TCB Podcast Mailbag: Trials and tribulations of being an Astros fan

You've got Qs. We've got As.

Hey, look at this. The lazy writer finally gets around to doing a podcast mailbag. Sorry we didn't get to these questions during the broadcast. We ran out of time, what with the First Take segment with Tim Bayless and Sean A. Smith taking up more space than we expected.

If you have questions for us, feel free to drop them to us on Twitter or come participate in our live podcast threads and ask your questions there. With that, let's get to the questions.

Colin McGonagle asks:

When is it okay for diehard fans to start being frustrated with lack of improvement overall and in the win column? Or all fans for that matter?

The answer is always.

Fans, both die-hard and fair weather alike, should always be frustrated when the team loses games. It's what being a fan is all about.

There's a plan in place, yes. There are young players working their way into the big leagues. That won't always go smoothly. But, it's not your job as a fan to care about that.  You want to see the team win. That's why you're a fan, right? It's why you spend days in an existential funk because Terrence Jones guards the inbounds pass instead of maybe disrupting Damian Lillard's 3-pointer.

But, I digress.

Your job as a fan is to root for the team. That means living and dying with each game, for the most part. Our job as writers is to help fans understand why the team is performing a certain way. Do we put too much trust in the front office? Probably. But, you could also see that as a reaction to the losses. If the team wasn't losing, would we have to defend The Plan so much?

I'lll never criticize a fan for being frustrated with losses. Being a fan isn't rational, but it should be fun from time to time. With the Astros over the past three years, there have been precious few fun times. That's enough to frustrate even the most die-hard fans.

Matthew Thomas Hall asks:

Likeliest future scenario: Villar at SS & Correa at 3rd or Villar traded & Correa at short or something else entirely?

I'm as shocked as anyone with Villar's performance this season. He's turned around a rocky rookie season and become a fine shortstop for the Astros. That was a position we expected to be a liability on the infield, and Villar has turned it into a...well, a non-weakness.

We assume that Carlos Correa is the future at the position, but we don't know for sure. Anything can happen in the next few years. In the meantime, we can see Villar develop. What if he turns into Rafael Furcal 2.0? Andrelton Simmons 1.5? What if he turns into Ricky Gutierrez 2.0? (That last one is bad, BTW).

Even if Correa comes up, the likelihood is that Houston doesn't push Villar out of a starting spot unless someone isn't performing. If Villar continues to show himself to be a bona fide major leaguer, he's got value. As long as he's got team control, that means he has more value to the Astros than another team. That should keep him here until he gets expensive.

So, we're really talking about what happens four years from now. If I had to guess, it'd be that both players get worked into the lineup in some way. Or, that Villar headlines some big deal Luhnow pulls off in the future. Or that Villar falls apart and Correa takes his job.

Basically, I have no idea what will happen. So this answer helped you not at all. Sorry.

Everyone asks:

When is so-and-so getting called up to help this pathetic team?

Look, I get it. Not two questions ago, we discussed this very thing. You're right to be frustrated, but the answer won't come from the minors. It may eventually come from there, but prospects won't fix all of this season's problems.

But, wait, I have data to back this up. In the past five years, only 40 rookie position players and 42 rookie pitchers have posted seasons of 2.0 WAR or better.  That's the baseline for a league-average starter at any given position, so it felt like a good cutoff for this exercise.

Of those 40 position players, nine had less than 300 plate appearances and only 24 had over 400 PAs. For pitchers, only 34 threw at least 100 innings. If a player were to come up right now, like Jon Singleton, he'd likely get 400 PAs or more. For a pitcher, he'd likely get about 120 innings as a starter.

That seems like a big population, right? Thirty or forty names is significant. But, that's a collection over all five years. If we average it out per season, that's just five per season on the hitting side and about seven per season on the pitching side. Spread over 30 teams, that's not even one "impact" rookie per two teams per season.

Though his first 16 games have not shown impact, projections and his track record suggest George Springer will be an impact guy. That means Houston's quota is filled up. Maybe, though, bad teams concentrate these players more than good teams. Maybe Houston could have more than one.

We could add Singleton to the mix. Of those 24 position players to collect 400 PAs in a rookie season, only two were first baseman (Ike Davis and Mark Trumbo). Maybe he combines with Springer to give Houston two "impact" rookies.

But, the Astros need more help than that. Where does Folty fit in to this picture? What about Domingo Santana? Some local writers have been pushing for all three to be called up, but doesn't that make a dangerously inexperienced team even moreso?

Maybe Houston gets three great rookie performances to transform the team, but recent history tells us this is no at all probable. In fact, the odds are that none of the guys called up will make a genuine impact this season. As hard as it is to see Marc Krauss drop balls at first base, there's a good chance Singleton won't be significantly better.

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