Astros 2022: The other guy missing

The long shadow of the Carlos Correa free agency and his eventual abandonment of the Astros (or their abandonment of him) has almost entirely eclipsed the other big loss of the 2021 Astros. Zack Greinke. There are a number of reasons for that at least on the surface.

A power-hitting shortstop with a platinum glove is a fairly unique thing in baseball and Correa was coming off of arguably his best season. Greinke was coming off a statistically below average year and with Justin Verlander “replacing” him, his loss seemed more like a trade-up than a true deficit to the team’s fortunes.

But we should not be that hasty about turning the page on the Greinke era in Houston. There is certainly a case to be made that his loss could hurt the team worse than the Correa signing in Minnesota might.

  • First of all, Greinke’s numbers for the season, especially his 4.16 ERA, were very pedestrian and not close to his normal career ERA of 3.41. But…..he still was 11-6 over 171 innings last regular season.
  • And if you look more closely, on August 23rd, Greinke was 11-4 with a 3.41 ERA (the same as his career ERA) for his first 26 starts. He then made one more start before going down with a combo of COVID and injury. In his last 4 starts where he was headed to the IL and returning from it, he had an 11.74 ERA.
  • So, the point is that for about 80% of the season he was a very solid contributor to the cause, which should be included in the judgment of the effect on the club with him moving to Kansas City.
  • We already know that Lance McCullers is not ready for the start of the season and there is real fear he may miss a significant portion of the season.
  • Justin Verlander has looked good in the spring, but he is 39 years old and he is coming off Tommy John surgery. They need to keep his workload low enough so he can help all season.
  • Luis Garcia, Jose Urquidy and Framber Valdez are all young guys. Urquidy and Valdez have missed some time with injuries recently. The Astros hope that the youngsters do not have any leftover effects from the most innings they’ve ever tossed in a season.
  • Jake Odorizzi has also looked good in the spring, but he was not great last season and is a few years removed from his most productive seasons.
  • It is not unusual to need 7 or more starters to start 10 or more games in a normal season.
  • Oh and if Jeremy Pena plays well and Correa goes back to playing in 100 games instead of 140+, perhaps the loss of Greinke could be the big one for this season.

Or the Astros might fill behind Zack like they filled behind Dallas Keuchel and Charlie Morton and Gerrit Cole and Wade Miley and Collin McHugh and Brad Peacock and…

How do you feel about the almost invisible man that the Astros lost?

 

46 comments on “Astros 2022: The other guy missing

  1. When you end up in the World Series, there normally is no panic during the off season. We have lost one or more of the main players off each team going back to 2017. It would have been great to have Greinke this year but at some point you have to look at your budget. He got $13 Million from KC. I think we are OK if the younger players step up and improve slightly on what they have done to date.

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  2. Since I clicked on Greinke’s name and it sent me to his Baseball Reference’s stats, I will use those stats.
    In the last two seasons, Greinke produced the lowest WAR for his team since his 2006 season. That coincides with his fastball averaging below 90 mph and this year he is in his age 38 season, which means that average fastball is gonna drop more.
    Now, 2020 is not indicative of his average WAR, since it was a very short season. But you have to understand that Greinke had a 35 million dollar salary in 2021 and produced 1.1 WAR.
    The only problem Greinke gives the Astros now is that they owe him $62.5 million over the next five seasons.
    The Greinke trade was, and will continue to be, a disaster for the Astros.

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    • I agree when you look at the big picture – its a disaster, because of the money. Now, none of the players moved have amounted to much for Arizona, but I think the D-Backs are happy with that 62.5 mil off their books.

      Think about this – the D-backs were insisting originally on Kyle Tucker being a part of that deal. As bad as it was, think of how bad it could have been.

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      • Sorry, unfair to use the word disaster. He did pitch 171 innings and win 11 games. In 2019 he was great. He pitched well every time he was given the ball in the world series in 2019 and last years 4 scoreless innings. Both times against the Nats and Braves I know Dusty was worried about the 90 mph fastball and an inning coming off the rails, but I trusted him more than the guys coming behind him because he wasn’t going to let a moment shake him. A hitter was going to have to earn it. Not like Garcia just grooving a 3-2 fastball to Soler, the moment that won him a MVP and put the rest of us to bed. Just for the money he was making (and continues to make), an ace was needed, and ace he no longer is.

        There is more to this story I think than we know about the effects Covid had on him. I think that and the injury really derailed the last 2 months and made Dusty not want to pitch him in last years playoffs. It was 4 scoreless innings, but he did seem to labor in them.

        It’s not often I think of Luhnow and hoodwinked, but sending 4 prospects AND cash to Arizona with the idea that we would be responsible for all the deferred money, that stings when you get into those years of deferred money for a player pitching for someone else. It will hurt even more if at any point Beer becomes a hitter that duplicates his minor league numbers in the show.

        In the end we paid around 150 million for 52 starts and 22 wins of regular season ball and 1 playoff win. Ouch.

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      • Yeah I would not count it as a disaster. He was excellent in 2019 and if AJ had not pulled him in the 7th game of the WS, we might have had another championship. He was so-so in 2020 (as were so many other Astros) and again even at reduced velocity – he was good in 2021 until his COVID/ injury hit him. The trade was not Luhnow’s best, especially the deferred salary portion of it.

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    • 1OP, the trade was not a disaster. Not the wisest, especially because of that 62 million still owed. But he did exactly what was needed of him in 2019. And had he been left on a mound, we might well won the damn thing. In 2021, he did give us 171 innings. I don’t know where we would have gotten those innings from otherwise. Nevertheless, this one is on Crane. If I recollect, he pushed Luhnow to get it done.

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  3. The Astros seem to be in the same boat as they were last spring:
    1. Question mark in CF
    2. Question marks in the bullpen
    3. Old catchers who don’t hit.

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    • Why are so many people saying that McCormick and Siri will have to hold the fort down in center until Jake gets back. Jake was far from a guarantee even before he got hurt. 146 at bats simply do not tell us enough. I agree, center is a question mark. And as much as Pena is getting us excited, short is perhaps the biggest question mark.

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      • It’s wishful thinking. We’re hoping that Jake can be better than those two when he returns. At a minimum he should be superior on defense. Ultimately, we’re probably in a better spot than we were with Myles Straw, but only marginally.

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  4. And in other, completely unrelated news, Reddick says you could add his name to Altuve’s of players that did not partake in the 2017 sign stealing.

    Don’t worry Josh, your stats, particularly in the 2017 playoffs, already told on you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I had COVID back in fall 2020. I suffered fatigue for many months and I still don’t know if I am past it. I would not be surprised if Zack had some lingering effects, being younger hopefully he is back to fully recovered.

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  5. To me a disaster is paying $66 MM for 6 innings of pitching or paying top dollar to bring in Greg Swindell for 4 seasons of below mediocrity or replacing Hunsicker with (I can’t remember his name) .

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  6. Jim Bowden of The Athletic predicts Carlos Correa will opt out of his contract after a year in Minneapolis and re-sign with Houston to the delight of his Astro teammates. Maybe he’ll opt out of his contract to the delight of his Twins teammates. And maybe our new shortstop will make us forget all about Carlos.

    Then we’ve got some guy with Fansided writing one more hit piece, another dose of 2017 with Reddick chiming in this time. I know he means no harm, but I’m so tired of all this crap. The Yankees are doing a great job drumming up “journalists” still willing to write opinion pieces in an effort to deflect the secret envelope intrigue. And all the while, not a peep from our commissioner.

    Heck, I’d just like to read about baseball two days before Opening Day.

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    • You know when you asked your kid why he made a D on his test, and his reply was “Look, Billy made an F.” That is what the Yankees are doing. They have not won a WS in 13 years. Have won 2 in 22 years. Didn’t make the playoffs in 4 of those years. – “Look everyone, see what the Astros did. “

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  7. Saw where Tommy Davis passed away. He was a two time batting champ with the Dodgers in the early 1960’s and came to the Astros from the Seattle Pilots (now Brewers)during the worst period of his career.
    Flourished later as a DH

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  8. Speaking of former Astros who will claim they did not benefit from cheating (no matter what their personal stats show) – Marwin Gonzalez has made the opening day roster for the Yanks
    I guess Cashman’s outrage about cheating does not extend to the beneficiaries he wants on his roster.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Oh, the hypocrisy of it all! I remember as a youngster I had all starters of the 60-62 Yankees baseball cards. Alas they found there way into the garbage can of life when we moved from Texas. That was a team worth remembering. As for today’s NYY (and their management and owners), they can ….. well I think you get my point. Beltran can be remembered right next to Fiers as they deserve each other.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. As far as the projected rotation members goes …

    If ST tells us anything with regard to our rotation guys (which it probably doesn’t), it might be that:

    1. Management was not worried about getting real game-situation innings for Valdez [3 innings pitched in ST], Odorizzi [2 IP] or Javier [2 IP]; they did apparently want to give Verlander [13.2], Urquidy [8.0], and Garcia [5.2] a chance to work out the post-injury kinks and/or new cutters.;
    2. Rotation WHIPs can’t stay this low, can they? [Verlander 1.10; Urquidy and Odorizzi 1.00; Garcia at 0.5, Javier at 0.50, and Valdez at 0.00];
    3. Our actual starters may not give up a lot of dingers – zero across the board in 33.2 cumulative innings this Spring];
    4. Ronel Blanco is a thing;
    5. Brandon Bielak is not a thing;
    6. Hunter Brown might be a thing;
    7. Bryan Abreu is ‘Wild Thing’ in an Astro uni- 5.0 BBs in 4.2 IP;
    8. Luis Garcia is primed to be a strikeout machine – 9 Ks in 5.2 IP;
    9. Folks reallybe swinging early in the count on Urquidy – average p/IP only 7.75

    If these numbers hold, our starting pitching should be good -even without LMJ to start the season.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Anyone want to speculate on the number of hits/runs and Ks our Astros manage Thursday night against Shohei Otani? I’ll start – I project at most two hits, zero runs, and an average 2 Ks per inning pitched. Fortunately, the phenom probably not stretched out for a lot of innings [total of 5.2 IP this Spring – obviously working on something 9 Ks, but 3 BBS and a HBP, 5 hits and 4 runs (3 earned)]. Hopefully we’ll manage some runs on the Halo bullpen.

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    • I suspect Dusty Baker will tell the hitters to go up and look for a pitch they can drive. I would instead tell them to go up and only put the ball in play if it’s a mistake. Don’t expand the zone and fight off anything tough. Get his pitch count up early and make this mess that Manfred created have to cut short his opening day start.

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      • If I were former Astro manager Leo Durocher I would say hit him in his pitching arm his first at bat.
        This is Leo in a kinder, gentler time – back in the days of Sal “the Barber” Maglie it would be stick it in his ear.

        Liked by 1 person

  11. My son Adam sent this link…..which is an interesting idea….(a little late)
    https://www.espn.com/mlb/story/_/id/33674768/mlb-allow-pitchers-catchers-use-anti-sign-stealing-technology-regular-season-sources-say?device=featurephone
    – I told him that when I saw the headline I thought it was for a garbage can with a muffler
    – Then Adam texted – What are the odds this device is not used to also steal signs?
    – Then I texted – Justin Verlander talking to his catcher: “How come that little device is manufactured by Steinbrenner Inc.?”

    Liked by 1 person

  12. After ONLY one game, here are my notes for Sugar Land Space Cowboys.
    1. Pedro Leon can hit with power. Marty Costes can hit with no power. Remember when Myles Straw wasted time attempting to play shortstop. Well, Pedro is wasting his time now. After one game, Pedro has the same number of hits as after 8 games last year.
    2. After first 3 innings, two pitchers gave up 6 walks and 6 runs. They threw 78 pitches and 37 strikes
    3. Korey Lee threw out a base runner on a bang bang play at second on a high inside pitch. I am convinced he can play major league catcher in 2023 and will hit at least .173.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Don’t think anyone dismisses his athleticism or the thump in his bat, but until I see him with a season under his belt in the minors where he doesn’t strike out 30% of the time I will reserve excitement.

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      • I am guessing you are talking about Pedro Leon. He certainly needs more time in the minors as he went a long time last year before starting to hit. Korey Lee is the only one that I meant would be a replacement for one of our two catchers. Again, just one game.

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    • To make room for him on the 40-man, the Astros DFA’d Tyler Ivey.
      Then the Astros put LMJ, Taylor Jones and Jake Meyers on the 10-day IL to get the active roster down to the 28 player active roster limit.

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  13. Wanna hear something funny?!! Correa goes from a near tropical climate in Houston to freezing cold in Minnesota….and the Twins had to postpone their opening day because of *SNOW*! LOL!!!

    Liked by 1 person

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