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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……

 

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About Dan P

Dan Peschong is a full time engineer and a long time Astros lover from the days of Joe Morgan to the days of Jose Altuve.

59 comments on “What they said, what they meant: Offseason obfuscations

  1. John Marshall
    November 11, 2014

    Dan, that’s good writing, really funny Stuff. Loved it. Keep it coming. All Of you Chipalatta guys can scribe.

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

    Like

    • Dan P
      November 12, 2014

      Thank you sir – we love doing it and appreciate having a great audience.

      Like

  2. 1oldpro
    November 11, 2014

    You must be having a good week because this is a seriously funny post!
    What Luhnow said about the rotation is that we have three pitchers who have a chance to start Opening Day and Folty has a shot at #5.
    What he meant: Where the heck is Oberholtzer? Oh, boy!
    What Dallas said: There’s a bunch of good players out there and there’s a bunch of good players here.
    What Dallas meant: We need to trade some of ours and get some of theirs.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dan P
      November 12, 2014

      Old pro – love your Dallas Keuchel take – perfect.

      Like

    • Dan P
      November 12, 2014

      Oh – nothing special this week old pro, but sometimes the Muse just hits me right. This week my muses are Rafael Landestoy and Mark Lemongello. And young readers I did not make up either of those former Astro names….

      Like

      • BrianT
        November 12, 2014

        A shortstop and a pitcher, if my foggy memory is correct.

        Like

      • Dan P
        November 12, 2014

        That is right Brian T – I know they sound like a salsa dancer and one of grandmother’s Thanksgiving desserts but you are correct.

        Like

  3. BrianT
    November 12, 2014

    Did Luhnow just forget about Obie?

    Like

    • Dan P
      November 12, 2014

      Brian T and old pro
      Yes the first thing I thought of when I was reading this was – how did he jump from the top 3 to the 5th starter. If I were Obie – I would make sure I am renting not buying.

      Like

  4. Dan P
    November 12, 2014

    I like to look deep into what people say – because often there are interesting psychological things going on – like when Rio Ruiz said “I’m excited to be in that plan AS OF NOW.” (My caps)
    But hey if Moran and Ruiz both end up solid major leaguers they’ll figure a way even if one of them has to move to 1B or the OF (or sadly) to another team…..

    Like

    • Devin_
      November 12, 2014

      I think it’s actually a good situation for Ruiz. If Moran becomes the hitter anticipated by JL and Ruiz reaches the point where he could also hold down a starting spot, he will get his chance somewhere via trade. Because their ages are so close, the Astros cannot stash one for a few extra years without tying up valuable 40 man space. It’s not like Ryan Howard wasting time at AAA because Jim Tho me had him blocked.

      Like

      • Flash
        November 12, 2014

        Right now, I’d rather have Jim Thome.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Dan P
      November 12, 2014

      Devin – who knows what will happen.
      – Moran could do well at AAA and turn into Brett Wallace at the majors
      – Moran could refuse to sign a club friendly contract and find himself stuck in the minors
      – Moran could be found torturing puppies….

      But there are a lot of possibilities before there is a conflict between the two and at worse one or the other becomes a trade chip.

      Like

    • Dan P
      November 12, 2014

      Oh – and loved your comment Flash!

      Like

  5. 1oldpro
    November 12, 2014

    Jeff Luhnow flew to Arizona to watch Appel’s last AFL start.
    Appels comments noted above are truly interesting.

    Like

    • Dan P
      November 12, 2014

      Hey – old pro – reading the tea leaves do you think there is any chance Appel starts the season in Houston…..it at least sounds like Luhnow is open to getting him up here this season.

      Like

      • BrianT
        November 12, 2014

        I think Luhnow is rooting extra hard for Appel, because if he succeeds it’ll make Luhnow look better and make us forget about Tiny Elbow Ligaments.

        Like

      • 1oldpro
        November 13, 2014

        Been visiting family in Austin and just saw this. The only way Appel starts the year in Houston is if he totally blows away everybody in Spring Training. But It wouldn’t surprise me if Appel started in Fresno because of his age, four pitches, the fact that Fresno could really use his drawing power and, mostly, because of the plethora of pitchers in AA.

        Like

      • Dan P
        November 13, 2014

        Yes old pro – we really need a pitcher or two one step away at Fresno ready to move up and Mr. 1-1 should be able to handle it.

        Like

    • Dan P
      November 12, 2014

      Very true Brian T – it is almost like how politicians want to distract you from this crisis or that crisis with something else of their choosing.
      I’m sure Luhnow has to have some doubts (maybe even about himself) after seeing Appel pitch so poorly at A+ in the tandem last season.

      Like

  6. Dan P
    November 12, 2014

    Latest news is that the White Sox are interested in Castro, but the Astros would rather trade Corporan.

    Like

  7. daveb
    November 12, 2014

    If we really got lucky and both Ruiz and Moran became quality ML baseball players, one of the two could certainly move over to that other corner infield position.

    Like

    • Dan P
      November 12, 2014

      ala Jeff Bagwell…..

      Like

      • daveb
        November 12, 2014

        Wouldn’t that be great Dan. I had not noticed your earlier suggestion.

        Like

    • Dan P
      November 12, 2014

      The way I look at it daveb – the more guys that develop the better. With injuries and needs at other positions – we need as many trading chips as possible.

      Like

  8. Becky
    November 12, 2014

    What he said:
    “Castro has earned what he’s got”
    what he meant:
    “And we aren’t gonna pay him anymore money, and besides we got Conger the
    other day…….and he’s cheaper”.
    I don’t think any thing MAJOR is going to happen in the Winter meetings. This is where the GM’s jockey for position, on who they need to trade for. meh……..

    Like

    • Dan P
      November 12, 2014

      So –
      What Becky said “I don’t think any thing MAJOR is going to happen in the Winter meetings. This is where the GM’s jockey for position, on who they need to trade for. meh……..”
      What Becky meant “I’m damn tired of waiting for some real mlb players to come our direction and it hacks me off that they can get all the GMs together and nothing exciting as far as the Astros go – happen.”

      Like

  9. Steeeve
    November 12, 2014

    This just in – it’s all over Detroit media that VM will be resigning with the Tigers for 4 years/$68M pending a physical.

    Like

    • Dan P
      November 12, 2014

      Well we were never going to it should have ante’d that up

      Like

      • Dan P
        November 12, 2014

        Or – not it

        Like

    • Steven
      November 12, 2014

      Yea, kinda figured the whole oh if we go a 4th year or go 50 mil he will come talk was a little off. The guy has been the best hitter in the AL, or at least the second maybe behind his own teammate, for some time. ESPN says 70 mil. That’s some cheddar, but if anyone has it coming for playing a game, its him.

      Like

      • Dan P
        November 12, 2014

        Yeah VM was just nails last season.

        Like

  10. Becky
    November 12, 2014

    Castro’s name came up a couple of times today at the Winter meetings, but “The price was waaaay too high”. I bet you a dollar BOTH Corporan, AND Castro will
    be gone before opening day. Ok…….maybe a nickel.

    Like

    • Dan P
      November 12, 2014

      I would be surprised if.. They both were either traded or not traded. My bet is on one or the other.

      Like

      • BrianT
        November 12, 2014

        Way to take a firm stand. Now you’re sounding like a politician.

        Like

      • Dan P
        November 12, 2014

        I meant my bet is only one gets traded and in the post I picked Castro.

        Like

  11. Steeeve
    November 13, 2014

    More news from Motown! The Tigers just traded their #1 prospect, Devon Travis, to the Blue Jays for Anthony Gose. Now, where have I heard that name? That’s the guy Ed Wade flipped for Brett Wallace immediately after acquiring him, J.A. Happ and Jonathan Villar for Roy Oswalt. He’s expected to be part of a center field platoon for the Tigers in 2015.

    Like

    • Dan P
      November 13, 2014

      Interesting trade – while Travis is shown as the Tigers #1 prospect – I don’t think he is considered super high for baseball as a whole.
      Gose, while better than Wallace, has not hit his stride in the majors – pretty low BA and OPS – but he is still young.

      Like

    • Devin_
      November 13, 2014

      Bizarre. Defense first CF who can’t hit must be the new market inefficiency.

      Like

      • Dan P
        November 13, 2014

        It is really strange – Gose has always been a speed guy – but never hit much even in the minors.
        The Tigers have Kinsler under contract for the next 3 (or 4 with an option) years – so maybe they saw him blocked. You would think they would trade him for some bullpen help instead.

        Like

      • Devin_
        November 13, 2014

        Exactly – I thought the implosion of the bullpen and Ausmus’ distrust in those guys hurt more than losing Austin Jackson.

        Like

      • Dan P
        November 13, 2014

        The Tigers had the weakest pitching in the AL side of the playoffs by far. Their starters had the 10th best ERA (3.89), while the other 4 teams were in the top 6 in the league.
        And then they had a bullpen with a worse ERA – 4.29 (13th in the AL) and a 1.48 WHIP (14th in the AL). The other 4 playoff teams had bullpen ERAs in the top 7 in the AL.
        They need help there a lot more than with a backup OF.
        The other way to look at this is maybe they want to build a greyhound OF like the Royals did and hope that helps their pitching too…..

        Like

  12. Astro45
    November 13, 2014

    I was never any good at Chess because I can not think 3 moves ahead. But I find it interesting that Castro was NOT one of those (apparently) offered a long term contract. And if the reports are true: Altuve, Singleton, Dominguez, Grossman and perhaps others were. So maybe he was viewed as a “place holder” last year.

    Like

    • Dan P
      November 13, 2014

      Quite an interesting point Astro 45…We don’t know for sure that he was not approached, but maybe his multiple injury problems tripped their computers to tell them that he was just a stop gap and to trade him when the best opportunity appears….

      Like

    • Devin_
      November 13, 2014

      My suspicion was that either preliminary talks led them to believe he was planning to test the free agent waters (or expect a huge extension) or JL figured his offensive value could yield far greater returns in an eventual trade than his salary would justify.

      Like

      • Dan P
        November 13, 2014

        I wonder if he would be a better trading chip if he had “sure” salary commitment for 3 years rather than being arb eligible uncertain.

        Like

  13. Astro45
    November 13, 2014

    One thing we learned from the “hacking” of the Astros computers was what is in the papers is NOT what is happening behind the scenes. And we also learned that some of the know-it-all bloggers, know less that I do which is near -0-. I believe that JL will pull the string on a few deals (example Castro or Corporan or both, & an OFer) and some prospects. He will be feeling the heat if the Astros have a similar or worse record in 2015. I would expect more trades in the Conger talent range at other positions or pitching. Some will be head scratchers (like Conger). But in reading other blogs, Chipalatta is much softer to JL than some. Some want red meat.

    Like

    • Dan P
      November 13, 2014

      I have to assume that we at Chipalatta are the know-i-some bloggers, not the know-it-all bloggers.
      Obviously we don’t have inner access to anything so a lot of what we do here is educated speculation or educated observation from the outside. There are times when I am not aligned with what JL is doing, but I’m not turning “shark” on him yet.
      But this is a very important year in the rebuilding – it is time to get a solid grip on .500 and beyond and have a lot more long term pieces in place by the end of this season.

      Like

    • Steven
      November 13, 2014

      I’m fine with Conger. I think he will be an upgrade over Castro, and will be interested to see where his bat goes with 500 plate appearances instead of parced playing time.

      Luhnow, not so much. I don’t want to see him gone yet out of morbid curiosity to see where this thing is going – but while he didn’t draft Singleton and Villar, he put them on major league roster, he brought us Carter and Dominguez. So far, he has proven that he will ignore the strikeout, and that befuddles me as a guy who thinks he pays attention to contact rates. Maybe he just couldn’t make lemonade out of lemons and he brought us the best players he thought he could.

      Like

      • Steven
        November 13, 2014

        Oh and forgot Grossman, Marisnick, Castro, the roster is littered full with guys that are over 20%.

        Like

    • BrianT
      November 14, 2014

      If you think we are soft on Luhnow, just go over to Crawfish Boxes. I think you have to be related to Luhnow to work there.

      Like

      • Dan P
        November 14, 2014

        Hey, I have been fine giving Luhnow some leash – especially based on the budget he has been handed.
        But it is time for the “plan” to show results at the major league level – if you are going to change the manager you have to know that you are next in the line of fire.

        Like

      • Astro45
        November 14, 2014

        As to TCB, if JL stops walking quickly a couple of those guys are going to break their noses in his backside.

        Like

      • Dan P
        November 14, 2014

        We like our GM but like our integrity more

        Like

  14. Dan P
    November 13, 2014

    It is a good question about Luhnow – who did bring in Carter, Dominguez, Grossman and Marisnick.
    My observation is that Luhnow has shown a strong bent towards drafting players with strong OBP and lower strikeout numbers. Of course he has total control over who he drafts.
    In making trades he has to get the other team to agree to let someone go and considering the AL average for K’s last season was 22% – it is probably a good guess that you are not going to get the exact guys you want when you are trading a Carlos Lee on his last legs.

    Like

  15. Becky
    November 13, 2014

    One of the teams who will be looking for a catcher, is the Rangers. Ok…..let’s just think about this for a minute. Do you trade Castro and?? for a MLB ready short stop,
    or a MLB ready 3rd. baseman?

    Like

  16. Dan P
    November 13, 2014

    I like how you are thinking, Becky – especially for 3B.

    Like

  17. goosie
    November 13, 2014

    i think it possible castro gets traded in a package that brings back a middle of the order bat. as far as gose goes…….i dont see him as a legitimate starter, maybe they are thinking 4thOF and pinch runner?

    Like

    • Dan P
      November 15, 2014

      The Tigers have enough Offense that I guess they can afford to go pull in someone mostly for their defense.
      Castro will have to be packaged with some pretty major prospect to get a middle of the order bat.

      Like

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This entry was posted on November 11, 2014 by in Astros.
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