Happy Easter: It’s morning again for Houston Astros

Happy Easter Weekend! Hope you’re planning a weekend with family and friends.

• •• ••• •• •

Borrowing from the 1984 Ronald Reagan campaign theme: It’s morning again in Houston!

Over the past several days, we’ve reviewed roster possibilities, hopes and dreams of the Astros for 2015. Brian even gave you a glimpse of the future on Thursday from down under, and Dan compared the opening day rosters for the past two seasons.

Over the past few years, the Astros have often found themselves debating about final roster spots with retreads and low-risk, high-reward type players. Names like Lucas Harrell, Carlos Pena, Kyle Farnsworth, Ronny Cedeno and Rick Ankiel have graced the Astros with their presence just in the past two seasons.

This spring, most of the roster battles included players with value. To be sure, the talent level wasn’t real deep, but there was enough to provide Jeff Luhnow and new manager A.J. Hinch with options. If Brett Oberholtzer, Josh Fields and Brad Peacock had been healthy or if Jon Singleton had lived up to expectations, each would have forced tough decisions and Fresno’s first Astros’-generated roster would have been even stronger.

Next year? Oh my, it could get real sticky. Fast. It’s likely to force some more off-season restructuring a la this past winter. Suffice it to say the competition will be ratcheted up and players once known as locks or near locks may be known as bubble guys…if they remain with the club at all.

Scott Feldman may be gone. Luhnow structured his salary smartly, leaving only a reasonable $8 million on the tab for 2016. If Chris Carter becomes streaky again, he’ll have priced himself out of the equation. Even players like Jason Castro and Luis Valbuena could be on the clock if they don’t show up in ’15.

As strong as Dallas Keuchel may be, is he a true #1? Or will the Astros step up their efforts to put a true engine at the front of the train?

The winter ahead — yes, I’m jumping light years ahead — could bring as much change as the past few months. Here’s just a quick look at what the depth chart may look like this time next year.

This exercise is almost a work of lunacy since the pieces of the puzzle will change dramatically over the next nine months. With 11 players due arbitration — seven of those for the first time — and only $34.1 million on the books for 2016 plus another increase in payroll, Luhnow will once again have an opportunity to restructure his team.

Here is the point. Trades and injuries notwithstanding, many of the players scrambling for spots on the roster next season will not have names like Hoes, White, Harris, etc. The names you’ll see in many areas of spring training 2016 will be those you follow at Corpus Christi and Fresno this summer.

The downside is that there will be another 40-man roster crunch, which may result in another sell off of sorts. Whether that comes at the prospect level or the current roster could shuffle the spring training deck considerably.

So, while you watch your favorite nine starting Monday, be careful who you fall in love with. It is quite possible they may be bumped this winter in favor of the names and faces of the next generation Astros.


32 comments on “Happy Easter: It’s morning again for Houston Astros

  1. Rather than looking at this on an individual player basis, we might be better off looking at it on a basis of who is going to be expensive, and who has someone behind them that is not expensive and might be more adaptable.
    Castro is a free agent in 2017. He’s making 4million this year and may get twice that next year. Stassi at AAA this year needs to shine or the Astros will be forced to give an expensive contract in 2017 to a 29 year old catcher with bad knees.
    Carter is a big power guy who can’t play much defense. He is the Astros current worst defender and that’s at 1B. He is making 4.1 million this year and will be more expensive next year.
    Feldman is making this year(and probably will next year) more money than all the other starters combined. When Appel moves up, Feldman is the #4 starter. Something’s not right there.
    If the Astros are going to go out and get a new #1 starting pitcher, they are going to have to pay him tons of money. I cannot see them doing that without getting rid of Carter and Feldman’s salary.
    By the way, if Colin Moran has a real good year in AA and AAA hitting the ball, and Singleton stays the same player he is, and I suspect he will, Valbuena and Moran could possibly see both corner infield positions next April. I have no doubt that either one of them would be a better fielding first baseman than anyone we have right now.
    I would just as soon move Rasmus at the deadline and plug the best choice between Kemp and Tucker in LF. Either one saves over seven mil in salary and moves the system from the minors to the majors.
    Lots of young arms in the upper minors in 2015 means lots of arms for the bullpen in 2016 & 2017.
    All of these money saving devices while adding younger, better players to the lineup means that young, very expensive #1 starter is not that outrageous.
    Lock up Dallas Keuchel!


    • OP, I agree in theory with your analysis but let me add one thought. Let’s say the Astros are 2 games over at the break and out of first place by 4 games. At that point, the jettison Rasmus or Feldman and maybe Carter. Then for the rest of the year they play 2 games under and finish at .500. Not on this site, but on other sites, the know it all’s (that don’t know squat) will be screaming that Luhnow kept us from winning the WS. So it is risky for JL (provided the Astros are having a winning record) to do any salary dump mid year. Is it best for the team? YEAH. Again, total speculation today, but I could see how JL might have to ride out all of 2015 without “selling” anyone mid-year. Now if the Astros stumble out of the gate, he has a free reign to “right the ship.” Again, I am only talking about the heat he would take from those that do not understand this “plan” nor any “plan.”


      • I agree, but Rasmus is the only one not under contract for next year and he is expensive. He is the one I would trade and keep the other players to get to the playoffs if possible. Rasmus is also the one who might be replaced by someone of equal ability in Tucker or Kemp or both if need be.


  2. Following up the wisdom of oldpro, I read that the Dodgers are paying $43.5 million for players not to play in their system. I wish I could get in on that.

    So here is the question on my mind: Cuts from the 40 man roster are tougher decisions this year. If the Astros are middle of the pack, it is an easy decision to sell off Feldman, Castro, Carter, and/or Rasmus. What happens if we are actually good and in the race for a wild card? Will we still sell off pieces to try to free up 40 man spots and reduce the 2016 salary expectations from players no longer in our long term plan, or make a run at it? Does Luhnow, after lots of losing the last three years, have the luxary of not playing for every win this year?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Rasmus is easy. If he’s having a good year you trade him at the deadline and get something good for him. You then have the choice of Grossman, Gattis,Kemp or Tucker to put in LF.
      If Rasmus is having a bad year you do the same thing, only you don’t get anything for him which is OK because you didn’t give up anything for him except money, and that money’s already spent. Rasmus is 90% gone for next year anyway.
      If the team is having a good year, you keep carter and trade him in the offseason, if that is what the team wants to do to make room for the kids and save money to start locking up players for the future.
      I’ve never mentioned it but consider this. The first two years of Correa’s major league time are going to tell the Astros everything they will need to know about him. If he proves to be in the majors, what we see in the minors, he is a $300million player because of his age. He will be our Stanton, but at the SS position. He will not be a player you want to offer an Altuve contract to, anymore than Altuve is a player you would offer an Altuve-like contract to today. At age 24, you will want to tie him up until age 36 at least. With the Crawford boxes, a player with Correa’s body is a potential MVP candidate every year, and with his glove and arm, he is a career All-Star. The Astros don’t want to take a chance by shortchanging him in his 25-30 year All-Star Shortstop slot and then losing him in his 31-36 slot when he will probably be the best third baseman in baseball. Five years from now will all the announcers on the sports show be talking about Correa the way they talked about Jeter? And if you started Correa in the outfield from day one in spring training at the age of 25, is there any doubt that he would be an All-star outfielder? Not in my mind. But if you put Mike Trout at SS at the age of 25 could he play it like Correa. I don’t think so.
      The Astros need to plan on tieing Correa up forever as soon as they can, and then design the team around him.


    • Devin, if and when you find out how to get in on that, please add my name. I will be more than willing to take as little as $1,000 a month to NOT play for the Dodgers. I am not greedy. But if you are successful, make it a tandem pitching thing and if you can get $10,000 a month, you can keep $9,000.


    • While I agree with OP on trading Rasmus around the trade deadline it would be a PR disaster for Luhnow and the Astros if he is having a good year and the Astros are within sniffing distance of a playoff spot. Especially if the Astros fell apart down the stretch after trading Rasmus. It is my guess that if the scenario I laid out above plays out the Astros will be looking to add at the trade deadline, not subtracting, and I think that will be because Crane will demand it. A 2nd half collapse due to trading a productive Rasmus (whether that is the reason or not they collapse) could hurt ticket sales for next year. I think Crane will see the increased attendance and excitement from the fans as a positive and not want to let that go. It wouldn’t be the worse thing to get nothing in return for Rasmus. We got nothing at all for Jesse Crain and Matt Albers.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. The future is calling, and the bells of baseball are tolling. For whom do the baseball bells toll? It is tolling like crazy for Scott Feldman, Roberto Hernandez, Chris Carter, Jason Castro, Jed Lowrie and Colby Rasmus. It has also probably started to toll for Marwin Gonzalez and Robbie Grossman [and of course LJ Hoes]. May all those guys have career years, not only so they will be fun to watch, but also so that their trade value and/or FA value, as the case may be, soars this year.


  4. Great Article and in put OP, I cant wait to see where this conversation is in 60 days. I will still fall of my chair if Singleton and Santa every impact MLB.


    • I think I am tagging Mr. Bill from yesterday on Wandy. But I believe that if Wandy could have eliminated 1 inning out of each game he started, both he and Bert Blyleven would be 1st ballot HofF. I never saw anyone like those two pitchers. You could watch them completely dominate for 6 of 7 innings, or 7 of 8.. But one inning and it could be the 1st or any other inning, they just blew up. And if they could get through that inning, they seemed to be great the rest of the way.


  5. The Padres have returned Jandel Gustave to the Astros and guess what?
    Yep, he’s going to the Hooks. Glad to see they can find some good use for that 100mph fastball.


  6. As of this morning, the CC Hooks have 31 players on their roster and can have only 25 to begin the season. Alaniz is suspended and Velasquez is injured, so that knocks it down to 29. The Grizzlies can have 25 to start the season and only have 24.


  7. astrocolt45….Nope, Becky didn’t get to watch the game! Too busy eating Crawfish
    with my Houma La. family! BUT……..I did check my phone. *TWO* errors…..and getting our bullpen lit up, was not the way to win games!!


  8. I hope ALL of you have a blessed Easter with your families this weekend! May the “Easter bunny” fill your baskets with lots of goodies!!


  9. It is a different feel for me this year. I think that the team has the most players who could be starters on other teams than it has had in 6 or 7 years. We are seeing hardly any backups in the lineup – the backups are on the bench or in the minors where they belong. Like you say – we don’t have tremendous depth so injuries could hurt us badly – but we have a team that should be a lot more competitive than last season and that is all I want to see.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Was reading that AAA Fresno will use a 6 man rotation instead of a tandem, which tells me the team will be hacking off the top pitching prospects at AA Corpus with the tandem system…


  11. Filed under “How much do you think this team has improved over past couple years? – On the Roster for the Texas Rangers- Anthony Bass, Phillies – Jerome Williams, White Sox – Matt Albers & J B Shuck, Twins – Jordan Shafer, Yankees – David Carpenter & Petit, A’s – Fernando Abad, Angels – Carlos Perez, Padres – Clint Barmes. Orioles – Jimmy Parades. I quit looking because on this list – I doubt any of them make the 25 man on the Astros this year.


    • Fun post, and very astute. Too lazy to look it up, but saw Justin Maxwell is in the majors somewhere as well. Jesse Crain is in AAA somewhere.


  12. OK, how do we all feel about the Gattis trade when compared to the trade sending Kimbrel to San Diego? I can’t believe Atlanta moved those two players without getting more in return. I suppose the Melvin Upton salary inclusion crippled the return on the latter.


  13. Ladies and Gentlemen, it is opening day and I am as excited as a kid on Christmas Eve. I am thankful the game is on ESPN as I will be in Lubbock for business meetings tonight and I doubt the hotel gets ROOT Sports SW. Let’s go Astros!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s