Free Blog Weekend: It’s getting crowded in here!


Okay, take a deep breath. Spring training is just a few weeks away and the start of the season is a little over two months from now. Jeff Luhnow has plenty of time to remake the roster.

Of course, I say that in jest as Luhnow has performed his magic on the major league roster, the same “magic” he began at the minor league level a few years back. But it’s not much of a stretch to suggest that the makeover of the Astros over the past few months is the biggest makeover in the history of the organization. At least over any similar four-week period since 1962.

As someone pointed out recently — and Luhnow has also postulated — depth and flexibility may be A.J. Hinch‘s best friend in 2015. Evan Gattis goes down or needs a couple of days off? No worries, we’ll run Chris Carter there, and move let Gattis DH. Jon Singleton doesn’t cut it at 1B. Not. A. Problem. Singleton to Fresno, Gattis to DH and Carter to 1B. The new kid on the block, Luis Valbuena, doesn’t cut the mustard at 3B. Hey, we’ll just slide in Marwin Gonzalez or Jonathan Villar or Matt Dominguez or . . .

Get the picture? Here’s a quick look at how many options Hinch will have at each position. And this only includes players on the current 40-man option. (Of course that could change by the time this publishes or by the time you read it!). And, these are in no particular order, just a laundry list that Hinch can use as ST approaches.

And, here are a few other weekend thoughts to get your fingers and keyboards going.

The time is now.

  • Remember last year when rumor had it that Luhnow had offered contract extensions to Dominguez and Grossman? Both declined or there was some other reason deals didn’t go through. Assuming the rumored offers were accurate, their subsequent play could be a factor in Luhnow’s movement of some other prospects. In other words, Luhnow may have decided to sell high on some prospects. Yes, there’s an inherent risk in that strategy, but for every prospect like Nolan Ryan, there are dozens, if not hundreds, of Jiovanni Miers and Eli Iorgs. Yes, Michael Foltynewicz may develop, but regardless of his upside, talent and potential, he is still largely an unknown quantity at the major league level. Gattis, on the other hand, is not. You know his physical limitations, you know his K factor, but you also know he will provide some punch and a little flexibility. Risk? Yes, indeed.

Of course, there are concerns.

  • As I’ve mentioned previously, every team has a couple of whiffers. The Astros may have as many as eight in the lineup at any one time. Can that lineup survive? Will a lineup of several whiffers in a row be more susceptible that the one with two or three? Will it be easier to work around a potentially hot hitter in hopes of getting to the next whiffer? How’s that dugout/clubhouse mood after a game with 20 whiffs and 15 LOB? You know what they say about things being contagious.

There still aren’t enough chairs.

  • As I demonstrated above, there are still too many players for this ship, especially as this ship goes on into the season. Sure, the easiest call will be giving Singleton a ticket to Fresno if he doesn’t perform in ST. But, with a contract in hand, Singleton will have every chance and get his ABs to prove it. IfGattis isn’t going to be in left field often, something has to give. Best odds for movement between now and opening day?
    • Gonzalez. He’s still in the arbitration pipeline and you know what that meant for Dexter Fowler.
    • Carter. Time to sell high? Of course, that’s a huge risk if he turned the corner in the second half.
    • Castro. There’s still smoke, though it’s less of a bon fire now.
    • Grossman, Oberholtzer, Presley, Stassi, Santana and others are further down the list.

Okay, and a few questions for you.

  • Simple starter question: Grade Luhnow on his moves since the World Series ended.
  • Which player(s) currently on the 40-man won’t be around on opening day?
  • As of today, best guess for wins in 2015.
  • Best/worst move of the winter thus far.
  • Your level of interest in the 2015 season now, based on a scale of 1-10 (10 being “I’m ‘there’ day and night!).
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57 comments on “Free Blog Weekend: It’s getting crowded in here!

  1. Before we get started I noticed that throughout Alex Presley’s 4+ year major league career he has consistently HIT like an All-Star when playing CF. Quite simply, every year of his MLB career he has hit like an average player when in LF or RF. But when he plays CF he hits like a monster.
    I tried to find out if it was the same in the minors, but those stats don’t seem available.
    How does anybody explain this? Except that baseball does, indeed, have a lot to do with what is in every players head.

    Like

    • OP, you can’t explain it! 🙂 That said, I’ve seen it coaching over the years. From Little League, to high school, to select ball, even to college. When a player is comfortable with his environment, it “frees” him up. You’d think playing right field or left field wouldn’t be that much of a difference from center field…at least from a preparation point of view. But I do believe some players are more cut out for versatility than others. Think Bill Spiers. We often talk about moving this guy here or that guy there, but it’s much easier on paper than in real life.

      So, if you found this, certainly Luhnow’s guys have seen it. Wonder how many other little tid bits of hidden stat info he has?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks for that. The reason I commented on this subject is the discussion I was in yesterday on Castro’s unhappiness affecting his play.
        It’s no different than in everyday life, If I were an unhappy grandpa, I just wouldn’t be as effective a grandpa as if I were happy.

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    • OP, I don’t deny it in a lot of instances. You can back a few weeks ago when we had the Springer/CF discussion and what I said mirrors what you just said about Presley.

      In Presley’s case I think its a small sample, and could be a result of a hot streak at the same time the Pirates were playing him there. There also could be something to it the other way though too. My point is you don’t KNOW. So when you ask me the rhetorically dumb question about Conger, it’s easy to respond too – I KNOW Conger gets more strike calls then the average catcher – it’s statistically proven. I don’t know why, and can’t pretend to know why, but I know its true.

      You have your apple way of looking at things, I have my orange way of looking at it. I am the first one to admit the best franchises in the world have a mix of both.

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      • I thought it might be a hot streak also, until I looked and it has been the same thing for Presley all four full years of his career, including last year with the Astros. His BA, OBP, SLG and OPS(of course) are all radically higher when he is playing CF. Four years is a good sample and there is not an exception.
        One year the difference was unbelievably big, but the other three years the difference is a lot.
        With that big a sample I have to go with the assumption that this guy is totally jazzed to be playing CF and his play has become a reflection of that. If it were fielding stats you could say that the players surrounding him had a lot of influence. But such radical Batting Stat differences when playing a particular defensive position over four years with two different clubs is mind boggling.
        It also means that he needs to examine himself and find out how to do that playing all the OF positions to make himself a much more desirable and well-payed player.

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      • I can’t do the research, but wonder if his offensive roles differed when playing CF v. a corner OF position. For example, if he mostly played CF on Sundays it might have meant the guy(s) given breaks around him in the lineup bumped him from hitting #7 to #2. Ask Carter how much better it is hitting with Altuve on base v. hitting with Dominguez on base.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Same thing I said about Springer. It is my belief that if you play the middle of the field, C, 2B, SS, CF, you carry an air of leadership that improves your confidence. Exactly what I said a few weeks and the reason I want Springer in CF. If I recall, when I wrote it, someone commented that he can continue to hit his HR and get his RBI from RF just as well. I just think, having played both LF and CF in independent leagues, that there is a different way you are looked at by your own teammates, and a roll that you fit.

        Basically I am on record to agreeing to your philosophy on it, you can look it up, but I am not sure it applies to Presley just yet – though you have laid it out clearly enough.

        TBH – any evaluation of Presley’s stats show that he could probably be an average major league CF’er – in other words – get the job done. He has some speed, doesn’t strike out a lot, and his ISO’s and BABIPs suggest that he does have a little sting on the bat, and probably double digit HR power if given enough plate appearances. I myself have probably unjustly dumped on him in the past.

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  2. Grading Luhnow on his moves
    Conger trade-C- I just don’t get it because I don’t understand Conger because I don’t have the stats and could not watch him play against us. I have switched to Direct TV.
    The rest of the moves- B+. I wanted him to make moves to strengthen the team and fix the glaring holes. I think he has done that. It’s not an A because it doesn’t appear that he has gotten anyone to help carry the team’s young prospects when they get here. I would have liked a really good pitcher or a younger star position player. But for now I’m ok with that because that guy may come here in two years when we are going after the Championship with our young studs. Thank you for letting me comment.

    Liked by 1 person

    • At this point, I suppose that a player like Lowrie or Feldman could fill the role of team leader. However, Qualls is also known to be a mentor of sorts, so he could certainly help groom some of the younger pitchers, no?

      And, you’re spot on with your last comment. It would be great to have someone to mentor players like Springer and Appel, but maybe those guys will learn on their own (if they’re worth their mettle) or perhaps that veteran presence that this team so badly needs will come in a signing down the road.

      And, in my earlier comment, I should have said “If you have found this, hopefully/certainly Luhnow’s stat gurus have also found this. Hopefully. Right?”

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  3. Fascinating subject Chip and really deep thoughts there old pro.

    – Grading Luhnow before seeing how anything turns out is really not true grading of the moves – it is grading the fulfillment of MY expectations.
    If you told me that Lyles, Tropeano, Foltynewicz, Ruiz, Fowler and Cosart would be sent on in the course of the last year – I would think we would have picked up a top pitcher or top hitter along the way.
    We have picked up good pieces, but nothing that knocks my socks off – so I have to grade Luhnow a B- (vs. my expectations).
    Now as far as fulfilling what the team needs I think he has done a better job with that in going after the bullpen and the left side of the infield and in making it a much, much more flexible lineup.
    I am totally with old pro on not understanding the Conger move – it did not seem to me to be worth what we gave up and did not move my needle over Corporan / Stassi.
    – Not on the 40 man on opening day – Alex White followed by LJ Hoes.
    – Win total for 2015 ….83 wins
    – Best move of the winter – OK, a tie – picking up Neshek and Gregerson to bring life blood to the pen
    – Worst move of the winter – the trade for Conger
    – My interest level for 2015 – 8.5 – it may not seem like it but I do have a life outside the Astros – but it is pretty high

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  4. has the team gotten better for THIS season? i have to say yes. why?

    we lost two players with major league experience*
    Corporan
    Fowler

    we picked up eight players with major league experience
    OF Rasmus
    RHP Straily
    3B Valbuena
    C/OF/DH Gattis
    SS Lowrie
    RHP Neshek
    RHP Gregerson
    C Conger

    *this does use players who had a cup of coffee i.e. Folty, Tropeano or players who didn’t play much i.e. Albers, Crain

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  5. Off topic but, I have to tell you how much the kids at Kingwood Middle school enjoyed seeing the guys on the Astros caravan today. It means so much to young
    kids to see a REAL baseball star up close and personal. Also…….we have a center for mentally challenged kids and young adults here in Kingwood. The guys were able to play cards (Uno) with some of the students, and I can’t tell you how very happy these folks were to see their favorite Astros! Since Suddenlink will not carry the Astros AGAIN…….just the fact that these kids got to meet some Astros players will not soon be forgotten. Becky 🙂

    Liked by 4 people

    • Becky: Stories like that are never off topic and great read. It is really sad when players and others do good things it never is considered “Newsworthy.” But when they screw up – it is Page one.

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  6. On the surface, the Conger trade looks like a head-scratcher. I will be honest…I never even heard of pitch-framing until the Conger trade happened. With that in mind I am giving that trade an ‘I’ for incomplete as I have no idea how valuable a pitch-framing catcher can be. Offensively, he is not much of an upgrade over Corporan, but his minor league numbers are better so there is some hope he may figure it out, but not likely.

    Now, with the Gattis trade, I am one of the that like this trade. Last year only 11 players in all of MLB had 30+ HRs and the Astros, assuming everyone is relatively healthy, and I will admit this is a BIG assumption, they have 3 guys that can reach that level. I give this trade and the others a B+. Power is at a premium now, post PEDs, so grab it while you can.

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      • It’s not that I dislike the Gattis trade, but want to know how much perceived value there was for Folty with other clubs. I think 30HR from Carter, Springer, and Singleton are all more likely than Gattis reaching it, fwiw.

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  7. The other factors to look at in the Gattis trade is team control and salary. How often can you get a guy at league minimum with team control for 4 years that can hit 30 HRs? Yes, we gave up a lot for him, but these other factors are, in my opinion, the reason we had to pay such a steep price. If we only had control of Gattis for 1 year or he was making $10M/year I am certain Luhnow would not have given up the pieces he did for Gattis.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Tim, I won’t argue whether the trade is good or bad, but there are a couple of points. Indeed, Gattis is under team control for four years, but he’ll hit his first season of arb next winter and he won’t be cheap, especially if he has a decent season. So that salary will rise sharply and quickly. Meanwhile, Folty is essentially under “team control” for six seasons and won’t hit arbitration for at least 2 more seasons.

      There are several angles to debate this trade. The fact is that all of them have some significant defense…at least at this snapshot in mid-January 2015.

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      • How much more is Gattis going to cost? Carter hit 37 HRs last year and his salary didn’t take a significant jump (about 100%). I don’t know how the arb process works as far as salary increases are concerned, but if he hits 30 HRs where do you expect his salary to be next year? Of the 11 guys that hit 30+ HRs last year 9 are making $4M+.

        It is evident to me that Luhnow is eschewing OBP for slugging. Essentially, he is banking on those HRs happening enough to overcome the stranded runners on 3rd with less than 2 outs. He clearly has put a premium on power more than plate discipline. Will it work? I don’t know, but Luhnow thinks it will. When only 11 out of roughly 420 offensive players hit 30+ HRs (approximately 2.5%) I can see why he is valuing power so much. The Astros could have 20% of the players that hit 30+ HRs next season.

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  8. “As of today, best guess for wins in 2015”

    My best-case scenario projection is 75-80 wins in 2015. I say that because we are probably not going to win any more – or perhaps as many – games against the Rangers this year than last [we were 11-8 vs them last year]. They should be healthier and tougher. So winning 75 will require us to pick up net wins against other teams, especially Seattle [9-10 last year], California [7-12 last year], or Oakland [8-11 last year], and especially against NL teams in inter-league games [I think we wound up 5-17 against the NL last year, or something close to that].

    For that to happen, not only will we have to have a significantly improved team OBP and OPS, but [a] Keuchel and McHugh will have to avoid significant regression, [b] Feldman will have to stay healthy, [d] Obey will have to lower his ERA to 4.00 or under and his WHIP to under 1.30, and [e] a fifth starter will have to not be horrible.

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  9. As of today, best guess for wins in 2015.
    80. With a trade for real “closer” or the emergence of a real “closer” I go with 85 wins.

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  10. Because I am a kool-aid drinking, blinded, foolhardy, optimistic Astros fan I am guessing they get 87 wins with 90 possible if Keuchel wins the Cy Young this year. How’s that for a prediction? 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  11. “Grade Luhnow on his moves since the World Series ended.”

    It is way too early to tell the long term impact – particularly what the pieces we have received may bring in trade at trade deadline or off-season next year. That is all speculation. But it really appears that all the triggers Luhnow has pulled are ‘I am looking at keeping my job through 2015 moves’ – i.e. moves designed to keep Houstonians paying good money for tickets, concessions, and licensed Astro merchandise through yet another painful, rebuilding year.

    He has ‘sold’ a lot of prospects, and has received a premium over projected value on none of them. He has added zero game-changers. We’ll hit a few more home runs, but we’ll strike out a lot more. We’ll hold the line a little better in the late innings, but we still don’t have anyone in whom we can really be confident to close a game out. And the back end of our rotation is a lot less deep in upside, and pretty much guaranteed-to-be below average. All that starting pitching we have in the system is now a lot farther off. But there’s room for Appel to pitch now if he suddenly decides to be as good as Carlos Rodon.

    Based upon what we’ve seen so far this off-season, subjectively iI think Jeff gets at best a C. He probably won’t get fired for what he did, but he sure shouldn’t get a big raise either. Everyone knew in October that at a bare minimum Luhnow had to go out and get some bullpen help and a replacement third baseman for 2015. Those were givens. The only question on those moves was how much he would have to give up and/or spend. Everyone also sensed early on that he wanted to get rid of Dexter Fowler. Now with the old Cardinal connection with Colby Rasmus popping up it becomes pretty clear what his motive in that regard was. He went out and found a decent, dependable shortstop to displace Marwin, who was up for an arbitration pay-out, and he went out and got a power hitter to provide insurance for Carter, who was also up for arbitration payout. He seems to have overpaid a little to a lot for all of them. And nothing he has done – with the possible exception of signing Gregorson, makes a significant difference in any aspect of the game that will likely affect wins vs. losses against real MLB opponents. I say at best he earned a C. If we somehow manage to break the .500 barrier in 2015, his grade will be upgraded to a B. If by some miracle we go to the play-offs, he looks like a genius and we all scratch our heads, scrape and bow.

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  12. “Best/worst move of the winter thus far”

    The biggest potential negative is virtually trading Dexter Fowler for Colby Rasmus/ [I know, it doesn’t look like that’s what happened on paper]. Dexter had injury issues, and truly wasn’t as good in CF as Marisnick or Springer project to be, but he was serviceable and predictable in the field and was an on base and run scoring machine on a team than desperately needs both baserunners and people who can team up with Altuve at the top of the order to manufacture runs during those long lulls when our bombers are whiffing in record numbers between occasional dingers. If Colby has a year like last year, this ‘exchange’ will be a major bomb, and will cost us 3 to 5 games, because the other piece of the puzzle – the mediocre 3rd baseman the Cubs had to get rid of to make way for Kris Bryant – is not likely to come anywhere close to making up the void in OBP and run manufacturing that Dexter’s departure will create.

    Most inexplicable move? That has to be the Conger acquisition.

    Best move? Signing Gregorson.

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    • You make some good points, Mr. Bill, but Fowler wasn’t serviceable in the field if you look at defensive metrics. He was abysmal in CF and I prefer the advanced metrics over the ‘eye’ test. Also, calling Valbuena mediocre when he had the same OPS as Fowler last year is puzzling, especially when you just indicated Fowler was a huge loss. Valbuena is also trending upwards in his numbers so it isn’t likely he will regress. Fowler is probably about what we saw last year, and Valbuena doesn’t have the injury history of Fowler.

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      • Hope you are right, Tim. I’ll be rooting for Valbueno [and Rasmus too]. I am just looking at Valbueno’s lifetime BA, OBP, and OPS vs. Fowlers. It’s all in how you look at the numbers – at least until they hit the field in April.

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      • That is fair, but you were only looking at Rasmus’ stats from last year. His career stats are better. In fact, last year was his worst year ever. My point is that your doom and gloom analysis seems to apply career stats if they are worse or just last years stats if they are worse. If you are more consistent in your evaluations I wouldn’t debate you as much. We shall see how things turn out, but if this team only wins 75 I think Luhnow is gone.

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  13. Right about now, I give Luhnow a B. Maybe a B+. This is a much better lineup, and a much better bullpen. I know there are some additions to the back end of the rotation, so there’s depth there. But I don’t think it’s an improved rotation.

    I don’t see LJ Hoes being around on Opening Day. Same for Alex Presley and his $1 million.

    All that said, I think this team is looking at 84 wins. I think 83 is the over-under.

    Best move thus far was getting the two bullpen arms. It was our biggest need and Luhnow filled it.

    I’m a 9. I have a life and a family, so 9.

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  14. The aggravating – yet intensely thrilling – thing about baseball is that, at least the last time I looked, a team does not get to line up and play a single game against its own ‘last year’s’ team. Every baseball team actually has to go out to real baseball fields across the country and line up nine-on-nine [or 10-on-10 in the AL] against somebody else’s new, improved ‘this year’ team. Every other team’s ‘this year’ GM has known it was his job to do his level best in the off-season to make sure his ‘this year’s’ team could beat the pants off his ‘last year’s team’. But even if it’s theoretically true on paper, it really doesn’t change anything. You can’t add wins to ‘this year’s by navel-gazing and comparing to ‘last year’s team’. You have to line up against other teams’ new improved versions – and find a way to actually beat more a lot of those new, improved teams more often than you did last year. You can’t just dazzle them with home run power – you have to outscore them over 9 innings. You can’t just hold a lead a little while longer than last year – you have to hold it till the 27th out.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. All the projections have this team scoring significantly more runs than last year. I have seen some projections of 100 more runs, which added to last year’s total puts them in the top 5 in baseball, if I am not mistaken. The rotation is not improved, at least it doesn’t appear to be, but there is no doubt the bullpen is improved. The Astros had 25 blown saves last year and about half of them were when leading after 7 innings. The bullpen looks to be the biggest improvement in 2015. Cut those blown saves in half and, well, you can do the math. Yes, there is more to it than that, but a blown save, especially one late in the game, can be devastating for a young team. A 10 win improvement looks to be a good possibility.

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    • I am replying to my message as on am on my work laptop (IE7). I expect them to be better than 5-15 in interleague play. I also think 11-8 against Texas is very achievable. They could improve upon the 7-12 record against LAA and 2-5 record against Cleveland. In my opinion it seems like the balance of power has shifted over to the N.L. Both Lester and Scherzer sign with N.L. teams and we are not sure where Shields is going yet. If he goes to the N.L. then you have the top 3 pitching free agents switching leagues.

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      • We should get a taste early against Cleveland. We kick of the season with them at MMP. And we kick of interleague play with what should be the vastly improved San Diego Padres on April 27. Then in mid-may we get the reigning WS champion Giants. So by the 3rd week in May we should have a pretty good read on how we measure up against the ‘have to improve against’ teams. Go ‘Stros!

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      • If we’re going to be an 80 win team we have to do a lot better in interleague play and play .500 in our division. If we have a losing record against one team in our division, we have to make it up against another and play .500 against the other two, something we didn’t do last year.
        Our #5 starter is going to be more important this year because we don’t can’t get to .500 if the #5 slot is a pushover. I think we have four pitchers that match up well and we need five and a closer. I really like our chances to score runs.
        I sincerely believe it is going to be hard to play .500 ball if we let our division walk over us and I think Luhnow realizes it, finally.
        The time to play the martyr role of a team forced to move to the AL West is over. It really is time for this group of players to go out and play ball and kick some rich west coast butt. I want to see balls fly out of every stadium we play in. I don’t think the final 25 players I left on the roster tonight is ready to walk out on that field and get kicked around. I see a hungry team who is primed to be recognized. And I think their leader is going to be George Springer.

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    • The Astros only had a winning record against 3 teams last year: NYY, Texas and Toronto. I expect them to have a winning record against more teams this year. Let’s say they go 10-10 against the N.L. (they have 7 games against Colorado and Arizona so this is very conceivable) that is a 5-game improvement. Even if they drop slightly against Texas I would expect them to improve against other teams.

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  16. the spit site has changed its story and does not include figures now other than the deal was for 1.0625 million. earlier it had the arb figures and it was closer to the astros figure than the players figure. the settled figure was slightly below the halfway point

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  17. Mitch moreland and Rangers settled.
    Gomes signed with Braves
    Vogelsong signed w/ Giants
    Jordan Schafer settled w/ Brewers
    Jesse Crain signed MILB deal w/ Chisox and
    Brewers are going after Papelbon.

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  18. OK, what guys won’t be around opening day from the current 40-man
    Buchanan Cruz
    Deduno Feliz
    Peacock(DL) White
    Wojo Stassi
    Torreyes Hoes
    Santana Villar
    Grossman Velasquez
    Dominguez
    That’s just a guess. My hardest picks were Grossman/Marisnick and Villar/Marwin
    I still think two guys from the current 40-man could be traded before the team is set.
    I went with Marisnick because Presley bats LH and they may want to keep a righty to complement him and for late inning defense for Gattis w/ a lead. I picked Marwin because he switch hits and plays three infield positions, and I don’t think Villar or Dominguez can.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think Marisnick probably sticks because they aren’t going to want to shift Springer around, and they don’t want to play Rasmus against lefties very often, and given that Presley is also lefty the logical choice for at bats against those lefties is Marisnick. Probably puts Grossman at AAA unless Carter is moved – which could happen.

      Liked by 1 person

  19. CBS Sports has an article that Vogelsong was uncomfortable with some of the Astros actions and this is why he didn’t sign. RV didn’t give specifics.

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    • In the same article he said his wife kept whispering in his ear.
      In the same article he insinuated twice that it was divine intervention that was guiding him to SF.
      He said the Astros people were great but that he was uncomfortable.
      In the same article he said it was probably SF where he knew where he was supposed to be.
      He sounded just like a baseball version of the mealy-mouthed cowboy Sugarfoot from the sixties TV series. In other words, a San Francisco Cowboy. God, I am so glad he was guided to where he belongs!
      Used Pandas For Sale!! Get ya used pandas heah!!

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  20. Grade for Luhnow? B
    I’m trying to decide what would have earned him an A. He did as well in the FA market as we could have asked. The trades can’t be fully judged until they’ve played the games, but I wonder if we could have had Donaldson, Heaney, Latos, etc. For what we ended up moving (or less). The team looks greatly improved…but I don’t know if it can translate to a .500 record.

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  21. I find it difficult to grade Luhnow down much because of his apparent lack of funds to spend. What he did was creative and he tried. The list of free agents or trade candidates was not very long. When you start by realizing you don’t have the cash for the top 20 or so – you do what you can do. It appears the team is different and yet no one seems to believe it is that much improved. I agree. And I want to add one caveat on all the flexibility. If Carter returns to 2013 form and Singleton stays the same – there is going to be a big hole at 1st/DH. Those two guys are on the team to hit. They don’t do much in the field – at least not what I saw from a very limited sample. As to who goes – I believe DanP did a column back in the Fall and graded the top 40. Using his chart it was obvious there are 4-8 who could be gone and it would be no loss. (There might be a JD Martinez in there but probably there are 3 Ronny Cedenos) With the recent additions – not because of money – it should be easy to show them the door and say thanks. My best guess would be .500 at best.

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  22. Luhnow: c+
    Not on the 40 man roster? *VILLAR*
    Head scratching signing? Rasmus (Luhnow’s pet) and Conger. I don’t get it.
    Wins for this season: 80-83 and THAT would be H U G E !!
    We still need another starting pitcher.

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  23. My earlier post on win projection was tongue-in-cheek so I will give my true feelings now. The 3 biggest concerns for me are health, defense and starting pitching. I still think future moves are forthcoming before spring training, but as the team stands now I am in the same ballpark as Becky, which is about 80-83 wins.

    I really don’t want to see Gattis in LF much, but where do they play him if Singleton is going to play most of the time? I don’t want Gattis catching either unless it is absolutely necessary. Ideally, DH and some time at 1B is the best spot for him, but then what do they do with Carter? This is why I think a trade is going to happen and, like Becky, I am concerned it may hurt. The logical trade piece, in my opinion, is Carter as it might be a good time to sell high on him, but I would want a SP in return. I would also like to see one more bullpen piece added.

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    • Played 19 seasons and never played in a post season game – his first 16 years you either went to the WS or went home. They were a miserable team until towards the end of his career. Came closest under Leo the Lip – had the huge collapse in 1969 when they were up by 9 games over the Miracle Mets in mid-August and ended up 8 games behind.
      Ernie was 38 in 1969 but still knocked in 106 runs. Maybe the most amazing thing about him was winning two MVPs in a row in 1958 and 1959 for teams that were under .500 and 5th out of 8th in the league. 47 and 45 HRs and 129 and 143 RBIs will do that for you.
      Born in Dallas and went to High school there – but he was Mr. Baseball in Chicago and it was a ways to second place.

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