10 reasons not to despair about the Astros

It is easy to get down on any team, and the very frustrating 2021 Astros are just begging for their fans to give up on them.

A team that has gone 5-2 against the Red Sox, 5-2 against the White Sox, 9-4 against the A’s, 4-2 against the Jays and 8-5 against the M’s, contenders all, has also gone 1-4 against the Royals, 2-5 against the Tigers and 3-4 against the Twins, all on the very wrong side of .500. They’ve gone 3-6 the last nine games and have missed an opportunity to really stretch that tenuous lead over the A’s in the AL West. Their offense has been so inconsistent that in those nine games, they outscored their opposition 47-36 due to a couple lopsided wins over the Mariners. They have made brain dead booboos in the field and on the bases and give the impression they are trying to coast to the end of the season. The only problem with that is the last few weeks ahead of them are mostly uphill.

But, we sell hope here. Actually, we give it away for free. So, here are 10 reasons to not despair about this team of uncertain destiny.

  1. Look at how far they have come. In the darkest days of the franchise 2011-2014, they were 35, 35.5, 31.5 and 23 games back in the division on August 24th. Today, despite their recent troubles, they are 3.5 games ahead in the division. This season, like the last six, we have something to watch other than a calendar showing another bad year leaking away.
  2. For starters. The Astros starters have the best record among AL rotations at 53-27, 2nd in ERA (3.48), Tied for second in WHIP (1.16) and second in innings pitched (691.1 IP). And Jose Urquidy, who was very good before his injury, may rejoin them soon.
  3. The Gold Dust Twins. It is hard to remember that sluggers Yordan Alvarez and Kyle Tucker are only 24 years old. For perspective, they are one year younger than Jake Meyers, two years younger than Chas McCormick and three years younger than Taylor Jones. When Tucker returns this week, that reinstates one of the best young hitting duos in the majors and is a joy to watch for years to come, we hope.
  4. Future Famer. One of the ways to judge whether a player is a Hall of Famer is how they ran among their contemporaries playing under the same conditions and suspicions. Zack Greinke is a highly likely Hall of Famer, and we are getting to watch him every 5 days or so. He has been to 6 All Star Games, won a Cy Young, won six Gold Gloves and two Silver Sluggers (best hitter at his position). Among active pitchers, he is first in starts (485), first in innings pitched (3094.2), second in wins (219), second in WAR among pitchers (69.4) and 3rd in Ks (2798).
  5. The Arm. OK, he was dumb on the base paths Monday night but is there a better infield arm around than Carlos Correa. Not just the strength, but the accuracy, going deeper in the hole, cutting across the diamond, on outfield relays. He did not win the Gold Glove in 2020, but he should have.
  6. The New Swiss Army Knife. Marwin Gonzalez is long gone, but his replacement as Mr. All-Purpose, Aledmys Diaz, is making quite a name for himself moving around in the lineup and the field. This year he has played at all four infield positions and LF and RF while slashing .302 BA/ .351 OBP/ .827 OPS. Pretty impressive.
  7. ‘Tuve. Jose Altuve has failed us at times, and he is not threatening that .300+ mark, but he has brought real thrills to the fans with three grand slams, including a walk-off and other game-winning heroics.
  8. The Batting Crown Twins. The battle for the AL batting crown has been mostly fought between two Astros this year – Michael Brantley and Yuli Gurriel. They have both fallen a bit but are still 1-2 in the race here in late August. It will be fun to see if either of these fine hitters will win their first title.
  9. Twin Finishers. Yes, they failed last time out. But look at how Kendall Graveman and Ryan Pressly have performed over the length of the season, and they have been fine options.
  10. The Pedigree. From 2017 to 2020, the team has had various challenges, mostly related to injuries, but in each season, they made it to the ALCS and twice beyond it. This included after a sub-.500 season in 2020. We would rather they play well all the time, but they turn it on in the postseason. Of course, they have to get to the postseason first.

So, those are ten reasons to not despair about this team. What others do you have?

93 comments on “10 reasons not to despair about the Astros

  1. Dan, all good points. We’ve got great talent, even when guys have been out. But we’ve underperformed. It’s no fun to watch. I know school has just started and the elephant has not left the room, but fans are staying away. It’s too aggravating for me to watch these guys play. And I’m not the only one. If I go to a restaurant, I expect consistency. To a large degree, I expect the same from my favorite baseball team. club this good should play better baseball. We have not.

    Liked by 1 person

    • What is interesting is that even with this – the Astros are 2nd in the AL in attendance with about 1.6 million on the season. Now granted that Texas was one of the earliest states to open up and all, but the attendance has been surprisingly good all things considered.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Reasons not to despair:
    1. The vaunted San Diego Padres are 13 games behind their division leader and have a $208.9 million luxury tax payroll. 2-8 in their last 10.
    2. The Chicago Cubs are out of it and sold everybody.
    3. The mythical St. Louis Cardinals are in 3rd place in their division and trail Milwaukee by 12 games. Spent $183 million this year.
    4. 2019 World Champion Nationals are 14 games back in a terrible division and sold out their best players. Spent $173 million this year.
    5. Richest team in baseball NY Mets, division favorites at the start of the year, are two games under .500 and 2-8 in their last 10 games. $201.1 million Luxury payroll.
    6.Phillies are 4 games out in their division with almost no chance at the NLWC and spent $205 million in Luxury Tax payroll.
    7. The Angels are out of it with a $205 million dollar luxury tax payroll.
    8. Toronto is 11 games out of their division lead with all those young stars.
    9. Oakland is currently not even a WC team and are trailing Seattle at home again today. They had 3600 fans in Oakland for a tight division race game of importance last night.
    10. We’re still in it, even if I’m not exactly thrilled with our veteran’s play lately.

    Liked by 3 people

    • My jokingly reply: My grandson made all Fs except 1 D. My neighbor’s grandson made all F’s. See how smart my grandson is.

      (Yes, we could be a lot worse off and we will be good again next year with almost the same team returning. And for that I should at least be grateful.)

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      • I hate to jinx the guy but JC Correa continues to tear put pitching at Asheville. He has now batted over .320 for three months in a row. With only 2 errors in 275 innings at short this year.

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      • astrocolt45, I agree on Correa 100%. From a defensive standpoint, nobody is close. But I do not believe he comes to play everyday. And I don’t think he’ll play 150 games next year. I’d still be happy to have him back in 2022, but I’m staying out of those negotiations. I’m pretty confident though that this club will not go on for a decade or more.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Again, 1OP, all good points. But I do not care about the misfortunes and failures of other organizations. I expect our team to perform at a level significantly higher than we have to date. How many more runs have we scored than everyone else? And what is our record supposed to be at this point in time? We should be playing with a real chip on our shoulders after taking so much shit for so long from fans, players, the media, umpires, MLB and everyone else for the past four years. That’s the only thing that might silence our detractors.

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  3. I do despair when they lose winnable games. Like last week with these Royals, AND….scoring a few runs early in a game and take the next 6-7 innings OFF. They ARE a great team, they CAN win a lot of games, but going to sleep half the games is unacceptable. Just like tonight.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Tomorrow’s game is on YouTube and apparently nowhere else.
    I turned 65 today so I’m surprised that I think I might find the game – lol

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  5. Watching the replay of Taylor’s attempted steal of home, it looked to me like his front foot touched home plate before Castro tagged his back leg. So maybe not all the umps are against us.

    Altuve and Correa both slapped the ball to the right side on outside pitches and good things happened.

    Our team defense has been the best in MLB with the least errors (49) and highest fielding % (.989). Greinke should have won another Gold Glove last year and is the best fielding pitcher so far this year with no errors and 6 double plays.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Yeah the home plate ump might have missed that call – but he was calling a really good game behind the plate – best I’ve seen lately and then he had to leave the game. Have not heard if it was from the direct foul back on to his mask or if he was getting dehydrated or something. Very unusual to see an ump basically walk away – he must have been feeling bad.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Sugarland is off today and travels to El Paso to complete a suspended game and play Game 1 of a six game set on Thursday. I’m wondering if Jeremy Pena makes his 2021 debut for the Skeeters during that road trip.

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  8. *I think Baez going back on the IL is not bad news. His velocity is down by a lot and there had to be a reason for that. They needed to find out what was going on.
    * I think the Astros will make Josh James’s callup one of their moves soon.
    * Yainer Diaz continued his streak last night. He has played 4 games for High A Asheville and has homered in each game. Added a 2B and a single last night with 3 RBIs, while catching.

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      • When they were talking to Dusty the other day – he said that Diaz had volunteered to be the emergency catcher for them. The man will do anything to be on the field and you’ve got to love him for it.

        Liked by 1 person

  9. According to an Atlantic article, it’s official if you didn’t already know long ago… Correa states this is his last year as an Astro. Posturing? Probably not. Michael Brantley never said that, did he? At least this means we can freely offer CC a QO without the thought *that* would be the reason he leaves. I have thought it would be highest bidder, or if Beltran gets back into baseball, so we’ll see.

    On to the more important question: do we platoon Diaz Bregman Pena and Leon, or go with a placeholder like Semien or Simmons? I would take a look myself at a few guys like trying to pry Trea Turner away, and my personal fave with the Click connection to Rays would be going after Willie Adames in MIL. Both would take a pretty penny.

    My honest hope is Jeremy Pena assumes the mantle by mid’22.
    One to keep an eye on mentioned yrs ago, Enmanuel Valdez who leads the system with 22 HR. He plays 3B/2B /OF.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah I read the quoting of the Atlantic article – was not sure if he really meant it as such or that he was still hacked off about the money he was offered in the offseason. But in reality we always figured he wanted to go to some “bigger” spot where he could get more advertisement bucks et al

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    • I’m not sure if Bregman has the tools to play short at this point. Is he mobile enough? Can he make the throw in the hole or from behind second? I think the Astros will go into the 2022 season with an everyday shortstop from outside the organization. Maybe a late one or two year deal with someone not getting the long term money they expected.

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  10. I just read The Athletic article. I sure don’t think Carlos will be back, but there was no official statement in The Athletic story that reflects definitively his departure. If Jim Crane decides to come up with 300 million come winter, Carlos will be listening.

    I got a laugh though. To paraphrase one Correa quote, when speaking of the 2020 season, he said, “to be honest, I didn’t feel like playing all the time”. That was apparent to all of us.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Aaannnddd… AGAIN! Baker brings in the gas can by the name of Javier and he gives up a grand slam on the first pitch! Baker has 3 closers in the pen and this is the best he can think of…

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    • sargeh, Javier was getting ready to pitch the 8th. Lance gets two outs, gives up a hit to the 7th guy, then walks 8 and 9. This one’s on him. Let’s hope our line up can save this ballgame late.

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      • I agree. Baker left McCullers in too long. It seems every time Javier comes in with men on base, he allows at least one to score. Now, he has Pressley in to begin the ninth in a tied ballgame. I would save him, and Graveman, in case a fireman is needed to strand runners.

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      • I blame Dusty – should have pulled him after the first walk – I texted my kids that – Lance was gassed – Javier might have still crashed – but I’d rather bring someone in with a couple guys on than the bases loaded

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      • Yeah, and I didn’t want to see Javier have to clean up Lance’s mess. Especially not the bases loaded. I thought McCullers would get the number 9 guy with the 240 something OBP. Let’s win now.

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  12. After the gut punch of the grand slam the team did a great job of holding it together – tying it up and winning it for Graveman in the 10th. Nice that Bregman scores the winning run.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. The cynic here is a bit less apathetic this morning. That was a significant win yesterday because the M’s look like a more formative foe than the A’s right now. Will the streaking Yankees put the Athletics on their deathbed this weekend?

    With Tucker back in the lineup and Jake out in center, we’ve got 7 starters with a OPS of .800 plus. And with Bregman at .791, I’m thinking he’ll get there by Sunday. Then we’ve got Diaz, the best utility guy in the league at .821 and soon to be last outfielder off the bench in Chas McCormick at .784. That’s pretty good depth.

    We’ve got speed, power, contact ability and great defense. We do dumb things on the bases sometimes. And I did not mention our catchers, because they can keep doing what they are doing and we’ll be alright. Just stay healthy boys.

    I’m still confused as to what exactly our pitchers will all be doing over the next 5 weeks. It will get sorted. Just stay healthy boys.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I went back and re-watched that pitch. I don’t know the exact distance from Maldonado calling for the pitch low and away at the corner of the zone, and then the pitch being high and tight, but two feet seems a little short.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Click-bait headlines turn me off enough that I’m avoiding reading most articles these days. In regards to Correa, we slam athletes when “they” make a statement clearly written by someone at their agent’s office or the team. When they speak honestly I don’t expect them to make perfectly, politically correct statements. He’s correct that this is his last year with the Astros. He could come back on a different contract or do what a number of guys have done before – go play in another city and then come back to town later in their careers. We have to assume that Click has given him enough information to know that Correa won’t be back in Houston in 2022 unless his market is significantly tighter this offseason than desired.

    The other one is Verlander. I hate the qualifying offer nonsense. I suspect the winter meetings will be contentious this year and that’s one topic the MLBPA is going to make a lot of noise about. In this case, I know it will hurt his market, but think the Astros should absolutely make the QO. Worst case scenario we pay him another $20M not to pitch, but doing him a favor by not slapping that on him shouldn’t be a consideration when we’ve given him $60M+ to not pitch the last two years. Besides, who can we sign for one year for that money that has more upside?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Devin, re: Verlander, I’m not sure who we might sign with more upside, but can we afford to assume that Verlander will still be Verlander? I have no clue. I leave that up to the experts.

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      • I think there is a much better chance of Verlander being Verlander, than any other pitcher has of being Verlander.
        February 1, 2022 would be the 16 month anniversary of his surgery. That gives him another 2 months of ST to build up his stamina.
        I probably trust Verlander’s comeback from this more than any other pitcher because of the discipline of work he has shown throughout his career. Verlander is a warrior.

        Liked by 1 person

  15. 10 reasons not to despair about the Astros:
    1. Jose Urquidy
    2. Josh James
    3. Korey Lee
    4.Jeremy Pena
    5. Hunter Brown
    6. Aledmys Diaz
    7. Pedro Leon
    8. Norel Gonzalez
    9. Yainer Diaz
    10. Shay Whitcomb
    In 2021 we are going to need pitching for Sept. and Oct.
    In 2022 we will need a SS and a starting pitcher
    In 2023 we will need catchers and first basemen and an outfielder and a utility player.
    I look at who we have right now and how long we will have them on their current deals. Then I look at who we have in the minors and how they fit into the holes that we will have in the future.
    For the position players I look at how their bat might play out, for pitchers I look at our payroll for the next two years and then add in the best pitchers we have in the minors and how much we can spend on free agent pitchers.
    That’s it. I don’t care about winning records in the minors. That was for the Astros to brag about when they had nothing in the majors. I care about what players we have to step in to fill holes like the ones who we have playing in place of guys who leave or retire.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Well, this is his first year of pro ball. He has already played all four infield positions and is hitting the ball very well and not striking out.
    Maybe he’ll be playing for the Astros or for the Skeeters by then.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. “This will be my last year with the Astros, hopefully we can win another World Series and I can leave on a high note” Well Carlos good luck on the rest of your life….you ARE replaceable. I can’t tell you what a despicable thing to say publicly, right in the last few weeks of the regular season. HOW do you think the rest of the team feels about him saying that? Who knows they might not think much about it….but I guarantee you the fans of this team certainly DO. My opinion only…but he just lost any respect I ever had for this spoiled “little” man.
    As for who to offer a contract to, my vote is Greinke. Verlander come with too many questions about his arm.
    Sorry, not sorry about my rant on Correa.

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  18. Shawn Dubin pitched 4.1 perfect innings for Sugarland this afternoon in the completion of a previously suspended game.
    Dubin faced 13 batters and struck out 10. No hits, no walks, no nothing. 58 pitches, 42 strikes.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Salvadore Perez just hit a grand slam off Joe Smith in the top of the sixth in Seattle. KC takes a 5-4 lead.
    Oakland and NYY tied at 6 all going into the top of the seventh in Oakland.

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  20. The Astros had a productive day off. 1OP’s 11:00 PM update held up. I was looking at box scores and noted that Jordan Lyles, who got bombed again has thrown the most innings of his career with 142.0. He also leads the league in hits and runs allowed and he’s given up 33 dingers. He’s got a 5.70 ERA. The WHIP is 1.493. Lifetime his WAR is now at -2.9. And he’s earned almost 30 million dollars. I hope he’s a nice guy. The agent that got him 2 years at 8 million a year from the Rangers should get an award. Becky, he’s a free agent. You want him back?

    Liked by 1 person

  21. The Astros face Glenn Otto, who makes his MLB debut tonight for Texas.
    Oakland faces Gerrit Cole.
    Seattle faces KC, whose team plays better than their record indicates.

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      • Let’s see – Glenn Otto – local boy – went to Concordia Lutheran in Tomball and then to Rice University. He was a key piece in the Joey Gallo trade coming back from the Yankees.

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      • Gallo has been terrible for the Yankees over 25 games, but whatever they are doing as a team is working. Even the NY press was writing them off at the All Star break. Leaving Houston on July 11, tails between their legs, they were 46 and 43. Today they share the same 75 and 52 record with the Astros. I hope they split in Oakland.

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  22. Astros have signed Marwin Gonzalez to a minor league deal, he will depart to the Spring Training complex in Florida. I know one guy who is very happy, and that’s Altuve. They’ve been best friends since they were teenagers.
    I actually like the idea of Marwin back, he gives another guy who can play every infield position and left firld. Whatcha think fellas?!!

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    • I think that he would be an option if Diaz went down, but does not get a spot unless a spot opens up. He has not hit worth a toot since the 2017 (Bang the Drum slowly) season.

      Liked by 2 people

    • Let anyone think this is the same Marwin Gonzalez that we learned to love a few years ago, his slash line this year is a horrible .202/.281/.567. He has just 2 HRs. In 271 ABs. He has struck out 70 times and walked just 19. This Marwin may be a nice guy, but he isn’t anywhere close to the force he once was.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I couldn’t find in the story – did he get a spot on the 40 man roster? The MLB site says postseason eligibility requires one to be on the 40 man or restricted list by 8/31. If he’s not on the list there’s no real reason to even discuss him at this point.

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      • He has to be a member of the Astros organization on 8/31 to qualify for a spot on the postseason roster. As a player with a minor league deal, he is a member of the organization.
        The Astros will have the option of adding Marwin to the roster in September if they wish.
        Another thing. I don’t know if Marwin has a home in the Houston area, but Sugarland is right there for him to play if he does. That alone would make this desirable for him and his family.
        I could see Marwin as a coach later in his career, given he has played so many positions on the field and played them well.
        At age 32, I’m not sure if he is ready to retire as a player, though.
        One thing I’m sure of is that Marwin and Altuve are tight.

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  23. It looks like Glenn Otto is a pretty dominant strikeout pitcher – 134 Ks in 95.2 innings this year at two levels (a 12.69 K/9). He has a 3.20 ERA and an impressive 1.01 WHIP this year. He also hasn’t given up many HRs (0.56/9).

    In short, his minor league resume is far better than any of the other newbies we have seen this year, and who have pretty much all bamboozled our hitters.

    Like

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