Most wonderful time of year? September 1 fast approaching


If I’m near the end of my data package on my phone that must mean the end of the month is drawing nigh. So September is just around the corner, which means September call-ups.

Yes, it’s that time of year when young players get their end-of-the-season cup of coffee in the Major Leagues. But just because the Astros can expand their active roster doesn’t mean they necessarily should. For example, Houston already has enough outfielders, and with Alex Presley and George Springer (allegedly) getting ready to return, the most expansion Houston might consider is NOT sending Marc Krauss down (effectively ending his season).

And while it’d be nice to keep Krauss around to help him develop, there are still only nine spots in the lineup each day. Where will he play? Outfield? If Springer and Presley are back—plus Robbie Grossman, Jake Marisnick and Dexter Fowler—who sits for Krauss? First base? Jonathan Singleton needs more development than does Krauss, so I wouldn’t sit Big Jon for Marc. Designated hitter? Chris Carter has been a second-half juggernaut, plus he’s trying to win a home run title. I’m not sure I sit Chris “K” for Marc K.

And this is just the dilemma with one player. Want to bring up any middle infielders—say Jonathan Villar? Well, I’d rather watch Marwin Gonzalez hit—and propel us toward 70 (OK, 68) wins than see Villar stink it up. Still, he needs the experience. Of course we could always sit Jose Altuve (Brian ducks and covers) … or not.

A quick note on who will be considered: According to MLB, players eligible for call ups must be on the 40-man roster. So don’t go asking for Mark Appel, Colin Moran, Tony Kemp or even Nick Tropeano. None of them are on the 40-man roster, and until they are, they cannot be brought up even during September.

So, here’s a look at who Jeff Luhnow could and should consider bringing up to Houston next week.

Catcher
Max Stassi: Last season when Houston seemed to be losing a catcher a day to injury, Luhnow called up Max Stassi from AA Corpus Christi where he was having a fantastic season. The AAA 2014 version of Stassi has been less amazing to say the least. His.668 OPS is a result of him hitting for a much lower average and much less power. His Ks have ticked up a bit, and his walks are also down. Still, as the only catcher on the 40-man roster not named Castro or Corporan he’s probably not just a “could” but also a “should.” After all, we know what we’ve got from the two Cs.

Infielders
Right now, there’s just one infielder on the 40-man roster who isn’t in Houston: Villar. As noted above, the question on Villar is playing time in September and what are the team goals. If Houston is looking for wins, I’d stick with Gonzalez right now. Of course, Villar can play a bit at third. If Altuve needed a day off (I am NOT advocating that), then Villar could play short while Marwin or Gregorio Petit plays second base.

Honestly, I go back and forth on Villar. With Petit in Houston taking up the rare non-Altuve/Marwin at-bats, I think we’re good. Perhaps it’d be best if Villar took a month or so off before hitting winter ball.
The other question for me is Krauss. Do we keep him in Houston or shut him down. It’s not a matter of him being an extra bat off the bench. Once Presley and Springer are back, Krauss becomes the extra, extra, extra bat off the bench. Hey, it’s not my money. But every at-bat he gets is one less for Singleton or Carter or one of the outfielders. I’d say if Krauss is still in Houston on Aug. 31, keep him through September. If not, well, maybe a break would be nice.

Outfielders
If Presley and Springer return, the only two outfielders on the 40-man roster left are L.J. Hoes and Domingo Santana. Honestly, I’m not dying to see either. Plus, we’d already have Springer, Fowler, Presley, Grossman and Marisnick in Houston. If we bring up one of them, Hoes has easily had a better season in Houston, but only because Santana has been so horrible. Personally, I think I’d bring Hoes up and let him platoon a bit. But Santana doesn’t need to be embarrassed any more.

Pitchers
There are a lot of choices for the pitching staff. In addition to injured Astros who will allegedly return (Jesse Crain, Matt Albers, Darrin Downs and Josh Zeid) there are a couple of guys who have never put on the Astros uniform in Alex White and Asher Wojceichowski. Plus, there are hurlers who have had a taste of Houston but been sent back down such as Anthony Bass, Paul Clemens, Luis Cruz, David Martinez and Rudy Owens.

I don’t want to get all stat-y on them, but I think it could only help to have a few extra arms in the bullpen … even arms that are not so great. Bass, Clemens, Chapman and, if he’s healthy, Zeid would make the cut for me. Oh, and Albers or Crain if healthy. (Ha!) Among the injured, I think I’d pass on Downs who isn’t even good in AAA let alone Houston.

So, here’s the question:

Do you favor expanding the roster to the max or making the expanded roster for VIPs (very impressive players) only?

Would you bring up Stassi, or is he even worth it?

Do you really want to see more of Villar? How about Krauss?

Are Hoes and/or Santana worth any at-bats in a crowded outfield?

Are you for bringing up guys who’ve already had a taste on the mound, or would you rather promote someone like White or Wojo and let them get a little experience in the big leagues?

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50 comments on “Most wonderful time of year? September 1 fast approaching

  1. Just thought I’d tell you guys that Mark Appel had a GREAT game tonight.
    His line was:8 innings-2hits=*0* runs-1BB-*10* Strike outs! The kid is turning the corner!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Luhnow has already said he wants to see Villar and Santana up when OKC is finished. I think they will call up any guys on the 40-man who are healthy and do a lot of different things and take a look at the kids.

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  3. OldPro– I listen to some of the games in CC on the computer, have you?
    I listened to the CC game last night, and drooled all over my key pad!
    Colin Moran and DeShields are tearing it up down there!

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    • I actually listen to more of the Lancaster games because they play late and I can peruse all the earlier games by checking the box scores and recaps. while I listen.
      Becky I noticed that Kemp got five hits Saturday night and was one of two guys who went hitless in the Sunday game when they scored 23 runs on 21 hits. You just shake your head at the things that happen in the minors because the players just explode and then disappear and then they reappear.
      I have been waiting for Corpus Christi to start romping all year because they have had good talent there and they just haven’t put it together on the mound, and a lot of hitters have not adjusted from the bad pitching and hitter’s conditions at the California league to the good pitching and heavy air in the Texas league.

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  4. Brian, I agree with oldpro. We’ll see guys next month who are already on the 40-man.Stassi, Villar and Santana all provide some flexibility in later innings and the latter two on the bases. Add to that the possibility of getting a few guys back from the DL and you could have 30-31 players on the roster.

    As I’ve mentioned before, hard to see any surprises. Now, if you’d like to speculate, it would be fun if the Astros pulled the trigger on Appel or even Moran. Appel is not even close to 100 IP this year and Moran appears to be adapting well at CC. It’s not uncommon for a hitter to skip AAA. Just sayin’. Not to mention the fact that the Astros appear to have shifted their approach at 3B with Dominguez…hitting lower in the lineup and getting more days off.

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    • Chip, Appel’s comments after last night’s performance were that his biggest problem as a pro pitcher has been not being allowed to pitch past the fourth or fifth inning and therefore not being able to develop any rhythm to carry into his next appearance.
      I can tell you after following Appel’s college career for two years that he was always devastating between the fourth and the eighth, rarely ever giving up a run in those frames.

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  5. I don’t see Krauss or Presley or Hoes being part of the future of this club. I’d give anyone who can play third a shot. Maybe it will wake up Dominguez a bit. Wojoski, with his good outing, (was it last night?) might get a start or two, especially if we get lucky and someone picks up Feldman. Not sure what Villar has to show us right now. I think he’ll be a pretty good ballplayer for someone else in a few years. And yes, I think Stassi will get a look because three catchers are not too many.

    Speaking of road trips, it’s been 16 days now, 5 different hotels, three beds of varying lumpiness at loved ones homes, a mechanical yesterday in PHL canceling my SJU flight, forcing an overnight at my second to least favorite airport, MIA. With any luck, I’ll be on my way to SKB in a couple of hours, just a short boat ride away from home base. And I don’t know if my name is daveb or uncleknuckle at this point. oldpro, at least you can go hide out in the woods with a frostie one.

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  6. Brian T – nice job sir.
    September Thoughts
    – OF – I agree that they really don’t need to bring anyone else up if Springer and Presley return. Santana has had a very good year at AAA at his age – maybe they need to let him go to the off-season with a good taste in his mouth rather than give him a few ABs back in the majors to add to his K total.
    – C – I think you either bring Stassi up or you flip him with Perez on the 40 man and bring him up. I think they are more likely to do the 1st than the 2nd.
    – IF – If I bring Villar up – it is to take ABs away from Dominguez. I’d like to see Sclafani, but don’t expect it at all.
    – P – I would do a 40 man roster swap here. Drop Alex White and add Nick Tropeano. White is 2 years older with almost double the ERA. I know he is coming off an injury – but what is your risk here? Tropeano has earned a shot. Also, Asher Wojo…. has been coming on strong lately. I’d like to see him up here also in September. Of course then the question is where do you use them as only Peacock looks replaceable in the rotation. Well – after they trade Feldman this week…….hey it could happen.

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  7. White saw action as a starter for Cleveland before being sidelined with a blister problem, and then being packaged with Drew Pomeranz to COL for Ubaldo Jimenez. He stunk in COL…but could very well have McHugh-like success for Strom. The big question is whether they are considering letting him go to open a 40 man spot this winter.

    I’d bring Stassi, Santana, and Villar up without hesitation. Even if they only take BP and don’t get any innings they can be around they big league club and come into ST with the goal of breaking camp with the big leaguers. As for the staff, I don’t know. I’d like to see Wojo in town even if he will mainly rest. The bullpen guys strike me as chaff…or perhaps chum is a better analogy.

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  8. And last night – I came home from choir practice – turned on the TV and there were the Astros down 2-1 in the bottom of the 8th. The A’s had made some defensive replacements and a pitching change and one of the replacements made an error on an easy throw, Altuve got hit in the back with a breaking pitch and Chris Carter hit a moon shot onto the tracks that was beautiful to watch. So beautiful, that Carter admired it – maybe getting a dig in at his old team. He has been slumping lately, but has been getting his HRs in lots of close and critical spots.
    It was a fun end to a game that Keuchel deserved to win, but at least did not lose.

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    • Speaking of “dig at his old team”, where’s that Nate Freiman guy now anyway? Ahem. Sometimes you just get lucky and it has little to do with analytics, baseball knowledge, insight or smarts. Just three months ago, many fans would still say the Astros messed that one up.

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      • Hey, no revisionist history here – the complaint was keeping Carlos Pena over Nate Friedman. It’s hard to argue the Astros made the right choice there. Pena was released before the season and Friedman spent the entire season on the 25 man roster of the division winner…

        As for Carter, he had about 5 HR in ST2013 and hit well enough that we had some expectations of success.

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      • No, they signed Pena in Dec 2012. They chose Freiman in the Rule V. They brought Carter over in Feb 2013 before ST started. All three saw action that spring. It was around the end when last cuts were made that Freiman’s rights were traded to Oakland. The point is that many of us fans openly wished for them to cut Pena (would have cost them 1 month of pay) and keep Freiman as well as Carter.

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    • Well – ironically Chip – Freiman – who has not played much for the A’s – started at first base last night – had a double and an RBI and made a couple great plays at first base. He was then replaced for defensive purposes in the 8th and his replacement muffed a throw leading to the Astros big inning. But – yes – Carter has certainly done a lot to tip things in his favor….

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  9. Though I don’t like top prospects playing winter ball the Astros announced the players going to the Arizona Fall League yesterday and it is interesting.
    Two top pitching prospects who didn’t get enough innings are going, Appel and Velasquez. Rio Ruiz and Andrew Aplin are going which tells me they want them to work on something specific. Two relievers are going, Lefty Mitchel Lambson and righty Tyson Perez who was the best looking closer in our upper minor league system. Finally, Tyler Heineman and Joe Sclafani are going and I see that as very targeted work for those two, though Sclafani is a limited duty player.

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    • In the chron.com (spit!!) announcement yesterday they called out Vince Velasquez as a 3B – which made me laugh. Unless they are moving him over to take Dominguez’s spot – haha.

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  10. Well ,pretty redundant here there is no one I would call up or excited about that’s on the 40, seen em all they either aren’t ready or used tires. There are plenty I would like to see not on the 40. I’m starting to think Duffy would be a better option at 3rd than Matty sleep walking D.

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  11. What if I told you the Brady Aiken debacle is not over? Selig has set a Sep.1st. as the last extension on this case. I have a woman’s intuition that this deal may very well get done. I remember a little clip, from the Yankees series when Jim Crane was in New York meeting with Aiken’s agent, before one of the games. I really didn’t think much about it, but could that meeting have anything about the Aiken deal a positive note? This is simply MY own thoughts, but I would bet (I’m a gambler!) that
    Aiken AND Nix will be Astros by Sep.1st. There was an interesting conversation with a reporter in California (don’t remember the city) where she asked a direct question about this very subject. The look on his face, and a small smile, gave me the impression they have been VERY busy getting a deal done. All I can say is……hmmmmmmm.

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    • I find two things related to this fascinating Becky.
      1. That MLB apparently can extend that July 18th deadline on their own discretion. It just seems weird that is possible – but I was just reading about that on mlb trade rumors. I guess it is tied to the grievance being filed.
      2. That after more bad blood spilled than in the Game of Thrones – that an agreement could be reached to bring both Aiken and Nix into the fold.

      I mean – I thought the only agreement at this point would be a cash settlement to stop a law suit or two. This is getting stranger and stranger.

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      • Dan – I believe the circus is still about a cash settlement to stop a suit. For legal reasons though the media will be in the dark until that said agreement is reached.

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  12. If the Astros now can sign Aiken and Nix, what about Marshall? As an LSU fan, I want Marshall for our Saturday starter, and after the alarm concerning Aiken, do we really prefer him over next years #2. Does Nix and the health fear with Aiken become more attractive than next years #2. And finally, will the Astros have a choice on this matter or will it just be Selig’s departing butt kick to the Stros.

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    • My thinking is that the Astros would take Aiken and Nix right now over the 1.2. Why in the world would that Selig semi-interview have happened if this was not the desire of both parties after all the bluffing and bluster.

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    • i had no clue that an extension was even possible, but i agree if they are able to go back and reach agreements, why not all three.

      im with larry in that i dont trust selig and wonder if he is applying pressure of some sort.

      the other question is, which is better – signing those three (with aikens possible problems) now and having (we’ll call it) the 1.4 pick next year OR not signing these guys and having 1.2 and 1.4 next year.

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      • So now Bud Light says that the July 18th deadline has as much importance as Gaddafi’s Line of Death. Get that clown a new circus.

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  13. I don’t believe an extension has been granted, but rather the league rules state that Aiken’s agent must request one by filing a grievance, and the deadline for that is 1 September.

    What Selig was vaguely referencing was, I believe, his take on the question, and that is has Aiken filed said grievance. The rumor mill has Aiken foregoing college and either playing a year in an independent league or junior college to reenter the draft next season. It doesn’t really appear to me that Aiken’s agent is going out of his way to reopen a window to negotiate, but rather just trying to save face with his client (and future clients), make some rumblings with this grievance, and prove that he can force MLB or push them around when he needs to as an effective agent.

    Aiken just looks like the prototypical great young man being dragged along by his agent, the Astros, and MLB. Shame too, super talented.

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  14. Like I said……….I’m a gambler, and I think the deal is gonna get done. Marshall is not in the conversation, as he said from the get go he was going to LSU. Pretty interesting though…..don’cha think??!!

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    • I guess the question is – was the grievance filed and granted, and they are negotiating, or are they waiting on a grievance? I lean towards the latter because if a grievance was already filed, and granted, MLB and his agent would have little reason to remain silent, and it may even be to the agents advantage to make the negotiations public again – currently he is probably still winning in the court of public opinion.

      I guess its possible that MLB has agreed to the grievance with the stipulation that all sides remain quiet during the negotiations, but Selig’s body language in the response suggested to me that there is no grievance for filing an extension, but that MLB is trying to avoid publicity in a grievance towards monetary compensation to Aiken for the Astros backing out of the deal the way they did.

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  15. Aiken has not yet filed a grievance, Nix has. The only “negotiation” that is occurring is with Nix. Aiken not involved. But that would be odd, since signing Nix (without Aiken’s pool) would put the Astros in penalty territory. Stay tuned.

    Hey, If I were some of the other clubs, I’d scream foul if the Astros were allowed to sign either of the players this week!

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    • According to Dayn Perry, of CBS Sports, John Maffei of the San Diego Union-Tribune states:

      “The July 18 deadline to sign draft picks has come and gone, with Aiken rejecting the Astros’ last-minute offer. But the team could still sign the No. 1 overall draft pick under a clause at Major League Baseball’s discretion.

      The other 29 major league clubs have signed off on that clause, industry sources said. The Aikens, however, would insist on a sign-and-trade deal before agreeing to terms with Houston.”

      Further, in a brief interview with ABC 10 in San Diego, MLB commissioner Bud Selig has all but confirmed that an Astros’ after-deadline signing of Aiken is still in play. Here’s the key excerpt:

      10News asked him, “Can you confirm if (his offer) was able to go past the July 18 deadline?”

      Selig replied, “We’re working on that right now. There are a lot of things in movement there so it would be inappropriate for me to comment, but I would say we are working towards a hopeful solution.”

      So a sign and trade is possible here and the other teams have been “coerced” to sign off on it.

      Very interesting.

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  16. Man – Petit and Altuve turned a beauty of a DP – very watchable.
    Brad Peacock’s 30 pitch first inning was not so watchable but he did get out unscathed.

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  17. Back to the Sept 1st call-up discussion…OKC is making a late, strong push for the playoffs. Some of the players mentioned above may not get called up until OKC is eliminated. Go Redhawks!

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  18. Well that game is a perfect reflection of the Astros for the last couple of years
    *Altuve jumping on the first pitch to GIDP
    * Bullpen blows the game giving up four runs, with no real closer.
    * Zero production from the 1B position with both players hitting under .200 and delivering no hits.
    *Team was 2 for 11 w/ RISP.
    *Carter hitting a home run.
    One thing different, though. Our leadoff hitter and top OBP guy on the team hitting cleanup.

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  19. The bad about tonights game was, leaving the bases loaded with one out, and get no one in. Situational hitting is, and WILL continue to haunt this team.
    The GOOD thing about this game……Chris *Homerun* Carter hit it out for the THIRD game in a row! If this kid can go out with a bang this season, then we might have found our version of Big Papi!! I’ve lost count of how many one run games we have lost this year, but it HAS to be a LOT! Closers are a breed like no other, and they aren’t infallible. Not gonna hate on Qualls, he’s been pretty good this year.
    Chip- if Nix get’s signed by Sep. 1st. it’s gonna cost the Astros a LOT more than the
    small amount of money he was “promised”. I think this whole mess, was handled
    wrong from the get go. That’s all 🙂 🙂

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    • And that’s ALL on the bullpen and how much our offense struggles to put the ball in play. If we fix those two problems … I know, that and peace in the Middle East, simple, right … if we can get a decent bullpen and just put the ball in play a little more often, this is a measurably better team that is still hunting for the playoffs.

      Liked by 1 person

  20. Watching the game on Comcast last night – Qualls made good pitches that were hit for bloopy dying quail singles. If either of those first toe hits were the outs they deserved to be – he is out if it. If Carlos Corporan throws on the right side of the bag on a failed hit and run they are out of the inning.
    The home run was on Qualls but he could easily have been in the locker room long before Fuld batted.
    Some bad luck there.

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  21. Seems that Altuve is pressing a bit at this point. He’s only walked 4 times this month and his August OBP is .340. He needs to see a few more lefty pitchers. Against them he’s hitting .412. What I find a bit remarkable is that he’s hitting .405 off the first pitch and more remarkable, .492 with a 1-0 count. Oddly, he’s hitting just .214 with a 2-0 count. So what I guess that means to me is that I can’t really be too upset with him when he swings at the first or second pitch and bounces into a double play. He generally makes things happen early in the count. I don’t know where to find stats on how many pitches he’s swung at outside of the strike zone, but I’d guess that he’s been doing more of that in August.

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