Though the game was a typical Houston Astros loss, the setting in which I was able to attend was much different. Earlier in the year I was fortunate for the opportunity to be a part of a bloggers’ session during the Astros FanFest. Once again, the Astros invited a small group of bloggers to last night’s contest against the White Sox and I was lucky enough to be able to attend.
Included on Friday’s menu: A chance to talk with Bo Porter and Josh Zeid.
Many fans have criticized Bo Porter for the questionable moves that he tends to make. Earlier in the week L.J. Hoes was brought in to pinch hit, the opposing team made a pitching change, and then Marwin Gonzalez was brought in to pinch hit for Hoes. Though the Astros eventually won the game, the move made me nervous for a couple of reasons. One of them was that Hoes had been hitting the ball pretty well recently. Then, the in-game scenario was the Astros were down two runs and at home. I understand the aggressiveness, and perhaps the Rangers’ taxed bullpen played a role, but there was potentially extra innings on the line and it didn’t make much sense to burn essentially three players on one at-bat.
Prior to Friday night’s game Bo Porter was available for questions. Everyone has long known of hot/cold zones as well as what pitches certain guys really drive well. But Porter, probably with analysis from his statistical team, revealed a concept that was new to me. Some pitchers have success with a certain pitch in a certain quadrant of the strike zone. This, I agree, does make sense. There is a problem, however, when the statistics override a traditional rule of baseball: do not intentionally walk a cold hitter to bring a hot hitter to the plate.
Enough of questioning the man in the chair. He knows the team a lot better than any of us and tries to put the team in a position to win each and every night.
For all of the baseball traditionalists out there, perhaps Josh Zeid is your man. The high socks are there, and hopefully his performance will help them stay. People will also have the opportunity to see him, possibly, in stirrups somewhere down the line.
With the Astros being very difficult to watch at times — MLB.TV blackouts, lack of Houston-area coverage — I am not super familiar with Zeid. Josh made a point of talking about his demeanor on the mound. Obviously there are the statistical and pitching ability parts of being on the mound in a major league game. But Zeid appreciates the antics that some other MLB pitchers utilize. “If you psych the guy out before he gets to the batter box, you’ve won the at-bat” noting that this is a two-way street between the hitter and pitcher. In the future, when Zeid has established a track record of success, perhaps he will incorporate some similar traits on the mound.
There’s been use of a hashtag on Twitter: #100happydays that Zeid’s wife, Stephanie, has utilized. Since living in the Houston area, the couple has made it clear via social media that they love visiting different restaurants in our fine city. Pay attention to Zeid in the future, like Collin McHugh, he may soon be writing about his own personal interests.
2014 Astros Going Forward
Some people have already attributed 100 losses for the Houston Astros this season. I will admit myself that the poor start had me down as well. The ability to talk with other bloggers about the season as well as the players helped me realize that the calendar still says May. There is a lot of baseball left to be played. One also has to figure in that Jesse Crain, Matt Albers, and Anthony Bass are critical pieces of the bullpen currently on the disabled list. Alex White is also rehabbing and will join the Oklahoma City Redhawks soon along with Asher Wojciechowski.
As a baseball fan I know the difficulties of watching this team. But these growing pains are full of teachable moments for the players as well as coaching staff. Last night’s up close and personal peek into the team gives a degree of dialogue and perspective. Thank you to the Houston Astros and Amanda Rykoff for inviting us for the Friday game against the White Sox.