Re-visiting the Hinch/Luhnow posts

In the modern media world, it is pretty normal for the “fake news” folks to throw out an item without much thought or research and then to walk it back in the new vernacular. Today we will take a quick look back at some AJ Hinch / Jeff Luhnow related posts and see what if any we would like to walk back. Note – I do not have access to any posts when Mr. Luhnow was hired. 


The hiring of A.J. Hinch

In that post Chip was less than enthusiastic about Hinch and who could blame him. He did not have a lot of managerial experience and what he had was really bad. He did point out that catchers are usually good candidates for such jobs and coming out of Stanford he might be a better fit with Luhnow than Bo Porter ever was.

And before everyone here says – they always thought this was a great hiring – see the results of this poll at the time where only 6 people gave him a big thumbs up.

What do you think of the A.J. Hinch hiring?
I’ll keep my powder dry and wait and see – 34.55% (19 votes)
Just another bad move by the front office – 21.82% (12 votes)
Who? – 20% (11 votes)
Meh, don’t care one way or the other – 12.73% (7 votes)
Love it, he’ll do well – 10.9% (6 votes)

So – looking back would the team have been better off with a manager, who could tell everyone to sit down and behave and stood up to the front office? Or would they have fired Hinch like they fired Porter?

2016 – When Luhnow and Hinch were not so popular

The Astros spoiled the fans a bit by making an unexpected playoff run in 2015. When this particular post was written towards the beginning of the next season, the Astros were 7-17 and had dug a hole that they never could really escape. They did end up over .500 on the season, but back in late April, the populace was very grumpy about how the team and the organization was being run.

Tandem pitching in the minors, the Mark Appel and Brady Aiken 1-1 drafts, the young studs, who were sent packing – everything about the way the team was run was an irritant when they were losing.

Luhnow and Hinch were never really in danger of being fired back then, but it was an interesting time leading up to the 2017 championship season.

As they started to launch

It was May of THE season and Hinch at 21-11 looked like a genius. Of course you look like more of a genius when you can roll out a lineup without Carlos Gomez, Colby Rasmus, Jason Castro and with Josh Reddick, Brian McCann, a full season of Alex Bregman and the can bangingly improved Marwin Gonzalez. Also getting Dallas Keuchel back as an uninjured stud was a big step towards a team that took off and never was headed.

This was when the fans really bought into the thought – this could really work.

A look back at Luhnow moves

After the brilliance of the 2017 season and the solid start to 2018, it felt like a good time to look back at all the big moves Jeff Luhnow had produced that led to what looked like a sustainable machine. Of interest here that included the hiring of Hinch at #4 and the Carlos Beltran pick-up at #27. In retrospect, we need to erase that Beltran pick-up……

Luhnow’s last hurrah

This post looked at what had to be considered Luhnow’s last hurrah, the 2019 trade deadline moves. He pulled off the biggest trade at the deadline to bring in Zack Greinke and he was able to pick up Martin Maldonado, Aaron Sanchez and Joe Biagini for very little outlay. None of this guaranteed a World Series victory, but for the 3rd year in a row the Astros were within sight of winning it all.

Who would have thought this would basically be it for what seemed like the best GM in baseball.

Tweaking karma’s nose?

This was not written to tempt fate. It was written in response to the Red Sox unloading the GM, who (with potential electronic sign stealing help) had just helped steer them to a WS championship one season ago.  It was just speculating on how Luhnow and Hinch would seem to be on much more and much longer solid ground than what was under Dave Dombrowski’s feet. There was no way of knowing that in a matter of months that the Astros dynamic duo would fall from the sky.

If I knew what would happen would I ever have even broached this subject? If I did I might have included speculation that a sign stealing cheating circus might take them down. But my psychic power was and is limited.


50 comments on “Re-visiting the Hinch/Luhnow posts

  1. I think with JL and Hinch we found out what analytics could do to improve statistics – but in the process, we forgot what good sportsmanship, respect for the game, and respect for the fans were all about. I still have ZERO doubt that other clubs – indeed all of them – are using electronic sign stealing technology, even to the present. I have ZERO doubt that the Dodgers did it in 2017, that the Red Sox did it in 2018, and that the Washington Nationals did it in 2019 – along with every other club that played. But that doesn’t mean the Astros – one of the most talented teams in history – had any business doing it, ever. And it was the ‘it’s all about numbers’ philosophy that JL brought in that opened the door to ‘whatever it takes’ to bring the numbers up.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Such an eloquent post Senor Dan. I took the time to reread all the old posts and all the old comments. It is amazing that I was correct 100% of the time. Such a genius mind I have. You people are so lucky having me post here.


    Liked by 2 people

  3. I’m enjoying watching the young guys play. I’m just not ready for our tainted hero’s yet. It’s ironic. Had Crane overreacted in 2016 as some of us did, Luhnow could have been sent packing. Instead, the son of a gun finished building a great team. And he could have kept it pure!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Hey Billy C – you were in good company back then – most folks were highly suspect of the hiring. I was somewhere in between – I’ve always thought that managers have an affect on the results but not near the affect that the talent or lack of talent have on it. If a team is bad, a very good manager might get them up to below average, but he’s not going to carry them to the playoffs.


  4. Verlander is scratched from his start tomorrow due to groin discomfort (provide your own non-PC response silently in your head). It is not considered much of anything as he will pitch a simulated game instead.


  5. I went back on some of those posts above and started reading the comments section which is always a fascinating section of the blog. The last one (on what it would take for Hinch / Luhnow to get fired) has some very interesting comments obviously, plus there is a very ironic reference to a ball game taking place where the Astros are bombing the A’s and ……….Mike Fiers. Life is weird and the universe laughs at us poor fools all the time….


    • And in rereading the recent posts, I started to wonder about the Red Sox firing Dombrowski in September 2019. That was less than a season away from the World Series win. So did they get wind of something coming from MLB? Did he get wind of the cheating and tried to overrule Cora? Did they just beat the Astros to the punch in finding a GM? Lots of potential conspiracies there. And who doesn’t love a conspiracy?


      • And Manfred’s bosses are the owners. He doesn’t do anything without talking to them or he would be out on his ear before sundown. Did he alert Crane, Henry, and the others? Was Fiers TOLD to report the cheating so MLB could get it going?


      • Drellich had the report in mid-2018, AC. Fiers was peddling the story since then according to Ashley McHugh. The league swept everything under the carpet, according to several articles, even if you don’t consider the league fining BOS and NYY an “undisclosed” amount. Want a conspiracy? It is the league knew about Houston WHEN they threatened the next team would be punished more severely. It’s been a sham operation, designed to incite 29 fanbases, and grow interest in baseball during the off season, making money hand over fist. Manfred is the Owner’s hero! Even and especially Crane’s, for leaving his players alone, and passing over any blame to him. Jim Crane said initially he told Luhnow to “knock it off” in 2017, after the memo. Later, he said he didn’t know about it til November 2019. Almost as laughable as Gurardi blurting out the Yankees scheme on MLB Network, which has quickly been whitewashed with Kilz primer.

        Back to baseball, Whitley should be on the mound next inning, after Urquidy.


  6. Bregs half swing HR.
    Straw another dinger #2 of the Spring!
    Whitley looked very poised 3-up-3-down. Threw a heavy sinking fastball (he has three different fastballs), got a routine ground out to 1B. then, two routine fly-outs.
    Cards / Stros tied 3-3 in the 4th.


  7. I can’t watch the games, but I’ve turned on the radio a couple of times and listened to an inning or two. Dan….Hughes looks like he will fit right in on this crazy club! Loved the pictures….he’s got “Betty Davis eyes”!! I went back and read some of the comments from 2017…I can’t revisit that time, it breaks my heart. I remember that summer very well. I was sitting in the treatment room with a bag of chemotherapy in my arm, while my beloved team was banging on trash cans trying to cheat at baseball. I wish I could wake up from this nightmare but I just can’t.
    I’m getting REAL tired of all the guys writing stories about how many of our guys are gonna get hiit, and laughing about it. I have an idea how to stop it, if your pitcher hits one of our guys on purpose …your pitcher gets thrown out of the game and suspended the rest of the year. THAT would stop it immediately.
    I’m still waiting for Manfred to release his report…..I just emailed him about it.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. The key to dealing with all the plunking of our guys is to make sure that as many as possible of the guys who get plunked wind up scoring. If plunking us means almost certainly giving up at least one run, you will be amazed how fast the plunking stops.

    So far, with mostly mlb guys playing behind a few regulars, we are not doing that very well. Hopefully that will change.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. This morning, some guy named Nick Schwartz in For The Win claimed that Manfred’s warning to MLB that intentional throwing at the Astros will give us an unfair advantage. His position is that our guys will crowd the plate more, forcing more HBP’s, ultimately creating suspensions of well intentioned pitchers. 45, I did not make this up.

    Liked by 3 people

    • 100% agreed. Belongs down there with Luke Scott , where merely average players can flap their lips and think someone cares. Mike Fiers should be on that list but sadly someone did listen


  10. Spring training is wierd. So far, our team leader it total bases is . . . Myles Straw with 13. The closest to him are Alex Bregman with 6, then Drew Ferguson, Garrett Stubbs and Bryan De La Cruz with 5.

    Of course, it would be a little different if HBPs were counted in the total base calculation. 😉


    • You know Mr. Bill, I read yesterday that Myles is really not all that fond of running. That surprised me. I just would have assumed that any fast guy would love turning on the jets. When I could run I just loved running the bases, however infrequently I got on.


      • I understand Myles’ dilemma. When people know you can run, they expect you to be the Flash, and beat every throw. Plus, it is really hard work, and serious injury is always just around the corner with the slightest bobble.

        Plus, it’s really hard to run fast and drink a margarita at the same time.

        Liked by 2 people

  11. Almedys Diaz is an interesting guy to watch. I remember last year when he first joined us, and had an absolutely atrocious spring. Having been spoiled by Marwin [we can now call him Oscar the Grouch, king of the trash can], I was not at all sure Diaz should even break camp with the ‘Stros. He went on to have a pretty decent year, despite an injury. ‘ I see he’s starting this spring like he did last spring – 7 at bats, 4 Ks [he’s our team leader in that department], and only 1 hit. He has also been blessed with one HBP, along with Altuve, Bregman, and a bunch of MiLB guys wearing orange and blue.

    Methinks Aledmys is one of the ‘boys of summer’, and not a big fan of springtime baseball.


    • Aledmys is a better hitter than Marwin. In 210 AB’s, he produced a 1.4 WAR and an .823 OPS. Lifetime he’s better too. Marwin got 425 AB’s, produced a 1.6 WAR and a typical (for him) OPS of .736, a point off his career of average of .737. I think Marwin is the better fielder. But I also agree that if Diaz stays healthy, he’ll produce.


      • Man, last year for the first three months I wanted Luhnow fired for signing Diaz. Well that and about 50 other reasons. But once he started hitting (prior to the injury) he was a good pick up and cheap. ($2.6 million compared to $9 million for this year.)


      • Aledmys also has interesting career splits.

        Mar/April – .257
        May – .301
        Other months are all around .270+/-

        And he has double the ABs in the 1st half than for 2nd half for his career.


  12. I sure wish Cionel Perez would turn the corner. Maybe I’m the only one, but I really had big hopes for him, especially since we gave him some pretty big bucks to sign here. What do ya do with a guy like that? This might be Strom’S last year with this organization, he was good friends with Hinch. Not that he doesn’t like Dusty, I think he felt very comfortable around Hinch. Soo….time is wasting with Perez, Strom needs to remake this kid while he’s still here. Becky⚾


  13. And over on Brian McTaggart in a post where he answers questions talks a lot about both Abreu and Straw….
    I wonder who he has been reading


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