Evaluating Luhnow’s winter: Better, worse or about the same?


So, this is just a quick one.

Over the past few weeks, Jeff Luhnow has made moves that really remake the Astros lineup. So, I thought I’d take a look at differences between what we saw last summer and what we should see on opening day.

One problem is deciding which lineup from 2014 to use, and what lineup — of so many potential lineups — to use from 2015. Well, as for 2014, I’ll use players in the most common lineup. For 2015, I’ll pick the lineup 1Oldpro posted Monday afternoon.

For simplicity sake, I’ll just compare OPS and K%. So, without any adieu, here is the final starting lineup from 2014.

And, now a projected lineup from 2015.

  • C. Castro, .651 OPS, 32.5 K%
  • 1B. Singleton, .620 OPS, 43.2 K%
  • 2B. Altuve, .830 OPS, 8.5 K%
  • 3B. Luis Valbuena, .776 OPS, 23.6 K%
  • SS. Jed Lowrie, .676 OPS, 15.7 K%
  • LF. Evan Gattis, .810 OPS, 26.3 K%
  • CF. Springer, .804 OPS, 38.6 K%
  • RF. Jake Marisnick, .607 OPS, 30.3 K%
  • DH. Carter, .799 OPS, 35.9 K%

So, a couple of observations about all this.

1. There are four sub-.700 OPSs on each lineup, but two of those in 2015 are Jed Lowrie, who should be able to bring his OPS back to his career average, which is .741 and Marisnick, who could be replaced by Grossman if his OPS doesn’t come up.

2. 2014 only came with half a season of Springer. But 2015 should give us a lot more of him.

3. If you average the 2015 OPS, the total is .730. The average of the 2014 OPS is .718. Again, that’s weighing in a lot more Springer and Fowler than the Astros actually got. And while Lowrie looks like a step down from Marwin Gonzalez, I think we can all agree Lowrie is an upgrade. Of course, that’s also counting a lot of Gattis for 2015 when he did not play a full season either.

4. So, is this a better lineup?

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95 comments on “Evaluating Luhnow’s winter: Better, worse or about the same?

  1. Springer’s OPS was not around for the last three months of the season, so your final starting lineup for 2014 is not correct. Take George out and add in Marisnick to last years lineup, then make the comparison
    So, Springers OPS then beat’s Fowlers, Valbuena’s OPS completely torches Dominguez’s OPS, and Gattis’s OPS is 140 points higher than Grossman’s. That is improvement in 3 out of the nine spots in the order, right there. That leaves Castro to his own improvement from his worst year ever, and Marisnick to try and improve from a 23 year-old rookie in his first real shot in a new ballpark and a new team with a very weird manager. Think he has a shot to get better offensively, now that he actually has some stability in his life? I would hope so. It also leaves Lowrie to improve a down year for him after performing well in Houston and Oakland for two previous years.
    I see big improvement this year.

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    • I would be positive about Marisnick if he had shown potential for greatness in the minors.

      I am in the apparent minority on this – it seems to be an overwhelming majority, at least on this site, in support of Marisnick – but my belief is we are wasting our time with Marisnick. He was never great at any level, and while good at the very low levels, he progressively got worse as he was promoted through the Marlins system – at every level up his power went down, his K rate up, and his overall production trended down.

      He has an interesting skillset no doubt. His defense is unmatched on this roster, and he maybe one of the 10 best defensive outfielders in baseball. Unfortunately outfielders aren’t paid to be defensive stalwarts, truth be told the difference between the one or two plays a week Marisnick will make from RF over someone else probably doesn’t constitute giving him 30 plate appearances to do so.

      He also provides some speed, and his defensive skills lend me to believe that he has good baseball acumen, so thats in his favor.

      I am just as skeptical about Grossman in different ways, but he should be a better hitter overall.

      The better solution would be that another move is coming, and a true RF’er is on the way, one that can give 20 HR, 80 RBI, and good defense.

      Like

  2. I will never be a Lu man fan, but I think he has done a pretty solid job this year of major up grading at the plate, and on the mound , with 2 more deals coming.
    Just for giggles staring Line up 2013 and UGH

    Altuve
    Wallace
    Carter
    Pena
    Maxwell
    Castro
    Matty D
    Barnes
    and drum roll
    Ronny the bad man Cedeno

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m enjoying both old pros comments and Kevin’s reminder of the black hole of 2013 (and a reminder that Altuve was not good Jose in 2013).

    You folks hit on this pretty well – I would just add to old pro’s remarks that the 1B spot is a real wild card. Singleton has the potential to really pull up that spot this season. If he doesn’t – I think they won’t live with bad production there – they will move Carter to 1st, Gattis to DH and Tucker to LF (or some such merry go round).
    I am excited to see what a Springer Carter Gattis middle of the order performs like over an extended period. And Jim Crane should be happy to use K-fan power to cool the stands rather than turning on the AC.

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    • I agree with you. The big bats in the lineup might also help Carter level out from the ice cold first half/white hot second half guy to a more consistent hitter. Moving Singleton down in the order might allow him to relax, since that is what he seems to be working on this winter.

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  4. I just read a little article on/from Singleton, how he has just chilled during the off season trying to get his mind and body right for this year. I hope this works and he wasn’t chilling with to much of the Herb.

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    • If relaxing will help him perform better the team doctor should write him a prescription for the wacky weed – for medicinal purposes only of course.

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    • I read that too. If it’s the same article, there was a nice vote of confidence from Oberholtzer about Singleton saying he had faith Singleton would correct his approach and turn into a productive hitter.

      Coming from a no-nonsense guy like Obie, that makes me feel better.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Usually I am the one talking us into all players posting career years and staying healthy. I’m not nearly to that level of optimism. In fact, I’m a bit worried at this point at our potential to crash.

    Also, I’m concerned about which personnel moves they will make and which they will not for 40 man reasons.

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    • OP, think I mentioned this as a possiblity recently. WIth his St. Louis connections, wondered how long it would take Luhnow to kick these tires. This would be a game-changer for the roster. Not saying he puts the Astros over the top or he himself is a game-changer, only that the roster and lineup takes on a different feel if Rasmus dons a Houston jersey.

      Grossman is likely out in this case and Marisnick is no longer the starter…if it happens. But, bigger than that…Read it this way: Jon Singleton, Get. Your. Game. Together. Quickly.

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  6. I would be much happier if it was us bringing in a Yovani Gallardo and not that team up north.

    Overall, the offensive improvement is there. I’m not sure Vogelsong is the answer I was looking for, but the rotation does look like, with his addition, that they can support a .500 record. We are in a tough division though, with the 3 of the other 4 franchises making big moves, while the A’s just continue to chug along with in house talent.

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    • Well, the A’s folded like a tent when they lost Cespedes, who turned out to be their soul. Then they lost Donaldson and then Lester, of course. They lost their two best guys in their lineup and now try to regroup. And their toilets still don’t work.
      The Angels lost some pieces and didn’t replace them, but they still have trout and a group of way overpaid old guys.
      The Mariners should be good, but so could the Astros. A hugely improved Astros team makes more difference in 162 games than does the changes in our division. we play almost half our games in the division and everything depends on our team and how they play, not how the other guys play. We need to go out and beat them even at their best, not hope they just lose to us.
      The feeling I have is different. Last year I waited to see if anybody could collect an RBI, started by the top of our order. With this current lineup, we could see runs anytime from the top to the bottom.

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  7. 1a. On the mound, we are not as good a club. I go back to July 31 and look at everything that has transpired since. Yeah, I’ve harped on this and I don’t blame those of you tired of hearing it, but I think we lost more than we got with the Cosart trade. I would have liked to see a rotation of Feldman, Keuchel, McHugh, Cozart, Folty. Potentially one of the best in the league.

    1b. I’m not convinced our pen is all that good yet. Do we have a closer? Will Qualls give us as much? Shipp pitched career best ball. Can he do it again?

    2. I’m happy with Conger/Castro. An upgrade, assuming (is it safe?) that Castro is still with us.

    3. Singleton has to be somewhat better doesn’t he? But even if he’s not, we’ve got a couple of options to put there, although I also believe that neither Carter nor Gattis should be out on the field with a glove on. So first base gets an incomplete for now.

    4. Altuve will be the same solid guy. Push.

    5 and 6. I firmly believe that in house guys can give us what Verbuena and whomever plays short will provide. Verbuena had a career year with that .766 OPS. Just now hitting his stride, or can we expect the same amount of offense? I think he regresses. We will be better at 5 and 6, but we could have done it without Verbuena.

    7. Certainly Gattis will provide more offense than we’ve had out there in years. But we’ll fondly look back at Carlos Lee and his defensive talent in left once we’ve seen a bit of Gattis there. So yes, an upgrade, but with this caveat: I would have paid Fowler and put him in left. Did he ever say he would not play the position? For ten million? Fowler in left would have given us a very capable defensive leftfielder and given us one of the best leadoff, two hitter combinations in MLB.

    8. Fowler in left would have allowed us to play our centerfielder of the future in centerfield. Springer plays 150 games in 2015. Big upgrade in center over 2014.

    9. I don’t have an answer for rightfield. I simply don’t. But I would have preferred to start the season with a Grossman/Marisnick platoon out there, simply because of the rotation I noted in 1a. I also don’t think we should be forgetting about Santana. His very few at bats sure scared a lot of folks off. Rightfield gets an incomplete.

    I’m still annoyed that we put so much effort into building a young, more athletic organization and suffered through three years of terrible for no apparent reason.

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    • Somebody reminded me this morning me that Casey Close is Fowler’s agent. Yes, that Casey Close. I am not surprised about their being the biggest difference in Arbitration figures, and definitely not surprised he is gone.
      Santana has been in minor league ball for five full years and a partial. He has hit .300 only once and that was a full year in Lancaster and that is where his age was the least different than the competition. Next year he will only be 22 years old and his 82.5% strikeout rate definitely indicates he is not old enough or ready enough. He is going to be one of those guys who will wreak havoc on the 40-man because of his age. Maybe he explodes in AAA this season and breaks out. Let’s hope so.
      The Astros listing Marisnick as their starting CF on their Depth Chart does not mean that Springer won’t start there. I’m pretty sure they put him there because listing him there increases his value. I’m pretty sure they won’t trade Springer so they are not worried about him being listed as the #1 RF. But they kept Fowler as the #1 CF for a reason and they may be doing the same thing with JFSF. He’s worth more listed there.
      Valbuena. Everyone loved the year he had last year. The Cub’s, the fan’s and the Astros. He was not platooned last year, so he faced LH pitching all year and he bats from the left side. Our LH batters were the worst in the majors last season and the two main one’s in our lineup returning are Castro and Singleton. Valbuena helps us against RH pitchers from the left side. We needed that. We were in the top 13 in every major hitting category from the right side last year, despite having the worst hitting 3B in the league. Valbuena should make us better.

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      • Valbuena’s OPS last year was slightly higher than Fowler. I think some are looking at the batting average and dismissing him. In addition, he doesn’t have Fowler’s injury history. I am with you, OP. I like this team, so far, much better than last year.

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      • absolutely daveb. i don’t always agree with you, but i respect your opinions. if i win the lotto ill grab OP and head out to your place for wahoo and rum.

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      • actually if i won the lotto (and no one hold your breath) i will arrange for everyone here to come to minute maid for a game and big blowout. now i may have to get struck by lightening twice first…….but i do buy a ticket now and then, i call it my redneck 401K.

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    • I think Gregerson becomes one of the better closers in the AL. I do have my doubts about how they will get to him though.

      While I think we will be disappointed in overall lineup synergy, just seems too many of the same type, low walk, low average power hitters, I have to think I would rather have Valbuena at 3B and Gattis in LF over Dominguez and Fowler. Admittedly though this lineup looks like it needs Fowler.

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    • Losing Cosart, Folty and Aiken will define Losenow’s mediocrity over the long haul. GSpring will be a superstar. But undervaluing these three stud hurlers, and overvaluing the likes of Keuchel and McHugh will eventually be his undoing.

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  8. If this Rasmus signing follows through this completely changes the dynamics of the offense (Rasmus is definitely an upgrade of Grossman/Marisnick) and makes the Fowler trade look much better. Would you rather have Fowler/Dominguez or Rasmus/Valbuena? For me, it is a no brainer…give me the latter. Of course, you know my feelings on Dominguez and that I don’t think he should be a starting 3B for any team, but especially my favorite team.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. If reports are true, Luhnow got a steal for Rasmus at 1 year/$4 million. Batltimore had offered the same one year deal for $8 million.

    And, this deal would buy time for the Tuckers and other to develop normally.

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  10. Wow. What has happened? In the last ten days the Astros have totally remade their lineup and stayed within their budget. Rasmus adds a LH bat to the lineup and decent defense. Has mostly played CF.
    Right before our eyes the team has changed to one of experience, without spending a fortune and not blocking any of our top prosects with huge long term deals given out to older guys.
    This is very interesting.

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  11. Is LJ Hoes still on the 40-man? I smell the waiver wire.

    And I’m thinking Villar might be shown the door for Volgelsong.

    Who are your top two candidates to get bumped off the 40-man to make room for these two signings?

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    • I picture Hoes bumped by Rasmus.
      Vogelsong is tougher. He might have struck a deal with us but we might take a few days to see if we can deal a fringe pitcher for a lower non-roster prospect to clear a spot for Vogelsong

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    • Brian, yes, Hoes is still on the 40-man. There are fewer pieces of riff raff there than normal, but there are still 6-7 players that could be considered weak spots. This could be one reason that we haven’t heard anything more from Vogalsong and it could delay the Rasmus signing for a day or so as well.

      Trade in the works? You now have excess parts at catcher, outfield and pitching. Someone(s) has to go.

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  12. So let’s see: We desperately need OBP and contact – especially after giving up our highest OBP contributor and one of our best contact guys last year. So along comes Colby Rasmus – he who batted all of .225 last year with an OBP of .287, while whiffing about every third at bat. He only played in 104 games – which does not speak too well of his durability. I guess those18 HRs might means something to somebody – if they didn’t coincide with 124 Ks, only 29 BBS, and only 155 TBs. What it means to me is that I see us getting a dozen or so more meaningless solo home runs in the late innings of throwaway games that have been long-since decided. We just effectively put the clone of Matt Dominguez in right field.

    Has anyone noticed that for a GM who supposedly believes in high OBP, low strikeout guys who know how to work the count and can draw a walk, Jeff Luhnow sure has been bringing in a lot of the exact opposite kind of player?

    The low OBP, high strikeout, low durability disease which was already running rampant on our team has managed to get even worse this off season. Does anyone deny that we now look poised to set an untouchable record for both offensive strikeouts and low team OBP in 2015?

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    • I agree with the high Ks, but not so much on the low OBP. Springer, Carter, Valbuena, Lowrie and Singleton are all guys who can work the count. Rasmus, Altuve and Gattis not so much, but Jose will have a high OBP because he hits for average. Castro can go either way.

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      • Rasmus has an accelerated, climbing K rate. Last year he struck out 33% of the time, as opposed to the 18% he had as a rookie.

        Baseball is a complicated game. It takes a TON of work to get good at it. It takes a ton more to stay good at it. It really is just as easy to unfigureout what you are doing as it is to initially figure it out.

        He is certainly young enough to refigure it out. I’m not sure a young team that struggles with the strikeout already was a team to take that chance, but since he is now our guy here is to hoping we see more of the pre 2012 guy and less of the 2013-2014 guy.

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    • You can add me to the discontent list. I think it’s easy to look at each piece and say its better, but the lineup is going to see a LOT more 3 and outs in its current configuration, and I wouldn’t be surprised if NOONE posts above a .360 OBP, with multiple people under .300.

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      • Steven, last year only 29 hitter in the major leagues (with enough qualifying ABs) topped a .360 OBP. If Houston has just one (Altuve) we have our fair share.

        In fact, between KC and SF, both teams combined only had one such hitter — Buster Posey for the Giants. So having that one high OBP player would seem to be overrated.

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      • Steven,

        There isn’t one player projected to be in our starting lineup, sans Singleton, with a career OBP below .300. Who are the multiple players you think will be below that number?

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      • Its not about career numbers.

        Rasmus for example was .287 OBP. Carter will be around the number, give or take 10. Singleton is more likely to go over it this year with a fresh start, but could be below it. Valbuena is a 29 year old with a career .313 – though he is trending upwards. We don’t know where either the catchers will go. Is Lowrie the SS 100% now? I would think so, but hopefully he does better than a .225 average (I do suspect he will).

        I don’t think we will be gangbusters on base. I’m not even ready to say Altuve is a lock at .360 – he has to hit .320 to do it since he is allergic to patience.

        I know there is a lot of possibilities – heck Singleton has the talent to hit .270 with a .350 OBP with power himself, and carry lineups, but the lineup seems to be LOTS of possibles, and few certains, and that leads to chaotic lineups that don’t work well together. Can Gattis play LF and stay healthy enough to keep Carter at DH? Can Singleton figure it out? Can Lowrie bounce back? Can Valbuena win a job outright and keep it for 150 games? Is Rasmus recent sick downward trends from unhappy situations, or is he unable to adjust to pitchers adjusting to him? Can either catcher hit enough to be “the” guy? What do you do now with 6 outfielders (Gattis, Springer, Rasmus, Marisnick, Presley and Grossman)?

        I am sure we are all sitting around waiting to see the results, but this team looks like to me it will go from 21st in OBP to about 25th, but if that does happen it might be better simply because the SLG will go up 10 spots. I am scared of the solo homerun though, it does little to help you win.

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    • LOL Daveb. I am a little old fashioned, I guess, but when it comes to baseball, it takes the prospect of real wins in real games by an inspiring, overcoming team to make me feel happy. Spending the owner’s money, changing the names on the back of the players jerseys, and trying to imagine there is going to be another team somewhere down the road that strikes out as often as my heroes project to does not inspire much happiness.

      But hey, for Chip and the gang I will happily suck it up and play DJ. Cue the Partridge Family hit from days gone by. Sing it David Cassidy!

      Hello world, look at the tradin’ we been doin’
      Come on, get happy.
      If the record for whiffin’ is what you’re pursuin’
      We’ll make you happy

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  13. You’re are also going to have a lineup, assuming Gattis plays LF, that will have 8 of the 9 batters hitting 15+ HRs, 5 capable of 20+ HRs and 3 capable of 30+’HRs. They may lead the major leagues in HRs.

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    • True, Tim. That would be some consolation. And we all know that chicks, ticket buyers, and bloggers all tend to like the long ball.

      Unfortunately, in our team history high HR rankings just do not translate to high total run rankings or high victory totals. Last year our Stros were 4th in the league in HRs but were . . . wait for it .. . . 21st in total runs scored.

      By the way, we were also 21st in one other offensive category. That other offensive category was . . . drum roll . . . yep – OBP. And we were even worse than 21st [I think we tied with the Twins for 28th overall] in winning percentage. I wonder if one could conclude from that coincidence that it might just be OBP, not HRs, that most directly correlates to how many runs a team scores and how many games a team wins.

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    • How many blown saves did we have last year? Do you expect our corner infielders to have OBPs below .300 again? Do you think our catcher will hav a sub .300 OBP again? Our team OBP last year was…wait for it…wait for it…309. What position do you expect to have an OBP below .309 in 2015? We have depth in case Singleton and Castro falter again.

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      • The positions I think it is reasonable to expect, based upon last year’s performance, to have a below .309 OBP are: 1. RF [or wherever Rasmus plays]; 2. 1B [Singleton (.285 last year), Gattis (.304 for career), or Castro], 3. C [Gattis .304, career), or Castro (.286 last year), or Conger (.293 last year)]; and 4. DH [Carter, .308 last year, in his best year so far)]. Moreover, based upon last year, I expect all our subs and PHs, and of course our pitchers when we play interleague, to be well below .309 in OBP. Finally, since Jed Lowrie is now 30 and appears to be declining in offensive effectiveness, it is altogether possible our SS position will barely make the .309 OBP level – unless of course Carlos Correa shocks us all and shows up early.

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      • Mr. Bill, you are completely ignoring OPS, but staying with OBP you would have to expect Singleton to continue hitting .170 to fall below that number. Carter had his worst OBP season last year and it was still .308 and that is taking his abysmal first half into that equation. His career OBP is .313. Jason Castro’s career OBP is .323 and Jed Lowrie is .330. In addition, our subs and pitchers hitting last year were included in that team OBP of .309. It appears you are making a case based upon the worst case scenario instead of projected stats. Furthermore, as I stated below, OPS is a more relevant stat and who do you expect to have an OPS below .692?

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  14. I don’t get DfA of Corporan and feel $8M is a slight overpay for Rasmus, but it is only 1 year. Why not DFA Deduno or Hoes? My guess one of them will be DFA’d tomorrow once Vogelsong is added.

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  15. Let’s hope Rasmus left his drama in St. Louis………he has been known to mouth off.
    The outfield is getting mighty crowded….and I don’t get the DFA of Coporan.

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  16. Let me also add that Rasmus had a down year, for him, last year, but still managed a .735 OPS. This is not strong, but Dex had a .774 and Rasmus is an upgrade defensively in CF.

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  17. So what really happened? Did the geek squad down in the basement spit out a grave new report that told a story of OBP being old news? And did all that young promising pitching become a secondary issue? And did having better, younger athletes, guys that could play defense and create havoc on the bases become unimportant?

    We’re not going to be a real good defensive team. We’re not going to have much in the way of team speed. We will strike out. We’ll break our own record won’t we?

    I liked it more when we had a real plan. On the bright side, we could have a real batch of guys to unload at the break for some bright new prospects.

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    • OBP is a nice stat, but I think OPS is a more relevant stat as it incorporates OBP with slugging. Last year we had a team OPS of .692. Who do we expect to have an OPS lower than .692 in 2015? Yes, we will strikeout and we will strand runners, but we will also have many extra base hits, including HRs. Yes, we were 4th in the league in HRs last season, but we had an abysmal team OBP and OPS. Both should be increased this year.

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  18. Corporan is more highly regarded by game watching folks that appreciated his arm, snap throws, and decent play calling, and less regarded by the stats crowd. Given the management direction of this team, I am not surprised at all by Corporan’s DFA.

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  19. Okay, so we were 16th in OPS last year, and tied for 27th or 28th in winning percentage. Let’s say we get up to 14th or 15th in OPS in 2015, despite the fact that we lead the world in Ks and have an abysmal OBP. I still don’t see how OPS correlates to winning ballgames any more than ranking high in home runs does.

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    • Where do you expect us to fall in team OBP and OPS in 2015? If we get more guys on base in 2015 than we did in 2014, hit more extra base hits and score more runs why do you think we will only move up 1-2 spots in OPS? Also, we have a much improved bullpen. We led the league in blown saves last year. Even if we had an average bullpen we probably increase our win total by 5-7 and that is still with a horrid OBP and middle of the road OPS. We are going to score more runs than last year and not blow nearly as many leads. I don’t think we are going to the playoffs, but to not see a .500 team with a much improved offense and bullpen doesn’t make sense. Unless we have a rash of injuries, ala Texas in 2014, we are definitely improved from 2014. Let’s not forget we didn’t have Springer for the final 3 months and still played close to .500 while he was out. We now have a much better option at 3B, LF and SS while making the safe assumption that Castro and Singleton will improve from last year. This team is much, much better than 2014.

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      • Tim – though we disagree minorly on the OBP issue, I think I would concur that the team is much better than 2014.

        The more I check into what some of these guys can do, the more I want to move off my early prediction of 75 wins, and put them at .500. Gattis, Valbuena, Lowrie, and Conger are upgrades. Depending on Vogelsong the rotation could be at least the same – I like Keuchel and McHugh, but both had great seasons hard to repeat, but Vogelsong and Obie are much better than ever seeing Peacock on the mound again.

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      • Steven,

        Right now I see them at .500 give or take 3 wins/losses in either direction. I never intended to imply they are contenders, but you would be hard pressed to make a case they aren’t significantly better (I think a 10 win improvement is significant). I think they will have a bit higher OBP, but they could regress some also, but the team OPS should be much improved from last year. The bullpen is going to be the big difference this year. Right now, it looks to be in the top 50% in the league. Considering they were the worst last year this is vital to the teams success in 2015.

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  20. To continue to play the game presented to me, the guys who had a .692 or less OPS last year were:
    1. Lowrie (.676);
    2. Marisnick (.669)
    3. Grossman (.670)
    4. Castro (.651)
    5. Presley (.628)
    6. Villar (.620)
    7. Singleton (.620), and
    8. Dominguez (,586)

    Projecting 2015 based upon 2014, any and all of those have to be considered good candidates to have an OPS at or below .692 in 2015. Not all may be on the opening day roster, but every one of them is on the 40-man right now.

    We lost Fowler who had an OPS of .774 in virtual exchange for Colby Rasmus’ .735 ( I calculate that as a .39 point loss). Fowler scored 61 of our runs – third on the team. Rasmus scored 16 fewer runs.

    Obviously not all is a downer. We should be a little better offensively at two positions – third (Valbueno) and possibly at catcher/LF (Gattis). Hopefully won’t be much worse at SS (though MarGo’s BA, OBP, and OPS were all significantly better than Lowrie’s last year). In the outfield, I see Rasmus for Fowler as a major downgrade. Hopefully, Springer will stay healthy all year, Carter will hit all year, and Singleton will actually become a ballplayer – and make Rasmus for Fowler irrelevant.

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    • Of the below .692 players you listed only 3 are going to be in the starting lineup and all 3 are projected to improve. Furthermore, how is Rasmus a major downgrade from Fowler? Rasmus had one of his worst seasons offensively last year and is still an upgrade defensively. Isn’t Rasmus/Valbuena a big upgrade from Fowler/Dominguez?

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      • Not on paper. We will see how it plays out in the field. We have to hope not only that Springer avoids the injury bug this year but that guys with scary injury histories like Gattis and Rasmus and Feldman and Fields do as well. And we have to knock on wood regarding guys who dodged the bullet last year, like Altuve, Keuchel, McHugh, Obey, Qualls and Sipp as well. We are not deep in any phase of the game. We have a lot of catchers and outfielders, but no top notch replacements pushing the starters at any of those positions.

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      • On paper, we are significantly better and it is clear. The only position where we have downgraded was CF and that is not a significant regression since Rasmus is a better defensive player. Every other position, including SP and the bullpen is either the same or improved. I will agree to table this until the end of the season with this declaration…Our starting batting lineup will have 8 of the 9 players, at a minimum, have an OBP above .309 and OPS above .692. If I am wrong I will come on here and eat crow. This lineup, in my estimation is: Altuve-2B, Lowrie-SS, Springer-RF, Carter-DH, Rasmus-CF, Gattis-LF, Valbuena-3B, Castro-C, Singleton-1B.

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  21. Let me add a caveat to my previoius comment. I am certain Singleton will be on a short leash so if he struggles in April I think they send him to AAA, move Carter/Gattis to 1B (those 2 taking turns between 1B and DH) and go with Grossman/Marisnick in LF. Even then I will say that Grossman/Marisnick combined will exceed .309/.692. Of course, the offseason is not over and I have read on some other blogs that some thing Carter is going to be traded allowing Gattis to primarily be a DH. Thus, my declaration above will be null and void. šŸ™‚

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  22. I’m thrilled Luhnow made the trades and signings! I’m not thrilled with the actual pieces acquired. It shows progress, to me, but perhaps at the expense of “the plan.”

    Would anyone like to add this guy for our OF?
    .247 .316 .456 (.772 OPS) 18 HR 46 RBI

    What about this guy to play 3B?
    .266 .308 .386 (.694 OPS) 12 HR 82 RBI

    What about a big trade for this guy? He plays SS and won an MVP award once.
    .296 .357 .442 (.799 OPS) 18 HR 81 RBI

    I don’t think our team will run the bases well in 2015. We’ll certainly set a record for team strikeouts, and likely have one or two individuals attempt to break the individual record. Defensively we will likely be adequate at only two positions – 3B and CF. Well, I think Altuve will be just fine at 2B as well, but the metrics will tell us he wasn’t. Do you know who the big losers are from all of that? Keuchel and McHugh.

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  23. What I like about all of this is that not one player is blocked in 2016, or 2017, or 2018. We can keep who we want and trade who we want.
    Right now nobody will trade for Corporan, but we’re set at catcher so there is no shame in DFAing a 31 year old reserve catcher. If somebody claims him he has a shot at the majors, which he doesn’t have here. That’s good for him.
    I’ll miss Fowler’s offense but all these moves are good ones. This team is better and every one of the guys we put in our lineup are still under 30 years of age, except Lowrie and we didn’t give up any players for him. Lowrie may actually be the only position player on our team who is on the 25-man when the season starts who will be older than 29 years old and yet none of our prospects are blocked. For those moaning about the plan, it is still intact. The only guy missing is Folty and I want to moan about him when he is a 26 yo major league pitcher, not when he is a 22 yo maybe who walks 4.5 batters every nine innings in AAA w/ an era over 5.00.

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  24. Vogelsong is no longer in Houston, and there have been no details about his taking a physical……..which is good news, or bad news. He either passed his physical, or the doc’s found something they didn’t like…..

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  25. It appears the Astros are sitting at $70 million in payroll now, pending the Corporan situation and any further additions. Are they going to top their budget and sign Vogelsong?
    I wonder, since Rasmus and Vogelsong were in town at the same time, if the Astros saw two players to choose from and decided to see who was more eager to sign.
    Why do I have this weird felling that something unexpected is going to happen?

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  26. Interesting comments today. I feel like Billy Martin “I feel strongly both ways.” I just want to add that when Wesley Wright was here – I thought he suffered from Schizophrenia or something. You never knew if he would be great or worse than lousy. Then I look at Vogelsong’s career stats. Wow talk about a guy that has been all over the place and stats to show it. Bring on the Abilify

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