Okay, maybe we should chat about Shin-Soo Choo

So the Astros missed out on Joba Chamberlain. Probably Matt Garza. Brian McCann and Carlos Beltran too.

Most fans — including this one — expected the Astros the dabble in the low-to-mid range of free agents and other acquisitions. The three-year, $30 million deal for Scott Feldman and the trade for Dexter Fowler pretty much fit into those expectations.

Just another rebuilding year in 2014. A 10-15 game improvement would be acceptable and perhaps reasonable, right? Improving by 20-25 games would be monumental.

Rumors persist — though a bit under the radar — that the Astros will end up landing Shin-Soo Choo.  Rumors like this one:

One veteran GM believes that the Astros will wind up to be the landing spot for Shin-Soo Choo. –tweet from Bob Nightengale.

But hang on. Does Jeff Luhnow have something else up his sleeve? By not taking a Rule 5 pick — and there were a couple of good arms to be had — has he signaled that the Astros are done dabbling and are stepping into the deep end with both feet?

Shin-Soo Choo?  Really? He of the Scott Boras herd? Talk about game changers!

Choo will be 32 next season and would certainly speed up the reconstruction project. Plant him in the leadoff spot and in the outfield with Fowler and (ahem) George Springer and suddenly, the world and life begins to make sense again for Astros’ fans.

Hey, don’t want to get ahead of myself here, but when this tweet popped up again today, it certainly caught my attention. If the price is coming down and somehow Luhnow feels the organization can afford it, let’s talk.

Here’s a guy who has slashed .300/.413/.484 in the leadoff role over his career. Or maybe you’d prefer he hits third behind Fowler and Jose Altuve. No worries, he’s got a nice line there as well: .281/.376/.439.

The Astros have been attached to Choo under the radar since early this fall, but this rumor is apparently not going away.  Guessing you’ll have fun playing with a lineup that includes Choo, Jose Altuve, Springer, Fowler and Jason Castro.

Feel free to modify your lineup from a recent entry. Here’s one school of thought:

Have fun with that for a while.


30 comments on “Okay, maybe we should chat about Shin-Soo Choo

  1. no way i would give a 7yr 100 million contract to a 32 yr old. things happen as you age, you get hurt easier and more often and it takes longer to get over it. see Pujols, Hamilton, Cano. All great ballplayers with 2-3 good years left, but not 7 – 10. These contracts will hamstring the respective teams for years. Here is a story on Pujols from last summer.

    Earlier this week the underachieving Angels decided to shut down Pujols due to his nagging case of Plantar fasciitis. In 99 games the 33-year-old hit 17 home runs with 69 RBIs, posting a .258/.330/.437 line, well below his career averages of .321/.410/.599. It’s the second-straight season Pujols’ numbers have decreased across the board since signing with Los Angeles for $240 million over 10 years.

    Last May Jason Lisk explored the drop-off in the early-stages of Pujols’ debut season for the Angels and concluded the superhuman consistency of his days with the Cardinals was likely over, although he would likely remain a productive player. A year later, that prospect is looking much less certain. Realistically, the only certainty is the Angels are stuck paying $212 million to a declining corner infielder who’ll be 41 years old when it expires after the 2021 season.


    • Well then, how about we sign Choo and not sign Pujols, Hamilton or Cano, since that is where you get your argument from. You’re talking about different players and different money. 7/$100m is a lot different than 10/$240m. Pujols’ contract is a killer, Hamilton is a huge risk with his personal baggage and Cano is $24 mil a year til he’s 40.
      Carlos Lee was $20 mil a year in 2006 dollars. Choo at $14.1mil in 2014 dollars is a steal. He’s a better defender and a better baserunner and an OBP machine.


      • choo is 32. what will he be worth when he is 36 – 40? 14 – 17 million a year? i dont think so. its different money but still not money well spent over the life of the contract


  2. If I’m Luhnow I would say no to a 7 year deal, yes to a 5 year deal and ponder long on a 6 year deal.
    If we did get him – here is Dan’s lineup:

    1) LF – Fowler – good OBP and speed up top
    2) RF – Choo – Good OBP and left handed hitter in the 2nd spot
    3) CF – Springer – Very good OPS (we hope)
    (Note – no idea who should play where if we had all 3 of these guys – have not seen enough of them to pick yet)
    4) 1B – Castro – Solid hitter
    5) DH – Carter – Please raise that BA and drop that K rate
    6) 3B – Dominguez – I liked the 2nd half of Matty D
    7) 2B – Altuve – his numbers don’t point to the top part of the lineup
    8) C – Stassi – Give the kid a shot and rest Castro’s knees
    9) SS – PTBNL – this may actually be player to be signed later or called up later….


    • Dan, why are you willing to give Stassi the starting catcher’s job after a half a year of AA ball and aren’t willing to give a shot to the #1 1B prospect in baseball? You have not 1 iota of an idea if Castro is a first base prospect, Luhnow descibed Singleton the other day as a “very, very good defensive” first baseman.
      If you want two of those guys in the lineup, why don’t you have Stassi and Castro split some time at C/DH and let Singleton and Carter split some time at 1b/dh depending on the pitching you face. You can’t use the “Singleton has to prove himself” line if you don’t do the same for Stassi.


  3. 1oldpro, actually, we do know that Castro is a first base “prospect” since he played that position in college. But I agree that Singleton is the eventual guy at that spot. Still, Stassi may also be the eventual catcher of the future, so that leaves (possibly) a Castro/Carter/Singleton “rotation” at 1B and DH.

    Isn’t it wonderful to actually talk about possibilities using actual players who could have an impact rather than also-rans of wannabes?


    • Castro was an All-American Catcher at Stanford. He was listed as the 419th ranked prospect in 2005 HS and was listed as a Catcher, infielder. I could not find anything linking him to first base. He was drafted as a catcher and has not played catcher in the minors.
      I truly don’t understand why Singleton is held to a different standard. He has proven himself worthy of playing, whereas Stassi, who I really like, has had one half year in our org at AA ball.


    • Stassi is a key. Having seen him in CC, he’s already a solid backstop. if he hits, Carter is gone sooner than later, assuming Singleton becomes our first baseman of the future. Then you have the ability to greatly reduce Castro’s time behind the plate and keep his wheels happy. He can catch a max of 50 and then DH, hopefully proving once and for all that he can hit lefties. But I don’t expect Castro to be around for more than a couple of years either. We’ve got guys below that want a job catching.


  4. Hey, it’s Crane’s money, but I’m a little leery of 7/$100 million … And it’s not the $100 million that bugs me. Maybe 6/$90 is better. More per year. Front load the money so it comes out the same for Choo (and gives us flexibility in 2020).

    I like your lineup except I’d bat Altuve 8th and make Singleton earn it. Can Grossman play 1B? Or DH and let Carter play first?

    This would be a fairly decent lineup. Not great but not horrid either.


  5. Why are so many worried about paying Choo 100 million? We’re the 4th largest city in the country, with the lowest payroll. By far. We deserve a realistic payroll. We should be spending along with teams like St. Louis. Even today. I’ve got every confidence that Luhnow can manage a realistic payroll and at the same time keep the 25 man roster younger than most. Sorry for being redundant, but look at what Choo will provide for two or three years. That’s what the focus should be. We’ll have guys to take his place by then. And there will be teams that need his services in July of 2016 or 2017 and won’t think twice about absorbing his contract, or most of it. If Luhnow gets the Choo deal done, this club gets a big measure of credibility back overnight. Something it sorely needs right now.


    • i need to look at your crystal ball dave. where were those teams when we wanted out of carlos lee’s contract. if he is injured or just not playing well who takes him then. and why would you sign a guy for 7 yrs to play him for 2 or 3 then dump him.


      • rj, we had no farm system full of young talent to replace the likes of Carlos Lee. And there was no attempt to move him halfway into his contract. As several have already said, Choo and Lee are two totally different talents. Choo is much more than a one tool guy, where Lee was a liability everywhere but at the plate. And Choo is not going to turn into a lumbering 260 pounder in two or three years.


  6. old pro – Singleton got himself suspended for a big chunk of the season out of stupidness and then he gave us a .220 BA and a .687 OPS. I want him to show me something first. I think he will eventually be up at the big club.
    I’m also sick of watching Castro screw up his knees while playing mediocre or below catcher.
    Stassi may not be the answer but he has kept his nose clean and played well every place they have put him.


  7. Why consider using Castro at first for the time being? That would mean Wallace could go. Isn’t that enough? Is there anyone out there that would prefer to see Wallace at first over Castro? I’m not talking long term. I’m talking until Singleton takes ownership of that spot.


  8. I’m having a hard time finding a guy who at 30 had produced 25 WAR and then went on to produce another 15-17 over the next six years. Steve Finley did. JD Drew did. That’s probably best case for Choo, And, that would be a break-even on the contract, assuming he falls to 6/$100. But, we will not likely see the 5-6 WAR seasons of his prime. Think 2.5-3.5 WAR.


  9. I think everyone is missing what Luhnow is doing. He’s negotiating with guys like Michael Morse and Shin-Soo Choo even if it’s very unlikely he’d land them. This causes other teams to overpay for the players and should set Luhnow up for improved prospects at next year’s free agent buffet as the agents will want to deal with him.

    Choo makes sense in Houston, but not for 7 years. I don’t think they would get more than 2 productive years out of him. By that, I suspect in 2016 (if not earlier) his production will fall off to a level where he could easily be replaced for less money than he would be owed. My concern is hamstringing future efforts.


    • I don’t blame Lohnow for talking. Some FAs will find there way into his price range and he will have already done the ground work. Plus as Devin said, it builds relationships with agents.

      Drayton wouldn’t even speak to some players and agents (Boras). And that has to be partly the cause for our reputation as a bad place to sign.


  10. Luhnow is too busy to screw around negotiating for the sake of artificially inflating contracts for other teams to pay. And he’s certainly not doing it to build relationships with other agents.

    If he really is negotiating a Choo deal, and we have no way of knowing if that’s the case, Luhnow is not doing it as an exercise in GM 101. He’s doing it to make the team better.

    If we get this guy signed, our payroll might be about 65 million. That’s a start.


  11. OK, the God’s have been good to us …. Morse and all those other injured relics went elsewhere. So take advantage and give Choo 7 years at about $125M. You have to overpay in Houston. Also, go with one more late-inning reliever — Veras or Crain. With Feldman’s 10, Fowler’s 8 and Qualls 3, that’s $21M. Add Choo’s 18 and Veras’ 3 that’s a bump of $42M. With the extra revenue just from the gate and merchandise (forget TV right now), they could make those numbers work I believe.
    So, here’s my lineup:

    CF Fowler
    LF Choo
    2B Altuve (he hits best when he’s just swinging away, not moving runners, etc.)
    C Castro
    RF Springer
    1B Singleton
    DH Carter
    3B Dominguez
    SS Villar

    Wallace makes the team as an extra 3B/1B/DH. I’d work him out in the OF during spring training.

    J.D. Martinez and/or Grossman as extra outfielder

    Veras, Qualls, Bass, Downs, Valdes added to what was there last year makes for an interesting bullpen.


    Folty, Appel, Martinez, outside looking in for now.


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