What are they thinking? Astros face a myriad of decisions

Talk about the fast track. While the winter dragged on with minimal rumor after minimal rumor (until mid-January), players will begin to hit the ground running and things will start moving quickly now. Spring training games begin next week. Breaking camp is about a month away and games for real begin in about five weeks.

All the waiting is over. Jeff Luhnow said he wanted to keep the roster at a minimum (about 60 players) in an effort to give players plenty of opportunity for ABs and IPs. Still, with a logjam caused by flexibility and versatility, it could get dicey. So, what are the Astros thinking? Let’s take a look at some key questions.

What is Houston thinking about first base?

  • While it isn’t crystal clear, it’s obvious that the ball is in Jon Singleton‘s court. Chris Carter, Evan Gattis and Matt Dominguez will all get time at first base. Heck, just a season ago, Singleton was the third ranked prospect in the Astros’ system. Recently, Luhnow and manager A.J. Hinch have indicated that both Gattis and Carter will get plenty of time at first, though Gattis will start the spring in left field. But — and it’s a huge “but” — the team seems to be worried about Gattis’ knee, so that could simply mean more DH than anything else.
  • In reality, you can probably count the number of left field starts in 2015 for either Carter or Gattis on two hands.
  • What are the Astros thinking? One of two things: 1. Let’s push Singleton to the brink. He’ll either answer the bell or collapse under the pressure. 2. We’re got three guys, two positions. One of them will be traded before opening day.

Houston, do we have a closer?

  • Well, frankly, there are five. And, believe it or not, Chad Qualls is the most experienced closer on the roster. Yikes, you say! Pat Neshek, Luke Gregerson and Josh Fields are also possibilities, along with the recently acquired Joe Thatcher. Others could step up, but don’t expect the cavalry to come running in from outside the organization. This is the cavalry! Hinch has indicated he won’t make his final choice until late in the spring, but also said he will not entertain a closer-by-committee designation.
  • What are the Astros thinking? Obviously, they are comfortable with Qualls in the role. However, if Neshek or Gregerson (most likely Gregerson) stakes a claim, Houston will be in quite a nice neighborhood in the sixth, seventh and eighth innings.

And speaking of pitchers…

  • What is Roberto Hernandez thinking? And, what are the Astros thinking about Roberto Hernandez? The 34-year-old stands to earn $2.3 million if he makes the team and hits all his incentives. Hernandez had other options, though perhaps some were only NRIs. Houston had other options, but obviously wanted to hedge its bets. Hernandez also hedged his bets, including an opt out five days before spring training ends.
  • What is Hernandez thinking? The competition is not as solid as some fans and others believe.
  • What is Houston thinking? Maybe Dan Straily, Brad Peacock, Alex White, Asher Wojciechowski, Jake Buchanan and Sam Deduno don’t have the goods. Of course, most of those guys have one thing that Hernandez does not: Options.

Ah, yes, the future…

  • As much as you think it’s 2017 or 2018, or 2019, the future is…now. Once the season kicks off, Luhnow will need to go to work (if he hasn’t already) in earnest in getting his ducks in a row. Dallas Keuchel will be arb-eligible next winter. Collin McHugh becomes eligible after next season. In all, 19 players will be eligible for some level of arbitration after the 2017 season. Of course, not all of those will be in Houston, but the Keuchels, the McHughs, Gattises, Chris Carters et al will need to be addressed.
  • What are the Astros thinking? It would be surprising if someone isn’t locked up this spring or at least by the summer. Leading candidates: Keuchel, George Springer, Gattis or Carter.

And there’s that lineup thing…

  • With a plethora of options for 3-4-5, you have to wonder what Hinch is thinking for his opening day lineup. Virtually everyone in any prospective lineup you can write on your card can hit in the middle of the order. Springer, Gattis, Singleton, Carter, Valbuena, Jason Castro, Colby Rasmus. However, few — okay, a couple — can and should actually hit in the first two spots in the order.
  • What is Hinch and Houston thinking? More like praying that neither Jose Altuve nor Jed Lowrie gets hurt.

Finally, there’s Jim Crane…

  • Clearly, he has all his chips pushed in on The Luhnow Plan. With a contract extension late last year and a new manager in tow, Crane is drinking the Luhnow Koolaid. Rather than ask what is Crane thinking, it’s probably more important to ask this: If things go south, at what point does the Koolaid become bitter?
  • What is Crane thinking? That 2015 is more than just a make or break year. If the team fails to win 81 games, the Crane-Luhnow relationship will — not may, will — begin to deteriorate. If Houston fails to win 81 games, next winter may be the coldest in Houston memory.

40 comments on “What are they thinking? Astros face a myriad of decisions

  1. I wholeheartedly agree this is a big year for Luhnow and the Astros. I think anything less than 80 wins will be considered a failure and put some pressure on Crane to consider whether Luhnow is the right GM for this team. I think he is, but I am open to changing my mind if this plan fails. This is the first time in many years that I have high hopes for the Astros to, at the very least, be competitive on the field. I hope they don’t let me down.


  2. Starting with first base.
    That job is Singleton’s to lose and there is a good chance he will. Frankly, I don’t ever see Singleton as a guy that the media will ever report that he is in the best shape of his life.
    I don’t know where this concern about Gattis’s knee came from. Will somebody fill me in, because I haven’t heard one word about his knee this offseason. If he’s hurt, why did we trade for him? If he’s hurt why hasn’t he had it fixed?
    If we have to play Matt Dominguez at first base, we’re in trouble! Heck, if we have to play him at third, we’re in trouble!
    I couldn’t care less about Roberto Hernandez. If he’s the #5 starter, we’re in trouble.
    Fifth starter? Wojo will have to pitch better in ST than he ever did in the minors to win the job. He will have to have improved his pitches to accomplish that. Same thing with Alex White. If Straily is healthy and sticks to Brent Strom like a tick and can do what Strom says to do, he will be the guy. If he can’t get it done in five weeks, he may find himself in AAA like Collin did last year, waiting for someone like Buchanan to get bombed. My money is on Peacock to be the fifth starter on May 1st.
    There is a dark horse guy I want to talk about and it’s Luis Cruz. We don’t hear about him, we don’t see interviews. But he has six years in our system and pitched well in Corpus last season before getting promoted. One thing I’m sure of is that he was given something big to work on in OKC, because his K rate jumped up and his BB rate jumped up and those are a sure sign that he was working on something new. That has been a hallmark of Astros pitchers in the minors under Strom. As they move up they have to add a pitch or make necessary adjustments in their delivery or both. I’m positive that is the case with Cruz and I expect we will see a much better pitcher this year in Fresno than we saw last fall in OKC, and maybe one with a bigger array of pitches. He either was taught a new pitch or was given a new grip on an old pitch and was told to throw that pitch often in OKC and to work on it this offseason.
    Cruz is on the 40-man and was not traded, so you have to figure they see lots of good stuff in him. Personally, I love that compact solid lefty body of his and I see him as a workhorse kind of pitcher who might surprise a ton of people in the next few years.
    Has anybody noticed all the attention Hoyt is getting for his size?


    • OP, Gattis has had (at least?) two surgeries on his knee. It’s one reason Atlanta was even looking at him as an OF option this year. I assume the Astros did the due diligence on the medicals. Knee injury or not, LF is probably not a good option. Or, at least, Hinch has better options for sure.

      I agree the job is Singleton’s to lose, but to me, it sounds like the jury is already in on Singleton. I honestly don’t believe the Astros will seriously consider Gattis or Carter for LF, at least not long term. Luhnow locked up some serious $$$ for a guy who seems destined for AAA. And he’s expended some serious resources to secure Gattis and Carter, so they’re going to be playing…probably 1B and DH.

      Question: What does Singleton have to do this spring to earn a spot on the roster? Hit .350 with a .450 OBP? Belt 7-10 HRs? I’d bet he’s at the top of the list of # of ABs.


      • I am surprised, but in agreement, with your thoughts on Singleton. I have not heard any rumors of the Astros putting CC on the trade block so it appears that the plan is for Carter at 1B and Gattis at DH, for most of the time. Carter is not a strong defensive 1B, but neither is JS.


      • Chip, that is an interesting question as to what Singleton has to do. If he does hit .350 he has to start. If he hits .200 – do you plan on him being a “long term” player – then he may need to go to AAA to get some more seasoning. If he hits .150 – you have a serious problem on your hands until he shows he can hit in AAA.


  3. Using “What were they thinking?”
    The team as composed today is better hitting and weaker fielding. Matty D is only at 1st base to showcase him to another team as a backup UT. Of the other three, “the hitter” gets first base. With either Gattis or Carter in LF, we will get tired of those balls in the alley going from a long out to a double. But that is what we can expect. The closer will be the one that did not pitch the earlier inning. The starters can use a little competition. The future is going to get much, much more expensive unless the fans buy into “The plan phase II” where we dump all our MLB players again to “game” the draft. And finally, I just can not believe that HOUSTON as a major city is ready to accept 81 wins as another great year. To get the attendance up and more income stream, some day the Astros have to be in contention to be in the playoffs.


    • colt, I’m not suggesting Houston would be “happy” with 81 wins, only that Crane would have to seriously reconsider The Plan if Houston didn’t get at least to that level. At 81 wins, it’s still an 11-game improvement and you could argue it’s on the right track. Good enough for fans? Maybe not, but it would still show the ball is being moved down the field and would give Luhnow another season. A season of 75-78 wins — along with any of the debacles experienced in 2014 — and Crane may convene a meeting of his owner team along about September or October.


      • What I was attempting to say was in 2005 the attendance was 2,8 Million. But in 2006 & 2007, it was over 3 million. The non-fan showing up to see a game seems to lag the actual performance on the field. It was down to 1.6 with 1.7 last year. That is a over a million people – NOT buying tickets, beer, food and other junk. The city needs some excitement back in the Astros in the form of contending or in the pennant race to have larger crowds when the Texans start training camp. Sort of a chicken/egg comparison. It is obvious that Crane needs for the fans to come so he can spend more money. And it is obvious the non-fans are not “Happy” with the product that has been on the field for several years.


    • Not to be testy, but I don’t see this team as worse defensively than last year
      -Springer is going to be better defensively than the bad defense we had out of 4 or five guys there last year.
      -Since Fowler was in CF most of the time last year, I think Rasmus/Marisnick will be better this year than Fowler
      -I admit we will be worse off in LF with Gattis defensively, but we sure weren’t good there last year either.
      -Dominguez was bad at 3B lat year with a negative dWAR, so I would be happy with a draw this year if we could get it.
      -I am more confident with a Lowrie at SS than I was with Villar/Gonzalez last season. especially in the late innings. I like Lowrie’s moxie.
      -Altuve equals Altuve at 2B
      -Singleton was bad and lazy at 1B last season. I would be happy with anyone who tries this season, as long as they try!
      -Conger is better behind the plate than Corp, although I think the pitchers liked Corp a lot. I see Catcher as improved.
      -Who knows how the bench will be defensively.


      • OP,

        It can also be improved if Singleton is starting the year at Fresno. This means CC is probably the starting 1B, which is about equal to Singleton defensively, but it means Gattis is probably the full-time DH and a combination of Rasmus,Marisnick and Grossman are manning LF.


      • Tim, knowing how hard Carter worked last year at keeping his bat in the zone and improving his contact, I can also see him working hard to improve his fielding at 1B. Like I said, give me a guy who is trying to improve over a guy who chills. When the chips are down, the worker will work and the chiller will turn cold. It’s been that way since the days when one guy curled up in the cave and the other guy gathered wood and built a bonfire.


  4. If Gattis can’t play LF or backup catcher, then it looks like Luhnow blundered big time. Why? Well, Luhnow is convinced Gattis will hit 40 HR here. I think Singleton can live up to prior expectations. Giving up two of our top ten prospects for a marginal improvement at 1B (assuming he can play inf) would be a poor allocation of resources.

    Regarding Roberto Hernandez…perhaps Luhnow is not as blown away by Brett Olberholtzer as the residents of this blog? In limited exposure he was great in 2013. In 2014 he pitched just poorly enough to lose most games. Seriously, he ate up innings, but did not have any particularly great peripherals other than 28 BB in 140+ innings. I don’t think success in 2015 is guaranteed, and Luhnow traded a superior arm (Cosart) who had less control as well as a similar pitcher who had just scratched the big leagues (Nitro) but outperformed him in milb. I think hedging your bets on spots 4 and 5 being already in system made sense for us. For Hernandez, I suspect the Astros are viewed as a team on the ascent with a chance to break through, but also as a team that would be willing to flip a guy to a team in the pennant race. That beats playing in Philly…


  5. Regarding Gattis/Carter

    Gattis had a .253 BA last year to Carter’s .227 [and Gattis hit lefties at a .343 clip, vs. Carter’s .244; Gattis also hit righties better, BA .244 vs. Carter’s .220];
    Gattis had a .317 OBP last year to Carter’s .308
    Gattis had an .810 OPS last year to Carter’2 .799
    Neither walked much – Carter walked a little more frequently.
    Both struck out a lot, but Carter struck out quite a bit more frequently.
    Carter hit more HRs per plate appearance, but Gattis hit more doubles than Carter per plate appearance.

    Gattis outperformed Carter overall – especially vs. lefties. But Gattis only had 391 Plate Appearances to 572 for Carter. I would play both against lefties [Gattis at DH, Carter at 1B]. I would play alternate them vs. righties. It would be great to have one of those bats on the bench when the opponent brings in a lefty reliever to face Valbueno or Castro.


    • Gattis hit 17 bombs and 13 doubles against righties in limited appearances and Cater hit 27 bombs and 14 doubles against righties. Their % stats weren’t as good as they were against lefties, but if you get SLG from those two against righties and huge production from them against the few lefties they face, you get them all the AB’s you can. I think that is what Luhnow wants. He wants their power in his lineup for at least 1100-1200 PA’s because that is the way to get 35 hrs and 85 rbi’s from each.
      Thing is, he could get that from Springer, too, if Hinch distributes these three in his lineup properly.


    • I’m usually meh about batting average differences. Batting average is about the worst way to grade future potential, a guy can hit .310 one year and .250 the next – but the peripheals would suggest Gattis will outperform Carter in average most every year. Carter just doesn’t make contact enough to hit better than .250 most years. Gattis is a better hitter.


  6. First base: I’m thinking Singleton either impresses mightily or starts looking for month-to-month leases in Fresno. If he can start hitting, I think Singleton plays first and Carter and Gattis draw straws daily over who DHs and who grabs his outfielder glove.

    Closer: I think Gregerson is going to claim the spot, or it is Quall’s be default. Fields is the wildcard here.

    I think Hernandez uses that opt-out clause.

    I think Springer and Keuchel are going to concentrate on having great seasons so they can force those long term deals come November. In Springer’s case, there’s time, but if I’m Luhnow I don’t let that linger.

    Altuve, Lowrie, Springer, Carter, Gattis, Valbuena, Rasmus, Castro, Singleton. That’s a dangerous lineup if Castro and Singleton can hit.

    Liked by 1 person

    • BT: Looking at that through 9 – sort of makes you want to move Lowrie or Valbuena down to 7th or 8th (OBP). Stealing from Leo Durocher when he used Aldolfo Phillips as his 2nd lead off hitter. You need someone on base in case any or all of them get a hold of one.


    • I suspect Springer does not sign any deal that eats into FA years. Forget the angle of Luhnow low-balls, but consider his age. He is hitting FA late compared to Heyward, Justin Upton, etc. He may have only one chance at a zillion dollar contract. Unless his strikeouts or injuries become too severe, I think he’ll be seeking it.


  7. Now I see what you guys are talking about with Hinch’s quote Sunday about Chris Carter being the man at 1B to start the season. I wonder if Singleton’s offseason of doing nothing decided who starts at 1B, before position players even report.
    When you read the interviews from the players about all the things they worked on in the last few months, you really have to wonder about a guy who says he just chilled.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You know what I wish?

      I wish that Jon Singleton would realize that the difference between being the last one at work, maybe I won’t take 10 extra cuts in the cage today, I’m gonna skip the pitchers reports today, I’m not worried about what this guy tried to do me last time, mentality versus the first one at work, the extra weight session, and time in the film room is MILLIONS of dollars. I would think, with career earnings on the line of millions, that he would understand that 10 years of work now where baseball is first will lead to a lifetime of being able to sit at home and smoke it up.

      Or, maybe he does. I don’t know. Guess we’ll find out.


  8. I don’t want to try to extrapolate performance from an interview. Singleton might appear to one to be lazy and/or poor work ethic, but noone will be good at this game, especially good enough to get to the majors, on sheer talent alone. If he has gotten this far, and demonstrated power and selectivity at this level, I am not ready to discard him. Hopefully he gets ample at bats in ST, and if at the end of ST he isn’t making solid contact often enough to post at least a decent BABIP and average, he can continue working on his craft at AAA.

    I have to be in Singleton’s corner because we traded Mr. Astro (at least until a new Mr. Astro showed up at 2B) to get him. I will be highly disappointed watching Hunter Pence play RF for anyone else knowing he could have been here the whole time and Singleton and Cosart turned into dust for us. So here is hoping Singleton becomes the real deal – though deep down in recesses I care not to explore I have my doubts.

    Now don’t get me wrong – I fully realize the dream situation is coming where Singleton at AAA actually allows Grossman to play LF, but there is no medication strong enough to alleviate my Pence-grain.

    I am not sure what Hernandez was thinking about 2.3 million. If he had come down to 1.5-1.75 mil if he makes the team I would like his chances more. Yes, that was a shout out to our main man Bopert.

    I feel like when the Astros were sitting in a room with Luke and his agent they made it clear the closers position was there for his taking. I expect that he will get the first crack. Agree with Brian that Fields is a darkhorse, but I still see a little too much Veras and a little too less Wetteland. I know Brian will appreciate the closer of the past references I have been throwing out lately. I really don’t see Qualls or Neshek’s struggles against lefties, which can create matchup nightmares, as quality closers.

    The Astros have been too focused on the “future” and not focused enough on now. Put the best team out there you can, and evaluate long term deals on the individual. If you really think Keuchel and/or McHugh will repeat their performances for multiple seasons, lock them up. If you have any doubt, and it only takes a small amount, make them prove it.

    I would agree with Devin – Springer has no reason to lock himself out of what might be his one big pay day. I don’t see a middle ground – Springer will be looking at that 20 mil a year kind of payday one day in his future, the Astros will be looking at risk/reward type of offer where he gets it early but at a much discounted rate. The agent and Springer will bank on themselves. I expect Springer to ride this thing to FA, and I don’t expect he will be a career Astro.


  9. For me, Grossman in LF is a nightmare. A bad defensive player who has no power and no arm is not what dreams are made of. Why stick the guy who was one of the worst left fielders in baseball in LF and call him a dream guy. Move Rasmus to LF, stick Marisnick in CF and Springer in RF and have the best defensive OF in baseball and let Rasmus hit instead of Grossman, because he’s a better hitter. Put Grossman in AAA and Presley on the bench.
    Loving Pence does not make Singleton a better player and if Pence were here he would probably avoid Singleton like the plague. If Singleton had spent his entire offseason working his butt off I might feel differently, but when the worst 1B in baseball says he spent the offseason doing nothing, I don’t want to hear his name mentioned in the same breath as the guy we gave up for him.
    We had a huge hole in LF last year and the worst thing we could do is to put the same hole back out there again this year. That’s why we went out and got Rasmus, to fill a big hole in the outfield.
    We had a huge hole at 1B last year and we went out and got somebody to help with that in Gattis. Carter at 1B and Gattis at DH fills the void of a huge hole in that spot. So if Carter hits 35 dingers and hits .230 again at 1B, that fills the hole. Lowrie, Valbuena and Rasmus more than make up for all the failures that Singleton provided as a LH bat in our lineup.


    • I’ve come to the notion that you and I will never see eye to eye on Grossman/Marisnick. It just is what it is.

      Say what you will about Grossman, but he is a better hitter than Marisnick, in both potential and performance. When you are talking LF, that matters. The choice isn’t Rasmus v Grossman in LF, the choice is Grossman v Marisnick in the lineup. If you feel differently, tell me what it is that makes you think Marisnick will outhit Grossman? I’ve laid it out – swing rates, contact rates, the ability to draw walks, Grossman outperforms him in both easily visible stats AND the periphreal stats that lend to future potential. As long as Marisnick continues to swing at 37% of pitches outside of the strike zone he will continue to make life easier for opposing pitchers, gold gloves or not.

      I can agree that Carter at 1B, Gattis at DH and whichever OF option you want to throw out there defeats Singleton at 1B IF its Singleton of last year. The difference in opinion I have is to say that Singleton is not major league material, say it definitively, and make up your mind without seeing the guy take the field because he said he chilled. I don’t share that sentiment. I see a guy that walks alot, didn’t strike out at near that clip in the minors, and even suffered a terrible BABIP that he also didn’t see in the minors. I am not ready to condemn the 1B of the future because you have spent 6 months telling me how bad he is.

      I think we would agree that he could be the same Singleton as last year, and if so, should be AAA. I just use the word could, you are using the word will. Let’s wait out ST, see what he looks like, and not be in a rush to condemn him.

      Pence might be a good influence for him, but really Singleton needs a little Bagwell in his life. I really think Bagwell’s influence, as a fellow 1B with power and the ability to draw a walk or two, with similar approaches at the plate, could help his prep work some, and get him going better. He will never be a Bagwell, but he could be a cheap man’s facsimile. I wish there was a way to get Bags back as a hitting coach.

      You have a lot more confidence in all of Valbuena, Rasmus, and Lowrie than I. Lowrie and Rasmus were not very good last year, but granted if the bar is making up for Singleton’s season last year, it’s not a very high bar. Valbuena is a question mark when it comes to 150 games and 500 plate appearances, it will be interesting to see if he plays well. He was OK last year, but that was his first OK year at 29, the rest of the time he has been less than stellar. Better than Dominguez? Sure, again not a high bar. What would really make this team better? A Singleton that hits like the potential hints at, gives you a .250/.380/.450 line.


      • Actually the choice I give is Marisnick CF/ Rasmus LF. That is a better choice any day in my book than Rasmus CF/Grossman LF.
        Grossman walks and doesn’t hit and doesn’t field or throw. Rasmus hits and fields. Marisnick fields and throws better than anybody and is going to hit better than Grossman. That is what I think. What I dream of is outfielders that every team in the league shakes their head at and says that it’s very hard to get a ball to fall in with my guys in the outfield and our pitchers staring out to Rasmus, Marisnick and Springer and wondering how they got this lucky.


    • I am going to see what happens in ST, but I am very intrigued with an OF of Marisnick in CF, Rasmus in LF and Springer in RF. I think Grossman will improve, but will it be enough to offset his poor defense? If Marisnick can hit around .265 (and we know his OBP won’t be much above .300 with that average) I think it will be enough to warrant starting him over RG. His superior defense has to be taken into account.


      • But Tim, I’ve seen no evidence that Houston will start Marisnick in CF and Rasmus in LF. By “evidence”, I mean comments from Luhnow or Hinch. Everything I’ve seen indicates Rasmus will be in CF and that the merry-go-round will be on for LF (Marisnick/Grossman/Gattis/Carter/Presley).


      • I agree with you Chip, but think that is unfortunate. If Grossman wins the starting nod then, yes, Rasmus should be in CF. However, if Marisnick earns it, and Luhnow seems to be favoring him, then why wouldn’t they put the players at a position that makes them the strongest defensively? With the short porch in LF it seems a waste to have Marisnick in LF, especially with his cannon for an arm.


  10. Finally we have a nice problem to have! You guys have already made your mind up about Singelton ,Marisnick, and Grossman. Let’s see how things shake out in the next 6 weeks. I imagine Luhnow and Hinch have Jon Singelton on a short leash.


      • I just hope these choices at the end of ST are made based upon who is the best player – and not who took/takes the “employer friendly contract.” A guy that has proved he can play in the majors gets the edge over a guy with potential. That is why you have a team in Fresno this year.


  11. Oops – accidentally bumped the post comment button
    – I think they intend the closer to be Gregerson with Qualls having shown he is a solid closer last year when the Oakland A’s are not around. Just weird. I don’t think Neshek is lined up for that spot. Maybe Fields will put his name in the hat – he just needs to improve that control in and out of the zone.
    – Starting pitching – no guarantees that Obie is the 4th starter – but I think he will be. Will Peacock pitch like he did when he stopped tipping pitches at the end of the season. Are Straily and Hernandez here as insurance for the 5th spot or looking at 4th and 5th spot.
    I would love it if someone like Wojo or White stepped up and grabbed a spot.
    – Hey the future – signing guys before they become arb eligible is an option, not a necessity. And it will really depend on whether guys like Keuchel and McHugh show to be the real deal for a second year in a row.
    – I know you like set lineups Chip, but I’m betting that the 3 thru 6 spots will be moving around based on matchups – at least we seem to have some options this year we did not have last season.
    – If there is no or little improvement in 2015 – Crane will start doubting the Luhnow plan. I don’t think that will happen, but you could have a Texas Rangers 2014 MASH unit problem that you can’t recover from with not enough depth. I don’t think he would fire Luhnow after 2015, but he might have that gun locked and loaded heading into 2016 if 2015 is a big disappointment.


    • Dan – it doesn’t matter to me who gets the ball in the ninth as long as they keep men off base. My one concern on both Gregerson and Neshek is that they may struggle to miss bats. I suspect Fields will be quite hittable the first two months and then settle in…if history is an indicator.


  12. Peacock threw a 20 pitch bullpen session yesterday and they had to hold him back. He threw all fastballs at 50-60% and said he felt great.
    Appel threw a bullpen yesterday and Heineman said Appel was a completely different pitcher than when he showed up last season in CC.
    Apparently when Strom saw Appel throw in the infamous MMP bullpen last summer he gave Appel some changes to make in his delivery. The words “more compact” were used by Heineman with little elaboration. Appel worked on this in CC, AFL and offseason and Heinman suggested he is quicker to the plate and has more control with these changes.
    Tony Kemp said he reported to camp with “ten more pounds of muscle”. Apparently the team wanted him to try and gain some strength over the offseason. Perhaps they would like to see a little more pop in his bat in case he goes back to the OF, with Altuve entrenched at 2B. With DDJ gone there is a little more room in the system’s outfield.


    • So, let’s see. Apparently Peacock worked hard this winter to prepare. Obviously Appel busted it over the last few months. Kemp followed his team’s instructions and added 10 pounds.

      Contrast that to Singleton taking time off. Interesting.

      Now, I’ll admit the long season — whether it’s the majors or minors — is l-o-n-g and every player needs to take a month or so to get away, recover or whatever else needs to be done to get refreshed. But to take the entire time off — if that’s what actually happened — is unforgiveable and inexcusable.

      Again, Singleton knew he was in a dogfight long before now.

      Liked by 1 person

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