Astros’ roster decisions: Monty Hall style

“OK, so tell me, Tammy, do you want to choose what’s behind door number one, or would you like to keep this food dehydrator and Cuisinart?”

Oh, Tammy, I don’t envy you. You’ve got a nice food processor and some thing that’ll take the water out of your fruits and meat. That’s a nice pair of prizes. But there could be something great behind door number one. It could be a new kitchen from Maytag. Maybe it’s five days and four nights in tropical Honolulu, Hawaii! For all you know, it’s a new car!

Or, it could be a year’s supply of Turtle Wax or some microwave popcorn.

And that’s the problem with taking what’s behind door number one; you just don’t know what you’re going to get. Of course, a Cuisinart and food dehydrator just aren’t getting it done. So, maybe you need to make a change. Maybe it’s time to say “Yes, this,” and “No, that.”

Well, if you think Tammy’s got quite the conundrum, you should meet Jeff. He needs to decide whether to keep what he has or make a move 25 times. Now some decisions look pretty simple. I mean, Jose Altuve is like a new car AND that trip to Hawaii. You keep that. Dallas Keuchel is a solid keeper, and I’d guess Collin McHugh looks like a brand new dinning room set from Broyhill as well.

So let’s take a look at some of the dilemmas Jeff will face this off-season:

It’s A New Car!

As I mentioned above, there are some obvious cases where you don’t make a change. There is no better option available at second base because there’s no better second baseman in the league than Jose Altuve. Oh, you can make an argument about Robinson Cano, and he’s a fine player, but Altuve is easily his equal (if not better) and less than half the cost. Heck, if you offered Seattle Altuve for Cano straight up, they’d take the deal. But Altuve isn’t the only no-brainer.

Keuchel and McHugh look like locks going into the off season. Some would suggest trading McHugh while his value is high, but I don’t think we’ll find anything worth what he can be to the Astros: a quality starter who is cheap and under team control for several years. Since we’re on the subject of starters let’s talk about the other two guys in Houston’s rotation with a positive pitching WAR: Brett Oberholtzer (2.0) and Scott Feldman (1.0). Like McHugh and Keuchel, I think Obie is a no-doubt keeper. Feldman? Well, I’d like to know for sure what’s behind door number three before making that deal, but he seems like a mostly solid keeper despite the price.

The other big “keeper” is George Springer. Despite his leg problem, this is a guy who will be a key piece of this team for several years. He will be part of that 2017 World Series team (ha ha!). Now, there are some other players who look like solid keepers such as Dexter Fowler and Chris Carter, but the question is this: Can we find something better. I mean, they might be a custom kitchen, but  nothing tops a new car in this game show. Can either be replaced by a new car?

So, the automatic keepers are Altuve, Keuchel, McHugh, Oberholtzer and Springer. That’s leaves 20 spots. Well, sort of. The bullpen is its own special episode of this game show.  (See Way Below.)

A New Lounge Chair!

Now, let’s look at the guys who look like a nice prize, but can certainly be exchanged for an upgrade.

First Base: Jonathan Singleton is a nice recliner from Lazy Boy. Maybe. Does he go with our decor in the living room? Does he support the lumbar? We just don’t know yet. What we do know is this: In half a season of at-bats, Singleton has 12 homers, 41 RBIs and a whiff rate of almost 36%. Yep, that’s bad. But it’s not all bad. In 2013, Singleton was moved up to AA then AAA, and for the first time in his life, his whiff rate topped 30%. Then he restarted 2014 in AAA and that rate dropped back to 22%. Combine that with his age (he’s still 22)  and his babip (.255), and I think it’s fair to say Singleton is due a rebound next year and the year after.

The other options at first base are either Chris Carter, who is actually a bigger defensive liability than Singleton (who will probably get better as his hitting and confidence come around) or a free agent. Some names available are Adam Dunn (unless he retires), Michael Cuddyer, Corey Hart and Michael Morse. I think Morse is a pipe dream, and honestly, so is Cuddyer. And while I’d like to do better than Singleton, I think there’s two things to consider: Singleton will probably be better in 2015 and Jeff has sort of already committed to this prize with Singleton’s contract.

Shortstop: Boy, do I wish Jonathan Villar would get his head on straight. He’s got so much more range than Marwin Gonzalez, which is so crucial to our defense. But Villar needs to learn how to hit, and unless he proves he can do so, I’ll stick with Marwin and a little Gregorio Petit for a backup and maybe some defensive replacement. And let’s be honest, all of these guys are just placeholders until Carlos Correa shows up. So, what is it we have? Well, Marwin has an OPS just under .700, and he has a positive WAR, though his defensive value drags his total down. And, let’s remember this, Marwin is a former Rule V pick who doesn’t turn 26 until next March. It’s not like he’s 32 and has deteriorating skills. There’s every possibility he (or at least his offense) gets better.

Still, if you want to take a chance, here are the options behind door number two. You have a rookie shortstop who missed most of 2014 at high A and still would barely be old enough to drink if the Astros make the playoffs in 2015. (He turns 20 in September.) Or, we could look for a stop-gap free agent such as Asdrubal Cabrera, J.J. Hardy, Jed Lowrie or Hanley Ramirez. Other than Lowrie, the rest are upgrades, but only Hardy and Ramirez are significant upgrades. If one of those two is available, do we bring them in on a two- or three-year deal? Is three years too many with Correa probably starting 2015 in Corpus Christi?

Outfield: Well, this depends on who our center fielder is. Going on the assumption that it’s Dexter Fowler, the question is kind of complex. We could trade Fowler for pitching or a third baseman or whatever. He’s got real value. Furthermore, we probably upgrade defensively because as good as Fowler is — and he’s good — I think Springer and especially Jake Marisnick would be ideal in that vast center field.

But losing Fowler in this lineup is huge. He gets on base. A LOT. He is consistent. Well, except when he’s hurt. Yet, this guy is never going to be good for more than 120 games a season. So you can get about a 2.0 WAR for 120 games. Nice, but maybe his value could be exchanged for something else we need. Maybe.

Our other options are both internal: Marisnick and Springer. Personally, I’d put Jake from State Farm over there whether we keep Fowler or not. I know there’s an ego thing with Fowler about center field, but I’d give him the winter to get over it. He’s got to understand how much better a fielder both other guys are. Of course, if we trade Fowler, who plays left field in his place? Well, Robbie Grossman has given us a nice second half again. (Yawn.) Again, we’ve got Cuddyer and Morse and Nelson Cruz and and whole bunch of guys who make me wonder if replacing Fowler is worth it.

In the end, I think we have Fowler, Springer and either Marisnick or Grossman to start the season. It’d be nice to get Nelson Cruz, but there might be better places to spend our money.

DH: Chris Carter has an OBP below .300, he whiffs at a 32% rate and his walk rate is 8.1%. Oh, and he has the second-best WAR on the team. Considering his wRC+ is tied with Altuve for the team lead at 127, the question becomes “if you replace Carter, what do you replace him with?” Honestly, his inability to consistently put the ball in play is a major problem for me. But when you consider our other problems, I think replacing Carter is like saying, “I’ll pass up this compact car in the hopes there’s a new Cadillac behind door number two.” That’s crazy.

A Cuisinart And A Food Dehydrator

Third Base: There are days I look at Matt Dominguez manning the hot corner and think, “Wow, we’re lucky to have this guy.” He made a play the other night cutting in front of Marwin that was just amazing. But it’s becoming apparent that he’s not the .255/22 HRs/80 RBI guy we’d need him to be. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m ready to look at what’s behind door number three.

The options are plentiful. Chase McGehee, Pablo Sandoval, Chase Headley, Michael Morse (again … he plays a lot of positions) and Eric Chavez. There’s also some internal options such as Gregorio Petit (actually, Petit would play short and Marwin 3B), Colin Moran, who is putting up good numbers in AA (.792 OPS and just 20 Ks in 94 ABs), and Joe Sclafani (.849 OPS, 24 Ks, 25 BBs in 173 ABs) in OKC, and Matt Duffy (.796 OPS, 12 HRs, 65 Ks, 20 BBs, 298 ABs). So, I guess the question is this: Are we trying to compete in 2015? If so, maybe grab a free agent. If not, I’d go with one of our prospects. Either way, I’m willing to pick another prize.

Catcher: Would the real Jason Castro please stand up? Are you 2013 Jason Castro with his 4.3 WAR and his .835 OPS? Or are you 1.2 WAR and your sub-.700 OPS? I’m guessing that even if he’s just something in between, there’s nothing on the market worth the exchange. I think there’s a box of Chiclets behind door number one. As much as I’ve been frustrated by Castro this season, I think he’s worth another try. Same with Corporan, who has been worth half a run in 166 ABs.

Starters: OK, so McHugh, Oberholtzer and Keuchel are in. Feldman is probably in, unless we can get a good deal for him. That leaves Brad Peacock, who gives up one and one-third homers a game, walks too many, strikes out enough and gives up too many runs. Can we package Peacock with a good prospect for a closer (see below)? If so, who takes his place? Well, Jake Buchanan has been solid this season, though not great. Mike Foltynewicz looks promising. Nick Tropeano just above 3.00. And there are loads of free agents. I’m willing to send Peacock packing … maybe as part of a package deal.

And The Bullpen

Here’s the thing, there’s seven bullpen spots. So, is Tony Sipp one of the best bullpen arms in baseball? I don’t know, but I think he’s worth one of seven spots on this roster. Same goes for Qualls (despite Wednesday night) and Fields. I’d give Matt Albers another try. And Jose Veras. That’s five. Do we give Jesse Crain another pile of money? What about Anthony Bass? Do we bring him back?

There are a LOT of relievers who will be free agents, and I don’t have time to look them all up. Just don’t. But I think this is where a trade might happen. This is where we may be able to get some value from a piece such as Matty D or from our minor league prospects. The key is, we need a closer. A REAL closer, not Chad Qualls, who is a nice reliever for the seventh inning, but I don’t want him as my closer.

So, while it’s easy to say “Replace the Bums!” it’s not always that easy. Replace them with whom? Baseball Prospectus has a list of potential 2015 free agents. We have our loaded farm system. Maybe Luhnow pulls of a great trade. But don’t tell me you want to get rid of Jason Castro unless you have a reasonable replacement for him. Don’t tell me to dump Qualls when we need seven arms in that bullpen, and you’ll need to convince me you can find seven guys who are better.

With that said, Let’s Make A Deal …

59 comments on “Astros’ roster decisions: Monty Hall style

  1. First – looking at MLB Rumors Free Agents – geez. Cuban Jozzen Cuesta know nothing of him as a 1st baseman alternative. Catcher – nope, Short – nope. So it looks like the only upgrades may be playing for other teams and under their control. So looks like we stick with the plan and hope for the best. Even though not my money, I can’t see spending $4-14 Million on these guys who mostly are over the hill, or never made it up to the hump.


  2. I could see spending on a third baseman or a shortstop if it was for just a year or two.

    I think we need to really get serious on the bullpen. And I’d like to see Duffy or Sclafani up here. I think Matty D gets a chance in spring training (if he’s not traded) but I wouldn’t give him the edge for the job.

    All healthy, I’m good with out outfield.

    I wish there was an alternative at catcher but, no, I just don’t see it.


  3. Get bullpen help there is 15 more wins. I would open up 3rd 1st and catcher to any and all in AAA or AA in spring training, see who wants it and deserves it. marwin and someone cool at SS for another year


  4. I’m ready for a new catcher. I don’t care if we have to trade someone for someone else’s backup catcher. Don’t care. I don’t like Castro. We were sold a bill of goods on him, because of one good year in college (and two bad ones before that). Once he got to AA, his minor league numbers were average. Last year was a mirage, and he’ll never come close to that again. On a good team, he’d be a backup. More importantly, I’m sick of seeing non-chalant, couldn’t-care-less play. He may have more ‘talent’ than Corporan, but I’d rather see Carlos any day of the week.


  5. Billy, you’re kind of down on Castro, did I read you right? I’ve been through the same frustration all season long. But I do think we’ll see a guy next year with stats somewhere between 2013 and 2014. That would be a hard guy to find on the open market. So I’m resigned to sticking with him. Maybe Stassi will force the issue next year and Castro can get moved in July. The one good thing I can say about Castro is that he’s been healthy.

    I’m more interested in getting Feldman out of the picture. Take away April and May and we’ve got a journeyman back of the rotation guy on the downside of his career. With Wojoski, Tropeano and Foltynewicz on the horizon, Feldman is replaceable. I’d probably even pay part of his salary if it helped move him.

    The other position that irks me is third. I think we’re stuck with Dominguez or multiple guys from within the organization. I sure don’t see a big splurge in the free agent market. The willingness to give up Cosart tells me that Moran is really being counted on soon. In the meantime, I fear it’s more of the same. It’s a longshot, but maybe my favorite minor leaguer will play everyday this fall at third in Arizona and impress.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Eric Chavez actually retired earlier this year, but a platoon with Dominguez and Chavez might work very well otherwise.

    Can someone clue me in on why we don’t want Fowler in CF? I’ve apparently missed all these plays he must not make. The eyeball test tells me he is good enough to win you games there. My wife does keep insisting I need to visit the eye doc though… I do agree Springer or Jake from State Farm are talented enough defenders that you only worry about losing Fowler’s offense should he be moved.

    One more point on Fowler – he’s hitting cleanup to protect Carter. We basically have three hitters in the lineup. Grossman is getting on base enough to almost be considered a fourth. If you move Fowler into the leadoff spot, where do you put Robbie…and will Carter see another pitch to hit all year?


  7. My ‘friend’ hit a homerun tonight. Amazing.

    Also…did you guys know Carter has hit TWELVE homers this month? Think he’ll get to 40?


  8. Nice win tonight and a great recovery by Sipp. As for the offseason roster massaging I think we need to get rid of at least two high K guys in the lineup. Springer needs to stay and probably Carter simply because unless you can get Victor Martinez who else could give you Carter’s kind of production at DH? The most likely candidates to go are Castro and Dominguez. They may also be a case of addition by subtraction. Neither one seems to be the least bit concerned about their poor performance this season perhaps because they don’t have any pressing competition for their spots. I would love it if Stassi gets his cup of coffee and performs well. I don’t think the guy even got behind the plate last year before he was beaned. If Stassi isn’t up to the job then package Castro and some hot pitching prospects for a can’t miss catching prospect even if you have to overpay a bit. Throw Domingo Santana into the trade too. I’m about worn out with the rags or riches guys drafted/acquired by Wade and want to see guys who K a LOT LESS in the lineup next year.


    • Dave: Not so much giving up on him but recognizing that his type of player doesn’t fit with the apparent long term team offensive philosophy. Does he realistically project as a 30-40 homer guy? Carter and Springer do. Because he is so young he may not be ready mentally for MLB for some time and I could see him becoming another Jimmy Paredes type real easily. He takes up a 40 man spot because if left unprotected he would get plucked in the Rule V and we get nothing for him. Put him in a trade package to sweeten a pot and I think he may have more immediate value. There was a story at TCB a week or so ago that concluded that while high K rates for an individual might be overcome by other elite skills, high K rates for a team spells severe offensive inconsistencies and long term poor run production. We really need to get weaned off a lineup full of those kind of guys.


      • Good points all Doc, but I’d like to see what happens with the kid at Spring Training next year. Heck, he’s been 5.6 years younger than the average guy in OKC. In some respects, he’s a victim of starting his minor league career at the age of 16. I think he’s certainly worth at least another year on the 40 man. In all likelihood, Fowler is gone sometime next year. We have no idea what Marisnick will do long term. So Springer is the only definite guy in our outfield of the future right now.


  9. I haven’t seen the list of FAs, but I would rather not bring back Albers and Veras, especially Veras. Albers is a very good pitcher, but out of shape and health is a concern. Veras walks too many batters for my liking. I agree we need a legitimate closer and either trade for or add more bullpen help via FA. I really like the projected OF, but would be willing to trade Fowler if we got a nice return. I really like Fowler, but we need someone that can play more than 120 games next year. I hope Grossman has started to figure it out and, if so, I am very comfortable with him in LF. I would put Marisnick in CF and Springer in RF.


  10. If you want the team to improve you have to take players out of the lineup who are producing at below league standards and replace them with ones who are above league standards. This team cannot win with the players it currently has. We will continue to lose unless we go get another “Fowler” to replace our “Maxwell”.
    Fowler, Springer, Marisnick is fine with me in the outfield because they are good outfielders and they represent change and an attempt by the club to improve that outfield. Grossman is a very fine 4th outfielder and Tucker at AAA is encouraging.
    But we need to stop parading .200 hitters to the plate and expect to win. We need to add a hitter to our infield like we added Fowler to our outfield and it needs to be at 3B or 1B because we have a SS of the future in Correa and a guy hitting a light .265 in Marwin. We don’t need another 2B because we have Altuve and a future star in Kemp there.
    We need a closer. A real closer and we need to have pitchers who can get guys out in our bullpen without walking more potential runs.
    Why do I have to name a player in order to get a sayso here? If you are going to put so much trust in Luhnow, get him to find the players. That’s his job. It’s his job to make the team better every year. He finally did his job this year. Instead of being the worst team in baseball, we have improved to where we are just “one of the worst”. Can we keep the same players and improve again next season? I doubt it.


    • No need to name players oldpro, as you correctly note, that’s not our job. I think we all deserve to be pleasantly surprised by something Luhnow gets done. That’s includes spending money. Way overdue.


  11. Good job as usual Brian T –
    – Jason Castro must have been reading the blog – so he actually gets around on an inside pitch and hits a grand salami that ends up winning the game.
    (Truth in advertising – is this like Castro’s first big hit in about 2 months?)
    I’m still of the thought that we do not have anyone better at the higher levels of the organization and that it might be tough to separate other teams from better catchers. But I would not mind them trying.
    – New Car Keepers – I’m with you Brian with your choices – plus I would add Chris Carter to the list. He is not only improving, but more importantly he is doing stuff close and late in games.
    – Lounge Chair Maybes – My biggest problem with Fowler is that he just does not stay healthy for whole seasons – this year or other years. I think Marisnick is the better CF, but it is not like I’m saying OMG on Fowler out there. You have to give Singleton more time to develop at his age. But frankly – right now – Carter plays a better 1B because he knows when to go for balls and when to cover first. This is a problem with Singleton almost every single game. Grossman has done a good job in the field and since moving into the leadoff spot – he is putting up very good OBP numbers which is what you want. It is too early to judge on Marisnick, but he does not seem to have a corner outfield bat – don’t know what happens long term.
    – Cuisinart Problem Areas- Covered Castro above. I’ve seen enough of Dominguez to think he is not adjusting at the plate at all. At least last season he was launching some clutch dingers – they found the holes in his swing and they are killing him right now. Peacock drives me nuts pitching – he misses his spots by too large a margin to think he is going to correct it. Feldman has been fine – but I would sure look at seeing if I could get something for him between now and next year’s trading deadline. Tropeano deserves a rotation shot and Wojo is getting back to what he was before his injury. Bullpen – Too many set up men in the pen and no anchor – though Qualls has been great (when he is not facing the Oakland A’s – ERA against the A’s – 21.24 / against the rest of the league – 1.54). This is Luhnow’s biggest challenge headint towards 2015.


    • My biggest surprise with Singleton, is that for being such a highly touted ballplayer, he’s got a bunch of holes in his game. There are lot’s of high school kids out there more advanced around that bag at first. And for a guy who showed real plate discipline in the minors, he’s swinging at all kinds of crap at the major league level. A head case? That’s a concern with me.


  12. So, a quick look at the schedule and I think “Yes, we can get to 70 wins!” Then I look at the schedule and think, “Nope, we can’t do it.”

    Why two results from the same action? Well, let’s say we take three of four at home from the Strangers. That gets us to 59 wins on Aug. 31. Then we have 24 games left, so we just need 11 wins. We can do that.

    … Except those 24 games include trips to Seattle, Oakland and Anaheim for eight games. We’d have to win three of those eight then go .500 with the remaining 16.

    Those eight games on the left coast will do a lot to determine our final record.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah it is a tough row to hoe down the stretch. 12 games at home and 15 on the road including 15 of the last 22 on the road. Only 9 of the 28 games left are against teams with losing records – the Rangers and the Mets. And because of the one and done wild card game – teams like the A’s and Angels will be totally desperate to win every game down the stretch.
      The plus side is that our starting pitching continues to keep us in almost every game.


    • Here is where No needs to earn his pay: getting the team in the mindset that these games matter and they should play the role of spoiler. The MLB Network guys were talking about how the Astros – Rangers tandem is causing an imbalance allowing ANA and OAK to both be out front of the Tigers and Yankees last week. I wasn’t sure that was true this year, but quick math on the back of a napkin has us at 4-10 against ANA and 6-10 against OAK. That’s not very good.


  13. This may be off topic, but did anyone notice Castro’s reception when he hit the homer last night? Polite high fives and butt slaps but nowhere near the enthusiasm that comes from a Carter or Springer dinger. I noticed the same subdued reaction some time back when he hit a walk off game winner. Is he a clubhouse problem? If so, another reason to try to move him. >=))>


    • Yep, read this earlier and the article within it. I can understand the rift between them. At this point, I cannot see them coming to a meeting of the minds. I believe Porter will be the one to go if it really comes to that time. Porter has not grown in his in-game management, especially with the bullpen, and it shows as the Astros continue to blow game after game with the bullpen in. Could it be that he has overused some of the pitchers?? I believe he has. Porter gets upset at being second guessed? Hey, all of us are second guessing him by now.


      • Our manager is not one of my favorite managers, but he’s been given pretty much a crappy batch of pitchers for his bullpen over the last two years. That’s on Luhnow. Let’s face it, we’ve easily got the most bleeped up organization in MLB.


  14. Porter needed a closer. He got Qualls who wasn’t a closer. Who’s fault is that?
    Porter needed relievers. He got Downs, Vasquez, Jerome Williams, Albers and Crain. Who’s fault is that?
    Porter needed a RF. Who is responsible for Springer not starting the year in Houston and us not having a RF. That’s Luhnow’s fault.
    We all know Porter needed a 1B. Who got Kraus and Guzman, two .180 hitters? That’s on Luhnow!
    Porter needed a DH. Luhnow gave him Carter who hit .180 for the first two months of the season and is now bombing the ball after we are long done for the year.
    Porter needed a leftfielder. Luhnow went out and got nobody. Grossman hit .130 for two months and now that we are long done, he hits. That’s on Luhnow.
    Porter needed an army and Luhnow went out and got him a choir. Now you want to pin this on Porter?
    Did Porter invest in the Ground Control program that got hacked. No!
    Did Porter totally screw up the draft? No
    Did Porter screw up Appel? No
    Did Porter screw up all our pitching prospects with a stupid tandem system? No
    Porter is a scapegoat. Luhnow is the Dummy and Crane is the Fool!
    Finally, who brings a top prospect into the home ballpark for pitching coaches to look at and doesn’t tell his manager? Seriously, how can any GM be so ignorant?
    How can anyone try to pin this shambles of a team on the field manager? The guy is out there at war with 29 other teams armed with Toys.


    • Who is this army of which you speak?

      Go back to through the two of seasons and point out the players that would constitute this army. Brian McCann? Maybe Altuve for Fielder? Detroit would have surely taken that deal over what the Rangers offered. Bud Norris and Jordan Lyles?

      The fact is the future of this team is in the minor leagues right now. It wasn’t when Luhnow was hired.


    • And, what the hell business is it of Porter’s, or any player, if the team wants to bring Appel in to work with Strom? The players should worry about not being DFAed in order to make room for Appel next year. And Porter should concern himself with players on the 25 man roster. Geez, were all of these complainers in for early work with Strom and couldn’t get it because there was this minor leaguer there. Baseball players are the biggest babies.


      • He’s the manager. Strom works for Porter. You don’t go cutting your manager out of a deal like that. You go talk to your manager. That’s why you made him the manager. That’s why it’s Porter’s business. If you don’t understand business or baseball that’s your problem.
        Baseball players aren’t the biggest babies. Luhnow worshippers are the biggest babies. Anytime someone criticizes their boy, they whine.


  15. Porter / Luhnow
    – I think Porter has done a better jog as a manager this year – I don’t feel like he is disciplining the troops through the media as much as he did last season. I think he has gotten them to have shorter memories about hard losses than they had last season. I still don’t always agree with some of his personnel decisions, but heck I thought Tony LaRussa over-managed.
    – Old pro – Luhnow has also given Porter – Oberholtzer, McHugh and Keuchel. And it is not fair to take the fact that Carter and Grossman improved during the season as a negative – this team was never going to contend this season – it was a growing season. Luhnow has to be faulted for giving Porter an overall bad bullpen and for not getting them a good SS in the off-season.


    • Dan, we were horrible at DH and LF last year and we were horrible at them the first three months of this year and that is the time that we got to 25 games under .500. Luhnow did not fill those holes and we got killed on the field because of it. If anything, you have to give Porter and his staff a huge amount of credit for turning Carter around after Luhnow failed to get the Astros a decent hitter for DH last offseason. Luhnow failed to fill holes at SS, RF, closer and 1B. and we have been crippled by his failures this year. He finally got Springer up here where he should have been last year, when Brett Wallace should have been canned to make room for Springer.


      • “If anything, you have to give Porter and his staff a huge amount of credit for turning Carter around after Luhnow failed to get the Astros a decent hitter for DH last offseason.”
        Who was it that hired Porter and his staff? Shouldn’t Luhnow get credit for hiring the coaches that were instrumental in turning Carter around? What about Strom and his work with the pitching? Luhnow can’t coach the players, but he must hire the right coaches to do so and I think he has done that.


  16. Well, it never fails. A player pulls a completely idiotic play in a close game and the team falls apart. Marwin on second is the tying run with one out and the leading hitter in the league at the plate and he tries to steal third for some unknown reason.
    Then they come up and get a couple of bloops and a grounder that Dominguez would have turned two on, but Petit boots it and then they get the Boom! 6-1 Rangers.


  17. I have a hard time understanding why so many still look at Luhnow as some kind of savior. I don’t care what the perception of his minor league development is. It does not count. His job description requires winning at the major league level. it’s incredible to me that 65 or 68 wins qualifies as success to some of us. We’re too damn passive. No team should have a Marc Krauss wandering around leftfield. He backs off before he even gets to the warning track. We have so many weaknesses in so many areas. Don’t you guys see it?


    • Krauss is in LF solely because of injuries to Springer and Grossman. He wouldn’t be there if they were healthy.

      Those of us who agree with Luhnow’s plan expected several lean years while the committment was made to develop the farm system. You can’t deny the turnaround in that area. Now the ascent has begun for the major league team. It is not success, but progression we want and now we are seeing it. Most of us knew this was going to be painful, but now don’t have the patience to see itthrough. I haven’t agreed with everything Luhnow has done, but I think the plan is working.


      • Krauss should not be on a major league roster. Even the worst teams in MLB should have a 5th outfielder who can play the outfield. This is still a team with question marks at 4 of 5 infield positions, leftfield, 3 of 5 rotation slots and at least 5 bullpen jobs. I won’t even get into the bench. Tim, if this is an ascent, we’re going to be at it for far too many years to keep me interested. This is a troubled organization, everywhere you look.


    • Billy, a typical example of Porter’s poor management decision making. Earlier in the season, I was listening to Ashby on the television (yes, I have Comcast) and he was chastising Porter’s decision making in his creating the lineup cards. A player had hit a game winning homerun the day earlier and had been hot at the plate. Porter did not have that player in the lineup the next day and Ashby pointedly stated what I had been saying for the past two years when he said during the beginning of the game, “[the player] hit a homerun to win the day yesterday and Porter’s thought is ‘how dare you win the game for us! [The player] is not going to play today for punishment!'”

      I believe the team is better in spite of Porter.


  18. 3 of 5 pitching spots? Really? Other than Peacock everyone has been decent, if not good. Keuchel and McHugh have far exceeded expectations. Obie has done a good job, sans tonight, since getting in the rotation and Feldman has held his own.

    We already have 6 more wins than last year and still have a whole month to play. We will finish 14-18 games better than last year. That is an ascent in my book. It may not be what you wanted, but as I said, if you didn’t have the patience for this tough rebuild then what did you expect? Did you want a team like the 2006-2009 Astros? 75-85 wins just to apappease the masses?


  19. Also, the question marks in the IF are there because now is not the time to spend heavily on FA’s. It is too early to give up on Singleton. Our top prospect is our future SS and we have some legitimate depth in the minors at 3B. If you are going to rebuild you have to see it all the way through. You can’t give up in the middle. Marwin and Matty D were never part of the future, but just space holders until the better prospects are ready. Even if Singleton doesn’t pan out 1B is a position that can be easily filled with either a FA or one of our minor league players. Heck, we could put Carter there at times. The Astros were in a unique situation, probably one no other team had experienced, when Crane became owner. They had a depleted farm system along with an aging and declining major league team. Drastic measures were needed and Crane/Luhnow are doing them. This team is going to be very good in 2-4 years. We have so much depth in the minors that enough will be legit major league players.


    • “This team is going to be very good in 2-4 more years”
      So we have had four years of the worst baseball in history and now we are going to be very good in 2-4 more years.
      And that is only if you and Jeff are correct.
      This is acceptable? Six to eight years of the kind of crap we saw tonight on the other team’s broadcast? This is the only way to successfully build a team?
      Now I’m really excited. Just several more years to the time when all these great young players who can’t stand Luhnow and can’t stand the Astros are going to be here to get us some glory. And then all the players from other teams will want to come here and play for the guy that they have watched screw player after player with his great plan. I sure hope you’re right.


  20. Man, you are hooked bad! This guy can suck at everything and you have his back.
    Year after year of baseball badness and he is still a genius to you. But I don’t blame you. @He’s such a great guy.@


    • I guess since I am not as oldpro as you I have more time to ride out the rebuild. I now understand your reason for a lack of patience.

      By the way, what do you think Crane/Luhnow should have done differently? Did you not see the team and farm system Crane inherited from McLane? Did you expect this team to be good during the last 3 seasons? How? It is easy to be critical when you have no other ideas on what to do. I expected this and I also like how quickly the farm system has turned around. I knew the pain was coming.


      • Agreed! Look, I have plenty to complain about with Luhnow, but the rebuild is not one of them. Uncle Drayton left some bare cupboards and a shell of an organization.

        And Tim is right. Tell me how you could have fixed this for under $300 million a season.


  21. I don’t like the way Luhnow holds back top prospects in order to control their service time and I am not a fan of the pitching tandem system in the minors, but I saw how horrible our farm system was 3 years ago and applaud Luhnow for turning it around so quickly. Most fans wanted the team to tear it down and rebuild 6-7 years ago as the major league team was not good and the farm system was atrocious. Well, that is exactly what they have done, but now that the pain has happened everyone wants to bale on the plan. You can’t have it both ways. You either have completely tear it down and start over or continue with a 75 win team for the next 10 years. Which do you prefer?


  22. Tim, I was being generous when I noted the club has question marks at 3 of 5 rotation slots. Oberholtzer is giving up 10.3 hits per nine. For a guy who does not get many K’s, that’s a bad number in MLB. Feldman has an ERA over 5 since the end of May. He will not be around when this club becomes relevant again. Colin McHugh has won seven major league baseball game in his life. I think he’ll stick, but his sampling is still too small to pencil him into a playoff roster.

    And regardless of your rationalization, there are still question marks at 4 of the five infield positions.

    In answer to your question about what Crane and Luhnow should have done differently, I could write a book, but I’ll try to keep it brief for you. Surely you’ve been reading the paper for past two years. We can all agree that the farm system is in better shape than it was three year ago. Besides that vague success (I say vague because a minor league rating promises nothing at the ML level) Crane and Luhnow have done very little right.

    Luhnow has had far more misses than wins in player acquisition. There is the lack of a television contract. There have been breaches in security that have embarrassed the club throughout the league. There have been numerous pubic relations blunders that have further alienated a dwindling fan base. I have not heard on one minor league pitcher embrace the tandem system. There is apparent friction between the GM and manager. The GM blew the 2014 draft. I could go on.

    I’ll finish though by reminding that we live in a very dynamic city, the fourth biggest in the country. We deserve better from our major league baseball club. I fully agree with rebuilding a farm system, but it certainly could have been done by wisely allocating 100 million a year for a reasonable payroll at the major league level WHILE rebuilding the system. Our farm system rebuild has been Cranes excuse for not spending at the ML level. I have not bought it from the start. It did not have to be done this way. And our city has not bought it. Just look at the empty seats.


    • What does any of this have to do with making the Astros a better team? The TV debacle is a mess shared by many, not just the Crane. The security breach, whether it happened or not, would have done nothng to make the Astros more competitive. Empty seats at a ballpark are a common thread among all losing teams. They will be filled once the Astros start winning again. They had some nice crowds in late May/early June when they had that little 7 game winning streak. Winning will solve those ills. You haven’t given me anything that would make this team better in a faster fashion.


    • Dave, I would argue that ML success promises nothing at the ML level. Let’s just say that Luhnow has been very successful at building the farm system and leave it at that.


    • “…it certainly could have been done by wisely allocating 100 million a year for a reasonable payroll at the major league level WHILE rebuilding the system. ”

      I’d like for you to back up that statement.


  23. In regards to the pitching rotation I never said we had 5 aces, but they are all doing an adequate job as space holders. An ERA of 4.37 in the AL is fine. Both McHugh and Keuchel have ERAs under 3.50 and Obie has an ERA of 4.39, and this is after last nights bad start. Luhnow has put a nice defense behind these guys to help them out and, from the statistics I have seen, the shifts are working. All 4 are bottom of the rotation starters, but they are not question marks.

    Finally, what are the numerous misses Luhnow has had?


  24. You can’t call Appel a miss yet. He had an appedectomy early in the year and has pitched much better in CC despite those arguing against his promotion. Correa has been very successful until his injury. The draft this year is open to debate whether Luhnow did the right thing, but R.A. Dickey had a very siimilar situation and he had to convert to being a knuckler to resurrect his career. The 1-2 pick next year may very well end up being better than Aiken. He also was able to sign the top picks to below slot to get guys like McCullers and Ruiz.


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