Astros nearing mile marker: Time to add another piece

Tired of watching Chris Carter? Can’t figure out why Bo Porter keeps running Jerome Williams out there?

On several occasions over the past several months, I’ve suggested the Astros are in such a position they could add a player each month already in the system who could improve the team.

We’re approaching another mile marker.

The Astros added George Springer on April 16, then Jon Singleton on June 3. Yes, there have been a handful of others, many who have chalked up frequent flyer miles between OKC and Houston. But we’re talking major additions, players who are game changers.

So far, Springer and Singleton are the only two internal additions who fit that bill, unless you want to include Collin McHugh (April 22).

But as June ends, the time for another addition approaches. The question is: Is there another game-changer on the horizon?

Here are the leading candidates:

Domingo Santana. .303/.382/.505.  He’s on the 40-man and quickly reaching a point of “what else can he learn in OKC that he can’t learn in Houston?” With patience running out on players like Chris Carter and even L.J. Hoes and Alex Presley, how much longer can Jeff Luhnow hold him back?

Austin Wates. .292/.379/.372. Not as many AAA AB’s as Santana, but he could be another OF-in-waiting. Probably not the “July guy”, but could be an addition in August/September.

Nick Tropeano. He’s had about as many appearances at OKC as he did in the rookie league and both levels of Class A. Looks solid as his BAA (.191) and WHIP (0.96) indicate. He’s not on the 40-man, but the Astros could fix that easily. It may be time for some fresh blood in the rotation or in the pen.

Asher Wojciechowski. Likely an option at some point — perhaps August — but unlikely to be the next difference-maker. He is also on the 40-man roster and there are those among us who’d just as soon see him running in from the pen as you know who.

Michael Foltynewicz and Alex White might have been options, but they’ve digressed recently.

There are some mitigating factors that could impact a July callup for an OKC game-changer.

Disabled list returnees: Jesse Crain, Matt Albers, Josh Fields and Anthony Bass are due back sooner than later. That should tighten up the pen.

Trades. If players like Tony Sipp, Chad Qualls, Dexter Fowler or others are in other uniforms over the next several weeks, Luhnow will need replacements and he has some that could be ready.

Injuries. This is an area that has plagued the team all year. Dallas Keuchel‘s missed start on Saturday is the latest in a series of even short-term misses.

At some point, the shuffling will cease and Luhnow will find himself taking one more step. And that means the addition of one more piece to the long-term solution.

Who’s the next logical, most ready difference-maker?


14 comments on “Astros nearing mile marker: Time to add another piece

  1. At this point we may need some addition by subtraction. Getting Carter and Williams off the roster would create space for flexibility. On the offensive side of the ball it’s hard to know where to move other than Santana and I really think he should stay in OKC for another 100-200 plate appearances. He should be a September call up for sure and be a big piece of 2015 out of spring training. Don’t do a Springer on him. But beyond him there is no obvious run producer close to being ready in the system. Do you bring up Wates to DH in the 8 or 9 hole? Krauss?!?!? As for the pitching the remedies are on the horizon. In the short term DFA Williams and bring back Buchanan for his role. Buchanan might need to stay since all of the guys on the DL are essentially short guys. Oberholtzer can’t do much more to show he’s capable of filling a rotation spot so we do have a surplus of starting pitchers, one of whom might be packaged with a short guy for a competent middle infielder or bat. Of course we could also subtract Porter and Mallee and get better as well.


  2. Dr Bill hits on a lot of good points – there is not a clear call up at this time. Santana would be the closest but he is so young and so strikeout prone.
    I would hope we would add a reliever or two off the injured list – but not hearing where they are close yet.
    It certainly appears we have more starters than spots – would you package Peacock with someone at the trade deadline and try to bring back some everyday help?


  3. Unfortunately, I think the 2.1 million contract might keep Williams around for awhile. I know, Pena was released even with guaranteed money owed to him. I hope I’m wrong. I think Jake Buchanan would love a shot at the Williams role.

    Everything else is so dependent on who gets moved in the next few weeks. I hope there is no need to bring Santana in. That would mean Fowler got dealt.

    For now, it looks like Hoes is going to play four or five days a week in left. Seems to me that if you’ve brought the guy back up, he should get a real shot, but he’s not the answer. I don’t think Wates is either.

    As for starting pitching, Tropeano should get the first shot, but again, are we trading away a starter to open a spot for him? It might take someone going on the DL for him to get called up.

    Wojoski is way behind at this point. I don’t expect to see him this year.

    Unrelated, but when does Thomas Shirley get moved up? What else can he do in CC?


  4. to me the next in house difference maker is santana, but thats an end of the year or beginning of next addition. so the next difference maker may very well come in a trade. what position would it be. i know some would scream ss, but there arent many difference maker ss around much less available. 1b, 2b and i would argue 3b wont change. catcher. somewhat similar situation as ss. so that leaves the outfield, where we have a glaring hole in lf. id sure like to see a proven power hitter in lf. that would be a nice outfield until they trade fowler, who becomes expensive next year. i hope thats not till the off season rather than at the trade deadline this year. but when it happens santana comes up to play rf with springer in cf and you have a pretty good outfield for hopefully many seasons.


      • he makes about 7.5 million this year, with arbitration next year itll be 10 million or so. unless revenue changes i dont see them keeping that kind of salary around. i dont want them to trade him, but i think they will.


  5. I have said it before and I will say it again…I don’t think Jesse Crain will throw 1 pitch for the Astros, at least not this season. I haven’t heard he is anywhere near close to being MLB ready. He is still soft-tossing. Also, I question whether Albers will pitch again this year. That is a hefty amount of money wasted on 2 pitchers, albeit could be good, who have had injury issues.


  6. i still stick to my guns dont see them doing much Unless we, I cant even say it, bad karma, get the (*&*(& Bug. Villar is a great athlete who I’m afraid has the opposite of the “it Factor.. Maybe a short term upgrade at SS , but who? Like to see what Tropeano could do? Everyone else Sept or next year, even the stud Santana. I wonder what we are going to do with Kemp. It’s just a small sample, but 4 games 7-17 at CC.


  7. Don’t look now, but the good guys are within striking distance of the Rangers. I’ve tried to come up with a good answer for the question, but I don’t have a good one. The diff we need is for Castro and Dominguez to get hot like they are at the end of last summer. Getting a hot streak from Carter would make a huge difference. We aren’t going to get anything more than a minor upgrade by trade for this season. There I’d no reason to rock the boat with promotions from AA or AAA, but spring training 2015 should be treated as an open competition rather than making the players go through the motions because the roster is already set.


  8. I went to the casino to get the Jerome Williams taste outta my mouth today, but judging from some of the comments on the Astros site, Villar nearly pulled off another error today. Was this true? Since I could only hear the first inning, and what a GREAT inning it was…….I didn’t hear the whole game. How long do you stick with a kid, who is a gifted athlete, who can’t field the ball? As for Williams, I know he was signed for a million plus, but his time has come and gone with this club. I think the last time he came into a game, and did NOT give up at least one run, was in April.
    Oberholtzer “could” be used in long relief, or bring up Buchanan to fill that roll. I’m going out on a limb here, but it would not surprise me one bit if Jesse Crain didn’t throw *one* pitch the rest of the season, and when and IF we get Albers back, he would add more depth to this bullpen. And while I’m at it, this bull pen as it stands today, is getting the job done……..AMAZING! Luhnow says Santana won’t be coming up to the big club this year, and I find that questionable. Let’s see who this kid is……..can’t be any worse than we have in left field right now. Thee guys won, and so did I………a good day all round!


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