CHIPALATTA

All Things Astros and a whole lot more

Could Luhnow use prospects to upgrade the 2014 Astros?


As many of you have pointed out, Jeff Luhnow may face a challenge to lure free agents to Houston this winter. At least quality, viable, contributing free agents.

That’s just the fact when a team hasn’t made the playoffs since 2005, has suffered through five consecutive losing seasons and loses more than 320 games in the last three seasons. Not to mention a team that has employed five managers and five general managers over the last decade.

Plus a revolving door that has seen dozens of players shuffle in, then out of major league cities and minor league stadiums.

To be sure, Luhnow faces an uphill battle for 2014. Forget Robinson Cano, Jacoby Ellsbury, Brian McCann or Matt Garza. No need to concern yourself with Carlos Beltran or Ervin Santana.

So how do the Astros add to the foundation this winter? As I’ve suggested before, Luhnow could turn the tables on the trade front this winter and start to add to the major league roster with a selective, shrewd trade that could include a prospect or two.

After a slow, meticulous reconstruction that has included the likes of Carlos Pena, Rick Ankiel, Erik Bedard and even lesser acquisitions like L.J. Hoes and Matt Dominguez, it could be time for Luhnow to make a splash. Astros’ fans wouldn’t object to a notable newsmaker.

With that in mind, here are four players the Astros could use in trade discussions this winter. Only if, however, these discussions result in significant upgrades of the major league roster.

  • Jonathan Singleton. Okay, I’ll give you a minute to get up off the floor. The 22-year-old first baseman/DH had a rough 2013 and he won’t likely be ranked #27 when Baseball America’s pre-2014 rankings are released. Would/should the Astros consider trading him for a young, proven major league top-of-the-rotation guy or solid corner outfielder? Huge gamble, but if he’s developed an attitude issue to go along with his two drug instances and 2013 struggles at Oklahoma City, Luhnow might listen.
  • Jose Altuve. Okay, we’ve had this discussion before, but this one doesn’t make much sense. The key question: Who would replace him at second base? Nolan Fonanta and Delino Deshields are at least a year or so away and no one else is on the horizon. Say what you will about Jose’s deficiencies, he’s still an above average middle infielder. If he’s involved in a trade, a #1 starter or significant three-hole hitter would need to be on their way to Houston.
  • Jordan Lyles. Hardly a prospect in his third pro season, Lyles is still the youngest pitcher in the rotation at 22 years old. Though he’s had glimpses of grandeur, the numbers are less impressive. Over those three seasons and 71 appearances, Lyles has put together a 6.2 K/9, 3.0 BB/9 and a 1.471 WHIP, not to mention that he’s allowed 50 more hits than IP. Would he bring much in return? Sure, a would-be contender would certainly take a chance on a former first rounder who may not have seen his best days. With a strong stable of pitching prospects, this could be a risk worth taking.
  • Jonathan Villar. The bloom may be off the rose on this “prospect” with 14 errors in 52 games. Could provide a decent bat, but will he measure up to Luhnow’s and Bo Porter‘s desire for a strong up-the-middle defense? As much as any other single position, Luhnow has shown a restlessness at shortstop, acquiring, trading, signing and releasing a variety of players at the position. Is he ready to stick with Villar?

Honestly, all four of these players could be starting in Houston next April. But they could also be utilized in a package to acquire a solid, major league corner infielder or run-producing outfielder.

Here’s the Astros’ top prospect list. Take a look at that, along with Houston’s 40-man roster and point out a few young players or prospects Luhnow could use to significantly upgrade the major league roster for 2014. And, no, we’re not talking Jimmy Paredes or Brett Wallace.

Advertisements

About Chip Bailey

Chip Bailey lives in Colorado Springs, CO, and is an author and former sports editor and sportswriter who has followed the Astros for more than 40 years. A native of Natchitoches, La., Chip enjoys watching baseball at most any level, especially pro and college. Several years ago, he worked as an associate of Pastor John Bosman, who enjoyed giving nick names to his staff. He came up with Chipalatta, and it’s stuck.

32 comments on “Could Luhnow use prospects to upgrade the 2014 Astros?

  1. Astro45
    September 24, 2013

    You know, when a hurricane is coming, and they give everyone that “Evacuate Now” order. Then a hand full of idiots say “I’m riding this one out.” We are stuck in the middle of “the plan.” The roads and bridges are closed. I would love to trade any of the above (or all) for Clayton Kershaw, but for a deal to work, the other GM has to agree. We have to be patient for a couple more years, or decades. But if the entire roster were on the waiver wire, you might move 5 or less. We now have to wait of those “prospects” to mature, and hope the scouting and coaching did their job.

    Like

  2. daveb
    September 24, 2013

    Trading multiple prospects, (we’ve got limited prospects of real value anyway ) or guys like Altuve or Villar, will only serve to slow down the rebuilding process. It took Pittsburg 21 years to get back to the playoffs. If something similar happens here, I might be dead before we see an October game again. Unfortunately, we’re kind of forced to stay the course. One option is to overpay free agents in order to get them here. I’d also remind them that we’ve got no state income tax. Heck, if we raise the payroll from to 20 to 50 million, we’re still spending far less than most clubs. One other thing Chip, have you heard that Singleton has become a malcontent, or is that just conjecture?

    Like

  3. 1oldpro
    September 24, 2013

    You have two proven productive, major league players right now in Altuve and Castro and don’t have minor league players ready to replace them. Keep those two for now.
    Singleton needs a chance to prove himself and it is premature to trade him unless Amador lights it up in AZL. The you consider it if someone makes a good offer, which they won’t.
    Lyles is not tradeable after the last month. Maybe with a new coaching staff he is salvageable.
    Villar has been on winning teams his last two years in the minors. Now he comes up to a team with no speed, no defense, no hitting, no pitching, extreme shifting, and no coaching. You could understand his overaggressivenes and hypernerves in such a horrible situation and at his age. I would give him the SS job next year and see if he settles down, with the likes of Springer and a few added FA who might add some stability to the program.
    If I had to pick one to entertain offers on it would be Singleto because of his ranking and the presence of Carter and Amador.

    Like

  4. 1oldpro
    September 24, 2013

    I failed to answer the primary question above. A guy I love who I would consider trading if it meant getting a major leaguer to plug into the lineup now is Folty. I think he is a plus pitching prospect and has real value. I would consider offers for a good corner outfielder with at least 3 or four years available service to plug into our linep until our top prospects are ready.
    Why would I trade Folty? Velasquez, Hader, Wojo, Cosart, Ober, Peacock, Feliz, Appel, McCullers, Rodon, Cisneros, Ballew and Thurman.
    A team willing to part with an outfielder/ hitter like we need would be looking for pitching and Folty is only a year or two from being ready.
    I think Folty is going to be a great piece in our rotation/bullpen, but somebody else who is willing to give us what we need now, in exchange for what we might have a luxury of later, might make us a real good offer.

    Like

  5. devin_
    September 24, 2013

    I don’t think it’s a fair evaluation in this case, but the only pitchers on our staff with WAR values that are attractive are Cosart and Oberholtzer…who have a combined 19 GP and 14 GS between them. On the plus side, Peacock is ascending, but so was Jordan Lyles for awhile. On the offensive side, Castro (4.1), Carter (1.5), Dominguez (1.3), an Altuve (1.2) look like your only real keepers.

    I’d be happy to take on a bad contract (similar to Texas signing Alex Rios) to help the club, but not at the cost of a top tier prospect.

    Like

  6. Brian T
    September 24, 2013

    The trade route sounds great, but other than some cast offs such as Paredes and the like, I really don’t want to trade any of our top 20 or so prospects. Prospects flame out. For all we know, Springer is a AAAA player, but Domingo Santana will be the next Hunter Pence. Or maybe Andrew Aplin.

    I just would rather stick with the plan and stockpile prospects (well, maybe not KEEP stockpiling them, but certainly keep the ones we have) until a trade has a purpose. In the meantime, overpay a bit for someone good — not great, just good.

    Like

    • chipalatta
      September 24, 2013

      Actually, Brian, thinking that the “flame out” possibility may be the very reason for the organization to “cash in” on some prospects they may feel are losing some of their appeal or otherwise beginning to “top out”. The Astros certainly have a better opportunity to look “up close and personal” at these guys and may have some insight into attitudes, work ethic, specific struggles that other teams may not. If they see potential holes in swings, lack of coachability, inability to take suggestions and translate those to actual on-field action, etc. or other insights that could give the organization reason for pause, it may be a good time to turn that “prospect” into a more bonafide major league solution. Just one person’s perspective.

      Like

  7. Dan P
    September 24, 2013

    Chip you have to wonder if they have come to conclusions on other folks also, like Keuchel and Carter. Is there value if they package a second level minor league prospect with a couple of the guys who are “topped out” in their eyes. Where do “arms” like Cisneros, David martinez, Zeid and Fields fall in their plans?
    Tough call in a lot of ways.

    Like

  8. Steven
    September 24, 2013

    I don’t see any viable option except to stay the course and wait on these prospects. There are no attractive free agents that would consider this franchise without serious overpayment. We’ve had a ton of young players show up in the last 2 seasons, most have not panned out, but they weren’t the highest rated prospects.

    I am not sure trading any of those high rated prospects to get a bat will change the fortune enough to turn around this franchise. You are better off taking your lumps another year, and waiting to see what happens with Folty, McCullers, Appel, and a few others. Once you have a pitching core, then you explore. Until then, stay the course.

    Like

  9. tedf1948
    September 24, 2013

    You can trade all of them as far as I am concerned. I watched 5 innings of the game last night and realize that it has been a blessing not watching them on a nightly basis. Porter keeps harping on base running and wasted throws to third base and these guys don’t appear to listen. Altuve swings at a first-pitch curve that is head high. Lyles is just Lyles. I believe some of the players, such as Altuve and Villar may not be coachable. They make mistake that should have been alleviated by minor league ball and training. Neither of them take pitches. I don’t know about Singleton, but if he can be packaged, then trade him because he came into OKC this year out of shape. Could be an effort issue.

    Like

    • daveb
      September 24, 2013

      You might be right Ted, especially with Villar, but right now there are no better options available. What confounds me a bit is that Altuve does not seem to have his head in the game every night. He looked a lot sharper last season. Could the contract extension have been a bit premature? And I agree about Lyles. Maybe he needs to go back to the minors and start over. I’d hate to give up on a guy that has not turned 23 yet.

      Like

    • Sandy
      September 25, 2013

      “Astros crackhead” love, love, love it. Fits me to a tee.

      Like

  10. MikeSand
    September 24, 2013

    Starting next off season (2014-2015) the Astros will face a major numbers chrunch on the 40 man roster. They will start losing players to the rule 5 draft if they don’t create roster space. I wouldn’t be surprised at anything Luhnow does to avoid that log jam.

    Like

    • Billy Castillo
      September 24, 2013

      They should clear off room on the 40 by dropping Wallace, for starters. As much crap as we give Carter for his K rate…. Wallace’s is even worse!

      Like

  11. tedf1948
    September 24, 2013

    DaveB, with Altuve the contract extension may be at play with him. Tonight when I watched (I only watched 4 innings because my wife caught me and called me an “Astros crackhead”) he seemed to be just enjoying the evening instead of being focused on the game. When Villar dropped the bat at a ball trying to bunt, I threw up in my mouth. Next year, Porter better find some way to get this bunch of lollygaggers motivated or he will not be around for a third year. I also think that Luhnow will be under some pressure to win more games next year. I was told that Crane gave him three years to show improvement and our minor league cupboard is no longer bare. Something will have to be done.

    Like

    • daveb
      September 25, 2013

      Ted, remind your wife that you could be doing all sorts of other sorted things worse than watching our Lastros. I’m still high on Altuve, but I think that Porter has overlooked his weaknesses, probably because he’s had so many other things to deal with. So I blame Porter to a degree. And let’s face it, guys will play better when the level of talent around them is solid. Altuve has spent his brief ML career hanging around three 100 plus loss clubs. Poor guy.

      Like

      • daveb
        September 25, 2013

        Make that “sordid”!

        Like

    • BrianT
      September 26, 2013

      I think it’s got to be hard for Altuve and others to give more than 90-95% right now. Is it wrong? Sure. But it’s also human nature. Just losing mental focus — which is probably that 5-10% — is almost expected. I’m surprised it didn’t happen earlier.

      Like

  12. Crissy
    September 24, 2013

    Something to consider about Lyles: He will be 23 and out of options next Spring. Doubtful he gets through waivers, which means he has to stay on the 25 man. His velocity has been down the last couple of weeks as well. However, I think you would be selling low if you traded him or Singleton. They are both very young.

    Like

  13. Becky
    September 24, 2013

    Loss 107 is in the books, and I don’t think I’ve ever been so depressed in a season of baseball. I don’t get it……..WHY would you want to be an owner of a team, if you
    don’t want to win. I guess the $50 million an owner makes just to OWN a team was too much for Crane to “pass” up. At this point, I’m not personally invested in any guy on this team…….so trade any or all, it won’t make any difference because they are
    going to lose 100+ games next year anyway.

    Like

    • devin_
      September 25, 2013

      As frustrating as this team is to watch, it has hammered home the fact that we had next to no viable players from an offensive standpoint in our system. Barnes was tearing the cover off the ball at CC/OKC last year. We knew he had flaws, but his .642 OPS is pretty bad. Even with the recent additions, Luhnow is scouring the Mexican leagues for upgrades.

      As for Singleton, I wouldn’t give up on him just yet. 2013 should have been a wake-up call. The ideal situation for Houston is that he works hard in the offseason and makes the leap in 2014. He doesn’t have to be the next Joey Votto to add value (and wins) in Houston.

      If Crane doesn’t try to bring some mid-level free agent talent to Houston this offseason there won’t be much of an excuse. I don’t mind overpaying for guys like Nate McLouth (thanks daveb). He does a lot of things well and plays hard. Those guys can help build your team and provide leadership.

      Like

    • Sandy
      September 25, 2013

      You know Becky, I’ve wondered the same thing. He took on a ton of debt to own this team so I don’t see where 50 mil can compensate. I think he wants to win but Drayton left such a mess and the TV deal never got off the ground, I imagine his head is still spinning. Things went south at record breaking speed.
      I’ll give him another year to catch his breath and start moving in the right direction.The problem ( like some have already said) is no FA of any quality will be willing to play here. So if I don’t see any improvement at all next year ….well…. Guess I’ll start detox.

      Like

  14. Becky
    September 25, 2013

    Winter ball for these guys is a MUST:
    *Villar* (A MUST!!)
    Gonzalez
    Martinez (J.D.)
    Hoes
    Stassi
    Grossman
    Carter
    Wallace (again…….)
    Crow??
    Kraus
    There are some guys on this list that aren’t even in the conversation on this team for 2014, but I believe ALL of them should TRY to find a team to play on.Sooooo much
    was wrong with this season, this would at least give these guys a “leg” up.
    I doubt Altuve will play Winter ball, the guy is pooped…..let him rest.

    Like

  15. Astro45
    September 26, 2013

    As the season is ending, once again it is so amazing to look at Oakland. $60+/- Million payroll and constructed with FAs and trades – yet he does it again. Beane must really be able (or his staff) to judge talent and fill holes each year without breaking the bank. Really amazing to me.

    Like

    • daveb
      September 26, 2013

      Yep, it’s doable. We really can’t start to judge Luhnow, or even Porter for that matter, until there is a credible payroll to work with.

      Like

      • rj1953
        September 27, 2013

        and enough time. Luhnow has been here about 2 yrs, Beane has been in Oakland since 1998.

        Like

  16. Steven
    September 26, 2013

    Yes, but Oakland has understood the importance of scouting and development – and has lost more pieces to free agency or forced trades then we have even come close to seeing developed. They drafted well, we skimped. If we had just been able to skip the Poo-poora era, we might be better off, world series or no.

    Like

    • daveb
      September 26, 2013

      Steven, yes, but we’ve been giving Luhnow a free ride to date in the scouting and development department. Well, it’s about time now that we should have some expectation from him in 2014. How long do you give the guy?

      On another front, I’m at the junction where I’m wondering what Bo Porter’s strong points might be. Yeah, I know, just a day ago I noted that he could not, or should not, be held accountable for any production out of a 20 million dollar roster. But let’s face it, does he have any strong points? I’ve seen Pony league teams play wiser baseball. And his Pony league guys are making a half million minimum. When I played in that league, we were too old for ice cream and too young for beer. We just got yelled at. And none of us became axe murderers.

      Like

  17. Dan P
    September 26, 2013

    By the way – riding in the elevator, leaving work today – I read where Bud Selig had officially announced his retirement. Is this going to be a new national holiday?

    Like

    • chipalatta
      September 26, 2013

      Dan, I’m going to wait until he actually leaves and another commissioner is sitting in the chair. How many times has he announced his retirement now?

      Like

    • rj1953
      September 27, 2013

      it is for me

      Like

  18. Yeah Buddy
    September 30, 2013

    In baseball (generally) it seems a lot of players do their best work elsewhere.
    I think Lyles and Wallace will be among them.
    Maybe Porter, too?

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Information

This entry was posted on September 23, 2013 by in Astros.
Follow CHIPALATTA on WordPress.com

Our Team

%d bloggers like this: