Saturday notes: The Astros a month from today


Jeff Luhnow may argue the point, but little has gone according to script for the Astros in 2015.

Start with back-to-back winning months to reach the best record in the American League for a team with as many as four hitters below the Mendoza line. Add in multiple injuries to the rotation and a patchwork lineup day in and day out and suddenly first-year manager A.J. Hinch is everyone’s leading candidate for manager of the year.

The Astros have used 33 players so far this season — no surprise there — and that number will likely rise soon. With three prospects already promoted and the Big One perhaps only days away, the team makeup will continue to morph.

Here’s a quick Saturday look at how it could look by this time next month:

In reviewing the above possibilities, it’s important to remember that this roster will likely be a work in progress through Game 162. Injuries and the need to upgrade will be with the Astros all season. There are simply too many young players and older veterans to avoid that inevitability.

Other things to consider:

  • You’ll note that Jake Marisnick is not on the above roster. It could be inevitable with the slump, but sending Marisnick to Fresno could be the biggest risk of the summer given his defensive portfolio. How much defense would the Astros give up to replace the bat with an upgrade?
  • It’s possible that Feliz joins McCullers in the rotation sooner than later.
  • Innings will begin to mount for the youngsters (McCullers, maybe Feliz) and even Hernandez as the Astros go deeper into the summer.
  • A key decision will be what to do with Carter. If he improves his marketability over the next month, Luhnow will be faced with a decision to roll the dice or not. A trade would be a gamble.
  • If the Astros trade for a pitcher, the focus will be on upper rotation. At this point, there are plenty of options to fill the back end and none — absolutely none! — to join Keuchel and McHugh at the top. Think Kazmir, Johnny Cueto or perhaps even Dan Haren. The Astros went after Kazmir before and Haren has Cardinals’ ties. Aaron Harang and a couple of Washignton pitchers may also be available.
  • The Astros are giving Singleton every chance to become the major league player he prospects as. He’ll get his chance, but it will require a shift in the outfield and/or DH, especially if the Astros keep Carter around.
  • Will Scott Feldman be a factor for the Astros in 2015 or will he be squeezed out by someone like Feliz and/or acquisition like Kazmir?
  • It’s quite likely Luhnow knew this sprign that McCullers and Feliz could be available in 2015. Easy to look back now, but the talent and competition level have improved so much this year that Sam Deduno, Dan Straily and Asher Wojciechowski were probably never really considerable rotation options in Luhnow’s mind.
Advertisements

76 comments on “Saturday notes: The Astros a month from today

  1. thats quite a lineup chip. but i have a hard time with that outfield. gattis would have to be LF, meaning tucker would have to be CF or RF. i don’t think he has range enough for either. even with springer in CF that makes for a suspect outfield defensively. other than that i like that team.

    Like

  2. Gee Chip, even though you are probably pretty accurate – I am wincing as we morph defensively from an OF of Rasmus, Marisnick, Springer to what I assume would be Gattis in LF, Springer in CF and Tucker in RF??
    I think Rasmus would be rotated a lot into LF and Gattis would still do a lot of DH’ing, but that is because I assume if Singleton comes up that Carter is gone.
    Frankly, the starting pitching is the key here. Will McCullers become more consistent? Will they actually send Carter + some minor leaguers + maybe someone like Conger for another SP? Will Obie or Peacock or Feldman get well and come back?
    And what will it be like to finally see Carlos (the messiah) Correa – I used the small “m” there – in the lineup.
    The team has surprised everyone by being in 1st place this far into the season, but what Jeff Luhnow does and when he does it will be the key to them staying there.

    Like

    • Dan, yes, there would be some wincing — even wailing and gnashing of teeth! — with this roster. It assumes that Singleton is up and Carter stays…which may not be reasonable. Believe it or not, I’m not necessarily convinced that Singleton is ready with that .264 average, but it would create that “threesome” we debated during spring training of Singleton-Gattis-Carter and what to do with them.

      Yes, one option is to get rid of Carter, but as I mentioned, it would be a huge gamble and would mean you’re puttign ALL your eggs into the Singleton basket.

      I’m not sure that Luhnow can pull a major trigger like Singleton or even Correa with the team having the best record in the AL…may take at least a slight downturn before the “major” moves happen.

      Like

  3. The Astros today are:
    RF Springer
    2B Altuve
    LF Tucker
    DH Gattis
    1B Carter
    3B Villar
    C Castro
    SS Gonzalez
    CF Marisnick
    And of course Keuchel on the mound.

    Like

  4. I’m excited to see Felix in action next week. It may shed light on whether he is a 2017 piece or is getting the Kike Hernandez treatment this year.

    Like

  5. I knew it, I knew, it I knew it. That was Villar’s *7th* error, and he only plays maybe once a week. I’m writing Jim Crane a letter………it won’t make any difference, but at
    least it will make me feel better.
    Sorry Chip…….I’ll answer your questions in a little while, but I’m just SO ANGRY
    this kid is even ON this team. GRRRRRRR

    Like

    • That baserunning blunder I’m sure didn’t endear him any further to you.

      Or this play just now. Call up Correa NOW

      Like

  6. Becky’s letter to Jm Crane
    Dear Mr. Crane:
    We know that Jonathan Villar has –
    A) Pictures of you torturing a puppy
    B) Eyewitness accounts of you stealing coins from a Salvation Army Santa
    C) Video tape of you, Selig and McLane laughing about what rubes the Astro fans are.
    We don’t care – all is forgiven ahead of time if you just rid us of JV.
    Thanks,
    Becky

    Like

  7. That was an excellent win for the Astros – great pitching that overcame Villar’s gaffes, and late clutch dingers by Gartis… Fun.

    Like

    • Dan………how MUCH LONGER do you keep this kid on the team??? I’m not kidding here, how do you put a guy in the game that you KNOW has a history of errors.
      Thank God he didn’t cause any runs to score……but he sure COULD have.

      Like

      • The weird thing is that Villar actually knocked in the winning run with his sac fly in a great at-bat. But then he uses all his attaboys up and then it’s Oh S#*t time with getting thrown out by a mile at second base for the third out and the two errors. I swear that this guy’s head is an 80 lb. sack of Quikrete in a Houston downpour.
        And through it all, Keuchel just bears down and carries the team to the win.

        Like

      • Yes he did do a good job fighting off 2 strike pitches to get the sacrifice fly, but if the catcher catches the throw Tucker is out at the plate.

        Becky – If it were my money and my plan – Correa would have been playing SS today and Marwin would have been giving Valbuena day off at 3B.
        Villar has physical talent, but as Professor Kingsfield would say, “A skull full of mush.”

        Like

  8. I have a question Chip.
    At this point (in the next 2-3 weeks) do you go big, or go cheap.
    If Cole Hamels would waive his no trade clause……..do you trade a BUNCH
    of your minor league talent, or go cheap with Aaron Harang?????
    That’s a BIG TIME question for Jeff Luhnow, and I’m betting he goes big.

    Like

  9. Not to pile on Villar much more but his sac fly at bat was also a major screw up. He was at 3-0 and swung at ball 4! Of course, what was Hinch thinking letting him hit 3-0? He came out smelling like a rose because Melky made a poor throw. As for getting thrown out at second, he could see the play developing directly in front of him. As far as he was thrown out he could very easily have put on the brakes and gone back to first. I don’t have TV but I would bet a dollar to a doughnut that he cruised out of the box and when the ball didn’t go out of the yard decided to make the obligatory try for second. Two wrongs don’t make a right.

    I’m actually glad Correa is being tested. I think it may be good for him to fail a little. I fully expect him to figure things out but the experience of not having phenomenal success come easy should bode well for him when he gets to the show where the pitchers won’t be awed by him and the fielders have range like his. But what an upgrade he will be over Villar in every aspect.

    I am still not sold on Singleton. Something about his mental approach is unsettling to me. And Carter is warming up and actually playing some pretty decent first base. For my money he’s a better fielder than Singleton and has made consistently good judgments on which balls to pursue and which to let go to Altuve. I’m not quite ready to forget Bagwell but Carter has been a very pleasant surprise.

    Like

    • Thank you for putting your 2 cents in drbill14! That kid has had nearly
      7-8yrs. to figure it out, and he just can’t put it together. But I can tell you what, if Villar had made one of his famous two base errors, and it had cost Keuchel the game……….it would NOT have been a happy clubhouse this afternoon. I would think the other guys would WANT him gone, because of his mental mistakes! EVERY SINGLE TIME Hinch puts his name on the lineup card, I cringe. I would do a happy dance if I never saw his face on this team again. EVER.

      Like

  10. This is hard to believe. The Lancaster game is not complete yet, but Derek Fisher is 4 for five in his second game since being promoted. He has three home runs, including 2 grand slams and has 12 RBIs, so far. A few weeks ago Singleton had two slams and 10 RBIs for Fresno. I don’t think I’ve ever heard of a guy with 12 rbis in a game.

    Like

    • I thought he played last night. That is quite a debut. The Lancaster announcer said it might be good that he struck out in his last two ABs because Lancaster fans want him to stay for awhile and if he had gotten more hits he might have been promoted!

      Like

  11. He was our 37th. pick when Luhnow traded Bud Norris! That makes Hader in Corpus, Fisher in Lancaster, and Hoes in Fresno! And……….Bud Norris hasn’t pitched very well at all for the “O”‘s. I’d say that was a pretty dang good trade!!

    Like

    • I loved the Norris trade. Never liked him. He’s a mutter butt. Always saying something over his shoulder as he walks away from you.
      Loved Hader, Loved the pick. Never thought Hoes could play the outfield or hit. Terrible baserunner.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Some other notable performances down on the farm yesterday. Dan Straily had 10 Ks in 6 IPs and only 1 ER. Francis Martes pitched 4 innings of no hit baseball following Kevin Comer’s 5 IPs with 0 ERs and 5 Ks.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. It looks like Oberholtzer will start Monday and that means to me that Feliz will probably get sent back down, unless someone else is hurting.

    Like

    • Do you think they might keep Feliz for the bullpen and send Jake Buchanan down? I think Feliz is a better arm than Jake and, thus, gives the Astros a better chance at winning. Granted, you have to consider whether they want to keep Feliz as a bullpen piece when He can get regular work in CC or Fresno, but if they are planning to go for it this season I think Feliz is the better option for Houston.

      Like

  14. I don’t see Lunhow changing — so dramatically for the worse — our outfield defense. Not unless Marisnick sees his average dip into the .220s and his OBP go below .290. His defensive value is just too great.

    I’d rather trade Carter. If he can’t hit for half a season, and that’s just who he is, I’m done with him. Because it’s far more likely he won’t repeat the second half of 2014 than he harnesses that second half.

    Also, the whiffers are costing the Astros wins. All those LOB over the last couple of losses are a result of the Ks. Not that Singleton doesn’t whiff, but I think he can be a better overall hitter. As will Gattis. To me, Carter is the odd man out.

    Like

    • I tend to agree with this as I think Singleton can hit just as many HRs as Carter, but hit for a better average and OBP. My only concern is his defense as Carter has been surprisingly good playing 1B, definitely better than what Big Jon showed us last year. Otherwise, I like the idea of Singleton over Carter.

      Like

  15. Did any of you get to see inside the clubhouse last night?? I had to laugh out loud
    when the fog machine was going and the disco ball was sparkling, and it was LOUD!
    Hinch graduated with a degree in psychology, so I guess he knows what he’s doing
    putting Villerror at short again today. GEEZE……….

    Like

  16. That 3rd inning for the Astros seems to show why Altuve is the most integral player on this team. When Altuve is being Altuve he gets a hit and 2 RBIs instead of an inning ending DP. That was a very big play. This team desperately needs Altuve to return to the Altuve of last year.

    Like

  17. Tim…….I just do NOT GET IT. On *ANY* other team this guy wouldn’t even be on the roster. It’s sooooo damn depressing.

    Like

  18. Aw c’mon Becky he has played 20 games at either SS or 3B and only has 8 errors. He sometimes makes it through a whole game without an error. But don’t hold your breath waiting.

    Like

  19. I was hoping not to see Correa in the line up for Fresno today. This team really needs its shortstop of the future and it really needs a quality right handed bat now. We are just terrible against even mediocre lefties.

    I’ve seen enough of Jake. He’s not even real good defensively. I’m not sure why we are still touting his play in center. Sure he looks good out there and he runs like a bat out of hell, but even leaving his defensive metrics aside, which are unremarkable, his arm is also unreliable. I have not seem him make an accurate throw all year, but since he does have one assist, I must have missed something.

    Foltynewicz went 6.2 the other night. He went 7.2 his previous start. He’s getting stretched out. He’s K’d 38 guys and walked just 13 in 36.1 innings. His ERA is down to 3.96. He might be considered our second best starter today.

    Evan Gattis is a DH who can’t do anything else. Yes, he has hit a batch of homers and driven in runs from the cleanup slot. But having a cleanup hitter hitting .230 and getting on base at a .261 clip is unacceptable. He’s been hot recently. Maybe we’ll see him get the average up and reach .300 for an OBP. That would be acceptable on this bad hitting team. But we’re going to be reminded over and over again that the Foltynewicz trade was a bad one.

    Like

    • Daveb——–We all have buyers remorse about Foltynewicz. We don’t have him any more, and we have to get over it. It is what it is.
      As far as Correa goes, nothing would please us more than to see his name on the lineup card every single day, but I doubt we will see him before the break.
      I hope I’m wrong about that.

      Like

      • Not all of us have buyers remorse on losing Folty. He still has a high ERA and WHIP pitching in a pitchers park in the NL. It is still too early to call it a good or bad trade. Let’s give it another year and see how the players are performing.

        Like

  20. By the way as it stands right now the Asttros have a 4.5 lead in the AL Central
    and the Angels will play tonight. If they win tonight we will drop another 1/2 game.
    Mr. Villerror was not available to talk to the media after the game.

    Like

  21. A few notes. A. Altuve has been rolled at second on a DP pivot at least 3 times that I have seen. He was rolled on a stolen base last week. And Villar hit him in the leg with a DP throw. So he may be hurting and just playing with grit. No one has said anything about him being hurt the past few weeks that I have seen. B. I think Pettis is taking extra chances sending runners home because he feels they have a better chance of scoring by testing the OFers arm than waiting for a base hit or a fly to the OF. He certainly his sent some questionable runners. I have watched the replay on some thinking the runner ignored a stop sign. That was not what happened. C. Preston Tucker is a heads up ball player in my book. (Insert he is not Villar nor Conger, in my opinion). He took second on a throw home and when I watched the replay, he was watching the cut off throw and took off. Also when the catcher vacated last week, he scored. He may not be the best talent on the team, but he will help the Astros win if he keeps this up over the long haul.

    Like

  22. Chip on the outfield, there have been three chances that I have seen where Rasmus caught the ball in LF that with Gattis or Carter they were run scoring doubles or worse. Man, I hope you are way wrong on that. But you are correct, if someone comes up, somebody has to leave.

    Like

  23. Correa was given a rest.
    So what does Lancaster do for an encore today? A league record tying 8 home runs and they score 21 runs on High Desert. But that Fisher guy is fading fast. His only hit today was a 3-run homer, so he has 15 RBIs in two games. Reed had a homer and a huge day, as did Davis and almost every guy in Lancaster’s lineup except Phillips, who was hitless leading off, which is crazy weird when you score 21 runs.

    Like

  24. It takes a special kind of player to have an awful game while hitting a triple and a double.
    Danks and Villar were the best players on the White Sox today.

    Like

  25. Hinch: “We’ll talk to him tomorrow, after we go over the game with him”
    Hinch: “There are some things to work on with him to clean up the game”

    Folks……when you have talked until you’re blue in the face, to a guy
    YEAR, after YEAR, after YEAR…….he’s not going to “clean up his game”.
    I hope Marwin is available to play everyday for the next 3-4 weeks……or
    if they aren’t going to bring up Correa, then bring up Fontana. ANYONE
    would be 100% better than “him”.
    We now have a 4 game lead in the Central…….and that’s not going to last long.

    Like

    • Have we lost any games lately because of Villar errors? It seems to me like they have contributed to poor performances in the losses, but not made a difference. Keuchel shook them right off like they were nothing in his CG shutout.

      Like

      • Devin, you are probably correct. You can’t hang a 6-0 loss on anyone. But when a MLB player makes a routine catch, double taps his glove, and then throws the ball into the stands – it is tough to watch. He is not the first player that had difficulty throwing to first. But most got removed or “promoted” to the outfield if they could hit.

        Like

  26. I looked at the lineup provided in the post again and realized the irony of sending Marisnick to AAA and keeping Carter and moving him to DH.
    Marisnick is a good defensive CF who hit .380 in April but .180 in May and is a good baserunner.
    Carter is a 1B who hit .150 in April and .230 in May and is a lousy baserunner.
    So you’re keeping one because of the dream that he will become a butterfly and you’re sending the other down to Fresno because of the nightmare he’s becoming a caterpillar.
    You know, when every hitter on the team is hitting below expectations you have to wonder about who it is that is trying to help these guys with their hitting. This is absolutely THE worst fastball hitting team I have seen in a long time. If you had told me that Springer would be missing every 90mph fastball from lefties, I would have laughed. But it’s a fact.
    However, pitchers have figured out that the easiest way to get Villar out is to let him get on base.

    Liked by 1 person

  27. The Orioles have signed Randy Wolf, Bob Knepper and Mike Hampton to one day contracts. They will each make a start in the Houston series and then return to their ranches.

    Liked by 1 person

  28. This is where the Lowrie injury is really hurting us. We don’t have anyone that we can trust to play 3B against LH pitching. If Lowrie was healthy he could play 3B and put MarGo at SS, but by having to play Villerror we have really weakened our defense and his baserunning mistakes more than offset his limited offensive production. I just don’t think the kid is ever going to figure it out. He is missing something upstairs.

    Like

    • As much as I see the raw talent Villar obviously possesses, it’s also clear that the kid is not real sharp. And if you want to play baseball in the major leagues, talent is not enough.

      Like

      • I’m with you dave. he really has some great tools, but i thought there would be at least some gain in maturity by now. it seems his mental process lags behind his reflexes and you get that uh oh moment. for awhile i thought that marwin might go to AAA when correa comes up, now i think villar has stamped his ticket to fresno. too bad. i hope he finally figures things out wherever he ends up.

        Like

      • This is a general statement and not directed at Villar, but each of us have watched sports at different levels and seen this. A player gets by on raw natural talent and does not study or practice his game. He then tops out someplace along the pyramid because he runs up against another natural talent that worked at his game. All of us on the sidelines think “I wish I had his talent.” But truth be known, each of us would be tempted to “coast.”
        I remember hearing Dan Gable, who lost only one match in his high school or college career, talk about getting up at 3 AM to work out in the snow, getting ready for the Olympics. When asked why he did it, he said he knew someplace in Russia, somebody was getting up at 2 AM just to beat him.

        Like

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 )

Google+ photo

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

Connecting to %s