For you readers who pop in while at work, you might have missed some of our coverage or some of the happenings with the Astros this weekend. Here's a brief rundown of the key points from a busy three days of Astros baseball.
Upgrading the bullpen through one-year vets
On Friday, a discussion about possible fixes for the bullpen spun into a discussion of whether Houston could have increased its payroll by signing a bunch of one-year relievers. So, I looked at how many relievers signed one-year deals, who they signed with and whether those players could have helped Houston so far.
Does Chris Carter need to be more aggressive?
On Saturday, Tim looked at Houston slugger Chris Carter and asked whether the big right-hander needs to be more aggressive at the plate with runners in scoring position. The main argument is that it's fine and well to take a walk, but if there's a run on the board, you have to swing at pitches to drive in runs.
Tim does a good job of breaking down the at-bats and it's a great visual to see what kinds of situations and pitches Carter saw. I just have a fundamental problem with the concept of a hitter changing his approach to the strike zone depending on the situation.
Should a hitter try to hit differently in situations? Yeah, you hit behind the runner, try to get something in the air to the outfield with less than two outs and all the other sound strategic plays. You also don't swing on a 3-0 count unless there's a good reason and have to expand the strike zone some with two strikes to be protective.
But, a hitter can drive himself into a slump by becoming less patient at the plate because of the situation. If Carter thinks a pitch will be a ball, making him swing at it only in certain situations could lead to him swinging at it in other ones, too.
That's why it's easy to criticize for not being more aggressive, Carter is still playing to the percentages by hitting like he might in any circumstance.
An alternative history in 2004
Leistomania409 looked at what could have been back in 2004, when the Red Sox and Yankees were engaged in an epic American League Championship while the Astros and Cards played an equally compelling NLCS. In it, he talks about what would have happened if Houston won and had played the Red Sox in the series. The money quote:
What would it be like to be the team that Boston beat to break The Curse? I certainly do believe the Red Sox still would've won; not only were they scorching hot on offense and had great pitching, but destiny just seemed to be on their side that year. Even one of the best National League teams of the past decade couldn't win, much less take a game. It would've been a special piece of history to be the team Boston beat to end it's World Series drought, special even in defeat.
Brad Peacock can't pitch past the fifth...again
For the fourth time in five starts this season, the young right-hander Brad Peacock failed to make it through the fifth inning when he went up against the Red Sox on Saturday. Peacock threw 90 pitches in 3 1/3 innings while giving up six hits, five runs and five walks while striking out three.
Peacock has thrown no fewer than 89 pitches in his starts, but also hasn't thrown more than 95 pitches this season. This could be Houston's way of limiting his usage to not tire his young arm. It also could just be a problem like the one that got Octavio Dotel bounced from the starting rotation and into the bullpen.
Boston pushes the Astros to a breaking point
Oh, how quickly the memories of that series win against the Mariners can be erased. A four-game shellacking by the Boston Red Sox in Fenway pushed the Astros to a "breaking point," according to Brian T. Smith. Manager Bo Porter is fed up with the starting pitching, situational hitting and a general lack of execution on his team's part. Are answers coming? Not likely any time soon, at least on the playing field. Houston faces the Yankees, the Tigers, the Angels and the Rangrs in the next four series. That could be enough to break any team.