Houston Astros Thread: WORLD SERIES CHAMPIONS

Discussion in 'The Mainboard' started by Gallant Knight, Apr 3, 2022.

  1. steamengine

    steamengine I don’t want to press one for English!
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    Remember that time the rangers signed Trevor Simien and Corey Seager and they were still the Arlington team?
     
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  2. Tex

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  3. Tex

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  4. Tex

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  5. Tex

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    He can’t be stopped

     
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  6. Tex

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  7. Tex

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  8. slhorn

    slhorn Well-Known Member
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    Never a doubt.
     
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  9. steamengine

    steamengine I don’t want to press one for English!
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    Probably taking it for granted while it’s happening. Didn’t think the run would last this long especially with the departures of Correa and Springer (among many others).

    This lineup is still as good as it gets. Please let’s get a dodger rematch.
     
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  10. slhorn

    slhorn Well-Known Member
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    Either them or the braves pls.
     
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  11. steamengine

    steamengine I don’t want to press one for English!
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    I don’t know if I could handle the braves fan base again.
     
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  12. slhorn

    slhorn Well-Known Member
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    Dodgers are worse imo.

    Edit: 2 of my best friends are braves fans.
     
    #1112 slhorn, Sep 19, 2022
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2022
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  13. Tex

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    Thread needs a title update
     
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  14. Tex

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  15. Charles DeMar

    Charles DeMar Smug Outlaw
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  16. slhorn

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    As we all predicted Maton has a perfect era this month.
     
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  17. Tex

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    Altuve with another bomb tonight
     
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  18. Tex

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    Peña needs to chill with these errors.
     
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  19. Charles DeMar

    Charles DeMar Smug Outlaw
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    Gammons: Astros built a pitching staff for the long-term by seeking value over flash

    By Peter Gammons
    55m ago
    Brent Strom, considered by this current generation of pitching coaches to be their gold standard, believes much of the credit for the best major-league pitching staff in 2022 — the Astros — “goes back to Jeff Luhnow.”

    Granted, Luhnow, the former Astros general manager deposed following the 2017 sign-stealing scandal, traded three minor leaguers who have not panned out for Justin Verlander, who is now on track for his second Cy Young Award in his three full seasons in Houston. Verlander and Lance McCullers Jr. are the only pitchers who started games for both the 2017 and 2022 Astros teams, and McCullers had started seven when they won their 100th game.

    Yet it wasn’t just Verlander, or trades, or the first-rounder McCullers who make this pitching staff what it is. No, the credit for that may start with Luhnow, but it trickles down from there, particularly to one scouting director, Oz Ocampo, and his staff, who signed the four Latin American starters who are the backbone of this rotation now and likely for many years to come. And they did it by worrying less about prospect age and velocity, and focusing on other factors that are so important in developing young arms who can actually pitch, not just light up radar guns.

    Look at this season’s rotation of Verlander, Framber Valdez, Cristian Javier, Luis Garcia and Jose Urquidy, with the seven McCullers starts thrown in. Through the Sept. 25 weekend, they led major-league rotations in innings, quality starts, average game score, innings and pitches per start as well as pitching WAR. They were second behind the Dodgers in wins and ERA. They are the only team with four starters with 140 innings; they have five. Javier’s strikeouts per nine innings is bettered only by Shohei Ohtani and Carlos Rodón. Oh yes, and no one in that foursome, all between 25 and 28 years old, is yet arbitration eligible. “I don’t think there’s ever been anything like what they’ve done so quickly,” says Strom.

    Valdez and Javier were born in the Dominican Republic, three years and four months apart, Urquidy was born in Mexico, Garcia in Venezuela. Valdez, Javier and Urquidy were signed to professional contracts in a 16-day period in March 2015, while Garcia was signed two years later, all by scouting director Ocampo. All four made their major-league debuts between August 2018 and September 2020. Look out to the bullpen any night and add on 26-year-old Albert Abreu, with a 97.5 mph fastball, a slider that holds right-handed batters to a .134 batting average and a 34.5 percent strikeout rate. That makes for four pitchers between 25 and 28, all pre-arbs, all originally signed for less than the Astros gave 2022 seventh-round draft choice A.J. Blubaugh out of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

    Luhnow is gone now, working in soccer in Mexico. Strom left the Astros after last season, moving on to the Arizona Diamondbacks after a flirtation with retirement. Which brings us to Ocampo, who is back with the Astros in 2022 after a few years away, resuming a relationship with the organization that began a decade earlier. Back then, in 2012, he came to the Astros with a Georgetown degree in political economy and an MBA in value investing and management from Columbia University. He is the son of Filipino immigrants whose father owned a delicatessen in Bergenfield, New Jersey. Yes, as a teenager he sold a lot of lottery tickets and newspapers, which he devoured because of the passion he developed for baseball.

    Ocampo had an internship with MLB in 2004, and then was hired by Luhnow and the Cardinals to oversee their startup Dominican Baseball Academy at only 21 years old. After spending two years with MLB in international baseball operations, he joined the Astros after Luhnow’s ascendance to general manager before the 2012 season.

    Luhnow was schooled in the importance of the four-seam fastball by Strom when they worked together in St. Louis, and brought him to Houston, where he was a prominent figure in the Astros’ first five postseason runs. Luhnow’s public legacy may always be first as general manager of the 2017 Trash Can Astros, but all four of these Latin American pitchers were signed by Ocampo before Charlie Morton got Corey Seager to ground out to Jose Altuve for the final out of the 2017 season. Ocampo chose his graduate school curriculum because he wanted to study investment business, and perhaps have a hand in creating Moneyball part 2. He became the Astros’ international scouting director at the starting line of Luhnow’s long-term plan.

    “The Latin American scouting was important to Jeff because he had lived in Mexico,” says Strom. Owner Jim Crane wanted to be invested in that international market, and Ocampo had a significant role. It was at the insistence of Ocampo and scout Chuck Gonzalez that the club pursued its interest in Yordan Alvarez. Gonzalez tried to sign Alvarez when he defected from Cuba in 2016, then only a few months later joined with Ocampo to push for the trade that sent Josh Fields to the Dodgers and brought Alvarez to Houston.

    Given Ocampo’s Ivy League work in value investing — a study field that has been a career builder for Red Sox owner John Henry and Oakland executive Billy Beane — it is interesting that he was able to sign Valdez and Javier for $10,000 apiece, Garcia for $20,000 and the foursome for $140,000. That may have been a matter of finding value in “older” players: Valdez was 21 when he signed, Javier signed a week before his 18th birthday, Garcia joined at 20. When the annual international signing lists are announced, the vast majority of signees are 16.

    “There is risk in signing kids at 16 after they have spent two or three years trying to build up velocity,” says Ocampo. “We were trying to build a vast program. We were able to give young players a couple of years to grow and develop physically. They were often left feeling slighted because they felt they were bypassed. Many were actually still high school age in the U.S. We scouted them very hard.”

    Strom, who has a residence in Mexico and is bilingual, went to the Dominican twice with Ocampo, working alongside scouts from that country. “We were looking for the basics — delivery, athleticism, physicality, love of the game, willingness to listen to and try suggestions, and spin on the breaking balls.”

    They were not ruled by radar guns, and didn’t care so much about prospect ages. They were looking for pitchers.

    “We were looking for clean deliveries and a feel that they could develop velocity,” says Strom. Astros scouts Román Ocumarez and Leocadio Guevara strongly suggested Javier. Strom and Ocampo liked him. He threw 84-88 mph with a good delivery and curveball. “His fastball was very tough to pick up,” says Ocampo. Javier now throws 94-96. His ERA was 2.77 heading into the last week of September; the average against his slider was .137, the whiff rate 40.3 percent, and he was fourth in the majors in highest strikeout-per-nine-inning rate.

    Esteemed Houston mlb.com writer Brian McTaggart has noted that Javier is nicknamed “El Reptil,” — the reptile — for his cold-blooded demeanor and presence on the mound. Manager Dusty Baker says his fastball is “invisible.” When Javier completed the first seven innings of a no-hitter on June 25 in Yankee Stadium, Ocampo told McTaggart that at one point he took out his phone, videotaped a couple of innings and the delivery was virtually identical to what it was when he first signed.

    That the bilingual Strom was the pitching coach as each member of the foursome reached the major leagues was essential. Ocampo stressed constant positivity in the development of all Latin pitchers, and Julio Linares and Rick Aponte did yeoman’s work reinforcing that in the minors.

    Fast-forward to Sept. 25, where the box score showed six innings before a 46-minute rain delay: one hit, no runs, no walks and eight strikeouts. That made Javier’s four September starts 22 innings, one earned run, 30 strikeouts, eight walks. For the season, that left him 6th in the American League in earned average (2.65) and second in strikeouts per nine innings (11.8). His strikeout rate was 33.1 percent. According to Baseball Savant, his average four-seam velocity for the season was 93 mph. When you’re the third guy in there after Verlander and Valdez, that’s not too shabby.

    The Astros head into the postseason with the fewest runs allowed, the lowest starters ERA and best save percentage of any American League team. Pitching will do that. Pitching is also anywhere you find it. And in regard to this Astros team, starting pitching was found on the waiver wire, in the trade market, in the first round of the draft, in the Dominican Republic, in Venezuela and Mexico. Someone make a note of that in the Columbia course manual for an MBA in value investing and management.
     
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  20. Tex

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  21. Tex

    Tex Spicy Ranch Dry Rub
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    I have not been in a hot minute.

    894898E8-6638-4322-A4DA-12A2B5A878A9.jpeg
     
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  22. Tex

    Tex Spicy Ranch Dry Rub
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    I’m bad luck apparently. Left early. Headed to cellar.
     
  23. Tex

    Tex Spicy Ranch Dry Rub
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    But also we #1 in the AL
     
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  24. tjosu

    tjosu This is kind of like the breakfast club, huh?
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    Got the company’s seats tonight, not too bad

    AD656E8A-6631-4329-A165-ADB4C47397F6.jpeg
     
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  25. Tex

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    Too many people in the way. Terrible seats :awesomeface:
     
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  26. Charles DeMar

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  27. Tex

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  28. slhorn

    slhorn Well-Known Member
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    Who do we want Seattle or Toronto?

    Seattle seems like the obvious answer imo.
     
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  29. Tex

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    I feel like Seattle is the answer as well
     
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  30. Charles DeMar

    Charles DeMar Smug Outlaw
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    Where is this Tex? Solid tweet from Chandlers



     
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  31. slhorn

    slhorn Well-Known Member
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    That’s rudyards. My home bar ha.
     
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  32. Charles DeMar

    Charles DeMar Smug Outlaw
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    Wow, thanks, not sure how i missed that. I lived on Peden for a couple years and used to go there quite a bit, although that was about 15 years ago now ;)
     
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  33. slhorn

    slhorn Well-Known Member
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    I get that same exact combo that’s he’s got all too often. 9 bucks for both.
     
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  34. Tex

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    Thought I recognized it. Nice place. I want that set up but it seems early.
     
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  35. Tex

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    As expected our games will be played in the middle of the day. Yay.

    Also can’t help but notice everyone is picking the favorites to win the other DS expect for ours. Scared.
     
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  36. Charles DeMar

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    I’m so used to the day games now, always will be that way as long as the Yankees or Red Sox also make it.

    And are these pickers on media sites or the MLB thread? Thought a friend told me earlier that Vegas likes the Astros
     
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  37. slhorn

    slhorn Well-Known Member
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    I did laugh at the braves fan being mad at day games. Oh sweet summer child.
     
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  38. Tex

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    Eh just seeing it in the comment sections on different social media posts and MLB thread.
     
  39. Tex

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    How we feeling?
     
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  40. lunchbox

    lunchbox ...
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    STROS BROS
     
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  41. Tex

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  42. Tex

    Tex Spicy Ranch Dry Rub
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    No Smith or Maton
     
  43. Tex

    Tex Spicy Ranch Dry Rub
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    Just saw Maton broke his hand punching his locker after his last outing. He’s done till next season. Idiot.
     
  44. Tex

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  45. Charles DeMar

    Charles DeMar Smug Outlaw
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  46. Tex

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    Big time
     
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  47. Tex

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    LFG boys!!!
     
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  48. Tex

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    Dongtober is here!!
     
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  49. slhorn

    slhorn Well-Known Member
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    Never a fucking doubt!
     
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  50. tjosu

    tjosu This is kind of like the breakfast club, huh?
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    Goddamn! He was close on that first pitch, no doubt he was on that one
     
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