Weekend thoughts: Cruz, Morales, payrolls and late 2015

Some weekend thoughts as the Astros prepare for their first spring game in less than a week.

  • Yes, Jeff Luhnow may be wishing he’d spent the $8 million to add Nelson Cruz to the middle of his order. No, it wouldn’t be a long-term move, but the one-year incentive for Cruz is to prove his worth. He’ll essentially be playing in a contract year, hoping to set himself up for a 2-3 year deal this winter. Cruz isn’t a high average guy, but he could have been a good fit when you add him to Jason Castro, Chris Carter and Matt Dominguez — all hitting just behind Dexter Fowler and Jose Altuve.
  • That said, if Luhnow does have regrets at the $8 million deal, he can have a do-over with Kendrys Morales, whose stock should be in the same ballpark. Morales would settle the first base question for the Astros as well.
  • For years, Cot’s has been the place to track team payroll, contracts and other financial breakdowns. If you’d like to see the Astros’ current payroll, check out this site. If you add in the remaining roster — even at the minimum $500,000 — the Astros get close to the floor of Jim Crane’s promise: $50 million with flexibility to add more payroll between now and July 1.
  • Much has been written and said about the broken part of the free agent system that is the qualifying offer.  The consensus is the process costs teams too much to sign a Morales, Cruz, as well as Stephen Drew or Ervin Santana. It’s likely the Astros would have been more involved in free agency if there wasn’t the mitigating factor of losing the 34th pick in this summer’s draft. One way to fix the system would be to allow team to trade their draft picks.
  • Speaking of the draft, Jonathan Mayo is calling Carlos Rodon “…the best left-hander since David Price“. Following a similar path as Mark Appel, Rodon has been projected as the first pick in this summer’s draft since he was a freshman at North Carolina State. Take a moment and think about Appel, Rodon with Jarred Cosart and perhaps Mike Foltynewicz and Asher Wojciechowski by late next year. Could they push Scott Feldman to the back of the rotation? Or possibly to another team in 2016?

What are you thinking about this weekend?


24 comments on “Weekend thoughts: Cruz, Morales, payrolls and late 2015

  1. Chip
    – So do teams think that Cruz will have his poor average matched by poor power numbers now that he has been exposed and suspended.
    – I kind of doubt they will sign Morales – just does not feel like where Luhnow is headed.
    – Don’t care about payroll at this point – it will end up where it ends up
    – I don’t know why they don’t allow pick trades – it would spice things up like with football and basketball drafts.
    – Rodon as another Price – I’ll take that right now.


  2. I don’t see them signing Morales either. He is strictly a DH at this point, which leaves us having to play Carter in the field. If they are going to surrender the 34th pick I would rather sign Stephen Drew over Morales. I am not advocating signing Drew, but if Luhnow is choosing between those two Drew makes more sense, in my opinion.


  3. Tim, I am with you. We have watched “the Plan” going back to the Wade years. It is time to see who can come through and play. It is time for Springer and Singleton. Not Morales or Drew. We now know it will not be J.D (not the announcer) nor Wallace. Next year it will be time for a couple or more to show. Not knocking the plan, just saying we have to see it through. When we go back to 2011, Altuve can play and J.D. & Parades apparently can’t. That is about what one would expect. Stars in the minors don’t all become even average in the majors. But you have to let them play themselves off the team. And for every David Price, there is a Bryan Bullington.


    • daveb, I agree he airs too much stuff in the media. Taking a step back and evaluating it, I wonder if he too is trying to establish his passion and personality with more people than just the players. That would include fans and the media, who haven’t seen a lot what exactly makes him tick…other than the on-field decisions he’s made with a horrible ball club.

      I would agree that the team should focus on defense and, with a younger pitching staff, it could be huge. I think it’s a bit — ahem, little league — to not let the players shake hands, though.

      I believe the end of it all will be seen by mid-season however. Will the players respond? Will he gain the trust in the clubhouse? Or will the clubhouse begin to divide and fraction? It could be very interesting with veterans like Feldman, Qualls, Crain, Albers, Fowler and others who won’t need their hands held and could lead a quiet revolt. Or…they could lead the line that falls in behind Porter.

      Either way, could be one of the bigger story lines of the year actually.


      • I hope Porter succeeds but he is not the coach of a little league team (just disregard the previous three years when I say that) and he needs to start treating the players as professional and expecting professionalism in return. The clubhouse has a door for a reason. Take all of the complaints about his players behind closed doors. These veterans will not tolerate that kind of managerial behavior.


  4. Nelson Cruz would be a good fit on most teams, most notably the Mariners. An $8mil one year deal is not something he’ll likely go for, however, that has already been established. IF the market dries up for him, the Rangers will outbid us.

    Next pipe dream?


  5. Wow! I stand corrected. I heard lots of rumors about the Mariners, and even the Rangers, if talks failed. The O’s are definitely a big surprise.

    This makes me wonder if Luhnow really does have $8mil to spend, or if that’s bullhockey.


    • It’s apples to oranges. Baltimore won 34 games more than Houston in 2013 and has a chance to compete in 2014. Most people would argue they upgraded their rotation by adding Jimenez in place of Feldman. I think Luhnow would have needed a bit more than $8 million as well as the desire to sign him.


  6. I’m not sure I wanted to be the rehab clinic for Nelson Cruz’s career. Yes, he’d come with a chip on his shoulder and something to prove, but a 33-year-old slugger is a guy on the downward arc. I’d rather see Singleton spend the better part of the year getting used to big league pitching. It’s time to see the fruits of “the plan.”

    Same thing goes for Morales. Either give me Singleton or, if he’s not ready yet, a platoon of Guzman and a lefty.

    I agree with Dan on the payroll. I know it’s all Bopert thinks about, but I’m just happy we spent some real money on real players to help this team. Now bring on the kids.

    I’m not a big fan of trading draft picks. I think it works in other sports OK, but when your drafting to fill your feeder network, it’s a good way for the rich to get richer I think.

    And, yes, if Rodon is the next David Price, I’d be thrilled. Rodon, Appel, Cosart and two of the three between Obbie, Folty and Wojo is my 2016 Opening Day rotation.


    • Re: “…but when you’re drafting to fill your feeder network, it’s a good way for the rich to get richer…”

      It’s not that the comp pick is a bad idea. In fact, it;s a good thing. It helps defray the rich buyer’s advantage in the FA market, and the picks hold real value.

      But they SHOULD be tradeable. They are valuable. They give GMs extra flexibility to make creative deals.


  7. I wouldn’t fill in Folty, Cosart, Peacock, Cosart or Wojo Those guys will pitch their way in or out of the rotation by the end of 2015. We might all be in for a couple of surprises.


  8. Granted, oldpro, much could change by 2015 — injuries, trades, flame outs — but it’s been over a decade since there was so much pitching depth at the upper echelons of the organization. You have to go back to the late 90s when some of the prospects included Scott Elarton, Wade Miller, Freddy Garcia, John Halama, Carlos Hernandez and a guy named Oswalt knocking at the door.

    Couple of notes: 1. Oswalt was never higher than 9th on the Astros’ top prospects list until his breakout season of 2001.

    2. To your point of “surprises” and the possibility of injuries, trades, flame outs, other names on the list in the mid-to-late 90s included Jeff Juden, Chris Holt, Oscar Henriquez and even Tony McKnight around the turn of the decade.

    That said, if the Astros get an Oswalt and a couple of middle-rotation guys out of the bunch and parlay another one or two into a decent upgrade for the lineup, I’d consider the Astros as having come out on top.


    • Last August and September Cosart, Peacock and Ober pitched well enough to win on almost any team but the Astros. I would not be surprised if two out of the three are starting in the majors for a number of years, Maybe not all for us, but for somebody. The pipeline is starting to flow.


  9. That is what the fans are hoping for Chip – a solid trio for the rotation out of the big bunch of prospects and the ones they think are not quite good enough – hey more trading chips to fill in behind.


  10. McCullers will have pitched himself on the team by then, I predict. I like his fire, his stuff, and his pedigree. If he flames out, I’ll be more surprised than any other pitching prospect not named Appel.

    Regardless, there will be a lot of young talent to watch develop. It’ll be fun. There’s no arguing that fact.


  11. Josh Hader totally went against his command problems in the Midwest League championship game. He showed tons with the season on the line.
    Velasquez got shut down before Lancaster’s playoffs but had a great year. Feliz is starting to show up on Top 10 lists. West and Rodgers and Rollins are moving up and have pitched big when given big chances. This organization is stacked with great arms and one more may be coming in June.


    • Oh Yeah, Thurman comes from a big time program, has three makor league pitches and has very good command of them. He is someone to look at this year. Looked good after being drafted in round 2.


  12. By signing Cruz and Jimenez, the O’s look like a team willing to spend some money, and win. Do I think there is at least one more trade before
    the end of May……..yes I do. As far as treating his players like they are in grade school……..I think that big idea has seen the door. Most of these
    guys were here last year, and the “new” vets that were brought in, will
    step up and lead these guys. Now…….if we can get Porter to keep in in the club house, and not spill over to the media, or he stands to become another Cecil Cooper.


  13. “Last August and September Cosart, Peacock and Ober pitched well enough to win on almost any team but the Astros. I would not be surprised if two out of the three are starting in the majors for a number of years, Maybe not all for us, but for somebody. The pipeline is starting to flow”. geez oldpro this was just two weeks ago and now you say they have screwed up everything and everybody youre a bit fickle arent you??


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