How not to solve the Astros’ problems

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Richard Justice has a story today in which he asks Lance Berkman about how the Astros should go about rebuilding when the new ownership group comes on board.

I can’t say I disagree with most of what Berkman says. Sure, he’s a little too kind to the Astros’ current rotation, but it’s not like he’s going to throw opponents under the bus in that kind of setting.  The general idea, though: keep the on-field management you have and think long term rather than short term is the right move.

I did have a chuckle at Justice’s intro to the article, however:

One of the things I hope Jim Crane does over the next few weeks is sit down with Jeff Bagwell and Craig Biggio about how the Astros got into this mess and how they can get out of it. Why wouldn’t Crane want the perspective of two of the best and smartest players this franchise has had?

How about this: because an overdeveloped sense of devotion and fealty to Biggio and Bagwell and all of the respectable veterany goodness that came with them is what got the Astros into trouble in the first place.  Maybe it’s not their fault — someone in that front office should have burnt things down and rebuilt after it became clear in the 2006 season that the Killer Bs Astros had peaked already — but the Astros’ central problem right now is a direct result of too much deference to those guys.

If Biggio and Bagwell actually have solid baseball ideas, great, let’s hear them. But their views on the matter should carry no more weight than anyone else’s because teams that successfully rebuild do so by looking to the future, not looking to the past.

Bryce Harper defeats Kyle Schwarber 19-18 to win the 2018 Home Run Derby

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Bryce Harper, who said he was tired after taking his cuts in the first round, certainly appeared gassed in the final round. So, too, did his dad, who was throwing to him. But Harper caught fire, going on a tear and tying Kyle Schwarber with 18 home runs before time expired in the final round of the 2018 Home Run Derby. Harper unlocked 30 seconds of bonus time by hitting two home runs at least 440 feet. With his second swing in bonus time, Harper homered to straightaway center field for No. 19. He tossed his bat in celebration, grabbed his trophy, then gave it to his dad before he was mobbed on the field by his All-Star teammates.

Harper hit 13 home runs in the first round, eliminating Freddie Freeman and advancing to the semifinals. In the semis, Harper topped Max Muncy 13-12 to advance to the finals. On Schwarber’s side of the bracket, he bested Alex Bregman 16-15, then defeated Rhys Hoskins 21-20.

Harper is the first member of the Nationals (or Expos) to win the Home Run Derby. Harper participated in the 2013 Derby but finished in second place behind Yoenis Céspedes. Harper is also the first left-handed hitter to win the Derby since Prince Fielder in 2012. The only players to win the Derby in their home park are Todd Frazier in 2015 and Ryne Sandberg in 1990.

As a spectator, the 2018 Home Run Derby was tons of fun. The four-minute clock adds a lot of tension and intrigue even to the initial rounds. Seeing teammates cheer and get excited for their teammates in the Derby is really fun. Of course, watching dinger after dinger is cool, too. Can’t wait for next year.