Sure, the Astros have troubles

The Astros are one of the best teams in baseball. The Astros have a number of flaws that drive the locals crazy.

Yuli Gurriel has never gotten rolling like he did in his 2021 batting championship season. With Michael Brantley gone for the season, Aledmys Diaz out with his leg injury, and Chas McCormick working his way back from a finger injury, the combination of Mauricio Dubon and Jake Meyers (sent down after I typed these words) are getting more ABs than their stats would warrant. The Astros closer, Ryan Pressly is injured again. The other bullpen pieces seem to be hanging on by a thread, even with three-run leads. Justin Verlander may miss some time with a leg injury. Cristian Javier did not look thrilled to be in the bullpen after outpitching some of his rotation mates. Dusty Baker’s lineups and days off choices make the knowledgeable Astro fan look as thrilled as Javier. And very importantly, Yordan Alvarez has something wrong with one hand or the other and has had his worst month as an Astro.

There may be a complaint or three missing from that list, but you get a general idea. The Astros are somehow winning, despite being a flawed and incomplete team.

Well, welcome to the real world.

Let’s look at the other big dog in the American League, the New York Yankees, who are seven games ahead of the Tampa Bay Rays in the AL East.

  • The Yanks are 4 games behind the Astros. About two months ago, on June 29, they were eight games ahead of the Astros but have been on a dive since then.
  • They’ve got Chad Green and Michael King’s big arms out for the season.
  • They’ve got big contracts on the 60-day IL like Luis Severino and Zack Britton
  • Aroldis Chapman had not been pitching very well and then goes on the IL due to an infection from a tattoo on his leg.
  • Matt Carpenter was one of their best hitters (not named Judge) but went down with an injury from which he might or might not return this season
  • Josh Donaldson is slashing a below-average .223 BA/ .312 OBP/ .697 OPS, while Aaron Hicks is slashing an anemic .216 BA/.337 OBP /.638 OPS
  • And along with Chapman sucking, Jonathan Loaisiga is sporting a 5.52 ERA out of the bullpen
  • Giancarlo Stanton is hitting for poor average with good power, but actually, he is not hitting at all for the moment as he is hurt again.
  • Oh, and the Yanks are 4-14 in their last 18 games
  • Depending on your source, they are paying about $260 MM this year for the current team.
  • And they are the Yanks – so there’s that

And why not check out the biggest dog out there, the outstanding 89-38 Los Angeles Dodgers? Unlike the Yankees, they are tearing it up, going 21-5 so far in August. But if fans want to complain….

  • Walker Buehler was 4th in the Cy Young race in 2021. He just had Tommy John surgery and will likely not come back until 2024
  • Due to injuries, Clayton Kershaw has only made 15 starts this season
  • They are paying $16 MM for a closer, Craig Kimbrel, with a blah 4.14 ERA. That ERA number is 10th among closers with 20 or more saves.
  • Third baseman Max Muncy has an ugly slash of .189 BA/ .323 OBP/ .695 OPS.
  • Left fielder Chris Taylor has a slightly better slash of .227 BA/ .307 OBP/ .702 OPS.
  • Center fielder Cody Bellinger has a very disappointing slash of .208 BA/ .265 OBP/ .664 OPS.
  • Reliever Phil Bickford has been in 51 games but has a 5.14 ERA that makes you beg for Phil Maton.
  • And brilliant Tony Goselin (16-1 with a 2.10 ERA) just got put on the injured list.
  • I would have included pitcher Dustin May, who was great before being injured, but he just returned looking as JV good as ever after Tommy John surgery.

When a team that is on pace for 113 wins has so many things to gripe about, it is fairly clear that this is the norm in the world.

So, should we complain as much as we do?

 

55 comments on “Sure, the Astros have troubles

  1. Sure, we’re allowed to gripe when our manager puts up weird lineups more often than not. That’s what we don’t get paid for.
    Some guys should not be playing so much while other guys sit too much. And we need fodder for Mr. Bill. It looks like we’re seeing a bit of adjusting going on right now, so we’ll see if anything else interesting happens before midnight. Dan, you’ve already said this, but why not go ahead and put Alvarez on the injured list? He has not hit in 6 weeks. And then clear room on the 40 man for one more guy. Let’s see what he does while Yordan rests.

    I just wish I knew who to complain about. Should I be on Click or Baker? I don’t blame Frenchy or Yuli or Meyers. It’s not their fault someone sent them out there.

    But you know, with Verlander, Alvarez, Pressly all with some degree of injury and a dubious lineup from night to night, I’m almost feeling that we’ve become a bit of an underdog and I’m good with that.

    Like

    • I feel like Bill is just getting abused by Baker’s quirkiness. We are going to have to start doing health and welfare visits to him every time Dubon is in the lineup. TBH, add me to that list as well.

      This is the tumsiest of tums team I’ve ever seen that sports the best record in the AL. Just goes to show the power of great starting pitching.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Last night was a perfect example of the team winning but egging us on to complain. Another top notch start by Framber with a couple solo shots the only real smudges – great finish by Neris. But leaving so many ducks on the pond….especially the bases loaded and no out. But a win is a win. Still 4 up on the Yanks, 11.5 up on the M’s and 8 games behind the insane Dodgers.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. A lot of teams having all sorts of issues right now. It will be interesting to see how management, coaches, and players deal with the adversity. As long as the Astros maintain their lead and get to (win) the WS we will all be very happy (I think).

    Like

    • Things that might make Mr. Bill Happy:

      1. Verlander comes back after a short IL stint and is better than ever;
      2. The Astros sweep the playoffs undefeated and win the WS in 4 games [my nerves can’t handle more than the minimum number of games with the bullpen I call ‘Club Cardiac’];
      3. DaveB invites me to spend a week in Paradise; and
      4. Peace on earth – with a chicken in every pot.

      Remember, this is OHHHH, NOOOOOOO … Mr. BILLLLLLLLL!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I’ve cooled a bit on Justin Dirden. Maybe he needs more time. He’s got a lot of great stats. But how does a guy maintain a .383 BABip over 704 at bats in any league? Doesn’t that bubble have to burst at some point? Just for the fun of it, here are the ten highest MLB BABip’s recorded since 1945.

    Willie McGee, 1985, .395
    Derek Jeter, 1999, .396
    Wade Boggs, 1999, .396
    Austin Jackson, 2010, .396
    Andres Galarraga, 1993, .399
    Ichiro Suzuki, 2004, .399
    Roberto Clemente, 1967, .403
    Manny Ramirez, 2003, .403
    Jose Hernandez, 2002, .404
    Rod Carew, 1977, .408

    And Babe Ruth put up a .423 in 1923.

    Wow, what names!

    On the flipside, maybe Dirden does not need any more time and we should sign him right now to a Jonathan Singleton deal.

    Like

  5. Name a single contender in MLB that is not being affected by injury. At this point of the year it’s ubiquitous and inevitable. Where the Astros have prevailed is in the pitching arena and even with JV down for a while we should be in pretty good shape. Framber was terrific last night although he may have gotten a little lazy with the 8 and 9 hitters who he later summarily dispatched. I also applaud Dusty for letting Framber face the top of the order for the fourth time and being vindicated by Framber’s perfect 8th inning.. Having some long relief help in place should also help the leverage guys and get them back on track. Nerris was good last night and I expect good things from Stanek and Montero as well if they’re not overused.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Framber remains remarkable. He still might become part of the Cy Young conversation. He’s an ace on all but a few clubs.

      I’m starting to feel sorry for Yuli at this point. Maybe he needs a rest. He’s flailing at pitches all over the place.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Things I miss:

    1. George Springer leading off and playing CF for our Houston Astros – and dancing in that famous disco ‘Club Astros’;
    2. Michael Brantley;
    3. Carlos Correa’s arm (can we mix and max body parts like that?);
    4. Yuli Gurriel being Yuli Gurriel (like way back in … say, 2021);
    5. having a hard-throwing, shut-down closer [wait, have we ever had one of those? Dave Smith? Billy Wagner? Joe Sambito? Brad Lidge before the Pujols smash? Jose Valverde?]
    6. seeing Chip post more often – to give Dan a well-deserved break now and again;
    7. Regular comments from fellow posters with two x chromosones – Becky, Sandy, Diane, Juanita, Julia [who have I missed?]

    Liked by 2 people

    • [Things I miss]:

      8. Being totally oblivious to who Mauricio Dubon was;
      9. Maton being Maton instead of Mat-off;
      10. Yordan Alvarez hitting massive home runs [sigh!] in bunches;
      11. Watching opposing centerfielders fall down climbing Tal’s Hill.

      Okay, I’ll stop for now.

      Liked by 2 people

      • It wasn’t that long ago that Alvarez was trailing Judge by a few HR and I was thinking if he could have a little hot streak the national media would have to start fawning over him. Last night Judge hit number 51 and they showed the guys trailing him – Alvarez (31), Rizzo (30), Ohtani (29), Buxton Trout and Seager (28). That contest is over! The one Judge hit last night was pretty amazing though.

        Like

      • I have never gotten the like button to ever work on this site but if I could you would get it today. You are on fire Sir! Dan’s post got you fired up I love it!

        Like

  7. A couple things I forgot to mention about the Dodgers….
    – I’m not sure if they have to pay him now – but Trevor Bauer was suspended for two years due to domestic violence violations and counts $35+MM against their salary total
    – A few guys on their 60 day IL include – Blake Treinen, Daniel Hudson, Tommy Kahnle, Danny Duffy and Jimmy Nelson
    It helps to have a $330 MM budget…..

    Like

    • They don’t have to pay Bauer and he won’t count against their luxury tax level. Even without him, their total luxury tax payroll is over $260 million

      Like

  8. The bullpen actually looked good today. Well, except for Will Smith. Will Smith looked as dicey as he has every other outing in an Astro uni. He has real problems with left handed batters.

    Our tall drink of water got 3 hits and drew a walk. Jose took another ball to the opposite field. Dubon? Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha. I am now officially suffering from PTSD (Please tell me we’re Sitting Dubon)

    Liked by 2 people

  9. So … is the group in or out on signing Michael Conforto to a 2-year contract?

    I’m supposing that would be the end of frenchy Dubon, but who knows. He’s kind of like Jason from the Halloween saga.

    Like

    • Has he played anywhere this summer which would suggest he could be ready to face MLB pitching in October? It wouldn’t be an awful risk given the potential, but I’m also not sure he brings more to the table than Mancini at this point even if his return is at full health. The market for LF is really thin for next year though, so getting someone to fill that void makes sense even if he can’t contribute in 2022. My big concern is that this team can’t operate like the Dodgers, Yankees, or Red Sox. If they take a flyer on Conforto…what are the odds Click can scrounge up enough coins from Crane’s couch cushions to keep Verlander and explore CF options?

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’m glad it did not happen with the Astros. And I don’t think the Boras camp is going to let him sign anywhere at 15 million for 1 or 8 years. I’d love to have his bat, but he’s another bad defender that hits.

        Like

  10. Our Astros went 19-9 in July and 17-11 in August as we thought they were wobbling! Obviously it was not so bad. The .735 team OPS was no surprise, but the team ERA at 3.00 again carried the club, even as the pen had a few rough nights. Keep winning with what we’ve got, get well, get rested!

    Like

    • I’ll have that umbrella drink now, DaveB! By the way, could you also go ahead and book a steelhammer band? Every time I see Angel Martinez, French Dubon, or Dusty Baker’s line-up card I need to hear Bob Marley’s ‘Three Birds’, Johnny Nash’s ‘I Can See Clearly Now’, and Bobby McFerrin’s ‘Don’t Worry, Be Happy’ wafting on the ocean breeze!

      PS. That sure didn’t feel like I imagined 17-11!

      Like

      • I think it’s because the losses to Chicago and Atlanta felt more meaningful than they really were. The bullpen blew two games against the White Sox and we had to salvage the split by taking the final two games. The Atlanta series is more interesting because there are too many Braves fans where I live. On the radio they were celebrating like Atlanta had swept the series in dominating fashion when the truth of it is we lost the first game because LMJ and Maton struggled while our offense didn’t shop up. The second game was one of those extra inning coin flip debacles. We only won the final game by a run because Pressly had a bad ninth. If the bullpen returns to early season form we win most of those games and have less to be worried about.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Mr. Bill, we’re too cool for umbrella drinks here in little Nevis. We’ll get you a very stout rum punch though, with freshly grated nutmeg on top instead of the umbrella. Or better yet, an ice cold Carib lager and a generous pour of aged rum on the side. Then you certainly won’t worry and you’ll be happy too. But you might not be seeing very clearly. And I’m sure we can get the steel pan band to take any Marley request.

        Liked by 1 person

  11. Some thoughts:
    * Yainer Diaz being brought up is a good chance for the Astros to test his bat while Yordan heals up his wrists. I look for him to get some DH starts in September, along with an occasional look at 1B.
    * Anyone notice a Cristian Vasquez’ night game start, followed by an early afternoon start the following day? I see a change here as maybe the Astros are tired of a year-long .178 hitter in that lineup.
    * With Vasquez in the lineup, with his year-long BA of .290, Pena can be dropped down to the lower third of the batting order that he would add some pop and speed to, rather than the top of the order that he hasn’t earned.
    * Mauricio Dubon has been the exact duplicate of the player he was with the Giants. No walks, little power, weak contact, above average fielder, favorite in the clubhouse. Lately he has missed or fouled off a lot of pitches he should have hit.
    * With the schedule remaining and the way the staff is pitching, I’d say that JV’s IL visit is perfect timing. The scheduled days-off fit in very well with that scenario.
    * Hunter Brown may get a start sometime this coming month, but I don’t think that is why he was brought up. I think he was brought up to see if he could be an effective one-inning reliever in the post-season, at least for 2022.

    Like

    • I saw a headline that Maldonado was going to miss a few games with a hand/wrist injury. I assume it’s not serious enough to put him on the IL, but that would account for Dusty finally giving some innings to Vasquez.

      Liked by 2 people

    • Yes, I’d put Vazquez in the 2 slot tonight! He’s got a .422 OBP over the last 28 days. He’s gotten on base all year.

      Frenchy is a nice guy. I just hope we don’t need to put him on a post season roster. But I’m somewhat resigned to that outcome.

      Verlander, Pressly, Brown. All question marks. I’m glad Brown is in the fold.

      Like

      • If Aledmys Diaz comes back healthy and goes on a rehab to Sugarland and tears it up, they will have some decisions to make. Dubon has no options left. That’s how we got him in the first place.

        Like

  12. Justin Dirden was taken out of tonight’s game in Sugarland after batting in the bottom of the second inning. He was replaced in LF for the top of the third.

    Like

    • Oldpro mentioned it above. I had forgotten we had Brinson. He’s struggled at the MLB level, but he had a really strong August that made his 2022 numbers at Sugarland look great. I hope SF gives him a shot.

      Like

    • Maybe I am looking at the wrong sites, but it appears that teams out of the playoffs are DFAing/Trading AAAA players like crazy so far this month. Many are going to a second and third team.

      Like

      • That’s an interesting observation. I wonder if it’s in response to the MLBPA efforts to get service time awarded earlier or if there is a strategic component to not use players they want to keep in their system which I’m not seeing.

        Like

    • The latest update from Aug 30th was Aledmys was running 70+%
      They said expect him for the next homestand Sept 5th at the earliest
      That sounds optimistic

      Like

  13. Good morning all,

    Dr. Dan, can you update your diagnosis on our friend Yordan? Anyone else ready to put him on the injured list for a couple of weeks?

    Maldy says Lance is getting closer, so I believe him.

    Our new Diaz is not bashful about swinging the bat.

    For some reason the Yankee game was on down here last night. Those guys were a numb looking group in that dugout last night. On the flipside, our guys on the bench were enjoying another Friday night at the ballpark.

    Abreu pitched late and had another nice inning. He hasn’t given up a run since July 13.

    And Montero finished up by striking out Ohtani and Trout. He looked fresh and sharp.

    Sure would be nice to get a win off Ohtani tonight.

    Like

  14. They score a few runs, put us on the edge of our seats for the rest of the night and then win the game leaving us exhausted with no fingernails. Welcome to the 2022 Astros.

    Liked by 2 people

  15. I don’t even pretend to “follow” the other teams but with the Angels owning the two best? players in baseball, one would think that the Angels would win a bunch of games. And with all the crazy trades, signing, and extensions by Dipoto in Seattle one would think they would be going nowhere. One team’s record is 74-58 and headed to the playoffs. The other is 57-75 and headed no place.

    Like

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