Best comments of the week – the crawfish boxes

What bothers me most is how lost he looks. Almost everyone is crowding his hands, or pitching inside zones to finalize his AB’s. How is he not bringing hands in, as he’s done in the past? It looks like he has minimized even gap power after/before his official back injury, but if his exit velo isn’t in question (as Blummer is quick to remind us), while his BA has plummeted, it tells me he’s not seeing it; he doesn’t know what’s coming; and, his bat to ball skills/barreling up isn’t happening. It’s got to be a tender/tentative back injury that prohibits him at least a little physically.

Concern is a laughable word here, but anyone who is not concerned about Correa and his future trajectory has on blinders. I’ve thought for too long now the last month he’d find last year’s form.

It’s not a good time to be fighting through what everyone expects will turnaround any minute now. Pre-season he was referred to as MVP in-waiting by fantasy prognosticators. Right now, those expectations weigh more than if the team weren’t clawing for a division.

What players are leading the offense that’s helped the team to a 13-3 September? Bregman has been an absolute monster, even if he’s cooled off a it. .393 ISO while walking 12 times and striking out 7. Springer isn’t hitting with power, but he’s been on 41% of the time. Kemp, Marwin, and White are bunched all around 35% above league average. Correa is 9×59, Gattis 1×20, and Jake 2×22.

We’re talking about Carlos Correa, not the mummified 100 year old corpse of Albert Pujols. He didn’t mysteriously turn into a terrible player any more than Kemp or whomever else would take his place did not suddenly turn into a superior option to a healthy Correa. So, what WMT and I said above stands. If he is healthy enough to play (something the coaching and training staff knows that we, as fans, do not), then he should. His continuing presence in the lineup would indicate the team feels he is healthy enough to play at a level above any replacement players on the roster or that he is really, really good at hiding an injury.

Correa’s back problems stem from the fact that at 6’4” he is just too damn tall to play shortstop. Just thinking about him bending over for ground balls from that height makes MY back hurt. Corey Seager, the other 6’4” shortstop is also out for the year with elbow problems. That’s related to back problems from being too tall to play shortshop.

Most of the negative comments people have been making are about Correa playing well below expectation and how that might hurt the team in the playoffs, whether the starting pitchers have lost some of the dominance they showed in the first half, and anxiety about whether the red-hot A’s could catch up to the Astros before the end of the season. Those are all perfectly normal comments for a fucking sports blog about the Astros.

Over and over we see those comments and the people who make them ridiculed. Expressing concern is not “doom and gloom” and to say it is either ignorant or immature. The amount of mocking that goes on between fans of a team that is the world champs makes TCB a painful place to visit sometimes. I know some of it is in good fun, but there’s so much that it creates a hostile environment, which is sad considering how much we should all be able to enjoy this team.

I’d rather be the Rangers who have at least started bottoming out then the Mariners who poured payroll and minor league assets into a hundred trades to miss the playoffs by 7 games. And they still owe Felix Hernandez $27 million next year and Robbie Cano $120 million through 2023. Kyle Seager is due another $56 million for 3 more years and is wrapping up an 86 OPS+ at 30 years old. Mike Leake gets $31 million the next 2 years at 30 years old and below league average (97 ERA+). Dee Gordon is owed almost $30 million more the next 2 seasons (OPS+ 76). Nelson Cruz and Span are gone after this year. Hanniger, Segura, Diaz, and Leblanc are the only guys under 30 next year in their top 12 for WAR. They have little young talent, a horrible payroll situation tied up in already declined players, and they went all in this season and will only get worse each of the next 5 years. They haven’t made the playoffs since 2001 and I see no way that drought doesn’t reach at least 20 years before they have a chance at snapping it.

He’s going to make more than the 1 year, $15 million Beltran reeled in, and Houston has options in house. Opposing team media isn’t going to know a no name like Tyler White, but he could very well be within 10 wRC+ points of Cruz next year. The difference isn’t worth millions. Spend it on keeping Morton and retaining flexibility going forward. With all of the FA madness approaching this team in the coming years, flexibility is critical.

The AL is so much better, the Astros, Indians, Yankees, Redsox and maybe even the A’s are better than all NL teams. It’s a bit frustrating to know they will all eliminate each other and only 1 can go to the World Series. I get it, I just don’t like it, especially this year. I mean, good for the Cubs or whoever but in my mind it’ll just be dumb luck and they got the easy road, because these AL teams are just plain better and deserve it more.

And it’s not as if the AL is superior overall to the NL this year. The top of the AL is a better, but the bottom of the AL is much worse than the NL’s worst. The AL teams padded their records against a lot of other bad AL teams (the Indians being the worst offender, of course). Overall, this is the first year in a long time where the NL won the majority of games in interleague play.

Wish I could agree that 2018 is “the best”. But I can’t say that yet. 2015 was exciting because of the surprise element. 2017 was “the best”, to me, not just because of the final result, but because of the incredible level at which the “Core Four” plus their superb helping cast (Gurriel, Marwin, Regular Season Reddick and even Grandpa Beltran in his own way) were able to play. They were damn good, the best in baseball, and they knew it. You could almost see at times, especially in close games, the “it’s time to turn it on” attitude, and they could seemingly do it at will. Verlander was the icing on the cake and solidified the “we’re the best” attitude.

The complete book can’t be written yet on the 2018 team. The starting pitching is better. The bullpen is better. The defense is good. Josh James and Framber Valdez have provided unexpected bonuses and big promise for the future. But the offense is a different story. The overall numbers are good. But the offense has sputtered, fired on all cylinders, then sputtered again, all year long. Injuries to three of the Core 4 played a big role in that, and still do. Tuve is not 100%. Springer is playing through injuries (thumb, mostly) that continue to nag. Correa is ? I believe his back is still restricting his swing. Either that or the injury changed his swing and mental approach and he’s just been unable to recapture his hitting groove. Reddick has had a bad year, and now has an injury himself. He may be in career decline, even at age 31. On the good side, Bregman’s a monster, White and Kemp have done what I always hoped they could do, and Marwin seems like he’s back to being Marwin, although not quite 2017 Marwin. Yuli is steady and capable of stepping it up a notch on a big stage in the playoffs, like last year. McCann is healed and Maldonado fits in well. We’re not as great as Rambo says we are, but we’re very, very good — potentially great.

What I still want to see, however, is that game after game attitude of “we’re the best, we can beat these guys, time to do it.” Maybe the team gets there in the remaining regular season games. Maybe things just click when the playoffs begin, like last year. The talent is undeniably there. And we should appreciate that repeating a historic performance is HARD (see 2017 Cubs), whatever the talent level is. I think we can get back into that 2017 groove again. The key to me is Correa. Everyone on the team looks up to him because of his incredible physical gifts and personal skills. I think his teammates all know he’s pressing and are waiting, like us fans, for the real Correa to re-emerge. If that happens, the 2018 Astros are going to dominate and may well end up being better than the 2017 Astros. If it doesn’t, we’ve still got a good shot at the crapshoot that is the playoffs because of the pitching and the rest of the lineup. But I really, really want to see what this 2018 team can do with Correa playing at or near the level he’s capable of. That would be a beautiful thing, and I hope we all get to see it.