Chatter abounds: Springer, first base and Luhnow

While the Astros continue to search for that magical final 25, the chatter continues.

  • From the “can’t-blame-a-guy-for-trying” category, give Jeff Luhnow an attaboy. It appears the Astros were trying to be shrewd with a 7-year, $23 million offer to George Springer last fall. Sure, if I could tie up my top prospect until he was 31, I’d be on that in a heart beat.  Of course, George could be earning $23 million per season by the time he turns 31. If Springer had signed that deal, he’d be standing along the first base line when starting lineups were announced at Minute Maid Park on April 1.  Instead, he’ll be trying on his Oklahoma City jersey about that same time as Luhnow tries to delay the clock a bit.

  • Also sounds like Luhnow isn’t bowled over with his choices for first base. And, we all thought that shortstop was the big dark hole in the infield. Apparently, Jesus Guzman, Jonathan Singleton, Chris Carter and Marc Krauss don’t cut it in Luhnow’s book. What does that say about the long-term prospects for Singleton? Remember, he hit only .230 at three different levels after returning from that 50-game suspension in 2013. Singleton has 8Ks and only 3 hits in 32 PAs this spring. Will he recover? If so, at what point this season will he become a factor for the Astros?
  • If the Astros offered Springer that deal, can Carlos Correa, Mark Appel, Jarred Cosart or others be far behind? Luhnow is apparently attempting to use The Hart Doctrine as his model and he will need that to avoid a bottleneck of hefty pay raises in a few years. With Springer turning down the deal, who should be next on Luhnow’s lock-’em-up docket? My nomination: Cosart. If he picks up where he left off in 2013, he could price himself out of Luhnow’s pocketbook in a hurry.
  • Aren’t the Astros still looking for a closer? Michael Foltynewicz has never made a start at AAA, but I’m beginning to wonder why he would need to make a pit stop there this year. And, one other note: During a 23-game stopover in Corpus Christi last season, Folty saved three games. Can you say Brad Lidge? Just sayin’.
  • Is Brett Wallace still a free agent?

19 comments on “Chatter abounds: Springer, first base and Luhnow

  1. Springer knew he wasn’t going to get a shot this spring and Luhnow looked into the camera and lied to the fans about it. Cosart’s pissed, Buchanan let it slip out how he feels and he got sent out immediately, and now we find out about Springer. Luhnow’s facade is going to have to keep from melting because things are going to get hot fast.


  2. – Smart try by Luhnow on Springer – calculated risk reward.
    – Sorry, unless Correa is starting at SS I find that position to be a bigger black hole than 1B
    – Cosart threw 5 hitless innings today – trying to raise his price??
    – Folty as a closer? Bring it on.
    – So if Brett Wallace signed with someone we could now trade for him?


  3. Come on guys! Folty’s three saves came as the second starter in the tandems. Sheesh He came in in the sixth inning with a lead and didn’t lose the lead. How is that anything like a closer?
    The guy threw a complete game gem in his last start of the year in the playoffs for CC. Why would you think about him closing for a team that will not win 70 games this year and waste what may be the year he finds that command and becomes a real #2 starter candidate? He still is throwing 98 in the seventh inning and won’t turn 23 until this year’s world series. He’s two years younger than Springer!


  4. Every year teams have negotiations and/or arbitration with their players. But “IF” Luhnow is penalizing Springer from last September until ??? because he did not sign, that is most unusual – and borderline criminal in my opinion. And you can kiss off that “5 years and in the World Series” because these guys and their agents will remember.


  5. If I’m a player in this organization today, I’m planning my future outside of the organization just as soon as I can get myself free from this operation.

    That 23 million offer, if made, was an insult, and would do nothing to make Springer believe his future was in Houston. And by not playing the guy with the big club as early as last September, they have been jerking the kid around, and impacting his ability to earn a living based on his accomplishments. No recognition, no promotion, no loyalty. Sooner or later, the façade will start to crumble, and the “no comments” will become national publication ink.


    • That just goes to show you the monopoly money that is major league baseball today when 23 million, more money than I can make in 20 lifetimes doing what I do, is an insult. Crazy.


  6. daveb, I can see it both ways on Springer. Yes, if I were in my dream GM job that Dan put forth this week, I’d have had Springer in Houston last September. He earned it.

    However, at this point, with less than half a season at AAA, he’s not doing anything to support the fact he should be in the outfield on opening day. This may be one of those can’t-win situations for Luhnow. Do you push the envelope or give him another month or so at AAA to hit his stride.

    All that said, if the SOLE reason for keeping him at AAA is that much-discussed clock, I’m with you totally and completely. And..if, indeed, as astro45 suggests, Springer is being punished for not accepting that offer, again, it adds skepticism about Luhnow.

    Can’t fault Luhnow for the offer itself, but he should have known it wouldn’t be accepted. Did Springer counter? Was he not amenable to any kind of deal? Is he determined to play out the string and hope for a big arbitration payoff? Would a four or five year deal have been more palatable? Or a deal with options that could escalate based on production? I applaud Luhnow for trying to make a deal, but to expect the kid to sew up 2-3 years of his prime for that amount isn’t reasonable. But then again, maybe Springer’s agent is being stubborn as well and that’s a part of the picture.

    One other thought: Offer the same deal to Carlos Correa and he quite possibly takes it since that contract would take him through age 26. For Springer, that number is 31.


    • Chip – I would argue it’s the managers job to get Springer in as many chances to succeed as he can, get his confidence up, and let him “hit that stride.” There is going to be an adjustment period regardless. Life changes when someone is moving your luggage for you and you are flying first class.

      In my opinion you might as well let him get his teeth cutting now. Biggio did it. Bags won ROY but he still wasn’t Bags yet. Caminiti had me wondering why this guy was in the major leagues at first. Look at the 1990 Braves roster, the stats from that team, and point out the superstars there that struggled.

      Luhnow is absolutely giving me zero to cheer for. Am I really going to watch Krauss and Grossman trot out there and be happy? Don’t get me wrong, I’m not going Bo on you and insisting that those players are horrible, but one – they aren’t ROY candidates and two – while I think either can pass in a major league lineup, a manager still has to manage around their weaknesses. Springer is a 155 game, 650 plate appearance talent just taken away from the team for obviously selfish, business related reason. Sickening.

      Maybe that’s why the Astros don’t have a TV deal, just maybe they think noone is actually watching.


    • Chip, here is something serious to put in your pipe and smoke. If you are Springer’s agent, you make Luhnow a counter offer. I guarantee you they did counter with a higher offer and it was rejected by the Astros. What agent in the world, when approached would not have countered. Fans grumbling about Springer turning it down haven’t even thought about that one.
      Springer’s mad. He knew before ST that the Astos were strutting like the head gobbler because they never were serious about him winning a job. Plus they went out and got Fowler and gave him Springer CF spot and are moving him to RF, where Santana also plays. Luhnow is a throat cutter baby..


  7. FWIW, oldpro, both Billy Wagner and Brad Lidge were successful starters for much of the minor league careers. Wagner had 83 appearances in the minors, 73 of those starts. For Lidge, it was 75/51 but many of Lidge’s non-start minor appearances were rehabs or other outings in the minors after his MLB career was well underway.

    Granted, the closer scenario has changed over the years and many teams aren’t investing in the same way they did 15 years ago. But, it’s not unprecedented either.


    • If I am not mistaken both Lidge and Wagner were converted because of serious injuries though, at least Lidge. Neither were ever listed in the Astros top prospects as starters. Both were two pitch ponies – oddly the same pitches. Folty throws hard, but I believe both Lidge and Wagner threw harder.


  8. Steven, Lidge did have some injuries, but Wagner had none. In face, he was a starter right up until his callup. And a pretty good one. He led all of the minors in strikeouts one season (204).
    Folty has hit triple digits but pitches generally in the mid-to-upper 90s. Now, if he were to become a reliever, history tells us that the velocity might increase over shorter stints, since he wouldn’t have to pace himself.


  9. I’m on record opposing a Stephen drew signing but supporting a ‘rush’ of Springer and Singleton to the majors. Even with lackluster 30 at bat samples this spring I expect higher returns from slotting them as starters than hoes / Guzman / krauss. Let’s find out if they can do it at mlb level so the pitchers coming up in 2015 have a stable group behind them.

    Last year we were searching to see if we had any players. Is 2014’s plan to verify we do not have them at the mlb level?

    My recollection of the early 90’s braves was that the rotation was rushed, but there were legit veterans in the field behind them. My main concern for our pitching talent is giving them healthy workloads. Let them max at 150 IP and don’t allow more than 20% of pitches thrown to be sliders.


  10. Chip,

    I just don’t like the feel of the entire operation at this time and place. There is something stinky going on. With all the issues that have reared their ugly heads, with the ongoing TV drama, with dynamic pricing that prices half the city (at least) out of going to a ball game on opening day, with our still really terrible on field product, with the Singleton mess and now the undercurrent that perhaps young players like Cosart and Springer have not been entirely happy with the way they’ve been handled, is this a real dysfunctional organization? I fear so. The fish does stink from the head down. And Luhnow, even if his own situation is a miserable one, will be quiet and keep up a good front, MLB being such a small community. He’ll do that to make is easier to get a job down the road. He won’t badmouth his own organization.

    More and more, I wonder if this operation can be what we all want it to be with Crane at the helm. And it’s a longshot, but we might have to hope for a revolt by the minority partners at some point, to get Crane out. We can keep looking at our developing farm system and fool ourselves into thinking that all will be well soon. But the best farm system in the world is not alone going to fix an organization with a bad leader.


  11. I hate to speculate on speculation, but I just can’t believe that the Astros would want to tie up Dominguez and Grossman for 3-5-or 7 years. No World Series in those plans that I can see. Castro, Altuve, Springer, Cosart, they potentially could play on a World Series team. Unless there is something that I am badly missing, it appears the game is to offer some guaranteed money, and WHOEVER will take it, he is your guy until 2018 or so. (Again, speculating….)


    • The altuve and springer offers were favorable to Houston. If either player did not pan out they could be moved at less cost than Sandy was. Springer is betting on being good enough for long enough to command more from Houston or leave via FA to get rich.

      If I’m cosart, however, the Feldman signing has me piping mad and expecting a minimum of mike trout $$$ after 2014. Put into mike trout context, the offer to Springer looks decent. I wonder, however, how much being Ed Wade acquisition / pick comes into play when luhnow and crane discuss contract offers.


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