Friday, August 11, 2017

Friday Morning Hot Links

A few years ago, when the Astros were *really* bad with no hope of getting demonstrably better before that season's playoffs, I started doing this thing which became known as The Thing. I would do a Twitter search for some variation of "lose" "Astros" "joke" "Lastros" "Disastros" "Asstros" "Trashstros" and so on, and retweeted them. It was great fun because it showed that other team's fans weren't prepared for the possibility that baseball can be a very random game where you can have Jason Castro hitting 3rd and still win. The Thing exposed people that didn't understand that bad teams are going to beat pretty good teams every now and then. You might even get swept.

Like yesterday I'm not going to talk you out of panicking. You want to panic? Go for it. I hope it makes you feel better. Let the cold, wet, smallpox-ridden blanket of Houston sports return you to your preferred state of discomfort and anxiety. Astros scored five runs when Dallas Keuchel gave up eight. Then scored one run when the White Sox scored seven. Last night the bats disappeared behind a strong Peacock start. It's a bad stretch. The Astros are 71-43. The Mariners lost, so the Astros have a 13-game division lead with 48 games remaining. The Red Sox - who have done this season precisely what the Astros are currently doing - are six games back in the AL.

*Yoan Moncada hit a game-tying home run off Ken Giles in the bottom of the 9th, and then Francis Martes got the ground balls he wanted in the 11th, both past Altuve - one bobbled by Reddick - as the latter, by Moncada again, drove in the walk-off run. Giles:
I threw a good pitch. I looked at the video, right on the outside corner, right on the black. I have to tip my cap to him. He put a good swing on it and drove it the other way. You can't really be mad at it...It's frustrating. We've had a lot of success early and haven't really had bumps in the road. Right now, we're going through it and trying to find ourselves again. But we'll get it together as a team again and find ways to win.

We needed to find a way to win the game. We did escape a lot of innings that they put runners on base, and this game could have easily turned our way by pushing across a couple runs. Obviously there at the end, we made some mistakes.

*Houston was 1x8 w/RISP and left nine men on base, and were 2x21 w/RISP this series.

*The Astros have lost seven of their last nine, ten of their last 14, and are 11-14 since the All-Star Break.

*Josh Reddick went on MLB Network Radio and talked about the trade deadline, which passed eleven days ago, and didn't exactly help matters. I'll put the whole quote because there's no page views to be had, and it's sort of hard to read in the original tweet:
Deep down everybody in that clubhouse knew we were going to make some move to turn us from a really great team to a team that would put us over the edge, especially with all the moves you saw around the league. It's nothing against our guys but any time you can make your team better you should have the opportunity to do that and take full advantage. I think deep down, we were all down in the dumps because we had a pretty good shot to help this team get over the hump to where we need to be. That time has passed and we can't dwell on that, we have all the confidence in everybody we have now, we just have to get out of this slump right now.

It's inconsistent to not put Reddick on blast the same way we did Keuchel. Reddick and Keuchel may feel that way, but the only reason to go public with comments such as this is to:
a) Have a ready-made excuse for if/when the Astros aren't the last team standing at the end of the postseason.
b) Make sure that the front office knows how pissed the players are about the Trade Deadline That Wasn't. It also echoes what Correa, Keuchel, and Beltran told Bob Nightengale back in early June. Don't remember?

Correa: I really believe this can be the year....I think we need one more guy, a No. 1 or No. 2 type of guy in the rotation, and another reliever. We get that, it would be a dream come true. And I think Jeff is going to get it done for us. I really do. This is the year

Keuchel: I'd like to see us get somebody who can if we're going to go out and get somebody, I'd rather get somebody who's a proven winner and who can dominate a game.

Beltran: I'm sure ownership will step up and do something to help us. I sure hope so, because I really believe this can be our time. 

So Reddick is simply echoing what had been going around the clubhouse 6-7 weeks before the Trade Deadline. You can defend Luhnow and the front office for not making a move. You can blast the players for letting factors outside of their control send them into a tailspin of depression. But you can't say that Luhnow & Co. weren't aware that key members of the team were looking for some help.

I didn't hear the interview live, but 790's Michael Connor did, and Reddick's tone (not pissed off, not venting) is important.

OR you can tell the players to maybe take it as a compliment that Luhnow thought the team is good enough to win the World Series and to resume playing like it.

*A.J. Hinch has a little message for Reddick and maybe Dallas Keuchel, who are among the already-loud gaggle of people clamoring for the Astros to add (or have added) a starting pitcher:
I think the starting pitchers should take offense to it. We roll guys out there that are trying to do exactly what everybody says they can't do or we don't have....I think we have great chemistry, great culture, a lot of pride and a ton of competitive guys. At the end of the season, we will be able to evaluate exactly what we were or what we are or where we're going...We've got to find other ways to get better than to defend ourselves to the external world. 

*To that end, Jon Morosi notes that there is language in the new CBA which would allow Justin Verlander to opt out of his contract after this season or the 2018 season, if he wasn't sure of spending too much time in Houston. Why he would opt out of $56 million for the next two seasons is unclear to me, but  maybe the $170m he'll have made through this season is "enough."

*Joel Sherman doesn't think the Astros and Tigers will make a Verlander deal, so he has four pitchers the Astros could target before August 31 in order to avoid "an epic collapse."

*Jon Heyman has a number of interesting notes in his column about the reticence of the Astros, namely that the Padres asked for Franklin Perez and/or Yordan Alvarez in a Brad Hand trade, and the Astros said no; The Astros pushed A.J. Reed and Colin Moran as centerpieces of a trade, and other teams weren't on board; and a rival GM's take on the failed Britton talks, "If you're dealing with the Orioles, you better have a backup plan."

*Dale Robertson writes that the Astros' true test is still to come.

*Will Harris is making an adjustment to his delivery that will, ideally, put less strain on his shoulder.

*Today in "You Don't Say," Jake Kaplan notes that Francisco Liriano is struggling with his command.

*Hunter Atkins is turning in some quality pieces: here's the story of the 28-day road trip the Astros took in 1992 thanks to the GOP Convention at the Astrodome.

*Quad Cities' Abraham Toro-Hernandez and Fresno's Rogelio Armenteros were the Astros' minor-leaguers of the month. Toro-Hernandez hit .315/.431/.607 between Tri-City and Quad Cities in July. Armenteros was 5-0 for Fresno in July, throwing 28.1IP, 24H/9ER, 32K:10BB.

*A.J. Reed homered for the 3rd straight game, and has 13 home runs in his last 28 games.

*Yordan Alvarez was 4x5 with 4RBI in Buies Creek's win last night. Stephen Wrenn was 4x6 with four runs scored.

*Pinky Deras: 18 complete games, 16 shutouts, 10 no-hitters, 298Ks in 108IP. 33 home runs. The legend of the only Michigan team to win the Little League World Series