Helping the Blogger

No, I’m not asking for cash. It is just that I’m on the road writing this one on the fly without access to stats unless I want to log back into WordPress every time I go pull a stat. I do not. So I will go back to a tried and true method, ask my dear friends questions, and let you take the wheel with responses. Here we go!

  • Which is more likely to happen – the Astros’ offense regresses to the norm by improving, or the Astros’ pitching reverts to the norm by falling off?
  • Is this team a bit like 2005 when the pitching carried the offense the whole year?
  • Was 2021 Yuli Gurriel’s late-career swan song, and now he is turning into a corner infielder with no patience and power? (But boy, he sure can scoop ’em at 1st base).
  • After hitting a huge 3 run homer, why was Kyle Tucker sitting? Why did Jeremy Pena need to rest the same day? Do kids in their 20s need the same amount of days off as grizzled veterans?
  • Have you ever seen a pitcher his age come back from TJ surgery as the force that Justin Verlander has been?
  • The biggest pleasant surprise this year is Jeremy Pena or Rafael Montero?
  • Does Dusty Baker know what he is doing, or is he lucky? For instance, he lets Martin Maldonado hit in a vital spot late in the game with much better options on the bench, and he clears the bases with a double.
  • It feels like the Astros are underperforming their talent but are getting better results than one might expect. Is this just a team whose core knows how to win and ekes it out over teams who have doubts?

I’d really appreciate it if you could help out with these questions.

87 comments on “Helping the Blogger

  1. I feel the offense will stay in its funk for the entire season. With Mr. Baker sitting the player when he gets hot at the plate is a huge reason for the regression in my humble opinion. So the pitching will regress as well.

    Pitching is going to carry the day. Some days it will fall off the map but overall…

    Yes, the 2021 season was it for Yuli. When the coaches are the same from the past two seasons and the players are the same but cannot produce, then that falls on to the players.

    Why was Kyle Tucker sitting? Why did Jeremy Pena need to rest the same day? I am at a total loss to explain those besides Mr. Baker being a… I will stop there because I am a polite person.

    JV!! A physical and mental marvel! Great physical shape to go with a great, tough mindset.

    Pena by a longshot! Probable AL rookie of the year.

    Mr. Baker is just plain lucky. He inherits a great team and does what he can to undermine them perhaps unwittingly.

    The core knows what it takes to win and does it.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. My two cents [guaranteed to be worth less than a half-pence in this inflationary cycle:

    1. The offensive rebound we seek is largely dependent upon three people – Alex Bregman, Yuli Gurriel, and Jake Meyers. We have to get more reliable production, especially with RISP, out of our corner infield positions -and we need somebody playing CF who can give us at least Jake’s lifetime BA of .260 and his lifetime OBP of .323. Neither Siri [.241/.308] or McCormick [.224/.283] is giving us either. I just hope Jake comes back and is at least the Jake we know.

    2. Since we dumped the gas-can guys – Pedro Baez [11.57 ERA] and Ronel Blanco [7.11 ERA], and after Jake Odorizzi found his mojo, our pitching has been fantastic [well, except for Blake Taylor’s wildness and a sudden onset of horrible fielding miscues]. I find it hard to believe we can continue to be quite this good – especially when the quality of the offenses we face improves. We are going to need both solid pitching and reliable offense if we are going to win the division this year.

    3. As Dusty Baker made it clear, “Yuli Gurriel is not going anywhere”. But I think it’s pretty safe to predict that he won’t repeat as batting champion this year!

    4. Dusty’s going to do Dusty. It’s frustrating for us fans that he sits the hot hand and makes the young hero ride the bench when a series is on the line, but he’s gon’ do it and no one can make him stop.

    5. JV is the consummate pro – a treasure for the organization. He carries this team on his broad shoulders. Keep those shoulders healthy, big man!

    6. Pena is no surprise to me – he has been shining for awhile now. What has shocked me is Rafael Montero. Nothing in his history showed this level of potential. He’s in his 8th year in the big leagues, and his lifetime ERA is 4.90 [this year, o.48] and his lifetime WHIP is 1.52 [this year 0.86]. Where did this sudden dominance come from?

    7. I don’t want to talk about the Dusty Rose.

    8. The core has been very, very lucky this year – way, more lucky than good.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. 1. The only way the Astros team offense improves is if the individual player’s stats start climbing upward toward their career averages.
    On the other hand, I think the growth of the young pitchers is due to their increasing experience. That accounts for a lot of the Astros’ pitching success. Add in Verlander subbing for LMJ’s sporadic efforts of the past and you see a reliable rotation piece every sixth day at the top. That was something we had in the past, then lost and now it’s back.
    2. I think this team is better than the 2005 team. The 2005 team overachieved and this one underachieves, at least so far.
    3. I believe Yuli has forgotten how he got so many pitches to hit last season. He got them by not swinging at balls out of the zone. He isn’t the first player to lose his twitch late in his thirties though, and that could be his situation.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. 3. When Gurriel came into spring training and there was a lot of talk about him slimming down it concerned me. His 2020 was pretty bad – especially the postseason. I assumed he used it as motivation and did something in the offseason to come into 2021 ready to play. When he has such a fantastic year in 2021 it makes me wonder why he would do anything different. It’s possible that being locked out of the facilities and unable to work with the team during those couple months really torpedoed his preparation. It’s possible other things are at play. Regardless, he needs to turn it around.
    4. I never get too caught up in the talk about Dusty sitting a hot player. The MLB season is a grind. More than that, Dusty is really good about communicating to players when they will be in the lineup. We see Tucker have huge games followed up by stinkers all the time. It’s not like we’re talking about ’94 Jeff Bagwell here. If we had someone who was setting an MVP pace and Dusty was frequently benching him I might be more concerned.
    5. I bought into the stories a number of years back that guys who returned from TJ would actually be stronger! The data suggests that’s not necessarily true, but the forced rehab likely does benefit some guys more than others.
    6. Pena is the biggest, pleasant surprise. There’s a long way to go, but dollar for dollar there are few better values in the league. His success makes Click’s job much easier.
    7. I’ll complain about every manager. I feel like Dusty is doing a good job. We’ve lost some games we should have won. I won’t worry about those until the last month of the season though.
    8. I think the quality of baseball this season is down across the league. I’m still suspicious that Manfred and friends are manipulating results a bit, but they’ve been doing this on a small scale the previous four years since switching baseball factories. I think the players need to make some adjustments, but at the same time the umpiring has seemed pretty lousy. I’m not going to put on the tinfoil hat for that one, but there should be accountability and improvement or else the MLB head office is not doing their job.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. 1, Offense to rebound. 2. Yes. 3. Yuli is a career .290. I think those days are behind him but not as bad as he is currently (.224). 4. Nope, just Dusty. 5. Maybe JV’s wife said, “Come back strong and I have a surprise for you.” 6. Montero. 7. See #4 above. 8. Maybe but come playoff time, it needs to be pedal to the metal.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Let’s see

    Sarge – I’m not always happy with Dusty (same thing with Hinch and every other manager we’ve had)
    But I don’t think you win multi thousand games on luck alone. He does seem to have a good rapport with his team and I guess they know if he says they are taking s day off – it is going to happen
    Mr. Bill – your two cents is worth about a Nickel unless there is a a song parody attached in which case it’s priceless. I think offensive improvement also requires some better base numbers out of Tucker – he’s too good to have an OPS in the .700s
    OP and Devin – I can’t comprehend how a player can have a career year and change anything – but Yuli has not appeared to learn from what made 2021 special
    AC – I think it’s Montero over Peña – only because I thought Peña could be decent given playing time (not as good as he’s been) but I had zero expectations out of Montero and he has been late inning nails for this club.

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  7. 1) Offense improves. Warmer weather means warning-track fly outs should turn to homers for our hitters. Of course, the same thing should happen to our pitchers, but hopefully not at as high a rate.
    2) Maybe a bit, but barring injury, the 2022 team should be better than 2005; both pitching and hitting.
    3) Yes, 2021 was likely Yuli’s career high for batting average, but I don’t think he will be as bad as 2020. Optimistic that he will finish the year above .250.
    4) How much rest do the kids need? Dusty googled that question and found that kids 1 – 3 years old need 12 – 14 hours per day and kids 3 – 6 years old need 10 – 12 hours per day. He got confused and thought that meant years in the majors instead of chronological age.
    5) Jacob deGrom had TJ surgery in 2010 and won the Cy Young Award in 2018 & 2019, so I expect to see JV win more CYAs in 2029 & 2030.
    6) I’ll say Montero. Pena is doing about twice as well as expected, but Montero is doing about 10 times better than expected.
    7) Dusty knows he is lucky. Plus, if he replaces Machete, Castro is not doing much better.
    8) I don’t doubt this team knows it has the talent to win. Astros could get better results with better baserunning decisions (which they can control) and better umpiring calls (which they can’t control). If those two calls at first base yesterday were not overturned, it would have cost us a run.

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  8. 1. Hopefully the offense will improve more than the pitching declines, but I would say the offense should improve.
    2. Pitching should stay strong. Hopefully we’ll see LMJ sometime soon (but that depends on your definition of soon). One thing that has been pointed out on the broadcasts is the closeness of our pitchers like Garcia, Framber, Montero, Javier, Urquidy, and anybody I missed. They seem like a bunch of guys all tied together supporting each other. Don’t remember seeing that ever with so many pitchers.
    3. Yes, Yuli’s hitting has dropped off but his defense is still stellar. I look for him to have some 3 hit games to get back to a respectable BA.
    4. Beats the heck out of me as to why this keeps happening. When you’re hot, when you’re not, you’re not. As always, you’ve got to press your pants while the irons hot. Maybe Dusty doesn’t listen to Jerry Reed or know that phrase.
    5. Not sure about that but I’ll take JV to the bank with his performance thus far.
    6. As much as I’d like to say Pena, I’ve got to go with Montero. Don’t know if he started eating his Wheaties but what ever it was, keep it up. Pena so far should be the ROY.
    7. See # 4. However, even a blind hog occasionally finds an acorn or better to be lucky than good.
    8. See #2. Altuve has been on a tear since returning from the IL. I’d just like to see us score more than 2 or 3 runs per game. Baggy made a comment about the shift by saying that until hitters take advantage of the big holes that the shifts allow, then they will continue to make unnecessary outs. Kind of like when I play pee-wee league baseball. I was left handed but always tried to hit the ball to left field or third base because it was a harder play to make than going to the right side of the infield. The one time I tried to hit it to right field, I struck out. The coach was not impressed. Of course I wasn’t very good anyway and didn’t play organized baseball again.

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  9. – I believe a little of both will happen but this team will keep winning at a 95 win clip.
    – No – because Gurriel and Bregman will come out of it and turn in at least 260ish type seasons. We are barely a quarter of the way through.
    – Yuli doesn’t look like a guy thats lost it to me, but sometimes what a player loses is so little its invisible to our naked eyes but monumental to their stat line.
    – Dusty being Dusty. He is going to stick to his schedule no matter what.
    – I’ve never seen anyone come back from TJ and 2 years off to be THIS good – forget the age, no one. Dude has already started off so hot other pitchers are playing catchup in the Cy race. He is on pace to win like 24 games and has a 1.22 ERA, and with just a smidgen of help he could be 7-0.
    – He has been at this too long to be lucky, way too many wins as a manager for that. I hee and haw at the tv screen sometimes, but you can’t argue with results.
    – Thats what usually separates the good ones from the mediocre ones. Knowing how to win more 2-1 games than lose 2-1 games are hard to find in stat lines but they usually spell playoffs versus sitting at home.

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  10. Toronto and Springer took down the Angels and Ohtani and the Astros picked up a half a game there.
    Hunter Brown started for Sugarland in El Paso last night and threw 7 shutout innings allowing 5 hits, no walks and 10 strikeouts. El Paso is at high elevation and a hard place to pitch. Brown is turning into a stud!

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  11. AstroNut – It is true that offense warms up with the weather
    Zanuda- Not sure if Dusty is a Jerry Reed fan but he seems to be following what should have been a Reed song “When you’re out you’re out”
    Steven – a very good point that JV I had a lead in the Cy Young – not even close
    OP and AC – thanks for the farm report – love to hear about the kids

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  12. https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2022/05/mlb-mlbpa-agree-to-extend-14-pitcher-limit-through-june-19.html
    No need to look it up. Since the theme is: “Helping The Blogger”, I did it for ya.
    The Astros have 13 active pitchers and 13 position players on their roster.
    The Angels are permitted 15 pitchers on their roster if they wish because Ohtani has a special exemption as a “two-way player”.
    Enmanual Valdez’s stats are even more intriguing when you consider he had 26 HRs and 90 RBIs last year and still didn’t make it to the Astros Top 30 Prospect list, and still isn’t on it.

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  13. As a side note on Enmanuel Valdez, I want to point out that he is a lefty hitter whose home park consistently has a strong wind blowing in from RF and in 59 games with CC he has hit 13 HRs. CC plays most of it’s road games in low elevation areas, too. At 5’9″ the guy has some pop.

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  14. 4. I don’t even want to get into Tucker and Pena sitting out, other than mentioning the off-days Pena had when he hurt his ankle recently and the fact that should have been enough rest to get him able to play for quite a while.

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  15. Verlander doesn’t surprise me because he is the most meticulous and heady ballplayer of his time and his rehab regimen was probably never violated, other than his showcase, where he threw nothing but twenty-five 95-96 mph fastballs.
    The patience he shows on the mound, was mirrored in his recovery and return.

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  16. Tonght’s game with the M’s presents some interesting matchups.

    The M’s starter, Chris Flexen, has done well against Altuve [BAA .231], Brantley [BAA .214], and Gurriel [BAA .154]. Can they break his ‘spell’?

    On the other hand, Alvarez, Tucker, Pena, and even our weak-hitting catchers Maldonado and Castro all hold better than .300 averages against him. Will he find a way to shut down one or more of these guys?

    Of course, the guy we’re trotting out to the mound tonight could make it all seem petty and academic.

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  17. Anyone want to revisit #4 now? For our 1st game in Seattle [after a day off], no Tucker [Siri in right instead] and no Pena [Diaz is our SS].

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  18. jV getting bombed. Looks to be a long night. Have I mentioned that this Astro team has not come back from a deficit of more than 2 runs all season? John Wayne marathon it is.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The only positive is that more often than not the team follows a terrible game with a good one.
      OK – I am being a Pollyanna here but I want to stay on the positive side.

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  19. Dusty Baker is not our problem. We just got done with 33 games in 34 days. We would have been in a real crisis had the pitching staff imploded. Instead they were remarkable. I must have missed all the comments on how well Baker handled our staff during that time.

    We’ve got a crappy offense, at least YTD. Look at Alvarez. He stinks against lefties. 1 homer, a .196 BA, a .626 OPS against them. Brantley stinks against lefties. 11 singles, a homer and 3 RBI’s against them. Tucker stinks against lefties too. He’s the worst. A .192 BA, a .264 OBP, a .298 Slugging, a .562 OPS. These numbers have to change.

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  20. It doesn’t feel like the Astros should be 3.5 games up in the division, but even with a few stumbles and minimal offense they have expanded that lead. Tough win today.
    We were over at 3rd son Adam’s place and there is no Astros on the TV here in the Austin area.
    We went out to eat and I was having troubles checking the game on my phone. Finally got enough bars for it to pop up and there we are with a one run lead and the M’s have the bases loaded with one out in the 9th. I go oh crap and immediately Pressly gets the game ending double play. Nice ending after all that trouble.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. As hard as it is to watch these guys sometimes, they are on a 100 win pace. What if we could hit? Urquidy stinks the place up (a recurring theme these days) and Garcia picks him up. The pen remains remarkable, although I think Pressly needs more work. Pena has taken Correa fully out of the conversation.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. With our guys not hitting worth a flip, today’s game against Paul Blackburn [5-0, 1.70 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, and a 1.63 GO/AO so far this year] looks to be yet another cringe-worthy, impossible-to-watch game. Hamburgers anyone?

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    • If the trend continues, the Astros should get 12 runs in the first inning off him. If they bring in a reliever with a WHIP 0f 2.00 – then the Astros will be shut down for the rest of the game. (I think we are living in upside down world)

      Liked by 1 person

  23. I understand that KTuck did something to his foot and is unavailable/day-to-day. Does any body know how his ‘foot discomfort’ [F.O.-speak for ‘that’s all we’re tellin’ ya!’] came about?

    In the meantime, it looks like Siri has given way to ChazzyFizz in RF. Did that ugly throw perhaps have something to do with the switcharoo?

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  24. Tidy game. Be nice to see Yordan go on a tear, What an effort by Valdez, without getting any benefit of the doubt calls from behind the plate. He’s had quite a month. To you veterans in the room, thank you all.

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  25. I noticed that Jose Ramirez of the Guar-indians, who knocked in 6 runs in the first two games against the Astros a week ago or so has 51 RBIs in 44 games. That’s a pace of 188 RBIs. That’s amazing.

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  26. Chas got the win last night.
    Top three in the order 0-9.
    I sure don’t like seeing Bregman tip toeing down to first on every grounder, especially when he’ll be doing it for 30 plus million a year in 2023/2024.
    Yuli hit the ball hard last night. Maybe?
    I’d sure like to have Montas on our team, but we don’t seem to have much to give in return.
    Can Verlander and Abreu give us all 9 this afternoon?
    Can we hit Cole Irvin, dreaded lefty?
    I hope our guys don’t mind playing at home when they get there.
    The Angels don’t seem to like it.

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    • I’m beginning to think Bergman is just not with the program. He “lollygags” down to 1st base unlike Yordan who makes it in 29.8. I’d move him down to #6 or 7 until he gets his act together. He should not be batting 3rd no way. His defense is still good but his ability to react could be next which I hope not. Javier did not have his best stuff but managed to keep the A’s to one run. Good bullpen work. No reason we shouldn’t take all three from the A’s. I think that it’s inevitable that they will be moving elsewhere soon. Attendance last night was less than 4k. That’s pathetic. I feel the owners are tanking on purpose. To facilitate a move. They could move to Charlotte which would put me only 90 miles from seeing the Astros but that’s a fantasy.

      Liked by 1 person

      • And from the angle high above the right field line, it appeared that to get to 4K, they had to count arms and legs. I loved the guy that had the T-shirt that had “00” on the back with the name of “Who’s Next.”

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    • Ideally, someone forces their way onto the roster in place of Castro next year and proves to be able to hit while also getting the job done behind the plate. But I think it’s going to take a different manager to keep Maldy from getting more starts than he should.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I read this and became confused. If Jones is not currently on 40 man, won’t they have to DFA someone on the 40 to add him? And if so, it would appear the leading candidate would be Jones himself. (Not sure exactly how the new CBA contract handles all of this though.)

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  27. * You know you are in the winter of your career when you get released, your club pays you millions to go away, and they call up Nomar Mazara to replace you.
    * If I could make one move to improve my club for the playoffs I trade for Realmuto. Then I send Jason Castro to the vineyard pasture and trade for a LH reliever, who has a history of getting guys out without putting guys on base.
    Altuve
    Brantley
    Bregman
    Alvarez
    Realmuto
    Tucker
    Gurriel
    Meyers/Chas
    Pena
    * I make a hard run at Judge in 2023. Play him in RF with that short fence where he doesn’t hardly have to jump to make a catch six feet over it. Move Tucker to LF. MMP is tailor-made for his bat. Show MLB that you can steal their superstars, too.

    Liked by 2 people

  28. The Yankees beat the Angels and Ohtani 6-1 in their first game. They play again this evening.
    Astros lead the Angels by 6.0 games at this moment.

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  29. Realmuto is an interesting thought. He can technically play first too which provides some insurance if Yuli does not recover. Or if Yuli wakes up and Bregman does not, can he still handle third? Which young catcher do we send to Philly?

    I can’t do Judge though, for the same reason some of us did not want to give Correa 7 or 8 years. And Judge might already be in decline defensively. I’m hoping we lock up our already in house DH at some point pretty soon.

    But we sure do need the lefty. A guy that can get righties out too. We might even need him bad enough to share closing duties with Pressly.

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  30. Realmuto would be the catcher for years. You give the Phils any one of our catching prospects they ask for and you will have to add players to that.
    Realmuto is throwing out runners at a 40% clip this season and Machete is your second catcher. The Astros won’t make it through the playoffs with a catcher who can’t hit because the other team will eliminate your #8 hitter if Maldy is batting ninth.
    As far as Judge is concerned, I think it would be the biggest signing the Astros would make since Nolan Ryan. Us oldtimers might balk at the price but young fans would literally turn MMP into Standing Room Only. He is stealing Ohtani’s thunder. I would offer him $40 million a year.
    There is no guarantee Yordan would resign with us, but those two bats in the lineup together along with Tucker starting in 2023 would put the Astros up with the Dodgers and Yankees in popularity.

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    • 1OP, I’m sold on Realmuto. I like the concept. And a Judge signing would certainly rock the baseball world. How many years are you willing to go at 40? But you know, a Judge deal might keep us keep us from being able to lock up Yordan, especially if we want Tucker. I’d still go in a totally different direction and see how little/much oft injured Brandon Nimmo would cost as my replacement for Brantley.

      A couple of interesting stats, although Judge has a far bigger career sample of course and he has been a quality fulltime outfielder and Alvarez has not.

      Lifetime OPS, Judge .947, Alvarez .947. OPS+, Judge 153. Alvarez 154.

      I agree, it would be a lot of fun putting Judge where Bregman is right now.

      Liked by 1 person

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