Jinx and double jinx for Astros

Well – it just figures. They run this article on mlb.com on Friday.

And in that article, they point out that the most indispensable Astro is … Justin Verlander. They might as well have jabbed JV’s right arm with a dagger right through his tricep muscle – the one that bothered him in his second inning of work on Sunday shutting him down for what is hoped to be a precautionary test or two.

Let’s face facts. Justin Verlander has been tremendous for the Astros, possibly the best multi-year addition they have ever made to their club outside of the Jeff Bagwell pickup. But he is 37. And though, if most of us were given a ticket back to our age 37 years, we would be at the top of our game, engineers and other desk sitters do not put the stress and strain on our bodies that a Cy Young winner does. This could be a minor setback or it could be the beginning of a series of later (baseball) life injuries.

From this point, we will go forward with what was planned for this post before we were interrupted so rudely by JV’s right triceps. This is one person’s view of the 10 most indispensable Astros in order.

1. Justin Verlander. It is pretty clear that in a season where the Astros are trying to compensate for losing Gerrit Cole, Wade Miley, Collin McHugh and Aaron Sanchez, that the one thing they don’t need is for their best pitcher and one of the best pitchers in baseball to go belly up.

2. Zack Greinke. This is almost a ditto of the item above as Greinke is only slightly less valuable than Verlander and is a pitcher who would be a #1 on 75% of the teams in baseball.

3. Jose Altuve. Altuve may not lead the team in the sexy power categories, but he is the senior player on the team as far as Astros service and he is at times their most complete player – hitting for average, getting on base, stealing bases, hitting for power when needed and strong in the field.

4. George Springer. Springer would be higher if he could get beyond his habit of missing time. He doesn’t miss as much time as Correa, but he has consistently missed time that keeps him from being the best player on the team. But he is surely the heart of the team and losing him is always a tough hole to fill.

5. Alex Bregman. Bregman will likely be the most indispensable Astro in a year or two. He strained under carrying the team with his friends on the IL last season and was not very good with runners in scoring position. But there is no one with as much overall up side as Bregman on the team as he can do it all.

6. Lance McCullers Jr. His performance this season is critical to the team, especially if JV starts the season in dry dock. He will need to be a dependable starter or things could spiral out of control for the rotation in a hurry.

7. Yordan Alvarez. Yordan is on here because he represents the first player in Astros AL history who was a good DH (in his case an exemplary DH). If he is not there, the team will go back to being a lineup with multiple holes at the end of the lineup.

8. Roberto Osuna. Nothing can sink a team faster than a closer, who cannot close. Losing leads late not only shows up in the loss column, but becomes a psychological weight on the team and puts the manager in a guessing game he won’t win.

9. Carlos Correa. This guy has the talent to be in the top 4 of this list and has performed that good in the past. But playing 75 games with head scratching injuries does not get it done. The Astros won 107 regular season games with Carlos missing more than 1/2 of the season in 2019, so it is hard to put him higher on this list. But if he wants a Harper contract in a couple seasons, he better get his butt out on the field and keep it there.

10. Jose Urquidy. There is a lot riding on this young man’s shoulders this season based on some quality work at the end of 2019. It is unlikely that anyone else the Astros bring up from the minors will be as poised as this player was in high leverage situations.

Of course, this means I left off 10 a) Ryan Pressly, 10 b) Yuli Gurriel, 10 c) Michael Brantley and 10 d) Josh James from the list.

This is a very subjective list and is just begging for others (you) to chime in and set this writer straight.

So, what do you think? Who are the 10 most indispensable Astros, what order are they in, and why?

48 comments on “Jinx and double jinx for Astros

  1. Not to push the panic button yet but I am not impressed with our overall hitting. There are a few exceptions but as of this moment we _____. It doesn’t make any difference what our pitching staff is like if we can’t hit and score runs. I watched Springer at the plate today and he looks absolutely lost. We have a K rate of 27% and a BA of .211. Looks like we’re back to trying to hit it out of the ballpark training facility every time we step up to the plate. I haven’t noticed anybody hitting against the shift but will admit I haven’t scene every at bat. I just hope we get our act together by opening day. It’s going to be hard enough with everything else that’s going on.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m not worried about the bats yet. I will be if our K rate is up significantly over the first couple of months of the season though. And I’m a bit concerned about Alvarez and bad knees.

      But yes, Verlander is my 1 and Zack my 2.

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    • I agree that this is ST and I know guys are trying to get their rhythm back and work on new things. I just thought the regulars would be more in sync than they are. And yes, I’m concerned about YA’s knees and JV’s triceps strain much more so but opening day is less than 3 weeks away. I look forward to watching our team play and dealing with all the naysayers.

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  2. I have said it many times before: It is spring training. Don’t pay attention to anything other than injuries.
    Every team has injuries. Every team.
    Last year Nick Tanielu was Babe Ruth in spring training. Forget about it.
    This year it’s the backup catcher who is on fire. Forget about it.
    Jose Urquidy has a bad outing. Forget about it.
    This is a good team. If they have a good year it means they play good.
    If they have a bad year it means they played badly. That would hurt.
    Spring training is practice.
    The season starts when the Astros go out to play the first game of the regular season. Enjoy paying attention to all these players while it means nothing.

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  3. Do you want a guess or hope? I will go with HOPE. 1.2.3. JV Zach & LMJ . 4 5 &6 Jose Breg &Correa. 7 &8 George and Brantley. 9 & 10. Osuna & Elvis. Yuli at 10A and first off the bench at first media time out.

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  4. Just for interest. Jose Altuve through age 29 season has 1568 hits. Pete Rose had only 1532 through age 29 season. But Jose needs another 2,688 starting at age 30 season to catch Pete’s hit total. (That’s 200 hits per year for 13.44 years)

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  5. A couple Astro items
    – Justin Verlander underwent his MRI today – no results as yet, but according to the same people who hype the coronavirus they will have to amputate both arms and his big toes as a precaution
    – The Astros have 3 players on their 40 man roster without options – Aledmys Diaz, Austin Pruitt, and Dustin Garneau. If any of them do not make the 26 man roster they will have to be put on waivers.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. “Mild lat strain”…….not good news. I assume at this point, Dusty and Click will have to rethink the opening day pitching rotation. (((Sigh)))😭

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    • Every year I post some comment about how I wish the team would make it a goal for certain starters to be ready a couple weeks into the season to offset the extra work during October. I suppose with the ouster of Luhnow from the front office the team will swing away from analytics for a bit, but it sure seems to me like keeping players healthy would provide the biggest advantage any team could get.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. It isn’t that I am worried that the Astros’ offense hasn’t showed up yet. It is that, by not showing even a hint of offense, the Astros have actually managed to make these ST games -which represent the fan base’s first taste of baseball since Oscar-the-Grouch Gate scandal broke – almost as painfully unwatchable as the off-season’s daily barrage of bad news. If they are hoping to re-ignite the fan base, having 8 of your starters look like outclassed A-ballers in their Spring at bats is not exactly good PR.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. OK – I know I am sounding like Alfred E. Neuman on this, but it is way way way way too early to give a crap about stats from spring training. Of the guys you would expect to be in the starting lineup to start the season, George Springer has the most ABs at 21. That is like 5 games worth.
    Now if they start the season hitting this way…..I will still say the same thing – small sample size. Come see me after 6 weeks or so of the regular season and then I will worry a little…..
    Even then…. if you go look at Astro stats for May 15th lasts season and Josh Reddick was hitting .333 BA with a .832 OPS and Jake Marisnick was hitting .313 BA with a .958 OPS.
    On the other hand Yuli was hitting .269 BA with a .730 OPS and Altuve was on the IL stuck with a .243 BA and .801 OPS.
    Small samples mean little / small samples in spring training mean less than that.

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  9. Roto Champ (and I don’t know how good these guys are) shows projections from 6 or 7 different sites. Just looking at innings here. What’s interesting is that Roto Champ pegs Verlander for a significant decline in innings at 145 for 2020. Looks like their projection is the most accurate at this point.

    Verlander 145 to 216
    Abreu 4 to 99
    Greinke 180 to 199
    James 61 to 128
    Pruitt 45 to 95
    Urquidy 100 to 150
    McCullers 98 to 139

    Assuming Verlander (and it seems safe now) is out for awhile, we’re going to have to get a fair amount of innings from other sources than the guys noted above. It’s a great time to be a pitcher in the Astro organization. There are going to be real opportunities.

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  10. The flip side of this is that it might be the only way to keep Verlander’s inning count down on the season. Otherwise, he’s going to take the mound 33 or 34 times during the regular season regardless of what anyone says.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Also of interest. Justin Verlander at age 36 season has 3006 K’s. Nolan Ryan at age 36 season had 3677. Starting age 37 season, JV only needs 2708 to catch Nolan at 5714. That is 200 a year for 13.54 seasons.

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  12. I am not advocating that anyone break the rules. I live in Texas.

    However, I signed up for my MLB package at $132.50 for the year. I will now sign up for a VPN that makes it appear my laptop is in Hong Kong or London. I will log on to the VPN and then log onto the MLBTV and watch all the Astros games.

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      • Becky, it just needs to be out of the market where the Astros or their opponent are blacked out. You can use Seattle Washington as an example except you need to change location for the Mariners. I would imagine that I could go down the entire schedule and there is a location that would be good for 2020.

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      • I have a location that works. But for those of you living within blackout range, I think it’s a folly that you can’t watch your home team. I’m all for using technology to facilitate access. Even for guys like Astrocolt45.

        Liked by 1 person

  13. I don’t think the idea of an opener is such a bad idea. The Rays drove us crazy with a different pitcher every….dang…inning!!
    Joe Maddon is having his guys (Angels) working on bunting guys over for hits.
    GEE….what do ya know….sometimes small ball WINS games! I really hope Dusty isn’t against it like Hinch was. Did ya’ll see the centerfielder for arlington get hit in the jaw yesterday?!! Lord…that was AWFUL! He usually has a flap on his helmet, but didn’t have it on yesterday. It really bothered me, because that could happen to our guys, and NOT by mistake….I really hope not.😭

    Liked by 1 person

    • Top 12 pitching farm.
      Bottom of barrel on position side, until —

      1. The prospects who fell off their original trajectory, prove up; Whitley, Solis, Perry, Joe Perez, Nova, Korey Lee, etc.
      2. There is more mobility at the ML level for blocked; Toro, Stubbs, Straw.
      3. We put together a cohesive plan, which may take some time with new GM.

      They could be a Top 20 team by June after the Int’l (with Leon, and Colas), and if they draft as well as they have the past several years. They might be able to trade for Comp picks to supplement the Amateur draft, but currently, they will get the #74 pick in 2020. Making the most of the next 2 drafts will be pretty important.

      Tyler Ivey threw a 1-2-3 inning today with 2 K’s. Great news!

      And Bryan Abreu continued his dominance. The injuries shape up well for guys like him. It is looking like Biagini is not putting together all the data they’ve been feeding him. He looks like odd man out, however Peacock is only just now throwing off a mound. Framber and James flirted with their control issues again today.. Will the Astros have the guts to let Abreu start?!

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  14. Cristian Javier will become a starting pitcher for the Astros soon. He got sent down very early to refine his delivery and he will be this year’s version of Urquidy.
    I think the Astros will be fine in the pitching area. I have my doubts about MLB’s opening week coming off as scheduled and that could allow Verlander time to recover from his injury.

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    • I think this was his job to lose as soon as they traded Jake. With 26 man roster, with Alvarez not likely to play the field any time soon, with the team needing to get comfortable with other OFs for 2021 when Brantley, Springer and Reddick will all be FAs…..I think he has been a fairly sure thing and he has grabbed that chance by the neck here.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. In fact, the fate of 9 guys hangs in the balance of Spring results this season; Biagini, Hughes, Devo, Abreu, Taylor, Sneed, Stubbs, Tucker and Toro. The only player on this list w/o an option is Jared Hughes, so I think he sticks. Blake Taylor has also pitched brilliantly.

    And last Spring, the final pitcher to make the 25-man roster wasn’t decided until Peacock, Valdez, Guduan and Brady Rodgers finished.

    If you are a prospect trying to make a name for yourself, like 14th round Nick Tanielu did in ’19 by slashing .295/.360/.520, Spring is usually the only time a ML Manager will get eyes on. In his case, there was Josh Rojas, Abe Toro and Alex Bregman firmly entrenched. There’s not much more Tanielu could do!

    If you’ve watched all our affiliates throughout the season, these games are quite meaningful, because it shows how our lower level guys are competing largely against other team’s starters.

    The regulars are only trying to stay loose, and by all means stay out of the trainer’s room. They don’t care about stats, true.

    Based on Tyler Ivey, and Jairo Solis (age 20) throwing 96 mph again, I’m moving them up to #5, and #6 respectively. That is great News!! They will likely both be in HOU next year.

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  16. Strasburg throwing a gem today.
    Astros are playing no starters against the World Champs.
    A piecework of McCullers laboring, and Cy Sneed have matched them.
    0-0 through 4.

    Ryan Pressly on for his 3rd appearance this No Runs Allowed Spring. Ford said he looks very confident finally after the knee rehab full recovery.

    *Chas McCormick the only one to get close to a hit.

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      • The Round Rock Express is going toe-to-toe with the best of the best.

        Drew Ferguson, who we got in the 19th Round in 2015 is facing $35,000,000 (Strasburg).

        [The same draft we got Bregman, Tucker, Daz Cameron and Franklin Perez (traded for HOF, Justin Verlander), Trent Thornton (traded for Aledmys Diaz), Garrett Stubbs, Myles Straw and Ralph Garza. Interesting fact, we “wasted” our last few rounds on Conor Biggio, and Kacy Clemens. We cannot afford to do that anymore, after Josh James proved the 34th round is still viable.]

        Astros up 1-0
        Tucker scampers to 3rd, and Nick TANIELU gets the RBI. You know what gets me? Nobody on air has asked him how to pronounce his name. “Tanee- eh-lu.” Our diehard Tri-Cities, Troy, NY fans know this, though.

        Corey Julks is at-bat. My friend coaches him (from UH). He’s on nobody’s Top 30. Matt told me he deadlifts over 550 lbs. I really believe after seeing him workout last season, he’s going to make a name for himself this Summer.. He will be in Corpus Christi.

        Osuna on, who sits down the Nationals 1-2-3.

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  17. Whitley gets runners on the corners, promptly buzzes 96 by their last hitter for a pair of strikeouts to end the 7th.

    The “difference in this game” is Kyle Tucker’s opportunistic baserunning, seeing a blooper was going to drop in.

    Astros 1-0

    It’s a beautiful day in West Palm Beach and Houston
    Wherever you are have a Great Day, Astros fans!

    Like

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