It would seem like a regular ol’ day at the office, but Wednesday was important for the Astros. It’s just another step in the overall winter, off season process, but Houston has now set its roster heading into what should be the most important two months of Jeff Luhnow’s tenure thus far.
Simply put, this winter — more than any other in recent memory — will be a tell-tale of how the Astros will compete in 2014 and perhaps beyond. Houston can’t experience another 100-loss season. The Astros can’t continue to trade off big names at the deadline. Fans already emotionally spent can’t — perhaps won’t — endure another season in the doldrums of any division.
On Wednesday, the Astros positioned themselves for the upcoming Rule 5 draft as well as the free agent season and potential trades. On Wednesday and in recent days, the organization has also confirmed what most fans already knew: Players like J.D. Martinez, Jimmy Paredes and Jake Elmore are not part of the long-term plan. While the release of John Ely may have been a surprise after missing last season with elbow surgery, it also serves to point out the importance of every spot on the Astros’ 40-man roster this winter. No room for riff-raff or high-risk reclamation projects.
Again, no major news, other than the Astros have set their roster at 37 players, allowing them some maneuvering room over the coming days and weeks. And that, friends, is what keeps the water cooler conversation. What will Luhnow’s big move or moves be?
They missed on Jose Dariel Abreu and Josh Johnson, both of whom would have been reasonable acquisitions. Chris Young says he wouldn’t mind playing in Houston, but with a career .235 average, Luhnow shouldn’t kick those tires too long.
The other, ahem, big news is which players were left off of the 40-man roster. If you recall, I visited this subject a few weeks ago in Astros next quandary. Jake Buchanan and Jiovanni Mier were not protected and, thus, could end up on another team’s roster soon. Same for Bobby Doran, Carlos Perez and Bobby Borchering.
So, which way will Luhnow make his first big splash of the off season? Trade? Free agent signing? Any surprises on the 40-man roster? Or on the list of players left off?