Where Do The Current Astros Stand?

Costello: "who's on Third for the Astros?" Abbott: "Who's on First?"

Costello: “Who’s on Third for the Astros?”
Abbott: “Who’s on First?”

 

Where Do The Current Astros Stand …. when it comes to their basic knowledge of the game and their overall club ability to execute in situations which are best served by the combined presence and use of athletic ability, situational knowledge by instruction, game experience wisdom, and the capacity for execution?

By basic knowledge, I mean those distinct areas of offense, defense, and pitching that ultimately determine the success or failure of most championship pursuits. In my estimation, these areas of basic knowledge include all those reasons a half century ago that led to rookies being sent back to the minors for “a little more seasoning” when their MLB play revealed that they needed more playing time to gain wisdom on what they needed to either do or correct about their approaches to certain game situations.

Whereas, none of us might organize any list of these areas of basic knowledge exactly the same, here’s how I see them by offense, defense, pitching, and game intuition (savvy):

Offense

  1. Hitting – knowledge of the strike zone
  2. Ability to make contact with strikes and not swing at balls
  3. Ability to use a batting stance that maximizes the power of one’s personal bat speed
  4. Ability to put the ball in play
  5. Ability to hit for power without excessively striking out
  6. Ability to take and use what the defense gives the batter
  7. Ability to hit safely behind runners, if needed
  8. Ability to run bases with increasing wisdom of pick-off ploys
  9. Ability to work with base coaches on running decisions
  10. Ability to resist pitcher’s attempts to control home plate

Defense

  1. Development of a fielding stance which maximizes range of coverage
  2. Ability to always know the game situation and one’s probable choices before they happen
  3. Basic knowledge about getting in front of balls and one’s glove down on grounders
  4. Knowledge of cut-off strategies and the ones preferred by your manager
  5. Field positioning based upon both game situation and wisdom from game experience about how certain batters seem to hit the ball off certain pitchers – especially in certain situations.
  6. Basic awareness of health hazards that may exist on or near fair play that could either bring injury or prevent a catch for fielders who aren’t sure of a risk in a particular running direction.

Pitching

  1. Basic awareness that pitching is just what Warren Spahn described: “Hitting is timing. Pitching is the art of upsetting that timing on a 100% basis, whenever possible.
  2. The best pitchers are those who continue to learn. Just as the best teachers are those who never stop being students, the best pitchers are those who continue to learn both from their own experience and the observations of others.
  3. As a pitcher learns more about his own particular strengths and weaknesses, he adds tools which further support his strengths – and other tools which help minimize his vulnerabilities.
  4. The greatest of pitching tools are speed, deception, intimidation, and the ability to most often get positive results over time. Some are genetic. Others are developmental. And no tool is guaranteed forever. A lot of young speed ballers fail over time because they either lose their speed, or else, they simply become hittable to smart batters who will almost always catch up to the fast ball pitchers with nothing else going for them.
  5. Speed, variability of speed and ball movement by pitch, pitch location, good pitcher-catcher wisdom and intuition about certain batter weaknesses, and a pitcher’s arm durability, are all principle variables that determine a player’s value on the mound over time.
  6. Pitching is about as Darwinian as things get. Only the strong survive. And the survivors mostly share one common trait. – They are adaptable.

That’s how I see it. Feel free to add your own takes on essential ability.

My own assessment on the abilities of the current roster may change considerably by spring training. GM Jeff Luhnow already has taken steps to acquire the closer we need in Ken Giles and it looks pretty good that he will fid the other starter we need for the rotation before the season begins.

We still are weakened by a batting order that strikes out too much, but letting Chris Carter go was a step in the right direction. I like Colby  Rasmus, but I hope that he works more on cutting down the “K”s and becoming more of a contact hitter. – That’s a wish, not an expectation of faith or even a mild belief.

Third and first base still bother me. Valbuena and Singleton apparently are the default candidates, but they are both on the heavy “K” side – and only Valbuena has shown his ability to hit for power over a full season. Singleton has to show that he can hit anything at all for a full month.

Base running and defensive cut off strategies could sure use some work. I still have two late season memories from key games the Astros lost when the opposition caught Jose Altuve standing innocently off first base for an easy pick. – What’s up with that? And too many memories of runs scoring against the Astros  on poor cut-off man connections.

Catching is hitting weak and quality thin. Hopefully, Stassi can either rise to the occasion and grab this opportunity or quickly move out of the way for a more qualified player to be named later. As for Castro, what’s there to say? – Astros pitchers love him, but so do the opposition’s pitchers. – They get to pitch to him too.

 

 

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One Response to “Where Do The Current Astros Stand?”

  1. Tom Hunter Says:

    Best line of your analysis was the reference to Castro: “Astros pitchers love him, but so do the opposition’s pitchers.” Hope you don’t mind if I steal that perfect summary, Bill.

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