The activity this winter — it is winter, right? — has been staggering. Rumors aside, trades and free agent signings are moving at a rapid pace unlike the recent previous off seasons. As for the rumors, who can keep up with them all?
Here’s one thing you can keep an easy record of. The Astros have little or nothing to show for the off season thus far, unless you count “E” for effort.
What does seem evident, though, is that Jeff Luhnow is determined to upgrade the left side of the infield and the bullpen. He’s clearly adopted the “…shoot for the stars, if I miss, I’ll hit the moon” mindset. David Robertson and Andrew Miller were the big closer targets and they signed with the White Sox and Yankees respectively.
Luhnow said he would “absolutely” love to bring back Jose Veras for the bullpen, but Veras can’t be the prize catch this year. Luke Gregerson, though, might be the guy to tag team with Chad Qualls, Veras and Michael Foltynewicz at the back end of the bullpen.
As for SS and 3B, the Astros clearly anticipate an upgrade for at least one of the positions and apparently aren’t thinking stop gap.
The Astros have been sellers for so long that it’s difficult for fans to fathom big dollars being thrown around on closers and corner infielders.
But here’s the deal: The horse is out of the barn. Luhnow cannot come back completely empty with also rans, retreads or patch quilt solutions. And, if fans still believe that Houston is still engaging in only window dressing with the offers that have been substantiated, they aren’t paying close attention.
Here are some other conclusions that a reasonable onlooker could reach:
- The Astros are content to let Jon Singleton have another shot at first base.
- Luhnow is content with the rotation with the current returnees and prospects in the pipeline.
- Dexter Fowler and Jason Castro aren’t on the front burner of conversations. At this point. However, as other dominos fall, they could move to the forefront later this month or next.
- The Astros’ image is clearly tarnished, but Luhnow is rebuilding it. He needs only one solid free agent upgrade to add to Scott Feldman to move the train down the tracks a bit farther. Remember, 2016-17 is still the target, right?
And, some questions:
- Is Lowrie really an upgrade over Jonathan Villar and/or Matt Dominguez?
- How ’bout Justin Upton (over who?) or Chris Johnson?
- One of the catchers will have to go still, right? Which two are most likely to start the season on the 25-man? Castro, Max Stassi, Carlos Corporan, Hank Conger.
- Why haven’t the Astros already avoided arbitration with Marwin Gonzalez? Shouldn’t that be a no-brainer?
- And what to make of the Chase Headley possibility? Would he really be an upgrade, especially at the rumored 4 years/$65 million?