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Thursday, August 10, 2017

Inside Baseball | Astros Cautious Ways Will Hurt October Chances

AL Notes
NL Notes

“This year” isn’t the timeline the Astros are considering. The idea of overpaying for an aging, expensive starter to incrementally increase the team’s changes clearly doesn’t appeal to them. They want to compete over multiple years and believe in, by only making prudent trades, they will increase their chances of winning a championship *or two* over the next half dozen year.

But you have to wonder whether their conservative style may wind up haunting them this year. Though some recent bullpen struggles and a fragile rotation top has to bring concern, they basically stood pat at the deadline, failing to land a single impact arm (their only trade was for Francisco Liriano, a struggling starter they are using in the pen).

Jim Furtado Posted: August 10, 2017 at 01:21 PM | 63 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. TomH Posted: August 10, 2017 at 01:52 PM (#5510590)
How much do people think their chances would improve if, say, they had Verlander? In a 7-game series, 2 starts = 13 IP of allowing 6 ER+UER instead of TBD starter going 12 IP / 6 runs? That will cost you a series maybe one time in 40.

from the article: one rival exec predicts, “They’re not going to get far, not with the starting pitching the way it is. They’re not going to like the matchups,” come October

Perhaps the rival exec is unfamiliar with the 2016 Indians???

Yes, the Astros were conservative. It seems like a good call.
   2. Jose is an Absurd Doubles Machine Posted: August 10, 2017 at 02:07 PM (#5510621)
I agree with your general point, I think this is a bit too pessimistic. I think their pitching is fine. I'd have gone hard for Britton but my understanding is they had a deal scuttled at the end by someone high up in the Orioles organization. A couple of nitpicks...

How much do people think their chances would improve if, say, they had Verlander? In a 7-game series, 2 starts = 13 IP of allowing 6 ER+UER instead of TBD starter going 12 IP / 6 runs? That will cost you a series maybe one time in 40.


The difference is the potential for Verlander to go 8 IP, 1 run against quality opposition. It's tough to get deep into the playoffs without a genuine shut down starter. I think that was part of the problem the Twins had for a long time, they were well constructed for 162 games but in a short series they didn't have that guy who could dominate. Of course then they got Santana and it didn't change anything.

Perhaps the rival exec is unfamiliar with the 2016 Indians???


The 2016 Indians made an awfully impactful deal at the deadline adding Andrew Miller. He was a huge difference maker for them.
   3. Tim D Posted: August 10, 2017 at 03:10 PM (#5510700)
My comment in the Verlander thread about the Stros seems appropriate here:

"Really, what have the Astros done for their fans? They drafted well and put a sh!tty product on the field for years, raking in gobs on money, and now that they are on the cusp they can't even make a stretch for a solid SP? Quintana, Darvish, Verlander, any number of guys would make sense. If I am an Astros fan I am a bit peeved."

It's not about the mathematical difference it would make to add a Verlander. It's about the perception that they are trying to win it. Now, they have a chance now. Five six years, who knows. Ask the Washington fans who were an inning from the Series and didn't have Strasburg what they think about the five year window.
   4. TDF, FCL Posted: August 10, 2017 at 03:46 PM (#5510730)
C'mon. The Astros have built a very good, young team by sticking to a plan. Now, because the plan is a year ahead of schedule you want them to throw it out the window and do the same stupid crap that gets teams in trouble all the time? FTA:
One rival GM says he would have claimed Verlander if he were in Houston’s position, forcing Detroit’s hand.
The Astros face a horrible prospect if they do this: The Tigers say "go ahead". Now they're stuck with a guy who's shown only flashes of a $28M/yr pitcher over the past 4 seasons. If this would've been a good move for the 'stros, it was a good move for every other playoff team, yet no one else pulled the trigger either.
   5. Cargo Cultist Posted: August 10, 2017 at 03:48 PM (#5510736)
I agree #1. Being conservative here is their best move

On a personal note, my best friend and business associate - a great man - died unexpectedly yesterday and I have a lot to do suddenly as a result, plus I have to finish writing a book that I'm behind on, so I probably won't be commenting again for some time. This should cheer all of the Leftists here up.

Oh well, back to it. Enjoy.
   6. Tim D Posted: August 10, 2017 at 04:00 PM (#5510746)
"because the plan is a year ahead of schedule"

see Cubs, Chicago.


"you want them to throw it out the window and do the same stupid crap that gets teams in trouble all the time?"

Verlander was the least optimal option because of the risk the money brings, although I think the PR he generates almost makes the money a wash. They could have made a run for Darvish, Quintana, Justin Wilson, Ervin Santana, Hand, any number of guys. They apparently put all their effort into making a last day deal with Peter Angelos. Not a good idea.

   7. bfan Posted: August 10, 2017 at 04:14 PM (#5510757)
It's tough to get deep into the playoffs without a genuine shut down starter.


The 1991-2004 Atlanta Braves say hello.
   8. TDF, FCL Posted: August 10, 2017 at 04:28 PM (#5510767)
They could have made a run for Darvish, Quintana, Justin Wilson, Ervin Santana, Hand, any number of guys.
Is one of these guys going to make a difference - do they just need a #2 type starter? Or do they need "starters" plural? Or an ace?

From where I sit, they don't need just 1 starter, and the last wasn't available. Quntana probably was the closest to an ace, and is controlled thru '20, but he hasn't been that good this year.
   9. Tim D Posted: August 10, 2017 at 04:28 PM (#5510769)
The Braves only prove that is tough to get deep into the playoffs even WITH genuine shut-down starters. It's difficult, period, which is why when you have a chance and lots of money to spend you need to go for it.
   10. Tim D Posted: August 10, 2017 at 04:30 PM (#5510771)
Whether the guys you add will likely make a difference or not, the thing you do NOT want most of all is your ace telling the PRESS how disappointed he is in the front office.
   11. LA Podcasting Hombre of Anaheim Posted: August 10, 2017 at 04:33 PM (#5510772)
The Astros have built a very good, young team by sticking to a plan. Now, because the plan is a year ahead of schedule you want them to throw it out the window and do the same stupid crap that gets teams in trouble all the time?
Being "ahead of schedule" just means your opportunities to win have come earlier than you thought... but because it's ahead of schedule, you don't want to capitalize on the opportunity? These Astros aren't some borderline team, they're the best team in the league; when Correa comes back, they'll be the best by a pretty good amount. Do people expect the Astros to enjoy this same advantage for years to come? IMO, these opportunities need to be capitalized upon. People are being awfully cavalier about letting this chance go buy, and too easily taking for granted that future opportunities are just sitting there waiting for Houston.
   12. Nasty Nate Posted: August 10, 2017 at 04:40 PM (#5510780)
These Astros aren't some borderline team, they're the best team in the league; when Correa comes back, they'll be the best by a pretty good amount .... People are being awfully cavalier about letting this chance go buy...
I understand the idea that they should have gotten a pitcher at the deadline, but I just can't reconcile the two parts of your paragraph that I quoted. They're probably the team with the 2nd-best chance to win the world series in all of MLB. They haven't let that chance go by.
   13. LA Podcasting Hombre of Anaheim Posted: August 10, 2017 at 04:46 PM (#5510786)
They're probably the team with the 2nd-best chance to win the world series in all of MLB. They haven't let that chance go by.
They're the best team, but they're not bulletproof. We all understand that the best teams often fail in the playoffs -- the 1991-2004 Atlanta Braves say hello. That's why contenders bolster their roster. The Dodgers were the best team in the league, and they added Darvish. Houston should have done something similar.
   14. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: August 10, 2017 at 04:47 PM (#5510788)
I understand the idea that they should have gotten a pitcher at the deadline, but I just can't reconcile the two parts of your paragraph that I quoted. They're probably the team with the 2nd-best chance to win the world series in all of MLB. They haven't let that chance go by.

If they have to start Mike Fiers, and Charlie Morton, and Joe Musgrave in playoff games, with a bullpen that's a dumpster fire, they won't have the 2nd best change to win the WS.

The offense has been great, but a team with a 93 ERA+ is going to be suspect in the playoffs. And if Keuchel gets hurt, their rotation is going to be a disaster.
   15. Nasty Nate Posted: August 10, 2017 at 04:52 PM (#5510794)
a bullpen that's a dumpster fire
I don't follow the Astros that closely, but isn't Giles-Devenski-Gregerson a pretty good back end?
   16. Tim D Posted: August 10, 2017 at 04:52 PM (#5510795)
I doubt they will be the best team in the AL for the second half, and I doubt they will go anywhere in October. The did nothing to upgrade their pitching and others did. Great in July is fun to watch but gets you nothing in October. Attitudes matter, especially in the meat grinder of the post-season. Keuchel's comments don't say much for the attitude in the clubhouse.
   17. LA Podcasting Hombre of Anaheim Posted: August 10, 2017 at 05:01 PM (#5510803)
If they have to start Mike Fiers, and Charlie Morton, and Joe Musgrave in playoff games, with a bullpen that's a dumpster fire, they won't have the 2nd best change to win the WS.
This, in spades. Altuve is in his prime. Correa, Springer, Bregman are entering theirs, and they're getting strong seasons from Reddick, Marisnick, Marwin, and Gurriel. The window for this offense right now, this season.
   18. Jose is an Absurd Doubles Machine Posted: August 10, 2017 at 05:03 PM (#5510804)
McCullers is huge for them. Is he going to be back at some reasonable time? If he's back for them I think Keuchel/McCullers matches up just fine with the rest of the AL contenders, particularly given their offense.
   19. LA Podcasting Hombre of Anaheim Posted: August 10, 2017 at 05:08 PM (#5510809)
I don't follow the Astros that closely, but isn't Giles-Devenski-Gregerson a pretty good back end?
Giles has been good and Devinski's a beast. Gregerson, not so much. Will Harris is hurt. More importantly, McCullers is hurt, and was bad for a month before going on the DL. Even if we stipulate Keuchel finding his legs again by the end of September, a Justin Verlander would immediately be the second-best starter in the Astros organization.
   20. Jose is an Absurd Doubles Machine Posted: August 10, 2017 at 05:11 PM (#5510811)
What was the asking price for Verlander? Could the Astros have met it and should they have? I mean obviously they'd be better off with Verlander but what prospects would have gone the other way?
   21. DaVoice of DaPeople Posted: August 10, 2017 at 05:18 PM (#5510815)
Some say your best chance to win a World Series is to trade for an extra dominant starter. Others say it's to trade for a couple of shutdown bullpen arms.

Know what I think the best way to increase your chances of winning a World Series is? It's to make the playoffs A LOT.
   22. Astroenteritis Posted: August 10, 2017 at 05:18 PM (#5510816)
As an Astros fan, I would have been perturbed had they traded top prospects for a relief pitcher, and unless it was a Darvish caliber starter I don't think giving up much for a pitcher "just to be doing something" makes any sense. I've believed in "The Process (tm)" since the beginning and I'm all for trying to be good for many years to come. I don't think it's a secret the rotation has had issues all year, what with all the injuries and inconsistency, but getting Verlander, as has been pointed out above, was only going to result in a small increase in odds of a successful playoff outcome.

Maybe I"m cherry picking here, but I've always been haunted by 1998. The Astros would have made the playoffs without Randy Johnson, and I've often wondered what having Freddy Garcia and Carlos Guillen for the next ten years would have been like. The playoffs are just too damn random, and the idea that you have to "look like you're trying to do something" strikes me as ridiculous.
   23. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: August 10, 2017 at 05:19 PM (#5510818)
What was the asking price for Verlander? Could the Astros have met it and should they have? I mean obviously they'd be better off with Verlander but what prospects would have gone the other way?

I don't think the issue is Verlander per se. If the Tigers are insisting on real prospects, and don't want to pay much of the contract, then that's a bad deal.

The issue is they failed to do anything to address a pitching staff that's been poor. The team has a 136 OPS+ and a 93 ERA+.

They could have used a starter and multiple relivers. Not necessarily big names. But just quality arms.
   24. Astroenteritis Posted: August 10, 2017 at 05:20 PM (#5510820)
Know what I think the best way to increase your chances of winning a World Series is? It's to make the playoffs A LOT.


Yes, this exactly. I would take the Braves run of playoff appearances (or half that) in a second.
   25. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: August 10, 2017 at 05:23 PM (#5510824)
Yes, this exactly. I would take the Braves run of playoff appearances (or half that) in a second.

Well, that's super unlikely. The offense is at it's peak right now.

The Yankees added Gray, Robertson, Kahnle, and Todd Frazier without giving up any of their best prospects. I question whether this made sense for the Yankees, since they're not ready to win, IMHO. But for the Astros, adding those kind of arms would be a huge upgrade.
   26. Nasty Nate Posted: August 10, 2017 at 05:31 PM (#5510829)
The excellence of their offense is a reason for optimism, not pessimism, about future years, even if we assume that 2017 is their best hitting year.
   27. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: August 10, 2017 at 05:36 PM (#5510834)
The excellence of their offense is a reason for optimism, not pessimism, about future years, even if we assume that 2017 is their best hitting year.

Which is offset by the badness of their pitching. If you're going to have to spend assets to improve your pitching, the best time to do that is when you know the hitting is already good.
   28. LA Podcasting Hombre of Anaheim Posted: August 10, 2017 at 05:40 PM (#5510838)
The excellence of their offense is a reason for optimism, not pessimism, about future years, even if we assume that 2017 is their best hitting year.
It is, but you never know what's going to happen. Guys could get hurt, guys might have off seasons, other teams will rise up. Plus, this team is going to get very expensive in the next few years. Are the Astros going to want to make that sort of financial commitment? Who knows.[

Don't get me wrong, they've obviously done a great job developing their system to get to where they are right now. I just think opportunities like this are rare, and not maximizing these opportunities can be costly.
   29. I am Ted F'ing Williams Posted: August 10, 2017 at 06:05 PM (#5510851)
They're the best team, but they're not bulletproof.


And trading for Verlander doesn't make them bulletproof.

Stop with the drama already. In a short series the better team doesn't always win. Improving your short-series odds by a smidgen usually isn't worth even a B+ prospect. And trading a B+ prospect probably shortens your competitive window.


   30. Walt Davis Posted: August 10, 2017 at 06:21 PM (#5510855)
There are different kinds of contracts here mostly being talked about as if they're the same. Quintana and Gray (and some of the relievers) have years of control after this one. Acquiring Q or G not only would have improved the Astros' chances this year but for the next 2-3 years. Verlander also has 2 years of control left -- I didn't want to see the Cubs get him so I won't recommend that the Astros should have but acquiring Verlander wouldn't be about must improving your chances this year. Darvish was entirely different but Darvish also didn't cost the Dodgers their top prospect.

The intro and some of the posters are assuming facts not in evidence. Of course the Astros shouldn't "overpay" for a starter, they should pay the appropriate price for a starter.They should trade a reasonable number of potential future wins for potential wins that they can have now and possibly over the next 2-3 years. Snapper raises the guys the Yanks required -- did the Yanks make those moves "too early"? Maybe but they've got 1 more year of Robertson, 2 of Gray and 3 of Kahnle.

Now Verlander is old and expensive and not frequently dominant lately so sure he (a) may not help that much this year; (b) may not help much over the next 2 years; (c) costs a lot of money over the next 2 years; (d) enough money that you could buy a couple of years of a (probably) better starter with that money. But a top prospect for Quintana or an offseason trade of top prospects for Sale or what the Yanks gave up for Gray or what the Dodgers gave up for Darvish are all much better deals than giving up talent for Verlander. The Astros passed up opportunities to eat the short-term cake while adding extra frosting to their medium-term cake.

Which of course might have been the right decision but let's not pretend this is about the question of whether they "should" "overpay" for Verlander for the sole purpose of improving their chances in 2017.
   31. Walt Davis Posted: August 10, 2017 at 07:08 PM (#5510882)
On the Astros, their chances, their long-term chances, etc.

The offense is almost certainly not going to be this good again. It's probably a career year for Reddick and Gurriel (age), McCann probably can't last much longer, probably a career year for Springer (who will continue to be very good of course), maybe for Bregman. Other than Correa getting more playing time, there's nobody in the starting lineup you can say is expected to be better next year. But alsmot certainly they will never see bench production like this again -- this might be the greatest bench production in MLB history (at least by rate):

Marisnick 130 OPS+ in 205 PA
Marwin 164 in 351
Gattis 125 in 264
Fisher 128 in 79
White 170 in 32
Centeno 317 in 13

That's 48 Rbat in about 1.5 seasons of PAs, better than what they've gotten out of Reddick, Gurriel and Bregman combined. It's also 7.6 WAR, 4.4 WAA. Pre-season ZiPS is not gospel but that's more than 5 wins above expectations just from the bench.

As to their chances ... when I think of teams slugging their way to titles, the Big Red Machine are the pinnacle of my lifetime. The 75 Reds did have a 107 ERA+ by, by bWAA, they were below-average with a poor rotation (-2.3 WAA) and a good pen (+1 WAA); in 76 they had just a 100 ERA+ and were again below average by bWAA with both the SP and RP below-average. In those two years, their non-P put up 22 and 25 WAA.

That's not far off from the 2017 Astros. Their SP have slightly positive WAA and their pen has been one of the worst in the AL (-2.2. WAA).** But their non-P are at 16.6 WAA which is a pace around 23, including Altuve doing as good an impersonation of Joe Morgan as we've ever seen. Looking to future years is where the bench over-production comes in if we figure that 5-6 of those 16.6 wins are ones they're very unlikely to see again next year. That's still an outstanding offense but not enough to overcome, good enough to put you in the playoffs each year (if the starters don't fall off), but not good enough to dominate.

The WAA table has other scary news for the Astros -- it puts them just 2.8 wins better than the Indians and 3 than the Yanks.

**By modern pen standards, Giles, Devenski et al are not fearsome. Nobody in the pen even cracks a 150 ERA+, most of them are giving up more than 1 HR/9. There are 31 relievers just in the AL with a 150 ERA+ or better (min 35 IP). There are 29 with HR/9 < 0.7, one on the Astros (Giles). They do have 4 of 20 with a K-rate over 11/9 so if they can stop giving up HR, the bullpen could get hot. (Devenski, 8 HR in 61 IP)
   32. Walt Davis Posted: August 10, 2017 at 07:12 PM (#5510886)
Trading a B+ prospect will never shorten your competitive window. An A prospect maybe, several top prospects probably. The presence of Lance McCullers makes them a better team but has no effect whatsoever on their "competitive window."

Essentially be definition, if no above-average ML starter can substantially affect your short- and medium-term chances, there's no way in f'ing hell that a single B+ prospect has any effect on your long-term chances.
   33. TomH Posted: August 10, 2017 at 07:22 PM (#5510894)
Can we retire the illogical dead horse of the supposed Braves' playoff failures as if that says much of anything about how to construct a team for the playoffs?

The Braves won 62 playoff games and lost 59 from 1991 to 2004. Tweak a few losses/wins here and there, and they could easily have MORE than their share of rings (3 out of 13 playoff seasons would do it). Should we conclude that Atlanta was wonderfully constructed for best-of-5s but not best-of-7s? That Bobby Cox can't manage with a DH?

It's all silliness.
   34. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: August 10, 2017 at 07:34 PM (#5510904)
Can we retire the illogical dead horse of the supposed Braves' playoff failures as if that says much of anything about how to construct a team for the playoffs?

The Braves won 62 playoff games and lost 59 from 1991 to 2004. Tweak a few losses/wins here and there, and they could easily have MORE than their share of rings (3 out of 13 playoff seasons would do it). Should we conclude that Atlanta was wonderfully constructed for best-of-5s but not best-of-7s? That Bobby Cox can't manage with a DH?

It's all silliness.


Indeed. Some teams get lucky in the post-season (Marlins, Twins, Yankees, Red Sox) some don't (Atlanta, Detroit, Texas).
   35. BDC Posted: August 10, 2017 at 08:21 PM (#5510941)
some don't (Atlanta, Detroit, Texas

I've lived through an experiment in this "get a bulletproof starter" philosophy. The 2010 Rangers dealt for a rental Cliff Lee in July; he was just OK for them down the stretch but really was the difference in winning the pennant, beating the Rays twice and throwing a pivotal win against New York, 24 innings in those three games.

Then Lee just wasn't as good as Lincecum in the World Series, and that was that.

The next year, the Rangers had a rotation that couldn't seem to get through seven innings and was often lucky to get through five. They won another pennant anyway, and it wasn't the rotation's fault they lost the World Series by the absolute narrowest of margins.

It can seem like a spin of the roulette wheel to see if you can get into the crapshoot. OTOH, as Walt notes, if you can trade a B+ prospect for somebody like Yu Darvish, as the Dodgers did this year, it really can't make your team any worse.

The big advantage for Texas in trading Cliff Lee turned out to be fastening Justin Smoak like a millstone around the Mariners' necks for the next four years. I am happy that he is finally having a big year now, but he was not any good there for a long while.

   36. Jarrod HypnerotomachiaPoliphili (TeddyF.Ballgame) Posted: August 10, 2017 at 08:24 PM (#5510944)
Thanks for the reminder, BDC.
   37. Infinite Yost (Voxter) Posted: August 10, 2017 at 09:16 PM (#5510988)
I doubt they will be the best team in the AL for the second half, and I doubt they will go anywhere in October. The did nothing to upgrade their pitching and others did. Great in July is fun to watch but gets you nothing in October. Attitudes matter, especially in the meat grinder of the post-season. Keuchel's comments don't say much for the attitude in the clubhouse.


Hey, when did you get your degree in Meaningless-to-False Clichés? Seems like you must have graduated with honors.
   38. Astroenteritis Posted: August 10, 2017 at 09:40 PM (#5511004)
The distinction Walt points out between what you give up for a rental like Darvish vs. Gray or Quintana is important, and certainly giving up good prospects for pitchers with several years of control is perfectly fine. It also bears pointing out that Luhnow himself said he was disappointed that they couldn't get more done. It's not like they weren't trying, but in the case of Gray, for instance, Oakland got what they felt was a better offer. That happens.

One area I've been critical of the Astros is that they haven't, successfully anyway, made impact additions to the rotation through free agency. This usually involves overpaying a bit, and the back end of the deal can stink, but that's just how it is. Once again, they've tried, but not been successful.
   39. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: August 10, 2017 at 11:00 PM (#5511051)
The Yankees added Gray, Robertson, Kahnle, and Todd Frazier without giving up any of their best prospects. I question whether this made sense for the Yankees, since they're not ready to win, IMHO. But for the Astros, adding those kind of arms would be a huge upgrade.

Agree on both counts, though those first three at least should provide value going forward for the Yanks, regardless of how this year turns out.
   40. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: August 10, 2017 at 11:08 PM (#5511055)
I've lived through an experiment in this "get a bulletproof starter" philosophy. The 2010 Rangers dealt for a rental Cliff Lee in July; he was just OK for them down the stretch but really was the difference in winning the pennant, beating the Rays twice and throwing a pivotal win against New York, 24 innings in those three games.

Then Lee just wasn't as good as Lincecum in the World Series, and that was that.


Has anyone done a systematic look at teams that acquire a high-profile starter at the trade deadline, and how they do in the playoffs? I'd be surprised if their results are notably better than the same series of coinflips that everyone else goes through. Especially because, once you get to October, sometimes mediocre pitchers put together a run. The '06 Cardinals famously had a playoff rotation of one excellent starter (Carpenter), one OK starter (Suppan) and two starters with ERAs over 5 (Weaver, Reyes). All four of them were at 3.00 or lower for the postseason.

(Yes, Carpenter was the shutdown starter, I guess. But his playoff ERA that year was the third-highest of the four starters.)
   41. QLE Posted: August 11, 2017 at 12:29 AM (#5511080)
Ask the Washington fans who were an inning from the Series


They were not an inning away from the World Series- they were an inning away from the NLCS, where they would have been against a team that managed to win it all with below-average pitching, and which would beat them in two years' time with considerably inferior pitching and batters that were roughly at par.

I'd argue that this example along blows two major holes in your argument- it is, indeed, possible to win a World Series with mediocre-at-best pitching, and shutdown pitching is not enough to necessarily win a short series.
   42. Random Transaction Generator Posted: August 11, 2017 at 12:49 AM (#5511083)
Now, because the plan is a year ahead of schedule


According to some, they are right on schedule.
   43. cmd600 Posted: August 11, 2017 at 04:03 AM (#5511099)
How much do people think their chances would improve if, say, they had Verlander?


Fooling around with some of the 538 ELO numbers, the difference in one game between Verlander, who 538 loves, and Morton, who they think is average, is about a 4% increase in chances of winning. We should know this kind of stuff here. We have seen how fickle the baseball can be on any given night.
   44. Leroy Kincaid Posted: August 11, 2017 at 06:37 AM (#5511103)
The idea of a "bulletproof" team is absurd.
   45. Bug Selig Posted: August 11, 2017 at 06:52 AM (#5511104)
The playoffs are just too damn random, and the idea that you have to "look like you're trying to do something" strikes me as ridiculous.
This is true in a sim league. But sim league players don't go to the press wondering what the #### they are trying to accomplish, either.

Fooling around with some of the 538 ELO numbers, the difference in one game between Verlander, who 538 loves, and Morton, who they think is average, is about a 4% increase in chances of winning. We should know this kind of stuff here. We have seen how fickle the baseball can be on any given night.
That's true, and a good dose of perspective. But on the other end, the chance that Johnny McToolsiest becomes an All-Star is less than that. Everything we obsess about on here is really just fiddling at the margins.
   46. bfan Posted: August 11, 2017 at 09:54 AM (#5511152)
Can we retire the illogical dead horse of the supposed Braves' playoff failures as if that says much of anything about how to construct a team for the playoffs?

The Braves won 62 playoff games and lost 59 from 1991 to 2004. Tweak a few losses/wins here and there, and they could easily have MORE than their share of rings (3 out of 13 playoff seasons would do it). Should we conclude that Atlanta was wonderfully constructed for best-of-5s but not best-of-7s? That Bobby Cox can't manage with a DH?


I disagree. Yes, you can move around a few wins and they win more championships and yes that means that the difference between a WS win and a play-off play-in game flame out is razor thin. But the point is, the Braves were trotting out for at lease some of those years not 1 genuine shut-down starter; not 2 genuine shut-down starters; but 3 genuine shut down starters, and even that wasn't enough for that year and those sets of series. You would think that 3 great starters would be almost bullet-proof in the play-offs, because so much higher a percentage of your innings can go to those 3 guys (in a 7 game series, that would represent 86% of your starts, vs. 60% in the regular season). But it was not a bullet-proof strategy, so that cannot be the answer to play-off success. The answer has to be, assemble the best roster you can, and get to the play-offs as much as you can.
   47. DaVoice of DaPeople Posted: August 11, 2017 at 10:32 AM (#5511171)
A thing that especially bugs me about the type of reasoning used in the Original Post is that basic probability means it will almost certainly be "right," in the sense that the Astros will very likely not win the World Series this year, just because there's so much luck involved in the playoffs (even the greatest playoff teams have no better than a ~25% chance of winning the Series.) Which of course the author of this piece will use as evidence to support his position, when it's anything but!
   48. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: August 11, 2017 at 10:46 AM (#5511178)
a Justin Verlander would immediately be the second-best starter in the Astros organization


Sure, his ERA, WHIP, and K rate are all worse than Morton's this year, but he's clearly better because reasons!
   49. Nasty Nate Posted: August 11, 2017 at 10:49 AM (#5511182)
Sure, his ERA, WHIP, and K rate are all worse than Morton's this year, but he's clearly better because reasons!
But some of the reasons are sound. Such as the fact that things happened before this year.
   50. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: August 11, 2017 at 11:22 AM (#5511209)
But some of the reasons are sound. Such as the fact that things happened before this year.


Sure, but it's possible to overstate the importance of that, as well.

Verlander is 34, and he's looked like he's been in decline for a while now. He looks like a guy who's hanging onto "ace" status by his fingernails, with an xFIP in the high 4s, and at some point he's just not going to be able to keep it up anymore. That point could arrive a lot sooner than people expect. Better for the Astros if it happens on somebody else's dime.
   51. cmd600 Posted: August 11, 2017 at 11:35 AM (#5511223)
That's true, and a good dose of perspective. But on the other end, the chance that Johnny McToolsiest becomes an All-Star is less than that. Everything we obsess about on here is really just fiddling at the margins.


You aren't losing if the prospect doesn't become an all-star. Just getting out of some of Verlander's contract, and being able to devote more money to season where you are likely to contend and less to 70-something win season is a plus. Getting a cheap 2-3 win player on top of that would be gravy.
   52. LA Podcasting Hombre of Anaheim Posted: August 11, 2017 at 02:00 PM (#5511330)
Verlander is 34, and he's looked like he's been in decline for a while now. He looks like a guy who's hanging onto "ace" status by his fingernails, with an xFIP in the high 4s, and at some point he's just not going to be able to keep it up anymore.
He led the league in strikeouts and WHIP just last season. The season before that, he came back from injury, threw 34 bad innings, then was excellent in his last 100 or so. This season, in his last seven starts, he's gone 47 innings, 32 hits, 10 ERs, 50 Ks, 16 walks. 1.91 ERA, opponent slash line of .187/.258/.327.

Yeah, he's not what he used to be, and the contract's a big one. If they can get the Tigers to eat a good portion of that contract, he's worth it.
   53. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: August 11, 2017 at 02:59 PM (#5511420)
The Astros have something like a 15% chance to win the World Series. Trading for Verlander would make that 16%. For a large cost.
   54. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: August 11, 2017 at 03:25 PM (#5511450)
He led the league in strikeouts and WHIP just last season. The season before that, he came back from injury, threw 34 bad innings, then was excellent in his last 100 or so. This season, in his last seven starts, he's gone 47 innings, 32 hits, 10 ERs, 50 Ks, 16 walks. 1.91 ERA, opponent slash line of .187/.258/.327.


He's doing it by leaning more and more on his slider. Eventually, I think he's going to hit a point of diminishing returns there.

But you're entitled to your own opinion.
   55. Tim D Posted: August 11, 2017 at 03:48 PM (#5511484)
The difference isn't between 15% and 16%. The difference is between Keuchel (and now Reddick) publicly complaining about the front office standing pat, and the whole clubhouse being "re-energized." Call it trite, cliche or whatever, it matters. It's a mental game and mental approaches matter. The playoffs are such a crap-shoot that a team with a better-than-average chance, like Houston, should go for every advantage they can get. It just isn't going to happen that often.
   56. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: August 11, 2017 at 04:38 PM (#5511514)
Ok, I'll give you a re-energized bonus. 15% to 17%.
   57. LA Podcasting Hombre of Anaheim Posted: August 11, 2017 at 04:54 PM (#5511525)
But you're entitled to your own opinion.
and you're entitled to yours. So, do we fight or something now?

There's no question Verlander is going to reach a point of diminishing returns soon, maybe in a year maybe in two years. However, the Astros have a chance today. That chance may not be here next year or the year after, so they need to maximize our chances now. Obviously, this doesn't make them bulletproof because there's no such thing as a bulletproof team. It just maximizes their opportunities today.

... In my opinion.
   58. Bug Selig Posted: August 11, 2017 at 06:58 PM (#5511579)
You aren't losing if the prospect doesn't become an all-star. Just getting out of some of Verlander's contract, and being able to devote more money to season where you are likely to contend and less to 70-something win season is a plus. Getting a cheap 2-3 win player on top of that would be gravy.
Absolutely and unambiguously agree. I was opposing the idea that the whole thing in Houston crumbles if Luhnow trades away a real prospect. A huge part of prospect value is that you can do stuff like trade them for guys who pitch important games for you.

General announcement: Morton doesn't lose his rotation spot if they get JV. He's displacing Fiers or Peacock or McHugh (and that's if McCullers gets right quickly). Last year's Cy Young Deserver hasn't been declining "for a while now". This is good for both teams, which is why Avila will overplay his hand and not do squat.
   59. Satan Says Posted: August 11, 2017 at 07:38 PM (#5511597)
. I question whether this made sense for the Yankees, since they're not ready to win,

Get Hicks and Castro healthy for the playoffs, and you never know. The Giants don't have three rings this decade because they were the dominant team.
   60. FrankM Posted: August 11, 2017 at 07:48 PM (#5511601)
For what it's worth, on the Blue Jays telecast the other night, Buck Martinez stated that he was told by someone in the Houston organization that Verlander would only accept a trade to Chicago or New York.
   61. QLE Posted: August 11, 2017 at 07:53 PM (#5511604)
But some of the reasons are sound. Such as the fact that things happened before this year.


Mind you, all the Tigers have to do is take a look at Miguel Cabrera to see how past performance does not equal future results.....
   62. Lars6788 Posted: August 11, 2017 at 10:00 PM (#5511687)
This feels like the Wil Myers/James Shields thing again - at some point, the Astros are going to have to make a move to go for it, even if it means sacrificing their best prospect in the minors, which would be [Kyle Tucker?] or someone else just a notch below Tucker.

I think as has been alluded to in #32 [as I understand it], is there one prospect that is going to make or break their window as opposed to the player they are getting back.
   63. base ball chick Posted: August 11, 2017 at 11:21 PM (#5511765)
3. Tim D Posted: August 10, 2017 at 03:10 PM (#5510700)
My comment in the Verlander thread about the Stros seems appropriate here:

"Really, what have the Astros done for their fans? They drafted well and put a sh!tty product on the field for years, raking in gobs on money, and now that they are on the cusp they can't even make a stretch for a solid SP? Quintana, Darvish, Verlander, any number of guys would make sense. If I am an Astros fan I am a bit peeved."

It's not about the mathematical difference it would make to add a Verlander. It's about the perception that they are trying to win it. Now, they have a chance now. Five six years, who knows. Ask the Washington fans who were an inning from the Series and didn't have Strasburg what they think about the five year window.


THIS!!!
a hunnert zillion timesz THIS!!!!!

thank god i am not an astros fan or mah Blood Pressure would not be real too good right about now

i disbelieve they couldn't outbid the dodgers for yu darvish
they gave up teoscar hernandez for EFF liriano

their starters are horrible, their bullpen is horrible and they have ZERO help in the minors. they look like the 2012 astros only worse

this is the same shttt that billy wags spoke up about back in 03 - and he was dead right back then.
cost them the pennant in 04

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