Dan P questions Dan P

Occasionally, this writer asks the “congregation” questions to get their views on all things Astros. Today, as I continue to struggle with topical topics in a frozen baseball world, I will quiz myself on my thoughts on a variety of things.

Is there any good to come from this lockout and creeping labor situation?

The Astros have a number of players on the mend from injuries/surgeries this off-season. Jake Meyers and his shoulder, Justin Verlander and his TJ surgery, Lance McCullers and his elbow and Alex Bregman and his wrist are among the players that hopefully will benefit from the extra time off. On top of that, the Astros went deep into the playoffs again and a lot of the younger pitchers, like Luis Garcia had to pitch more innings than they have ever pitched in their lives. Extra rest could be a big positive.

Besides that, hopefully, the two parties will come to an agreement that will hold solid and allow us to have a number of years of peace in the baseball valley.

What are my greatest fears related to this lockout and creeping labor situation?

For those same injured players, I do have the fear that if there is a compressed Spring Training, they will try to come back too quickly and suffer a relapse or not get the type of reps that they need to be ready whenever this season does begin.

And of course, I am concerned that the two sides fool around and delay the start of the season or lose a big chunk of the season as they glacially ooze towards some middle ground. Folks have had enough to worry about in their personal pandemic-tinged lives and don’t need what is supposed to distract and entertain them to be another psychological burden.

Do you have any regrets as an Astros fan?

Sure, I wish I had met more of them and gone to more games and I regret that I did not win the lottery for World Series tickets for the 2005 WS.

But I do have one odd-wad regret. It was June 5, 1979, and I was at a Phillies vs. Astros game. It was not much of a game as the Phillies were giving Steve Carlton plenty of support with 17 hits and 8 runs. The Astros heading into the 7th had 0 hits and 0 runs. Jeff (or if you prefer Jeffrey) Leonard got a hit in the 7th inning to break up the no-no. And I was pulling for him to do it. Steve Carlton holds the NL record for most one-hitters (6), but never threw a no-hitter. I regret wanting that no-hitter by the future Hall of Famer broken up and not being able to say I was there when he brought the no-no home.

Astrodome or Minute Maid Park? Discuss

It is hard to believe, but Minute Maid (nee Enron) Park is turning 23 years old this season. It feels like just yesterday we were bringing it home from the ballpark hospital. Cha cha.

MMP has definitely the better site lines. You can be much closer to the action in most areas of the park and it has a lot of fine places where you can stand and watch the game. I’d often go down towards the end of the game and watch from just off home plate or down a line a little bit or get in behind the Crawford Boxes. The variety and quality of food is way up at the new stadium (I know what you are thinking and we will hit on that in the next paragraph). Placing it downtown has made it a more central location for folks, especially those living on the northside of town. Obviously, the modern video and sound systems are superior to the Dome.

The Astrodome though was special. Riding in my parent’s car and seeing it appear looking so huge and (wow!) indoors was almost like landing on another planet. The video screen was quaint by today’s standards, but we loved the Herb Alpert pre-game music “videos” and the little joke cartoons like when the manager went to the mound and pulled a pitcher and he ended up drowning in the showers. The sound system was good enough, it certainly was not ear piercing like over at MMP. The view was worse at the Dome unless you were lucky enough to be up close. It was a big bowl and the majority of seats were farther away. However, those seats were more comfortable, both cushier and wider than the MMP tight wooden chairs. Hey, I need wider as I get older not skinnier. The food was ballpark simple, but it also did not require a second mortgage. Parking was plentiful, a set price and wrapped around the ballpark, though it often took quite a while to get out of the parking lot. Around MMP, you are paying big time or walking tons of blocks to get a spot.

Dan P says he likes MMP just a tad better, but I do miss so many things about the Dome days.

How long will this year to year go on with Dusty Baker?

He’s done a good job in his two seasons, based on a one year contract and a team option for the second season. He took them to the ALCS in the dysfunctional 2020 season and to the World Series in the half-way normal 2021 season. This turned into a third season with an extension for 2022.  It feels like that the 72 year old Baker can stick around as long as he wants. But how long will that be?

The optimum would be that the Astros win that 2nd ring next season, Dusty gets his first and gets to leave on his terms. In many ways that would be the baseball gods being fair.

So, anything else you want Dan P to answer for you?

49 comments on “Dan P questions Dan P

  1. My regret as an Astros fan is the wasted years of the nineties. I think the Astros underachieved in what could have been a great decade for them.

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    • Drayton McLane was not a baseball guy, had no knowledge of the game. Even the most successful of businessmen do not necessarily translate those successes into winners on the field. And we sure did have some good clubs over during that era.

      It took us a long time to find Jim Crane. He played the game, understands the game and is willing commit his resources to the game. As an aside, I was one of the vocal guys against the route the Astros took to become relevant again. I was not a Crane fan for several years. Remember all those discussions? Tanking seems to be a significant issue during the present lockout. Anyone think we’ll see any changes in this regard?

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      • McLane put together a long term winning franchise. He took chances on giving the north and south on trades for Randy Johnson and Carlos Beltran and made legitimate offers to resign both. He kept the Bagwell/Biggio/Berkman core intact, he added Clemens and Pettitte to Oswalt. In my book McLane did everything he could except put on a glove and man 1st base, in the end a whole bunch of really talented, some hall of fame caliber, players just didn’t get it done on the field in the playoffs in multiple opportunities.

        In many ways he should be lauded for his restraint, how many times did we see a Pujols contract cripple a franchise? You could argue the Beltran contract made it very difficult for the Mets to compete at the highest level, but RJ is one where he probably should have opened the wallet. Hindsight is always 20/20. At least we aren’t Oakland A’s or Kansas City Royals fans.

        Oh boy, did I sound like a Grocer apologist? Not my goal. Lots of things could have been done better too – especially choices in GMs and managers. The food policies and prices at MMP seemed a little team sided as well. I only went to 4-5 games a year in those years but every one of them was memorable to my bank account.

        The Astros proved tanking works if you are resource abundant. The Pirates are proving it doesn’t if you are not. I think if a team has the resources to keep a team intact that it builds, the strategy works. If you don’t have the resources, you are better off trying to be like the A’s and find the small advantages and keep as much as you can intact and not try to tank on purpose.

        That’s why I don’t believe the A’s are going to start a garage sale for free. Beane isn’t the GM anymore but he has a say, and he isn’t going to let Olson or Chapman go for peanuts. I don’t think Matt Olson starts the year in Oakland, and I don’t think Chapman is there past the deadline, but someone is going to pay for them. The A’s will rebuild without tanking.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I would like to pose a question for Dan or anyone else to offer an opinion.
    Will the game of baseball be better off or not after this offseason ends. Will the changes coming to baseball as a result of the dispute make it better, more competitive, more enjoyable, more likeable, more fan friendly, more one-sided for the richer clubs. Or less.

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    • Great question OP. My personal opinion is that the changes will mostly be minor in the eyes of the fans.
      Universal DH will hack off some fans but most would like to see the rules be the same all through the season and playoffs for all teams. So that may be a plus.
      The fans don’t really care of the players reach arbitration a year earlier – it is just a money issue. I think they do care if free agency happens sooner and they lose their favorite sons sooner – but I don’t expect that change to happen.
      The fans really don’t care if the luxury tax is raised by $X MM or 2 times $X MM – they would like to see their team spend more, but any raise would get eaten up quickly as salaries jumped.
      Some fans do want rules that would make more teams competitive and less likely to tank, but I’m not seeing in the proposals things that are going to make that happen.
      I think most fans would like the minor leaguers to get better pay (the payment of housing is a nice step) but it is not an issue the players association wants to strike about.
      International draft rules won’t move the fans’ needle.
      Do we care much about revenue sharing? I don’t.
      Overall I think not missing regular season games is the top way to have happy fans – what they agree on is less important.
      I think they will have at least 150 games this year and by the end of the season fans will be ok about things. I doubt we will ever see an agreement that truly makes us happy because they are never aimed at us.

      Liked by 1 person

      • One thing that does hurt the small market teams vs Big Spenders, is if they do away with the compensation draft pick for losing a free agent. Some teams MUST draft and coach wisely to compete. This makes them less competitive at the start of free agency.

        Liked by 1 person

    • My knee-jerk reaction is that whichever side wins the fans will lose. Some players will benefit from the agreement while others will not. The minor leaguers will still be exploited. Ticket prices will go up and media companies will try to raise the monthly cost to air their sports channels by a buck or two. MLB TV will still have their idiotic blackout restrictions. Max Scherzer will buy a yacht or a small plane. A few more pitchers who never made the major leagues will fail to come back from TJ surgery and become landscapers. Gerritt Cole’s wife will get a new Mercedes.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. After the 1994 lockout, it took MLB four years to get it’s attendance back. 25 years later, before the pandemic took hold, attendance was dropping, even as revenues have continued to grow. But I contend that baseball needs new fans. Guys like us won’t be around much longer. If kids are playing other sports and following other pursuits, then their parents are not spending as much time focusing on baseball either. So 1OP, baseball really needs to reinvent itself. Yes, more competitive, more enjoyable, more likable, more fan friendly. I see more international expansion/exposure as the way MLP will grow its business in the next decades. I think we can already count on 14 or more playoff qualifiers going forward. But I don’t see the game becoming more affordable for the masses. The NBA and NFL have already decided it is not an essential part of the equation.

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    • Dave, my eyes are seeing something totally different. We now live in a college town in East Texas. If you drive through the campus, you will see no interaction. Everyone is walking with their iPhone and ear buds. We went to a ladies basketball game last night. In 10 years or less, 80% of the crowd will be gone. We are in our 60s+. No band, very few students. 10% capacity. It is almost the same for the men’s team. Also football. My granddaughter attends and even she comments on no interaction on campus. I see sports becoming like the news. It is TV entertainment with a less than loyal following. Not good nor bad, just changing.

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  4. Here is a question for DanP. “Will Spring Training start on time?” If you google that phrase, you get numerous articles quoting Manfred and each seems to contradict the other. So we need the “correct answer” from the guru.

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    • AC – No, it will not start on time. It is supposed to start next week and given the fact it takes them a week to review each other’s proposals (though obviously this could speed up) I think it won’t start until some time in March.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Hi, Dan. Something I’ve been wondering about and never see any mention of it: I know GM’s aren’t allowed to talk to the players or their agents during the lockout, but can’t GMs talk to each other? Might there already be loads of trades made, but haven’t been made public yet?

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I hate the changes. Year in and out what fans want is 5o see theirfavorite players stay together no matter the cost. Thru the years I hated our team when they did not keep the nucleus together and I hate that our athletes have no loyalty anymore to their teams and fans only the money. To me that causes me not to want to watch when all they care about is themselves. I love my Astros that stay and help our town our people our fans etc.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. One thing about small market teams and free agency. A lot of teams will NEVER be able to compete with those large market teams (LA, NY, Boston, Chicago, and a couple others). If the smaller market teams want the top free agent or the next couple they will have to offer BIG bucks unless the player really wants to play for that team. I doubt you’d have seen Cole forgo the Yankees to play for KC or another small market team no matter how much was offered. Some guys want to play for a team with a chance to win the WS or the bright lights that is offered in that city. I would think it rare when a player says that they will stay with the team that they have been with since inception for less money and prestige as opposed to the other scenario. Does Correa, and to a lesser degree ,Beltran and RJ come to mind? I guess that why Baseball is no longer a game but a business in more ways than one. And Kudos to Biggio and others for staying here when he could have made a lot more elsewhere IMO.

    Liked by 1 person

    • And now MLB is proposing to not make the team who signs big money free agents from having to give up draft picks.
      That just makes the rich teams sign more FAs and has teams with less money lose out even more often.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Z, the NBA and NFL responded with a salary cap. The MLBPA is scared to death of a similar concept. And if MLB wants to put an end to tanking, then they need to establish a minimum payroll spend. Will the owners collectively go for that? I doubt it. Baseball is a private club run by fat cat owners with a bunch of talented million dollar members. They will never be on the same page. And for the most part, they remain oblivious to their benefactors.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Let’s see stuff Dan is doing during this time…
      – Wracking his brain for ideas for the blog
      – Watching old re-runs of Everybody Loves Raymond (we missed a lot of this with raising kids)
      – Reading old Chipalatta posts
      – Binge watching Curb Your Enthusiasm (we saw some of it back for previous seasons, but watching it all the way through)
      – Wracking his brain for ideas for the blog
      – Watching reruns of Mom (good show that we missed when it was on)
      – Scanning mlbtraderumors for ideas for the blog
      – Throwing questions out there on the hosted live blogs on mlbtraderumors
      – Erasing political texts on my phone
      – Looking forward to our visits with my 86 year old mom in Tomball – Scrabble and country food from Goodson’s or Mel’s
      – Writing new posts

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Steven – this is way down from your Grocer “apology” comment – but just saw it. I think while Gerry Hunsicker was here, Drayton was one of the best owners for us even though he was ignorant of the game. Once Hunsicker left, first the front office did not make good decisions and then at some point Drayton was only interested in putting as little into the team and handing to his kids the biggest amount of $$ he could. During this time he was one of the worst owners we have had.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yes, part of the GM/manager choices. When he had Hunsicker and Dierker he looked smart. When he had Purpura and a list of ho hum managers he didn’t. I’ve always felt you get the best manager you can but you get the general manager money can buy, and after Hunsicker he didn’t seem to do that. He filled internally with Purpura, then it went down hill to Wade ending up with a fire sale. Dark days when we had to argue Marisnick vs. Grossman or hope that Chris Carter didn’t strikeout 3 times today.

      I’m glad Click has kept the ship afloat, but I still miss Luhnow. Best GM we ever had. I guess Crane was convinced Luhnow knew more than he still claims he knew.

      I’m not convinced the downfall had to do with not spending though. Surely his financial advisors were telling him he would be able to sell the Astros for a lot more if they were a stable, winning franchise pulling 30000 a night and not a Marlins facsimile getting 12000. Berkman, Oswalt, Pence, Lee, all had cornerstone contracts, but none of them were performing at an elite level. They weren’t bad per say, but no one was winning a MVP. Bourn didn’t help with the money he was making with the mediocre performance. I think the Astros entered 2010 with the hope of competing and it went south. This followed by 3 years of the same thing, being OK just not good enough.

      Given he wasn’t winning it made sense that he would get rid of Oswalt, Pence, Berkman as soon as possible, strip the payroll, and make the team an attractive investment for Crane. The plan worked, and its worked out for us fans too.

      Liked by 2 people

  9. One followup on “the front offices are not supposed to trade talk” during the pandemic subject. There could still be some quick trades after the lockout ends. Both sides will claim they were 90% of the way to agreement on the trade when the lockout hit. And of course they could signal a few things through an intermediary.That’s how JFK worked out the Cuban Missile Crisis as legend has it. Or they could touch base during the pandemic and then lie like dogs.

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  10. This comment is RIGHT on POINT. If you are interested in binge watching, don’t miss Foyle’s War. It is set in WW II England and a couple years after. It takes factual events and then writes a fictional story about it. Each episode requires access to the Internet to watch as it will be factual events that we never heard about. Truly interesting and extremely well written. If you are interested in Special Effects and Nudity, skip this one. We saw it on Acorn TV which is about $6 for a months worth of British, New Zealand, and Australian TV.

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  11. As posted last wee, my rumor about minor leaguers reporting next week. It has been changed to reporting to minor league ST and NOT to the MLB training site. So my guess is if you are on the 40 man, you can’t report.

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    • “And I think the ladies and gentlemen of the jury will agree that my client Ebenezer Scrooge does not need to give Bob Cratchit a second lump of coal”

      So, just trainees? Does that mean the trainees can go wherever they want to be trained?

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      • Snarky Dan alert – Dave you just expanded the 30 team MLB by 2 teams.
        OK now that I’ve been a butt about that – yes this is about as stupid a PR move as can be

        Liked by 2 people

  12. Just a wonderful golf tournament today. Biggest crowds on the tour, always five or six guys close to the lead and a 3-hole sudden death playoff.
    The winner is a first time tour winner and is from Texas, Scotty Scheffler.

    Liked by 1 person

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