Astros’ weekend: Two topics

Today we hit on a couple topics of interest, at least of interest to your loyal scribe.

  1. Something that was on my mind…

My friend Justin sent me this link, and it seemed very fitting.

The Astros Are Good Again. That’s Complicating Their Story. | FiveThirtyEight

It was extremely annoying to watch the Astros in the odd-wad 2020 season flailing away like me playing golf. Yes, they cheated (as I believe others cheated) in 2017 and part of 2018. But I also knew this was a very talented team that I did not believe needed to cheat to perform well. They had been an outstanding offensive team, and all of a sudden, they stunk, so the obvious thought was that the cheating was the only reason they had gone from a top O in 2019 to below average in 2020.

The return of a top tier offense in 2021 with basically the same players might help put a lie to the thought that the team was bad except for cheating.

So, why did the Astros fall so badly in 2020?

  • Yes, for some of the players, especially Jose Altuve, they were trying too hard to show that “IT” was not the reason they were top tier hitters. Jose was swinging like George Springer on steroids (and no, I don’t think George was ever roided up).
  • At least between 2019 and 2020, they lost a huge part of their offense in Yordan Alvarez. In 2019, when Alvarez was called up just short of mid-season and was ROY, the team’s offense turned up a big notch scoring about a run more per game with Yordan than without him. They missed him big time in 2020.
  • A number of the players, including Yuli Gurriel, seemed to come back for the delayed start of the season, ill-prepared and out of shape.
  • The pandemic seemed to lay heavy on the players, especially those like Altuve, Carlos Correa, and Gurriel, who had so many loved ones in other countries, with sicknesses and even deaths. Baseball is a game. It is not life and death even for those who make a living at it.

2. Potential trades – Recently, mlbtraderumors.com put out a list of top potential players who could be trade candidates. Top 40 MLB Trade Candidates: Early June Edition – MLB Trade Rumors

A couple of these caught my eye due to their current low salary, plus the need they would fill.

Mitch Haniger is only making $3 MM and would be a Free Agent after 2022, and after a down 2019 and missing 2020, he is off to a very solid start to 2021 with a .262 BA/ .841 OPS, 37 runs/ 14 HRs/ 37 RBIs.

Plus side – He is an outfielder who has played some center field in the past and has been a solid player for most of his career, and boy, the Astros could use an OF boost. He also fits into the budget for 2021.

Minus side – He is in the division, and the Mariners are still in the race though they may not be a month or so from now.

Would you trade a couple pitching prospects for Haniger?

As they point out in the article, Richard Rodriguez is an extremely anonymous closer playing for an extremely anonymous team, the Pirates. After good years the last four years, he has kicked it up a notch this season with 3-1, 1.54 ERA, 0.600 WHIP and 7 saves.

Plus side – He is only making $1.7 MM this year and is under control for two more seasons. He would bring instant help to the shakiest part of the club, the bullpen.

Minus side – Even as a closer, might he melt under being a leveraged reliever for a contending team?

Would you trade 2 or 3 prospects for Rodriguez?

Anyways, there you go – a couple topics to chew on today.

 

43 comments on “Astros’ weekend: Two topics

  1. Gosh, both of these players are tempting…

    Haniger would be an excellent replacement for Straw and would be another potent bat for the lineup. Keep him in right field and move Tucker over to center. Haniger would reduce the holes in the bottom of the lineup. Right now, it seems like I look up and there are men on base and up comes Straw, McCormick, and Maldonado.

    Rodriguez would definitely patch up the back end of the bullpen. How many games have the Astros lost due to blown saves… 10 according to multiple sites that I look at. I know Rodriguez would not replace ALL of these blown saves but at least the team could ferret out one bad arm. Here’s looking at you Raley, Scrubb, Smith. A back end of Stanek, Pressley, and Rodriguez would go a long way.

    I would opt for Rodriguez because the everyday lineup is still quite potent. What to give up for him? With him being 31 years old, it really would not take much. I would send Scrubb and Abreu for Rodriguez.

    Liked by 1 person

    • And I forgot to make my pre-game pronouncement as promised. Our boys have looked a lot like they did on Thursday afternoon. Bregman sure is struggling. And Urquidy got bombed for the first time in his career. It had to happen at some point.

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  2. For all my harping about Straw, I’m on the fence about Haniger. The injuries have been very significant. I’d want to be assured that he’s 100%. He’s also got a -0.5 D WAR in right to date. I guess I’d like to have the luxury of seeing what McCormick might do everyday for 2 months first.

    Our pen could certainly use Rodriquez. One thing strange is that he’s averaging half the K’s per nine as he was last year. His BAbip is also .188. So there are considerations.

    Not sure what either guy would cost, but we don’t have much to give right now. Other clubs have more.

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  3. I’m laughing here as I’m looking at replays from today. I have not watched this winnable ballgame. Jose thrown out again, at third, with nobody out? Myles Straw breezing home standing up and getting thrown out by one of the best arms in baseball! He obviously missed or ignored Alvarez waving frantically at him to get down. I’ve said before that I don’t think Myles is a very smart baseball player. He continues to convince me of that. Ok, go get Haniger.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’m sorry, that was Correa that was telling Straw to get down, even waving him to slide to the left base line side of the plate. Altuve and Straw essentially gave them two outs and and two runs back. Who knows what those innings would have turned into. That’s the mental stuff that really kills me.

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  4. Hanger ain’t gonna get traded to the Astros, plus our cupboard is kinda bare.
    As for trading with the Pirates, they would have to overwhelmed to trade their closer…ESPECIALLY to us since the group they got back for Garrit Cole were pretty much a bust. Why not give Siri, a chance? There will be many more outfielders to choose from when or if Click decides to work a trade.
    By the way I don’t know about you guys but I’m not that impressed with Click.
    Sarge thanks for the good news about Diaz. Hopefully he won’t be out too long.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Just don’t think we need to be too hasty in a trade. As it was mentioned we don’t have a lot of premo prospects to trade. I say stand pat at this time. Starting pitching looks good and the offense is heating up. Yes the bottom of the order sometimes leaves a lot to be desired but we need to think about the future. As for Straw he’s hitting better but us still a question mark.

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  6. Sorry, but our minors are weak enough without trading away guys other teams would want. Plus, I don’t want to add salaries to put us over the luxury tax and mess up next year’s chance of having a normal draft and limiting out international free agent funds.
    It’s bad enough that one of our high prospects has crashed and burned at Asheville, while taking up a roster spot on the major league team.
    I’ll wait and see what we have when LMJ returns, Martes pitches for Sugarland and when James and Abreu return.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I personally would lean towards shoring up the bullpen and living with the outfield.
    They could pick up either player without going over the tax threshold, though they would need to wait a bit on Haniger. They have approximately $1.7 MM left per Spotrac and they would only be responsible for what was left on their contracts for the season – so they would need to be about 1/2 way thru the season to bring Haniger on and they could pickup Rodriguez right now if they wanted.
    I do understand the concern about continuing to drain the minors. Part of me says the Astros have 15 pitchers in their mlb.com Top 30 prospects. How many of them can they actually move all the way to the majors? The other part says, yes let’s see if we can shore up the bullpen with James, Abreu, maybe Pruitt, maybe Martes or Garcia and let our youngsters develop.

    It will be an interesting test for Click. My guess is that they will wait until a lot closer to the trade deadline and see what they need then unless some big need arises sooner. If they need more $$ to avoid the tax, maybe they figure out how to ship off a Joe Smith or Brooks Raley for a player to be named later or cash.

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    • I had read. on multiple websites, that he was only bruised. Oh well, it was on the internet so it HAD to be true… haha

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  8. That’s a rough break. Diaz was producing as that utility guy we really need to have around. Maybe Toro, but it puts Siri that much closer to Houston too. Another outfield injury makes him essential to have on standby.

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  9. Lot of base traffic today and maybe we should have more than 4 runs, but after yesterday I will take the 4 runs in 4 innings.
    Altuve with two outstanding plays in the third to help stymie the leadoff double in the third.

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    • Well Dusty defended him for not sliding yesterday saying he was blocked off from Correa when the umpire shifted position.
      Of course the smart play when you can’t see the guy waving you is to slide.
      I assume this was a planned day off since everyone else has had a day off recently

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      • Dusty was on his case yesterday. Myles said he could not see Carlos, although Carlos is 6’4″ and was waving his left arm aggressively. The ump was not Eric Gregg or John McSweeney. I’m dubious. And Carlos looked incredulous. As you say, when in doubt, go down. Speed alone will not serve Straw in MLB. The other players sure are not impressed.

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    • Thank goodness we didn’t need them. Stanek made us nervous though. A good start for the road trip. Now on to Boston for more fun and games.

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  10. Baker said he took Garcia out because he had the “sniffles”, maybe… but you can’t risk an arm like that letting him pitch back to back starts with 100 pitches. Right move! I don’t expect to see Diaz back until the first or second week of August, prove me wrong dude.
    Off to Fenway where the fellas will be booed forever. I didn’t hear the Jays fans booing, but then again the guys on the radio broadcast the out of town games from Minute Maid. I sure hope Mr. Brantley has had a nice vacation, his replacement has done a nice job out in left. Any bets on when Correa will take his yearly 2-3 week trip to the IL? Sorry fellas I’m a bid cynical today.

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  11. * Teams are finding the hole in Taylor Jones’s swing. It is his turn to figure out what he’s gonna do to fix it.
    * Altuve’s play to catch the runner going to 3B is one of the best plays I have ever seen him make. How he dared to make that play with noone covering the bag is just magical.
    * I’m glad Brantley is coming back. Yordan is better than I thought, but I like him DHing and Brantley batting, too.
    * I hope they give Chas McCormick a shot at the CF job.
    * Garcia was 0-3 and now he is 5-3.
    * I would rather see Stanek struggle in a win than a loss. But, I turned it off anyway.

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  12. I don’t see us trading for Haniger or Rodriguez. I think we will play with what we have and bring up guys from the farm if needed.

    I said before the season started that I would be happy if we get 1.0 WAR from CF this year. With a little more than a third of the season done, Straw is at 0.3 WAR and is doing better lately. In his last 7 games he is slashing .286/.348/.333/.681.

    Yes, not sliding at home is a big mistake; hopefully he learns from it. At least he has not made any fielding errors all year. Now, if he goes 0 for 4 and makes an error in his next game I’ll say put him on the IL with “cranial discomfort” and bring up Siri.

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  13. Just so you know that brilliant managerial decisions are not just happening at the Big League Club, Pedro Leon has raised his average to .222. He is hitting .467 for June. So it is only natural that he would be out of the line up on Sunday. Jose Siri is down to .330 with .200 in June.

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    • I want to add to the “failed to slide” posts. If you watch or re-watch each game, you will see one or more mental errors each game. That is just a fact. Maldonado was slowly carrying his bat to first when the error was made and the ball went half way to second base. Yes, he was ruled safe, but in a previous game Tucker did the same and was out on what should have been an error. I lay all of this on poor coaching of fundamentals. It is going to cost somewhere down the line. I remember when Jose Cruz was coaching first, when the runner arrived, he pointed out where the infielders and outfielders were playing and reminded the runner of how many outs there were. Maybe he overdid it, but there is no reason to have a coach on either base that is just standing there. (And Yes, Garcia did IMMEDIATELY run toward first even on a pop up to first base, so it can be taught at the upper levels)

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      • Mental errors are unnecessary and avoidable. Boy, I remember back to my Little League days when we had this big mean man coaching us. Mental errors were taboo. My father yanked guys out of games, myself included, even if it meant putting in the least talented kid on the team. We learned pretty quickly to keep our heads in the game. I suppose these days he’d get sued for child abuse.

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    • Cuban Norel Gonzalez is also heating up for the Hooks. After almost 2.5 years of not being able to see live game pitching, he has caught fire at the plate in the last two weeks. An OF/1B, Gonzalez is showing the power that the Cubans tried to hide from the world when he played there.

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      • Norel does have has cement shoes too though, like most of our other doughboy mashers; Manea, Adams, Shaver. An intriguing hitting prospect nonetheless in a farm hurtin’ for certain in that category.

        I will highlight a few others making moves of late:
        Alex McKenna once ranked top 25 is baaaack after injury plagued seasons. Look for him to get the promo and hopefully shore up the K’s. More speed, less pop than Barefoot.

        Jaime Melendez, Luis Vega A-ball young and impressive arms looking to move up like Macuare just did — and who met resistance, like Felipe Tejada in AA.

        Joe Perez, another once highly touted prospect is 2nd in OPS in A-ball. This is wonderful news as he is only 21. Send him to Asheville and let Devin get a look at him!

        I have always liked UofH Nick Hernandez having a fab year. Add oft-mentioned Colin McKee. A real “nobody” is Layne Henderson who is pitching great in relief in AA. Click got us Kelly and Olczak, warm bodies filling in nicely. All older and needing to impress this season.

        Brett Conine has been really pushing envelope to breakthrough 40-man, if there were ANY room, which there isn’t. Had his first bad outing a few days ago. Pete Solomon however was nails and I expect he comes to help in relief, since a roster spot doesn’t need to be cleared. Still not one word on my fave Austin Hansen who went down holding his arm over a month ago.

        I still really like De La Cruz (hitting .351), but a case can be made for Meyers Siri and Dawson to replace Straw. Problem is, none are on 40 either. Looks like it’s rightfully McCormick for the time being.

        Along those lines, we have Josh James who will be activated again within a few weeks, and the Return of Frankie Tuesday, Francis Martes — that’s right. Astros indicated they want them both when they are eligible. The Emanuel surgery precipitates Brantley coming back, so we will have to make room somehow. Would have been Robel Garcia, but now that Diaz is out 2+ months, it might actually be … and this is the question for the audience.

        Do you DFA Toro, Freddie Nova, Austin Pruitt, or who? I would trade Nova and Toro for what ever we can get personally.

        Liked by 1 person

  14. Myles Straw and Aledmys Diaz both had three hits in the opener of the Blue Jays series. Then Straw gets hit by a 91 MPH fastball in the back in his last AB of the opener and Diaz gets his hand fractured by a 92 MPH fastball in his second AB on Saturday.

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  15. An interesting statistical phenomena:
    The Houston Astros are #1 in Team batting average and 15th in team HR’s in MLB.
    The Atlanta Braves are #15 in Team batting average and #1 in team HR’s.

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  16. I recently heard Don Henley’s take on Trever Bauer’s approach to pitching:

    No one can square it up . . . they swing and miss again;
    sounds like a Velcro rip . . . can you believe that spin?
    it cuts and darts, dips and lifts,
    but somehow finds the zone.
    Hitters swing where the ball should be,
    well, they can knock, but no one’s home!

    – You know we see you, diggin’ deep inside that glove;
    Is that a reservoir filled up with ‘sticky stuff’, baby?
    We can smell it – its resin and Coppertone!
    and that’s why your four-seamer sinks like a stone!

    Liked by 3 people

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