Sunday, July 21, 2019

Sunday Morning Hot Links

Jose Urquidy did the Good Things and the Astros beat Balch Springs 6-1. Houston is 63-37. Oakland doesn't lose anymore (more on them in a minute) but the Astros still have a 5.5-game lead on them, and a 12-game lead on the Rangers and Angels.

*Wins after 100 games, recent Astros history:
2019: 63
2018: 65
2017: 67
2016: 54
2015: 55
2014: 42
2013: 34
2012: 34
2011: 33
2010: 41

The Astros won their third straight Silver Boot, if that's the kind of thing that matters to you. I guess it's better than losing the Silver Boot.

Euless went 53-23 against Houston from 2013-2016. Houston is 34-20 against Irving since.

*Houston has won four straight games, outscoring opponents 27-8 since Noe Ramirez went up and in on Jake Marisnick. They're 6-4 since the All-Star Break.

*It's the 5th time this season the Astros have held their opponent to two or fewer hits. The Rangers are the 8th team to strike out 13+ times and get two or fewer hits in a game in 2019.

*Houston has held their opponent to two or fewer hits and struck out 13+ batters 15 times in franchise history. It has happened three times in 2019.

*Jose Urquidy's first two starts: 6IP, 14H/7ER, 8K:1BB
Jose Urquidy, last night: 7IP, 2H/1ER, 9K:0BB

Urquidy got 17 swinging strikes last night. He had 17 swinging strikes in his first two starts combined. Congratulations to him on his first career MLB win. Urquidy:
I knew that I had to focus on this start, and I'm really happy that I was able to execute what I envisioned. 

Hinch:
No walks, one homer - just an incredible, incredible performance. We absolutely needed it. We needed him to go as long as he could, and for him to be effective in that, it's a great day.

More Hinch:
There's a creative side he showcased today on why the organization has been high on him. They're not going to sour on him after a couple of bad outings, but it was nice to see him pitch the way we were told he pitches.

*Michael Brantley was 3x4 with an RBI - his 9th 3+ hit game and his 39th multi-hit game of the season. The Astros are 25-14 when Brantley gets 2+ hits.

*Yuli Gurriel hit another home run, his 18th. Ho hum. It's the 11th time in his career he has hit a 3+ run home run. He has 10 home runs in July. He has homered in five straight games at Minute Maid Park, tying Morgan Ensberg's record set in 2006. Gurriel's next home run (which should come here in about seven hours) will set a career-high. Hinch:
When (Gurriel) first got here, he smothered the ball on the ground quite a bit and was one of the lower-trajectory guys off the bat, which is a little bit of a conscious decision but a little bit of pitch selection and what you're trying to hit...Give credit to Alex Cintron and Troy Snitker for unlocking a few keys that have allowed to open up his power. 

*Yordan Alvarez was 1x3 with a walk and an RBI. He has played in 28 games and has gotten on base in 24 of them, reaching 2+ times in 16 of them. He is everything I had thought Brett Wallace and Jon Singleton were going to be...combined.

*Tony Kemp had seven career home runs in 470 PAs coming into 2019. He has seven home runs in 183 PAs in 2019. Six of his home runs have come at Minute Maid Park.

*After going through a brutal 18-game stretch from June 17-July 13 in which he "hit" .132/.254/.151, Robinson Chirinos has a hit in three straight games, and four of his last five. Chirinos doubled and walked last night.

*Aledmys Diaz could return to the Astros tomorrow (Monday). Hinch:
For him, it's more of a day-to-day assessment of where he's at and how he's doing...If he needs more time in the Minor Leagues, he can play next week. If he's ready to come back, we'll bring him back.

Diaz was 0x2 with a walk as Corpus fell to Springfield last night. He played 3B and LF.

Hinch, on Correa:
He and I text every day, and we've talked to the coaching staff (in Round Rock). By video, he looks incredible. Sometimes you come off of these injuries and you either catch your rhythm quickly or you need a little bit more time. It looks like Carlos came out looking really, really good. His movements are good. He's playing with freedom. There's no issue whatsoever. It's a good sign for him.

Round Rock beat New Orleans 13-0 last night. Correa was 1x5 with a double and three strikeouts. He's hitting .400/.438/.600 in four rehab appearances.

Chas McCormick hit two home runs and collected 6RBI. Kyle Tucker was 2x5 with his 25th home run of the season and 3RBI. Brandon Bielak threw 7IP, 1H/0ER, 7K:2BB.

*A.J. Hinch described his and Luhnow's conversation with Tyler White "brutal:"
From a 33rd-Round pick to the big leagues to a big splash when he first made the team to outperforming the Minor Leagues to coming back and literally carrying us as a DH last season to being out of a job and off our team, it's a brutal conversation.

I feel badly for Tyler White. White hit .545/.577/1.091 in his first week in the Majors back in 2016, earning AL Player of the Week honors, after climbing up from the Minors beginning in 2013. In 51 games after getting called up for a second time in 2018 White hit .287/.350/.551 from the end of July to the end of the regular season. He went 3x6 with two walks in the 2018 ALDS, which the Astros swept.

2019 was probably the first time in his career that there were any Expectations placed on him, and he had a hard time. It doesn't make him a bad person. He had an opportunity in 2019 to solidify his place on the team, and it didn't work out. I hope he gets another opportunity, whether it be with a different club, or with the Astros again.

Click that link to hear about the time when Hinch was Mets GM Brodie Van Wagenen's best man when he married Neil Armstrong's step-daughter.

*Ken Rosenthal reports that the Astros may need to add two starters and a reliever in the next ten days, what with Peacock meeting with team doctors on Monday after "experiencing a setback."

*Richard Justice has your Trade Deadline Urgency Meter. Justice:
...Jeff Luhnow has been steadfast in holding on to his top prospects in previous trades, but that may change as he attempts to acquire at least one starter, and possibly two.

*Jon Heyman: The Tigers want an "established young MLB star" in a return for pitcher Matthew Boyd. Boyd's last six starts: 35.1IP, 39H/26ER, 55K:9BB. 6.62 ERA / 1.36 WHIP.

*SI's Emma Baccellieri: Five under-the-radar relievers that contenders could target.

*Jose Altuve made his MLB debut eight years ago yesterday. Hits leaders since July 20, 2011:

1. Altuve: 1488
2. Robinson Cano: 1355
3. Adam Jones: 1344
4. Nick Markakis: 1334
5. Eric Hosmer: 1328
6. Freddie Freeman: 1294
7. Mike Trout: 1281
8. Andrew McCutchen: 1280
9. Elvis Andrus: 1278
9. Starlin Castro: 1278
10. Paul Goldschmidt: 1272

*On Sunday, June 16 Oakland lost to Seattle, 6-3. They were 36-36, 12 games behind Houston. Since then, the AL West:
Oakland: 21-6
Anaheim: 16-12
Houston: 15-13
Euless: 12-15
Seattle: 9-17

Over the last 27 games the A's are tied with the Yankees for the best record in baseball. They have gone 16-4 in their last 20 games against the Cardinals, Angels, Twins, Mariners, White Sox, Mariners, and Twins. I do not understand how the A's keep doing this.

*Buster Olney in NY Mag: Inside the mind of Mariano Rivera.

*Inside the largest launch of a produce item in American history.

*A Musical Selection:

Saturday, July 20, 2019

Saturday Morning Hot Links

Well well well! I'm back from four not-terribly-restful days chaperoning 85 high school kids in the middle of Manhattan. I've been going to NYC for about 13 years (more so when I lived up that way, obviously) and I stand by two facts:

1. NYC is an absolutely amazing place. This isn't always a positive thing.
2. My favorite part of any trip to NYC is getting home. 

Anyway, Big Thanks to Flick for hosting Flick Week in my absence. He'll come back on board once school gets back in. Now he gets to act like a college kid and not have the responsibility of doing Hot Links - unless he wants to. You're stuck with me for a while.

The Astros beat the McKinney Rangers thanks to back-to-back-to-back home runs off of Mike Minor and then by hanging on for a 4-3 win. Houston is 62-37. They have a 5.5-game lead on Oakland and an 11-game lead on Lower Denton. 

*Houston has won three straight games, and five of their last seven. Since the Pittsburgh Fiasco, Houston is 12-5. It's the first time that Astros' starters have recorded Wins in three straight games since May 13-15, 2019. 

*The Astros are 18-11 in 1-run games. 

*Houston is 9-6 against Upper Midlothian in 2019. One more win against West Terrell gives the Astros the Silver Boot, which their fan base gets so jazzed up about, for the third straight year. The remaining four games are at Minute Maid Park.

*Let's start with Verlander, shall we? Verlander threw 6IP, 8H/2ER, 12K:2BB. Yes, both runs came on solo home runs. It's the 18th 12+ K game of his career, his 6th as an Astro. 

Verlander 12+ K games, by season:
2007: 1
2008: 0
2009: 2
2010: 0
2011: 2
2012: 3
2013: 3
2014: 0
2015: 0
2016: 1
2017: 0
2018: 3
2019: 3

*Verlander's ERA is 2.99 with an 0.84 WHIP. He has walked 29 batters and allowed 28 home runs. Verlander:
That was a grind, it was tough, those guys battled me all night. The box score doesn't show how tough they battled me, but every single one of them was difficult. They had a lot of guys on base every inning, it wasn't easy, so I'm pleased to come away with the W.

Fort Worth was 0x11 w/RISP.

*Danny Santana was 3x5 with a double. He is hitting 1.000/1.000/2.000 .375/.419/.675 against Houston this season. In his career, Santana has hit .353/.333/.706 against Verlander and .778/.778/1.222 against Gerrit Cole. That's insane. 

*Jose Altuve was 2x4 with his 13th home run of the season. He committed two errors. 

*It was the first time since June 20, 2018 the Astros have hit three straight home runs, and they did it on four pitches. Hinch:
Before everybody was done high-fiving Bregman, we were doing it again with Alvarez.

Alvarez's 474-foot home run was the longest by an Astro since Statcast has been a thing in 2015. Alvarez:
It would be even better if every guy hit a home run, but very happy with three.

Bregman:
It was great...We did a great job after a long night of traveling. I know everybody was tired. We win ballgames like that, it's special.

*Yuli Gurriel hit his 17th home run of the season. He has a seven-game hitting streak. Since May 27 (41 games), Gurriel is hitting .322/.355/.602 with 12 doubles, 12 home runs, 14K:10BB.

*Yordan Alvarez hit his 10th home run of the season. Since he arrived in Houston on June 9, Alvarez has posted a .692 SLG - the 8th-highest SLG in baseball among hitters with at least 100 PAs. Gurriel has the league lead with a .727 SLG. 

*Alex Bregman, since the All-Star Break (7 games): .348/.515/.652, 5K:9BB.

*Big news of the day was that the Astros DFA'd Tyler White. White was hitting .225/.320/.330 in 218 PAs for a 75 OPS+ and a -0.8 bWAR (-0.3 fWAR). Of 221 hitters with at least 250 PAs, only seven had a worse fWAR than White.

Jose Urquidy was added to the 25-Man Roster so he can start tonight's game against North Cedar Hill. 

White declined an interview after the game, which is understandable.


*From Jake Kaplan and The Athletic (paywalled): the Astros opened up their baseball operations department to McKinsey consultants. This Forbes article paints a fairly brutal picture of McKinsey (not paywalled).

Also from Kaplan: What's behind Robinson Chirinos' prolonged slump.

*Round Rock lost 6-5 on a walkoff in the bottom of the 10th. Josh Rojas and Jack Mayfield homered.

*Corpus won 3-2 on a walkoff in the bottom of the 9th. Rehabbing Aledmys Diaz was 0x3 with 3K:1BB. Cristian Javier threw 3.1IP, 4H/2R (1ER), 7K:3BB. Bryan Abreu threw 4IP, 2H/0ER, 7K:0BB.

*Fayetteville lost 6-4. Corey Julks was 4x5 with a home run. Brett Conine threw 4IP, 2H/1ER, 3K:1BB.

*Quad Cities had a forgetful night, losing 7-1. They got two hits. 

*Lowell completed the sweep of Tri-City. 2018 2nd-Round pick Jayson Schroeder: 0.2IP, 1H/4R (2ER), 1K:4BB. Schroeder, 2019 (between Quad Cities and Tri-City): 18.2IP, 26H/31R (21ER), 20K:32BB. 10.13 ERA / 3.11 WHIP.

*Yesterday Forrest Whitley made another start for the GCL Astros. His line: 2.2IP, 1H/2R (1ER), 5K:6BB. Whitley has gone from the #1 pitching prospect in baseball to walking six Gulf Coast League guys in less than three innings. 

*Former Favorite Jonah Keri was arrested Thursday on four charges (three counts of assault causing bodily harm) from his wife.

*Ars Technica: Earlier this month, a Russian spy sub crew prevented a nuclear disaster at the cost of their lives.

*A Musical Selection:


Thursday, July 18, 2019

Thursday Morning Hot Links

James will be home soon. If you're getting tired of my Hot Links, buddy I don't know what to tell you.

The Astros woke up last night.
Notes:
Springer: 1-3, HR, 3 RBI
Brantley: 1-3, HR, 2 RB
Marisnick: 3-4, RBI
Cole: 7 IP, 7 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 11 K

Full Box:
Full Recap:

The rest of the links seem to be pretty light this morning:

Noe Ramirez did get suspended for throwing at Marisnick's head Tuesday night. Ausmus got a game as well.

Here's a refreshing change of pace: a national sportswriter being on Jake's side.

The question is, with all of this Jake collision stuff going on, is it time we addressed MLB's unwritten rules?

Rogelio is getting his first big league start this Sunday.

Sporting News has a couple Astros sleeper trade acquisitions that could happen that I honestly haven't really heard about yet, so you should click the link and read the words that it says.

Here's an interesting longread about the Astros and their relationship with McKinsey & Company from our old friend Evan Drellich. ($)

Aledmys Diaz went hitless and Correa went 3-4 with a couple RBIs in the same rehab assignment as Round Rock defeated Memphis last night 11-8.

On This Day in Baseball History

In 1970, Willie Mays got his 3000th hit.

In 1994, after going down 11-0 in the 3rd, the Astros came back to defeat the Cardinals in the Astrodome 15-12.

In 1999, David Cone became the 16th pitcher to ever throw a perfect game.

In 2008, Shea Stadium held its last concert. Billy Joel performed that night, with a special surprise performance from Paul McCartney.




Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Wednesday Morning Hot Links

The Astros lost again, but boy was it more interesting than the box score looks.

Notes:
White - 3/5, 2 RBI
Gurriel - 3/5
Rondon - 0.2 IP, 5 H, 6 ER, 1 BB, 1 K
Armenteros - 4 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 3 K

The benches cleared(ish) after Angels pitched Noe Ramirez threw and hit Jake Marisnick in the shoulder.

Brad Ausmus said it was "hard to tell" if Ramirez had intent, which made me actually laugh out loud.

A.J. Hinch is was not having it postgame.

Nevertheless, the next couple of games are going to be must watch TV. Poor James.

Full Box:

The A's are now 4.5 GB out of 1st place, but it may not be time to worry about that just yet.
FiveThirtyEight has the Astros at an 88% chance to take the division.
Fangraphs? 97.6%
Baseball Reference? 86.2%
Baseball Prospectus? 95.7%

BUT, the Astros need pitchers, like, yesterday. Will the Astros go for an actual ace, or a "pitch the rest of the season innings eater"?

As a reminder, here is a list of essentially everybody on the trade block as it stands.

One name not on this list that might wander onto the team..is an Oriole?

What would it really take to acquire Syndergaard? Sources say, a lot.

Was last night the final straw for Framber Valdez?

Jake Marisnick was the Astros recipient of the Heart and Hustle Award, the MLBPA announced yesterday.

Chirinos has been struggling at the plate. Here's what the Astros are doing about it.

The Astros are wearing some pretty cool Apollo 11 themed hats on Monday to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the mission.

There's a new ideal way to strike out hitters in modern baseball.

On This Day in Baseball History

In 1974, Bob Gibson recorded his 3,000th strikeout.

In 1990, the Twins recorded two triple plays in the same game.

In 2017, Ryan Zimmerman hit his 235th home run off of former Astros great Scott Feldman, making him the Nationals all-time home run leader.







Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Tuesday Morning Hot Links

Late night Hot Links suck to make when you have a nighttime oriented sleep schedule. Game wraps up around 1 a.m. EST (my time zone), then you gotta wait for the beat writers to write up their little articles and what not before I get to do my job because haha I'm not waking up at 5 a.m. like James does bless his soul. So if something doesn't sound right or is spelled wrong, it's because this is late for even me. 

For everyone that didn't watch the Astros game due to it being late, you made a good choice. The Angels won their 4th in a row and beat up on Framber Valdez pretty handily as they took the game 9-6.

Notes:
Springer - 3/5, 2 HR, 3 RBI. With these home runs, Springer has moved up to 7th in the Astros all-time home run list.
Kemp - 2/5, RBI
Valdez - 4 IP, 6 H, 4 ER, 4 BB, 4 K
Albert Pujols tried to run last night.

Full Box:
Recap:

Per Chandler Rome, the Framber Valdez experiment is over.

The Astros will most likely head into tomorrow doing another bullpen day.

Brian Arbour, of The Astros County dot com, wrote a piece addressing the state of the rotation as it stands, and the best moves for it going forward.

A.J. Hinch talked about Josh James' recent success and the improvements that he made to get here.

Kyle Tucker seems to be upping his trade value extending the versatility of his game. ($)

The Crawfish Boxes have taken the time to check out the likelihood and potential of a Roenis Elias deal.

The Astros are for real gauging interest in a possible Robbie Ray deal.

When Diaz and Correa come back, who gets the boot with White?

There are some weird things on TV at 3 a.m. I just went ahead and typed this because I'm living it. It's my life. It's my post.

Alex Bregman and Tony Kemp went out and presented the Houston Fire Department with a brand new truck.

The Athletic's Dallas sportswriter floated the idea that the Astros bent the rules regarding the Yordan Alvarez trade, but then realized what he said and quickly walked it back. Just a typical Monday on Twitter.

Siberian millennials are flooding to this very pretty, very toxic lake so they can take selfies next to it. 

Biologists have discovered a jellyfish bigger than a human, which is just the things I like to know before I go into water.

On This Day in Baseball History

In 1990, Steve Lyons dropped his pants on accident during live television.

In 1999, the New York Yankees ownership decided that after seeing the positive response to Trevor Hoffman's "Hell's Bells" warm-up song to select Metallica's "Enter Sandman" for their closer Mariano Rivera.

In 2006, Mariano Rivera became the 4th closer to ever achieve 400 saves.

In 2009, Ryan Howard became the fastest player to ever get to 200 home runs. He played 658 games at this point.

In 2010, Bengie Molina, the notoriously slow catcher, became the 8th player ever to hit for the cycle with the home run being a grand slam.