As the playoffs continue — you are paying attention, right? — the Astros are planning for the next “season” when teams set their 40-man rosters and trade and free agency discussions heat up. Here are some thoughts and considerations as Jeff Luhnow and new manager A.J. Hinch prepare.
How ’bout that payroll?
- The Astros are only a few years removed from having one of the top 10 payrolls in all of baseball. Yep, until Drayton McLane began stripping down the club to sell, the Astros were regularly in the top half of all teams. In fact, as recently as 2008, Houston was eighth in the majors with a payroll of more than $102 million. Paying the big bucks doesn’t necessarily win, however. This year, the Red Sox, Yankees, Phillies, Rangers and Blue Jays all proved you can just throw money at the problem to make the playoffs.
- Question: Considering the Astros have several players that are arb-eligible and Luhnow will likely add a free agent or two, pick a range for the 2015 Astros’ payroll?
Did the Astros really need to give up…
- Many teams would have followed McLane’s and Crane’s sell-down, but clearly several players have flourished once leaving Houston. Bud Norris, J.D. Martinez, Hunter Pence and Mark Melancon are a few of those who have played for other teams in the post-season.
- Question: Which one causes you to cringe the most when you think about them playing for another team? Of course, you may have to research a bit to see how a particular trade is working out.
Take a look in your crystal ball.
- Assume for a moment that Dallas Keuchel, Jose Altuve and Colin McHugh only regress minimally and that the Astros get full seasons from George Springer and Dexter Fowler. Also, for this exercise, let’s assume the Astros get better production from third and catcher and that Jon Singleton turns into an even average first baseman.
- Question: How many key players is the team away from that 80-85 win target that many of you suggest would be a “success” for 2015?
Speaking of the minors…
- Houston has passed over Tony DeFrancesco twice now for its manager’s job. Interim manager Tom Lawless was also a no-go this season.
- Question: If the Astros don’t like their make-up after seeing them in the Astros’ dugout, should they bring either of them back for the AAA or AA jobs?
Hinch: To be or not to be…
- Many things hinge on the success of the Astros’ new manager. The roster makeup, the coaching staff, his relationship with Luhnow, the progression of prospects and the TV deal.
- Question: What do you see as the single biggest factor to Hinch’s success in 2015 and beyond?
And some either/or to begin your first full week of October.
- Who would you rather have at third base to start 2015: Aramis Ramirez, Pablo Sandoval, Hanley Ramirez, Matt Dominguez or someone else?
- Which of these would you have preferred as manager over Hinch: Dave Martinez, Torey Lovullo, Phil Nevin, Tony D, Tom Lawless, Craig Biggio, or someone else?
- Which of these, in your opinion, has been the worst GM for the Astros: Luhnow, Tim Purpura or Ed Wade?
- Which team will reach .500 first: Astros, Diamondbacks, Cubs, Twins, Phillies, or Rockies?
- And, here’s an off-the-wall question. Which is the best new show on television: Madame Secretary, Gotham, NCIS New Orleans, or Gracepointe?