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Astros’ non roster invitees: The Outfielders


Check out the answers to Dan’s trivia questions.

By Brian Todd

If the look at NRI infielders had you thinking about where we might find our reserves, the look at the outfielders will have you praying for a starter. No offense to Adron Chambers, but I think we all know who I’m talking about.

The Astros have invited six outfielders to spring training who are not on the 40-man roster. When push comes to shove, just one matters: George Springer.

One of the first cuts last year in spring training should avoid the ax this year.

With all due respect to Dexter Fowler, I have a funny feeling our best outfielder is the guy who slugged 37 homers and stole 45 bases between AA and AAA last year. The big question is when will Springer make his appearance in Houston? Well, he’s a 24-year-old super prospect, so I’m pretty sure the time is now. We can argue all day about getting that extra year of team control or Super Two status, but it’s just not worth it. This is our best outfielder—offensively, defensively, on the base paths—so I say let’s let him play.

The next question, really, is which of the other NRI outfielders have a chance at making this team? Well, barring injuries, none of them.

The aforementioned Chambers is our AAA centerfielder, because even if Springer starts the season in Oklahoma City he’ll be practicing his right field play. Delino DeShields Jr., despite his fabulous season in Lancaster last year, needs some time at AA and maybe AAA this year before he can hopefully be ready for prime time. Leo Heras needs to transition from the faux AAA of the Mexican League to real AAA. Meanwhile, Preston Tucker might have had a good half season in Corpus Christi, but that’s not going to be enough to unseat the likes of Hoes, Grossman Fowler or Krauss for the two (one if Springer starts in Houston) outfield starting spots and one reserve spot on the Astros opening day roster.

Well, that’s five NRIs, so that means we need to talk about J.D. Martinez. We’ve probably all read about his improved swing and his healed wrist. I’ll believe it when I see it. I do believe he’s motivated to make this season work, since it’s probably his last chance to be taken seriously as a major league prospect.

That said, for opening day he’s going to need a great spring and a lot of pulled hamstrings from the others to get to Houston on April 1. As for the rest of the season, well, I think we could see Martinez and maybe Tucker or (Lord forbid) Chambers filling in for the big five (Springer, Fowler, Hoes, Grossman and Krauss) in one of the four outfield roster spots. But that’s it.

So enjoy the rest of Springer Training. That’s what March is really all about when it comes to non-roster invitees. We need to determine when Springer should get the call to Houston. And I’m pretty sure the answer is “Now!”

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About BrianT

Brian Todd is a freelance writer working and living in Rochester, Minn.

91 comments on “Astros’ non roster invitees: The Outfielders

  1. rj1953
    March 7, 2014

    hi brian, always enjoy your posts. but i have to disagree on springer. its just flat dumb to lose a full year of team control for 10 games. its my understanding that he has to go to april 11th to avoid losing that year. i can wait ten games to see him, given that allows the team another full year of control. now waiting till late june for super two is another deal. i dont like that. but ten games, in a year when we wont be contending is a no brainer.

    Like

    • BrianT
      March 7, 2014

      If it were just 10 games I’d agree. But the Players Union knows this trick and has won grievance cases against teams that sent guys down for two weeks just to get that extra year.

      That 10 games will turn into six weeks if the Astros want that extra year. Plus, he’s 24 years old. I think when he wasn’t called up last year, that was holding him down long enough.

      Like

      • rj1953
        March 7, 2014

        now i havent heard that this is a violation. i just read the rule as written. what cases have the players Union brought up and won? that of course would change the call up date etc. i still think another year of club control is a good thing, especially in a year down the road when we will be contending.

        Like

      • BrianT
        March 7, 2014

        There was a case against the Indians a couple of years ago. Google it.

        Like

      • rj1953
        March 9, 2014

        hey brian. i found a case against cleveland (nick hagadone) but the circumstances are different than we are discussing here. dont know if that was the one you were referring to. as a fan id like to see springer from day one, but for the long term benefit of the team i still think an extra year of team control is the best course.

        Like

    • BrianT
      March 7, 2014

      Oh, RJ, and the public relations backlash will cost the Astros more than starting him in Houston will cost.

      Hold him down, and the Astros lose ticket sales from angry fans. But that six weeks of him playing in Houston means fans buying extra tickets just to see him play.

      Like

      • rj1953
        March 7, 2014

        brian i couldnt find anything, but let me admit that i am not very computer proficient. so i am sure i just missed it. but again i will say that IF they follow the rules to the extent that they do not get in trouble, another year of club control is a good thing.

        Like

      • BrianT
        March 7, 2014

        If they follow rules enough to not get in trouble, we’re talking five or six weeks. So if living without Springer that long is OK, then send him to OKC.

        Personally, I think that’s too long, so we might as well start him on opening day.

        Like

    • 1oldpro
      March 7, 2014

      I cannot disagree more with you! It would be an obvious violation of the CBA to put him in the minors for ten games and then bring him up. I hope the Astros get fined any money they would save in 2019 for doing this because it is bad for all of baseball to keep a guy down in the minors who can help your team, who is the worst team in Baseball. The baseball ethics of this is astounding to me as a longtime fan who has seen his team puposely lose the last three years in order to rebuild.
      To not play this guy against the Yankees on opening day is simply astounding and flies in the face of everything that is good about being a fan of baseball.
      If they do that, they have taken Peter Gammons and raised him to the level of genius and lowered themselves to the level of pond scum and pretty much deserve everything that has been said of them in the last two years.

      Like

      • rj1953
        March 7, 2014

        do you really believe crane, luhnow and the astros have purposely tried to lose for the last three years?

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      • Steven
        March 7, 2014

        Well said.

        Like

      • BrianT
        March 7, 2014

        Purposely? It depends on how you define it. I think the Luhnow Plan is designed to put an inferior team on the field for the purpose of building toward long term success. Do I think they wanted to “earn” that 1-1 pick? Absolutely not.

        Though I’m sure Bopert will disagree.

        Like

      • 1oldpro
        March 7, 2014

        If they send Springer down to AAA, combined with three years of the worst record in baseball and the team they would put out on the field on opening day, yes, I would believe they are trying to lose. If a team does not play it’s best players who are not injured, then they are not serious about winning and are try to lose to gain an advantage.
        You call it saving money in the future, and everyone else in baseball calls it losing on purpose. How many years are you going to allow your team to be the worst and keep their players off the field before you admit that is not trying your best? You are like the parent who screams injustice when their good child gets arrested for the fourth offense. Total denial.
        I have read it is a violation, the Union and the league are. looking at this and you are griping that as long as they don’t get punished it’s ok. Go ahead, kick your golf ball out from behind that tree, nobody’s looking!

        Like

      • BrianT
        March 7, 2014

        Oldpro, I agree. Up until now I don’t think we’ve kept our best players down on the farm. But if Springer starts in AAA, then yes.

        Like

      • rj1953
        March 7, 2014

        to say that they have been trying to lose for the past three years is highly inflammatory oldpro. i dont believe that for a second. and why you need to resort to name calling when your opinion differs i dont get. i think Luhnow is doing a great job, he is a far cry from pond scum. write the astros and get on their case about trying to lose on purpose and see what response you get.
        your golf ball analogy is off base. im not trying to pull the wool over anybody, i am saying if it is in the rules and you can use it to the best long term benefit of the team, then do so. thats not cheating. i want to see springer as much as anybody but if i have to wait a few games this year when we wont be in contention, to see him in 2019 still on the team when we are in contention ill wait. im interested in the year of team control not the money.
        i havent seen another example of the astros waiting to start a clock other than springers (if indeed they do) so i dont buy your argument they have done it the last few years.
        my kids wouldnt get in trouble a first time let alone a fourth. go ahead and have another drink maybe itll help.

        Like

    • Bo Weaver
      March 7, 2014

      rj is right. Springer will not start on April 1st. It doesn’t matter if he’s the best OF in the organization or not. What matters is the team has no money until a TV deal is done.

      HELLO! Pay attention people!!

      Like

      • 1oldpro
        March 8, 2014

        RJ is not right and you are not right about Springer. You may be right about Crane and the team’s future, but keeping GS in AAA is the wrong thing to do.

        Like

  2. Steven
    March 7, 2014

    Springer should have been starting in August of last year. He should be coming into ST knowing that RF is his. He should have gotten the last 2 months of last year as his welcome in party, and he should have been given that time to adjust. He should absolutely be on the opening day roster.

    If you snub him because of 11 days – the fans will know it on day 1, and he will remember it in year 5 when you are trying to negotiate a new contract with him.

    I am not sold on Fowler, but he is your starting CF no doubt. I am hoping that we don’t get road Fowler at the plate and we don’t get home Fowler in the field, a permanent home Fowler at the plate and road Fowler in the field sounds awesome, but the extremes on the good/bad home splits from Colorado do have to be a warning sign, both offensively and defensively (defensively it looks in our favor).

    JD is certainly a mystery. His injury may have hampered his power some, but it doesn’t affect swing rates, and those suggest that he struggles at telling balls from strikes. Maybe some increased bat speed will buy him a little more time to read a pitch. It could be that he just isn’t wired to read them fast enough. His ST is one of the few that will matter – the upside on him is probably higher than anyone else you have on the roster to start LF, but the risk is also greater in that he can go Jason Lane on you in a hurry.

    My guess is we see a combo of Krauss and Hoes playing LF. It’s unfortunate that my suggestion about using Castro at DH and catcher with Stassi catching more, and Carter at 1B, is one the Astros wouldn’t do, because it would have freed up roster space for 2 outfielders, a better, more flexible scenario for Porter to manage – and an opportunity for JD. JD may not even get a chance with the team likely to keep Krauss and Hoes. Grossman may even be higher on the depth chart than JD – unless JD is lights out in the spring.

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    • Devin_
      March 7, 2014

      This Is 100% right. Why trade for fowler if you are trying to save $$$? You bring up springer and will know if he is worth a real contact within two years. Make him feel a part of the franchise so he will want to stay rather than move back to Connecticut as a FA.

      Like

  3. Steven
    March 7, 2014

    And how about the news that the Astros want Krauss to catch a few innings this Spring. No, I don’t mean by a few tickets and catch some games, I mean, actually CATCH. Now this is a development. I had no idea he ever had caught, I always assumed he was always a 1B/OF type.

    Like

  4. Dan P
    March 7, 2014

    The OF NRI discussion is not too compelling beyond Springer really.
    If anybody other than Springer makes the roster it means:
    – Someone got hurt
    – Someone got traded
    – Luhnow is going to wait until we are back in the playoffs to bring up Springer.

    Like

  5. 1oldpro
    March 7, 2014

    Brian, I agree with your asessment of the NRI’s and I think the five of Grossman, Fowler, Springer, Hoes and Krauss gives us the best chance of playing well in the outfield. Keeping Krauss also gives you a lefty bat at 1B or DH or at catcher(Lord, help us! in an emergency) if you want to change some things up, which Porter did a lot last year.
    Man, if Chambers goes to AAA, What do you do with DDJ, Tucker, Aplin, Heras, Santana, Wates, J Mart, Epps Gulbransen and Meredith? Somethin’s gotta give!

    Like

    • Steven
      March 7, 2014

      Pro – I don’t see how the Astros can carry 5 OF’ers. If they do, and they keep both Castro and Corporan, and Carter at DH, it would only leave them 1 IF’er. This was the discussion we had during NRI IFer day. Carrying two 1B, one to DH and the other to play 1B, and a catcher that catches everyday, with a backup catcher, can be hampering.

      The Indians solved this by moving Santana to DH but using him at catcher once or twice a week – and are now able to carry both 2 backup outfielders AND two 2 backup infielders given them incredible flexibility. I would argue that the weaknesses our starting 9 provide, their poor defense at some positions, their propensity for striking out, their youth (which will invariably lead to season draining slumps), makes it even MORE important for us to have that kind of flexibility – that is if we are committed to winning as many games as we can.

      To me carrying all 5 means Marwin is your only go to guy in the IF, and that takes him out of his strengths, giving him more 9 inning games with 4-5 plate apperances than you want, giving his weaknesses plenty of time to shine – no range, questionable arm, no power, no speed, doesn’t walk alot, these become apparent in 5 plate appearance games with 9 innings in the field. I think Marwin, who doesn’t strike out a lot, is sound defensively when he gets to it, and makes all the routine plays, helps you tremendously to win when he his put in the right situations. Can’t do that with 5 OFers. Maybe Grossman ends up back at AAA, maybe Krauss gets waived, not sure.

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      • 1oldpro
        March 7, 2014

        Steven, Krauss is your fifth OF, Krauss is your fifth IF.
        Dominguez
        Villar
        Altuve
        Guzman
        Springer
        Hoes
        Grosssman
        Fowler
        Kraus
        Gonzalez
        Castro
        Corporan
        Carter
        13 players 12 pitchers
        Guzman can play 1B, COF and 3B in a pinch
        Marwin backs up at third, SS and 2B
        Krauss is a 5th OF, a lefty hitting 1B
        Carter is your DH, and emergency 1B or COF
        All of this assumes that 24 yo Springer stays in Houston and 22 yo Singleton gets sent to OKC(which I don’t like, but it’s probably gonna happen.)

        Like

      • Steven
        March 7, 2014

        Pro – still doesnt solve your inflexibility problem – Krauss can play 1B in a pinch, and Guzman can play 3B, as well as Carter playing 1B, but you still subject yourself to a lack of flexibility in the middle – where you can only use Marwin late or start him. It’s a minor hiccup, I agree, but over the course of 162 games it may affect how you use and who you use 15-20 times, and could be critical in a handful of games.

        It’s interesting fodder, I love the discussion on the minutia. Marwin is better for you if you are using him for about 150 plate appearances and using his strengths more often. If he is the only guy backing up your middle infield, and Altuve sprains a thumb and will miss 4-5 games, and he starts, his weaknesses show. I would rather carry another middle infielder with a little better bat to get quantity, and use Marwins strength for quality in his areas. Maybe its a 2-3 game swing and thats it, but every piece of minutia that swings 2 games adds up.

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      • Bo Weaver
        March 7, 2014

        Steven — Luhnow will have to pick up a scrub utility IF at the 11th hour this spring.

        You’re right that 5 OFs will not fly (and/or the logjam at 1B/DH), and that scrub MarwinG hitting late in a close game is not really an option for BoPo. He’ll need to PH for Marwin IF they truly want to win.

        One backup IFer just won’t work…. IF they truly want to win.

        Like

  6. Steven
    March 7, 2014

    Also to me Krauss would not be a bad option in LF. If I told you a guy hit .209 with 4 HR and 45 K’s in only 146 plate appearances, it would be easy to dismiss. I think it’s also fair to say though that he, for the first time in his career, wasn’t playing everyday, and had a lot of 1 AB days.

    We know he is limited defensively. We also LF in MMP isn’t that hard to play, ask Carlos Lee.

    A cursory look at his stats is eh, but a deeper look is intriguing. He did post a respectable 26% O swing rate, meaning he chased only 26% of the time, a number that has been much higher on players like JD. His in zone swing rate is 60%, a good number IMO, meaning that he doesn’t get to aggessive, but is apt to swing at good pitches. His contact rate is 82%, telling me that yea, if he plays everyday he will K some, but not exhorbantly like Carter. I could easily see a .270-20-80 season from Krauss, with Hoes getting time against the tough lefties and used as a late inning defensive switch – or even replacing Krauss when a team hits Porter with a lefty specialist.

    I think that 146 plate appearance debacle, where is was REAL bad early on, was a fairly young guy pressing because he was left off the 40 man and only got his opportunity when the Martinezes did not get it done. I think a relaxed Krauss could be a viable option – especially if he is a third string emergency catcher.

    Like

    • Bo Weaver
      March 7, 2014

      Actually Krauss IS a bad option. A very, very bad option says me.

      Like

  7. Becky
    March 7, 2014

    Mark Krauss is making a case to keep him. I listened to the game today, and he went 3 for 4 with a HR. That makes him the ONLY guy to hit even one HR this Spring. Sloppy play in the infield today, with error’s
    from Altuve and Villar. Springer has jet engines for feet!

    Like

    • Devin_
      March 7, 2014

      Becky – your guy villar hit one against the mets too

      Like

    • BrianT
      March 7, 2014

      Villar did hit one, but Becky’s main point is right. Krauss is looking like the best-case-scenario version of himself. And I’ll take that guy any day. I know is defense isn’t up to — well — Becky’s standards. But in left field or at first base, he’d be fine.

      I also like the fact that, despite his low average, Springer continues to find ways on base.

      Like

    • Bo Weaver
      March 7, 2014

      Becky, Mark Krauss is a scrub. I PROMISE you he’s terrible. He doesn’t have the “it” factor. He just doesn’t.

      Like

  8. daveb
    March 7, 2014

    One angle that I brought up awhile back: Any good business rewards results with promotion. Over performing employees don’t get held back for financial reasons. Those quality employees would eventually move on to competitors in the same business. I’ve seen it happen in many fields. What kind of loyalty and savvy do the Houston Astros show perhaps their single most valuable employee if they continue not to promote him? And yes, I agree, Springer should have been playing for this crappy club late last year. I won’t even get into how the ticket buying public feels about Springer being held back, especially those of us who are season ticket holders.

    But the most successful companies in the world today are those who focus on human relations and recognize and nurture their human resources. And protecting them. It’s no coincidence today that the best employers have the best employees!

    And one more thing. Springer has an agent who really can’t make much, if any money off the field for his client, until he becomes a major leaguer. Those promotional contracts have to wait.

    All of this will be well remembered a few years down the road when Springer can go out into the larger major league market. There will be no home town discount. What the club is doing today is reminding Spinger that MLB is a business first, and results and loyalty are secondary considerations. And all the while, Springer, at 24, is the entity acting as the true professional.

    Like

    • Bo Weaver
      March 7, 2014

      “What kind of loyalty and savvy do the Houston Astros show perhaps their single most valuable employee if they continue not to promote him?”

      Well said daveb.

      But it won’t matter. The leadership of this franchise has time and again shown that loyalty means nothing, and the almighty dollar rules all.

      Thus, Springer won’t start April 1st.

      It doesn’t matter what the fans want. Never did with Crane.

      Right??

      Like

  9. BrianT
    March 7, 2014

    All is right with the world; the Bopert Crazy has arrived.

    Like

  10. Astro45
    March 8, 2014

    I should know better than to wade into these weeds, but when I read about the Super Two, and Service time, it would appear that under current rules, Springer would need to stay a minimum of 20 days (not games) in the minors. And to make sure the Astros saved money, they would probably need to leave him in the minors until July. So short of an injury, I can’t see that happening. If they do ship him out for 2-3 months, I will be forced to refer to my pal, Bo Weaver as a genius.

    Like

    • Bo Weaver
      March 8, 2014

      For the record, I do not think they’ll wait until July to insure Super 2 status. I just agree with rj that waiting for two weeks is a no brainer, regardless of his obvious talent. GSpring will not be on the team opening day…

      Like

      • BrianT
        March 8, 2014

        But waiting two or three weeks does the Astros no good. The players union knows this trick and has won cases against teams for holding a player down simply for monetary reasons. To win that kind of case, you need to keep Springer down about six weeks or so.

        I don’t see that happening.

        Like

      • shampain
        March 8, 2014

        Brian could you cite those cases or provide a link to the info? I’d like to read up on it.

        Like

      • Bo Weaver
        March 8, 2014

        Maybe. Perhaps it’ll be 4-6 weeks and not two. But I’ll still be very, very surprised if he breaks camp with the Big Squad (cough, cough). And big money coming one year later than otherwise IS the main factor.

        Like

      • BrianT
        March 10, 2014

        Shampain,

        No, I can’t. I know there was a case involving the Indians about a couple of years ago. It only recently got decided.

        The point, though, is we all talk about “just 12 days” or whatever like we’re in on a huge secret … and the Players Association and all if its lawyers have no idea about this sneaky trick.

        Trust me, they know. And I’m sure the MLBPA is watching the Astros and Springer just waiting to file papers in his behalf. And they should.

        So, yes, we’d have to send Springer down for more like five or six weeks. And if you’re OK with that, well, I can see how an argument for sending him to OKC could be made.

        Is he performing better than Krauss and Grossman and Hoes? If two of those three — or JD Martinez — is playing better at the end of March, then you’re not going to put Springer, a kid who needs to be playing, on the bench. You’ll send him to AAA.

        Hey, I love how Springer has turned into Nolan Fontana. But we’re not paying a corner outfielder to draw walks. We’re paying him to knock the cover off the ball. And that’s what we need to start seeing, or the MLBPA will see him sent to OKC and pat Luhnow on the back for doing it.

        Like

  11. shampain
    March 8, 2014

    this is from a previous post from Brian. explains super two pretty well.

    But the world isn’t fair, and the MLB collective bargaining agreement includes something called “Super Two.” According to Wikipedia (OK, I’m a cheater), a player has Super Two status if “he has at least two years of major league service but less than three, AND is among the top 22 percent for cumulative playing time in the majors in this class of players (and ties), AND was on an active major-league roster for at least 86 days in the previous season.”

    If Springer starts the season in centerfield, none of that matters, His Major League clock starts. If he spends April and May and maybe part of June in Oklahoma City, well, now Springer isn’t so super.

    For 2014, in the grand scheme of things, whether Springer plays all season in centerfield or not doesn’t really matter. Two extra months of George Springer, no matter how good he is, won’t put the Astros in the playoff hunt. They might not even pick up any extra wins, though they probably would. But even a couple of extra wins, well, what does it matter?

    If he starts in centerfield on Opening Day or gets Super Two status, Springer becomes arbitration eligible in 2017 and is a free agent by 2020. If his Major League start is delayed a couple of months, just a couple of months in what is bound to be a crummy year anyway, then George Springer isn’t arbitration eligible until 2018. He won’t be a free agent until 2021.

    Like

  12. shampain
    March 8, 2014

    From a Crawfish Boxes column:
    if Springer’s call up is delayed for a few months of additional AAA experience, I’m sure there will be an outcry about the presumed impact of Super Two—as if teams are supposed to ignore the impact of a possible Super Two designation or service time considerations. It simply doesn’t make sense that a team-a business— would completely ignore the consequences.

    My position is that Super Two is not the sole factor in deciding when Springer begins his ML career, but it is probably an important factor. I suspect that Springer can force the issue if he overpowers major league pitchers in spring training and impresses the organization with his ability to dominate at the ML level. But, if that doesn’t happen, why shouldn’t the Astros consider a strategy for calling up Springer in a way that optimizes the future impact of team control and payroll flexibility? And this isn’t just about helping out Jim Crane’s pocket book. It’s also about trying to get as many of the Astros’ best prospects playing together in the same time window at the major league level. Are fans too impatient to wait a few more months to begin watching Springer?

    Like

  13. shampain
    March 8, 2014

    I would like to see him start from the beginning of the year, but there are legitimate team considerations here. And this is not just an Astro discussion, super two and arbitration clock questions come up all round the league every year.

    Like

  14. daveb
    March 8, 2014

    Getting back to the back ups for a bit, I don’t see us carrying two middle infielders from the start, simply because any of our options give us so little at the plate. I’d rather guys like Hoes, Grossman and Krauss around than have both Gonzalez and Izturis sitting there on the bench.

    So, unless Luhnow makes some kind of move before Opening Day, and assuming oldpro is correct in that Springer gets the nod from the start, I’ll go with oldpro’s 13, except I think Marwin goes down and Izturis gets the utility job.

    Like

    • BrianT
      March 8, 2014

      I would prefer Marwin for the same reason we won’t carry two middle infielders: offense. Yep, that’s how bad Izturis is at the plate that Marwin is a much better option.

      I think the four outfield positions will be Fowler, Springer, Grossman and Hoes with Krauss getting the platoon/backup first base position and being the fifth outfielder.

      Like

      • Becky
        March 8, 2014

        Brian………I’ll take your list!! By the way…….Krauss has another hit in today’s game, only in the second inning! Cosart is struggling, though.

        Like

      • daveb
        March 8, 2014

        Let’s face it Brian, both Marwin and Izturis suck at the plate.

        Like

  15. Becky
    March 8, 2014

    So is Petit…………so *who* would you keep DaveB?????????????

    Like

  16. Dan P
    March 8, 2014

    Some thoughts:
    – Not sure how somebody like Krauss can be judged a scrub already. Had good numbers in the minors and poor numbers in the majors in a small sample.
    – I agree that they are more likely to keep an extra OF than an extra weak middle infielder. If somebody gets hurt there are always Petit and Izturis guys available.
    – Becky, Cosart would not have struggled as much if Altuve had not turned a DP into a 2 base error.
    – Just watched Fowler circle and take a bad path to a fly ball and then miss the cutoff and the ball ending up out of play with 2 guys scoring. Ugh!

    Like

    • BrianT
      March 8, 2014

      You can’t call Krauss a scrub. He’s a fairly young guy — just two years older than Springer — who put up a career .856 OPS in the minors. That includes an .880 in 314 plate appearances last year at AAA. He also is versatile in the field, able to play first base and both corner outfield spots. Basically, he looks like a high-quality fourth outfielder and bench player.

      For that reason and others, he, not Izturis or Petit, will be the guy the Astros keep. His bat is too valuable.

      As for Altuve and Fowler bumbling in the field, it’s spring training. I’d rather they do it now than in a month. Here’s hoping they’re just knocking the rust off.

      Like

      • Dan P
        March 8, 2014

        Yeah – I don’t call him a scrub – he did not have enough ABs last season to judge anything about Krauss.

        Like

      • daveb
        March 8, 2014

        Brian, you were doing pretty well until you called Krauss “versatile”. On any good team, he’d be a DH at best. Maybe he’ll hit, but at his age, he won’t suddenly get better in the field.

        Like

      • BrianT
        March 8, 2014

        The only position he’s a Gold Glover at is DH, but he can capably man three spots on the field. I’d call that versatile.

        Like

      • Bo Weaver
        March 8, 2014

        I base my opinions mainly on what I see. Stats can be helpful too. But you can’t fake confidence at the plate. Thus, I just don’t see it in Krauss. When the games count and the pro pitchers bear down on him, shall we WATCH WHAT HAPPENS?

        Like

      • Dan P
        March 8, 2014

        I think that is the point Bo – what we saw for Krauss in his first mlb games was not enough to judge him on.
        Craig Biggio played like a scrub in his first appearance at the mlb level. In almost the same amount of ABs as Krauss – he looked totally lost with a .211 BA/.254 OBP/ .603 OPS.
        Is Krauss going to be Biggio – probably not – but judging any of these guys on their first toe dip in the majors is too quick.

        Like

      • Bo Weaver
        March 9, 2014

        See, this is case and point.

        When I first saw Biggio I witnessed INCREDIBLE grit and hustle — an undersized catcher that actually had speed, quickness that compensates for an average arm, and off-the-charts determination. This is exactly what I mean by the “it” factor. Plus, he made good contact and battled at the plate.

        Comparing Biggio to Krauss is just laughable–unless you only look at early stats.

        Krauss is a scrub, and I will do my very best to not say “I told you so” come June when he’s fizzled out.

        Like

      • Dan P
        March 9, 2014

        What I’m saying plainly is that it is just plain dumb to judge good or bad based on a small sample. Just like Cosart and Oberholtzer may not be that great based on 10 starts – Krauss may not be that hopeless based on 130 ABs.

        Like

    • Bo Weaver
      March 9, 2014

      Dan, “saying plainly is that it is just plain dumb to judge good or bad based on a small sample” is simply not the point.

      Anybody can look at stats and say two years after-the-fact that player X is golly darn good.

      My point is that stats don’t/can’t indicate key intangibles like confidence, determination, and competitive fire (among other factors).. That is what your eyes and intellect and experience are for. That’s what makes good scouting departments, no?

      Grow a pair and make a bold prediction why don’t ya!

      Like

      • Bo Weaver
        March 9, 2014

        PS — I didn’t include Cosart and Oberholtzer on my list of scrubs. Could it be that there’s a reason for that?

        Like

      • BrianT
        March 10, 2014

        I’ll make a prediction. The Astros will pick up 15-18 wins this year. The Astros will take the four best outfielders put of spring training, which right now look like Fowler, Grossman, Krauss and Hoes. Despite his excellent defense and high OBP, Springer is not really earning his spot right now. Let’s hope that changes before April 1 so you have facts to back up your argument Bopert. (Not that a lack of facts has stopped you in the past.)

        Oh, and when it comes to Krauss, how do you know what his fire and motivation and confidence is? Right now, the guy is raking. I don’t care if he comes to the plate crying and asking for his mama if he’s hitting like this.

        Like

  17. 1oldpro
    March 8, 2014

    Five errors for the Astros in the two games today. One by the starting 3B, one by the starting SS, one by the starting 2B, one by the starting CF and one by the backup SS.

    Like

    • Becky
      March 8, 2014

      Yeah……….that HAS to get better. I know it’s “early”, but they can’t keep
      that up. Waaaaaaay too many errors in BOTH of today’s games.

      Like

  18. 1oldpro
    March 9, 2014

    Astrros reassigned 9 players to the minors and optioned Clemens to the minors. No surprises, as these ten guys are ones that are definitely worth keeping and need to get with their respective teammates and work on the lists given them by Astros management.
    I understand that Singleton bobbled the relay on the back end of a DP against the Phils that would have gotten the Stros out of the inning. no error charged because of the DP ruling but the next batter hit a 3-run bomb. Those are the things that don’t show up in the box score that get your team killed.

    Like

  19. Astro45
    March 9, 2014

    Last year someone on here, gave a Jack Bauer “24” way to get around the MLB TV blackout by bouncing signals off foreign servers, etc. Would someone be so kind as to give the instructions again. Don’t see a cable contract being done this year again. (Also, being from East Texas, please type real slow so I can understand how to do it)

    Like

    • devin_
      March 9, 2014

      Are you going to buy the mlb.tv package or are you trying to view the Comcast televised games?

      Like

      • Astro45
        March 10, 2014

        Comcast is not available. So the MLB TV package appears to be my only solution. But Rangers and Astros are blacked out per MLB TV. The “work around” that I read last year was a subscription to a server in say Chicago or St Louis, and then you could view the local teams. Just don’t remember how it was done.

        Like

  20. rj1953
    March 9, 2014

    lol astro45. i need the slow typing as well.

    Like

  21. rj1953
    March 9, 2014

    Service Time Considerations For Top Prospects
    By Ben Nicholson-Smith [February 28, 2012 at 3:00pm CST]
    Timing the debuts of top prospects is essential for MLB teams. No club wants to expose a player to top competition before he’s ready, but keeping a player in the minors when he could be contributing at the big league level is hardly appealing either. It’s a balancing act.

    Though a player’s development generally determines his timeline to the Major Leagues, service time is undeniably a consideration. MLB teams can obtain an extra year of control from a player by delaying his debut and they can decrease his chances of qualifying for an additional year of arbitration with enough patience.

    Heavily-hyped prospects often have carefully-timed debuts, and Baseball America’s list of the game’s top 100 prospects features those currently generating the most buzz. Of the 100 players on the list, 31 project to arrive in the Major Leagues in 2012. The chart below presents two key dates for each prospect who might make an impact this coming season.

    First, there’s the approximate date on which the team can call the player up while keeping him under control for an extra year — through 2018. Next, there’s the approximate date on which the team can call the player up without setting him up for super two status and a fourth trip through arbitration. I’ve estimated conservatively when it comes to projecting super twos, since more players than before will qualify under the new CBA.

    Like

  22. rj1953
    March 9, 2014

    there is a chart of 40-50 players for that year and when the dates were they could be called up without starting arb or super two clocks. i cant get it to reproduce here but the link is:http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2012/02/service-time-considerations-for-top-prospects.html

    pretty common practice around the league.

    Like

  23. 1oldpro
    March 9, 2014

    I’m sure George Springer wants to sit down with you and be convinced that it is just not his time yet and that making less money down the line is a good thing for him. After all, it’s for the good of the organization, you know, the organization that has screwed up everything and everybody, but still has you to PR their their cheap cheap.

    Like

    • Bo Weaver
      March 9, 2014

      Y’know what oldpro? You just might be getting it. You just might be developing a sense that all is not well for the future of this franchise.

      First you fire off a salvo saying that rj and I are wrong, and not paying GSpring his due is wrong. NOW you boldly proclaim that Crane has screwed up “everything and everybody”.

      Truth is rj is right, and so are you. GSpring won’t get the nod come April 1 (for obvious reasons, the exact reasons rj cited), and you are right that Crane will snake one over on the deserving youngster (and the fans) if it means saving $10+ million bucks in 4-5 years down the road.

      Like

    • Becky
      March 9, 2014

      1oldpro…….you’re my new best friend!!

      Like

    • rj1953
      March 10, 2014

      “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??

      Like

      • 1oldpro
        March 10, 2014

        Somewhere above you mentioned that Springer was the first player that the Astros will have pulled this “Keep him Down” for the cheap and I immediately thought of Cosart last year, who might have been brought up early but wasn’t and it was obvious how upset he was and still is, and how unhappy the players in this organization are.
        I understand the plan and I have done a thorough examination of the team I pull for. I have finally come to understand that there is one guy with the microphone and he says that the team is in great shape for the future because he is the one doing the shaping and he has this group of Astro info guru’s who back him up in our blogs and I have been one of them. I’m talking about Luhnow.
        But when I look at the TV situation, the radio situation, the AAA affiliate debacle, the left field sign debacle, the American League switch debacle, the Spring training site debacle, and the absolute joke of a team that was on the field last year, and the one that is fixing to take the field this year I have to step back and say who is responsible.
        Winning at the major League level is it. This is major league baseball. I did not come here to spend the rest of my life thinking “Just wait two more years”.The George Springer situation goes to the very core of being the fan of the Houston Astros. He is one of the best 25 players we have and if he gets sent down for future money considerations, I don’t know why anyone would want to be a fan of this team or why any player would want to stay or play for this team. That’s my take on it. I’m not sucking up anymore.This is the losingest organization in sports and I am still here, but I don’t have to like it.

        Like

  24. Dan P
    March 10, 2014

    Bopert –
    Here is the deal – everything you say you saw in Biggio – incredible grit, determination, hustle, and undersized for his postion would have fit nicely with another Astro back in the day – Casey Candaele, who did not turn into a Hall of Famer.

    All I’m saying (and apparently wasting my time doing it) is that I would not judge players good or bad based on small initial samples of their work. You can say you look at somebody and “know” he has the “it” factor – but frankly initial nerves can make good players look a lot worse when they start out. If you tell me that watching Jason Castro play absolutely horrendous as a rookie in 2010 (195 ABs – .205 BA / .573 OPS) led you to “know” he would be one of the better hitters in the AL two years later – I would say you are either lying, delusional or a big believer in revisionist history.

    Like

  25. daveb
    March 10, 2014

    If we’re still on Krauss, at least it’s helped us break a record for the year on posts for a single subject. We’re over 70 now, initiated by the theme of non roster outfielders. Passionate subject! I won’t use the “S” word to describe Krauss. But I will reiterate that he’s not a very athletic ballplayer. Call him lacking in tools, whatever. But please Brian, don’t call him a capable major league outfielder. He’s not.

    Thing is, the larger picture, what oldpro seems most steamed about, and I’m with him, is that guys like Krauss wouldn’t even be in the mix for a job with the big club in most organizations. He’s a lefty version of J.D. Martinez. Both are guys that can’t run, are defensive liabilities and might hit against lefties or righties, but not both. One of them will probably make the opening day roster. And then we’ve the five tool guy waiting in the wings, destined to spend more weeks or months in the minors. I’ve got a feeling Springer is going up the plate looking for a walk, just to prove to all that he can work a count. That .077 BA with a .368 OBP has convinced me of that. I also think if Springer was told tomorrow that the right field job was his, he’d start hitting the crap out of the ball. The guy has done everything. Go ahead, hold him back. Great psychology!

    Springer is just a microcosm of all that’s wrong with this organization. oldpro has already ably listed blunders past and present. What’s next? I’ve got a good guess. Guys like Springer will ditch this organization just as soon they can. And in the meantime, they won’t be happy ballplayers. Way to create a positive atmosphere! Again, great psychology.

    We can talk all we want about the pipeline starting to flow. But rare is the club that wins anything meaningful with a pipeline. I sight Singleton as one small example. Right now, we should have no expectation that he’s our future at first base. He’s got issues way beyond baseball to resolve first.

    And really, good organizations simply don’t continually make the mistakes that this group has in such a short period of time. You can take all the high tech gizmos and hire the sharpest minds to run theory for you, but, it comes down to what happens on the field. And we’re still not close. Unless of course, you’re willing to wait two or three years…..and then maybe another two or three years…..

    Like

    • BrianT
      March 10, 2014

      Wow, I sure hope Spring makes the team on opening day. It’ll make or break the future of this bedraggled team.

      First, Krauss: He is a young hitter with some potential. Not great potential, but some. And he’s a better fielder than either Martinez or Carlos Lee. He’ll never win a Gold Glove. Heck, he wouldn’t win a tin one. But he can play three positions on the field without being an embarrassment, and that gives him value.

      Second, Springer: He is much MUCH better fielder than Krauss. Heck, he’s probably a better fielder than Fowler. And as a hitter, he has tons more potential than Krauss. But he also has flaws. Last year he struck out about a quarter of the time. A promotion will mean fewer walks, more Ks and a lower batting average.

      Hey, I want Springer to win that opening day job. I don’t want him to give Porter and Luhnow a reason to hold him back. But whether he makes it or not, it has nothing to do with the “sharpest minds to run theory” who have built our future or Crane’s “Sophie’s Choice” of buying a team that was heading to the AL whether he liked it or not. It will have to do with how Springer, Hoes and Grossman play comparitively this spring. Krauss–who is likely slated for a reserve spot–will have little to do with Springer’s fate because if Springer can’t beat Hoes and Grossman for a starting spot, he NEEDS to go to OKC where he can play every day.

      Like

      • 1oldpro
        March 10, 2014

        And what if the slick GM looked into the camera and told you and everybody else that Springer has a chance at the starting job, but Springer already knows he’s going to AAA and this whole thing is like everything else in the organization: a nightmare. Why else would a guy who is a bomber play the way he’s playing? He leads the team in walks, runs and stolen bases. Krauss is the leading hitter but not one pitcher has pitched around him, he has zero walks. There has got to be a reason Springer has suddenly turned into Nolan Fontana.

        Like

      • BrianT
        March 10, 2014

        I love these conspiracy theories about foregone conclusions and back room deals.

        Did Bopert give you some Kool Aid to drink? Because I thought we all knew better than to drink Bopert’s Kool Aid.

        Like

      • 1oldpro
        March 10, 2014

        It’s not a conspiracy if Luhnow has a plan and that plan has Springer starting the year in AAA but only he knows it.
        It’s not a conspiracy theory if Springer knows he’s going down but he and Luhnow are the only one’s who know it.
        But I did ask you the question: What iF Luhnow’s plan has Springer going to AAA this spring and all of the other BS is just a lie for the camera? How do you feel about the GM lying to everbody if he knew months ago that Springer wasn’t in the opening day plans because of the money?

        Like

  26. 1oldpro
    March 10, 2014

    Stassi, Santana, David Martinez and Luis Cruz optioned to the minors. 27 more cuts to go.

    Like

  27. Steven
    March 10, 2014

    Here is the problem – they can’t all be superstars. If there was a potential 35 homer 120 RBI guy sitting in the minors and Krauss was whats holding him back, yea, the organization is screwed up. But who is Krauss stopping, JD? Really?

    Those who support letting Krauss get enough playing time to have a chance to prove his worth have a simple reasoning – IF he can duplicate his OPS from the minors to the majors, that alone will be better than anything else the organization has to put forth, bad defense and all. Hey, I accept that he may go all JD on us and NOT be able to duplicate it, as can be suggested by those 146 plate appearances last year, but its also a proven commodity that alot of players struggle early on adjusting to the majors, especially ones that feel the pressure of having been left off the 40 man initially and think they will have a VERY limited opportunity to prove anything.

    We go into the camp looking at LF and pretty much picking between Hoes, Grossman, Krauss, and Martinez. If the Astros are truly stupid and send Springer down to avoid super 2 you will be looking at a combination of 2 out of the 4 in your lineup everyday. In those options, given minor league track records, I could only support Grossman over Krauss, but still lean Krauss if I am looking for some power.

    You all talk about Marc as if he isn’t in the room!

    Like

    • Dan P
      March 10, 2014

      Steven – well put – it would not surprise me if Krauss ended up like JDM, but I can’t say he would not be a decent 1B if given the chance to perform. He would not be the long term answer here – but every guy who proves himself has value in Mr. Luhnow’s personnel laboratory.

      Like

  28. Steven
    March 10, 2014

    And what is it with some of you and short sample? Baseball is a game of balance, 20 plate appearances show you absolutely nothing about what pitchers are doing with a player, especially in spring training where pitchers are more prone to care about where their foot is landing, which direction the toe is pointing, their arm angles, the hole in front of mound, the color of the catchers mitt, and what they are having for dinner tonight than how they are going to pitch to George Springer or Marc Krauss.

    Like

  29. Steven
    March 10, 2014

    RJ – I understand that super 2 status and clock starting stuff is big around the league – and will probably be used by the Astros a dozen times in the next 4-5 years given the influx on its way – but I don’t see that being able to be successfully applied to a potential rookie of the year candidate. Too much press on this one. My gut is that Springer earns his job by 1 April, and that he will be here, because ESPN has very little more to talk about until the NBA playoffs.

    Like

  30. Mr. Bill
    March 10, 2014

    I know it is early in the process, but for any of you who have been at Spring Training, are there any particularly ‘bright spots’, ‘pleasant surprises’, or ‘good signs’ you are seeing? Just looking at box scores it is really difficult to gauge what is going on. Krauss’ numbers look good, and Castro’s and Altuve’s numbers look pretty much like we would expect them to be. Villar’s numbers make it look like he is on target to be the same sometimes brilliant but just as often deer-in-the-headlights stop-gap player we saw last year. Matty appears to be going up to the plate with a nerf bat or something so far. Some individual pitching performances have actually involved more GOs and Ks and less BBs than I would have expected this early. But have the hard-throwers broken 96? How are the sliders, sinkers and cutters biting? Are Correa, Springer, and Singleton working their rear ends off in the field? And is Bo Porter really asking for instant replay reviews in just about every game, or is that just a lie of the liberal media?

    Like

  31. daveb
    March 10, 2014

    Well Brian,

    It is a bedraggled team. It’s still the worst team in baseball. As far as Krauss goes, maybe he’ll hit someday. I’ve already said that. But being a better fielder than Martinez or Lee is not much to hang your hat on. Assuming you can hit, that pretty much qualifies you as a DH on a competitive team. But that’s it. My whole point is that Krauss would not be in a position to win a ML job today if he were playing for an organization prepared to put even a serviceable squad on the field. And I don’t buy your argument that the guys who have the best spring will be with the big club on April 1. If Luhnow had come out and said at any point, something to that extent, then I’d have been inclined to believe him. But he’s been totally non committal as it applies to Springer’s fate. I hope they’ve at least told Springer what to expect. But I doubt it. Or maybe they’ve already told him he’s going to AAA. That would not surprise me.

    And if you want to have continued discussion here, with me anyway, opinion based of course, there’s no need to throw the Kool Aid card out. It sounds as if you are getting frustrated with others who don’t agree with you. And you end up sounding more like bopert too.

    Like

    • BrianT
      March 10, 2014

      Daveb,

      I mentioned Kool Aid because your post looked like a baseball themed plot from The X Files. And that’s the kind of talk I usually read from Mr. Weaver.

      Like

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This entry was posted on March 7, 2014 by in Astros.
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