A little explanation for the uninitiated on the title of this post.
YIE – way back at the beginning of the Astros renaissance in 2015, I coined the acronym “YIE” for Yes It’s Early in this post.
This became such a phenomenon that millions poured into my coffers, and now you can’t hardly do anything on social media without seeing YIE used. (In my dreams)
The “horseshoe” reference ties back to my engineering time in Arkansas, where my good boss Dave Saunders who was a through and through Arkansan from Walnut Ridge, used to state the following. “It won’t take too long to look at that horseshoe”. Which meant the subject at hand was pretty obvious.
So, today we tie the two together when looking at the way-too-early stats for our favorite team 1 week into the 2023 season. YIE, but the problems so far are pretty obvious.
- On the plus side – the Astros are outscoring their opponents – averaging 4.86 runs/per game while allowing 4.43 runs per game.
- On the negative side, this does not add up to a winning record because the Astros have won games like Wednesday’s 8-2 victory while losing the only two one-run games they’ve played…the opening night 3-2 loss to the White Sox and the disappointing 7-6 loss in 11 innings to the Tigers on Monday night.
- The Astros’ offense is running middle of the road to this point. Their 4.86 runs/game is seventh in the AL.
- In addition, while their .342 OBP is a solid fourth, their other team stats lag with a .248 BA (8th), .366 SLG (11th), and .708 OPS (ninth).
- That low slugging number matches the eye test as the fans have noticed the team (with a couple of exceptions) settling for singles and lacking power through the majority of the lineup to this point.
- Looking at individual Astros vs. the league – Jeremy Pena is tied for 11th in runs scored with 6 and Yordan Alvarez and Alex Bregman are tied for 14th with 5 runs scored. That is almost miraculous, considering Pena is hitting .200 and Bregman .138 BA.
- Matching the eye test – Kyle Tucker is tied for first in the AL with 3 HRs, and Alvarez is right behind him, tied for 5th with 2 home runs.
- Yordan is 18th with a .348 BA, Jose Abreu is 23rd with a .345 BA, and Tucker is 24th with a .333 BA. Note – Abreu has a single XBH – a double – among his 10 hits this season.
- Tucker is 9th in the AL with a .467 OBP, while Alvarez is 23rd with a .407 OBP.
- And along those same lines, Tucker is sixth in the league with an excellent 1.217 OPS, while Yordan is 14th with a very good 1.060 OPS.
- It is obvious as a horseshoe that too much of the run-scoring offense is depending on KTuck and YA. Only Pena and Chas McCormick, with one dinger each in Wednesday’s game, have a homer besides the mighty two. Bregman, Maurcio Dubon, Jake Meyers, Yainer Diaz, and Cesar Salazar do not have an RBI to date, and Martin Maldonado and Corey Julks have a single ribbie each.
The team needs more contributions from more players to keep the offense afloat until the cavalry comes.
- The pitching to date has also been running towards the mediocre middle, as their 4.43 Runs allowed per game is 8th.
- The starters have a cumulative 3.93 ERA (eighth in the AL), 1.50 WHIP (T10th) 9.33 K/9 IP (8th), 1.96 BB/9 IP (first), and a nasty .307 BA against (13th). It is possible that the pitchers may need to be a little bit wilder (they give up the least walks per nine innings) to discourage the hitters from standing in there and successfully hacking away. The 1.50 WHIP is mostly built on hits allowed and is a very poor number.
- The relievers have a cumulative 4.13 ERA (11th), 1.20 WHIP (8th), .236 BA against (10th), 2.54 BB/9 IP (5th), and 10.16 K/9 IP (3rd). The bullpen has given up 5 HRs in only 28.1 innings of work, which is a not very good rate of 1.59 HRs/ 9 IP.
- On an individual basis – Framber Valdez is Tied for 11th among qualifiers with a 1.50 ERA and tied for 4th with 12 innings pitched. Cristian Javier is 22nd in the league with a 3.27 ERA and is 12th with 11 innings pitched.
- And when you talk about saves…..Rafael Montero and Hector Neris are tied for 5th in the league with 1 save apiece. Closer Ryan Pressly has yet to save a game nor blow one, but had a bad performance on opening night in a non-save situation.
There is obviously a lot of room for improvement here. Hopefully, the starters will slow down the hit onslaught of the opposition and the relievers will keep the balls in the park.
- The trio of Astro catchers Maldonado, Diaz, and Salazar have caught 2 of 11 runners attempting to steal against them, and those were both by Maldy who has gunned down 2 of 5. Diaz has allowed 2 of 2 attempts, and Salazar 4 of 4. A lot of this ties to the pitchers not holding the runners on or not throwing over as much as to not get caught in a situation where they can’t throw over under the new rules. On the other side of the coin – the Astros have stolen 6 out of their 7 attempts, with Chas McCormick, of all people leading the team with 3 steals in 3 attempts.
- Get used to the Astros having Thursdays off. After having this off-day moved from Friday to Thursday, their next Thursday game (if they don’t have a makeup game in between) will be June 1st.
There you go…. A quick look at where the team is performing after one week of games. Just remember if this were a marathon, they would be slightly past the first mile of the race at this point.
So, what are your thoughts to date?
This horseshoe looks like a “C” tipped on its side, with some of the luck leaking out. Bregman and Pena seem to be getting back into the swing, and hopefully other bats will warm up with the weather.
This is a test of the emergency broadcasting system.
Testing one two three.
Ha ha, I can’t seem to send a post of more than a few words. But I’m about as high tech Dusty Baker.
I’ll try to be brief.
Bregman and Pena will eventually get going in the direction we expect them to. But Pena should not be out leadoff man. He should hit in front of Yordan. We know that works.
My crazy theory in my head is what makes Pena successful is if in a range of guys (maybe 2 up or 2 down) around him IF he is the worst hitter in that group and pitchers get more aggressive with him in the zone he gets more successful. But that is a flimsy theory at best – and definitely won’t hold up if there is a book on him now.
The book says throw him outside low sliders, and he doesn’t translate them fast enough to realize they are going to break out of the zone – and he dives out for them more often than other guys. The problem for pitchers – you can’t throw him that all the time or he will actually adjust, and 2 – he is so strong that if you leave it just 3 inches closer to the zone than you meant too it’s a single to CF. He has done that time and time again. It’s why I’m confident that even if he doesn’t draw a lot of walks by seasons end he will always hit himself into at least 250-260 range, and probably higher in some seasons when all is said and done, and I’m fine with a SS that hits .250 with power and can win a gold glove until he wants 20M a year.
Julks has 19 at bats including 5 singles, a double and 7 K’s, no walks. A few months ago, no team wanted him. I suggest he’ll disappear at some point soon. In the meantime, our top 100 guy, with 7 at bats is likely spending more time on the bench than any other such highly ranked prospect in MLB. He should be playing somewhere everyday. He’s being done a disservice. And Dusty Baker is talking about playing guys to building confidence? BS.
Diaz lack of PT so far is discouraging. It’s YIE as Dan says. Hopefully it changes. I will say it’s hard, but he is going to have to take advantage of opportunities. He has few at bats, but he had 3 critical in 2 different games that he didn’t do anything with. 3 ABs should not determine your PT but for some reason Dusty has more confidence in a journeyman minor leaguer than him right now. It will only get worse when Brantley is back, Julks is optioned, and Brantley becomes the mostly DH part time LFer. To be honestly we could get lucky and it’s Meyers that is gone since Julks can play CF. Any opportunity for Diaz to see significant PT will be gone.
The Astros don’t really need three catchers, if Maldy is going to play 80% of the games and you are not finding more spots to use Diaz in the lineup. (Now whether Maldy should be getting 80% of the starts is an argument for another day.)
But its probably why Lee is at AAA because they knew he would not get too many shots if he were up here.
Right Dan – I feel like the reason they kept Salazar and Diaz is so that Diaz could DH a bit and they not worry about a 6th inning foul tip ending up removing the DH from the lineup. I can’t see any reason to keep Julks AND Meyers when Brantley returns though. They could, it could be a catcher that goes down, but the problem is if Salazar or Diaz either one go down they are now splitting time with Lee at AAA. Ideally you want all 3 getting significant at bats.
I won’t compare Jake to Chas any longer. Just this. Jake has not hit since August of 2021 when he had a .420 BABip. Even last year, as bad as he was, his BABip was an unsustainable .344.
Imagine hitting .224 with a.587 OPS and a .344 BABip? Right now, he’s got two infield hits, 2 BB’s and 6 K’s. And he can no longer be consider a slick defender. Was he ever? He should be a bench guy like Dubon until Brantley gets back.
I quit saying guys are not major leaguers when I thought JD Martinez was not a major leaguer and the Astros released him. The rest is history.
But, Jake Meyers, is probably not a major leaguer. There, I put a small window for myself to get some air.
Sorry guys, it is Holy Week, Masters Week and our first Honors Band Concert since the turn of the century. It is also the Spring Shorthorn Show and Sale week.
The Astros are in 3rd place in the AL West and look like a third tier team at the present time. That’s what happens when you sit on your laurels, celebrate last season, send all your players out to play in an intermural tournament and let a player sit for two months before getting their shoulder fixed. It’s what happens when you brag about your best hitter not needing Spring training ABs and then sit him out of your fourth game of the year to rest while your team gets their ass kicked. It’s also what happens when you let almost your entire pitching staff pitch somewhere else instead of putting them on your team’s normal spring buildup.
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WHAT IS THIS 2023 ASTROS’ TEAM MADE OF?
Our upcoming series against the Twins will show us a lot about the 2023 team’s character and cohesiveness. We know our team has talent galore; but do we have cohesiveness? Do we have focus? Do we have heart? We will soon find out. The Twins are the best club we have seen so far – head and shoulders above both the talented -but-horribly-undisciplined ChiSox and the improving-but-still-not-ready for playoff contention Tigers.
We will have to face this challenge without our best starting pitchers – Valdez and Javier. That means we will have to grit our teeth, put on our big-boy pants, and slug it out. Nothing we have seen so far has gotten our offense to ‘gell’ [possibly due to the absence of our table setters, Altvue & Brantley, and certainly complicated by Dusty’s incessant, irrational insistence on line-up tinkering]. Likewise, our bullpen has thus far been inconsistent at best – and at worst has been self-destructive at a level that we cannot sustain.
Maybe the serious challenge the Twins present to us will bring out the best -and the fight- in our guys; maybe not. We will know soon.
Mr. Bill –
I agree with a lot that you say, but I don’t think the team is lacking fight – they have rallied often in their losses, including three times in their 7-6 loss to the Tigers, but they came up short. They have been unlucky at times – I think there have been probably four outstanding plays against them that cost them multiple runs.
And I think they may get affected by people trying to make up for those not here or pressing for other reasons – Pena taking pitches because now he is a leadoff hitter – Some of the starters pressing to make up for JV and LMJ not being here – the bullpen thinking they have less margin for error, etc….
This will be an interesting series but YIE
Dan, the ‘fight’ that I am talking about is primarily bullpen related, not offense related. So far, if one thing goes wrong for our bullpen [and a lot has so far], it has opened the floodgate. Errors, bobbles, and fluke/bloop hits have consistently been followed by walks allowed, wild pitches, base runners not held on/looked back and thus allowed to steal, and back-breaking home runs. For our bullpen so far, when the going gets tough … instead of the ‘tough get going’ as happened last year, what has happened is a quick escalation to disaster. Far too many bullpen innings now elicit of feeling of deja vu relating back to the disastrous eighth and ninth innings of Game 4 of the 2015 ALCS vs. Kansas City (ahead 6-2 through 7, our bullpen gave up 7 runs over the next two innings to lose that game 9-6,, and go on to lose the series the next day -again in allowing KC to come back from a deficit.
Maybe. We only have 7 games to consider. No reason to nitpick the wins, but the bullpen allowed only 2 runs across the three games. Of the losses we have:
Game 1: Bullpen blows it
Game 4: Garcia didn’t have it in 6th, bullpen let it get out of hand
Game 5: Brown inconsistent, team battles back and loses in extras
Game 6: Framber pitched well enough to win, but defense and bullpen let them down.
I’m not overly concerned. We’re 1.5 games back from Texas and Anaheim. If we get through April at .500 I think the team will be in good position going forward. If we don’t, well, it’s a tough schedule, but how confident are you for the postseason if we can’t beat these teams in the regular season?
I’m not worried about our club, their dedication, fight, discipline or anything else.
But I question some things. If Diaz is the higher rated prospect, why is he not playing 4 times a week with the big club or at AAA? Why Julks? He’s not going to be catching next year.
We could go on and on. My take is that we’ve got a very professional group that will play well together. And we’ll get sorted out at some point.
Dusty Baker seemingly keeps his guys happy and they respect him. But they may well win with or without him. He’s got loads of talent in his midst. But .500 ball might not be acceptable after two months. Our new GM might help Dusty with his decisions as we move into the season. That’s what I’m interested to see.
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I’m going to reply to myself. I’d have tried Diaz at first. That gets Frenchy out of the lineup with Hensley at second. So our top prospect will continue sitting, with 2 starts in 8 games. That’s a confidence builder.
Urquidy on the mound – he needs to turn things around in this start
Last time out …
Thowing to Yanier Diaz, Urquidy managed to survive only 4 innings, putting our bullpen in a really tough spot. In his short start, Urquidy threw 82 pitches, surrendered 7 hits, a BB, 2 HR, and 3 earned runs. Stolen bases were recorded against him/Diaz by both Andrew Benintendi and Tim Anderson.
Today Urquidy throws to his old battery-mate, Maldy. Will the Machete manage to get more out of Jose than young Yanier did? This will be a storyline I’ll be watching.
That will be an interesting storyline Mr Bill – though it seems like Maldy’s magic wasn’t working with our bullpen who had most of their struggles with him behind the plate.
I, like many other Astro fans, have always accepted the promotion of the ‘Maldy effect’ without questioning it. This year, with a couple of young potential replacements ready and waiting for their chance, I want to see if that effect is real – or just luck. My post was not intended as a condemnation or rebuke of Diaz – it was intended as a challenge to Maldy, who objected to the Astros’ pursuit of FA Wilmer Contreras this past off-season, saying this was HIS team – to go out today and PROVE IT.
The results for Urquidy were significantly better. 5.1 IP this time instead of 4.0. This time the only run allowed was a man Abreu let score on yet another poorly timed wild pitch]. Was it the “Maldy Effect”? Was it the cold weather in Minnesota? Was Jose just ‘ready’ this time? I don’t know.
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Another tough loss in extras. It is hard to win with only hits (two by Dubon????). It is even harder when your bullpen uncorks three wild pitches in critical situations. Add in 4ks from your lead-off hitter, and whoop, there it is.
That should read ‘only five hits’
This game is an example of the manager grinding my gears. I may be in the minority here so here goes…
In the last inning of a tied game, why bring in the closer to begin the inning. IMHO the closer is just that, the CLOSER! Not someone who is in for a hold. Ughh!
Pretty feeble effort.
Sonny Gray is throwing the best ball of his life, but our guys kept swinging at stuff a foot off the plate.
Carlos Correa got booed by his fans.
Urquidy pitched well. I don’t buy the Maldy effect.
Father Time is catching up to Maldy. Our own Father Time won’t recognize that.
I saw a small ball bunt. It turned into a run.
Looks like Frenchy will be leading off.
Stanek is not a reliable pitcher right now.
I was listening to the game on the radio running chores yesterday. Ford and Sparks were commenting on how much problem everyone was having seeing the ball.
Then we get this….
It may be selective memory right now – but I never remember Maldy complaining about this.
And the really bad news is that both today’s game and tomorrow’s game starts at exactly the same time as yesterday.
Big change in today’s lineup
Right now, I simply can’t anticipate what the lineup will look like on any given day.
Today Sherman and Dr Peabody will be entering the “Way back machine” to 2013 to look at the Houston Astros 113 loss season with it’s similarities to 2023.
But one thing noticed was there was no Yordan Alvarez in the line up in 2013.
I’m unable to watch the game right now – two questions
– How did Meyers throw out Correa? Did he fall down.
– Where was the pitch that Yordan hit the grand salami?I can’t believe they gave him anything to hit
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Center cut for YA. Exit velocity at 108 and off the limestone planter box. And Correa ain’t exactly fast but Jake got a good jump and a pretty good throw. Wasn’t even close.
That shows Jake has the ability – he’s not shown any arm before this year – maybe lack of confidence
Are we now leading the league in K’s? That’s batter K’s, not pitching K’s. Altuve and Brantley can’t come back quick enough. It’s tough to be positive when the team is playing as bad as they are.
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Well I can’t remember 17 outs via the K for our Astros in a 9 inning game.
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Well, the Astros lost again today, but there was some good organizational news. Between our AA and AAA teams, Corpus Christi and Sugarland only lost four games today.
Good Easter morning to all.
Our guys don’t lead MLB in strike outs, but we’re right up there in second. The Giants actually lead baseball, but they’ve also got a very robust .828 OPS. We’re way down in the .600’s. Between Pena, Abreu And Hensley, those guys have walked 8 times and struck out 36. That’s bad for a team that has historically been disciplined at the dish. And what’s worse is that we can expect everyone to keep throwing breaking balls off the plate until our guys stop swing at that stuff. Heck, we are swinging at pitches WAY off the plate! On a side note, Frenchy has only struck out once. Maybe Hensley should sit. Tough time for the Astros. I’ll take something close to .500 for April. That might be a reach though.
That was Sat’dy … Sundy’s-a-comin’!
[I know I’m signed up to serve the blog as the CC – but it’s all hands on deck for our humbled heroes these days!]
Hope folks have a great Easter, had a great Passover and continue to have a blessed Ramadan
Question: does the 2023 version MLB baseball seem to be breaking a whole lot more to anyone but me? Who needs pine tar anymore!
Any idea what they did to the design?
We may finally be getting much higher draft picks in 2024. It seems like we need them.
The Astros top 2B prospect, Will Wagner, has yet to play a game or make an appearance in the 2023 regular minor league season.
Joey Loperfido is their #2 2B prospect and has gotten one High A game under his belt so far.
That was a big league outing by Brown today.
I hope our clean up hitter starts hitting the ball further.
I don’t recollect Tucker ever getting tossed before. I hate the interference rule at first base, especially now with the bigger bases. The catcher gets rewarded for making a bad throw.
It irks me a bit when Chas has to move to left or right when Jake comes in.
Gosh, I hope Hensley is a better hitter than Frenchy.
I hope Diaz does not go back to the bench for a week. Besides two solid hits, he got his fellow rookie through 7 innings.