Astros’ infield: The problem children of the left side

The second part of our examination of the 2014 Astros with an eye towards 2015 will concentrate on two side-by-side perceived problem areas: third base and shortstop.

The title referring to Problem Children seems appropriate. For the most part the Astros have left the left side of their infield in the hands of the extremely young or the inexperienced.

Four players manned SS in 2014: Jonathan Villar, Marwin Gonzalez, Enrique (Kike) Hernandez and Gregorio Pettit. Villar at 23 years old, Gonzalez (25) and the long gone Hernandez (22) were all youngsters, while Petit is older (29) and had only 25 major league games under his belt entering 2014.

Four players were at the hot corner in 2014: Matt Dominguez (24, only three weeks older than George Springer), Gonzalez, Petit and the soon to be gone Jesus Guzman. Again, the vast majority of the ABs were in the hands of the very young or the inexperienced.


 Would you buy a statement that said that the Astros’ offensive performance at SS in 2014 was not a problem?

Here are some numbers based on the combined stats of the 2014 Astros shortstops:

  • .258 BA is 7th in the AL
  • .699 OPS is 1st !!! in the AL
  • .699 OPS is 1st in the AL (I repeated it in case anyone missed it)
  • .398 SLG is 2nd in the AL
  • 54 RBIs is 8th in the AL
  • 14 HRs is 2nd in the AL

This was very surprising and is a product of early season production from Villar and some surprisingly good numbers from both Gonzalez and Petit when manning the shortstop position.

In reality, trading for or signing a better offensive SS than what the Astros have in hand in Marwin G and Gregorio P is non-existent. Gonzalez had a .292 BA and a .747 OPS in 233 ABs at SS. The only better OPSs belong to guys with 60 or fewer ABs (including Petit at .828 OPS in 60 ABs). Both Petit (.379 BA / 1.124 OPS) and Gonzalez (.333 BA / .776 OPS) hit well off of LHPs and Marwin was very respectable against RHPs (.268 BA / .719 OPS).

Villar hit well below the AL shortstop average against both RHPs (.199 / .608) and LHPs (.230 / .644). He has speed that the other two can only dream about, but they have consistency that he can only dream about.

On the fielding side, Villar gets to more balls than the other two. His range factor — RF (Putouts + Assists / 9 innings played) — is 4.06, which is near the top of the AL shortstops but it is no surprise that due to being an error machine (18 errors in 82 games) that he has a lowly fielding percentage (.949) near the bottom in the AL.

Both Gonzalez and Petit are middle of the roaders in fielding: Marwin G (3.89 RF / 6 errors / .979 FP) and Gregorio P (3.79 RF / 2 errors / .973 FP).

In the minors the closest player to the bigs may be 22-year-old Ronald Torreyes (.298 BA / .721 OPS), although with Villar and Petit spending time at AAA, he got most of his starts at 2B.

In reality –- like a couple expecting a baby –- the whole organization is watching how 1-1 draftee Carlos Correa bounces back from his injury, whether he starts at AA and how close to the majors he gets next season.

SS Summary. It would seem to make little sense to spend resources chasing another major league SS in a trade or a FA signing. It would make the most sense to let Marwin G and Gregorio P give you average to slightly above SS play and wait for Correa to appear. In this post-steroid world young Carlos might be the best hitting SS the moment he hits the majors.


Third Base

While the Astros SS offensive stats were surprisingly decent – their 3B offensive numbers are unsurprisingly terrible.

  • 14 out of 15 in the AL in BA (.212), SLG (.321) and RBIs (57)
  • 15 out of 15 in the AL in OBP (.255), OPS (.577) and Runs scored (54)
  • One decent stat – 8th in HRs (16)

Unlike shortstop – the 2014 3B conversation really revolves around one person, Matt Dominguez, who started 148 games for the Astros at the hot corner. The second half of the 2013 season gave hope that Matty D was starting to get it offensively. He played the first half of the 2014 season as a below average offensive 3B (11 HR / 39 RBI / .237 BA / .652 OPS) and turned into an unmitigated disaster in the second half (5 HR / 18 RBI / .177 BA / .472 OPS) culminating in a last month of the season where he had a .133 BA / .359 OPS with 1 HR and 4 RBIs in 23 games. You can all say “Yuck!” now.

On the fielding side for full time 3Bs (guys who played 100 or more games at the position), Dominguez has the 2nd best Fielding % (.972) and the 5th best Range factor (2.53). So, he does bring value at the position when he is nowhere near the plate.

The other choices for 3B currently at the major league level would be the usual suspects of Marwin G and Gregorio P, though both (in minimal appearances) appear to have much less range and Villar-esque fielding percentages.

A couple AAA possibilities for 3B might be Matt Duffy (.279 BA / .781 OPS) who put up good numbers at OKC or on-base specialist Joe Sclafani (.339 BA / .420 OBP / .858 OPS), if he ever learns to not butcher 3B. A little farther away is young Colin Moran (22), picked up in the Cosart trade who put up a solid .304 BA and .760 OPS after arriving from the Marlins’ organization.

3B Summary – There are many ways the Astros could go in 2015:

  • Hope that young Matty D (again basically George Springer’s age) shakes off an insanely bad last half of 2014 and becomes an average offensive 3B.
  • Let someone else from the organization (Duffy, Sclafani, Petit) take his spot and wait for Moran or whoever to arrive.
  • Make a big splash and sign a FA for this spot. The Panda, Pablo Sandoval has been mentioned as a possibility. He’s still in his 20’s; he has a good, clutch bat; he plays good defense; he is probably not coming here after a WS run ends in the next week or so. Maybe a more likely short term target would be Aramis Ramirez, who at 36 would be looking for a couple of years on his contract. His OPS was down a bit this season, but he has been a consistent hitter for the last decade plus. Of course he could drop like a rock, too.
  • Make a trade for a 3B – yes we could dream about an Adrian Beltre or a Josh Donaldson. Make it so, Jeff Luhnow.

So, a few questions to ponder:

  1. Was the offensive production of Gonzalez and Gregorio Petit real or a small sample fluke?
  2. Is Villar capable of showing maturity and consistency in 2015?
  3. When do you think Correa arrives in the bigs?
  4. Who is the real Matt Dominguez?
  5. Do you go FA or trade for 3B in 2015? If so, who would you chase and how much would you invest, either FA contract or prospects in trade?
  6. What will SS and 3B look like the last month of 2015?



69 comments on “Astros’ infield: The problem children of the left side

  1. SS might well be a lower priority, but a trade for Starlin Castro could make sense if you have seen enough of Villar and you think Marwin isn’t going to repeat. I don’t think either are true, though regression for Marwin is likely, but not enough to justify the outlay for Castro (also a regression candidate). But Good Castro is better than Good Marwin and Good Villar, if we even know what that is.

    I’ll take “Third Sackers” for 400 Alex. This phrase describes the current and historical Astros’ 3B situation. What is “Last two”, Alex?” You are correct. The last two Astros third basemen are the last two rated 3B in wRC+ in 2014, CJ and MattyD.

    MattyD has gotten his 1000+ ABs. I’ve seen enough. But I think I’m going to see more enough. Panda is going to get $130MM+, Headley $50MM+. You see written a lot, “If he could just hit .250…”. Well if that is what you want, you should go get it – Josh Donaldson. But I doubt the rumors of a JD trade are true.


    • Well I don’t think we can live with a .250 if it comes with a 5% walk rate and .290 OBP, unless he is going to hit 25+ HR and post a better than average SLG. None of it is ideal – but they can’t all be superstars.


      • I just wonder if the second 1/2 of 2013 (.260 BA / .323 OBP / .753 OPS) was total fluke or repeatable for Matty D. That would be very livable.


  2. Flash, Starlin is OK – but you would have to give up too much for a position that has an heir apparent on the horizon.
    3B on the other hand does not have any sure thing coming (I think Correa is a sure thing at SS) – I would lean more towards a trade for 3B – but wonder what the plan is.


    • Yes, Starlin is okay. I’d put Corea at third and not worry about that side of the infield until 2024.

      By the way, what is this “too much” that you speak of?


      • My thought is that the best athletes (e.g. Correa and Castro) can play most anywhere. There is already talk about Correa eventually ending up at third. No one would object to … as Flash suggests … “…that side of the infield until 2024”.


    • Flash – I’m assuming for a 24 year old with 5 seasons under his belt 3 All Star teams and under control until 2020 at not ridiculous numbers ($6 million, 7, 9, 10,11 and either 16 million or 1 million buyout) that you are giving away three big time prospects – likely a couple of pitchers.


      • Umm…I’m okay with that. They are, afterall, prospects big time or not. If you have a chance to get a young allstar with many affordable years, you do it. That is exactly the reason you have prospects.


      • I would do it for 3B where you have nobody coming – but why do I want a long term with Castro if Correa should be here in 2016?
        Oh wait a minute – sorry – you see Correa as long term 3B.
        In my head if Correa can be a good defensive SS and a great offensive SS then you have to let him at least start there until he outgrows it (like A-Rod) because he would give you such a large gap over other SSs offensively. If you put him in immediately at 3B – you have given up some of that edge.
        Just my two cents.


      • So – Im fine with your plan Flash if they don’t see Correa as a SS starting off – but if they do – I would rather have him there.


      • Those a legitimate points Dan. I would rather have Corea at SS too, but I think Corea/Castro is far better than Possible Future Moran or Possible Future Ruiz/Corea.

        Let’s not forget that no matter how good, every prospect’s chances of failure or underperformance is greater than their chances of reaching their potential.


      • Flash – I guess we will see whether they think Ruiz / Moran are the real thing or not or if they do go grab a 3B this off-season. Anyway you look at it – they need Correa up here somewhere on the left side of the infield pretty soon.


      • I am sure Luhnow feels Moran is the real deal as i think he was the key component in the Cosart trade and he was being considered for the top pick when the Astros selected Appel. I don’t have any doubt Luhnow thinks he is the real deal, but will he be able to show it once he reaches the majors?


  3. Even with Duffy, Moran, Ruiz, Petit and Davis in the minors none of them are ready to play 3b in Houston.
    I wonder if Matt Dominguez was physical and emotionally drained by the All Star Break. We have no idea what his relationship with Porter was but the Astros had nobody, nobody to take the load off of this guy and it was a huge load. Matty D manned the left side of the infield alone more than anyone in baseball. That involves the responsibility of looking for the bunt and playing 3B and SS area at the same time. Since he never speaks to the media we don’t have a clue as to how the extreme shifts played on him throughout the year. If his relationship with Porter was not a strong one, then his mental state could have slipped as his bat dwindled and he could have been reduced to a guy who felt pretty alone out there.
    Can Hinch and a fresh batting coach pump this guy back up or is he used up. Jeff Luhnow and the players in the dugout know Matt better than we do and probably have a better idea what happened, so we will see what they think and we will know what they think when the world series ends and free agency begins.
    We do know we can’t win with a 3B who can’t hit, especially if we have a 1B who can’t hit, so let’s see what happens.
    I’m happy with Marwin at SS til Correa is ready to be here and I’ll be honest with you: I am more confident of Correa being the starter at SS in April of 2016 than I am of anything else we talk about here today. If they had any reservations about his injury, this kid would not be down in Florida running around every day like he is now.
    The only way I see Matty still at third this coming year is if they acquired a premium bat like VMart to cover Dominguez’s failings and allow them to stick Matt at the bottom of the order. After 1357 plate appearances, Matt is the player represented by his current career stats: .233/.275/.374/.649. All those numbers are below average for a batter and that is what Matt is. He is going to give you a home run every 33 plate appearances, few doubles and many GDP because of his hoof speed and plenty of Ks with no BBs. And I love the guy because I think he has given the Astros every ounce of what he had.


    • Interesting take old pro on what might have been happening behind the scenes with Dominguez. He is young enough to improve – but we know he isn’t going to take walks, is never going to beat out infield hits and strikes out like he thinks he is going to hit 50 home runs.
      It is crazy that Marwin Gonzalez (.277 BA / .727 OPS) batted 8th or 9th 70% of the time while Matt Dominguez (.215 BA / .586 OPS) batted 4th thru 7th 84% of the time.


    • I agree 100% with the last part of your comment. I hope you are right in the first half, but it all seems like speculation. But I think we’ll see him out there in ’15.


      • It is speculation, I’ll grant you that. Until somebody in the know opens up about Matt’s 2014, all we can do is speculate.
        For example, I didn’t have a clue why Lance McCullers Jr had lots of struggles this year. Then I read his interview and found out why he struggled. He struggled because they told him to use his changeup and use it a lot until he had the confidence to use it anytime in any situation. They used his Lancaster year to get him a third pitch that he could throw with the same motion and confidence he had with his first two. So for the first several months of the year he was putting an inferior pitch out there and was giving up walks and hits so that next year, hopefully in AA, he would have three solid pitches. At the end of the season he and the Astros felt terrific about his changeup. So maybe LMJ is suddenly a 21 year old AA pitcher with three solid pitches instead of a guy with two pitches who ends up in the bullpen.
        When somebody opens up and talks is when the speculation stops.


      • OP let’s face it, MattyD’s peak performance is about .250/.310/.440. That is his peak. His most likely outcome is more like .235/.290/.390. That is just not going to get it done.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Matt Dominguez is exactly the reason you have a hitting coach. In 2014, he simply could not cover the outside pitch. His adjustments were not fundamentally sound. This resulted in poor balance, an inability to hit the fastball, and the worst offensive stats in the league. Since the FO was content to stink it up, they stuck with him. The potential is there, although he likely never becomes an average hitter.


  4. Old pro – the lack of real information is one of those odd side effects of the modern stat filled world. There is a lot of access to data about all hitters and pitchers but less journalists out there interviewing these guys in depth to tell us what is happening.Thanks for the inside info on McCullers – it sounds promising.


    • The write-up on LMJ as the #6 prospect in March gave him a 70 fastball in the mid-90’s with great movement. It gave him a 65 curve with several different breaks, the best being a hard late break and the break depended on how hard he threw it. The write-up gave him a 45 changeup, a 45 on control and a 55 overall. So if 2014 Lancaster gave him a 55 changeup to go with those other two, his overall is going to jump up to a 60 which is “above average”.
      This year his mission will be to work on that “45(below average) control. If he gets that above 50 he becomes the pitcher you dreamed of by 2017, at age 23.
      As a side note, LMJ said he threw about 25 changeups in his last start and they were constantly pounding it into the ground. You reduce that to a normal amount and combine it with a big, moving fastball and a hard biting curve and that is good stuff!


  5. Well done on providing the love for Gonzales and Petit. Those were some eye-opening stats. Looks like there’s agreement that Correa’s upside is shortstop (or perhaps third baseman) on the 2017 World Series Champs, but in the interim it looks like shortstop is covered. Equally, looks like Matty D is not the third baseman on the 2017 World Series Champs. My $.02 is that unless they want to go all in on Sandovar as that guy, I’m OK with Matty D as the 2015 third baseman until we have a sense whether Ruiz or Moran is that guy.


    • The one thing I don’t know is if there is a solid 3B out there blocking a very good AAA 3B – where you could chase one of the two 3Bs (chase the older guy if they are rebuilding – chase the younger guy if they are a contender).


  6. Dominguez is probably not a long term solution at 3B – despite people hating the amount he K’s, it’s really not that bad, at worse he will be around 20% – better than a lot of third sackers. The real problem is he doesn’t walk and he has never been a CJ type solid contact guy as evidenced by a lifelong struggle with father BABIP. He is always going to be a pop fly/DP machine. 90% of baseball players that sit around 5% walk rates never improve.

    I agree that we may be looking at another season of him though. It’s not that the Astros don’t want Panda, but hey, I want to be married to Megan Fox, unfortunately it takes two to tango. Headley is inconsistent and not worth 50 mil anyway, and Aramis Ramirez would be akin to signing Carlos Lee again, you know you are going to hate those last 2 years of that contract. That leaves you with starting Dominguez again, and hoping for some luck – it will only take a few lazy fly balls to drop or seeing eye grounders to get a below average season from him instead of a terrible season – maybe that .235 / .680 season.

    Again I suggest Callaspo – especially if you can get him on the cheap for 2 years – very difficult to strike out – likely to post double digit walk rates. He has his warts – at best he might hit 10 HR’s – he is getting older (and bigger) leading to durability issues – and while he is sound defensively at 3B – part of his allure is that he plays multiple positions – unfortunately he has played the majority of them pretty poorly. BUT – if you can get 110 games and 450 plate appearances out of him at 3B he will strike out about half as much and he will walk about twice as much as Dominguez. I think it’s worth exploring – if the money is right. TBH – no other options out there that are affordable, and the team needs to take a chance somewhere.

    On SS – I am fine with Gonzalez/Petit. I would be delighted if Villar became a major league caliber hitter – but I don’t see it. Strikes out way too much – as he did in the minors. Walks enough though – if he can improve his K rate, he might earn another chance. Of course that is easier said than done. I do think if we improve offensively at other spots – 1B, 3B, consistent hitting from LF – that we will be fine at C and SS with what we have.


    • Personally, I would rather chase Aramis Ramirez than Calaspo. I think you could get Ramirez on a 2 year and his last two years look a whole lot better than Callaspo’s.
      Ramirez in 2013 (.283 BA / .831 OPS) & 2014 (.285 BA / .757 OPS) vs. Callaspo in 2013 (.258 BA / .702 OPS) and 2014 (.223 BA / .580 OPS). I know Ramirez is 36 – that is why I figure you can get him for 2 years.
      Just my thoughts.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I would tend to agree with you Steven. I don’t see him being a Rule 5 pickup for anyone – but could be someone they bring up if they finally give up or trade Matty D.


  7. Anybody want to take a shot at my 6 questions above?
    1. The offensive production of Marwin and Gregorio may have been a bit inflated by a smaller sample – but they seemed to be playing within themselves. So I don’t think it was a fluke.
    2. While I think Villar will improve on the offensive side – I have doubts we will be seeing defensive improvement any time soon. He has been consistent throughout his career on defense – consistently horrid.
    3. I think Carlos Correa arrives here for the 2016 season.
    4. I think the real Matty D is a .240 BA / .300 OBP / .710 OPS guy.
    5. I would try to pick up an Aramis Ramirez for 3B as a 2 yr FA entering 2015 or failing that – try to hook a 3B in a trade.
    6. The last month of 2015 – SS will be Marwin G with Villar as backup and 3B will be Adrian Beltre (I said dreaming is OK).


    • Gonzalez has always been reasonably good at making contact. It would stand to reason that any season he has a liveable BABIP he will post a good average. He is pretty standard at walking, so the OBP will be there too.

      Petit maybe a slightly better defensive option, but I would consider any offensive success a short sample mirage. The 1 walk in 100 plate appearances scares me.

      I do not believe Villar will improve dramatically offensively. Just strikes out too much. I hope he does though, he is the most athletic of the three current options – most range, best arm, good wheels, he can do a lot of things to help you win. Defensively, I think he will get better with reps, but he will never be a gold glover.

      I think Correa will be here for 2016 also, but I hope we see him the second half of 2015. I think he will have the talent that he will force the Astros hand.

      I accept that Dominguez can post those numbers if the stars align. I think his natural lines, or what a career average would be for him, is more like .230/290/.680.

      The problem with getting Ramirez at two years is him and his agent both know this is his last opportunity to land a 3-4 year deal at a decent annual salary, and that will probably be their starting point. Your best bet on Ramirez will be to strike early with a high annual offer if you want to go 2 years, after Sandoval and Headly disappear off the market he will gain leverage on 3-4 teams and someone will cave and give him a 3rd and/or 4th year.

      Dreaming is fine. When it comes to Beltre though, its all you can do.


    • The last few years (since the steroid era has been totally rooted out) it seems like the guys in Ramirez’s age category have been left to sit looking for FA contracts. I would think he would be attractive just don’t know how many teams want to go beyond 2 years.


  8. Question: Was the offensive production of Gonzalez and Gregorio Petit real or a small sample fluke?

    I think with both what we saw last year was legit. I think Marwin might actually work his average up to .260 or .265 hitter, and might actually provide 5-10 more RBIs than he did last year. His minor league stats – especially the better years – tend to support that last year was no fluke for him – except I doubt he would hit more than 10 HRs playing anywhere but Minute Maid.

    On Petit, with regular playing time I think he could actually give us another 15 points in BA. He hit .292 in 2013 at the A’s Triple A Affiliate Tuscon (134 games, 503 AB), and hit .297 in 2014 at OKC when he was with them (85 games, 317 AB). i think he could also pop 10 to 12 HR if playing a lot of games at Minute Maid, and that he could drive in 45 – 55 runs for us.

    Neither one of these guys is what I want to see on the left side of our infield in 2016 unless in a ‘super sub’ role, but for 2015, if Aramis Ramirez or Pablo Sandaval doesn’t want the job and a 2-year contract with a team option for whatever Mr. Crain is willing to spend, these guys at SS and 3B, relieved by Matty D. in the late innings of a close game for defensive purposes, might not be intolerable. The unfortunate part of that is that Matty D would be take up one of our bench guys, and is he really someone we would ever want to use to pinch hit? That could pose a real problem, especially in inter-league games.


  9. 1. I think Petit and Marwin are real because Petit is mature and Marwin is more comfortable with the position now that he has gotten used to the shifting.
    3. Correa arrives after next year’s minor league playoffs.
    4. the real Matt D is the guy you see in his career stats.
    5. Here’s what I do about 3B. I sign VMart for whatever it takes if I can and he provides the BA and OBP to make up for Dominguez’s bat. I bat Dominguez ninth, behind Grossman/Marisnick so they could score from first on a two out homer or a gapper single that Matty D gets thrown out at second on or purposely gets caught in a rundown on. In July maybe Matt is hitting decent enough to trade him for a reliever or keep him at third if we are looking anything like an 88 win team. This gives us another year of Moran/Ruiz/Duffy development and still gives us the D at 3B. I keep Marwin at SS and my infielders on the bench are Villar and Sclafani and I let them play a lot giving the infielders a break at least once a week, except Altuve. I let Singleton and Carter platoon at 1B and DH VMart every dadgum day. Maybe someone comes calling for Singleton or Carter at trade time.
    Whatever budget is left after VMart, spend on the bullpen.
    Grossman/ Marisnick
    Bottom line is I keep Dominguez because I think his BABIP give him a rebound and I want him at 3B in the shift.
    6. I’m guessing SS and 3B look like this in Sept 2016. Correa and Headley.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Dan, I don’t know what a mature Villar looks like, but I’m guessing that he looks like a guy that gets to a grounder and makes a good throw that is occasionally late but mostly on target. He looks like a guy who hits .240 with a 22% k rate, a 7%walk rate and a lot of doubles
    How do we end up with Headley? Question #5 is about what I would do about 3B. I detailed that.
    Question #6 is about what I think the Astros might do. That’s where Headley comes in. He’s a free agent. So I’m guessing the Astros sign a free agent 3B and bring Correa up after the MILB playoffs to be their Sept SS.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I would stand pat with Marwin for 2015. I think we often forget how young he is. I see 2014 as the real Marwin Gonzalez. After 2015 he could be a great trade chip or a utility guy, though I think Sclafani might take that spot.

    At third, if we can’t get someone for three years or fewer, I’d open up the job to Moran and Duffy, and hope one of them wrestles it from Matty. Don’t think Ruiz will be ready until mid-2016 at the earliest.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Hello guys, I’m baaaaack! Man am I a tired girl, after chasing three boys ages, 10-8-and 4yrs. around for 5 days! First, Tanner could not WAIT to show me how his chest looked……..and all I could do is hug him and cry. He is such a special little boy, and he hates it when people treat him like a little kid! But, he knows how much I love him, and he was ok with my tears of joy. Tucker(8yrs.) is my little baseball player, and I’ve gotta admit he’s doing pretty good for being so young! He loves to hear stories about the Astros and Cardinals rivals, and he is VERY impressed with our little short second baseman! Tate (4yrs.) is a total mess! He does everything three times faster, because of his older brothers, and he kept me laughing!!
    Here are my answers to your questions Dan….
    1. They are both real, and I think they can hold down SS until Correa is ready.
    Remember Marwin is only 25yrs. old, and Petit is a calming influence on him.
    2. ************NO*********!!
    Late 2015/ 2016 will be his position until he’s an old man.
    3. Matt Dominguez is underated. He has a ++ arm, and just needs to get it together between the ears. He get’s in a slump, and then loses confidence.
    4. Maybe, a trade……..but I wouldn’t give up a ton to rent some “used to be good”
    player like Callaspo. You can cross Beltre, and Sandoval off your list, they are going to want at least a 3-4yr. deal, and a LOT of money. My pick would be Beltre, but the Rangers aren’t gonna let him go.
    5.Unless, and until a WOW trade comes about, 3rd. base and SS stay the same……
    with OUT Villar.
    Glad to be back home, and sleeping in my own bed!
    Let’s cross our fingers Dallas Keuchel get’s that gold glove! He deserves it!


    • Brian T – I think Marwin would do fine there – I think it was Chip telling us how good Marwin was back before the 2013 season.
      I would like to know whether Luhnow has 3B as a spot he is going to up with the additional moneys he has. If not they could open up to Moran this season if Dominguez cannot get it together.


    • Becky – Glad you are back and glad you could spend quality time with the grand kids. Glad Tanner seems to be doing well – it is amazing how strong these little ones can be when challenged.
      I figured I knew the answer to the Villar question from you. It would be great if Matty D could improve to adequate at the plate because he is good in the field. I just don’t know if he has it in him or not.
      Keuchel deserves that GG – never thought I would say this (and it is in a different context than the Cowboys) but – Go Dallas!


    • Becky,

      Glad your little sluggers are playing with enthusiasm. God gives us tests we can handle. My guess is Tanner is destined for great things. I will pray for continued health and happiness for you and your crew.

      I do love me a great defensive player, but Matty D needs to fix something on the offensive side.

      I think you’re right about the available third sackers. It’ll be tough to get a good one here.

      Sometimes it seems the talent going to AA and AAA next year is hurting Houston’s 2015 season and the search for those bridge players. Bring in a first baseman? What if Singleton corrects and starts hitting? Sign a left fielder? What if Tucker comes up mashing the ball in spring training? Sign Panda for four years? What if Moran or Ruiz is ready in 2016?

      I’d like that 20 million spent first and foremost on a starter who is at least as good as Feldman plus a REAL bullpen. If we can find a third baseman in a trade for about $4 million, I’d take him.


      • Brian T – that is why Singleton is so critical – if he took a step up to decent – then it is not as critical spending bucks on another bat.
        It would be nice to have a solid top 4 of the rotation with Oberholtzer, Tropeano and Peacock battling for the 5th spot (or using one of them in a trade for bullpen or bat help).
        A lot to cover in this off-season.


  13. I think we are going down the wrong path by looking at FA options at 3B. It would be a shock to see a long term deal given out. On the other hand, what players might be pried away via trade to fill in for 1-2 years? Who is out there, like Fowler, that maybe is approaching FA or a raise and could be acquired as part of a platoon or stop gap to our prospects? Anyone?


      • No! too old, too slow on D and totally eliminates the shift on LH batters. Might rebound at the plate but he has a lot less chance of rebounding at age 37 than Matty D does at 25.


      • Dan, it’s not my money, so yes. The problem is that I’m trying to maximize returns. Ramirez played 92 games in 2013 and 133 in 2014 at age 36. I assume a contender would match a two year offer as high as $12 – $15M for him. That takes away a large chunk of our fictional $20M increase this off season.


    • I agree with Devin that our FA money should be spent almost exclusively on pitching (SP and bullpen) with trade options being considered to upgrade the offense. We have a ton of prospects that would be enticing to several teams. I am sure Luhnow can find a 2-year controllable player via trade that would be an upgrade at 1B, 3B or LF.


  14. If you want to not chase Ramirez due to his defense – that is a legitimate concern (though he could not possibly be slower than Matty D). But as far as “rebound”n – Dominguez has to rebound from a .215 BA / .586 OPS, while Ramirez has to “rebound” from a .285 BA / .757 OPS. In other words he has to rebound from numbers that Matty D can only dream about.


    • I would take Ramirez over Matty D in a heartbeat, even if he regresses and Matty D improves I don’t see Dominguez nearing Ramirez in offensive production, but I don’t want to use our FA money by giving A.R. a 2-year, $12M contract, which it will probably take to get him. I would rather spend that money on pitching.


  15. OK guys – seems the consensus is to spend the FA money on arms rather than 3B. How would you split the bucks between a starter and the bullpen?


    • If we are using $20M as the cap I could see us spending $10-$12M on a good SP and $8-10M on 2 decent relievers. I would look for a solid set-up man who wants to be a closer and then another reliable set-up man. Those additions with Qualls, Sipp and Fields along with Folty possibly being in the pen should give us improved pitching.

      Liked by 1 person

  16. Just wanted to note about the “manager and player psychology.” Have no inside knowledge but was a season ticket holder for the Rangers during the 1974-75 seasons. The team won with Billy Martin in 1974. But it started to go south in 1975 and apparently he rode the players very hard. So he got replaced. But what I saw from the stands was when a player failed to get a bunt down, or took a 3rd strike, they literally walked almost to first base and then turned right and went to the end of the dug outs. No superstars on that team (Burroughs was MVP in 1974) but Burroughs, Sundberg, Hargrove and others were serviceable players. Their relationship with their manager (who was on his way to Lace each night) showed up in the stats and winning percentage of the team. So don’t have any inside on any 2014 player and the previous manager. But when you are down and the “boss” rides you like a rented mule, most players do NOT improve.


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