Astros’ miscellaneous & stuff

This is one of those. Dan P’s been too busy to research anything and has to push this post out during lunch hour kind of offerings. So, let’s just wing it here.

  1. The pitching coach situation will be different in 2022, with Brent Strom moving on to Arizona. Will we even notice? Well, sure, there will be a different person walking out to the mound as needed, but there is a good chance that the day to day coaching of the pitchers will be very similar to what we have seen with Strom’s “understaff” taking over. They were likely doing a lot of the hands-on and stats-on training before this. Hopefully, it will be a relatively seamless transition with similar positive results.
  2. Has any team in the recent past been able to fill in the lineup with self-developed players from their system as much as the Astros? Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa (I’m still counting him), Alex Bregman, Yuli Gurriel (Ok, developed in Cuba, but polished here), Kyle Tucker, and Yordan Alvarez are all All Star level talents. That’s not counting George Springer, who was an All Star and is one season removed from the organization or Jake Meyers and Chas McCormick, who may never be All Stars but solidly filled in behind Springer last season. It is a pretty amazing cornucopia of talent.
  3. The mystery question to me is whether the “lost” 2020 season derailed the careers of any minor leaguers who did nothing but get older that season. There is kind of a sweet spot when players either make it or don’t to the majors, and there had to be victims in that season, kids who didn’t get the opportunity to show that they belonged.
  4. And of course, mystery question 2 is, how does the cutback in the number of minor league teams change things? Is it just a matter of having a smaller but better stock of players to push through the systems, or are there players who won’t ever get a chance because there are not as many roster spots to fill anymore?
  5. Who is the ace of the Astros’ 2022 staff if/when it gets to actually play? The knee jerk is that it is Justin Verlander, but what if he takes a while to settle in and what if he is not quite as effective with the slicker balls as when he left? After him, is it Lance McCullers Jr. who was the best of 2021? Is it Framber Valdez who was the best of 2020? Is it Luis Garcia, the best rookie pitcher in the league in 2021? I don’t think it could really be Jose Urquidy, who looks solid but not ace-like. I don’t know if Cristian Javier will get the opportunity (yet) to make such a claim. And Jake Odorizzi looks more like a contributor than the top of rotation these days. I think it will be JV, but after him, I am not sure.
  6. As my wife always says, if it weren’t for the last minute, nothing would get done. But will we ever in our lifetimes have a labor agreement that is negotiated and agreed to in a timely manner? It is bothersome that the teams should be reporting for Spring Training this week, and instead, there is no settlement in sight. Spring Training is too long, but likely it will be too short this time around, and pitchers will not be stretched out. Or maybe this will be 2020 V2.0. We can pray not.
  7. And to make this a lucky 7 of “stuff”,….which Astro, besides Verlander, will be most improved over their 2021 performance? I think it will be Alex Bregman. So there is the kiss of death to you, Alex.

What “stuff” do you have on your mind today?

44 comments on “Astros’ miscellaneous & stuff

  1. 1. Time will tell. 2. I think this is not only unusual but will be difficult to repeat. 3. There is no way it helped them develop. Also, right now, the young men that were added to the 40 before the Rule 5 draft (which still hasn’t happened) they are unable to report. 4. I think this means fewer very young international signings. And fewer high schoolers being signed. You can’t be patient for them to develop. 5.Let’s hope JV with LMJ right on his heels. 6. This reminds me of the Paris Peace talks taking months to determine shape of the table. 7. Yes, Alex.

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  2. 2020 certainly cost a number of guys who would have had some taste of a major league career. You also have to remember that 2021 saw the reduction in MiLB teams too. You likely had players who would have gone to a low minors squad in 2020 not be drafted and go find day jobs, but a number of guys in 2021 probably got squeezed since there were fewer developmental team spots to go around and organizations might have opted to keep the younger, fringe prospect over them.

    Liked by 1 person

    • This is really scary AC. The explosion of fentanyl and oxy deaths is a plague on our country that is being overshadowed by Covid.
      It takes me back to the time when the NBA had crash and burns related to cocaine craziness. We had a very good Rockets team that was gutted – Mitchell Wiggins and Lewis Lloyd were banned from basketball due to failing tests and John Lucas voluntarily fessed up to his addiction, got himself cleaned up and went into coaching and into helping other addicts.
      If you go google recent celebrity deaths there are way too many 20 and 30 year olds dying of “undetermined” reasons – that are likely either suicides or overdose deaths from these pain killers that are really people killers.
      You just hope that your team is filled with players who stay away from these dangerous drugs. We don’t kneed another Skaggs or a Caminiti.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. 1. If the pitchers don’t pitch well we’ll blame it on the new guy(s).
    2. It’s pretty cool. We take it for granted. I’m looking forward to seeing what further development we will or won’t get from our outfielders, catcher position and at first base. And do we have an in house option at short? If we play baseball this year, we’ll get to see some of this stuff happen in 2022.
    4. Seems that MLB also wants to further thin the ranks of minor league players going forward. More great PR from the commissioners office.
    5. Verlander. He’s been around for a long time. Health has historically not been an issue. Plus he’s getting 25 million. We don’t want to eat that kind of money again.
    6. I’m 67. I don’t want to deal with another lockout. Using lockout as a tool is remarkably counterproductive and certainly damages the business of baseball. Apparently it does not matter that baseball fans are also pissed off.
    7. It needs to be Bregman.

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  4. 1. I think it is obvious Strom wanted out, for whatever reason. That being the case, having two guys who soaked up his knowledge and are younger probably is better than having one guy who is unhappy.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I truly believe the lost 2020 season hurt the careers of borderline major leaguers more than it did to hurt the careers of minor leaguers.

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  6. 4. Cutting back the number of minor league teams is, and will, be a blessing for baseball organizations and for players who learn earlier in their minor league careers that they should be looking for another, more lucrative line of work.

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    • That is another way of looking at things. But as I see the merit of your contention, I think it also means there will be fewer longshot stories going forward. And I like that stuff. roadthriller, I’m not so sure about the decent wage concept. Right now, MLB is trying to stop paying minor leaguers for spring training, contending that a “trainee” should not be a paid employee.

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      • If I was a Minor Leaguer and I was told since I’m a “trainee” and thus wouldn’t be paid, I might be inclined to tell them to have sexual intercourse with themselves. As for all those who can’t make the grade in the minors then they have to eventually face reality and go elsewhere to make a living.

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  7. 1 – Isn’t Strom from Arizona? IDK maybe a dream job. He gave us plenty of time and effort happy for him. Pitching coach impact is usually overrated, they kind of fix the icing on the cake but usually the cake is either going to be good or its not.

    2 – Most definitely. They set the standard for fire sale/rebuild that other franchises (not just in baseball) are are trying to copy.

    3- I haven’t spent as much time as other on the minor leaguers but what time I have spent I haven’t been impressed. Perez and Pena will get their shots at some point, Pena probably has been hurt a little by the lost time. Whitley probably would have lost that time anyway to injury and at 24 he is entering the perform now or join the Tim Redding club.

    4 – My Dad always said “you know what you know but the best thing to know is what you don’t” so there, no idea.

    5 – Don’t have a crystal ball but based on what I think – JV is an arrogant dude. He is obsessed with his HoF qualifications. He is more concerned with his 30 starts and the results of those than the team winning. That works for me, because he works his tail off, probably as much as anyone ever. There needs to be glue guys, and that’s not him, but it doesn’t have to be. I assume he will be as good as ever.

    6 – See number 4.

    7 – Bregman is an obvious choice because he has played a pedestrian 3B the last 132 games after giving us an MVPesque performance the year before that. Here is a fun one – Lance McCullers. I know, how does he get better? Well, me made 28 starts last year, the most in his 6 seasons. What happens if he makes 33 starts next year (assuming there is 33 starts to make)? Does he win 20 games? Cy Young? He has the talent. He is entering an age where he should be in his physical prime. Now can he go 162 games without an anklebiter injury costing him a month or 6 weeks? IF (big if) he can start the season on time, I think he could be primed either this year or next for a career year and some Cy Young chatter.

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  8. More on McCullers – has to stay in the zone more too. I just see many too many at bats where he starts a count 3-0 or 3-1 because he threw 3 pitches that wouldn’t have fooled any of us much less a major leaguer. Too many games where he has to buckle down to a 7 hitter because he threw 3 balls in 4 pitches. This wears on you.

    He has to stop exiting after 5 because his pitch count is in the mid 90s. He has thrown exactly 1 complete game in his career. He routinely wins less than half his starts because he hands them over to the worst part of the bullpen, the middle relief, in the 6th too often.

    McCullers has gotten the win in 38% of his starts for his career. There are hundreds of major league pitchers that would love to have that mark. JV has won 51% of his. If McCullers wants to take the next step, he needs to turn that 3.7 BB/9 and the number of 3 ball counts down to JV’s 2.6 BB/9 and he can win a Cy Young. He has the stuff.

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  9. 5. Justin Verlander won the CYA for the AL the last rime he pitched.
    Four months ago he threw 95+ plus in front of 20+ major league team reps.
    Until he has proven he isn’t Justin Verlander any more, I am going with him as the ace.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. 6. Smart baseball players will have learned from 2020 and will be better prepared for a shortened Spring Training.
    Less than smart players will not have learned anything and will not be as ready.

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  11. I think Bregman has the most room to improve.
    I think the quartet of LMJ, Valdez, Urquidy and Garcia will be much improved over a full season.

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  12. 1. I’m just as interested to see what happens to Arizona’s pitching staff.

    2. There’s nothing like the Astros for home-grown talent. The Dodgers are in the conversation.

    3/4. Both will cause good players to “slip through the cracks”.

    5. Not being able to pick a clear staff Ace can mean that your staff is overall very good or overall very bad. Fortunately, this is the former.

    6. This is starting to look like a shortened season to me. I feel like the players aren’t going to budge until they miss a few paychecks. Anyone know when that will be?

    7. It’s very possible that it will be Short Stop Alex Bregman.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. I am enjoying reading what y’all are putting out there. Lot’s of good analysis and some different angles from folks. Glad to see a newer poster in markhuck and some folks like roadthriller and Steven who used to post more in the past are back here again. And then all the regulars – Devin, daveb (uncleknuckle), Oldpro, sarge and AC45 – are always appreciated. I’m sure Zanuda will check in soon with his take on the topics, Mr. Bill will throw out a song about Bregman moving on down to shortstop, GoStros will tell us exactly which prospects took it in the neck, Randall will ring out again, Astronut will link us to something relevant, Becky will give us some sage advice and Sandy will tell us how much this lockout is bugging her.
    Gosh I’m missing some folks – shout out if I did!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sorry DAn, but Mr. Bill has been locked out of the song-writing room. Oh, I can still write songs – I am just forbidden to use any MLB players’ names. All rights, pictures, and descriptions of this game … you all know the rest.

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      • Well are you allowed to write about retired players or the dearly departed? Can you write about prospects not on the 40 man? Can you change names to protect the not so innocent like Commissioner Rob Braindead or MLBPA executive director Tony Barknobite?

        Liked by 1 person

      • Well, Dan, according to my IP lawyer friends, about all I am allowed to say are things like:

        1. The 2022 MLB season is currently experiencing a ‘Total Eclipse of the Start’;
        2. No outfielders who are presently under MLB contracts are to be seen or depicted ‘Grazin’ in the Grass’;
        3. Dear children, please don’t break your father’s hearts this year by singing ‘Take Me Out to the Ballgame’.

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      • That is still something Mr. Bill.
        I do like the Total eclipse of the Start as we lost the writer of the original – Jim Steinman last year and of course we lost the man who put him on the map with the performance of his other hits in Meatloaf a few weeks ago.

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  14. You know, it makes me uncaring about the players when I see how much they make and then compare their salaries to the working people (us). I watch the game for the sport and place their earnings out of my mind. To me, a player who is a brand new rookie, who plays all-star level baseball, is just as important as the all-star stud veteran.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Looking at the positions on all the issues – they have a looooong way to go to meet in the middle.
    ttps://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2022/02/latest-collective-bargaining-positions-for-mlb-players-association.html

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Some miscellaneous points of my own.
    * The owners issued a lockout and both the owners and the players knew there was going to be a lockout because both sides knew how far apart they were in negotiations. The reason for the lockout was because the owners needed to force a new CBA because if there was a season in 2022 without a CBA, the players would play the regular season and get their pay, then strike and eliminate the playoffs, which is the owners’ biggest slice of their pie. I was stupid to not realize this at first, but I realize it now.
    * When there is a bonus pool attached to the arbitration issue and to players’ performances and end of year awards and there are also draft picks awarded to teams whose rookies earn those awards, then we will start to see those awards going to teams who have the most fans and media coverage who vote on those awards. We will start to see the large market clubs getting the lion’s share of the major awards, bonuses and awarded draft picks, not because they are better, but because their fans and media will dominate the voting.
    * I will be surprised if the first level of the competitive tax agreement isn’t at least $220 million for this coming year. If that happens, I think the Astros will make more moves.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. I know I am old fashioned. But what if there were no ‘contract rules’, and everybody on all sides had pure freedom of contract?

    If we don’t hit the field by springtime … will the fans forget our names?
    Cause time rolls on, and seasons change now;
    and kids line up to play this game.

    But if one by one we cut new contracts; and told the Commish to take a hike;
    we’d all be free to feed our families; and go have fun again in caps and spikes.

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