Just what are the Astros thinking anyway?

It’s a Monday. The World Series is nearing an end, the Steelers are throwing back weird uniforms, all is well in Cajun country with big wins for LSU and the Saints. But as the clock ticks toward the off-season of major league baseball, many are still wondering what the Astros are thinking and what tact GM Jeff Luhnow will take.

So, what are the Astros thinking?  About…

The Rotation.

  • It’s probably the deepest position on the roster, perhaps in the organization. With Scott Feldman, Dallas Keuchel, Collin McHugh seemingly set, the Astros also have Brett Oberholtzer and Nick Tropeano in the wings. Brad Peacock may be an odd man out. But Houston also has asked Michael Foltynewicz to prepare this winter as a starter. And Mark Apprel throwing BBs in the fall league. Players like Samuel Deduno must be wondering what the Astros are thinking as well.
  • Everyone knows you can never have enough pitching and it would give manager A.J. goosebumps to head into spring training with seven or eight legitimate options for the rotation. So what are theAstros thinking?
    • With the depth, perhaps a trade of prospects for legitimate player on the left side of the infield. Or…
    • Stack ’em up as deep as you can, because somebody’s not going to perform or somebody else will get hurt.

Jason Castro and the catching situation.

  • With all the talk last spring about contract extensions (e.g. George Springer, Robbie Grossman, Matt Dominguez), you never heard a word about any discussions with Jason Castro. With a playerdue a raise in arbitration, it would seem natural Houston would discuss the option with Castro. So, what are theAstros thinking about catcher?
    • They’re not satisfied with their group (Castro, Max Stassi, Carlos Corporan, etc), so they’re biding their time until another possibility arises. Or…
    • Perhaps catcher will be the focus of one of those trades this winter. Or…
    • The numbers guys tell Luhnow that Castro is the guy and will break out sooner than later.
  • Either way, the Astros under Luhnow don’t seem to put a lot of stake in drafting catchers. In his time, they’ve never drafted a catcher higher than the sixth round.

The right time to make the move.

  • Sooner or later, momentum will turn in favor of theAstros. The free agent who signs, the prospect(s) who gets hot, the current roster player(s) who breaks out.Luhnow gets blamed for failures today and he likely won’t get much credit for those prospects or others breaking out.Luhnow’s best chance is to set the table, minimize the risk and maximize the opportunity. And, place the bet, hoping he’s in the right place at the right time.
    • Sooner or later, Luhnow will have to gamble big, either with a huge trade for that middle-of-the-order bat or that back-of-the-bullpen stopper of a pitcher. The question is whether that time is November 2014, July 2015 or November 2015.

That TV deal?

  • Yeah, you can fill in the blanks here. What are they thinking?
    • Maybe the Astros are simply waiting for the judge to sort it out? Or…
    • Are the Astros holding out for the best financial deal for the future?

You must be wondering what the Astros are thinking…about something. What is it?



23 comments on “Just what are the Astros thinking anyway?

  1. Few teams get by with fewer than seven decent starters. I personally don’t think they yet have the depth they need.

    I think the Astros are thinking that catcher is a defense first position. So, they may not want to pay big money to Castro, or any other catcher. If so, you won’t hear any noise about up and coming catching prospects, because no one wants to hear about minor league defensive catchers. Castro may just want to play out his time and hit free agency. I think that is Springer’s plan too.

    My first preference is for them to sign their own players. My next is to extend Jason Heyward. That should make some sort of a statement.

    TV deal? I haven’t followed the story. If I want to watch the Astros on TV I do. And so can you.


  2. Don’t profess to know what Luhnow is thinking because at my age, I am not sure what I am thinking. But he traded Lyles and Barnes for Fowler. So his only pattern to date is to watch the youngsters come up and if possible make a trade that gets a better MLBer. He will probably pull the string on any trade based upon who he has seen in the majors that he can swap for a better player. I don’t remember him swapping any high level prospects for “that guy” yet. I wish Luhnow were willing to swap chess pieces but as of now – he either is reluctant or believes his “prospects” will be better than anything offered. Until he pulls a bonehead deal, I have to let him play out “the plan.” And I am loving the play in the WS. KC has an outfield that can go get the ball. SF is a team that shows what “sum of its parts” can do. And because of where I choose to live, I have to settle for the “other Rob Lowe” until I am willing to cut down about 30 huge trees to make a hole into the sky.


  3. I think one of the things Luhnow is thinking about is who to get to manage and coach the Corpus Christi Hooks. Let’s face it, the majority of Luhnow’s investment in the minors will either start in CC or finish in CC this year. Appel, Hader, Smith McCullers, Jankowski, Rodgers, Emanuel and Velasquez are the arms he put his future into. Correa, Hernandez, Moran, Ruiz, Kemp, Gregor, DDJ, Heineman, Vasquez, Phillips, Reed and Davis are where he put his money on position players and most of them will make it to CC this year.
    He needs to have a crew in CC that he trusts will be able to get everything out of them and win with them. Who are the guys he can put there to accomplish that? Lawless? I’m pretty sure Bodie got fired because he did not do a good job building his players into a winning team last season.
    Whatcha thinkin, Jeff?


  4. Jeff, Last year you traded a young pitcher and a backup outfielder for a top of the order CF. This off-season you have a lot of young pitchers and several of backup outfileders in Grossman/Hoes/Marisnick. Can you parlay another one-two combination trade for a productive player at SS or 3B or 1B?
    Also, Jeff, the Astros led the league in strikeouts from the DH and 1B positions and were #3 in RF, #5 at C and #6 at SS, #9 in LF, #11 in CF and #13 at 3B and #30 at 2B. How are you going to get those numbers down so that the Astros start scoring enough runs to win games. Your drafting philosophy is high OBP and low K rates. How are you going to push that philosophy into the Astros lineup in 2015?


  5. I want to know what they are thinking … relative to re-building the bullpen successfully in 2015 as opposed to unsuccessfully in 2014. Instead of handing $2-3+ million to multiple guys – Williams ($2.1 mill), Albers ($2.25 mill), Qualls ($2.7 mill) and Crain ($3.25 mill) – would they be willing to give more to one or two guys in FA? Or are they thinking about picking help up by trade? Do they see Folty as a future closer or a future starter? Whatcha gonna do Jeff?


  6. Man, just read about the Cards’ Oscar Taveras dying in a car crash. Barely 22 – considered one of the top prospects in their organization, hit a big HR for them in the playoffs. Sometimes things make no sense.


  7. I’d like to know what their acceptable levels of success are in 2015 – 2017. To this fan, Luhnow needs to see us through another double digit increase in wins next year. Do he and Crane agree?


  8. The only prospects that will be dealt (*if* any are) won’t be Luhnow’s “guy’s”.
    He will protect them like they are his own kids. I’d like to know if this organization is going to go to arbitration. with Castro, and Fowler…….or offer a contract to them. In other years this GM would trade any guy who was set to get more than a buck twenty
    in the next season….think that will happen again this year? The catching situation is for me, problematic. We need one of the guys in AA or AAA to step up…..quick!


  9. Sitting here listening to Seventh Sojourn and thinking about the Astros. Luhnow has to have one or two big targets, guys that he really thinks can come in and fill a couple of big holes for decent, but not nasty money. These guys would fit his profile, OBP, better defense, some power, lower K rate. He’s got some money to play with but can absorb one high salary, IF it’s his guy. I have to think he has a list of at least five prospects he wants to protect and will, even if it means sticking older guys out there to be plucked, like Kraus or Presley. The Astros can only lose two guys and what are the chances they will? If they do lose two older guys they still won’t be as valuable as guys like DDJ, Feliz or Velasquez, I just can’t see somebody like Martinez or Cisnero being taken, because there’s too much risk with their injuries. Personally, I am going to protect DDJ because if you don’t protect him you wouldn’t be able to get enough for him in a trade because you would have told the league you didn’t even think he was worth protecting. That’s like shooting yourself in the foot before the race starts.
    If you look at the better bullpens in the league, they are made up of mostly BIG arms, guys who can bring it. Last year he tried to build the pen with older, experienced guys and that did not work. I hope he tries to find a couple of young arms to add to Qualls, Sipp, Fields, and two others from our current crop of candidates. I don’t think I want to see any “here’s my sneaky 90mph fastball” guy like Buchanan in the bullpen.
    “I’m just a singer in a rock n roll band” marks the end of my post. Thought about you, dr bill, while I listened to my favorite band ever.


    • Old pro – Nothing better than the Moody Blues to put you in a contemplative mood. Seventh Sojourn was just great – too bad Mike Pinder and his synthesizer left after that.


    • The flipside on deciding who to protect is who is actually likely to be taken. Is another team going to be able to accomodate putting DDJ on their roster for the entire year? DDJ has been good so far – though his BABIP is sketchy, up and down – but the only one that scares me to lose is Velasquez.

      TBH – if I was an opposing GM – and I saw an opportunity for a cheap, low durability player I would jump on it – he can’t take a spot on the 25 man if he is on the DL – and I only have to deal with that 25 man roster for one season. In a sense it could actually make Cisnero more attractive.

      I am sure the brain trust in the basement is running a hundred mock drafts a day, trying to figure out what franchise might target certain players. There is no doubt that Krauss and Presley should both be left exposed, and likely both will be back in camp next year as noone jumps on them.


      • If I were the Astros I would protect more pitchers than hitters for the 40-man roster. It is much easier for a team to take a pitcher in the rule 5 draft and hide him in the bullpen than it is to put a hitter on your 25-man major league roster for the entire season. Someone like Velasquez could be drafted and used in long relief or low-pressure situations for an entire season.


      • And – given Velasquez history – he could spend half the year on the DL not even taking a spot. Scary proposition to leave this talent off the 40 man. IMO he is the most talented pitcher in our organization.


  10. WTHB points out this morning that the D’Back’s prospect Archie Bradley has made the AFL All-Star team with a record of 0-2, with a 6.55 era and a 2.18 whip. Mark Appel was left off the team with a 1-0 record, a 1.59 era and a .076 whip while leading the league in innings pitched.
    Check out more AFL All-Star travesties at What The Heck Bobby. What a joke of a All-star team!


  11. I would almost expect Santana and/or DeShields to be packaged since they are not Luhnow guys. Santana definitely does not fit the Luhnow mold and frankly I’m tired of high K guys. I really don’t know where DeShields plays on this team. I think Kemp is a better player than him and probably a steadier and more mature head. Prospects and young pitchers are Luhnow’s biggest inventory items with relatively decent value so I hope he continues to spend them like he did for the Fowler deal and to a lesser extent on the Cosart deal.


  12. Did anyone else catch the ad that ran on FOX during the game tonight ‘thanking’ fans and letting us know where to go buy season tickets for next year? I only caught one Astro in the highlights, and it was Feldman giving up a blast to Trout.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I see where Gordie Howe suffered a serious stroke over the weekend but is out of the hospital in Lubbock, My wife and I had great times going to see him and his boys play in Sam Houston Coliseum back in the early seventies. Then I got to actually meet him at the ’76 Shell Houston Open. He was a jovial fatherly-like man who enjoyed life and was very comfortable just being one of the fans.
    I think watching him play in that old arena struck me how important it was for him to be able to play with his two sons, because he was used to playing on all the big stages of the NHL and yet here he was in Houston playing in front of 7000 southern hockey fans in a place where it was hard to keep the ice from melting.
    It’s kind of weird that I would cherish those memories, never having been a fan of hockey before and then being able to watch Mr. Hockey playing with his boys in my little home town. I wish I could have taken my sons to see that.
    I think I might try to take my boys to a baseball game in Houston(Of course, that means they will be taking me). We’ve never been to a game together. I think I’ll start a bucket list. Hey, what about taking the grandsons, too? Wouldn’t that be something?
    Going out of town. Becky, please take care of things while I go play.


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