What they said, what they meant: Offseason obfuscations
It is the off-season, but that does not mean there are any less opportunities for the folks in the Astros’ organization to say one thing while meaning another. Again all quotes are pulled from chron.com (spit!!).
Jeff Luhnow on the under performing 1B (Jon Singleton) and 3B (Matt Dominguez) positions.
- What he said. “Obviously, we’re going to give Jonathan every chance to make this club. We’re going to give Matt every chance to make this club. But we’re not going to hand them those positions. They’re going to have to earn those positions. Because we’re at the point now where the development at the big leagues is behind us, and this is about producing. And if they don’t produce, still both those guys have options. Both of them could end up back in (Class AAA) Fresno.”
- What he meant. “I could be patient with some of the positions in 2014. But after showing my buddy Bo Porter the door, guess who is in the hot seat in 2015? I’ll give you one guess, plus the hint that it is not AJ Hinch. Produce Jon and Matt or we all could lose our jobs….”
Mark Appel, trying not to answer a question about what he learned in his time at Lancaster (9.74 ERA in 44.3 IP while struggling with the tandem pitching concept).
- What he didn’t say. “There’s probably too many things – I learned I’ll pass for now, but I’m sure I’ll be able to share everything I learned sometime later in my life.”
- What he meant. “I’m a pretty smart guy. I went to Stanford. And I noticed that similar to how the Russians sent dissidents to the gulags in Siberia – people who complain around here seem to disappear. So I’m not saying anything until my free agent year and then I’m saying plenty.”
Luhnow commenting on Appel.
- What he said – “There’s no question that with an injury (to a pitcher) or a strong year from him that he could be in Houston in 2015. Nobody wants him here more than I do and more than he does, and I hope we can make that happen.”
- What he meant – “OK, my track record for promoting guys quickly is not great and perhaps about three guys are going to have to go down to prod me to action – but there is really nobody blocking this guy from a 4th or 5th spot in the rotation, except himself at this point.”
Astros third base prospect Rio Ruiz on the trade that brought 3B Colin Moran from the Marlins.
- What he said – “The (Astros) know what they’re doing and they have a plan. I’m excited to be in that plan as of now. I know things can change so I’m just trying to take that next step. This is just another place where I have to prove myself. I think I’ve hung in well with all these guys.”
- What he meant – “I am a 20 year old who put up impressive numbers at A+ ball (.293 BA / .823 OPS) against competition almost 3 years older than me. I looked ahead and saw nothing between me and the big club at 3B and then they go off and pick up Moran. I guess if I hit about .350 / .900 at AA Corpus they will have to make a place for me in another year.”
Luhnow talking about Jason Castro after the trade for Hank Conger:
- What he said. “Castro’s earned what he’s got. He’s a regular catcher at the big league level. But even with a regular catcher, there’s plenty of opportunities for back-ups to get a decent number of at-bats and really contribute.”
- What he meant. “Yeah he’s earned what he’s got, which was about $2.5 million last season. But he is arb eligible now and probably looking for about $5 million this season. I probably can trade off Castro for some good prospects and pair up Conger and Corporan for about $3 million total and not miss that much behind or beside the plate.”
New Astros catcher Hank Conger on pitch framing – the ability to receive a pitch in such a way that gets strike calls.
- What he said. “It’s kind of interesting to hear all the pitch framing things and how it developed into the big leagues. I really didn’t think there was that much that went into it. For me, my philosophy was, as far as a receiver, just making sure that I was quiet behind the plate, just trying to receive the ball where it was pitched. Not so much trying to drag balls into the zone or out of the zone.”
- What he meant. “People act like I’m some kind of umpire whisperer or something. In truth the secret to my success is really simple. My grandfather is actually a Korean Mafioso type. Before every game I start – he has his people kidnap the family of the home plate umpire and then release them unharmed after the game. The umps end up calling strikes like they are Leslie Nielsen in ‘The Naked Gun’ movie.”
Dallas Keuchel on the possibility of the Astros signing free agent OF Nick Markakis.
- What he said. “I did see the Orioles turned down the (opportunity to extend a) qualifying offer for Markakis. I always thought he was a stud. There’s a bunch of good players out there, but I think we have a bunch of good players on our team at the same time. We’re all young, we’re all trying to make names for ourselves.”
- What he meant. “Yes, we have lots of good young talent – our average everyday player was two years younger than the average for the next youngest team. So – I would not mind putting a 9 year veteran out there to show the kids the way. It would be nice not to lose those 2-1 games next season.”
Jeff Luhnow on whether the payroll could balloon more than the $20 million increase now that the Root Sports regional TV deal is becoming a reality.
- What he said. “I think Jim (Crane) has always included that ($20 million increase) in his comments about where we thought we would end up this year. It’s really more of a question for him, but I think he’s talked about that … so you have a rough idea where it’s going to go.”
- What he meant. “Don’t you think I asked Jim that already. He basically thought I screwed the pooch spending additional money on Jesse Crain, Matt Albers, Jerome Williams and Jesus Guzman last season and told me he couldn’t trust me with more than $20 million additional this season. He was playing on the golf course he owned when he told me how tight money is….”
Bonus WHSWHM: Luhnow on the rotation
- What he said. “I think we feel that we’ve got the three solid horses in the rotation. I don’t necessarily —I can’t tell who’s going to be our opening day starter, that’s up to (manager A.J. Hinch) to figure out. I could see Keuchel doing it. I could see Feldman being it again. I could see McHugh winning it. We’d like to add another starter. Folty (Mike Foltynewicz) is going to come into camp competing for that No. 5 spot. He’s got a chance, he’s got a good chance, but we’d like to have some healthy competition.”
- What you think he meant……