MMQB: Time for Astros to circle the wagons
The All Star break can’t come quickly enough for the Astros. And it has nothing to do with how many players Bo Porter‘s team will send to Minnesota. You’d need a score card to believe it, but Houston is actually 27-35 since May, despite a current seven-game losing streak.
The news and happenings over the last two weeks have been constant, deafening and stunning, if not devastating. No need to review all the headlines here, but the Astros are once again the worst team in baseball. Just like that. Can you say #1 draft pick?
That alarm you’re hearing at MMP is the call to DEFCON1. It’s time for Jim Crane to call all the principles into the big offices in downtown Houston, lock the doors, and tell ’em they won’t be getting out until this thing is fixed.
Can it be that difficult?
It’s the bullpen idiot!
- Even the most fair-weather football fan can point this one out. The main issue of 2012 and the eyesore of 2013 has continued to be the black hole of 2014. Jesse Crain hasn’t pitched this year (beginning to wonder if he’ll pitch at all) and Matt Albers has missed 68 games. All told, Astros’ relievers have missed 272 games this season. Overall, Bo Porter has used 16 pitchers in relief this season. Is it any wonder the (ahem) relief corps leads the majors with 15 blown saves, a 5.22 ERA and 1.46 WHIP? Stop the waiting game, pull the trigger.
Not ready for prime time.
- On June 29, Jeff Luhnow declared that Domingo Santana wasn’t ready for the majors, hinting that he may even be a September callup. Two days later, the 21-year-old is in an Astros’ uniform. Hmmm. Luhnow should have stuck with his gut. Whether he was blowing smoke about an upcoming move, just caved to fans’ demands or rolling the dice, it’s troubling. If Santana’s not ready — as 11 Ks in 13 ABs seemed to demonstrate — then, stick to the game plan and let him have a huge year in OKC. If you’re blowing smoke and trying to fake us out, why? Either way, troubling.
Time for a bold move. Or two.
- Maybe the month of May was an anomaly and this team was never destined to reach Crane’s .500 range, but the ball is squarely in Luhnow’s court. The revolving door bullpen and key players missing games with injuries have exposed the lack of depth. Enough with the prospects, this team needs to add some talent at the major league level. Pull the plug on the riff raff and pull the trigger on the trade season.
- Start by dumping Jesus Guzman and Chris Carter. Heck, Mike Hampton‘s 41 and can probably hit better. Check in on Starlin Castro. He’s got an team-friendly contract and the Cubs have 3-4 top shortstop prospects in the system. Ben Zobrist would be an upgrade at 2-3 spots.
- It’s obvious from the leaks that Luhnow has been talking to other teams. Step up and make a bold move. Or two.
The buck doesn’t stop with Porter.
- You can argue Porter has made some odd moves, but the second-year manager can’t write ’em in when they’re hurt and he can’t write ’em in when they’re in OKC (Brett Oberholtzer, Jake Buchanan, Michael Foltynewicz, Nick Tropeano). Porter has used 77 lineups in 90 games and his hand has been forced to write in names in lineup positions that creates awkward scenarios and stupid crazy results. Consider that five players have hit leadoff, eight players second, seven in the three-hole and eighth in the cleanup spot and you start to get an idea.
- Porter may not be a Hall of Fame manager, but Tony Larussa, Mike Scioscia, Jim Leyland or most anyone would struggle with this 25-man roster in its current makeup.
Here are some key questions for you to start the week:
- Which of the Astros’ top 20 prospects are you willing to trade to upgrade the major league roster?
- Would you trade Jose Altuve if you could obtain a closer for the future and middle of the order bat plus prospects?
- One of the rumored discussions in the recent leaks had the Marlins asking (probably fishing) for Carlos Correa and George Springer for Giancarlo Stanton. If the Marlins added a couple prospects, is that a deal you’d consider?
- In your mind, who’s on more tenuous ground: Luhnow or Porter?
- The Astros are on pace to win 64 games. What’s the magic number of wins for Luhnow and Porter to claim success in 2014, keep their jobs and be poised for a breakout 2015?
- Rank the top 5 riff raff on the Astros’ current 25-man roster. Name two players you’d bring up immediately from OKC.