Good morning Mr. Luhnow!
I’m writing this morning to thank you for the great job that you have done in the past three years to set the Houston Astros on a course for competitiveness. Prior to your arrival, many fans and others did not even know if there was a plan, much less what that plan was. Now, while we may not have your exact blue print, we do recognize that there seems to be a plan in place to return our beloved team to respectability, the playoffs and beyond.
Since spring training is about a month away, I just wanted to write to check in on plans for the next few weeks. Congratulations on getting some needed pieces for the bullpen (Luke Gregerson and Pat Neshek) and I think the Hank Conger deal will pay great dividends as well. Jed Lowrie could really end up being a coup!
You’ve also moved some of the fringe players like Marc Krauss and others, who probably couldn’t make the roster next season anyway.
Still, most of us believe there is work to be done and some key pieces of the 2015 puzzle are still missing. Yes, Dexter Fowler and Jason Castro are under team control and considered signed for the season. But their presence and role is still up in the air. We need Mr. Fowler and many fans — while torn — would like to see Castro have an opportunity for one more season to live up to his original expectations.
If you took a poll on Jon Singleton, you’d get mixed results. Some fans believe he hasn’t fully recovered from the drug issues he had and still others don’t think he’ll be a true major league contributor. I’m all for giving him the job for 2015, but we’ll need to apply some extra time and coaching. Man, would it be great if he could even come close to his minor league numbers?!
Oh my, and what about Jonathan Villar and Matt Dominguez. I know you’ll suggest that both are still young players and both are still essential parts of the 2015 plan. Lowrie will help to solidify the left side to a degree, third base has been a hole for too long. I know this isn’t your fault totally, but I believe the last consistent third baseman for the Astros was Ken Caminiti. Geez, that’s just too long!
As for those Cole Hamels rumors, I know you’re just doing your due diligence, which is commendable. But, let’s don’t mortgage the farm — or the bank account — for him. Not sure he would be THE player to make the difference in a 2017 run, especially given the organization is somewhat pitching deep with prospects who could be a factor by then. If Philadelphia wants to pay a huge portion of his remaining salary and you don’t have to give up several top prospects, it may be worth it. Otherwise, stay the course.
One other thing, friend. Let me encourage to spend the necessary time with A.J. to build a strong relationship. A relationship built on trust and understanding. Would rather you spend time there in the first few months of 2015 than running around the minor league camps, etc. It’s that important to the health of the organization!
Thanks for reading Jeff and I look forward to the next Astros’ press release. I do realize you have to handle many negotiations and conversations in private, but would surely like to get a little more clue from time to time as to your thinking. See you at spring trianing!
Your best fan!