Framber’s fickle finger forsakes Astros’ fate?

The initial reaction to Framber Valdez‘s broken finger in his initial outing on Tuesday was a little unsettling for fans. After all, how bad could it be as he kept throwing after being hurt in the first inning and went on to complete a second inning of pitching? How bad it MIGHT be (as everything is unofficially coming from Jon Heyman) is that Framber may have to have surgery, and such surgery may cause him to miss the whole season. Surgery Recommended For Framber Valdez – MLB Trade Rumors.

As we discussed a month ago…..Why Astros’ biggest concern may be starting pitching | CHIPALATTA the lack of starting pitching depth might have been the biggest concern heading into Spring Training. If Zack Greinke, Lance McCullers Jr., Cristian Javier, and Jose Urquidy do their part and produce up to their capabilities, filling the 5th spot may not be a huge concern. But if one of those folks gets hurts or goes south, this could get serious in a hurry. And of course, there is the ever-present crazy uncle in the basement….how much of a concern is it that the only guy to throw 70 innings for the Astros in 2020 is the one who is out. Can the rotation hold up under the extra demands of a full 162 game (or so) season?

What are the options?

Go grab one. It is not my money or my budget, but one of the choices here is to pick up one of the free agent pitchers still floating free while Spring Training is just getting rolling. This probably is more of an option if Valdez is out for the whole season. The available free agents should be named Joe Asterisks – there is a problem with every one of them. Looking at the prime ones… Jake Odorizzi (30 y.o.) keeps getting tossed out there as available, but he likely would eat up the $13.5 MM space the team has under the tax line. And he was hurt in 2020. Cole Hamels (37) – great career and solid lately, but only pitched 3.1 innings in 2020 due to shoulder problems. Mike Leake (33) has always been solid, but he sat out in 2019 due to the COVID situation and has said he won’t sign before the season starts and then only if he feels comfortable with where COVID is. Rick Porcello (32 – doesn’t it feel like he should be 42?) won the Cy Young in 2016 but has declined and had a healthy 2019 and 2020 with an unhealthy 5.5+ ERA. Jeff Samardzija (36) would be fun just to see how anyone local pronounces his name, but after an excellent bounce-back year in 2019, he only pitched 16.2 innings at a 9+ ERA in 2020 due to shoulder impingement. I don’t know what that is, but I get queasy typing it. Homer Bailey (34) was not good between 2015 and 2019 and almost non-existent (8 innings) in 2020. Anibal Sanchez (37) has been overall good over the years but was bad in 2020. Zack Godley (30) was bad in both 2019 and 2020. Trevor Cahill (Happy Birthday Trevor, who turned 33 on March 1) was so-so as a starter in 2020 and much better as a reliever.

Homegrown. After watching what James Click did when pitchers started falling like the Astros offensive statistics in 2020, the Astros are likely to fill from within for the Framber spot. That got a little tougher after the latest COVID protocol news from the team ….COVID Notes: Astros, Red Sox, Cordero – MLB Trade Rumors Now, this does not mean they are all away for an extended time. Some may just have to pass a couple COVID tests to show they do not have the virus.

Brian Abreu, Luis Garcia, Francis Martes and even NRI Hector Velazquez all would have been marginally considered for a spot in the rotation. Obviously, Cristian Javier, Pedro Baez and Enoli Paredes appeared to be locks for the roster, so any extended missed time by them could be problematic. This may give other 40 man roster pitchers such as Forrest Whitley, Tyler Ivey, Brandon Bielak, Jairo Solis, Peter Solomon and Nivaldo Rodriguez a shot at the brass ring. Whether this extends to other pitchers such as fast-rising Hunter Brown…..we shall see.

Other ways. Other potential ways of filling the Valdez spot (and perhaps other spots) would include two options. One would be a trade, and speculating on who that might be at this point is pointless. The other would be picking up someone who was released along the way in Spring Training, though anyone of true value might be snagged by the teams ahead of the Astros in the picking order.

These do not seem like the likeliest options, and probably any option chosen depends on 1) How long they truly think Framber’s recovery time is and; 2) If any of the 8 pitchers is going to be out an extended time with the COVID. Remember that Jose Urquidy missed much of last season after his COVID infection.

Any way you look at it, this will be another view into how James Click will operate the team as opposed to how Jeff Luhnow did. Any decision made will likely keep the long view in mind.

 

42 comments on “Framber’s fickle finger forsakes Astros’ fate?

  1. A few more need to go before I would get a call. Also a few hundred from College teams and an equal number from high school. But THEN I would be in the top group of 75,000. I will see about getting Chipalatta friendss some Free Tickets then.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Saw that newly drafted, Zach Daniels homered off Jack Flaherty today in the “B” game, and doubled off him the 2nd AB! Putila called Daniels, “freakish.” I have him ranked #12, and think he will be fast-tracked.

    Pedro Leon made two sterling SS plays in the field, they say.

    Looks like they called the Marlins game in top of 7th when Kessinger had a man on 3B, then let MIA bat in the bottom 7th. Scored doesn’t seem to matter more than getting certain players their reps. Blair Henley, our 26th ranked pitching prospect played 3B today.

    Stanek, and Taylor recorded their 1st innings in unscathed. Brett Conine got touched up in his 1st action, which surprises me. Maybe he was “working on something”?

    The AL East will be the toughest divison. With MIA’s serious pitching depth, they’re for real again this year.

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  3. Whitley with a sore arm. Back in Corpus. So it has not already happened, maybe the club needs to sit down with the guy and tell him his way is not working. Obviously the kid is a remarkable talent, but he’s tossing it away with his stubborn refusal to take direction from his employer. Sadly, I don’t see the guy changing.

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  4. Forget about free agent pitchers. Nobody out there has seen value in the asking price and we are two weeks into spring training.
    There are 30 pitchers in camp and many of them are young guys who we drafted or signed and haven’t gotten their chance. I say go with our best youngsters.
    Why go out and give money to guys from outside when we have our own guys who haven’t gotten their chance?

    Liked by 2 people

    • Like I said – everyone of these free agent pitchers has a question mark on them. Why not of with a cheaper question mark?
      That would be my preference OP. I wish Mr. Abreu and Garcia were not part of the COVID ban at the moment, but maybe somebody else will jump up and take advantage of an opportunity.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Daniels is a prospect and a project. Here is a guy with power who always had problems with K’s. But he worked on that before he got drafted and the Astros hope to develop him as a big power bat and to help him with pitch recognition and possibly get his K-rate down to around 25%, which is league average.
      Daniel’s advantage over other “Big Power” guys is that he is also an athlete with plus speed who actually can play in the outfield. He has an average arm so he can play both corner outfield spots.
      The Astros would love it if Daniels turned out to be a guy who could hit .250 with 30+ homer power who could play corner outfield consistently and steal 20 bases a year. That kind of guy could have a good chance for a .350 OBP because of his power. He’s going to get pitched around and rack up some BBs.
      I think they dream of Peter Zimmerman to be the same kind of player, but perhaps as a first baseman.

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      • Daniels attributed a real improvement offensively with the two coaches at UT, Op. A genuine steal in the 5th round. Astros have scored more than a few of those..

        I think like Lee he has been working on quicker to the ball swing, less moving parts. Both have plenty of raw power to do that.

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    • Zach Daniels going to be special, Dan!

      Aaaaand Jake Odorizzi is in the house. Kind of a 4-yr dream come true for me. Wonder if Jake held out for us; Click and Castros induced?

      On Whitley, he’s just sore. We have a few years to evaluate and follow the process. Confucius say, “Expectation is the beginning of disappointment.” We’ve got many many others on the Wait-And-See program, as well.

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  5. I just shake my head at how hard-headed Whitley is. He could really step into the rotation easily this year if he only had his head on straight…

    I know, I know, it is his arm that is hurting but he admits, he does not listen to the staff regarding his training and that probably includes his physical training. That is on him.

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    • The article/interview recently written about Forrest COUCHED the term, “self-taught.”

      But I’d be very interested in reading from the coaches what exactly he isn’t listening to them about. Maybe I’m missing something that I genuinely like to know more.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Last thing I read, my friend.

        Best laid plans of mice & men?

        “He came into camp in great shape,” Astros general manager James Click said earlier this week. “He’s doing really well in terms of getting his work in, and it’s just great to see him letting it go and throwing free and easy, which to all us says a lot about how his arm feels. He’s out there and he’s getting after it. The sky’s the limit for this kid and has been for a long time. We’re hoping to try to find a way to help put it all together.”

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      • Maybe he needs a “bitch slap” from George Patton. Oh too late for that. Maybe a swift kick in the ass from somebody.

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  6. Anyway, besides Whitley soreness Pedro Leon is debuting in CF this very second.

    Nivaldo had 4 out of 5 batters he faced struckout. That’s a really good bounceback for him, for Bielak and for Cishek. The next guy to watch is Hansen to backup his solid first outing. Conine must right his ship. Ivey could be the real #2 that a few scouts have him ranked.

    Abreu’s second outing had Sparks excited about that curve, meaning he’s landing it. If that kid realizes his potential (can command fastball), he is the true #2. As it is, I have it as toss-up long-term with Hunter Brown and Luis Garcia.

    Siri has hit the ball real hard, and he’s a DIAMOND in center defensively too. Putila called him “elite.”

    It’s been nice to see Brantley in mid-season form already.

    Team is taking it easy on Bregman, probably getting plenty of treatment on the hammies; and for Yordan. Two guys I would think need the least amount of reps to be ready, hopefully they get back on the field for some “light days” in a week or so.

    Sparks mentioned how healthy Mets came in. That is Astros main goal for the next few weeks for sure. It’s going to be nice to have the pitching depth, that’s all I can say. Odorizzi has sure given us fits for years, and I absolutely love the signing. One wonders how long they’ve been talking (3 months maybe?) with Click and Castro?

    Listening to Pete Alonso hammer us, and we drafted Ronnie Dawson instead because Alonso was “too slow” and we had just signed Yuli for 1B. /sigh

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Astros SS Pena just made a great play and throw to home, and catcher Quintana literally whiffed. Mets scored on an error. Will they give the error to Pena?

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  8. By the way, the Astros had 40 on their roster, so Framber might be headed for the 60-day IL, since they were reluctant to put Josh James on the IL earlier.

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    • James throwing a pen on Feb 22, and he looks solid. It was on twitter when Strom told Josh, “Koufax once said to me not to over-throw…”
      I figured they’d put Pruitt on 60-day too, but they may be taking it in 15 day intervals if he promises to be back in half that time…

      I’ll be shocked if Framber misses the whole season, and I sure hope a 2nd opinion says 3-4 months instead.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Whitley fans, looks like Astros want him to get TJ surgery.

    Let the “I told ya so’s” that JV never got, begin.

    My view is he was always another cog in the machine, put in the next guy and see Forrest next time next yr for a chit chat. We have what? Jairo Solis, Pete Solomon, Cody Deason, Lance McCullers, Jr. and right at the height and pinnacle surprising everyone including Strom, JV went from “elbow” to TJ just. like. that.

    [You can take/leave this paragraph for perspective.. Not like I haven’t been saying the players are falling apart for several years before the Nats went organic food only in 2016 to battle fatigue and sports injuries with clean food and weight training, for example. By contrast, the Yankees had 19 of their 25-man roster in 2018 on the DL. Stop and think about that. I even get into it with orthopedic’s and others on twitter because nobody seems to notice / care the absolute rash of injuries.]

    We watched the Cincinnati Reds play the hardest baseball ever seen! And they stayed healthy for 10 yrs in a row. Guys used to pitch 350 innings and you watch how few will even pitch 150 now. Is that not incredible, or what? Just look at minor league pitchers in our system, pull up the 2018 Woodpeckers or whatever.
    You will see most guys only pitched 20-50 innings for a whole year! They’re put on the shelf and coddled. Nowadays, Yordan Alvarez the biggest guy on the field runs himself right out of the season on a *routine* slide into 3B.

    Players are simply more brittle. Coaches are pushing them harder. Not a good match and it happens to the best of them.

    One thing I have to really tip cap on Luis Garcia. That guy came in bulked up and ready to take on a high impact sport. Apparently, Nivaldo Rodriguez took real good care of himself too. I hate this for Forrest — we’ll see if this is the beginning of the end or like another former #1, Martes a loooong road ahead.

    Final word: Forrest isn’t making any money doing this. He stands to lose $550K this year now. He certainly had no incentive than to stay healthy, listen to coaches, and do his best. This was an accident and a bad combination described above. Such a roller coaster for him to K 8 batters in a row in Fall Instructionals. A book could be written on his, or Collin McHugh’s

    My Life: On and Off the Disabled List.

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  10. My biggest concern about Whitley having TJ Surgery is him wanting to rehab his way.
    My biggest concern about him wanting to avoid TJ Surgery is him wanting to rehab his way.
    These concerns are absolutely legitimate, considering his admissions about not listening to others.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Mark Berman-
    “Official diagnosis for RHP Forrest Whitley: He has a sprained ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow. Whitley, experienced discomfort in his elbow during a live BP session last week. Whitley is currently seeking another opinion before finalizing plans for treatment.”

    Elbow is not good.
    I was hoping it was something like reported of Ivey with a [rumored] Grade 1 tear that he re-habbed naturally.
    He can see clearly that Solis and Solomon came back just as strong, I see this headed toward surgery.

    By the way, who’s pitching today?
    Are you guys excited about Rizzi and Castro, and what their experience together brings to the table?
    What do you all think the chances of getting Framber back this year? Are there any doctors in the house which could confirm how he continued to pitch if he had a full blown fracture; or if that is what exacerbated the outcome?

    Liked by 1 person

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