Sunday, June 17, 2018

Sunday Morning Hot Links

Happy Father's Day! On Mother's Day I wrote a little thing about how Mother's Day isn't the easiest of days for a lot of people, for a variety of reasons. I suppose Father's Day has a few of the same characteristics. There's an awful lot of people who, for whatever reason, didn't have a father growing up. Or maybe you had a father, but you wished he was literally anyone else. Maybe today is your first Father's Day without your father. Whatever the reason, if today brings you sadness instead of joy, I'm truly sorry. And then there's Antonio Cromartie...

*It was so hot in Kansas City yesterday that Max Stassi and Yuli Gurriel had to be treated for dehydration.

*The Astros' win streak reached 10 games, their longest winning streak since winning 11 in a row from May 25 - June 5, 2017. Longest winning streaks, Astros history (Minute Maid Era):

12 games: 2004
11 games: 2017
10 games: 2018, 2015
9 games: 2006
8 games: 2008
7 games: 2016, 2014, 2010, 2005, 2003, 2002
6 games: 2013 (Ed. Note: I can't remember the 2013 Astros winning six games overall, much less in a row), 2000
5 games: 2012, 2007, 2001
4 games: 2011, 2009

They're 9-0 on this 10-game road trip, the best road trip in franchise history.

I'm really happy with how consistently the guys are showing up and expecting to win, and then going out and doing it. We're a hard team to beat right now.

What we do is we come here and show up and play hard every day, and that's it. We compete every at-bat, and winning streak, no winning streak, it doesn't matter to anybody in here besides the fact we compete every pitch, play our brand of baseball, and we know that if we do that, we'll have deja vu from what we did last year.

*Dallas Keuchel threw 6IP, 6H/2R (0ER), 5K:1BB. Keuchel's 60 Game Score is his best since May 13, when he threw a 78 against the Ramgers. Keuchel has allowed two extra-base hits to his last 66 batters dating back to the 3HR Seattle start on June 5. Keuchel:
I don't usually toot my own horn, but there was a few I could tell the shape out of my hand were back to normal movement. If we can keep that going, it's going to be a totally different ballgame.

*Brad Peacock, Will Harris, and Chris Devenski combined for 3IP, 0H/0ER, 7K:0BB.

*Marwin Gonzalez was 3x4 with two runs scored. After a 2x20 stretch, Marwin was hitting .164/.277/.273 on April 16. Since then he's hitting .288/.346/.448.
Marwin's multi-hit games, June: 6
Marwin's 0-1 hit games, June: 5

*Jose Altuve was 1x3 with 2BB and 2RBI.
Jose Altuve, home, 2018: .264/.317/.333 (.650 OPS)
Jose Altuve, road, 2018: .395/.447/.568 (1.015 OPS)

On this road trip, Altuve is hitting. .371/.463/.543 with 2K:6BB.

*Alex Bregman was 2x4 with 4RBI after hitting a 3-run home run in the 9th. Five of his 10 home runs in 2018 have come in June. He has a 27-game on-base streak.

*Max Stassi was 2x4 with a 3-run home run. It was the 10th home run of his career. Among 41 MLB catchers with a minimum of 100 PAs, Stassi's .512 SLG ranks 2nd behind J.T. Realmuto's .546 SLG.

Brian T. Smith: Max Stassi is finally making himself at home in the Houston lineup.

*Carlos Correa was 0x5 and committed his 2nd error of the season. It was Correa's 2nd 0x5 game of 2018.

*Did you see the latest Spot The Differences?

*Brian McTaggart writes that Yuli Gurriel has been playing Gold Glove-level defense at 1B, and is perfect in 21 chances of scooping the ball out of the dirt. Hinch:
He's the best in the league at picking balls, at least the most successful, I know that. His athleticism from being on the left side of the diamond his whole life has translated well to first base. 

*Interesting story from John Harper of the New York Daily News: Following the 2015 season the Astros made a strong push to sign Yoenis Cespedes, and offered a similar deal to the 4yr/$110m he ended up choosing with the Mets. The Astros wouldn't include a no-trade clause, the Mets did. The Astros won the World Series in 2017.

*Rob Manfred - an adult robot toddler who doesn't know when to get the hell out of the way and just tugs at your pants wanting more of something - acknowledged during the Owner's Meetings that the competition committee is in the discussion-analysis phase of looking at making some defensive shifts illegal. That doesn't sit well with Hinch:
I don't think the problem is the shift, I think the problem is the commitment to trying to beat it. You have guys that don't want to hit the ball the other way, then we're going to continue to shift. We've never had an offsides in baseball - that would be rare, that would be weird. 

Related, from Deadspin: The Astros' four-man outfield is spreading.

Also related: Rob Manfred wants to fix attendance. Here's my four-step plan to improve MLB attendance:
1. Lift blackout rules so people can watch regional home games.
2. Start games earlier so highly-impressionable kids can see the end of the damn playoff games. I guarantee you every kid under the age of 14 who was allowed to stay up for the end of World Series Game 5 is now a lifelong baseball fan and has now watched 40 games this season trying to chase that dragon.
3. A 24-ounce Montejo doesn't cost $13 anymore. It's now $5.
4. Kill A.J. Pierzynski.

In all honesty, organizations need to realize that how they run their team will impact their attendance.  Houston has had 33 home games and drawn 1,165,990 fans - an average of 35,333 fans, and up from the 29,675 fans they average in 2017. They're about 500,000 fans (or 17-ish home games) away from matching their 2013 home attendance marks.

Through games of last night, the ten teams with the worst attendance are:
1. Miami: 10,268 fans/game
2. Tampa Bay: 13,414
3. Oakland: 15,354
4. Pittsburgh: 16,748
5. Chicago White Sox: 17,095
6. Cincinnati: 18,746
7. Cleveland: 19,829
8. Baltimore: 19,986
9. Kansas City: 20,440
10. Detroit: 21,165

Those teams are a combined 119 games under .500. I don't know what Cleveland's problem is other than that their home attendance was rough in April, when it was freezing across the northern part of the United States and Cleveland's river was still on fire but also covered in ice, somehow, yet has rebounded with the temperature. Miami is a disaster of a franchise, Tampa Bay and Oakland have terrible stadiums, Pittsburgh has a gorgeous stadium but is also rebuilding. Chicago does not have a gorgeous stadium but are rebuilding. Cincinnati is rebuilding. Baltimore is a train-wreck of a team this year, and Kansas City and Detroit are rebuilding, as well. It doesn't take a rocket mathematician to realize there's a correlation.

I'm not in favor of instituting a salary floor, but teams have to recognize that when they play a Quad-A roster, they're going to get minor-league attendance.

*Nick Cafardo says the Astros are still keeping tabs on Orioles closer Zach Britton, who is now recovered from an achilles injury.

*Fresno pitcher Trent Thornton threw 7.2 hitless innings and ended up with 8IP, 1H/0ER, 3K:2BB in a 6-1 Fresno win over Future Triple-A Affiliate Round Rock. Thornton:
That was a lot of fun. To get within four outs, it would have been nice to finish it. I hung a curve ball, and Noonan got it. Our defense was outstanding. The guys bailed me out of several tight spots.

Myles Straw was 3x5 with a single, double, and a triple in his Triple-A debut and stole his 36th base of the season. Kyle Tucker was 1x3 with a walk and 2RBI.

*The Corpus/Midland game got rained out with one out short of an official game, negating Yordan Alvarez's 2-run home run in his first game back since May 6.

*Here's a reminder that 2017 1st Round pick J.B. Bukauskas has only made two starts in 2018 and has not pitched since April 24.

*Quad Cities beat Burlington 2-1 to win the 1st Half division title and clinch a Midwest League post-season berth.

*The Ringer: An oral history of The Gaslight Anthem's "The '59 Sound."

*This dude's crazy-ass girlfriend wrecked his career and now owes him $375,000.