Dusty – Hey, OG What Are You Thinking?

I have a few things to say before we get into the meat of this post.

First, I have steadily and often defended Dusty throughout his time here. Every manager who makes decisions (every manager) will make mistakes or have his players not perform well, which reflects on the manager. A.J. Hinch was a good manager here, except for losing control of his players during the cheating scandal and when he did not insert Gerrit Cole into Game 7 of the 2019 World Series. But I digress.

Second, considering that while I am not Dusty’s age, yet, but being definitely in the area code, the OG title is not an insult. I am proud to be an OG and hope I get to be at least as old an OG as Dusty Baker.

And of course, folks will be saying to me “What are you thinking?” As I seem to be going after Dusty just as he is leading us to a seven game win streak (and counting), this seems like ill timing. But truly, this is not trying to hang failures on Dusty, but to suggest that when you are winning may be the best time to do some self-evaluation and work towards improvement.  

Yes, I know that Dusty has forgotten more than I will ever know about baseball. My reply to that is that I would like Dusty to remember some of the more important things he has forgotten.

In many ways, Dusty probably represents one of the things I’ve seen in being around people as they age.  In general, whatever personality traits people demonstrate during life, they intensify when they get older. For Dusty the one trait that seems to have reached the tipping point is stubbornness. If he was stubborn younger, he seems to have reached new heights in his 70’s. He has his ideas about what the lineups should look like, and he will not let anything, even simple, obvious statistics get in the way of how he uses his roster.

Note – in general most of my problems with Dusty have to do with how he handles the position players, not the pitching staff, and that is where we will concentrate today.

So, what are my complaints?

  1. This crazy doo-doo about not wanting to put your two best hitters – Yordan Alvarez and Kyle Tucker – consecutively in the lineup. It makes no sense, because, these two guys cannot be shutdown by bringing in a left handed pitcher. They thrive on hitting against left handed pitchers. All that happens with the Alvarez – Jose Abreu – Tucker set-up is that Tucker is getting less at bats than the worst batter not named Martin Maldonado and a lot of rallies are falling by the way-side due to Abreu’s problems.
  2. Speaking of Abreu…..why the heck is a guy with a .532 OPS batting 4th or 5th in this lineup? If his ego is too fragile to take that a move back in the lineup, he is never coming out of this slump. You may be trying to get him better pitches to hit by putting him between Yordan and KTuck, but if it hasn’t worked so far, it’s probably not working anytime soon. At this point, drop him down in the lineup. You must do that or….you tell him he isn’t playing until he confesses what friggin’ injury he’s hiding. Tell him you are going to send him for a full body MRI or something. But in the meantime he needs to be out of the cleanup spot and probably the fifth or sixth spots. He is only hurting the team there.
  3. Chas McCormick’s slash line against left handed pitching in his career is .302 BA/ .376 OBP/ .929 OPS. As a comparison, Yordan’s career slash overall is .296/.384/.972. So, Chas hits lefties just a little less than Yordan hits all comers. But the team plays a three game series against the A’s where they have lefty’s starting the first two games and a righty in the finale. And Chas sits against the lefty’s and plays against the righty when he has a .231 BA/ .308 OBP/ .686 OPS against righties. What the heck? For some reason Dusty goes out of his way to show Chas in his worst light. I’m not sure if Chas voted for the wrong guy in 2020 or he told Dusty he thinks Willie Mays was better than Hank Aaron, but there is something wrong when the manager ignores something this simple and this obvious.
  4. I’m willing to say that Maldy knows the pitching staff better than Yainer Diaz. But Diaz has done well in limited use and has shown a much better arm than “Machete” so far. And Diaz is hitting a whole lot better (.240 vs .186 BA) even though he never gets a shot to get into any kind of rhythm. I’m not saying you have to sit Maldy all the time for Diaz, but I would sure like to have a better bat in the lineup 3 out of 7 games.  
  5. Mauricio Dubon was always going to go back to the bench after Jose Altuve returned. But he was hitting .303 BA and fielding like a whiz when Jose was gone. Now he has had one AB since Tuesday and it makes no sense that he is not being used some to give starters days off, or as the first hitter off the bench.

Again, with a seven game winning streak, I’m not hanging any losses around Dusty’s neck. But the team’s offense just scored the least runs against a terrible A’s pitching staff any team has scored against them in any road series this season. Luckily the pitching staff is carrying the Astros, but Dusty should be giving the offense a better chance by using simple stats to load up a more compelling and competitive lineup every day.

What do you think?


62 comments on “Dusty – Hey, OG What Are You Thinking?

  1. What do I think?
    I think Diaz ought to be in the lineup more often. If the Astros want Maldonado at his best in October, It would behoove them to not have him beat up so much, like he was last year.
    I think Altuve leading off is a psychological boost for the team and a thorn in the side of opposing pitchers.
    I think the Astros were not up for the Athletics, but the Athletics are so bad it didn’t matter.
    I think Abreu is offering Alvarez no protection batting behind him. I think Tucker would.
    I think Chas McCormick should play CF.
    The Astros changed Brantley’s status to “out indefinitely”, so if you want to spread out LH batters through the lineup, you had better get another LH hitting outfielder. Dirden comes to mind.


  2. Are Astros fans fond of Aledmes Diaz? The guy is absolutely hated in Oakland as he can’t hit, is a defensive liability, and plays with zero passion. What a trash player. Worst FA signing since Billy Butler.


    • When he was able to stay on the field, he was a generally reliable utility guy. Seemed like a good clubhouse guy. But Astro fans really did not lament his departure. Looks like Dubon might end up giving us much more going forward.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Aledmys was a good player who couldn’t stay healthy. I thought last year he really struggled and shouldn’t have been on the playoff roster, though. My suspicion when Oakland signed him is that they are all in on the race to the bottom but knew they needed at least some experienced players on team.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Gary –
      I get a feeling if he was hitting around .250 with decent power like he did for the Astros part of the time – he would not be thought so poorly of. He was very good in 2019 but missed about half the season. He was lousy in 2020 and only played about half the time. Hit well in 2021 but again missed a lot of time and was worse in 2022 and missed time with injuries.
      He was flexible and could play around the infield – the problem is likely that he can get really exposed playing every day – I don’t know. He played well in the field over the weekend against us (I did not see every play of the weekend).
      Seemed like a good bench guy when healthy and good attitude when he played with us, but maybe the losing situation has sucked the positive attitude out of him.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. In general, re Dusty, I really think there is an in house issue with the GM and manager. Again last evening in the post game comments, Dusty added his almost obligatory comment, noted again that Maldy guided Framber through his start. It’s a campaign at this point. GM says Diaz is our future and will be playing more. Dusty plays the guy less and less. I don’t think it’s a healthy situation.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I think there is an in house issue between our GM and manager. Brown states that Diaz is our future and will be playing more and more. Dusty plays him less and less. Again after yesterdays game, Dusty uttered his almost obligatory comment at this point…..Maldy guided Framber through the game. Maldy is losing his skills. Diaz already does some things better than Maldy. Dusty can’t seem to come to grips with that concept, to the detriment of the Astros.


  5. 1 and 2. I’m so happy to have Altuve back. As least for now, he almost seems more selective. But he’s swinging well. Abreu is damaged goods, mentally or physically or both. But we’re stuck with him. At least get him out of the way of our guys that are hitting. Not easy though. Bregman, who I thought would have a healthy weekend against AAA pitching has instead dropped his OPS back down to .690. That stinks from him. Pena has made no improvement over last year to date. I’ve given up talking about Chas sitting against a lefty. All my life, I’ve been told that the manager’s job is to give his guys the best chance to succeed. It’s scary, but I’m almost to the point where I actually believe Dusty goes the other way intentionally sometimes.


  6. 4 and 5. I think I’ve already worn you guys out with my insistence that Diaz is getting screwed. But Dan, again I agree, I do believe he’s getting held back so as to not make Maldy look obsolete. And that is flat out irresponsible to Diaz and to the entire baseball club.

    Frenchy, at least as long as he keeps producing should get a Bregman start, at least one at short and for now, give Altuve a rest day as he gets used to playing everyday. And I have no doubt that he can’t hold his own at first base. Outfield? If Julks stay in the mix, and he should not, then I’d leave Dubon out of the outfield for now. But make sure he gets 4 starts a week.


  7. I think Dusty’s managing style is to give players a long leash to work out problems and to show them he has confidence in their abilities. It’s worked for Dubon, but not so far for Abreu, Bregman and Maldy.

    I don’t think Dusty cares too much about how his players perform at the beginning of the year as long as they can produce at the end of the season.


  8. I disagree with the Dubon assessment. He was playing because there was no Altuve. In fact initially I believe that Hensley was going to be the replacement but he couldn’t cut the mustard. Had Altuve been available you’d only see Dubon in 1 out of 5 games and maybe a late inning defensive replacement.

    As for Maldy, he’ll be in there until A) he’s physically unable to play or B) Dana Brown gets involved. Just about the time he’s about to fold completely he goes 2 for 3 with a walk and Dusty stays the course. Maybe he has pictures that certain people don’t want to be shown (that’s a joke).

    Abreu; what a waste of 58.5MM. Somebody needs to be spanked for that one. I suspect if you look at the organization I would think Crane is where the buck stopped. Same for Montero. Maybe Montero will improve but as of this writing they are both unmitigated disasters. But who do you replace Abreu with?

    And finally, Bregman. I’d put Dubon at third batting second to see what he could do. Couldn’t be any worse in my opinion. Bregman is making better contact but he still isn’t hitting the ball consistently.

    The merry-go-round of Chas and Jake is frustrating. Jake gets hot and then he sits. Chaz heats up and then he sits. It’s crazy. And if Uncle Mike comes back you have more perplexity. I expect the Allstate Mayhem guy to make an appearance sooner than later if this keeps up.

    As Dan has said, You can’t expect things to change when you keep doing the same thing over and over and expect different results (my words). Kind of like the opposite, if it ain’t broke don’t try to fix it. We need some tweaking.


    • Zanuda, some good points. If Julks gets taken out of the mix, that at least partially resolves the Chas/Jake frustration. With those two and Tucker it’s a pretty good outfield. And when Yordan is out there, Chas or Jake take the day off.

      Dubon is effective offensively right now. While he’s effective, he should be a utility guy playing three or even four days a week. He gives the offense a boost.

      Abreu might not get fixed. But we have to assume Bregman does at some point.

      I’ve said all I can about Diaz.


  9. A fun game to watch tonight. No criticisms on this post. Glad we played well and looking for more. Only one game behind the St-Rangers. Let’s keep it going guys.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I know all games can’t be offensive explosions – but what happened last night sure was nice to see. Thanks for the fireworks Mssrs. Julks, Maldonado, Alvarez, Dubon, and Alvarez! Tonight let it be Altuve, Bregman, Tucker, McCormick/Meyers, Diaz, and especially ABREU’s – turn to launch rockets into the Milwaukee smog!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Dusty had the boys quiet us whiners for the moment.

    Yeah, Javier is pitching as well as anyone.

    Yordan really is amazing.

    Corbin got beat up last night, but I’d take him for the stretch run. If the Brewers are not in it, they might be in a position to part with their 2025 FA for the outfield help they need.

    Julks must have heard me suggesting he should be out of the mix.

    Maldy is my hero.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Hot takes –

    Baker don’t care about us. He just keeps on winning.

    Diaz could be used at more than just C. He has played 1B once and DH a few, he could be mixed in more there.

    Meyers is playing over Chas even though Chas has hit lefties because Meyers goes and gets. He made a catch yesterday that I don’t think Chas would have. Not saying I agree, I am just saying thats why.

    Javier did not have his best yesterday, but he got the outs he needed too.

    Abreu’s bat is slow. 80% of his contact is to the right side. Next time I go I am going to sit behind the 1B dugout, best shot at a foul ball as long as he is in the lineup.

    Maybe Abreu can turn it around some, but he doesn’t have it anymore. He isn’t going to run off and hit .285 with 25 HR and 100 RBI. It’s not there anymore. Anything else is a waste of 60 million. We now see why it wasn’t just the Sox that let him go, but no one else was banging down his door.


    • And maybe James Click had a tougher time with Cranes good old boys network then we’ll ever know.

      Separately, interesting article by Tom Verducci in Si.com on the state of starting pitching in MLB today. Wish I could share here, but I’m too challenged.


    • Steven, I’m sure Diaz could play first base and hold his own. But no way Abreu is going to be anything other than a full time player, at least for now. And while Lee is getting full time reps behind the plate in AAA, Diaz gets fewer and fewer reps, and fewer and few AB’s. How is this guy supposed to progress? Especially as the guy most experts are calling the best catching prospect we have in the organization.

      And this Chas/Meyers thing. I don’t know about who catches what, but suffice it to say that both guys made excellent catches over the past week. I do know that Chas had a much better year than Jake in 2022 and started off the season by pretty taking ownership of center. Alas, he got hurt. Julks played over this head and Jake got hot, finally. And today, it looks like Chas has again lost his full time job. I hope he gets traded one day with the opportunity to play everyday without having to look over his shoulder.


      • Trying to learn to write in brevity, its hard when talking about Chas.

        Meyers gets to things Chas doesn’t, as demonstrated last night. Chas hits things Meyers will not. Neither are overly spectacular in their good things and neither are bad in their not spectacular things. Mixing and matching is a good strategy, ie I want Meyers out there when Javier is pitching, I want Chas out there when Framber is pitching. I want Chas facing tough lefties, I want Meyers when they face flamethrowing righties because at least we get the defense.

        I don’t know why Dusty doesn’t play Chas against lefties. It’s aggravating. But I don’t think Chas is a 155 game CFer that you just pencil in there regardless of matchup the way Springer was.

        Diaz doesn’t have to replace Abreu, just get a day a week out there. He can take at bats from Julks by DH’ng twice a week and let Alvarez go to LF. He can catch once a week or twice if there is little off time in that week. That gets him in there 3-4 times a week and 20 PAs a week. There is no reason for anyone on the roster to go a week without playing. Salazar should just be sent to AA to start and another pitcher called up.

        Right now the fear we talked about at the beginning of the year is happening. Lee is at AAA playing near every day, catching starters, working game plans, batting 30 times a week, and Diaz is up here watching. I would be happier with Diaz at AAA and Lee playing the back up catcher role.


      • And I’ll say this also – I don’t think Diaz is our best catching prospect. I think he is just our best prospect. Better than Gilbert. Better than Lee. Clifford, Melton, Barber, Leon, I’m taking Yainer’s minor league track record as a hitter over any of them.

        Matter of fact, I am including Lee in a deal for Burnes (it’s going to take half our minor league rosters). Use him while his value is high, because I have little confidence that he can hit major league pitching. Heck, I’m dirty, I would have started Lee on the major league roster, talked him up, really drive that value up, before hornswaggling someone.


  13. That pitch that hit Pena in the hand was a bit scary last night. I am sure it brought back memories for Bagwell, who was doing the color on tv. Hopefully, Pena is okay. I haven’t seen any news about it. Crane should have all of the players wearing a “Bagwell” handguard on top of their weak hand when batting.


    • I’ve loved listening to Bagwell’s insights as a third wheel. I would suggest he never decide to do full time color though. Otherwise they might rename it no color.


    • KJ
      I’m thinking that Abreu is somehow hurt – but if he is not hurt and this is the “new” Abreu – man we are in for a tough few years unless Crane eats the contract.
      I mean how does a guy of his size and his background go 101 games back to last year with 1 Home run?
      They were saying that the only other active Astros with 0 HRs are Salazar (11 ABs) and Altuve (9 ABs).
      All I can say is yikes.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Two things scared the heck out of me last night. One was the ball hitting Pena’s hand which immediately took me back to when Bagwell was knocked out a couple times on HBPs to the hand. I won’t be surprised if Pena is sitting tonight and Dubon playing in his place.
    The other was Meyers insane catch running full speed into the hall. And as much as I like Chas – he wasn’t catching that. But to reach way back (before my time) that reminded me of things I’ve read about Pete Reiser, who basically shortened his career with head-on collisions with the wall. Luckily more of the walls are padded these days – but I don’t know how Meyers held on as he caught it almost simultaneously to collidingfull speed with the wall.


  15. I looked up the top 5 guys for the Astros for Sprint Speed for the past 3 years. Jake and Chas are pretty close going from home to first, but Jake definitely has a higher top speed.

    Year Player HP to 1B Sprint Speed (ft/sec)
    2023 Jeremy Pena 4.28 29.5
    2023 Jake Meyers 4.31 29.2
    2023 Corey Julks 4.34 28.2
    2023 Mauricio Dubon 4.28 28.2
    2023 Chas McCormick 4.32 27.8

    2022 Jeremy Pena 4.28 29.4
    2022 Jake Meyers 4.35 28.9
    2022 Chas McCormick 4.27 28.6
    2022 David Hensley 4.34 28.5
    2022 Mauricio Dubon 4.28 28.2

    2021 Jose Siri 4.07 30.4
    2021 Jake Meyers 4.33 29.2
    2021 Chas McCormick 4.32 28.8
    2021 Garrett Stubbs === 28.2
    2021 Jose Altuve 4.22 28.0



  16. Rafael Montero strikes again! It was a 2-0 until he showed up. Now 6-0. Bats just didn’t have it tonight. Bagwell saying both he (Montero) and Abreu will eventually get it together. Of course I guess that’s what you would expect. Altuve left game but no word yet.


    • Z, good morning. I’ve been procrastinating a bit. Last week I wrote Abreu off. But then I considered his spring, with a .920 OPS and 8 doubles and 2 homers. He was his regular self in February and March. That gives me hope. Either he’s hiding an injury or something got in his head as we approached opening day. I hope it gets figured out.

      As far as Montero goes, I agree with Bregman on this one. He might be telegraphing his pitches. Everyone seems to be hitting even the good pitches he throws.


  17. Okay, we’re allowed to be whiners again. Boy, the bats stunk up the place again. And my favorite catcher threw away a big run in what was a one run game, unless Pena missed a signal and failed to cover.

    But excellent pitching again by France. I just wish we could hit the ball at least somewhat as well as our foes up I-45. The Rangers are real. And we need to stay close, because in the AL West, it’s very possible only the division winner will be playing in the post season. My friend and associate 1oldpro noted months ago that the best winter acquisition in Arlington was their new manager. Looks like those guys know how to win at this point, even while they’ve also had all kinds of injuries to the pitching staff.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. The league is hitting .329 against Brandon Bielak. FYI: The leading hitter in the AL [Bo Bichette] is only hitting .324 on the season. Hitters have to absolutely love seeing Bielak on the mound.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s why it’s 2-0 Brewers in the first. Oh and BTW Abreu left two runners on and he hit a weak roller to Short. He did it last night too. Come’on Man (Dusty)! Move him down in the order. At this point I’d rather see Maldy there. At least he has some pop in his bat.

      Liked by 1 person

  19. I just read a line that stated Cintron discussed issues with Abreu and his hitting. Thus:

    “Cintron had noted that there were some mechanics off with Abreu, however; Abreu made a comment that he didn’t believe that was the case and he felt it was an issue with how he was seeing the ball.”

    We have discussed his vision before on here. If he has vision problems, get corrective lenses dude! Also, apparently, he has issues with receiving guidance from coaches.


  20. So, Adrian Houser pitched a heckuva game against us today before leaving with two outs in the 6th (note they brought the righty in to pitch to Yordan and KTuck).
    Reminder – Houser went with Josh Hader, Domingo Santana and Brett Phillips for Carlos Gomez and Mike Fiers (spit!!).
    The gift that just keeps giving.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Taking bets on how many innings we go before scoring a run. We are at 17 consecutive scoreless innings right now, and look like a lock for 19 before we leave Milwaukee.

    Free Jose Abreu.


  22. Working today so I haven’t seen anything – but I’ll say I’m trying to figure out if Abreu is washed or in a slump.

    I have not seen a ton of quality at bats. He has drawn some walks but I wonder if it’s because he recognized a ball or just didn’t recognize anything.

    I know we are going to hear everyone in the organization continue to defend him and say he will come around, but what are they supposed to say?

    I do know he is behind almost everything. If it’s an inside strike he is more likely to watch it or offer weakly. He is going to have to learn to hit diminished – I am sure he is just as strong as ever, but when your eye starts to slow you have to cheat. If not, pitchers are just going to keep pounding that inside edge. And he is going to have to become better at taking advantage of mistakes.


    • The guy that hired Abreu is going to require his GM and his manager to fix the problem, which I think will be difficult because once again I think there is a disconnect between GM and manager. All either can do is sit around and hope something changes. Abreu is going to get at least until the All Star break to come around. I might be all wet. But I also wonder if the manager helped convince the owner to unload the last GM.


    • Last year, Marcus Semien didn’t hit his first HR until May 28th. If you can believe it, his stats were even worse than what Abreu has posted so far. Semien totalled 25 HR for the season and has 7 thus far in 2023. He’s younger than Abreu. FWIW, Abreu’s spray chart looks pretty similar to what he did in 2023.


      • Here is what I have seen –

        In 2020 his barrel % was 14%. 2021 – 10.2%. Last year – 9.5%. So far this year, 3.7%. In 2020 53.3% of balls he put in play were considered “hard hit.” 2021 – 49%. 2022 – 51.7%. This year – 36.6%. His pull percentages went from 40 to 38 to 33. His soft hit rate is double any previous year.

        His career fastball runs above average coming into the year was 109.1 – this year its -7.7 (in just 196 PA’s). A guy that has beaten fastballs his entire career – accounting for 109 runs more than an average major leaguer against fastballs, is on pace to finish around -25.

        Even in a slump year for Semien his ratios were about the same.

        To me, what we are seeing, is a guy that can’t hit fastballs. Oddly enough, his rates are the same as previous years against everything else but fastballs. And that is a deviation from the past where he has a history of crushing fastballs. This is why I think at 36, he has to adjust what he is as a hitter. I bet if we look at Biggio around the same age we could see some of that. What did he do? He sold out. He become a mistake pitch hitter that sold out on fastballs so that he could catch them. He then become susceptible to outside offspeed stuff that he wasn’t susceptible too before, but it was a necessary adjustment just to become the .250ish guy he was at the end and prolong his career.

        We need a similar adjustment from Abreu. He is going to need to sit fastball to beat that inside fastball that is owning him right now. So far he looks like a hitter that doesn’t want to adjust to losing a hundredth of a second of reaction time.


  23. 19 straight scoreless innings. 2 straight shut-outs. Did we break ourselves swinging against a position player Monday night?


  24. Saw a line on Twitter a few minutes ago.

    Montero has a 19.29 ERA when Diaz is catching him (4.2 innings) and a 2.08 (13.0 innings) when Maldy is behind the plate.

    Any thoughts?


    • I was looking at the splits and his era is 14.09 away and 3.00 at home. I don’t care who’s catching. May has been an absolute disaster for him. A 15.26 ERA. There’s no silver lining in the clouds for him except that when he pitches he gets lit up like a million volt bolt of lightening.


    • I don’t hold Diaz responsible for Montero missing the location of his pitches. That’s the secret answer. If you miss your spot by 6 inches it’s going to get hit hard. He’s throwing very few fastball strikes that are not over the heart of the plate. His sinker is almost exclusively on the left, inside corner or just out of the zone. His changeup locations are in the same spot, but lower. He barely throws it, but his slider is almost always on the opposite side of the plate and off it. Given he throws the four seamer 50% of the time it’s easy for hitters to sit on it until they get 2 strikes. If he locates better, he’ll miss bats and barrels. The good news is there is a lot of season left for him to correct this.


  25. As bad as Montero was Wednesday afternoon – and he was absolutely atrocious – the thing that bothers me is that his train wreck of an appearance had little if anything to do the outcome of that game. Wednesday’s game was lost when Ames hit that 2-run home run for the Brew Crew two batters into the bottom of the first inning, the game was effectively over. Our offense looked worse than Altuve felt.


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