Thursday, April 6, 2017

Flick's Reflections - Nori, Jake, and Charles Morton (4/5/17)

Hey guys, Flick here. Astros County told me months ago that I was allowed to throw some words up on his blog many months ago and thanks to our Astros, they finally gave me something to talk about. Flick's Reflections is something that I am going to start doing on a regular basis throughout the 2017 season, which is basically just a collection of thoughts that I have our game the night before. My points will be posted either on my Twitter (@FlickNickmStros) or right here on, depending on how insane the game is. So if you like what you read today, feel free to drop a follow and get more of content along with my pure ridiculousness that I seem to tweet often.

But enough intro, let's get into the meat of this article.

I actually want to start off and hit some of my content in the first Flick Reflection I posted on Twitter about Opening Day in a little more detail. I posted 3 things:

1. Keuchel was amazing - Not only did he look like a 2015 version of Keuchel, but his web gems out in the field Monday probably helped you throw out any doubt you may have had about him winning yet another Gold Glove. But you know the drill, "Wow his command! Wow his velocity!" Wow the break on his pitches"! Going on about this topic would just be redundant at this point.

2. Yuli at 1B went swimmingly - Even though Yuli hasn't typically been known as a first baseman, he did make some great plays out there in the field (and if you watched, he definitely got his work in over there). I was going into the 2017 season assuming that Yuli could just "manage" over there, while Marwin would be the primary "defensive 1B" until Reed comes back up. However, they seemed pretty comparable with the 3 game sample size that we currently have.

3. Nori Aoki is just the best. Everything about him is the best. I love his super fidgety batting stance, how he starts falling away from the plate and starts to run as he swings. I love how he's always smiling. I love how he's super fast so he covers a lot of ground in left that Beltran can't. And I love how he squeaks out singles, beats shifts, and gets on base however he possibly can. He is just a fun guy to have on the team and I hope that he gets the majority of looks in the LF or DH spot down the line this year.

I wasn't able to catch the game Tuesday night. I have no thoughts here, except Marwin Gonzalez continues to be a Houston Astros legend (if you don't know me by now, I love Marwin. I own a shirt that says If I Die Today, Tell Marwin Gonzalez I Loved Him). But hey, we won. Yay.

Now unto Game 3.

1. The major topic that I want to highlight is this; Springer can do absolutely everything Marisnick can in centerfield and much more. Now if you know me, you would know me and Jake don't get along too well. However, I have never believed he is completely useless. I have had no problem with him coming into a game in the 8th inning for defense, and I feel like this is his role on the team. However, something happened in the 10th inning that essentially changed my outlook on how Jake is used.
If you recall, the first batter in the top of the 10th inning for Seattle flew out to Reddick in right field. A ball that Kalas initially thought was going to be caught by Springer, but it drifted too far to right field to do so. But the way Springer tracked the ball and including how fast he was moving, it really did not seem much different than the alternative.
So where does that leave me with Jake? I don't think he is entirely useless, but the way that Springer played in center last night sure lessened the value that he had. Yes, Jake might be slightly better out there, but I simply do not see why losing a slight advantage in center for a much better bat is a better play. Even in the 10th inning. Consider an outfield alignment of Aoki, Springer, and Reddick in the 9th inning. With the speed of Aoki and Springer, it lessens the room Reddick has to cover out in right, so we can keep his bat in the lineup, thus creating hardly any downside on paper. So the question I pose to you is, if you substitute Jake into center and Springer into right for defensive purposes going into extra innings, is it worth having a super outfield out there with one "auto-out", or a great outfield with no holes in the lineup? Obviously, this is a pretty situational question, and you can probably argue a decent point both ways with, but I'll let you form your own opinions on this one.

2. I have no doubts about the offense. This should probably go without saying, but Altuve and Bregman didn't forget how to hit. Altuve started 4-21 last season (.190) and Bregman was 7-48 (.196) when they started their seasons last year. You also need to remember, Bregman didn't have much of an offseason because Leyland seems to have a personal vendetta against him for the WBC. This is just statistically how these two have played, and they are two of the top hitters in baseball. Let's just relax, especially since we've played 3 games and won them all ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
3. Stop FORCING Aoki to bunt. One of the most annoying things of last night was when Aoki essentially gave himself up "for the good of the team" to advance the guy 90 feet by bunting. #1 - We brought Aoki to get on base. His whole appeal revolves around singles and walks. #2 - Aoki played in Japan. Asian baseball almost sees bunting as an art form instead of a strategy. They hold bunting competitions over there for crying out loud. Forcing Aoki into a situation in which you are telling him "you have to bunt here" limits his value. Aoki will get on base. He has some of the most consistent batting averages over the last few years and I feel like Hinch should let him play his game.

4. If healthy, Morton could end up being extremely valuable. Maybe I am getting too excited about the addition of Mr. Charles Alfred Morton IV, but with the spring that he had and the first start that he just threw, I have my cautious optimism to hold onto. Sure, he has never started 30+ games in his entire career and his velocity and top speed is increasing, which typically leads to arm problems down the line when you aren't used to throwing quite that hard, but let's ride him to he falls apart (which is hopefully never. All Hail Charlie Morton).

5. When Gattis generates a deep flyout, we need to start saying "Almost-o Blanco". You can always make a few friends off of a well-placed pun.

So to conclude my first article #onhere, I would just like to let you know that I am grateful that you took the time of your day to read this article. Any criticism (constructive or not who cares) would be great. I've never done something like this before and I'm learning how to blog, so I'd like to get as much feedback as I can. Thanks for reading. Go Astros.