An open letter to Astros’ General Manager Jeff Luhnow

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!

16 comments on “An open letter to Astros’ General Manager Jeff Luhnow

  1. Chip –
    I think you hit on quite a few things here that are important and certainly being aligned with AJ Hinch after the misalignment with Bo Porter has to be a critical item.
    I would love to know what Luhnow’s true thoughts are on Fowler, Castro and Singleton. Are these placeholders, does he think Fowler will play more games, Castro will hit more like 2013 or that Singleton will flash his minor league prowess at the mlb level?
    The 3B statement you made is an interesting one. Morgan Ensberg was the only + side 3B they have had since Caminiti in my opinion – but like Fowler he just could not get enough ABs in most of those seasons he was with us. His OPS from 2003 – 2006 was .907, .742, .945 and .858 – but he only had between 385 and 411 ABs in 3 of those seasons. And then he completely melted down – seemingly changing his batting stance every AB and crashed out of the league. Shoot the guy is only 39 right now. It was a shame to see him crash and burn.
    The Hamels question is an interesting one – but we know the Phillies will not trade him without getting a cache of prospects. It feels like the kind of move the Astros should make next season or the season after when they know better what is and is not working and developing.
    It should be a very critical year for the Astros and specifically the GM – wonder what we will be thinking this time next season.


  2. Great letter – focused on 2015 but ever mindful of the impact on 2017 when things get serious. Would be interested in how he feels about tradeoffs between 2015 and 2017. I for one am leery of the Lowrie acquisition – he improves the team in 2015 but is not likely 2017-strategic. Also interested in how he feels about possible Keuchel/McHugh/Altuve regression, considerations around who gets the centerfield plum, and whether he’s hoping for well-defined 7/8/9 relief roles or letting AJ use his judgment.


  3. I would argue that Morgan Ensberg was pretty consistent for a four year stretch and at least got on base at a solid clip while having some pop. At least better than anything we’ve had since then.


  4. Based on your Astrocolt45 reply – I will write my own letter to Jeffrey Luhnow (does anyone remember when Jeff Leonard asked to be called Jeffrey instead?).

    Jeffrey –
    How are you doing, sir? I really am interested in your feeling about yourself because I think it will reflect in the decisions you make.
    If you still think Jim Crane is 100% in your corner – then you are likely going to stay the course on all your major decisions and have no remorse about anything.
    If you think that the replacement of Bo Porter moves the sniper’s cross hairs to you as the next target – you may make some decisions that are not as fixated on the long term.
    And as long as I am in the questioning mood – here are some things we’d like to know if you could let us know. There is a bit of a theme here…..
    Will you change the …
    – Way you work with your manager after the Porter debacle?
    – Process for selecting your first round pick after the Akins debacle?
    – Way you apply the tandem system to all those minor league pitchers – even ones like Appel who seem to lose thier mojo under it?

    One of the problems we had when Ed Wade was here – he seemed to do a much better job of trading for help than signing FAs to help out. I’m hoping you have success across the board – but how do you see yourself?

    The fans really need a shot in the arm here – but we fear that when this team shows some improvement you may send away some of those folks just for financial reasons. Can we trust you and the owner to move the Astros into win soon mode instead of a slow rebuild.

    Anyways – I know you are busy – hang in there and we are not expecting much other than a winning season at all levels of the organization….

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Unfortunately, the questions I want to ask cannot be answers publicly. I want to know what their data analysis says about certain prospects. I want to know just how big a number they were given from Rodon last summer before the draft. I want to know what their computer projections say would be the outcome from adding Scherzer and Shields (note – I don’t personally want either unless it is much below market value).

    I want to know what Houston area business leaders are telling them behind closed doors. I want to know if bud selig had dirty laundry he used as leverage to move our home game to MIL (wrong management/ownership? I still want to know).


  6. Bravo Chip!! You are (were) very respectful, and much more kind than I would have been! BUT……..that’s only because we fans have been jilted year after year.
    The Hamels “thing” ain’t gonna happen……the Astros are on his no trade clause BIG time. When we traded for Happ we saw what happens when a guy HATES
    being on a lesser team like the Astros. Sooooo my opinion is we will surf the net for a starting pitcher who’s trying to make a come back, or a guy who had surgery last year. Good stuff to chew on! Glad you’re back!


    Liked by 1 person

  7. Jeff:
    We needed a first baseman last year and you got Guzman and Kraus. When those two were horrible you brought up Singleton too soon and gave him a contract and he was embarrassing. How are we supposed to be happy about your ability to acquire first basemen You’ve had four years to find one.
    You have nobody to play third base. We had the worst third baseman in baseball this past season. Yet, you haven’t fixed that. Do you know anything about 3B We have a guy in CF who had bad defensive numbers in CF, but you continue to put him in CF on the Depth chart and leave our real CFer in RF. Do you know much about outfielders?
    We have four catchers on the roster and none of them are very good hitters. With such a lousy lineup, are you satisfied with a catcher who can’t hit.
    Last year we were near the top of the league in HR and near the bottom in every other offensive statistic, yet the only change you have made to the lineup is to sign a FA who was terrible at the plate last year.
    Why do you bother raving about Altuve being the batting title guy in MLB, but obviously don’t care about batting average in every other hitter in our lineup? I mean you don’t have anyone who hits for average except Altuve, so is batting average only important for one guy?
    Jeff, why don’t you quit and let us find a baseball guy to run our team? I’m sure you could be the GM of any major league club, because they are all obviously looking for a talented guy who can field a winner in six or seven years or more. After all, what owner wouldn’t want to wait a long time to field a winning team?

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Old pro………AJ Reed is gonna be an OUTSTANDING 1st. baseman! We drafted him in 2014, and has done nothing but hit…hit…hit! This kid is *amazing*!


  9. I’m just testing my log-in info Jeff. I forgot my password so thought I would try this to see if it gets me into Mission control to see which players I can get attached to without having to watch out of town teams to see them play.


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