ChipalattAwards for April

April was a physical and emotional roller coaster for the Astros as they swung from a 6-1 start to the season, down to a 1-9 middle of the month, over to a 7-2 finish. The Astros were hit hard with COVID related losses (Pedro Baez, Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman, Yordan Alvarez, Martin Maldonado and Robel Garcia) and injury losses (Framber Valdez, Jake Odorizzi, Baez, Andre Scrubb, Blake Taylor, Enoli Paredes). The plus .500 record was good, all things considered.

So, on to our Chipalatta Awards for April……

Starting Pitcher of the Month. Cristian Javier – It may feel strange to give it to the one starter who was sent down to the Alternate Training site, but Javier has been their best starter, and it’s not even close. He leads the starters in wins (3), ERA (0.87) and WHIP (0.823) and hasn’t given up a run since his first start, 17 scoreless innings ago. He also hasn’t given up a home run and sports an excellent 11.3 K/ 9 IP and equally good 2.6 walks / 9 IP.

Runner-up.  Lance McCullers Jr. – Yes, he has been inconsistent, but less inconsistent than the other possible choices. He sports a 2-1 record with a good 3.38 ERA, 1.050 WHIP, 10.1 K/ 9 IP and a premium 4.7 hits / 9 IP. Frankly, only his poor 4.7 walks/ 9 IP is holding him back, plus a hair-trigger personality that snaps when breaks go against him.

Positional Player of the Month.  Yuli Gurriel – He leads the team in hits (31), OBP (.445 by a large margin), OPS (.999), RBIs (16), is one point behind Michael Brantley with a .344 BA, and tied for second with 4 HRs and 7 doubles on the season. Oh, and he has 16 walks when no one else on the team has 10, and his patience seems to be the key to a terrific start to the 2021 season.  

Runner-up.  Michael Brantley. Michael may be leading the team in Chipalatta runner-ups since he joined the team in 2019. He is so very consistent, but normally not over the top in any one month. He seemed to be heading that way before a hit by pitch seemed to throw him off-stride and out of the lineup for a few games. His beautiful stroke, demonstrated by his 4 line drive singles on the last day of the month and his three doubles a week ago, is back and a thing to behold.

Relief Pitcher of the Month. Ryan Pressly – Pressly is not quite a shutdown closer, and perhaps he never will be, but he has been outstanding to start the season with a 1-0 record, 3 saves, a pristine 0.82 ERA and an excellent 1.6 walks/ 9 IP. The more he is used, the more he seems to be getting comfortable with the role he only took up last season when Roberto Osuna went down for the year.

Runner-up. Ryne Stanek. Stanek and his Thor mane of hair are becoming crowd favorites along with his 98-99 mph heater. He notched his second career save in a recent appearance and has been stellar with a 2.19 ERA, 0.568 WHIP and 13.1 K/ 9 IP stats. He has been boosted into the set-up man, back-up closer role.

Biggest Surprise (Positive). Stanek. When they picked him up, he looked like just a piece to fill out the bullpen. He has quickly earned high leverage appearances from the bullpen and, at times, has been as overpowering as anyone on the staff.

Runner-up.  Luis Garcia. He looked good in one regular-season start in 2020 and a two-inning opener in the playoffs, but he has fulfilled all expectations in 2021 while pitching in buzzard’s luck. He has had to flip flop from a start to a relief appearance to a start, etc., in his five appearances so far and given the Astros a shot in every game with his 2.70 ERA and 1.05 WHIP. Lack of teammate run support has left his record at 0-3, but he looks like he belongs in the majors.

Biggest Disappointment. Jake Odorizzi – When the Astros picked him up following the injury to Framber Valdez, he was expected to fill one of the rotation spots in his normal workmanlike manner. Instead, he has paired minimal pitching (3 starts / 8 innings) with poor pitching (0-2, 10.13 ERA. 3 HRs) before ending up on the IL. Hopefully, he will return and pitch more like his career norm.

Runner-up (Tie). Joe Smith/Brooks Raley – They both have been better in recent outings, but they were brutal for most of April (Raley – 0-0, 7.36 ERA and Smith 1-1, 9.39 ERA).

The we’d like to see more award (Tie) – Luis Garcia, Kent Emmanuel, Brandon Bielak – While the breakout young pitchers from 2020 (Blake Taylor, Enoli Paredes and Andre Scrubb) have all been dealing with injuries, these young bucks have been pitching effectively between spot starts and long relief. One of the most exciting parts of the last two unusual seasons has been seeing the young pitchers, including Cristian Javier, along with those listed above, who had previously been just a name or a youtube highlight in our minds.

Anyway, bottom line, do you agree with these awards?

Want to propose awards of your own?

53 comments on “ChipalattAwards for April

  1. The list looks fine. I would add Dusty Baker for Half Manager of the Month, or Manager of One Half a Month. He does not have a strong bullpen and he has to expect a few runs to come across in the late innings. And his batters can be as cold as an ex-wife’s heart.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Good point AC – Dusty was making lemonade from Lemon Pledge this month

    Tying to a late comment on the last post – want to give kudos to Oldpro and Mrs. Oldpro as they celebrate some freedom this week and get ready to celebrate their golden wedding anniversary in June.

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  3. Biggest Wild Card of April: The ‘HEALTH AND SAFETY PROTOCOLS’

    Easiest out in the line-up: Martin Maldenado

    Easiest to embarrass in the field: Myles Straw [play deeper, Myles; going back for a ball is not your strong suit!]

    Streakiest Hitter: Jose Altuve [runner-up, Alex Bregman]

    Most Consistent Player: Michael Brantley [runner-up, Carlos Correa]

    Most Dedicated & Entertaining Astro Blogger: Cue the orchestra – play ‘Danny Boy’.

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      • OK – if Mr. Bill makes about a thousand more of those mistakes he will be about even with how many Angel commits….in a year.

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      • The Angel Hernandez Rules for Success. (A Caveat to the Peter’s Principle)

        1. Be born in a foreign country.
        2. Come to the US and get an excellent job.
        3. Do a lousy job where you work.
        4. Sue your employer for discrimination for no reason.
        5. Yell “discrimination” every time anyone challenges your “opinion” about anything call you make.

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      • However, Joe West is just as bad and just as arrogant – so he is following a different road map than Angel.

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  4. Biggest Surprise (Positive): Kent Emanuel. At least Stanek came in with a power arm and had prior MLB success. Emanuel as far as I know, was never a top prospect, had a mostly meh MiLB career and was out all last year.

    Biggest Disappointment: Martin Maldonado. Cintron and Snitker should get half of Machete’s contract if they can turn his bat around this year. The following article is logical and would benefit the Astros, so of course Manfred would not go for this:

    https://www.crawfishboxes.com/2021/5/3/22416547/astros-liberate-zack-dh-for-maldonado-and-let-greinke-hit

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah I considered both Emanuel and Maldonado for those respective awards and I’m fine with you giving it to both of them. I didn’t because Emanuel had just two appearances and Maldonado at least has been doing a fine job handling the pitchers.

      Here is a Dan P comment in the last post…..

      Dan P
      APRIL 30, 2021 @ 6:38 PM
      Do you think if we had Zack Greinke dye his hair different colors and wear a medical mask he could pass for Maldonado at the plate?

      Liked by 1 person

    • I defer to my previous comment about Maldonado (the automatic out). I’d like nothing better than him producing at least .200 but right now it’s an embarrassment. As to a previous post about Altuve I agree as to the concern. Jose has always been an impatient hitter save for a few times. Opposing pitchers know this and throw him a first pitch out of the zone to see if he’ll go fishing. Once he’s down in the count it’s tough to get a good pitch to hit. Not everybody on this team is a Michael Brantley who can usually put the ball in play no matter what the count. More patience is required by some players where more aggressiveness is needed by others. OK that’s my 2 cents for today. (We call that a “Bargain, the best I ever had”). Nostalgia strikes again.

      Liked by 2 people

    • We never were top-heavy, and Astros do such a great job of turning avg tools into something fungible (witness Mayfield, James, Jones, Emanuel). It is easy to gawk at that Rays program — just WOW! — but the beauty of our system is that we promote kids. Sure makes the farm less flashy, but it also makes waking up every day for a guy like CJ Stubbs, who SLG 600 in A-Ball, just a little more refreshing going into 2021.* We may not have the prettiest girl at the dance, but darn she knows how to cut a rug!

      *CJ starts in Corpus today. He’s probably going to be the next one to break through my Top 30. Currently on no prospect rating system’s honorable mention list even… Stubbs Bros. starting on the same MLB diamond in 2023? Both boys and parents believe it, so do I.

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  5. Baseball is such a cruel game. Not only for players but also for managers. AJ Hinch was 86-76 in his first year with the Astros. He currently is 8-21 with the Tigers. And 3 of those wins came in 3 days in Houston.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Another solution for the DH/Pitcher/Catcher problem would be to use the same logic as the Automatic Base on Balls. When the hitter comes to the plate, the team can “wave” him to first and not have to pitch to him. Perhaps we could have a rule that allows Maldonado to come to the plate and be “waved” back to the dugout and not have the pain of watching him swing.

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  6. You know I don’t understand all the complaints about Maldonado’s offense. – Hey he has 6 hits this season. That is like 1.2 hits per week!
    – Sure he has no RBIs, just like me, but he has 4 runs scored and at his size that is tougher than knocking in runs
    – Yes he only has 6 walks, but he has 29 Ks. He has 7 more Ks than Straw in 35 less plate appearances! He is giving his all here.
    – He has one more triple than Yuli Gurriel, Jose Altuve, Kyle Tucker, Carlos Correa, and Alex Bregman combined
    – There are 38 ALers with Batting averages below .100 and no one comes close to sustaining that level for as many as his 64 at bats. Quite an accomplishment!

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      • Devin, did you notice MIA Paul Campbell popped for same as Emanuel, and same tune — adamant he has no idea how. Wish they could get to the bottom of this.

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      • No, completely missed that story. This is an area the MLBPA will likely stress needs attention during the upcoming negotiations. While almost every player who gets caught doping feigns ignorance, there certainly seems to be enough doubt associated with many of these that MLB should reevaluate.

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  7. MiLB kicks off tonight! It’s been a minute.

    5:05 pm – Quad Cites is @ South Bend – our old friend TBA is on the hill;
    5:35 pm – Brooklyn @ our Ashville Tourists – Blair Henley pitching for us;
    6:35 pm – San Antonio @ our Hooks – Chad Donato on the bump.

    Sugarland doesn’t start its season until Thursday night [vs. Albuquerque]

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    • Woodpeckers send Cesar Gomez to the hill. He was part of the undrafted guys from UT-Arlington last yr. Quite a feat if ya ask me considering the sheer volume of arms at lower levels.

      Can Donato return to 2018 form?! That Hooks team looks loaded, and so proud of CJ Stubbs getting the start at C, hitting #6 there.

      What an awesome night for baseball.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Fayetteville’s opponent for the night, the Carolina Mudcats, may just have the ugliest logo/mascot in the minor leagues. I hope we turn them into fillets.

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      • Filets sound good, along with the baby Brewers favorite suds on tap!

        Think I’ll mosey on over to L’il Woodrows tonight, where there’s always a salty Astros contingent. We’re going to need some hell raisers to combat the collective Yankees harranging in store for our boys. NY is literally running headlines shaming any fan who won’t harrass the Astros. What is the Over/Under on HBP, or batteries thrown onto the field anyway? Since MLB is more interested in capitalizing on betting establishments and won’t “unseal the letter”, it wouldn’t surprise me if no holes are barred in this series.

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    • That didn’t last long. Wondering about Greinke. Last outing and this one have not been good. Let’s see him find the mark again. On thing TK and Blummer said was the Yankees don’t chase much unlike some of our guys.

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      • The home plate ump who I don’t know his name is having an Angel Hernandez – Joe West arrogant incompetency night.
        Abreu had two strikes not called And ended up with a walk that led to Alex Bergman trying to make an impossible out on a nubber that he should have pocketed.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Yuli got screwed in the 9th by a bad call. Maybe our guys need to get in the umps face once in a while. Yes, it’ll be an early trip to the showers but maybe it’ll fire the guys up. They look a little lethargic. Sometimes I think our guys are to passive. Dusty too. Glad MM is OK. Don’t care if he’s 0 for 100, don’t want to see guys hurt.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Here we go again:
    Bregman has ANOTHER very costly error…..and we loose Maldonaldo😣
    I don’t care if they lose all three games as long as our guys don’t get hit.
    Not sure what’s up with Greinke but he’s just night right.
    Bad start to the series for sure.

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  9. Abreu pitched well. He gave up the obligatory walk, but the dribbler to Bregman blew up the game. And then a soft grounder from Stanton made it worse.

    But our HOF starter can’t start a series that way. Maybe there is something wrong with Grienke. Four innings again. 8 walks through 7 innings? Against the Yankees? A terrible error from Bregman who should have known to eat the ball. As I said the other day, Altuve is my biggest concern right now. And Tucker, who has kept his chin up is now letting the frustration show. I sure hope Maldy is okay, but we’ll likely see another catcher show up tomorrow.

    And some tough luck too. Yuli missed a homer by a couple of inches. Brantley and Alvarez hit the ball hard earlier. This game could still be 4-3 in spite of those 8 walks. Tough to win that way though.

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  10. I taped the game and watched it later tonight. ESPN failed to realize a game was being played. It was constant chatter about cheating, banging trash cans, etc. etc. I knew the Astros lost and I had to mute those jerks for the the last 4 innings. Really. Enough already.

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    • Which is why I got to watch on MLB.com with TK and Blummer. Sometimes they are just too nice and optimistic. Once in a while they need to get on our guys instead of glossing things over.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. JOSE’ CAN YOU SEE?

    When the competition is good, it often comes down to ‘as goes Jose Altuve, so go the Houston Astros’.

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  12. YOU JUST MIGHT BE A YANKEE FAN IF . . .

    1. . . . you think using the ‘F’ word in a sentence is a sign of intelligence;
    2. . . . you share a strike zone with Angel Hernandez;
    3. . . . you are obsessed with dead former Yankees – and 2017;
    4. . . . you live under the delusion that banging on a garbage can won the Astros the world championship in 2017;
    5. . . . you watch your team getting embarrassed by the Red Sox so badly that you try to compensate by acting out against a team you hardly ever play outside the play-offs;
    6. . . the last time you had class you have it was when, as a condition of your probation, you were required to take ‘anger management 101’ – and you flunked.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. Sorry, #6 should read: “… the last time you had class was when, as a condition of your probation, you were required to take ‘anger management 101’ – and you flunked.”

    Liked by 1 person

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