Weekend thoughts: Early spring training

Heading into the Astros second weekend of Spring Training, it is time to make a bit of a mind dump.

So why is it called Spring Training? OK, this will sound like Dan P is one of “those” people. The kind that you can’t stand because he nit picks. But really, Spring does not officially start until March 20th. The Astros last game in Florida is on the 22nd. By the time spring starts about 80+% of ST is over. Yeah, I know it is tradition, plus spring time weather is already happening in Florida in February…..and I guess Winter Training just sounds wrong.

About getting hit with a baseball….There has been a lot of discussion about this lately.

  • Have any of the idiots who think plunking the Astros’ players is a great idea and a reasonable punishment ever been hit with a baseball?
  • OK, some of the HBPs so far in winter training (….Spring training ….. I just can’t change) against the Astros have been on curve balls, so that is not supposed to count. Big whoop. So they got hit at 82 mph instead of 96 mph. When I used to take the kids to the batting cages, we would go past the amped up machines that the high school kids were using and believe me I want nothing to do with an 82 mph curve ball hitting me.

One of the more intriguing young pitchers – For what it is worth – mlb.com has an article where they choose Bryan Abreu’s curveball as the filthiest secondary pitch among Astros’ prospects.

https://www.mlb.com/astros/news/prospects-with-best-secondary-pitches

Abreu’s has 4 Ks in 2 innings pitched this spring and the 22 year old was quite impressive in in an 8.2 IP cameo last season striking out 13 hitters and only allowing 4 hits and 1 run in 7 appearances for the big club.

Are they thinking of him as a future starter here or as a replacement for Roberto Osuna?

One of the more intriguing young hitters – Myles Straw is off to an insane (read this unsustainable) start to the spring as he has 3 home runs, one inside the park, and 5 total  hits in 7 ABs. For the short term Straw is heir apparent to Jake Marisnick’s 4th spot in the outfield, but considering Josh Reddick, Michael Brantley and George Springer are all in the last year of their contracts or team control, he is likely trying out for a future spot in the starting lineup.

With his natural speed and ability to play the infield and the outfield and his ability to get on base (.380 OBP in his career to date) he could be a mainstay at the top of the lineup for years to come.

Radio Silliness – I was listening to sports talk radio driving home the other day and one of the announcers (who will go nameless because I normally enjoy and respect what he says) was lamenting how the Astros losing more than they were winning in the early stages of spring training was a bad omen for the upcoming season. This was on a day when the Astros were splitting (1 win/ 1 loss) two split squad games.

Playing split squad games waters down what already is watered down hitting and pitching lineups in  the early stages of ST. On top of that, no one knows what the pitchers and hitters are working on by order of their coaches. The pitchers might be throwing 50% changeups because that is a pitch the team would like them to develop as a 10% weapon during the season. The hitters may be trying different stances or trying to work counts or just hoping to get their eye back.

The key to spring training is to get as many folks through with the minimum number of aches, pains, pulls and strains.

Still it is nice to have box scores to look at every day. We can’t tell which outs are screaming line drives and which hits are blooping Texas Leaguers. We can’t tell who is lucky or unlucky. But it is nice to have some artificially real baseball happening.

 

60 comments on “Weekend thoughts: Early spring training

  1. So far, all I have been able to figure out about the 2020 season is that there will still be some pretty decent AAAA ballplayers to watch at Round Rock.

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  2. Agree with you Mr Bill. Those that I’ve been impressed with so far (yes it’s early), Ferguson, Straw, Julks, Pitchers; Abreu, Garza, Pruitt, Adcock. I’ve tried to watch as many games as possible and it looks that there are some good potentials so far with several 4A players. As the weeks progress we’ll see how this holds up. It seems like a lot of our milb’ers are playing the majority of the time against a lot of the opponents everyday players so I consider that a good thing. Can they hit MLB pitching or get MLB players out? It’s intersting to watch these guys none the less.

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  3. As long as we’re just a bunch of oldster parody writers hanging out:

    10, 20, 30, 40 plunkings and more.
    The self-righteous bullies, are rollin’ up the score.
    Eighty free passes, who can end the spree,
    of the Bloody Red sharin’ of misery.

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  4. Dan, the definition of of Spring is funny. My tomatoes and peppers are blooming and having fruition now in our place in Florida. In Georgia, I will plant in April and they will hit fruition in June and will burned up by mid July which is about the same as my old home place in central Louisiana. I think Houston is somewhere in between like Jacksonville. I really like like some of the youngsters I last night.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. This is not meant as a political statement, but if frigging Mike Bloomberg’s face pops up one more time on a web site I click on – I may just punch my computer in the face.
    His mug is literally everywhere.
    OK – now back to sports

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Zach Man with a good outing. Hitting opportunities were missed. Bases loaded 1 out and zilch runs.
    Dan, you’ll continue to see those ads until he’s out of the race or until election day. We can put those ads in the “overdoneit” hall of fame along side the Progressive and Geico Insurance ads.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. K Tuck’s spring has been ugly so far. 0-10 – or is it 0-11 now. Either way, I don’t think it is the kind of confidence-building showing the fans are looking for. He will actually get a hit one day though, Right?

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  8. I don’t know Daveb. That was what he said last week, I wrote his office an email a couple of days ago, and got the standard answer “we will pass this to the commissioner, and thank you for your interest”. My next one won’t be as nice as the first one was. I’m getting pretty steamed about the delay on the Red Sox.
    Evidently the Astros AND the Red Sox were warned in 2018 about cheating during the ALCS. MLB was already aware of the cheating. Becky⚾

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  9. And over on MLB.com Brian McTaggart has a post where he is answering fan’s questions and talks a lot about Abreu and Straw
    I wonder who he’s been reading

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    • On Dec 10, 2018, I predicted Straw would be starting CF in 2019 playoffs. Said he needs gap power, which didn’t quite happen. Missed it 6 months. As it was, we had $14.3M tied up in Jake and George (Hinch favorites), so that wasn’t ever going to be possible. Not a few days after the season, the writing was on the wall to trade Jake.

      Hopefully, Kenedy Corona and Blake Taylor will pan out better than the Davis return from the Mets.

      Abreu was 40-man roster’d when he had only thrown in *Quad Cities* by the end of 2018, because Luhnow knew that Elias/Orioles would have pilfered him in Rule 5.

      On Sept 30, 2019, I had Abreu ranked #2 in our system, behind Whitley. All recorded. No surprises here.

      The Astros have a line on getting Oscar Colas, perhaps on June 2 when int’l pool is refreshed, and it looks like they have agreed with 5-tool Pedro Leon, as well! This effectively erases the losses in the amateur draft punishment.

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  10. I thought this post on Twitter was amusing:
    From: @AstrosBrain:

    “I explained the Astros scandal to my 7-year-old nephew.

    He thought for a moment and said:

    “The absence of a clearly-established referent governing framework makes normative judgments inherently impossible. This fiasco is the circumstantial offspring of Manfred’s negligence.”

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Baseball
    – Jim Crane has a huge payroll, much higher than ever before. He is expecting a big year out of his team and he hired a manager whose job is to deliver the goods in 202o.
    – Dusty Baker is taking on his last managerial job. He has never made it to the promised land and his goal was to catch on with a team that has a chance to win it. He has that chance and I believe he is going to do everything he can to accomplish the goal for himself and for Crane.
    – Justin Verlander and Zack Greinke were acquired by the Astros and are making huge money for the next two years. They are very aware that this team, despite the scandal, may be their best chance to win a World Series in the time they have left. They are both very wealthy and in the twilight of their careers. I think we will see them give everything they have to meet their goals.
    -Don’t be surprised to see Myles Straw in CF quite a bit this season, especially against LH starting pitchers. In the past Marisnick was pretty terrible against lefties and restricted his own usage because of it. Straw in CF, Springer in RF and Brantley in LF would be one combination. Straw in CF, Springer in RF and Reddick in LF would be another combo when Brantley gets a day off.
    -The new GM’s job will be to look to 2021 and beyond. He will be asked to find a way to rebuild the farm without sacrificing the players down there already that could replace guys who are in line to leave after this season. It will be very interesting to see if Click remains married to the Astros philosophy of strikeout pitching and non-strikeout hitting.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Good to hear from you 1OP. I noted last week that if Myles can keep his OBP up, he’ll get more AB’s than Jake did. I love the thought of a .380 OBP in the 9th slot. Can he maintain it? For comparison sake, Jake has a lifetime stat of .280 in that department.

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      • I loved Jake in CF. I love George in CF. I did not love Carlos Gomez any place. I did not care for Dexter Fowler in CF. Nor Brandon Barnes. Nor Jordan Shafer. Michael Bourn covered a lot of ground. As long as Myles Straw lands in the Jake, George, or Bourn territory, I will love him also.

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  12. I just want to go on record that I will not demand that Dusty be fired until he loses 3 games in a row. For Hinch, that was through game 4 last year.

    I am very patient. Unlike those radio guys.
    (Definition of Patient: bearing pains or trials calmly or without complaint. Well may Patient is not the proper word.)

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  13. Speaking of Dusty Baker…..he might just be exactly what this team needed. He has something in common with them. *BOOING*. He was booed just about everywhere he played, when he was traded to a different team, when he managed the Cubs…just a couple of instances. You can read about it at the online articles for the Chronicle, astrosdaily.com has the articles.
    He also brought Valdez in his office the other day, and told him a story about a young rookie pitcher named Franando Valensuela. He told him how that young pitcher had to take a few seconds to back up to the mound to get set to pitch….it made quite an impression on Valdez, he only walked 2 guys this afternoon.
    Good stuff from Dusty, he has at least walked in their shoes being booed at and not just the visiting team….by his own fans. That would really suck if that happened here, and I truly hope it doesn’t.
    *Manfred’S Red Sox news:
    There are a couple of articles at the “call to the pen” site about them written by Jeff Kallman. He says the Red Sox report is due within the next few days to a week, and Kallman says he thinks Manfred will bring the hammer down on them like he did on the Astros. What I can’t get over is BOTH teams were brought in Joe Torre’S office and told to stop doing it! The league KNEW that both teams were cheating, and if Fires hadn’t made it public NOTHING would have happened to either team! Made my head explode! Manfred probably won’t last too much longer as commissioner….he has lost a lot of respect and his crazy new rules are making managers and GM’S nuts!
    So there ya go…….Dusty Baker may be just the man to guide these guys through this disaster. All I can offer is stock up on ear plugs, and keep on truck’n.

    Liked by 1 person

      • Dump Garneau in lieu of Stubbs? Barring injury, there’s a zero percent chance of that, fellas. I’m a big fan of the Stubbs brothers, but Garneau is very solid!
        Who would be the backup? Jamie Ritchie? We have seen this Spring it is not going to be Quintana (or Chuckie Robinson).

        The 26th man is going to depend on Tucker and Toro, in addition to Straw and Stubbs. We’ll also need to make sure Aledmys (1 option) is 100%. We were able to save that option last year by calling his absence a hamstring (when we were featuring Kemp for trade value). So, there are other moving parts.

        I am curious –was that a serious reference to McTag getting info from online, as in Chipalatta? Again, I just didn’t know if that was serious?

        I wouldn’t doubt he reads around, sure, but being on the beat, I gather from his language he’s shooting from hip. He has been a little out of touch last yr, wanting to participate in his daughter’s activities.

        The question I would have asked in his Inbox is, “What’s going on with Solis?” Much attention around McCullers after TJ, why no reports on Jairo Solis (or Pete Solomon who has to be put on 40-man to save this season before Dec. Rule 5)? Would it be wise to make room for him now, or do we just roster him in December? That answer may come if we let Biagini go, for example, who is still struggling.

        Stealing from me? When you’ve actually foretold what would happen (like you, Dan), there’s reason to mention again. Like when you wrote what would it take to fire Luhnow — that seemed preposterous. Not for “I told ya so”, but because it unfolded the way that often is nowhere else in print.

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      • I don’t see the deal with Garneau at all, looking at his minor league and mlb numbers. Is he that good defensively?

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      • I know I’m only kidding about McT stealing from me – I’m pretty sure that Astro colt 45 is only kidding too

        Let’s face it especially in preseason there are only so many topics to go around – we are bound to stumble across the same ones

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      • Dustin Garneau caries himself very professionally in his interviews so far.
        He hit 7 HR in 7 games for A’s. If you look at his limited sample numbers, he’s quite successful hitting line drives (teams dont shift much on him, respect his ability to opposite field), but his strikeout numbers go up hi, 2-strike approach need help making contact there (Snitker).

        https://www.fangraphs.com/players/dustin-garneau/9433/splits?position=C&season=0

        He kows the divisional hitter tendencies, being with LAA. Stubbs does not.
        Stubbs would do well to keep working with minor league guys (Whitley Bielak Javier Ivey Conine Garcia Paredes Torres Perez Armenteros Taylor Emanuel) until he hits 320 again in RR. Then, Dusty could rotate any one with an option, like Toro for Stubbs. If Tucker isn’t hitting, he could go to the minors one last option year remaining. Lastly, this lineup is potent enough to sustain a “hole” in it from time to time. Most Pitchers would trade a .190 average for a great defenseman who calls a good game, and gives them confidence to throw any pitch type on any count.

        I do like Stubbs and think he will get 250 ab’s somehow, if maybe 2B and OF too. He’s so well-coached, excellent pedigree and maturity, infectious personality. Garrett told Julia Morales two days ago from the dugout, “if you can hit in this league, you will play.”

        The Astros thought so highly of Garneau because like Stassi, he doesn’t have an option. Quite a commitment to him, I’d say. Stubbs will accept his duty, and get another year of leadership in RR mostly.

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      • Small correction…Garneau hit 1 hr with 7 rbis with the A’s. If it had been 7 homers I’d be over the moon!

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  14. As to Garneau vs. Stubbs. I have seen Stubbs briefly in the majors. He is smallish. Had a lot of trouble with Cole and Verlander pitches. But in fairness, he is better than Castro behind the plate. I have no memory of seeing Garneau. Their minor league stats are comparable. And their projections are similar for 2020. That being said, Garneau is 32 and Stubbs 27. At some point, in my opinion, we need to see what we have with Stubbs. So its not a knock on Garneau. But if you have been in MLB for 5 season and played only 123, you just look like a career back up to me. Stubbs may not last 5 years, but he would be my choice.

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  15. Daveb….the minor league pitcher we got back from your nephews trade to the Dodgers sounds like a keeper! Andrew Scuugs appears to be a pretty dang good pitcher!! The radio guys were impressed with him today….at 6’4, and 275lbs he’s a pretty big fella with good stuff! I don’t get to see the games but he sounded like he could help the pen before the season ends
    *Red Sox investigation won’t be done before opening day. GRRRRRRRR!!

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    • Becky, I have zero inside knowledge. But seeing how the Astro players have been treated, even though given “immunity.” I would think the Red Sox players saw nothing, heard nothing, know nothing and it will not be a slam dunk like the Astros. (Just me speculating).

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      • MLB already bungled this one. Apparently the Dodgers checked with MLB before the Betts trade to determine if he would be in any trouble. The trade fell apart and MLB basically forced them to put it back together. Was it the physical of one of the players involved? Possibly. At the time of the trade there were rumblings that when Betts was asked about the cheating in Boston he gave a non-denial answer along the lines of whatever is in the past is in the past and just wanting to focus on moving forward. Now, there are some articles where he’s asserting (like JDM) that no, there has never been any cheating along these lines in the Boston Red Sox organization. Clearly, MLB would have had to give them immunity just as the Astros players received. The only thing that would matter would be statements made to MLB investigators though – so MLB can’t hold any lying to journalists up to this point against Betts, JDM, or some of the other guys.

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      • The biggest difference here may be that there is no Mike Fiers throwing the Red Sox under the bus. Without a source confessing to what happened – the Red Sox could all stand shoulder to shoulder and deny everything or speak around it. You don’t need immunity if no one has inside knowledge and is confessing everything.

        Liked by 1 person

  16. The GM said they might be looking outside the organization for pitching help.
    I would be shocked if ANY pitcher would want to come here, as a free agent OR through a trade. This organization is toxic when it comes wanting to play here and I see no change in that for the near future. I’m so sad I don’t know what to do….😭

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    • Don’t totally despair Becky
      1) Unless someone has a no trade clause – and few do – whether the player wants to come here or not does not matter
      2) If someone is a free agent now that camp is open – they will be looking for a home that wants them

      I think the fans are more upset about this than players – most players would see this as coming to a top 5 team in baseball

      Liked by 1 person

      • These players would very much like to play in Houston, if they weren’t blocked by elite. Any other team would be glad to take on someone like Altuve if Astros fans didn’t want him. What irony nobody in LA complaining about Betts, though BOS was named already in the Manfred Report.

        I have updated the 2020 prospects rankings, combining some of FG, MLB and Spring samples. Word is Solis is throwing 96 on back fields in Florida, which is great news.

        Enjoy!

        https://www.crawfishboxes.com/2020/3/2/21161945/astros-top-70-prospects

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  17. Yes it’s early but I noticed a couple of things on the ST stats. We are next to last in hitting but 2nd overall in pitching. Alvarez and Tucker have yet to show me anything. Hope that YA doesn’t catch that sophomore jinx. I’m just noy sure about Tucker. For him, it’s time to fish or cut bait.

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  18. Am I the only one who thinks having a day off from games during ST is plain weird? Isn’t that why there are like 60 guys in camp? What they need rest from the 12 ABs or 3 IPs they’ve faced this spring to date?

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  19. Gostros1…..I had no idea you wrote for the Crawfish boxes!! I’m very impressed!
    I wish I knew the guys on the farm like you do, and there are some guys I want to know better. Very impressive! Cross your fingers our pitchers stay healthy everyone…..there have been some big names who have already gone down with ingurys! Ya’ll let me know how Verlander looks tomorrow ok?!!! Becky⚾

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    • Yes interesting read Gostros – helps those of us who don’t have a lot of time to follow the farm.
      Had a couple questions –
      What happened with Ronnie Dawson – high draft pick who has never produced to match?
      Why is CJ Stubbs that low – thought he might by higher?

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      • Good questions
        Dawson has had *some* strikeout/bat to ball issues, and hasn’t really been what we’ve projected. Oh, what could have been with two ROY’s, had we taken Pete Alonso instead in R2 of 2016 draft! I remember reading Jayne Hansen say that Ronnie looked like Adonis stepping off the bus at her first glance.

        Interesting tidbit, Dawson played fullback at Ohio State, while the Astros drafted a wide reciever from Michigan last year in Jordan Brewer. Colin Barber is touted as the best OF in the system, while Brewer has lightening speed. They have assumed that prospect position because of young age, and tools. Ronnie has fallen by the waysides of (great eye) McCormick (super speed) Straw (power hitting) Tucker. One plus for Ronnie D — he was called up to RR during the AAA Championship, and he contributed with timely hits and in the field. Overall, bottom line, we’re a deeper team than when we drafted him.

        I would like to have CJ Stubbs higher. Just biding my time with him. Many don’t know how well-coached Garrett and CJ Stubbs are. Both very smart and great teammates. Getting CJ in the 10th round for $85K was a steal! Remember when we all met him? When his big brother got a call up, and he flew in with his parents after the College World Series? If CJ slugs 600 in Corpus next year, he will be on the national map. From tools standpoint, he’s still a little light. Would luv to see him get OF innings, being a former pitcher. I consider him a little like Ferguson, extremely smart and instinctive. CJ Stubbs has already coached a team in his off Summers in San Diego, too.

        Some highlights in the Brad Kyle article
        https://therunnersports.com/stro-bro-show-astros-new-draftee-garretts-brother-cj-stubbs-off-to-fast-start/

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    • Becky, you and the ladies here (Sandy and Diane) know your stuff pretty good. I even remember seeing your comments on Jayne’s blog, keeping up with the prospects as you have. It is exciting times for them, despite all the turmoil the big club is going through. Keeps me busy through the lulls in the regular season, watching their progress. Obviously, our amateur and int’l draft has been a much bigger focus since Luhnow came over from StL. The cupboard is brimming with talent!

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  20. Uninformed headlines by Sports Illustrated continue to prevail, but an ignorant public just laps it up.

    “Trevor Bauer Told a Batter What Was Coming to Troll the Astros”

    And yet not a word that the batter swung and missed after knowing FOR SURE what was coming.

    My question: teams already knew the Astros (and several other teams who were reporting each others) were stealing signs, so they were using “fake signs” to combat our hitters and the dark arts geeks. How are the Astros demonized as cheaters when there is evidence the player stats were not improved, and based on the fact that Bauer just proved knowing what pitch is coming doesn’t guarantee success?

    Two words, biased reporting.

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    • This comment was spot-on, though!

      Brandon Crowe “I feel like you REALLY wanted this point to make the Astros look bad, but it actually does the exact opposite.
      It goes to show that even being told the pitches that are coming, by the guy throwing them, doesn’t equate to being able to put the ball in play.
      He literally told the batter what pitches were coming and the guy got out.”

      [Common Sense]

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    • Yeah, sometimes you can’t let the facts get in the way of a good story. There was an article last week where they quoted an executive from another club saying he felt bad because they had fired two hitting coaches trying to get better results. They were pointing to the Astros improving their batting average by .008 over a period of time and couldn’t figure out why they couldn’t get the same results. Yep.

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