CHIPALATTA

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Roster crunch time means trade, release time approaches


A.J. Hinch says he’s narrowing down his roster. Pitchers are falling like flies to Tommy John. Spring training is about half over. Other teams are apparently looking on at the so-called glut of players in the Astros’ infield and outfield.

What gives? Nothing yet. But there are a handful of players who could be either expendable or useful elsewhere as the season begins in a few weeks.

Given the rash of injuries, the Astros might best stockpile as many parts as possible using the options and roster spots to their advantage. In the case of pitchers, that might mean starting Brad Peacock on the DL, giving optionable players (e.g. Asher Wojciechowski, Dan Straily) at Fresno and handing the #5 starter job to Roberto Hernandez to start the season.

In the case of your 1B/DH trio, if Jonathan Singleton continues to hit, plant him at first base, and rotate Chris Carter and Evan Gattis between DH and LF. Not optimal, but buys some time to start the season.

Frankly, neither of those may actually happen. Here are the players most likely to be moved through trade before opening day.

Chris Carter.

Yes, his $4.175 million salary could be a factor in determining him as the odd man out. If Singleton sticks at 1B, Carter could bring back a significant bounty of players. Yes, players, plural. That would leave the Astros with plenty of room in the outfield to shuffle George Springer, Colby Rasmus, Jake Marisnick and others.

Roberto Hernandez.

Because of his special status, the Astros will need to add him to the roster five days before spring training ends. Or release him. With the injury bug running around the majors, Hernandez’ stock will go up if he pitches well in the spring. Hernandez in Houston and Wojo, Peacock and Straily in Frenso to start the season provides depth. If he makes the team as the fifth starter, he can hold down the fort until one of the others returns and it provides further organizational depth in case one of the first four is injured. Best long-term move? Maybe not. Best short-term insurance. Yes.

Jake Marisnick/Robbie Grossman.

Yes, these guys do have some upside. They are not necessarily the entire package, but they will bring value to some teams either as a stop gap or replacement for a late spring injury. If Carter, Singleton and Gattis are all on the roster opening day, it’s possible both Marisnick and Grossman start the season in Fresno if they aren’t traded.

Tony Sipp.

Could the Astros simply sell high? With Joe Thatcher and Kevin Chapman available (they’ve both pitched in four games thus far), could the Astros capitalize on Sipp’s best season and try to get a return? Possible, since lefties are always desirable. Likely? Probably not, since lefties are always desirable. Even in Houston.

Domingo Santana.

You’ll note the Astros sent him packing to Fresno in the first group of cuts. No sense in letting him languish with the big club since it’s obvious he hasn’t made headway since his brief 2014 call up.  Luhnow said he still believes in Santana, but you have to wonder if he won’t be playing in someone else’s park come April. Especially since he has what could be a valuable 40-man roster spot.

Alex Presley.

Many wonder why Presley is on the roster already. However, he obviously has value and would fit nicely as a #4 or #5 for some teams. Package him with another surplus (e.g. Santana, Hernandez, Matt Dominguez) and your return could be anywhere from low minors to AAA spare parts of another team.

While the Astros may shuffle the roster somewhat, it will probably not be a necessity unless a trade is made or the team acquires someone off waivers in the coming days or weeks. Only a couple of non roster invitees (Hernandez, Joe Thatcher) may warrant adding to the roster. Others are already ticketed — or will soon be — for other teams or the waiver wire.

 

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About Chip Bailey

Chip Bailey lives in Colorado Springs, CO, and is an author and former sports editor and sportswriter who has followed the Astros for more than 40 years. A native of Natchitoches, La., Chip enjoys watching baseball at most any level, especially pro and college. Several years ago, he worked as an associate of Pastor John Bosman, who enjoyed giving nick names to his staff. He came up with Chipalatta, and it’s stuck.

87 comments on “Roster crunch time means trade, release time approaches

  1. 1oldpro
    March 17, 2015

    Hinch announced that Sipp has made the team a couple of days ago.
    I would not have expected Hernandez to make the team, two weeks ago. But Peacock being behind, Ober’s injury and the rash of injuries to starters around the league, could mean that Hernandez does make the team with a BOR spot. His salary won’t make a huge difference to us if he makes the team and then is moved in a trade, if somebody with money is desperate enough to take on his salary and give us a decent prospect for him, after Ober and Peacock are ready.
    Is Carter’s salary that big a deal to a team that has a $70million budget and whose payroll is below $64million right now? I would think his 37 home runs and second half numbers make him pretty valuable to us at that salary and having him is a real bonus until we see how Gattis works into the lineup.
    Marisnick and Grossman have options, so seeking a trade for them does not seem reasonable right now. But if the right team comes calling, there is that mid 20’s AAA pitcher that our front office is drooling over to be considered. A team with stacked pitching on their roster that suddenly has an outfielder go down and is NOT stacked in the outfield is the team I could see calling for one of our outfielders.
    I love Santana right where he is. Working on his hitting every day in Fresno, playing in the outfield and getting older, wiser and more used to good pitching. We’re not talking Austin Wates here! Santana is a guy with tools, including the power tool and is very young. There is no reason to think that he doesn’t have enough talent to hit .300 this year with lots of SLG. Proving it in Fresno another year is so beneficial for him and the organization.
    Alex Presley? I don’t have a clue.
    Dallas Keuchel vs Corey Kluber on opening night is now official. I get to watch the Stros on Direct TV today for the first time. I’m recording it.

    Like

  2. Chip Bailey
    March 17, 2015

    OP, the impression I get is that other teams are the ones watching (or calling). With the exception of his LF/DH/1B troika, Luhnow is probably willing to go with what he’s got to start the season. And, even that threesome would be fine for starters.

    As for Sipp, doubtful he’d get traded, but there are other options if someone came calling. I believe if you asked Hinch today, he’d say Gattis and Carter are on the team, yet Carter is obviously a trade chip possibility.

    As for the 40-man, there are plenty of possibilities to bump, so Santana may be safe in that regard. Luhnow did indicate you might see Santana later in the year, but where?

    Let’s assume for a moment that Springer is the only OF that starts next season. No Marisnick. No Rasmus. No Grossman. Is your outfield a possible Springer, Santana, Tucker? Someone else?

    Like

  3. Chip Bailey
    March 17, 2015

    Ya know, would anyone scream bloody murder if someone suggested we keep Carter and Singleton and trade Gattis? Probably not a likely scenario. Right? And, especially with what he gave up to get Gattis, Luhnow would probably be admitting a mistake. Right?

    At any right, if you’re saying that one of the three (Singleton, Gattis, Carter), which two would you prefer to keep, all things considered? Hmmmm.

    Like

    • daveb
      March 17, 2015

      I’ve already said that Gattis is a head scratcher. I’m still scratching.

      Like

    • Devin_
      March 17, 2015

      I still think Gattis only made sense if Carter and/or Castro had been traded to reduce salary commitments. Luhnow has said Gattis will hit 40 HR this year, however, so trading him would shock me.

      Like

    • md57
      March 17, 2015

      Chip,
      While I would love to see it happen, I don’t really see much of a market for Gattis unless someone’s DH goes on the DL, or they lose both their starting and back up catcher. I’m not down on the guy for anything he’s done or not done. It was Luhnow’s decision to bring him here despite his recent injury problems. It’s just that right now, Gattis is pretty much an unknown quantity. Yes, his offensive potential is appealing, but having seen the incredible output of Carter last year, I wouldn’t keep Gattis over Carter. Carter would have to flame out completely before I would give up on him. And I can almost assure you that if Carter lit it up with his new team and Gattis played only mediocre around a couple of DL stints, Luhnow would never see another GM job. If Gattis were traded and played well somewhere else, I don’t think that would hurt Luhnow as badly, in that Gattis never proved himself with us. However, if Gattis stays with us and plays up to his potential, and isn’t a huge liability in left field, I can’t see me missing Grossman, Presley, or even JFST (although I’m rooting for Jake to blossom and become an all-star centerfielder!).

      Great article Chip. And great comments, all of you.

      Like

  4. Mr. Bill
    March 17, 2015

    Wow, Straily did not help his cause today. 2 IP, 4 BB, 2 WPs, 3 hits, 3 ER.

    Like

    • daveb
      March 17, 2015

      With two weeks to go, things are looking better and better for Wojo.

      Separate note: Seems the Astros determined from the start that Sclafani would not be getting a chance to win a job in ST. In the meantiime, Villar is being kept busy, even playing some of the CF that Springer is not. Are they shopping him?

      Like

      • 1oldpro
        March 17, 2015

        Agree with you on Wojo. Agree with you on Sclafani. It’s apparent to me that Tucker never had a chance this spring, even without getting hurt..
        Villar ain’t no center fielder either. There was a lot of bad out there today. The blown rundown between Singleton and the pitcher looked like high school
        Correa, Carter, Grossman and JFSF looked good. Hernandez looked like a major league pitcher who repeats his motion and fools hitters with not much heat. Lots of crazy balls popping out of gloves in the field and Carter looks ready for the season to start.
        Alex White looked like a pitcher who hasn’t pitched in two years, but showed some moxie hanging in there with not much on the ball today.
        LMJr looked exactly as advertised. Stuff moves all over the place but absolutely cannot put the ball where he wants to. Darn it, he looks like a 21 year old High A pitcher!
        Altuve was missed out on that field today, even though the Astros won handily.

        Like

  5. Tim
    March 17, 2015

    With Gattis’ injury history, and no timetable for his return from his first injury as an Astros player (in ST mind you), I would hope they don’t trade Carter until near the trade deadline.

    Considering the injuries to Peacock and Obie, Wojo looks like a strong candidate for a spot in the rotation on opening day. Straily looked horrible today and will have to turn it around quickly.

    The boys and I are in Central Florida this week and we will be scouting the players on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. I will report back to my fellow Chipalatta bloggers next week. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Devin_
    March 17, 2015

    Speaking of roster crunch time..
    DeShields: 3 for 17, .575 OPS
    Gustave: 1R in 5.1 IP, 2K, 4H, 2BB
    Rollins: 0R in 5.1 IP, 2H, 0BB, 6K

    Like

    • Dan P
      March 18, 2015

      So here’s a question – if DeShields is offered back – do we pay $25,000 for him or try to make a deal so the other team can put him in the minors. I think they would automatically pay to get Gustave and Rollins back.

      Like

      • Devin_
        March 18, 2015

        I would try to swing a deal. He looks like no more than a fourth OF at this time, but the age, OBP, and speed from a non-slap hitter make him worth time to see if he can develop further. If the Rangers won’t pony up a return we like, then take him back.

        Like

  7. Steeeve
    March 18, 2015

    OK, I haven’t been following spring training closely, so feel free to jump all over me. However, given Singleton’s performance last year and the acquisition of Gattis, why would it not be automatic for Singleton to start the season at Fresno independent of what happens in Spring Training?

    Like

  8. Dan P
    March 18, 2015

    Steeeve – a few reasons for keeping Singleton:
    – He has always improved at every level when he got a second shot at that level.
    – He is hitting very well this spring while facing almost all major leaguers
    – He gives you a potential big lefty bat in a lineup with a lot of rightys – Altuve, Carter, Gattis, Springer…
    – They may think that they can find enough ABs for all 3 of Gattis, Singleton and Carter – maybe giving Singleton days off against leftys – having one of the 3 big bats coming off the bench a couple days a week.
    – Most importantly, Gattis does not play whole seasons – they need a Plan B with him around for the games he will miss

    Like

    • Steeeve
      March 18, 2015

      Dan, I buy all of this. Further, Singleton is a cornerstone of the 2017 Word Champion Houston Astros (does anybody still think that way?) and I would like nothing better than to see him morph into a mashing all star hitting machine. However, I’m totally skeptical about spring training performance and a bit also about the “it takes Singleton two years to get it at any given level” pattern. My main man needs more seasoning.

      Justin Verlander got lit up yesterday. His explanation was “I haven’t gotten the feel for my slider yet, so I threw a bunch of flat, crappy ones trying to work it out.”

      Like

      • Devin_
        March 18, 2015

        No pitch goes further than a hanging slider.

        Like

      • Aggies Fan
        March 18, 2015

        If you don’t believe Dan, ask Brad Lidge.

        Like

  9. Dan P
    March 18, 2015

    Other thoughts
    – It would be sweet if Wojo grabbed a rotation spot and never gave it back
    – Hey, Roberto Hernandez could help them and then be a trading chip (not that Chip) just like Chip (yes that Chip) says
    – I would hate to see Carter traded because of a salary that is still way below his production level. He showed a lot of improvement last season and I want to see him swinging that big stick here (unless they are just overwhelmed by a trade offer – though based on some of his trades I am not enthused by the way Luhnow values some folks)
    – Santana is where he belongs and I don’t have a clue about Presley – I did not understand why they signed him to the contract in the off-season.

    Like

  10. Becky
    March 18, 2015

    What a nice surprise…….Keuchel was named opening day pitcher yesterday!
    He earned it, and Hinch just put a gold star on my opinion of him. By the way…..
    has anybody been paying attention to James Hoyt, who was part of the Gattis
    trade? The kid has quietly gone out and shut the other teams down! I’m impressed!
    As for all the moves Luhnow and Hinch have to make in the next two weeks…….
    the only ones I see not making the club are Matty D. VILLAR, Presley, Hoes.
    Unless Luhnow is working on a trade to involve any or all of the above…….he will
    have to et the million he paid Presley over the winter. I’m still not sold on Gattis.

    Like

    • Dan P
      March 18, 2015

      I’m sad to hear you say that about Villar – you have always had such a special place in your heart for him. 🙂

      Like

      • Becky
        March 18, 2015

        You DID notice I put his name in all CAPS!!! LOL!!

        Like

    • Devin_
      March 18, 2015

      Hey Becky, I’ve been watching Hoyt. In interviews after the trade, Luhnow admitted they were targeting him and got concerned Atlanta would realize they saw him as more than just a throw-in. He’d be a good, fun story to see succeed.

      Like

  11. 1oldpro
    March 18, 2015

    Do spring training stats mean anything? Last season the Astros finished among the bottom five teams in hitting and pitching stats in spring training, and matched that by being in the bottom five of both in the regular season.
    But so far this spring the Astros are in the top five in most hitting statistics and middle of the pack in team ERA. The Astros are lacking in HRs this spring but are in the top ten in doubles, where we finished dead last in 2014.
    One baffling stat this spring is team WHIP, which we are ranked 25th in but are not in the bottom of the pack in allowing walks or hits, but are on the high end when you combine them. The truth is we have been scoring enough runs to overcome the baserunners we are allowing the other team to have.
    Personally, I don’t have to be sold on Gattis this spring because he will make league minimum this year and can play LF/Catcher/DH or even 1B. Even if he isn’t great in the field, he is tons more versatile than Matty D is and his career stats at the plate show a lot more promise than Matt. Gattis can’t hurt us this year. Gattis can only hurt us if he doesn’t produce in the next few years, and the guys we gave up for him do.
    The Astros broadcast on Root Sports yesterday was very pleasing to the eyes, but not on the ears as lots of times the combining of both team’s announcers together distracted from what was going on in the field. I want to know who is in the game, especially when our minor leaguers are in there with no names on their backs. And I sure don’t want an interview of the Pirates’ 2B while Correa is at the plate hitting a home run on a split screen.
    But, good gracious, it was wonderful to see the Astros play! Can’t wait for opening night.

    Like

    • Becky
      March 18, 2015

      Glad YOU got to watch the………..Suddenlink in Kigwood isn’t going to pick them up.
      GRRRRRRRRR

      Like

      • 1oldpro
        March 18, 2015

        I had Dish. I switched to Direct and got the Choice package so I can watch them. I recorded the game and then watched it com’l free. I won’t watch all of the games because even I won’t have that much time. But the spring games include the prospects and I only get to see occasional clips of their play. Watching Correa play yesterday was like watching a really good movie.

        Like

  12. Sandy
    March 18, 2015

    So much fun to watch the games again. It feels like a lifetime since I saw Bill Brown.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. 1oldpro
    March 19, 2015

    The Braves released Jose Veras this morning.

    Like

    • Steeeve
      March 20, 2015

      Ooooh. I like Jose Veras. Is this the end of the line, or did they let him go early so he could catch on with another team?

      Like

      • 1oldpro
        March 20, 2015

        He had a deadline for a $100,000 bonus due to his tenure status. They decided not to pay him that and released him early.

        Like

  14. 1oldpro
    March 19, 2015

    Today’s game should be interesting. McHugh facing his former team, the Mets who have the second best hitting team so far this spring. Behind McHugh will be Altuve and every other player on the team fighting for a job, plus some minor leaguers thrown in. Many regulars are not there. Starting CFer is Villar. Presley in RF and Rasmus in LF. Valbuena, Lowrie, Altuve, Dan Johnson and Conger starting, along with Marwin at DH. Don’t know who starting pitcher is for Mets.

    Like

    • Devin_
      March 19, 2015

      Must look a lot like 2013 spring training

      Liked by 1 person

      • 1oldpro
        March 19, 2015

        No Wallace, Ankiel, Pena, Maxwell, JD Mart, Tyler Greene or Harrell!

        Like

    • daveb
      March 19, 2015

      Yeah, odd line up. Big cuts tonight or tomorrow? Still confused by Villar in center unless he’s getting shopped.

      Like

      • Steven
        March 19, 2015

        Not confused by Villar in CF. He and Correa are not splitting time at AAA. Villar needs to use his athleticism to help the club, they are probably testing his ability to handle the position, and he might even be ticketed for CF at AAA at this point. Afterall, it certainly wouldn’t help either Villar or Correa either one to be at AA.

        Like

      • Steven
        March 19, 2015

        BTW – I rarely mention Villar, and I never considered him a part of any long term plan – but I’ll defend why he is still here.

        He is a 23 year old, athletic guy who never posted, not one time, even in short sample, under a .300 BABIP. Without even watching the guy I can tell he hits the ball with a little pep. He also has stolen a ton of bases in his professional career. He has shown moderate power, enough that pitchers have had to respect it, and he has a great minor league walk rate. Now he has struck out a ton, even in the minors. He K’s like a big time power hitter, but without the power.

        Personally, I don’t have time for a low acumen, bad defensive SS that will K 27-28% of the time – especially if I have one of the top 5 prospects in all of baseball coming in at the same position. But I also wouldn’t just dump a 23 year old with speed, a little power, the ability to draw a walk, and terrific BABIPs through the minors simply because his first year was awful (and man was it awful), thus I think we are seeing that thinking and he is being tried at different places. Afterall, being a player able to play multiple positions, demonstrate good speed, able to draw a walk, able to have at least a little power, has gotten a lot of major leaguers jobs as utility players.

        Like

      • 1oldpro
        March 19, 2015

        I think Correa is headed to SS in Corpus. Villar is starting in CF because they wanted to see if he could be an INF/OF like Kike. They are giving him one more shot as a utilty guy.

        Like

      • Tim
        March 19, 2015

        Steven,

        I am not a huge Villar fan, but I like his upside much more than I do with Matt Dominguez. If Villar can learn CF I am open to seeing how it plays out. I just don’t think he has any future, with the Astros, as a SS.

        Like

  15. Becky
    March 19, 2015

    Steven…….you and I will have to agree, to disagree. Villar is a defensive nightmare.

    Like

    • Steven
      March 19, 2015

      I don’t see us disagreeing. I said he was awful defensively.

      I am just trying to rationalize why he is here. He is young, and athletic. He can tell a ball from a strike even if he is struggling hitting strikes. I can see why the club has him.

      This club also knows if they put him on waivers tomorrow to clear a spot on the 40 man, they lose him for nothing. The Lowrie signing was clear that they have no intent at putting him at SS, so is his only chance at making the club is as a utility player. They also know they can’t trade him as a SS, at least not for anything more than some low A pitcher that we will never hear of again. They are doing the only thing that makes reasonable sense – giving him a shot as a utility guy, and if it doesn’t work out, they lose nothing, if it does though, they gain a lot.

      Like

    • Steven
      March 19, 2015

      I’ll caveat by adding when its time though – he will be gone. It just won’t be time until another presence, i.e. Appel or Correa, force a spot on the 40 man. Until then, I don’t blame them for keeping their options open with him.

      Like

  16. daveb
    March 19, 2015

    Villar is one of the better athletes in the organization He’s made some plays at short that most ballplayers never make. But he’s got 594 minor league games under his belt and 140 more at the big league level. How much more time does he get? Don’t we already have a log jam in the outfield for the 4th and 5th slots and several more outfielders in AAA chomping at the bit? It seems that Marwin is already our multi use bench guy. I don’t think there’s room for both Marwin and Villar on the Opening Day roster. And if Villar goes to Fresno, he won’t be in the outfield will he? Will be interesting to see Sclafani and Villar in Fresno together, assuming they both go.

    Like

  17. rj
    March 19, 2015

    aiken goes down with possible injury after 13 pitches today

    Like

    • 1oldpro
      March 19, 2015

      Wow!

      Like

    • Billy Castillo
      March 19, 2015

      I’m not trying to laugh at other’s misfortunes, but…screw it. I’m laughing. Not that it happened, mind you, just the fact that the injury report was right. Too bad we wasted a draft pick though.

      Like

    • Devin_
      March 19, 2015

      That’s what terrible. I wonder if he was able to get insured following the physical last summer. Still, the report cites “tightness” so we don’t know for certain what the injury may be. Regardless, it is becoming more difficult for him to be drafted highly enough to get +$5 million this June.

      Like

      • Tim
        March 20, 2015

        Yes, I think his ‘advisor’ did a huge disservice to Aiken. It appears he let his anger with the Astros handling of the negotiations cloud his judgement on the last offer of $5M. Now that his medical situation is known, and taking into account this latest news, I think Aiken will probably not get drafted in the top 5 selections, especially since the Astros have 2 of the first 5 picks. Thus, it appears he won’t sign for the same or more than the Astros last offer.

        Like

  18. 1oldpro
    March 19, 2015

    The last time Darvish pitched he reported tightness in his arm.

    Like

  19. Dan P
    March 20, 2015

    You hate to see anyone go down with an injury. I do think that it is unfair to not have some way of checking out the athletes in the upper part of the draft before hand. The combine does this for football and so everyone knows a whole lot more before the draft.

    Like

  20. 1oldpro
    March 20, 2015

    Astros made cuts this morning. Six MILB players you would expect to get cut, plus Alex White, who looked bad this spring.
    Wojo and Deduno both pitching today against Washington in a televised game and a very normal looking lineup for Houston today. Things are falling into place.

    Like

  21. daveb
    March 20, 2015

    Looks more and more like Gattis will start the season on the DL. He MIGHT start hitting off a tee in the next few days?

    Like

    • 1oldpro
      March 20, 2015

      It’s still 17 days until opening night. I don’t think they will make a decision on Gattis going on DL till the last few days, unless he can’t do anything at all.
      Most likely the Astros won’t face a lefty until they get Detwiler and Holland in the Texas series, if that is the way the Rangers set up their rotation. They might nurse Gattis until then, but who knows? If Gattis does go on the DL, Marisnick, Presley and Grossman might all make the opening day roster, along with Marwin and Conger. Gattis’s injury sure makes Singleton look like a lock.

      Liked by 1 person

  22. rj
    March 20, 2015

    for as much flack as the astros took for the aiken pick and lack of signing, it looks as though they were pretty much right on with their thinking. as dan said above it really makes no sense that teams have little to no knowledge of players health prior to the draft. then when you make a pick and find you have ‘damaged goods’ it only makes sense to protect yourself with a revised offer.

    Like

    • Steven
      March 20, 2015

      I am not sure I could defend the Astros if they were on “trial” for changing the offer. It sets a bad precedent – much like with Vogelsong. A team could come to an initial agreement with a player, and then always have the doc lean in extra hard to “find” something, and I am sure we all know everyone that plays baseball day in and day out has their scar tissue to show for it. The game in of itself is not dangerous or injury causing – say compared to football – but the day in, day out grind is what gets em.

      I mentioned this about Gattis’ knee a few days ago. It is what scares me the most and why I would have him DH the entire season this year. You never know where that knee really is until game 12 in day 15 of a 16 game/19 day road trip – and then when it happens it will be too late.

      Bottom line – I don’t think the Players Association would ever agree to advise players to accept lowered offers, nor allow for examination prior to negotiation, and I don’t think, unless a player feels he has no other avenue, they should accept it either.

      The scariest part of the Aiken fiasco is he wasn’t even actually injured. To the Astros he just demonstrated a propensity for it – and that made them change their offer. Luhnow isn’t apparently just a GM, he is also now an insurance agent dutifully participating in risk aversement calculations.

      Like

      • Mr. Bill
        March 20, 2015

        Ryan Vogelsong a bad precedent? For the Astros? Wow! I see it so far differently we are not in the same planet. I see HIM is having been an extremely BAD RISK – especially for the obscene amount of money he wanted to pitch in Houston, and particularly considering the other, far better options the Astros had available. Vogelsong wound up signing with his old team – who knew him better than anyone. Does he -or anyone – really want to blame the Astros because a 37 year old with a liftetime ERA of 4.42 and a lifetime W-L record of 49-57 ‘didn’t feel comfortable’ about something he won’t disclose and chose with the aid of what he called ‘divine intervention’ to take a mere $4M this year to pitch on a WS contending team? Is anybody anywhere crying over Ryan Vogelsong? Is anybody on this blog? Is he?

        It is understood by all parties to negotiations that until the ink is dried on all the signatures and all conditions precedent and subsequent are fulfilled to the club’s satisfaction, the risk-benefit analysis continue and anything can happen. That is the law of the land, and it is the way all business is conducted. When you want people’s money – and OBSCENE AMOUNTS OF IT – it only seems fair and reasonable that you have to meet their conditions. Otherwise, everyone would be entitled to be declared winner of the lottery just because they went to the convenience store and bought a ticket.

        Like

      • Steven
        March 20, 2015

        I agree with you in the principal that I am glad Vogelsong did not sign – but the precedent isn’t about Vogelsong or Aiken individually – it’s a precedent for the action not the person. You can’t simply change offers after physicals – that is my point.

        I would agree that Vogelsong was a bad investment at 4 mil.

        Like

      • Devin_
        March 20, 2015

        The Red Sox changed the Napoli contract after a physical…and it was a far bigger change monetarily than either Aiken or Vogelsong’s contracts would have been. Ultimately, he signed a lesser, one-year deal with Boston and even re-signed after the season.

        Like

      • Tim
        March 20, 2015

        Steven,

        I have to disagree with you on altering offers after physicals. The offer and acceptance is based upon a physical. The amount the Astros offered was based upon a relatively clean physical. If something showed up that caused concern an injury might develop this season then the team should either reduce, withdraw or continue forward with the original offer. However, I think a team has that right if the physical brings about a concern.

        Like

  23. astrocolt45
    March 20, 2015

    But my thought are (A) I hate to see any injury as mentioned above. So I am not happy that Sapp contacted meningitis. (B) If the Astros really thought Aiken to be risky, why offer the $5 Million. Now if Aiken and Nix make the HofF or if they flame out in A ball – no one can spin what the Astros did in the negotiations as honorable. No one had an argument with the Astros walking away from Aiken or Vogelsong, but to reduce your offer smacks of “Frank Underwood.”

    Like

    • Steven
      March 20, 2015

      Love the HoC comparison. Spot on IMO.

      Like

    • Dan P
      March 20, 2015

      As I remember there was some rule tied to the $5 million ( the offere had to be a certain % of the max for the spot or it would trigger something or not trigger something). Yeah Frank Underwood / House of Cards. At least Luhnow did not drive Aiken back to his garage and …. no I’m not going to spoiler alert this….

      Like

      • Devin_
        March 20, 2015

        The min they had to offer to receive compensation pick for him not signing was a certain percentage of the slot value. They did so – offered the min value, then reportedly bumped the offer to $5 million in the last couple hours before the deadline.

        Like

      • astrocolt45
        March 20, 2015

        Reports of the negotiations. Aiken agreed to a below slot $ 6.5 M . But I think Rosenthal said the offer was $3.1M (40%) after exam. Then later bumped it to $5 M. The Astros had a below slot deal with Aiken in order to bring Nix to Houston.

        Like

    • 1oldpro
      March 20, 2015

      I can spin the negotiations as honorable. First of all, if his UCL is bad, you’re gonna lose two years of development right there from him because it’s one year out and one year to get back to where you were to begin with.
      But the second thing is even more honorable and that is: by raising your offer to an Aiken that you know is a time bomb, you are giving Nix the chance to get what you offered him, too. Don’t forget, they made Nix the offer and his physical was fine, so by raising the offer to Aiken they were also trying to give Nix his money.
      Aiken screwed the Astros up, he screwed Nix up, he screwed himself up and if he ends up with elbow problems he is the one who looks stupid and Luhnow looks like a GM who stuck to his guns, listened to the doctors, made the right call and ends up with the #2 pick this year instead of a high school pitcher with a bum elbow last year..
      Now as for reducing his offer: A 1.1 draft pick with a good arm goes for $6.5mil. What does a 1.1 pick with a bad arm go for? $3.1mil
      Is any team going to pay him that kind of money this year if he needs elbow surgery and may be a major league pitcher in five years if they’re lucky?

      Liked by 2 people

      • Steven
        March 20, 2015

        Then what the Astros should have done was simply drop the offer and lose the pick. Lowballing him after finding something on the physical is bad precedent. Dropping the offer completely because he fails your physical is already precedent.

        To be honest, I find the whole thing shady – it seems like they tried to outscoundrel themselves with flimsy slotting math and outscoundreled themselves out of two prospects.

        Like

      • Tim
        March 20, 2015

        Steven,

        If they withdrew the offer they wouldn’t have received the 2nd pick in the 2015 draft. In order to guarantee they received that pick they had to offer $3.1M, which was the minimum they could have offered or they lose the pick this year. That would not have been smart. With this much money on the line and 1st round picks on the line MLB should allow for pre-draft physicals. It would have been detrimental for the Astros to withdraw the offer and not get any compensation for having the worst record in 2013. That is something that would have caused consternation with most fans. I know I would not have been happy if they completely withdrew the offer.

        Like

      • astrocolt45
        March 20, 2015

        Hey, 1OP, we seldom seem to agree so why should either change now, :-). I realize that Aiken had a medical issue. I also understand that it was wise to reduce their offer due to the medical condition. I realize that $3.1 M would allow them to maintain the pick this year. Where it starts to stink is the final offer back up to $5 (assuming that ever happened or could have happened or Aiken family would not answer the phone or Jack Ruby was involved) If you were going to place a $1 Million discount – then do it, or $3 Million discount – then do it. But place a value on the kid with a bad wing and leave it alone. To me it is inconceivable that the Astros valued Nix at over $3 Million. For that to be true, they had to give a couple million back to Aiken to get Nix. Just tell Kid Aiken you value his wing at $3.1M in order to keep this year’s pick and leave it alone. And finally can we all agreed that the wise two top picks this year by the Astros will be college seniors.

        Like

      • Tim
        March 20, 2015

        AC45,

        I not only think the top 2 picks should be college seniors, but they both should be college senior pitchers. With the trades of Folty, Tropeano and Thurman we need some depth of pitching at the higher levels of the farm system.

        Like

      • 1oldpro
        March 20, 2015

        AC45, when you raise your offer to $5 mil, if he takes it you still have a chance to get Aiken, Nix and Marshall. As it turns out, they got none of them and lost the money they were forced to settle giving Nix. They do have that #2 pick but they will spend a lot of money on it and will end up with 1 player a year later instead of 3 first round HS prospects.
        It was a gamble that didn’t pay but the reason it didn’t pay was because of Aiken, not because of the Astros.
        Yeah, it’s it something that we disagree on and I’m on Luhnow’s side. That’s weird!

        Like

  24. Tim
    March 20, 2015

    Did anyone watch the Astros game today? We were at the game and it appears Grossman has put on some weight, both from the weight room and the buffet line. Was this noticeable to anyone else?

    Like

    • 1oldpro
      March 20, 2015

      The announcers were talking about it during the game. They said he spent the offseason working out in MMP and put on a lot of bulk, But he sure looked good in LF today, or was I just comparing him to Rasmus who was the worst looking player on the field? Valbuena looked real good out there today.
      Wojo threw one too many high fastballs today but he appeared to have some zip. I missed not having a radar gun. Would like to know how hard Scherzer was throwing in the fifth inning, including the ball Castro turned around.

      Like

      • Tim
        March 20, 2015

        I thought he looked good in LF as well. It just appeared he also had a gut on him, but maybe it just looked that way. It was extremely hot out there and I may have been experiencing heat exhaustion. 😄

        I agree with you on both Rasmus and Valbuena. Rasmus looked horrible and Valbuena looked very good and could be a team leader. I thought Wojo looked very good also. Deduno may have sealed his fate as he had no control and just didn’t have it.

        Like

      • Tim
        March 20, 2015

        We are off to Tampa tomorrow for the Yankees game then back to Kissimmee on Sunday for the Pirates game. The boys are excited as Sunday is ‘kids run the bases day’ at Osceola County Stadium.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Steven
        March 20, 2015

        I think Rasmus ends up our big regret.

        Signed for 8 mil on a downward trend. 33% K rate last year, and yes, he had 18% just a few years ago, but its worsening year after year. I am really worried this guy doesn’t come to work with his hardhat and lunchpail, and does nothing to adjust to people adjusting to him.

        I think he maybe moderately better than what he moved out of the lineup (either a lot of ABs for Grossman or Presley), but not 8 mil worth.

        Like

      • daveb
        March 21, 2015

        Tim, if he hits .280 with a .320 OBP, I’ll be pleased as punch. If that becomes reality, I hope he’s out there for 155 games and you will not hear another peep out of me. And you also won’t hear me suggest again that Springer should be in center either.

        Like

    • daveb
      March 20, 2015

      Grossman has always looked borderline chunky to me. One reason why I’m still dubious about the guy. Does he work hard enough?

      If it turms out that the present Aiken injury is a confirmation of what the medical experts told Luhnow, then Luhnow should be off the hook for last years draft. In fact, other GM’s, without publicly giving him the nod, will quietly appreciate the way Luhnow handled the episode. Nix might have become the innocent bystander. The rules should protect a kid in his postion better than they did. As an aside, I lambasted Luhnow for the Aiken debacle last year.

      Is Jake Marisnick really going to be our starting centerfielder? Without ever showing that he can hit righthanded pitching? I sure hope the experts are right on this guy and I’m dead wrong, because to me, having the best defensive CF in the league is not enough for me if he hits as advertised.

      Like

      • Tim
        March 20, 2015

        Regarding Marisnick I guess it depends on your definition of ‘as advertised’. The greatest defensive CFer is not worth a .240 hitter with a .270 OBP (see Matt Dominguez). However, if he hits near .280 with an OBP around .320 then the greatest defensive CFer is worth playing on a daily basis. His minor league stats really don’t tell us where he will end up so we should see how it plays out. I can say that I love his defense and really want to see the offense be respectable enough to allow him to be a starter for the Astros. He is a future gold glover and because of his defense he will be given an opportunity to show he can hit.

        Like

      • daveb
        March 21, 2015

        Tim, I put my response above…..replied to the wrong post!

        Like

  25. Tim
    March 20, 2015

    I think they bumped the offer because they wanted Nix and felt the extra $1.9M to Aiken was worth the risk in also getting Nix. It didn’t look good, but if Aiken proves to have an issue with his UCL down the road I think it will give Luhnow some redemption in his handling of the negotiations. I am curious, if you were the Astros and felt the abnormally small UCL would be an issue down the road, what do you feel the Astros should have done? If nothing, MLB should allow for pre-draft physicals on players drafted in the early rounds.

    Like

    • astrocolt45
      March 20, 2015

      Tim, I will respond to the question of what they should have done. If they had an issue with his health, I can see the $3.1 M offer. Nothing improved his health back to $5 M. In several businesses, your word is your bond. You give a player your word and then want to re-negotiate, you will have problems. No one thinks the Astros are heels for objecting to a health issue. That has been done in many sports for decades. But the Astros seem to be the first team that uses health as a negotiating ploy. There are multiple players and agents that take issue with those negotiations of the Astros. The family of Aiken say they never got a $5 M offer. Just one that was cut in half to $3.1M. And if the Astros hands were clean – why a pay off to Nix?

      Like

      • Tim
        March 20, 2015

        The answer to the Nix payoff is simple. They felt it wasn’t worth the risk of possibly losing the 2nd pick in the 2015 draft if the arbiter ruled against them. You just don’t know how an arbiter will rule and losing the 2nd pick would be catastrophic for the Astros future development. In the grand scheme of things $1.5M is not that much when considering the alternatives.

        Like

    • Steven
      March 20, 2015

      They should have just dropped the offer completely.

      I really don’t know what happened with Aiken. Was he offered 5, agreed in principal, then after the physical the offer was lowered to 3.1? You are taking a risk with a high school pitcher no matter what. After you have made the 5 agreement, and he comes in with a small UCL, and you make the determination it is too risky, you drop your offer.

      I do understand they didn’t want to drop the offer because it also makes them lose Nix, since they lose the entirety of the 6.5 slot. Thats the game you play.

      I’ll stick to my guns that in my opinion, lowering offers based off physicals is a shady game. The physical should be after a preliminary agreement, and should be pass/fail. The Astros could have failed him, and then reentered negotiations on a new deal, and I would feel like they were a little more honest. I doubt I personally would ever accept that the latter practice is honorable.

      Like

      • Tim
        March 20, 2015

        We will agree to disagree on this one. The Astros simply could not have afforded to get no compensation for having the worst record in 2013. It would have set us back further and, considering where they are in the rebuilding stage, that would not have been smart business. Hopefully, this leads to some changes in the first year player draft, but with the rules that are in place now I think they had to protect that #2 pick in the 2015 draft.

        Like

      • rj
        March 20, 2015

        that leaves players the ability to ‘hide’ an injury or defect till after a deal is made. more dishonest in my book. physicals should be BEFORE picks and signings just as in the NFL. independent drs. with no ties to either side would be easy enough to arrange

        Liked by 2 people

    • daveb
      March 20, 2015

      A pre draft physical should be the norm in that investment bracket. The draft would still remain a crapshoot, but the investor should have access to all data.

      Liked by 2 people

  26. astrocolt45
    March 20, 2015

    And on a lighter note, what Hinch said when asked about Joe Maddon bowing the front office on roster decisions. “Our front office has done a good job of getting this new coaching staff prepared with information, which is their job,”
    What he meant to say, “We all know how long opinionated managers last around this place.”

    Like

  27. 1oldpro
    March 21, 2015

    The Yankees starter today is a big right hander who had some awesome stats last year for the Bronx.
    Keuchel is our starter and Appel is also down on the card to pitch.
    Correa is the scheduled starter at SS.
    Questions running through my mind this morning;
    a. Just how good are the Red Sox?
    b. Do the Astros really have a #5 starter?
    c. Is Colby Rasmus anywhere near as good a player as Robbie Grossman is right now? Would Grossman have handled those two soft liners in LF that fell right in front of Rasmus yesterday? Would Deduno have looked a lot better if Rasmus handles those two easy balls? When Rasmus gets $8mil from JL doesn’t he owe it to JL to at least try to look good?
    d. How good is your pitching staff, when Gio Gonzalez is your #5 and he pushes last year’s surprise pitcher to the bullpen. Nationals, wow!
    e. The Astros had all four infielders on the right side of the infield yesterday against Bryce Harper. Unfortunately they couldn’t place an infielder beyond the RF fence.
    f. As the Astros announcers were talking about the team trying to get Jon Singleton to hit the ball to all fields yesterday, he laced a Scherzer fastball that was high on the outside portion of the plate for a double just inside the RF line. Very few hitters can pull that pitch. Harper played it well off the wall but Singleton out-hustled Harper’s throw to second base.

    Like

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This entry was posted on March 17, 2015 by in Astros.
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