Setting priorities: The Astros headed into the off-season

Here in Houston the school year for most kids begins on Monday – so it is not a bad time to stop and reassess things as the Astros creep within 5 weeks of the off-season. If you were running the Astros – how would you prioritize these chores headed into the off-season?

  • TV Deal – How critical is it to escort this huge elephant out of the room?
  • Setting the 40 Man Roster – As oldpro was talking about – can this team afford to protect players from the Rule 5 draft like Luis Cruz, Vincent Velasquez and Michael Feliz, who are a couple years away from the majors? Or can they afford not to protect them?
  • The Chaff from the Wheat – Some of the decisions on who to allow to be free agents will be easy – such as Jesus Guzman. Others – such as Matt Albers, may be a little tougher – but the team has to decide who it actively wants back and who moves onward or gets a NRI invite to spring training.
  • Evaluating the Manager and Coaching Staff – At this point it would be a surprise if Bo Porter or any of his staff gets shown the door (which may be one of the biggest surprises to occur this season). Brett Strom looks like a real keeper and even John Mallee seems to be slowly getting results – I just read where the Astros had scored the most runs in the AL since the All Star game. But an evaluation process must occur.
  • Line up a new AAA affiliate – Articles have just been published saying that the OKC team will become the LA Dodgers AAA team this off-season. Do we try and get the Rangers to let Round Rock out of their agreement two years early? That would seem to be a dry hole. Do we make a two year agreement with the Dodgers’ AAA team at Albuquerque and then chase RR for 2017?
  • Fix the Bullpen – Maybe the step before fixing is deciding on a better plan than 2014 had for fixing the bullpen – picking up non-closers including one coming off an injury he has never come off of and throwing them at the problem. It is not likely the Astros can get a real closer to come here as an FA unless they are damaged goods or way over paid – so do you package a young arm with a Matt Dominguez and/or Robbie Grossman and/or (fill in the blank) and go after a closer?
  • Get FA Help at ??? Position – Most of us would point at SS as a position requiring help right after the bullpen – but both Catcher and 3B have been problematic this season. Jon Singleton has been very spotty at 1B, but you have to believe they think he has the potential to do a Chris Carter over time and start to hit more consistently. And he is so young….
  • Promotions for 2014 – Which prospects are bumping up a step in 2014 and which ones need to start the year at the same level to prove themselves?

So how would you rank these chores, what do you think about the questions facing them on the Astros management team on these chores and am I missing any ones you would like to add to the list?

30 comments on “Setting priorities: The Astros headed into the off-season

  1. The television deal must be worked out in order for the team to pick up its fan base. Sure, the product is not the best there is but it is the only baseball product in the area beyond the independent league Skeeters. I have not been hurt by the current television plan because I have Comcast. However, the presentation is rather middle of the road. One big complaint I have about the live programming is the audio is a heartbeat behind the video and it is annoying. Upgrade that and bring the product to all of the greater Houston area.

    For the Rule V draft, protect those who are actually in the plans for the major league club in the future. Of course, as each round is completed, less players have to be protected. Choose wisely.

    Free agency should be awarded to those who did not contribute, including Crain and Albers. Guzman needs to go. For some reason, Qualls seems to have hit a wall so maybe he should go also.

    Porter and his staff have earned another looksee but he is still horrendous with that bullpen. It drives me bonkers to see three pitchers or more in one inning. These are, allegedly, major leaguer pitchers! They are paid to get batters out regardless of which side they swing the bat from. I would love to know why the pitching coach form last year decided to leave after one season. Yes, he was horrible but I understand he left because of a conflicting view of handling the pitching staff from how Porter sees it. So is Strom still here because he bought into Porter’s views or is he a stronger personality than Porter?

    The OKC debacle… wow…. how did Reid not see this coming???? I would say this is his first major failure. Hopefully, it will be his only failure in the future.

    The bullpen, we need a couple of good setup people who can shut the door when they come in. How many losses have they snatched form the jaws of victory this season??? Fields seemed to pitch well last year when he was assigned one inning only. He should be the closer in the future until we get a real one.

    Free agency help…. that is tough…. Singleton’s salary keeps him at first base. Altuve is at second for as long as he wants. Correa should be the shortstop next year. Dominguez can still hold down third until one of the youngsters come up. Castro has stepped back in both hitting and defense. But there is no one to take his place as he is still about the 6th or 8th best catcher in the major leagues. Outfield… Springer, Fowler, and Marisnick should hold well for next year. Open the door for two setup men for the bullpen. We have the starters here already or in the minors.

    Promotions… Have Santana and Correa play winter ball. Then throw them into the mix at spring training. A number of pitchers are ready to be tried I believe.

    Ranking these chores?

    1. Rule V draft
    2. Triple A affiliate
    3. Television
    4. Free agency releases
    5. Staff
    6. Bullpen
    7. Free agent pickups
    8. Promotions


    • Sarge – thanks for the hard work and very complete submittal. I’m personally struggling with Albers and with Dominguez but I can understand both sides on both guys.


    • Doug Brocail was the.pitching coach last year, and had been since he replaced.Brad Arnsberg 3 years ago, who had some kind of issue with Brad Mills, apparently.


  2. The only thing that has hurt the Astros more with the fans in Houston than the TV deal was the rebuild and subsequent record. Those diehard fans who talk about bandwagon fans and ignorant fans(as if somehow those who don’t know a lot about baseball don’t matter) are just kidding themselves that these 10,000 people a game that are missing don’t hurt the team. The missing fans who came to the game to be entertained by a team that was actually capable, have stayed away because they have not been getting their money’s worth and the organization deserved to lose that part of the fanbase because they chose to ignore that part of the fanbase by fielding a loser.
    So fix the tv deal and fix the team, because 65 wins and 97 losses is not a winner to any baseball fan in the world other than a mindless Luhnow geek freak who is in love and can’t seem to figure out they are being, uhh, taken advantage of.
    Now my big question is this: If Crane was hoping for a .500 club this year and didn’t get it, what does he want for next year and how is he going to get it?
    I knew that OKC was for sale before this past season began, as it was common knowledge and the asking price was reportedly $20 mil, so why does anyone think this is a surprise to Reid or the Astros? The Astros did not want to buy that team and knew they were going to change. This has been coming and that is why they were talking about the Woodlands. The Astros are going to have a AAA affiliate and it doesn’t take any longer to fly to Albawhatever than it does OKC and it is a heck of a lot prettier than the town we Okies call The City.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hey don’t cut them short – they are on a pace for 68-94.
      Anyways – most everything else there is a concern oldpro – though this is the first time in three years that I have found the team to be watchable and competitive most nights.


      • Well they really are watchable – you can expect a good start from the rotation probably 75% of the time. Altuve is always fun to watch, Grossman is getting on a couple times a game it seems and Fowler has been very steady. It was more fun when Springer was playing and Singleton is very inconsistent but he does do the dramatic at times.


  3. Coaching staff stays, and that includes Porter.
    REMAKE this bull pen. PERIOD. No guys coming off arm surgery. GRRRRRRRRR.
    Yeah, you could TRY to package a trade, but we need another 3rd. baseman, and a SURE handed short stop. Have I given up on Villar? That kid is gonna have to show me he can play clean games, without “hot-doggin” trying to do too much.
    These are the guys who either get DFA’d or sent down:
    Crain-released (this REALLY p*ssed me off this year)
    Albers-decline club option
    Veras?? Probably let go
    Luhnow will HAVE to have some *real* money to work with this winter.
    The CSN debacle has *GOT* to get done, because listening to Steve Sparks calling ANOTHER game, is gonna make me a serial killer!
    The OKC thing will work it’s self out…….trust me Reid Ryan knows what he’s doing.
    These guys SHOULD be sent to winter ball:
    Carter (do DH’s have a role in winter ball??)
    Hoes (if he stays with the Astros)
    I wouldn’t be surprised if Feldman was traded this winter.


  4. #1 priority…..getting some guys who can hit. Today’s (less than)stellar lineup:
    Grossman 213
    Krauss 201
    Singleton 187
    Dominguez 226

    I’ll cut some slack on Corporan – 234 and Marisnick – 240. The bullpen is another issue but if you don’t score runs the point of a bullpen is moot. And Dominguez just K’d on 4 pitches. As the saying goes, “that dog don’t hunt”.


    • YUP on DOMINGO, coaches I’m happy with. Blow up the pen spend some money. I’m hoping Conrad Gregor keeps developing, I have a hard time being a Singleton fan and has nothing to do with Hippy Lettuce. Anyone being paying attention to Brett Phillips, could be a sleeper along with that infielder in OKC that Old Pro Likes. If Marisnick,Springer and Fowler can all play 150 games Each , Nice!


  5. I’ll tell what I’ve been impressed with, is this solid rotation. This road trip, the guys come home playing 500 ball……….but this rotation has been in a pitchers dual for every single one of them. The glaring hole is the hitting. Bo Porter can say “hitting is contagious” all he wants to, but this team *sucks* at hitting. I’m cutting Marisnick some slack because he’s only been here a month, but with *no* hitting guys like Matty D., and Singelton……….it’s pathetic. First and third SHOULD be your heavy weights, but those two positions are not producing. The rotation should be getting a standing ovation, because they have been AWESOME!
    Oberholzter was outstanding today.


    • I think Matty D is a bigger problem than Singleton – hear me out on this:
      – Singleton is only 22 (will turn 23 in September)
      – Singleton – despite hitting for a pathetic BA – has 40 RBIs in 70 games (and after today’s game – 41 RBIs in 71 games
      – That is basically on a pace for 92 RBIs in a full season
      – And he is on pace for 28 HRs in a full season
      – He is also hitting .286 in the ninth inning with an OPS over 1.20

      Anyways – I think Singleton will only get to be more productive when he gets a little more experience and he is already more productive than most people think.


    • Here here Becky I’m with you i would package Matty D and Castro get some body that can hit every day. Castro has been sleep walking for 5 months, has the passion of a Jelly Fish. I firmly believe that Lunhole prays every night that Singleton with get decent enough next year so he can DEAL HIM.. I dont care what anyone says ,he is not a Lunhole kind of guy. and not out future 1st sacker


  6. Positions and promotions
    Get a closer. Sign a guy that Luhnow and Porter say is our closer. If they can pull that crap of having our third best fielding center fielder playing CF just because they are afraid of hurting his feelings, then they can sign a closer and call him that.
    Then they have Qualls in his true role of setup man. Try to get Veras and Sipp to stay. Get Folty and Nitro up and make one a starter and one a bullpen guy. Get fields in the bullpen. Get Albers to sign a performance contract and tell him to get in shape or get cut. Make a trade and get another bullpen arm.
    Nitro and Wojo are the guys who deserve a looksee for the big club next season. Tucker, Torreyes, Santana, Duffy, Stassi and Sclafani are not ready but look like they may be major league caliber players when they are.
    Start Correa at SS in CC in April. Do not let him play anywhere this winter!


    • Nice writeup old pro – I do like your thoughts on the bullpen.
      I would not mind seeing Veras, Sipp and Qualls setting up for a real closer.
      Folty was pretty impressive out of the pen today. Walks one – but strikes out 4 in 1-1/3 innings.


  7. Good one, Op. By the way, if Bags had captured the MVP over Big Hurt that year, we probably wouldn’t be waiting for his acceptance speech. Nice to see him bench coaching, though too, like so many loyal Astros in our organization. The Morgan’s and Garner’s, Biggio, Everett, Ensberg’s always come back. A name just came to mind, as we might all take a moment – Mike Lamb.

    So you’re saying Houston has been treated like an Orange-headed step child by the league, Devin?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s