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The Astros’ puzzle: A winter of decisions


The new manager search may be the latest headache for Jeff Luhnow, but the roster puzzle may be his biggest this winter. It could be akin to trying to stuff 40 marbles into a 10 oz Mason jar.

Even as the roster stands today, there are 44 players that will need to squeeze into the 40-man roster when you count the four on the 60-day disabled list. When rosters are set after the World Series, up to another dozen players in the Astros’ system may need to be considered for addition or be subject to the Rule 5 draft at the December winter meetings.

Here’s a quick rundown of the roster situation. Of course, trades, non-tenders and outright releases will change the “game” over the next couple of months.

Some players, like Jesus Guzman, Anthony Bass, Jake Buchanan or Rudy Owens may be easy options to leave off the 40-man, but it’s clear that — under the current scenario and without some adjustments — the Astros would have to leave some attractive players unprotected.

One other observation: The challenge with protecting players is another reason that only players already on the 40-man roster will be promoted in the coming days. That leaves players like Joe Sclafani, Preston Tucker or even Collin Moran out of the September mix.

Late Monday, the Astros got a head start on the roster shuffle. Jorge De Leon and Nick Tropeano will be added to the 40-man roster, meaning the Astros will need to make two moves by game time Tuesday. Jonathan Villar and Max Stassi, already on the big roster, will be re-joining the team as well. Only Tropeano hasn’t spent time in Houston previously.

Salary commitments in 2015.

Options.

Free agents.

Arbitration (projected $).

Players who will need to be protected on the 40-man.

Obviously, there 20-25 players who will be no-brainers and another 8-10 may be relatively easy selections. It’s the final 5-6 spots on the roster that will be gut-wrenching risks for Luhnow and his saber-metric team.

As a result, more moves like the Jarred Cosart trade may be on the horizon. In all the discussion about who won the Cosart trade, the 3-for-1 40-man roster trade-off was lost. And no one will remember that five years from now when looking back on the trade, even if it means that it opened up spots for two others.

So, which of you will take the challenge to fill out the complete 40-man roster? Which of the arb-eligible players will get a spot? Of the short list above (there are more), which players should be added to the 40-man roster or exposed to the December draft?

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About Chip Bailey

Chip Bailey lives in Colorado Springs, CO, and is an author and former sports editor and sportswriter who has followed the Astros for more than 40 years. A native of Natchitoches, La., Chip enjoys watching baseball at most any level, especially pro and college. Several years ago, he worked as an associate of Pastor John Bosman, who enjoyed giving nick names to his staff. He came up with Chipalatta, and it’s stuck.

76 comments on “The Astros’ puzzle: A winter of decisions

  1. Dan P
    September 2, 2014

    Dan’s off-season 40 man roster

    Keepers off the current 40 man / 60 day DL – note they are in no particular order

    1 – Chris Carter
    2- George Springer
    3 – Domingo Santana
    4 – Jake Marisnick
    5- Robbie Grossman
    6 – Dexter Fowler
    7 – Jonathan Villar
    8 – Jon Singleton
    9 – Gregorio Petit
    10 – Marwin Gonzalez
    11- Matt Dominguez
    12 – Jose Altuve
    13 – Max Stassi
    14 – Carlos Corporan
    15 – Jason Castro
    16 – Asher Wojciechowski
    17 – Jose Veras
    18 – Tony Sipp
    19 – Chad Qualls
    20 – Brett Oberholtzer
    21 – Collin McHugh
    22 – Dallas Keuchel
    23 – Mike Foltyniewicz
    24 – Josh Fields
    25 – Scott Feldman
    26 – Darin Downs
    27 – Sam Deduno
    28 – Luis Cruz
    29 – Kevin Chapman
    30 – Jake Buchanan
    31 – Paul Clemens
    32 – Jose Cisnero
    Added to the 40 man
    33 – Vincent Velasquez
    34 – Jorge Deleon
    35 – Nick Tropeano
    36 – Michael Feliz
    37 – Delino Deshields Jr
    38 – Danry Vasquez
    39 – Ronald Torreyes
    40 – Jandel Gustave

    Trade bait
    Brad Peacock
    LJ Hoes
    Alex Presley
    Marc Krauss
    Rudy Owens
    Alex White

    Also left off the 40
    Anthony Bass
    Matt Albers
    Jesse Crain
    Jesus Guzman

    Like

    • daveb
      September 2, 2014

      Dan, pretty good, but I think at least one of Petit, Villar and Marwin will be gone.

      And of course, there will be several moves by Luhnow that will change things when we least expect it. One thing I’ve figured out about our GM is that I can’t figure him out.

      Like

    • Billy Castillo
      September 2, 2014

      I’d drop Clemens and Downs off that , and fast.

      Like

  2. Chip Bailey
    September 2, 2014

    You get the worm sir. Looking at your list — assuming you or I haven’t missed some names — this may not be as difficult a process as previously thought. I think the face that Owens and White weren’t added now may be a predictor on those two.

    Like

    • Dan P
      September 2, 2014

      Well the interesting part will be if they don’t trade some of those folks I show as trade bait – who are they willing to lose and who do they think won’t get picked up off waivers. I think they see some value in Peacock – but I think they may be despairing in getting the guy to put the ball where he wants it. Albers is kind of cuspy also – do they think this was a flukey injury or not or do they agree with others here that the guy is just not in shape (and likely in worse shape after sitting out 80% of the season).

      Like

      • BrianT
        September 2, 2014

        And, as has been threatened many times, what if Crain or Albers actually come off the DL and pitch well for two or three weeks. What then?

        Like

      • Steven
        September 2, 2014

        They all have value in something. Every year every franchise has to make choices on the fringe. I don’t see much trade value in those names, but people have been swindled before. Some of the on the bubble names can be fits in other places if not here. Krauss can probably fit well in a team that needs a part time OF’er that can DH or play 1B, draw a few walks, but they will need to keep his PT limited, particularly in the field. A guy like that is a very tight niche – not sure what you are going to get in a trade. Most of the list is full of guys like that.

        My guess is the majority of them will be released.

        Like

  3. Dan P
    September 2, 2014

    daveb – You are probably right on the middle infielders – they just have so few of them that they have to protect – I thought they would protect them.
    Totally agree that we never know what Luhnow is going to do before it happens – I thought Porter might go – I did not think he would go when he went. The Cosart trade was a surprise – he could easily package Dominguez or Castro in a trade or Feldman or Qualls or (fill in the blank).

    Like

  4. uncleknuckle
    September 2, 2014

    Another point worthy of mention is that Luhnow is truly on the clock at this point. He’s got to make moves that will improve this club from outside the organization, and that won’t be easy. But it will change the 40 man, maybe considerably. If I’m being interviewed for the managers job with this club, I’d want to know what the plans are for 2015. Am I going to be working with existing resources, or am I going to get some help? There are plenty of guys that aspire to manage a big league club, but there will also be plenty of guys that won’t want to manage this particular club at this time and place. Luhnow will have to do a real sales job.

    Like

    • Chip Bailey
      September 2, 2014

      uncleknuckle, I’m wondering what type of on-field improvements we’ll see in September, under a new manager that is pulling in the same direction as upper management. Will the players be more motivated? Will they have a better attitude? Will the workplace environment be easier to work in? How will the lineup and bullpen usage change?

      Maybe, just maybe, the team has been playing under such tension that September will actually be a good month?

      Like

    • 1oldpro
      September 2, 2014

      Dave, I hope he has learned some things. His first move as GM was to keep Mills and that was such a bad move that he had to fire Mills before the season ended. His next major move was to hire Porter, and if what Justice says is true, that hire started to sour from the very beginning, and that does not speak well at all of his search. If that marriage was so bad from the beginning you have to wonder how he could make such a mistake.
      Right now we are in the same predicament we were in two years ago, management wise.
      Is it going to rile anyone if I comment that Luhnow needs to make a lot better decision this time picking a manager than he did on the last one?
      On the player side, I think he is going to try to make a few trades that will clear some room from the 40-man roster crunch. I think the focus of choosing the 40-man roster is going to be one question: At this moment, do I and my staff of number crunchers ever see this guy as a real contributor to my 25 man major league roster?
      You go down the list and answer the question for each player who is eligible and you come up with the 40 most likely guys.
      I think Dan’s list is pretty good. The real hard part for us is knowing what color the tab is on the folder of guys like Cisnero, etc.

      Like

      • Chip Bailey
        September 2, 2014

        oldpro, I think they kept Mills because they didn’t want to bring anyone into the mess. He, in my opinion, was a caretaker until they got to the point of hiring the guy they really wanted. It just didn’t work out as Mills couldn’t make the massive transition.

        Look at it. They kept very few people in the organization, so they needed a bridge of sorts.

        Now, Porter is totally a blown call. Personally, I would have gone with a more seasoned guy…not necessarily an “older” guy, but one who had more managerial experience. Or was more of a known quantity. Knowing what they know now, they should send their finalist(s) and Luhnow to a deserted island for a few days and let them get to know each other sans the outside “noise” to see if they can work together.

        Honestly, though, with the talent improvement and likely uptick in roster development over the coming months, the next manager should have an easier time of it. He’ll just need to have better people skills and understand how to manage kids as well as veterans….not to mention his mouth. Just sayin’…

        Like

      • Devin_
        September 2, 2014

        I don’t want to go full-bopert on you, but do you think it will be easy to find a manager who is the right guy and WANTS to work for/with Luhnow?

        Like

      • Chip Bailey
        September 2, 2014

        Devin, I think it will be easier now than it was in in 2011, yes. For starters, the organization is a little more built out than it was and the plan is more well-known, or at least should be, within the organization.

        Plus — if reports are true about long-standing dissension — Luhnow has been looking for a while, so he should have a good idea of his short list. Plus, I think he’ll go deeper in the interview process. Also notice that Crane said that Biggio and both Ryans will be involved as well. Always good to have second/third set of eyes.

        And…as others have pointed out…there are only 30 of these jobs, so the candidates will be plenteous.

        Of course, I usually don’t take the “sky is falling” road, so my guess is that things may smooth out if, indeed, Porter was “difficult” from Day 1.

        Like

      • Steven
        September 2, 2014

        My theory is that Luhnow is of that new baseball prospectus type generation, and he doesn’t really think the manager is as important position to the success/detriment of the team as most of you think it is. He probably didn’t put the same work into hiring a manager as other GM’s did, one because of his mindset and two his inexperience.

        I am not sure his mindset will have changed unfortunately. He is still a GM that wants OPS, pitchers that throw strikes over stuff – he wants the walk and he wants to prevent the walk. He will want a manager that plays to that vibe.

        Like

      • daveb
        September 2, 2014

        I hope he’s learned a few things too oldpro. I do agree with Devin though in that there will be some guys that would decline to work for Luhnow, in spite of the fact there only 30 such jobs on the planet. But then again, Luhnow might already have “his’ guy lined up.

        Like

      • Devin_
        September 2, 2014

        Steven, wasn’t his job prior to working with the Cardinals in managerial consulting? Different industry, but…

        Like

  5. Chip Bailey
    September 2, 2014

    Brian, I actually think they’ll want/try to bring back Albers. I’m also guessing they were able to recoup some of Crain’s salary through insurance, but if he’s healthy, it might be worth consideration. All that said, it could hinge on how well Tropeano and Folty pitch in September. Not to mention Deduno.

    Like

  6. daveb
    September 2, 2014

    For some reason, my ipad keeps changing me back into uncleknuckle. Any experts out there who can tell me why this is happening?

    Like

    • Billy Castillo
      September 2, 2014

      Dunno…we’ll find out if Becky’s username suddenly morph into auntjoint lol

      Like

      • daveb
        September 2, 2014

        For Heavens sake, where has Becky/auntjoint been throughout these last couple of newsy days? Becky, are you on a hot streak in the casino? Or is something else going on? Please report in.

        Like

  7. Tim
    September 2, 2014

    Uncleknuckle/dave makes a good point about off-season additions that will have to be added to the 40-man roster. It is my guess Luhnow will look more to the trade route in removing/adding players than free agency. Chip raised a good point about the Cosart trade opening up spots on the 40-man that we, in our infinite wisdom, did not mention during our discussion. Could we see more trades like this? I think Luhnow has to be careful in trading any established veterans we have for young players. The masses are angry and don’t want any hin of a longer rebuild.

    Like

  8. Tim
    September 2, 2014

    hint, not hin. Ugh!

    Like

  9. Tim
    September 2, 2014

    Also, part of the reason I am being patient with Luhnow is these type of rebuilds take, at a minimum, 5-years to complete. Now, some may argue that the Cubs and Marlins turned it around quicker (although they are not contending yet-Miami is getting there), but they had something the Astros didn’t when they started and that was an adequate farm system. Considering the position the Astros were in when Crane/Luhnow began this plan I would give them at least 5 years to see how it plays out. We are now just completing year 3.

    Like

    • Devin_
      September 2, 2014

      Ugh. Re: the trade, we went:
      – Cosart for Jake from State Farm
      – Kike for open spot
      – Wates for open spot.

      Why would we protect Wages? He’s not in the plan and would be good bait. You want another team to take a guy like him to protect your better prospects. Guys like Kike are great for building a roster, but we may have an overabundance of them rather than legit starters soon. I really feel we freed up one extra spot as Wates wouldn’t have been shielded.

      As for the patience, we gain better draft picks by losing more games in 2013 and 2014. I’m currently convinced that is part of the plan. Where does 2015 fit in?

      Like

      • 1oldpro
        September 2, 2014

        You’re spot on about Wates. He wasn’t on the 40-man, never was going to be. Luhnow never even looked at him. The trade was heaven for Austin Wates.

        Like

  10. Devin_
    September 2, 2014

    My heart isn’t really in it to think about these moves. I suspect we slip back into last place in 2015. I don’t want to lose any of those guys, but think Alex White is probably the best of the bunch. As for Clemens, Bass, and some of our other arsonists…wouldn’t it improve our team to put their performances on any other club’s roster?

    My biggest problem is I don’t know where we are in ‘the plan’ in terms of being competitive. We managed to catch lightning in a bottle with McHugh, but don’t know he will be the same in 2015. Keuchel was a favorite on this blog, but remember we were debating whether he could win a 25 man spot over Jerome Williams. What else do we have? There is no bullpen we can be confident with. Our highest ceiling starter got traded in a quantity over current quality returns trade…and it did free up two spots on the 40 by sacrificing a good utility player and an outfielder who there was no reason to protect. I’d feel a lot better with Carlos Rodon and Folty rooming together next spring, but Luhnow would have had to pay full slot and missed out on getting another player in a later round above slot (oh wait…)

    Like

    • Chip Bailey
      September 2, 2014

      Devin, my guess is that the roster will actually look a lot different than what we’re discussing now. Either through trade, releases, non-tenders, plus waiver pickups and free agent acquisitions. This may be the winter the Astros add budget. Luhnow tried to reinforce the bullpen, but that didn’t work out. Guessing they’ll want to add some power in the OF and maybe a 3B if they think Moran won’t be ready in ’15. With Keuchel, Feldman, McHugh and Obie, plus Folty, Trope already here and Appel in the wings, hard to see them adding a significant starting piece.

      Just call it a hunch, but I’m thinking Veras could return to his form and the Astros could have a solid veteran in ’15.

      Like

      • 1oldpro
        September 2, 2014

        Chip, Devin’s first sentence is the most important one to me.
        It took two hours for me to decide whether to even post here this morning. I am tired of being told I that my opinion is worthless and that my baseball knowledge is not useful any more. I grew up in a family of Astros fans, a big family of Astros fans. I raised a big family of Astros fans. married into a family of Astros fans. I am the only Astros fan left in my family. This team has run off two generations of good money spending Astros fans from my family in the last three years. and what are they called now? Bandwagon fans. My entire family has been run off by the Astros of the last three years.
        What am I called for my 58 years as a baseball lover? I’m called someone with no credibility because I consider wins as important in a game where wins determines champions.
        I sympathize with Devin. My heart isn’t really in it this morning.

        Like

      • Tim
        September 2, 2014

        That was a dig at me and I got it. No one said your opinion doesn’t count, but if you want to discuss a topic be prepared for differing opinions. No matter how you slice it you are going to find very few people who would consider wins by a starting pitcher as a valid measure of his current success. For a team, absolutely, but not an individual SP.

        Like

      • Billy Castillo
        September 2, 2014

        OP, i do agree with Tim about wins not being a good determination for SPs, but I certainly value your opinions and enjoy your contributions, and i know I’m not alone in that.

        Like

    • Tim
      September 2, 2014

      Look, I have strong opinions as that is just the way I am wired. I especially have strong opinions about baseball and the Astros as I am a passionate fan of both, but I think it is healthy for a good discussion to have differing opinions on both sides. Otherwise, how can we evaluate both sides? I enjoy reading everyone’s comments, including OP. Many times I find myself agreeing with him, but we differed strongly on the Cosart trade. I don’t want OP to go away and, I hope, he or others on here don’t want me to go away. We all need a Tim or Bopert to keep things lively. 🙂

      Like

      • 1oldpro
        September 2, 2014

        That’s the thing. We don’t disagree. I like the trade. and I said so when it happened. I think Cosart has a good chance to be a good pitcher, getting Moran and Marisnick and a first round pick and an 18 year old pitcher with a good fastball for what we gave up is a great deal for the Astros and if all the players in this trade do well it is a terrific trade for both teams.
        Where we disagree is on the value placed on Cosart for the time he spent with the Astros major league club. The club won more of the games he pitched in than they lost and on a team that lost way more games in the time he was an Astro that is a pretty amazing feat. His new club and he have won more games he pitches in than they lost and they are still not a .500 club. So that means he has been of good value to them so far. If Cosart continues to be of high value to the major league team he pitches for then his minor league stats as you viewed him aren’t worth squat. If he falls apart then they mean that the stats led you in the correct direction.
        Now Cosart has mouthed off about the Astros and that makes people mad. You’ve seen it and I’ve seen it. But Cosart was in our minor leagues and in our major league clubhouse. Whether people like it or not, Cosart knows a hell of a lot more about the Astros than we do and I place value on what he has to say because we have not been there. A ton of starting pitchers get traded away to other teams, but Norris and Cosart both have spoken out about the Astros and, as a result, are vilified by Luhnow supporters.
        If I want to find out what the conditions are in a prison I want to here from some guys who have been prisoners there.
        I have heard lots of stories about New Orleans from reporters and politicians regarding the aftermath of Katrina. But I have never heard anything like the stories I heard from two guys who were there that I trust.
        It just might be that when guys who are not with the Astros anymore talk, they might be telling the truth. We never heard about the relationship between the GM and manager of the Astros for almost two seasons until it got leaked to Justice yesterday. And even then, it’s just one side of the story. Maybe if Luhnow ever gets let go, we will get to know what he has been doing or not doing, like we found out about Porter.
        But our biggest difference is in that I think Luhnow has done a poor job as a major league General Manager and I think I have the evidence to prove that. Three or four years from now you may have the evidence to prove me wrong. I’m hoping that happens.

        Like

      • Tim
        September 2, 2014

        I don’t put too much credence in comments from former players as they may have an axe to grind (bitter) due to being traded. I don’t want to dismiss it, but many players bad-mouth their former team once they leave.

        Nolan Ryan was 8-16 in 1987 with the Astros, but had a 2.76 ERA. Cosart has some value, we differ on how much.

        Like

  11. Chip Bailey
    September 2, 2014

    Devin/oldpro and others who have been around this blog since 2005 or so…the beauty of this blog is that it is family. Sure, the constituency has changed, but there is still a core group that makes up the charter membership. Everyone’s opinion matters. Rarely, have we gone the way of Jerry Springer.

    There are two words I use with my team at work. They are simply: Respect and consideration. Without those elements, it’s impossible to co-exist.

    Simply put: Not only does your opinion matter, it’s valued. And that’s the same with everyone here. Anytime opinion turns into personal insult or innuendo or people begin to feel like they can’t reasonably speak their mind, democracy turns into autocracy or monarchy.

    Consideration comes into play with The Golden Rule, which calls us to respect others as we would ourselves. When we implement that, it’s hard to cross the line.

    This is still a safe place. The day it is no longer safe will be the day I close the doors.

    Like

  12. Dan P
    September 2, 2014

    I do like to have differing opinions, but…… one piece of advice from an old sage (not quite as old as old pro apparently). It is OK to hit on a point a couple of times and if there is still disagreement – let it go…it is OK to agree to disagree, because in many cases the right answer is not going to be available for 3 years.

    Like

    • Tim
      September 2, 2014

      That is easier said than done as most people like to have the last word, but we can try. I have been told I should have been a lawyer as I will counter-point until either someone agrees with me or I am proven wrong. So, when and who decides to end the discussion depends on the personality of the blogger. I think the most important issue is just don’t make it personal or take it personally. When it resorts to name-calling or insults then it is time for the discussion to end, in my opinion.

      Like

    • Dan P
      September 2, 2014

      Here is the deal Tim – the original opinion and a few tries at defenses are fine – however, after too many back and forths – boring….. Resist your inner lawyer.

      Like

      • Tim
        September 2, 2014

        I will try, but it is a 2-way street.

        Like

  13. kevin
    September 2, 2014

    Honestly Old Pro of you weren’t blogging here I would probably read this blog a lot less. I appreciate everyone’s opinion and everyone just be polite. We all have different perspectives and I like reading them all. The old agree to disagree. Heck I thought Porter was getting better, guess my perspective sucked, I was saying months ago Matty D and Castro need to go maybe that’s right ,maybe someone on here thinks that’s nuts, that’s OK. However I just want the Stros to get better and be a respected organization again, and I will never be a Lunhole fan, period. I don’t care what he does or doesn’t do the dude is a no integrity weasel. Bring on the Ryans and Biggio!

    Like

    • Tim
      September 2, 2014

      I would like to follow up on this as I have been called a Kool-aid drinker on the Chron and, possibly here. I have addressed my concerns with Luhnow (holding prospects down until they sign below average contracts and tandem pitching), but I think it would be huge mistake to punt now as it will set us back farther. Maybe that is what we need, but I want to give Luhnow 5 years to finalize his plan before I call the plan a failure. I don’t want to go backwards now and I am seeing progression at the major league level and, without dispute, the farm system has grown fast.

      Like

      • Steven
        September 2, 2014

        I try and not judge Luhnow as a good or bad GM. It paints to black/white of a picture that is anything but. Same with Porter as a manager.

        It’s easier to just talk about the moves as they happen. Anyone that was paying attention knows how unhappy I was about how the Astros treated Springer coming out of ST, and I am still unhappy knowing they did what they did intentionally to cost him future earnings, and I hope he remembers it when his time comes – much like Price did when he told TB there would be no “hometown” discount. I didn’t like that MOVE, but I like Luhnow. It isn’t about kool-aid drinking. It’s about class.

        The Astros have been a fairly active team for the last 4-5 years, with complete roster overhauls, and weekly jetisons back and forth between the minors and majors. Their instability has been from a lack of talent, and that was inherited. It has given us fodder for years to discuss, and its been fun.

        In the end though, Jeff Luhnow is a good guy. He has a family. He comes to work everyday with his hat on, and he means to conduct business that will make the Astros franchise a better place. Bo Porter is the same way. It seems more and more our discussions are getting peppered with ESPNisms (I know, I know, there is never supposed to mention of the four letter network here), or worse, Foxisms and MSNBCisms, where we are relating certain moves we like or don’t like as making the PERSON behind them good or bad.

        Like

    • capt
      September 2, 2014

      Kevin,
      I rarely speak in here, but i wanted to agree that everyone ought to be polite. What I dont understand is how you say that then turn right around with the name calling. Lunhole? Should he call you Kevhole?

      Like

  14. Nance (@Bbfanlady)
    September 2, 2014

    This is Luhnows 3rd full season. But I still count the last year under Ed Wade as the start of rebuilding the Astros with the trades of Pence and Bourne. It may not have added the depth a farm system needs, but it certainly added top 100 prospects. Astros also had early draft pick with Springer. While JL did not make those transactions, it is not entirely accurate to say he inherited an empty farm system. Therefore, I choose to count this as year 4 of rebuilding, 3 of which have been according to the JL plan. Therefore, I think it is reasonable for me to expect JL to put a .500 team in Houston next season.

    Like

    • Tim
      September 2, 2014

      I think a near .500 team is a fair expectation. If they go 79-83 I am not going to call it a failure. We have to keep in mind that the Rangers should be relatively healthy and, by all accounts, it looks like the AL West will be the toughest division, or one of the top 2 toughest divisions next year.

      For me, and the purpose of this blog, I want to see what happens in the off-season. I want to see some veterans added where we could use them (3B, SS and the bullpen). It is time to grow this team.

      Like

      • Nance (@Bbfanlady)
        September 2, 2014

        Tim, I am willing to do a little rounding without getting too upset. However, to say that a losing record is acceptable because all the other teams we play got better does not seem like a formula for success.

        Like

  15. Dan P
    September 2, 2014

    Nance – when I look back at 2011 – I see a minor league system that was so bad in talent that promotions were given to guys at AA, because there was no one at AAA even close to deserving it.
    When Luhnow took over their farm system was ranked in the bottom 5 by every body who measures these things.

    Like

    • Nance (@Bbfanlady)
      September 2, 2014

      You are correct Dan. No disagreement on what the farm system had the first half of 2011. And I also know that our trades did not yield major league ready talent. But my point is that the infusion of talent initiating the rebuild began in the 2011 season with trades/draft that included Cosart, Singleton, Springer, Obiehockey, etc. So, right or wrong, in my mind 2014 is the fourth year of rebuilding the Astros.

      Like

    • Tim
      September 2, 2014

      The interesting part of the Pence trade, if I recall correctly, is that Crane and McLane had already come to an agreement on the sale of the team and Crane asked the Astros to trade their best players for prospects. So you can somewhat argue that he was indirectly involved in the Pence and Bourn trades. However, were the players we acquired the players Crane/Luhnow would have wanted? Other than Obie we got very little in the Bourn trade. I think Wade did very well in the Pence trade, but I wonder who Luhnow would have gone after if he was the GM. Probably not Cosart. LOL!

      Like

      • Billy Castillo
        September 2, 2014

        In all fairness, Atlanta didn’t do so well either with the trade, in that Bourn only played one season for them and left as a free agent. We kind of won that trade by default!

        Like

  16. Astro45
    September 2, 2014

    Dan: Not complaining about your list. Matt Duffy. You keep Corporan (Assuming $1 Million) over C. Perez. Leave Shirley and T Nash unprotected. Leave off the CC Hooks pitchers. I would DFA several on the current roster to protect some prospects on the farm. Again, not complaining, just wondering if we might be leaving some guys out there. Now if they are in A ball – I doubt anyone would take them because they would have to keep on the MLB roster next year. http://whattheheckbobby.blogspot.com/2014/07/a-rule-5-draft-primer-and-2014-astros.html

    Like

    • Chip Bailey
      September 2, 2014

      Astro45, not entirely accurate. There are two different phases of the Rule 5 draft, in addition to the main MLB phase. You can see the results of the entire draft here.

      http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article/mlb/2013-mlb-rule-5-draft-results?ymd=20131212&content_id=64621448

      Indeed, if the Astros selected anyone during the major league phase they would need to stay with the big club all year. However, if a minor league AAA or AA team selected a Class A player, they become the property of that team outright. As I understand it, they don’t even have to offer them back.

      Like

    • Dan P
      September 2, 2014

      I could see letting Corporan go for Perez though I am pretty sure Perez could have been taken last time and was not. Missed that Shirley was eligible – I would drop a Clemens or Downs for him. Nash has been like a slower developing Singleton – way too many whiffs. If there are other CC pitchers eligible – I would consider trading them off with some of the older fringe guys on my list.

      Like

      • Tim
        September 2, 2014

        I have no desire to keep Nash as well. He has power, but low average and many Ks. If someone wants him they can have him.

        Like

      • 1oldpro
        September 2, 2014

        Clemens and Martinez taken off the 40-man today.

        Like

  17. Devin_
    September 2, 2014

    Fwiw, I don’t want you to agree with all of my opinions. I want you to step back and consider them. Think about how they differ from your own and whether, perhaps, there is a glimmer of truth in what I have to offer. It’s no fun if everyone agrees on all points. As Chip pointed out, however, if you don’t change someone’s opinion in one or two posts, it isn’t happening. It’s best to move on at that point and stop trying to win at the internets.

    I’m not always right in my assessment. I stated that it would be folly to trade for David Price and sign him long term due to his fastball losing velocity. What does he do but strike out ten batters last night…all on fastballs.

    Like

  18. daveb
    September 2, 2014

    Steven, you’re probably right. Both Bo and Luhnow might well be good next door neighbors. But I can’t tell you that for sure. And admittedly, I’m on the fence about Luhnow..

    I’ll say this. Both Porter and Luhnow were put in tough situations. From the start, I suggested that this team could be brought back to relevancy WHILE rebuilding the farm system. The traditional way to do that would have been for Luhnow to have a traditional payroll to work with. Of course that would have put more pressure on him in the player acquisition area. And certainly would have made him think about winning games right away. And if successful, he would not have had three number 1 picks to deal with. But that’s the way it should have been.

    As an Astro fan for the past 45 plus years, one who has spent at least a couple of thousand games at the ballpark, I think we deserved the traditional approach to rebuilding the club. The city of Houston deserved as much. Luhnow could have brought the geek squad into play, and even demanded more of them in helping find the best free agents for the dollar, guys that would have bought into a transitional situation in a dynamic new atmosphere. Instead, we’ve seen public relations blunder after blunder. The national media finally loves to write about us, but for all the wrong reasons. It’s also pretty safe to say that this organization today is indeed the laughing stock of MLB. Can you think of another club that better deserves the recognition?

    But in the end, I don’t blame Porter or Luhnow or anyone else except for Bob Crane. The fish still stinks from the head down. Has anyone even mentioned Crane’s role in this while mess over the past couple of days?

    Like

    • Tim
      September 2, 2014

      I will say this about Crane…I like that he is not as meddling in the personnel decisions as Drayton was. I want my owner to provide a budget for his GM and, for the most part, let the GM decide how to spend it. This is not to say I think Crane is a great, or even good, owner, but I do like that part more than Drayton. He made many PR mistakes when he first became owner and I think he has learned from them. We all remember him saying the fans can give him $10M if they want to give their opinion. That was dumb. Lately, he has been relatively quiet and that is probably best for him.

      Like

    • Steven
      September 2, 2014

      My point isn’t to try and point out the fish stinks from the head down – I don’t know Jim Crane, I don’t know Luhnow, or Porter. I have no idea if they are good or bad people or even good or bad at their jobs. I have no perspective because I don’t get to sit and watch them. So I prefer to offer opinions about the situations that I see – this trade or that trade, this call up or that call up, and how it will impact the team. Regardless, we all fall into the trap sometime.

      As for staying competitive – that was a hard sell. This team’s failure, long term, wasn’t from Wade, or Purpura, or Luhnow, or Mills, Porter, or any single manager. If you want point of failure – go back to Burke, Lane, Ensberg, Redding, etc. Go find what was supposed to be the next crop – and you find point of failure. Every team in baseball that has success has a starting lineup that has at least 3-4 homegrowns that were cost controlled for a time at least that allowed them to build around. The only exception of winning teams I can currently find is the Yankees – and two points to that – first, noone else has their resources, and second – win, they do, win it all, they haven’t in what is a VERY long time for that fanbase.

      I think the Astros rebuild, from the bottom, was as necessary as the Padres was in the 90s, a total reclamation job.

      There has certainly been hiccups. The leaked information was a fun read. How do you let something like that happen? It hasn’t anywhere else. The comments from former players hasn’t helped. Losing 100 games plus for years hasn’t helped. Now the Porter legacy. In the end, its just fodder. It’s not important. If you think it is, I would argue that you have been conditioned by a media that has a vested financial interest in your clicks, in your viewership, and they understand drama and discourse = ratings. Controversy = money.

      What is important is the continued development of Keuchel. McHugh. Carter. Altuve. Springer. They, and they alone, will decide the relevancy of this franchise, not Luhnow, not the next manager, not even Crane.

      I don’t think the traditional approach was enough for this club. Most of the people on this blog were saying that very thing when we embarked on this journey in 2010. If you signed another Lowrie to play SS, you would still be talking about Villar because we wouldn’t have seen him.

      Don’t mistake me for a fanboy though. There are certain organizational strategies that I haven’t been a fan of. If you are going to go young, go young. Quit holding promotions like they are medals of honor. They should be more rapid, once a guy has had success at that level, get him up. They are doing better at is than they were 3 years ago, but they still need to go a bit faster. Where is Tropeano? And how does Crain, Albers, Williams, etc., fit into that strategy. It is certain that Williams took innings from a guy we should have been looking at. What does trading a 24 year old “stuff” guy while keeping the underperforming veteran like Feldman around say about your commitment to that strategy? I have found some of the moves appearing to me like at times the organization makes moves for the sake of change, and not using an over arching strategy.

      But good or bad at what they do, I can’t pretend to know.

      Like

  19. Nance (@Bbfanlady)
    September 2, 2014

    Dan- Josh Zeid is missing from your list. I guess I would probably list him in the Trade Bait category. Porter really like him. He was used a lot and was fairly successful in 2013. Not as much in 2014 but may have been because of the injuries with his feet.

    Like

    • Dan P
      September 2, 2014

      Nance – you are right – I goofed up adding back in the 60 day list folks. Not sure whether to put him in or not. Working off of Billy C’s suggestion about dropping Clemens and Downs – would you keep him in one of their places or would you more likely try to trade him?

      Like

  20. Dan P
    September 2, 2014

    Billy C – up top you said you would drop Clemens and Downs – which I can see – who would you add?

    Like

    • Billy Castillo
      September 2, 2014

      A free agent or two, ideally.

      Like

    • Dan P
      September 2, 2014

      I was kind of looking at this without FAs – but you are right they definitely will be adding some other guys from outside.

      Like

  21. Chip Bailey
    September 2, 2014

    Well, here’s Tom Lawless’ first lineup. Fowler to the 3-hole, Carter moves to cleanup. To me, that’s logical. Would’ve preferred that when Fowler came back…

    1. Robbie Grossman (S) LF
    2. Jose Altuve (R) 2B
    3. Dexter Fowler (S) CF
    4. Chris Carter (R) DH
    5. Jason Castro (L) C
    6. Matt Dominguez (R) 3B
    7. Jake Marisnick (R) RF
    8. Jon Singleton (L) 1B
    9. Gregorio Petit (R) SS

    Like

    • Tim
      September 2, 2014

      I also like moving Singleoton down to 8th until he gets it going. I really like Fowler 3rd and Carter 4th. With Fowler’s speed it might give CC more fastballs, which we know he can crush.

      Like

  22. Chip Bailey
    September 2, 2014

    Billy said: “In all fairness, Atlanta didn’t do so well either with the trade, in that Bourn only played one season for them and left as a free agent. We kind of won that trade by default!”

    Well, here is a case of when is a trade track really over? Yes, Bourn left as a free agent, but Atlanta did get a compensation pick after the first round (#31). They took Jason Hursh (no, not that Jason Hirsh) out of Oklahoma State and he pitched at AA this season.

    Like

    • Billy Castillo
      September 2, 2014

      Good point. Guess the only real loser in this is Cleveland, as Bourn is getting paid way more than his production would warrant. He hasn’t been the same player since the trade.

      Like

  23. Billy Castillo
    September 2, 2014

    Paul Clemens and David Martinez designated for assignment to make room on the 40 man.

    Like

  24. Devin_
    September 2, 2014

    Should JDM win comeback player of the year? Someone referenced promoting Altuve, he, and Paredes from AA before they were strictly ready due to the lack of depth / need. 2/3 isn’t bad, and fwiw Paredes has been seeing time for the AL East leading (by 8 games) Orioles.

    Like

  25. Dan P
    September 2, 2014

    Altuuuuve with 4 hits – again.
    I think it was Geoff Blum who said that Altuve translate as rake in English because that is all the guy does.

    Like

  26. Dan P
    September 2, 2014

    Tom Lawless – you can’t beat him you can only hope to contain him.

    Like

    • Tim
      September 3, 2014

      I think this clearly shows Bo was the problem. 🙂 Just kidding, please don’t vilify me.

      Like

  27. rj
    September 2, 2014

    you folks that can see the game, did the team look energized? im wondering if this is addition by subtraction.

    Like

    • Dan P
      September 3, 2014

      I was at choir practice for the first 7 innings so – I can’t speak to that. But a lot of guys hit and Peacock went deeper than he has gone since June.

      Like

  28. Tim
    September 3, 2014

    There was an article in the Chron today that Peacock had been tipping his pitches. This is not to say he has turned it around, but he looked dominant against a great offensive team so maybe tipping his pitches had something to do with his struggles. Maybe we shouldn’t give up on him yet.

    On the other hand, another 0-fer for Jon Singleton with his BA down to .176. I hope Luhnow doesn’t just annoint him the starter next year because of his contract. We have got to get better production out of 1B and JS may need some more seasoning.

    Like

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