Free blog weekend: Of lulls, trades, hitting and the thorn in the left side
Happy Friday and welcome to a long-time tradition: Free Blog Weekend. It’s your turn to drive the conversation. We’ll discuss what you think is important or significant at this juncture of the off season.
Here are some starters for you.
The lull is coming to an end.
- While recent weeks haven’t exactly been a lull for theAstros with the hiring of a new coaching staff, a new AAA affiliate and a new spring training facility search, the activity will pick up across the majors soon. Here are some important dates to keep on your calendar:
- Nov TBA: 5 days after conclusion of World Series, teams must make qualifying offers to eligible players.
- Nov TBA: 12 days later, player deadline to accept or reject QOs.
- Nov 10-12: GM Meetings (Phoenix).
- Dec 2: Last day to offer contracts (or non-tender) for 2015 (e.g. Jason Castro, Chris Carter, Tony Sipp et al).
- Rosters must be finalized.
- Dec 8-11: Winter Meetings.
- Dec 11: Rule 5 Draft.
- Players who will be free agents (e.g. Jesse Crain, Matt Albers, etc.) will be free to roam about the country immediately after the World Series.
It’s about the hitting.
- It’s becoming more clear by the day almost that Brent Strom has been a God-send to the Astros’ pitching staff. But it may be Dave Hudgens and Ralph Dickenson who determine how much the Astros improve in 2015 and beyond. If you’re looking for a solid track record at Hudgens’ last stop (Mets, 4 years), let me borrow from the lyrics of an old song: “Don’t look Ethel!” But putting together a team (even a team of coaches) is as much about synergy, communication, trust and camaraderie as it is about sheer talent. Still, while it may not become evident until mid-season whether Hudgens is a hit with his new team, the Astros’ hitting coaches may determine at great length the rate of improvement for 2015.
- By the way, has anyone seen Rudy Jaramillo lately?
And, on the left side…
- As Dan discussed the left side of the infield in a recent entry, it’s obvious the Astros need an upgrade. Whether it comes through the obvious path (Carlos Correa) or Jeff Luhnow takes a detour remains to be seen. But here are a couple of lists from earlier this year that will throw a few extra names into the mix for consideration. First, a list of MLB shorstop prospects from Teddy Cahill at mlb.com. Fangraphs also had a shortstop power rankings prior to the season that actually indicated Houston was improving over the previous season.
- These lists will obviously be upgraded in a few weeks or months, but the names may largely be the same. As I’ve often said, when drafting or picking players, I go for the best athlete. You can figure out later where he plays and where he hits in the lineup. If a player can play shortstop, he most likely can play second, third or a key outfield position.
- Is there a trade for a young shortstop prospect in the winter future? Should there be? See any candidates that interest you?
Will front office changes mean more trades?
- There has been a plethora of front office changes in recent weeks, including the Dodgers, Rays,Diamondbacks, Rockies, Braves,Padres and others. Other teams like the Rangers,Phillies and Cubs may be primed for player movement. With that in mind, here’s a short list of players who could be on the move this winter.
- Of course, these players are only rumored to be on the block, but many teams will have 40-man roster issues just like the Astros.
Here’s a smorgasbord of questions and other entry-ending assignments.
- Which team will win the World Series?
- Finish the sentence: The #1 priority for the Astros this winter is…
- Frankly, I’ve about seen enough of . . .
- How will the Astros make their biggest impact this winter: Through trade, free agent signing, waiver wire pickup?
- With Mark Appel‘s winter ball success, have your expectations changed? Where will he start the 2015 season?
- Which one of these prospects is nearing their ceiling and which one should the Astros sell high on? Domingo Santana, Lance McCullers, Delino Deshields, Max Stassi, Preston Tucker?