Choo, Tanaka and other Astros’ stuff

Just a few scattershots while wondering if Jeff Luhnow’s cell phone is smoking after all the calls, emails and texts this week.

The Astros don’t need Shin-Soo Choo.

  • Seems as though some Astros’ fans want the team to get back into one of those Carlos Lee-like contracts. Sorry, at this point in the rebuild, I just don’t get that. According to most reports, it will take about seven years and $150 million to sign the outfielder. Yes, the Astros may have to overpay to get some players to Houston, but it’s not time to overpay the A+ players.

Could Luhnow be a candidate for 2014 Executive of the Year?

  • Sure, depending on the rest of this winter and how quickly prospects like Jonathan Singleton and George Springer develop. It’s too early to talk records, but if you think about it a moment, it wouldn’t take much more to put the organization in line for a 20-25 game improvement.

And, while we’re at it, no Tanaka in Houston.

  • Rumors late last month indicated the Astros might be in on Korean pitcher Masahiro Tanaka. Like Choo, it’s not the right time. If the much-discussed posting system wins out with the $20 million posting cap, the new rules would provide Tanaka with negotiating power to choose between any team meeting that threshold. It then becomes a bidding war and not one that Houston is likely to win.

From the Just Sayin’ category.

  • A couple of weeks back, I suggested some players that could help solidify the next season for Houston. Chad Qualls and Jose Veras were among the number in this pre-Thanksgiving post. Wouldn’t say I necessarily went out on the proverbial limb with some of those names, but it is nice to read the tea leaves a bit.

And, a few questions for you as mid-week heads to weekend:

  • What is an Anthony Bass?
  • Your opinion on the back end rotation combo of Qualls-Veras?
  • 2014 first baseman: Michael Morse, James Loney, Brett Wallace or someone else?
  • At the risk of stirring the pot, what in the heck is going on with CSN? Am I missing the breaking news?
  • Many have commented on question marks recently. What is the biggest question mark facing the Astros in 2014?

32 comments on “Choo, Tanaka and other Astros’ stuff

    • No-hit-all-glove middle IFs are a dime a dozen, and cheap. Luhnow can (and likely will) wait until the end of spring training to sign a cast-off when rosters shrink to 25 players.

      So getting defensive depth at SS is not a big deal.

      But the Robinson Cano signing by the Mariners IS a big deal. When you acquire outrageous slugging production at the middle IF position (ditto for CAs), that is a huge competitive advantage over the other teams in your division.


      • Not to be argumentative, but Tyler Greene, Ronnie Cedeno, Marwin Gonzalez, Jonathan Villar, and Ryan Jackson are all cheap shortstops and none of them are anywhere near all glove. So where are the dime-a-dozen cheap all glove shortstops?


      • Furthermore, the Cano deal is a horrible deal. It will hamstring Seattle’s payroll for years to come. This is why spending money for spending’s sake (something you and others seem to love, Bo) is a foolish endeavor.

        Remember Carlos Lee? He did fine for about three or even four years of that six-year deal. But he ate up a ton of budget and was not worth the money for the last two years.

        Cano is going to be a horrible deal for Seattle within a couple of years. As will Pujols for the Angels. He’s already dragging their payroll down.


      • amen Brian. In just a couple of years the Mariners and the Angels will be looking to dump salary. You put that much of your resources in one player, what happens if he gets hurt. youre stuck.


  1. Well, at SS we are stuck with Villar for now. I just don’t see a reasonable replacement on the market. Correa can’t get here fast enough.


  2. I would not like to see a signing of Choo for 150 million over 7 years. If that’s what it takes, then I’d certainly pass. But it seems that more clubs are dropping out of the Choo sweepstakes I’d happily sign him for 6 over 100 or 110. He’s not going to age the same way that Lee did. And 100 million is not that same money as it was when Lee got it. Getting Choo does not mean we’d be stuck with him for 6 years. He’ll move from right to left in a couple of years and be quite effective. Some big payroll club will always be around to take him off our hands when the need arises for them and we’ve got guys like Santana ready to go.

    Technically, there are about 30 GM’s who are candidates for Executive of the Year in 2014. So I guess Luhnow is in the running. But how many guys have gotten the award for losing 85 or 90 games?

    I don’t know what Bass brings. Looking at his minor league stats, I don’t see the attraction. If Veras and Qualls pitch like they did in 2013, then we’ll have a better pen. I’d like to see another guy signed that might win the closer role. On paper, that would give us the potential of having a solid 7, 8, 9.

    I like Castro as my first baseman.

    Chip, you’ll have to ask Bopert about the CSN mess.

    Biggest question mark? There are many, but the starting pitching is what will or will not keep us in a game.


  3. Stuff
    – No, I would not give Choo the $150 million or the 7 years – but I don’t think anyone else will either. I doubt we get him – but I’m glad we are at least pursuing it.
    – Did I miss something – I know we signed Qualls – did we sign Veras or is that just a high probablility?
    – Anthony Bass may be who we pick up instead of our Rule 5 pick – there are rumors that we may have traded that pick for him.
    – I think Qualls-Veras would be a solid anchor for the back end of the pen.
    – I would rather have Castro as my 1B also. Better than those other options I think.
    – CSN – no idea and I’m not hiring a lawyer to explain it all to me.
    – Biggest question mark – the young pitching rotation. Cosart and Oberholtzer had 10 starts apiece and Peacock 14. No way of knowing how these folks will do over a whole season. And then there is the unknown 5th starter…..


  4. Oh and I don’t see Luhnow being in line for exec of the year unless they by some miracle reach. .500. I mean a 20 game improvement would still be only 71-91.


  5. It IS odd that there is little-to-no news on the CSN Houston deal. Certainly does not bode well.

    From following tweets from David Barron, it looks like another hearing till take place on 1.7, which could indicate that Crane has a little more runway to ink some kind of deal. However, the suits are “discussing motions and hearings on the fraud case. Astros also will file motion to send fraud case back to state court.”

    Let’s face it. CSN Houston will very likely dissolve. And that is bad news for the hopeful. Very bad.

    So THAT is the biggest question mark in my mind. How will there be enough revenue to secure a “decent” future (as if mediocrity was the goal)?


  6. Regarding Luhnow, it’s way too early for accolades. He certainly blew it on the Nate Freiman decision last year. But he’s made some decent trades and decisions since then (most notably, all the scrubs he’s dumped).

    So a good barometer is the Anthony Bass trade.

    OBVIOUSLY he and the scouting department see something in Bass. On the surface, he’s a slightly above-average righty that’s only started 18 games in his three year career. But he’s an established big-leaguer that is coming into his prime.

    So let’s wait and see.


    • The great thing about Bass is we got him for nothing and we can send him to OKC for work if need be. We traded our rule 5 slot, which means we did not think there was anyone there who was worth tying up a roster slot for the year.
      I thought that was a great move by Luhnow. The incentive for San diego to give up Bass was to be able to move up and get their guy first. The cash considerations probably was 50 grand to cover the cost of that pick that Houston had to pay.


    • Agree oldpro – I love that you are getting a mlb experienced guy for something that was obviously not that big a value to us and you don’t tie yourself to the year long roster spot. Very little downside.


      • Billy, not so sure I would call .222/.298/.396 a good year? Sure, he had 18 HRs and 50 RBI but that sub-.700 OPS won’t ring many bells. Now, his 2012 was a good year, but his 2013 was more in line with the real Ruggiano.


  7. The rest of the hearing ended as expected:

    “Comcast recently expressed concern with the Astros negotiating for the network while our civil suit is ongoing. Given the status of the negotiations with the two major players, we would like for the Rockets to continue these discussions. We do not want there to be any question as to whether our lawsuit against Comcast has any bearing on the results of the negotiations with the other carriers. We are confident in what we have done to this point and we have handled this exactly as Judge Isgur has requested and in the best interest of the network. Our interests are aligned with the Rockets in that we both want our fans to view our games. As we have done throughout this entire process, we will both continue to work tirelessly toward getting the games on TV for all of our fans.”

    End of statement from Astros general counsel Giles Kibbe.

    Translate: “PLEASE please don’t leave us, Rockets! If this network disbands and we go our separate ways, then we are REALLY in deep trouble, as we have no real leverage or fanbase for which to negotiate a healthy carrier deal.”


    • Why haven’t you mentioned that The Astros requested to let the Rockets take over negotiations, so that no conflict of interests could be inferred?
      Why havent you mentioned that the judge granted this request?
      Why haven’t you mentioned that Crane told the court that they had made significant progress with two carriers and that they want the Rockets to keep negotiating?
      Why didn’t you mention that the Rockets have given indications that they may want to purchase CSN?
      Instead, you give the usual anti-Astros, self created narrative of what you wish had happened.


      • To be frank, I didn’t know. Note the time stamp and substance of Barron’s tweets, and you’ll understand that that topic was never mentioned.

        However, I will say this: the Astros desperately need the Rockets. Not only do they need to ride the coattails of the Rockets’ fanbase for leveraging power, but they also need the Rockets to take the lead AND strike a deal.

        So, Crane was very wise to give up the negotiations.

        This is a very critical time for the future of Astros. Can we at least agree to that?


  8. Rule 5 news – Unless I missed something – it is over and we lost no one in the Major League phase (yea – Carlos Perez, and Jake Buchanan) and we took a LHP for the Padres and sent him across for Bass.
    In the AAA phase we picked up Ravel Sanatana from the Yanks – a young OF who had been great at rookie ball for 2 years and stunk it up last season at low A ball.
    Then we picked up in the AAA phase Carlos Vazquez, a young LHP who bounced between the Mets minors and the Mexican league over the last couple years but had some good stats.
    We lost a young RHP Enderson Franco to the Rays (in the AAA draft) who really has not shown much while never rising above rookie ball.
    In the AA draft we picked a 24 yr old RHP Blaine Sims from the Braves who must throw balls through brick walls – because he has had eye-popping (the bad way) numbers in the minors. Last season in 3 stops he had an 8.44 ERA, a WHIP over 2 and walked more than 7 per 9 IP (he did K more than 9 per 9 IP).
    Anyways – a lot to do about nothing – though it means we appear to have gotten Bass for nothing from our current system and that is good.


    • Actually Blaine Sims is a LHP who is switching to the knucleball as his main pitch, so I hear. Apparently, one of our scouts must have noticed something and we picked him up. A left handed knuckler is a really rare bird. Maybe nobody can hit the dadgum thing. How about a LOOGY that the catcher has to catch with a sofa cushion?


    • Thanks for the info old pro – that sounds very interesting and if he is a knuckler the age thing does not matter – mastering the pitch does. Also that explains his bizarre numbers … hopefully they know how to help him find himself and his control.


  9. Choo is not worth 150 mil. I wouldn’t even give him 100 mil. I would consider 4 years at 50 mil. He wants 100 mil+, tell him to call me back when he is MVP candidate Choo. Until then, stay internal – an outfield of Springer/Fowler with right field (or left depending how they go) as an open competition is fine by me. We aren’t competing, regardless of how good the hitters are, until we are no longer the worst starting 5 in baseball.


    • Steven, the tender he turned down from Cincy was $14.1 mil for 1 yr. Word has it that the Rangers have offered him five years and that he has a seven year deal on the table from someone. What if we have offered him 7/$100Mil, which is seven times the tender he was offered? It gives him the $100mil he was asking for and the seven years he wants.
      He plays the LF for three years and then, as our prospects are ready to be regulars he moves to the heady DH guy with the OBP that Luhnow loves. Fowler sticks around for a year or two if he plays well. Springer starts in right and you have a really good outfield and potential run production this year until all those arms start arriving to make you a defense, OBP, pitching force in the AL by 2016, when Correa is ready at SS.
      Having Fowler and Choo at the top up the lineup gives you the OBP that allows you to keep Carter at DH and bring Singleton to 1B for minimum salary, and gives you power in the middle of the lineup, and speed at the bottom in Villar, Altuve. And you have Grossman and Hoes as 4/5 OF, one a lefty and the other a righty and both are decent defenders.


      • No question that Choo would be an extremely valuable asset to the squad. But, despite all the noise to the contrary, it will not happen. It just won’t. We can dream all we want….


    • $150 million equals a million per strikeout. Obp is good but if you add in those strikeout totals it leads me to believe we’ll see a lot of at bats where he’s just standing there watching the ball pass by. In our weak lineup I’d venture to guess the walks go way down too. Throw in the fact that he’s an average at best base runner, and that OBP starts to look a bit hollow.


  10. You talk about not getting in to big contracts, but Choo would be a nice player to have, he is like a Craig Biggio type of player. Very Talented. He would raise some attendance levels, and be a building block for the rest of players coming out of the farm. Him and Altuve is a good 1,2 punch, both have good on base %. He would have to accept a 4 year deal worth 80 mil. That or pass..

    This team as it is in, is terrible, and just horrible to watch. Someone like choo for 4 years 80 mil could be a spark that helps this team. But would he except a 4 year deal like that?


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