire sordid affair. Maybe now though, the Astro organization will finally stop commenting altogether. I can’t help but to think though that the clubhouse gathering taking place right now between players and press will yield anything but further negativity.

    Liked by 1 person

    • If I were a guy on this team, I’d either speak publicly or issue a statement that tells exactly what my involvement was. It’s up to the other players to do or not to do the same (but they should). It’s different from my previous position as a group apology won’t even scratch the surface. As everyone seems to say they want the guys heads on a platter and won’t be satisfied till they get it. They want bans, suspensions, taking away the WS title, and let’s go ahead and call for their crucifixion. Face it, this year is going to be so nasty that it will overshadow anything else that happens in baseball. The opposing fans will get out of control and the opposing players and pitchers will be looking for revenge. And we’ll probably see a thousand lawsuits in the coming year. As my lawyer friend once said, “what do you call a thousand lawyers at the bottom of the sea? A good start!” Sorry, I couldn’t resist the Lawyer comment.


  14. -I have purposely tried to avoid talking about the Astros problem because it is not good for my health. I try to limit conversation to the upcoming season.
    When I read articles about the situation I always consider the source of the article first, so I can take what is being said in proper context.
    -In my opinion, the litigation of the Bollsinger lawsuit is a welcome thing because now the Astros cannot discuss it beyond what they have said.
    -As far as the pitchers go, I want very badly to see Cionel Perez shine and force his way onto this team.
    -New perspectives in the dugout and in the front office offers young pitchers a new chance to shine for the Astros. I welcome this.
    -I was following Francis Martes for years. I am waiting for all that promise to show up.
    -I don’t see how Jose Urquidy should not receive top consideration for a starting job. The man proved himself on the biggest stage.
    -When Tyler Ivey is healthy, he pitches very well. So anxious to see if this continues.


    • Op…so glad to see you back! I probably need to take your advice about this scandal, my health is more important than baseball. I agree with you 100% about Cionel Perez….he has GOT to improve, I wonder if Strom has been working with him. And yes like I said last night….the Astros really NEED him to join the big club! Glad you’re back!


  15. The official rule changes for 2020, which we mostly have heard about….
    – Pitchers have to face at least 3 batters (what if the pitcher claims an injury?)
    – Increase to 26 man regular season roster with max of 14 pitchers
    – BIG decrease to 28 man roster during September
    – This odd rule (the Ohtani rule?) for two way players
    – Injured list goes from 10 to 15 days – a little more punishment for hiding a player, especially pitcher on the injured list
    – A manager has 20 seconds instead of 30 seconds to protest a call – I don’t agree with this. If they want to put a time limit on something – put a time limit on the review itself which sometimes goes on forever

    Liked by 1 person

  16. That was poorly done. We needed them to really talk about,”it” but I think most people will criticize the way the Bregman and Aluve handled it.
    If you want to see what the rest of the team said go to astrosdaily.com and see rest of the guys give their take on this.


  17. It was bad , Bregman wasn’t bad , tuve was to nervous and a bit tough on his english command, Crane was bad. we are getting roasted again allover ESPN SIGH. Come on 2022, maybe it dies down a bit then.


    • The only way this would satisfy the mob is to vacate the WS title and give it to their chosen ones, the Yankees. Then, disband the club forever. Guys, keep the spirits high and beat everybody on the way to another world series title!

      Liked by 2 people

    • We did the obligatory – and probably Commissioner’s office mandated – mea culpa. As usual, the media acted like the bloodthirsty sharks they are, and the radical worst of the nastiest fan-bases in the world bared their fangs and gnashed their teeth like they always do. Now, let’s go play ball – and win this battle where we still can (on the field). The media is just a pool of self-promoting piranhas with bad atttitudes and vendettas. The fan-bases in NY, LA, Arlington, and Oakland are pufferfish. So now that the obligatory has been obliged, the people still on our team just need to zip the lip, steady the chin, and rise above it all.

      Liked by 3 people

  18. A reply to OP
    You have probably already seen Spencer Morris’ article, but ZS’s comment confirms much of my own opinions. Sorry in advance for the “tome.”

    Here are the guys I believe have some chance to be on Top 100 lists by the end of this season (in order of likelihood):

    OF Pedro Leon: a surefire Top 100 guy once he signs. Could be Top 50, and if he is assigned to AA and has success, he could end the season as a Top 20 guy.

    SS Jeremy Pena: he’s already on a few Top 100 lists, so as long as he has a decent season in AA he will be on most of those lists by year end.

    C Korey Lee: He will need a good year, but if he posts a ~130 wRC+ across A and High A, stays healthy, and has decent defensive reports, he will be on some lists.

    SS Freudis Nova: Like Lee, he’s in a good spot given his age, tools, and position. But he will need to post a really good year across A and High A (similar to what I posted for Lee).

    P Jairo Solis: He has the stuff, and a lot of evaluators really liked him before he got hurt. A healthy, dominant year in High A, and he will make the back end of some lists. [There is no evidence anywhere I have found of anyone who has seen Solis pitch since surgery.]

    P Hunter Brown: As a recent college draftee, he will need to be promoted aggressively (while continuing to dominate and show the stuff we’re reading about), but it’s certainly possible.

    P Tyler Ivey: He’s coming off some injury and cheating issues, but essentially any high ceiling young player who is already in AA will have a chance to be on some Top 100 lists assuming they dominate and don’t graduate.

    OF Jordan Brewer: See Lee and Nova. If he sticks in center, shows off his power and speed, and keeps his k rate below 20%, he will get a lot of recognition.

    P Jojanse Torres: In AA, throws 100. Would likely graduate too soon if he performs well enough to earn that kind of recognition.

    OF Colin Barber: Very unlikely as I think the depth above him will mean he plays in Tri-City this season, but if he is assigned to Quad Cities, he will have a lot of eyes on him, and posting a good slash line there will likely have him on some lists. More realistically, he can dominate short season ball this year and be the top potential Top 100 guy heading into next year.

    Other Pitchers who have the “stuff” but who I think are unlikely to put it all together enough to make that big of a jump: Enoli Paredes, Luis Garcia, Nivaldo Rodriguez, Jose Alberto Rivera, Peter Solomon, Ryan Gusto

    Liked by 1 person

  19. The key factor this year – which is probably the last year we will be competitive for a long time due to FA, the depleted state of our farm vis-a-vis up and coming teams, and the forfeiture of high draft picks – is going to be MENTAL TOUGHNESS. Our guys are a boy named Sue – we’ll have to get tough or die.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Spring training will be very interesting this year, for many reasons, including the fact that we are sharing a facility with, and have our first ST game against- the media darling Washington Nationals, who have the only player in the MLB [Juan Soto] who is actually more full of himself than Alex Bregman and Trevor Bauer combined. While I usually don’t care how ST games turn out, this year, in games against the Nats [2/22, 3/11, 3/18, and 3/19, I might make an exception.


  21. Well in honor of Mr. Bill and with my apologies to the late Johnny Cash and late Shel Siverstein….

    Well, Alex and Carlos left MMP when I was twenty-three
    And they didn’t leave much to my teammates and me
    Just this broken monitor and an empty garbage can full of booze
    Now, I don’t blame them cause they run and hid
    But the meanest thing that they ever did
    Was before they left, they set us all up to be Sue-d

    Well, they must o’ thought that is quite a joke
    But it didn’t get a lot of laughs from to many folk
    It seems I had to fight my whole life through
    Some fans would boo and I’d get red
    And some guy’d call “cheat” and I’d bust his head,
    I tell ya, life ain’t easy for a team that is Sue-d

    Well, I grew up quick and I grew up mean
    My ribs got hard and my they ruptured my spleen
    I’d roam from town to town to hide my shame
    But I made a vow to the moon and stars
    That I’d search the stadium and bars
    And kill those men who helped me ruin my name

    Well, it was NYC in mid-July
    And I just hit town and my throat was dry
    I thought I’d stop and have myself a brew
    At an old saloon on a street of mud
    There at a table, playing 5 card stud
    Sat the dirty, mangy dogs that got me Sue-d

    Well, I knew those snakes were Beltran and Cora
    From worn-out baseball cards that Springer had tore
    And I knew those scars on their cheeks and their evil eyes
    They were big and bent and gray and old
    And I looked at them and my blood ran cold
    And I said, “Because of you, we are being Sue-d, how do you do
    Now you’re gonna die”

    Well, I hit them hard right between their eyes
    And they went down, but to my surprise
    They both come up with a bats whacked off a piece of my ear
    But I busted a chair right across each of them’s teeth
    And we crashed through the wall and into the street
    Kicking and a’ gouging in the mud and the blood and the beer

    I tell ya, I’ve fought tougher men
    But I really can’t remember when
    They kicked like mules and bit like crocodiles
    I heard them laugh and then I heard them cuss
    They went for his gun and I pulled mine first
    They stood there lookin’ at me and I saw them both smile

    And they said, “Son, this world is no treat
    And if a man’s gonna make it, he’s gotta cheat
    We knew we wouldn’t be there to help ya along
    So we turned you into cheaters and said goodbye
    We knew you’d have to get tough or die

    And it’s the name that helped to make you strong”
    They said, “Now you just fought one hell of a fight
    And I know you hate us, and you got the right
    To kill us now, and we wouldn’t blame you if you do
    But ya ought to thank us, before we die
    For the gravel in ya guts and the spit in ya eye
    ‘Cause we’re the son-of-a-guns that got you Sue-d”

    Well what could I do? What could I do?
    I got all choked up and I threw down my gun
    And I called them buds and they called me dumb
    And I came away with a different point of view
    And I think about them, now and then
    Every time I try and every time I win
    And if I ever have a son, I think I’m gonna be true..
    And make sure they never cheat and they never get Sue-d!

    Liked by 2 people

  22. I would tell you how much I enjoyed that, Dan, but I’m presently stuck in Folsum Prison, caught in a Ring of Fire, and wearing a Long Black Veil, waiting to go to Jackson with the Ghost Riders in the Sky. The only thing I have time to tell you is ‘Don’t Take Your Guns to Town’.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah they would have been ok if they only Walk the Line
      The guy watching the videos when he was interpreting the signs would say the One on the Right is on the Left…
      Now every day feels like Sunday Morning Coming Down
      Instead of cheating they should have earned that championship One Piece at a Time


  23. They talked to someone who said Beltran and Cora set this up, and he “steamrolled” anyone who got in his way. Today Correa sang Beltran’s praises and said Beltran DIDN’T have anything to do with “it”. Somebody ain’t telling the truth. I never thought I would say this, but if I was a free agent after this year I would get as far away from the Astros that I could get. Brantley and Springer and Reddick are ALL free agents in 2021, there will be a totally new outfield, and a new first baseman. That leaves Altuve and Bregman and Correa the only guys left on the 2017 team…..and in 3yrs all three of those guys will be gone as well. By 2025 there will be a completely new team…..maybe then this organization can start to heal. As long as *ONE* guy that was here during that time is still playing they will hear boos and hate from EVERY. SINGLE. CLUB THEY PLAY. I will be very glad when Manfred finishes his report on the Red Sox.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Wonder if Correa had more loyalty to the DH on that 2017 club, or his manager? No need to answer. Just anther effort at protecting the legacy of a guy the Mets, or MLB, found it necessary to part ways with. I’d find it refreshing if our shortstop just shut up and decided to play a significant amount of baseball this year rather than taking the time yesterday to try and help repair Beltrans image. Correa sure didn’t at any pint provide similar support to Hinch.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That is because the specific question you watched was put to CC about the Jared Diamond revelations (“Beltran steamrolled the team”), which conflicts with the Drellich Atlantic/Manfred report which claimed bigger responsibility of Luhnow than Hinch since he destroyed 2 monitors — “he didn’t condone it,” whereas Luhnow had several employees working on spreadsheets and algorythms to decode.

      Correa said they were grown men, and could all decide on their own. What’s wrong with that?! [I’d like to read your answer.]

      I think Correa was trying to set the record straight: Beltran has done a helluva lot more for the game (as a humanitarian to the people of PR; and Beltran Academy) than to be focused on him MAKING any player go through with it. He is answering the charge that McCann went to Beltran twice to stop it, yet it continued.

      Trying to blame, or pin this on one person imo is wrong. There is enough evidence all the way to the top that people were actively trying to COMPETE in the leaguewide scheme. Keuchel said 6 out of 8 teams in the playoffs used multiple signs even when no 2B runner, meaning the smart teams (vs the “lazy” ones) all suspected each other. If you ever played baseball, you’d know it is easy to tell if another team “jumps” your signs. The hard part is figuring out how they did it.

      [There’s a story that Chase Utley was sitting out a game and his “job” was to watch the 3B coach all day, and figure out the signs. Without using electronics, it is( unwritten rule) legal to steal them in that way.]

      And really disagree on your “shut up and decide” take. The guy has put up huge career WAR numbers compared to what he’s been paid. Despite the snipes about him resting, if he had played more during the regular season, Hinch said the risk was too great he’d be unavailable in the playoffs. Did you forget he hit the walk off home run in Gm2 to tie series vs NYY in the 11th inning, not to mention being a top defensive SS?


  25. Becky and daveb
    I read this a little different…

    To me he is not denying that Beltran was involved in this – he is just saying that Beltran was not intimidating anyone to do this – that everyone is personally responsible for it.

    Now maybe he is defending him as a fellow countryman to a certain extent as far as forcing others to do it, but he is not saying that Beltran was innocent of “it’


    • Correct.

      And recall the context. They just got back in 2017 from the World Baseball Classic, where Correa played 3B, and Javy Baez played SS. The “countryman” comment is spot-on. When Beltran made it to Spring Training after coming over from Rangers, our Latin players were in awe of him.

      Sure, he had a big influence. But there is evidence in the Tony Adams research, for example that Altuve got many LESS bangs. Someone speculated that meant he didn’t want the trash can, but the “field staffer doing the banging” may not have known. (Maybe it wasn’t the same guy every night, I dont know?)

      Last night on Astroline Lance Berkman said (agreeing with Phil Garner’s comments about Ray Knight), some players did NOT want to know the signs because he wanted to “react more”. He said CIN pitcher Aaron Harang was terrible at tipping his pitches. He could tell by the way he held his glove, every pitch he was going to throw. Faced him twice and struck out twice. It doesn’t always help.


    • Dan, I think I’ve read/listened to most everything published over the past months in regards to this whole episode. The Astros really screwed up their organization. I’m not placing the blame in one direction. More and more clearly, it was and maybe still is a systemic issue. But I also have zero sympathy for guys like Beltran. The was as involved as anyone during his time here. One day I think we’ll read about his similar efforts with other organizations. And Grayson, one more thing. I expect to be disagreed with. I look forward to disagreements here. Carlo Correa might be the most gifted talent of our time. That’s obvious without even having to delve into stats and other far more advanced metrics. Has he given us our monies worth? From a perspective of production compared to cost, sure. But I believe he’s soft. I believe he plays when he wants to, without any diagnosis of specific injury, except for the dubious massage event. I simply do not like him.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I was busy typing when you were posting. I did not copy and paste your post in less than the 2 minutes of elapsed time. However, I must apologize to all. If I ever agree with DaveB, I know that I am wrong.

        Liked by 1 person

      • dave, if we were sitting at the cantina enjoying the bottle of rum you bought us, it would be easier to decipher a shared interest and discussion. Something gets lost in this blog method sometimes. Hope my comments don’t come off too sharply. Yes, we disagree a lot, but you are provacative, and that makes it interesting.

        Liked by 1 person

  26. Again, my opinion is yesterday was a dumb move unless REQUIRED by Manfred. It was a set up to get a story. The players were under intense pressure (Yes, of their own making). Correa cracked and gave them what the vultures wanted. It was a team decision all the way up the chain of command. Not sure about Crane but probably he knew. (Makes one wonder about the Ryans departure even more, or maybe not related.)

    Today we hear about “getting to the bottom of this” every day. We know the bottom, we have seen the bottom, yet the vultures will continue to dig. The entire organization blew it. Diogenes would have found no one. It is futile to attempt to blame any one, two, three, etc. And the rest of the story probably will be why did MLB put observers in ALL dugouts. I think some of these Holier Than Thou teams and cities will turn out to be Rafael Palmeiros.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Astute and always humorous, AC.

      On the Ryan thing, I’ve wondered that too. What I found common was how Jon Daniels treated Nolan, and then similarly Crane didn’t even tell him he was out. He had to hear through grapevine, Crane wasn’t renewing his contract, and his son was taking a more active role. I’m guessing they want to keep selling Nolan Ryan beef, and to keep their affiliation with Round Rock. Seems like Reid Ryan is talented in handling promotions, but that is a position that fluctuates.

      My “weird” theory on this is, remember how much Ryan encouraged JV to go back to his changeup last year? Despite having a Cy Young season, and his comments about the juiced ball before the All Star break, Verlander was getting lit up in home run category, largely on changeup to right-handed batters. Like disproportionately so. Nolan had that “presence” in the front row of every home game. Verlander *might have* suggested he didn’t want him as much of an advisory this season? As you know Biggio, Bagwell, Enos Cabell and Roger Clemens all serve in that capacity as well.

      Anyway, just some thoughts that occured to me before with absolutely no proof.


      • And the hits just keep on coming! Maybe Baker can hold this team together but
        I’m beginning to see some hairline cracks and chinks in the armor. Yesterday’s performance was a dismal disappointment. As Becky said almost everybody save for a few will be gone from this team in a couple of years. I for one will be optimistically about our future at that point. This will probably continue until the purge of anyone who had anything to do with 2017 will be completed. That’s just downright sad but they did it to themselves.


      • Further proof NY media is relentless.

        I still emphatically hate the return on that trade. Big Luhnow mishap to let Brodie get the better of him. We should’ve insisted on Mark Vientos, or LHP, Peterson. But, can’t cry over spill’t milk.

        That was a big reason I was so upset at Tyler White coming in out of shape. Davis .307/.369/.527, 22 HR could have had his DH at-bats, before Yordan was called up. And who knows if Davis could have made a difference in 2019 playoffs?

        Anyway, I see his premature comments as a dang good teammate for not ratting out his guys. Hats off, and continued success.


    • Same issue as last year.

      Believe it or not, I wrote several months ago, they should learn the lesson from McHugh last season, who blew his arm out being a Starting Pitcher. Peacock like McCullers should be on innings count to make sure healthy for playoffs. This merely helps facilitate that, I’d think.

      Well, and that brings Bielak and Javier into the picture imo. And maybe Op and Becky’s, Cionel Perez. Martes Armenteros Pruitt Valdez too.

      One thing I definitely liked about Baker’s 1st press conference. He said he always saves a spot for a guy who made strides in the off season. The Astros are definitely going to have more than one!

      Forrest Whitley says hi.


  27. My gut feel is that they will announce the Red Sox scandal results at the lowest attention time – Friday night – Valentine’s Day

    By the way – Happy Valentine’s everyone!!


  28. On the front page of today’s Chronicle is Alex Bregman in the penitent posture of an altar boy. Perfect. The bad boy who cannot be corralled during regular season being choralled in spring training. Then his comment: “I am really sorry about the choices that were made by my team, by the organization and by me.” (Say what?) I wrote many times on this blog going a long way back that I was embarrassed by his sideline and sometimes online antics and I hoped it wouldn’t come back on him or the team. Worst nightmare, never imagined it would karmalize like this. (Though this has a far more elaborate root system.) Apart from the Astros’ multitude of miseries, AB remains incorrigible — give him “C” for consistency. Feller needs to own, manage and play for his own team — all nine positions. And for everyone who thinks yesterday was a PR disaster, I agree. A non-sports Chronicle writer answered a note I wrote about a month ago in which he indicated the Astros front office had a bad vibe before any of this ever happened. While I didn’t know it was congenital and granular then, I do know now. And I’ll repeat: The half has not been told. Including other teams.

    Liked by 1 person

    • As with Dan, the very talented and loyal writer at Astros County had a really good column today, along with some choice analysis of Jim Crane.

      “Jim Crane completely misread the situation:
      Our opinion is this didn’t impact the game. We had a good team. We won the World Series and we’ll leave it at that.

      This is, of course, completely stupid. The Astros had a good team, they won the World Series. It impacted the game. Click that link to see the logical gymnastics Crane does. 10.0 from all judges, including the East German one. More Crane, on whether he should be punished by Rob Manfred, who is an employee of Jim Crane and 29 of his closest billionaire friends:
      Well, clearly, the report states that I didn’t know about it. Had I known about it, certainly I would have done something about it. I did hire Jeff, and I think Jeff did a lot of great things for the organization over the years. You know, no, I don’t think I should be held accountable.”


      [I recall specifically Crane said before, he told Luhnow to “knock it off,” after the memo Sept 2017. Now, he claims he didn’t know til the report in November 2019. Conspiracy theory: did Crane “negotiate” that with Manfred? MLB Network having a field day with his inconsistencies. Ugh. Good thing Dusty Baker hired his longtime QC guy from CIN days, Chris Speier. I so want to move on, but Astros cannot seem to master Public Relations under this Owner.]


  29. Proof of my comment yesterday on Tony Kemp today. I’m very proud of that young man.
    Ya know, I think he’s going to stick in Oakland when they thought he was just a flyer in the OF, he’s better than any 2B they have.

    Tony Kemp says when he came up in 2017, he was asked to use “the system” and he said no. Was having a good season at Triple A and didn’t want to change anything up. Kept his head down and didn’t say anything.

    — Susan Slusser (@susanslusser) February 14, 2020


  30. “It’s” like you stirred up a killer bee nest……you are going to get stung over, and over until you die. Daveb, I won’t cry when Correa leaves for the yankees. As a matter of fact I’ll help him pack. Thick skin is hard to come by these days, but I’m trying.


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