Another Q and A With Dan P

On another ugly rain-dotted day, Dan P is searching for a good subject to cover for the blog.

Today it will be an interview with myself…

So how is that Dusty Baker hiring working out now?

This is a tough one. Dusty led a team decimated by injuries last year to within one game of the World Series. Dusty led them to a below .500 record during the last regular season. Dusty led them to a good start to the 2021 season. Dusty led them to a 5 game and, counting, fall into the pits of hell losing streak. Dusty made some bad decisions on the lineup, pitching replacement substitutions, etc. All managers who make decisions (which is all managers) make bad decisions that might not have been bad decisions if the players had played better.

While Dusty was a good choice to lead the guys in the aftermath of “IT”, I’m not sure he is on top of the modern game. Myles Straw should not be leading off and getting more ABs than anyone else. Jason Castro should have gotten more ABs with Martin Maldonado struggling, but against right-handers. Chas McCormick hits a big 3 run homer and then gets 1 AB over the next 6 games. Cristian Javier throws 5 scoreless innings and then heads to the alternate training site instead of taking a starting turn and allowing the other pitchers to get extra rest. And, of course, if the players were playing up to snuff, none of this would matter. But it does.

The Astros, if they have not done it to date, should be thinking hard about the next manager for their team because even if they have no intention of removing the manager, he has indicated he might choose to move on himself.

How is your pulse on the team so far?

The best teams have ups and downs, so what has happened so far with the 6-1 start and the fall afterwards is not a shock. But it is bothersome that the whole team hit and pitched well together and then all collapsed together. The fact that no part of the team stepped up to lead during the losing streak is problematic.

I had high expectations of the pitching staff based on how they played down the stretch in 2020, but the loss of Framber Valdez, who was the leader in getting deep into games, has had an effect. They certainly could turn it around, but they need to be a strong base for the team.

The starting lineup has the capability to be a strong lineup, but not when half of them are sitting in quarantine. They will not be a strong lineup if they continue to depend on the long ball for too much of their offense and not hit better with runners in scoring positions, especially with two outs.

The bullpen has been hurt by injuries (Andre Scrubb, Enoli Paredes, Pedro Baez) / COVID (Pedro Baez before the injury) and regression (Blake Taylor, Brooks Raley and Joe Smith).

The team has nothing wrong with it that a winning streak would not help. My gut feeling is they have enough talent to turn the ship around. But does the ship include enough internal leadership?

What are your thoughts about James Click?

This is hard to judge yet because I don’t believe we will really know where the team is headed until we see more of the long view, which should be revealed after the 2021 season. That is when decisions on whether to attempt to re-sign Carlos Correa, Zack Greinke and Justin Verlander can lead to a total re-shaping of the roster going forward. To date, he’s done OK. I liked the re-signing of Michael Brantley. I liked the signing of Jake Odorizzi despite the disaster of his first start. I liked how he filled from within the pitching injury holes in 2020. I wish he would have signed another high-end reliever and a veteran OF to fill the Springer vacancy. But again, the long view may be what is important in both cases.

With Click and Baker, a lot will be revealed by how they help guide this team through the tougher times.

What are your thoughts about the future of baseball?

Maybe it is a sign that I am in that grandparent’s age group, but I am concerned about the future of baseball. Grandparents keep thinking that the world is headed to hell in a handbasket, and I can be guilty of that. But I’ve worried about baseball for a long time. It has always been the slower, more cerebral sport in a world that seems to be spinning faster and where thinking does not seem to be at a premium.

And the moves baseball has taken since the pandemic and since the BLM movement took hold to seem to be turning off the core of their support. The older generation is not interested in tricking up the game to speed things up or shorten extra-inning games. They are not interested in getting politics shoved down their throats. They just want the simplicity of the sport of their childhood. But like the world, the sport of their childhood has moved to a spot that they no longer recognize.

Sure, baseball can survive, but when the money bubble pops, which seems inevitable, it may have to change what it is.  And perhaps it will have to move back to a simpler time to complete that change.

That’s what Dan P wanted to know from Dan P today. What would you like to have answered?

75 comments on “Another Q and A With Dan P

  1. Dusty: We don’t know who is making some of those decisions listed above. If it is Dusty – he gets a “D.” If it is Click and others, then they get the “D.”
    Pulse: My fear before the season was last year was no fluke. It really has become a .500 team. To date, that looks about right.

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    • Baseball’s Future: I am not sure exactly how I feel about this. One, there is no need to tinker with a game/sport/business that is generating billions. The old adage “Don’t do something, just sit there.” But when I consider all the changes in our culture, baseball from the 20’s-60’s era no longer exists. Words no longer have the same meaning. Everything is fruit basket turnover from the time we were young. So perhaps this will turn from a caterpillar to a beautiful butterfly. But I doubt it.

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  2. I’m not sure I agree with AC45.
    I think something happened to turn this team sour. I think they got some sort of gut punch either at the end of the road trip or the beginning of the homestand. Something in that clubhouse turned this team from a Shelby Cobra to a Datsun.
    Trouble is, we may never find out what happened, if it did.

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  3. I think they had a plan for April and are trying to stick with it. Straw? Castro? Javier? Flat out odd. But it’s early. 6 and 6 sucks after going 6 and 1. But it’s not the end of the world. I hope we can come close to playing .500 ball until the Covid guys get back. But we’re going to need reinforcements on the mound, and quick. Bring those strike throwing guys in now.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I love the story of Branch Rickey in Spring Training with the Cardinals. He was walking around with the manager and there was a hard throwing young man who had control issues. Branch yelled at the kid, “I’ll give you $50 if your next pitch is a strike.” Of course, he drilled right down the middle of the plate. Branch turned to the manager and said, “Concentration.”

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  4. As I mentioned on April 14th… “What is going on with Dusty??? Is it time to wonder just who is going to manage the Astros next year???”

    Asking Jim Crane who responds “We have to wait until the end of the season to cross that bridge.”

    Asking James Click who responds “We have to wait until the end of the season to cross that bridge.”

    Asking Mike (sargeh) who responds “The man I want to see as manager of the Astros hangs his hat in Detroit. Otherwise, I really see no one on the horizon right now. Beltran would be a thought as he could probably get the fellas to run through a brick wall for him but that will never happen.”

    Asking Dan, and the others, what are your thoughts?

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    • I’ve never been great for picking managers and GMs – Hinch had been a bad manager for a bad team in his only shot before coming here.
      But I tell you what – the organization should have a list of internal possibilities and a list of external possibilities including guys who have managed before, guys who’ve not managed yet and even guys who are managing now you would love to scoop up.
      They need a younger manager (which is probably only 100% of the possibles). That’s why Hinch it is a shame about Hinch. He could have been here a very long time.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Dusty PH’s for Taylor Jones whose in the Zone and Dawson hit’s into a double play. Brian Abreu can’t throw strikes and gives up 2 runs. What is he thinking? Or maybe he isn’t.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Blake Taylor will be out for awhile if not for the season….from what the radio guys were saying it was a significant injury.
    Can we talk about Miles Straw?? I’m serious now, he is HURTING this team.
    There has GOT to be someone who can play center and at least hit SOME time! Where was all the accolades we heard in spring training, they sure aren’t there now. I’m done with the “if he gets on base he can REALLY steal” trouble is HE CAN’T GET ON BASE! Dusty doesn’t give me the feeling that he’s managing for a job next year, his report card right now is D+ and since Click is mostly invisible so I don’t know WHAT to think of him.
    Call it a woman’s intuition but I’m very sceptical about all these guys going on some kind of injury related/ mystery problem. Something is up. I can’t see all of them going down at the same time with who knows what, because the players won’t reveal to the public exactly what it *IS*. Their words not mine…PLUS McCullers had to get IV fluids after his disastrous last start!
    Yep….I’m very, very sceptical about what’s going on.

    PLEASE send Straw to AAA and bring someone up that can actually hit the DANG BALL!

    Liked by 2 people

  7. We need a manager like Casey Stengel.

    “Never make bad predictions, especially about the future.”
    “Without losers, where would the winners be?”
    “The key to being a good manager is keeping the people who hate me away from those who are still undecided.”
    “All right everyone, line up alphabetically according to your height.”
    “See that fella over there? He’s 20 years old. In 10 years, he’s got a chance to be a star. Now that fella over there, he’s 20 years old, too. In 10 years he’s got a chance to be 30.”

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    • “The only thing worse than a Mets game is a Mets doubleheader.”
      “The Mets have shown me more ways to lose than I even knew existed.”
      “They say it can’t be done, but sometimes that doesn’t always work.”
      “You look up and down the bench and you have to say to yourself, ‘Can’t anybody here play this game?’ There comes a time in every man’s life and I’ve had plenty of them.”

      Liked by 1 person

    • That 20 yr old becoming 30 reminds me of something we say in our business sometimes. There are guys who have 20 years experience and there are others who seem to have 1 yrs experience twenty times.

      Liked by 2 people

  8. I slept comfortably last night because I went to bed with the Astros leading the Mariners. Did not have to see the last two innings where real relievers gave up runs to real major league players. I got to see all the good stuff and none of the gut wrenching stuff.
    Go de Goti!
    I did get to see Correa hit into a DP with a guy on base and then single with the bases empty.
    The Astros regular players(normal starting players) were 3 for 22 last night.

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  9. Don’t watch the NBA, but am keeping up with the Rockets, who finally have worked their way to the top of the draft heap. They could possibly have 4 first round picks in the draft. What could go wrong?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Myself OP, I look at the standings but have yet to watch a single moment of the league. How sad that a once mighty team has turned into trash so very quickly.

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  10. I thought I would share an old story about Jackie Robinson. First let me set the stage. It was about 1949. It was pre-school time for me. No TV, just radio. Any photos in the newspaper were grainy black and white. So I am listening to the game with my grandfather and father on the car radio. And Jackie Robinson gets hit in the head with a pitch. He is out for a few minutes. As a small child I am asking the adults why he was hit by the pitcher. They tell me “He is Jackie Robinson.” I asked more than once and got the same answer. Having no knowledge of him breaking any barriers and having no discernable photos, I had no idea he was black. So there was no reason in my mind that he should be singled out to be hit.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. During the euphoric first week of the season I got to watch a couple of the games. The thing that struck me was this: even though the hitters were raking, I didn’t see much excitement. The loss of Springer? I kept thinking we need to bring back the Panda. Can he play CF?

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  12. I turned tonight’s game off in the bottom of the eighth. I didn’t have to watch them blow a game and they won it anyway. Greinke with 8 shutout innings and Not Alex Pressley with a perfect ninth inning for the save.

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  13. Good morning! Just watched the condensed game. 1OP, yes, pulling Grienke after 88 pitches and 8 shutout innings in favor of Pressley would have sent me to the showers. But any win, any way right now is an excellent win. Even with all the missed opportunities.

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  14. I did manage to watch all the game. Almost turned it off after 8 but stayed the course. It was nice to get a win despite not scoring runs and missed opportunities. Greinke was well, Greinke. A super pitched game.

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  15. Just read that Peter Solomon who was on the traveling taxi squad was called up to take Blake Taylor’s spot. Hope the young man gets a shot to show off that arm.

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  16. Thoughts
    – Doesn’t it feel like Odorizzi just pitched?
    – Greinke said he was going to drop that slider – he did and he was masterful
    – The double play he started to get out of the 5th inning jam was interesting. Blunder thought he dropped the line drive on purpose but if he did wouldn’t he have thrown immediately to third instead of pumping towards second base?
    – Seattle is Taylor Jones’ home so nice that he was able to get the big rbi there. We will need more than one run today me thinks
    – I guess they could have left Greinke in with 91 pitches but it was nice to let Pressly to get right back on the horse
    – Not too many games with 1 walk total

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  17. And the Astros are paying this guy how much? I’d want my money back.
    From what I gather that Click told Robert Ford, is they’re having a hard time trying to give everyone a second shot because of the effects the next day. I had a pretty bad headache and felt like I had the flu for a couple of days. Since they have so many players on the DL, it will take a few days to get them the second vaccination. Plus….McCullers probably won’t start in Colorado.
    The “drama queen” might have trouble breathing in Coos Field….how about the OTHER guys on this team….I guess they don’t count.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Yeah….I was not hopeful and now we lost. Miles Straw is one player who has NO BUSINESS on this team. Like I’ve said over, and over….he’s an automatic out, and paring him with Castro and Tucker you get 3 automatic outs.
    I know it’s early but folks this can’t continue.
    On a lighter note Garrit Cole and the Yankees got swept today!
    I LOVE KARMA!

    Liked by 1 person

  19. It’s a shame. Odorizzi recovered after that long first inning. They needed 5 innings from him. Problem is that Myles does not do anything particularly well. He’s got plenty of speed to get back on a ball that spends so much time up in the air. But he’s just not a good outfielder. Would have been a nice catch. Might have saved a game that then quickly got out of hand. What surprises me at this point is that the experts gave Straw the job. They did not see his weaknesses? Playing daily sure has exposed him.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Maybe Dan you’d like to grade these guys and the manager for their performance thus far. My grades for most of the team is below “C” level. yes I know it’s early but we might be sellers come August. Very disappointing thus far.

    Liked by 1 person

    • FROM GALACTIC EXPLORATION TO DUMPSTER DIVING – WHAT A RIDE!

      At this stage, we are pretty much reduced to trying to sort through the dumpster cluster that is the 2021 Astro team looking for any little hint of positivity. Here is a little more: Odorizzi’s ERA is now under 11.00, his WHIP is only 1.70, and so far he’s only given up 3 home runs in 7.2 innings.

      He probably is a good person. He probably is a good teammate. Is it is too much to ask that he also be could be a good pitcher? Then again, with the sorry excuse for an offense that our guys have mounted when he has pitched, I guess it really doesn’t matter all that much if he can pitch or not.

      When do we get that participation trophy?

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      • I’m convinced if Straw catches the ball at the fence that went off his glove – Odorizzi has 5 innings and 1 run given up instead of 4 runs in 4.1 IP. His first start stunk, his second was decent until he got let down.
        George would have caught that – he did it many times.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I’ve read in a couple of places now that yesterdays triple had a 95% catch probability. I also think our starter gets out of the 5th with the 2-1 lead intact. But the pen? Who knows.

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  21. Red Sox 10-6
    Yankees 5-10
    Royals 9-5
    M’s 10-6

    We’re a challenged club right now. Actually we’re bad. But so much will change going forward as illustrated by just a couple of clubs records noted above. We’ll get better.

    We’ve arguably lost our three best hitters. We’ve lost our catcher. We don’t have a centerfielder. We’re missing several important arms. And we’ve got some pen guys that will be gone before long. Maybe gone for good.

    Baker is taking a lot of heat right now, especially across the way. When our pen sucks, why does Dusty get the blame rather than Strom? I guarantee you that Strommie is playing a big role during a game as to who will get the ball and when. Dusty gets paid the big bucks, so he’s got to take the walk out to the mound and take the heat too. I actually think he’s a good guy to keep the calm intact. He’s seen team slumps before. He won’t over react.

    But we’ve all given Click a free pass for quite awhile now. Maybe it’s time to start discussing whether he’s made the best personal decisions or not.

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  22. Some Astros comments:
    – Springer would not have caught the ball that beat the Astros Sunday because Springer would have been on the IL and Straw would have playing CF.
    – The Astros are right up against the Luxury Tax line and to go over it for two years in a row would be a disaster! The Astros could not afford George Springer.
    -Luhnow is the guy who put us where we are in 2021. He locked up Altuve and Bregman which all of us were delighted about. He signed Verlander to a huge 2-year extension at the same time he added Greinke’s salary. All of that spending did not add a 2nd WS title, but did put a noose around Click’s throat after the sign stealing scandal ousted Luhnow and Hinch.
    Luhnow got to raise the trophy, perhaps undeservedly, but Click is the guy who had to follow Luhnow and use a shovel to try and pick up Luhnow’s dookie.
    -The Astros are tied for 16th place in MLB with their 7-8 record. exactly half of MLB has a .500 record or better and the other half is below .500.
    – If the Astros are close to being out of it at the deadline, I could see them moving Correa, Greinke and perhaps Pressly for prospects

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    • I believe if George had stuck around and not gone to the Yanks he would not have overdid whatever he overdid to get hurt. I also believe they could have figured a way to fit him in to the budget. I know I’m wrong – but I’m sticking to it because I am stubborn.

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  23. Without writing 1000 words, it’s unfortunate that Straw is hitting like I expected he would because he needs a full trip around the league to experience all the ballparks and get comfortable in CF – seeing the ball off the bat in each place and knowing where it carries / dies, where the wall is, where the lights are problematic, how they cut the grass, etc. If I’m Click I recognize that there are a lot of problems on this team and replacing Straw won’t solve all of them. I’d certainly be thinking of putting Tucker in CF a few times a week instead though.

    I’m not overly concerned. I’m disappointed, but let’s see what happens when we get a full, MLB lineup back. I agree with 1oldpro that Luhnow’s moves have hamstrung Click and it’s unlikely any calvary is coming. However, I suspect from the moment he was interviewed the intention of Crane was to push back towards a more thrifty model and away from the wild spending of the Dodgers/Yankees.

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  24. They are saying we should have Yordan Alvarez, Martin Maldonado, Alex Bregman and Robel Garcia back for Tuesday’s game in Colorado. Jose Altuve will not be back.

    Liked by 1 person

      • Based on what I’m reading – they probably need to pass a COVID test when they get to Colorado which I assume they have already passed or they would not be on their way to Colorado.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I remember when Baker said some, but not all, of the players in the IL group had received both shots (meaning a relaxation of the 10 day quarantine to a five-day quarantine. It might be assumed that Altuve was the guy who only had one shot.

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  25. Hopefully one of those will make a positive difference in the Rockies series. The offense over the past week has been 2013 bad – if not worse.

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    • Please note: “is thought” “can” “still learning” “respiratory droplets” “airborne transmission” “Available data indicate that it is much more common for the virus that causes COVID-19 to spread through close contact with a person who has COVID-19 than through airborne transmission” “Respiratory droplets can also land on surfaces and objects. It is possible that a person could get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or eyes.” “Spread from touching surfaces is not thought to be a common way that COVID-19 spreads”

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  26. Getting back to the post, the worst injury the Astros have suffered this season so far is when the A’s pitcher threw at and hit Michael Brantley.
    Brantley was almost impossible to get out before it happened and after missing several games he has returned and has these stats:
    .189 Batting Average
    .189 On Base Percentage
    .351 Slugging Percentage
    .541 OPS
    He has had no walks and 6 strikeouts since getting hit.
    His getting hit by a pitch has wiped out his spot in the batting order at a time when everyone else started to struggle.

    Liked by 1 person

  27. I read where Odorizzi talked to Straw about his “non catch” in the last game. Yes, Odorizzi displayed leadership and team leadership but it doesn’t change the fact that he should have made the catch. Time for a change in CF. I, like Becky think something is not quite right with these guys. Hard to figure it out but they’re playing like somebody’s spiked their Gatorade with Valium. At this rate we’ll be sellers come August and maybe that won’t be so bad if we’re in that position. Next year will really be different so we shall see what Click can do. In the meantime I’m hoping we rebound and get back into the game. Need a winning streak NOW.

    Liked by 1 person

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