We’re only 5 days into 2012 so I figured it was time to kick off this year’s series of Houston Astros: You Asked, I Answered. The questions that I’ll be answering were sent to me via Facebook, Twitter and Email. You are always welcome to ask, I’ll answer just about anything. Ready? Here we go -
1. Who is the Ace this year and what’s the rotation going to look like? Thanks for starting me off with an easy one. I’ve said for a long time that Bud Norris is the guy this team should build around when it comes to pitching and last night on Astroline GM, Jeff Luhnow, said he agreed with me. Okay, he didn’t so much say he agreed with me as much as he said he thought Studly Cuddly Budly was a key to the future of the club as well. Can we call him an ace yet? Probably not, but I don’t think he’s far from developing into one.
As for the rest of the rotation? Well, as long as Brett Myers and Wandy Rodriguez are getting fat checks from the Astros I expect they’ll be #1 and #2 in the rotation. Hopefully JA Happ gets his mojo back. As for that 5th spot, I think Spring Training will decide it. But I will say this very unpopular belief. I want Jordan Lyles in AAA this season. I don’t think he was ready yet, despite his impressive maturity. I want him to cook in the minors just a wee bit longer.
2. Will Jeff Bagwell get into the Hall of Fame this year? This is the question of the week, for certain. Although I fully expect to see the number of votes for Bagwell to significantly improve this year, I am doubtful that he will get the 75% required to put him into the HOF. The guys over at Astros County have been tracking ballots made public and it’s not looking good.
Here’s the deal: Bags deserves to get in- his numbers tell us that. Voters seem to think because he was muscular and a power hitter and played in the 90′s he must have been doing steroids, despite the lack of accusation or proof. It’s one of those “guilty by association” type things. Hogwash is what it is. Bagwell put up HOF numbers. If you think there isn’t anyone already in the HOF who didn’t use some sort of performance enhancer, you’re nuts.
Short answer – Bags won’t get in this year, but I think the third time’s the charm and he’ll see the Hall with Craig Biggio next year when both are on the ballot.
3. What did you get for Christmas? As far as Astros type things? I got a pair of Astros pajama pants. I also got a panini maker and wine glasses. Astros + food + booze = idyllic Christmas.
4. Who has a breakout year for the Astros? Bogusevic, J.D, Altuve, Carpenter, Paredes? Any of those four are possibilities, but my money’s on Brian Bogusevic. Not only did he have a great year when he got his shot with the big club, but go take a look at his Winter Ball numbers. The boy’s got game. In 120 at bats in the Dominican he hit 4 home runs while posting a .317 BA, .446 OBP, .500 SLG and a holy-moly-worthy .946 OPS. I’m betting the sophomore slump is busy killing someone else’s mojo. Yes, Bogie…I’m watching you.
|5. Will the new General Manager be ALL NUMBERS? You ask that as if it would be a bad thing! No, I don’t think Jeff Luhnow will be all numbers and according to Jeff himself he’ll use a blend of the old methods and the new methods. But yes, the front office is definitely upping the nerd quotient.|
Keep in mind this is still a massive change for the Astros. Historically, the team hasn’t relied on data to a large degree. I’m pretty sure Ed Wade’s office didn’t even HAVE a computer in it and I’m still not convinced he knows sabermetrics exists. So, utilizing the data that’s available along WITH old school scouting reports should go along way to helping form a more complete picture of both the big league club as well as the farm system.
With that in mind, Luhnow made a couple of hires this week to head the team in this new direction. From the Astros Press Release:
The Astros have hired Sig Mejdal as Director of Decision Sciences and Stephanie Wilka as Coordinator of Amateur Scouting, General Manager Jeff Luhnow announced today.
Mejdal, 46, had worked with the St. Louis Cardinals since 2005, most recently as Director, Amateur Draft Analytics. While with the Cardinals, he was involved with modeling, analysis and data-driven decision making throughout all levels of the organization and was a key contributor in the draft decision processes that led to more Major League players than any other organization during that time frame.
Mejdal earned two engineering degrees at the University of California at Davis and later completed advanced degrees in Operations Research and Cognitive Psychology/Human Factors. He has also worked at Lockheed Martin in California and for NASA. Mejdal has been active in baseball statistics and analytics since earning his membership in The Society for Baseball Research (SABR) while in grade school.
Wilka has previously worked for the Los Angeles Dodgers and Boston Red Sox. She earned a degree from the Pepperdine University School of Law and passed the California Bar Exam in July of 2011. Wilka also earned a Bachelor’s degree in psychology from Harvard University in 2005.
6. Are you pro-muppet? If we’re talking custom made muppets from FAO Schwartz that are fabricated to look like Drayton and Tal and can be found somewhere in the Bullpen boxes chatting it up and making fun of
players people during games ala Statler & Waldorf from the Muppet Show of my childhood? Then yes. I am definitely pro-muppet.
7. Have you gotten over the move to the AL or are you still mad? Define “gotten over.” I’m adjusting. I have one more season to get used to the idea. I think more than anything the change is intimidating to me. I have to shift the way I think and let’s just say I don’t care for change. I’ll survive, and so will you. At the end of it all, I’m an Astros fan, not a National League fan.
8. Who’s the closer? Brandon Lyon, who else would it be?
9. Will the Astros lose 100 games again in 2012? Probably. I predicted last year that the Astros would win 60 games, so what the heck kind of predictor am I? I think there will be a lot of losses and they may well go up over 100 again. In fact, I’ll just say that yes, they’ll lose 100 games. The silver lining in that? There are mechanisms in place and processes in the works to make sure that our suffering as fans now results in long term success and happiness later.
Thanks for playing!
Terri Schlather (AGirlintheSouth) is the tortured Senior Houston Astros Writer for Aerys Sports. You can email her at email@example.com, or follow her ridiculous ramblings on sports, vodka and the weeone on twitter @agirlinthesouth.