Jeff Luhnow and Astros: Top 6 decisions for the second half

The last few weeks the Houston Astros have been flopping and floundering like a newbie swimmer tossed in a pool, who after good initial effort suddenly realizes they really cannot swim. There has been a huge amount of the fan base, here and on other blogs, who have thrown out a ton of suggestions for the next move the team should make. Most of the suggestions would fall under the influence of General Manager Jeff Luhnow, not with Manager A.J. Hinch or owner Jim Crane.

It would be interesting to know what the mindset of Mr. Luhnow is right now.

  • Pre-season platitudes aside, is the first half success surprising to him?
  • Is he set on his Plan and not going to do anything to de-rail 2017 by short-sightedness now?
  • Is he interested in going for it now, knowing that tomorrow is not promised to anyone?
  • How bound is he on making decisions by monetary limits from the owner? Note: It has been suggested that he sold minor leaguer Mitch Lambson to the Braves for the additional money he needed to sign 11th round draft pick Patrick Sandoval.

The next six weeks or so will be a very interesting time for the team and especially for their front office. In no particular order, here are six important decisions Luhnow will make or avoiding during the second half of the season.

  1. Is he a buyer or a seller? Does he believe this team can be a champion in 2015? Does he believe they will settle back towards .500 while the true contenders fly away with the division and the wild card spots? Does he think a trade will be the difference or are there too many holes in the dike?
  2. What moves can he make to clear up the 40 man roster heading into the off-season? Is there anyone who is not on the radar for the future, who should be released or at least be part of an attempted trade? What happens with Max Stassi, Robbie Grossman, Luis Cruz, Asher Wojciechowski, Jonathan Villar, Brett Oberholtzer, Kevin Chapman, etc.
  3. What direction should he take on first base? Stick with Chris Carter? Hand it to Jon Singleton? Hand Preston Tucker a glove and tell him to go learn on the fly? Stick Jed Lowrie in there when he returns?
  4. If he becomes a buyer, what are his drawn-in-the-sand lines on personnel availability? Who is untouchable with the major league and minor league players? Dallas Keuchel, Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa, George Springer, Lance McCullers Jr and who?? Are we talking Brett Phillips, A.J. Reed, Jacob Nottingham, Vince Velasquez and Mark Appel? If he hands little groupings of prospects to be considered by the other teams who is on them and who is not?
  5. If he sells, if he decides to trade for future help what positions does he focus on? Does he believe that there never is enough pitching? Does he value shortstop and catcher higher than other positions? Does he say that this organization struggles with developing third basemen and does he try to strengthen that? Does he try to pick up A level prospects for farther down the line?
  6. How to handle the innings for Lance McCullers Jr. and for Vincent Velasquez down the stretch will be of great interest here. It is likely that the front office has more detailed analytics to go by vs. a simple 25 percent increase limit of the innings pitched. They have shown part of their hand with their demotion/shut down of VV until after the All Star break (or longer). It may be as simple as saying that LMJ has better mechanics, uses his legs and has less of an injury history vs. VV’s previous Tommy John surgery when considering what limit if any should be imposed.

A few questions for you:

  • What do you think are the most critical decisions for Luhnow in the second half of this season?
  • Do you think he should “play” for today or for 2017?
  • What is the biggest mistake he could make?
  • Who would be on your untouchables list?

105 comments on “Jeff Luhnow and Astros: Top 6 decisions for the second half

  1. * Do you think he should “play” for today or for 2017? *

    It is not one or the other, or one to the exclusion of the other. You play to win each day, and you play to build a dynasty each day. You just act out of deliberation and wisdom with a long-term perspective instead of acting out of desperation and knee-jerk reaction to a losing streak.

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    • Agree. Also, why play for 2017 instead of 2016. We only have a couple guys whom we do not control whether they return in 2016. Set this team up to compete this year and you should have a reason to expect success next year too. I believe Springer, Correa, Tucker, and VV will all continue to improve.

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  2. On some level, I think being a big league general manager would be the best job in the world. But there is nothing easy about it – all day, every day, 365 days a year.

    On one hand, Luhnow cannot scrap the long-term goals of the organization for a chance of winning the AL West this year. If the Astros (and the fans) have suffered through the past decade just to roll the dice trying to make the playoffs this year, and end up with another prolonged sub-.500 club, the franchise in Houston is doomed. He MUST keep his focus on building a perennial winner, even at the expense of falling short this year.

    On the other hand, I think it would be a grave tactical error not to make a decent effort to upgrade the big league roster by picking up at least a starting pitcher and probably a hitter for the stretch run this year. It could be some time before a better chance at winning the division comes along, and the fans will be unforgiving if Luhnow were to be content with the hand he currently holds.

    This situation is exactly why GMs get paid the big bucks. And it is the perfect definition of a conundrum.

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    • It also is critically important to understand that a ‘trade’ is never going to work out in real time the way people might choose, through rose colored glasses, to hope or think it would. A trade – even with a non-contending team who is dumping salary – does not automatically, or even necessarily, equal an upgrade. If you are trading with team that has a losing record, obviously the player you are trading that team for is no kind of savior; if he were, he would have saved the team he was on. He might have good stats on a bad team – and we have seen that with Chris Carter last year. His stats looked really good the 2nd half – while the Astros were way out of contention, no threat to anybody, and the other teams had little concern about his occasional dinger beating them.

      And if you are trading with another contender or wanna-be contender, just keep in mind that If there was not a problem with the player you are getting, the other team wouldn’t be trading him. Perhaps it is a nagging injury. Perhaps it is an attitude or emotional weakness. Perhaps it is an addictive behavior. Perhaps it is just the intangible of not being able to inspire his teammates to do their best.

      Trading is the ultimate gamble – a gamble you do not take unless you are 1. desperate or 2. so rich in talent that getting ‘taken’ on a trade just doesn’t matter. The 2015 Astros are presently neither of the above.

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      • I think you are over looking the most important reason a player is traded…money. Cueto and Samardjiza are both free agents at the end of the year and their respective teams are long shots to make the playoffs this year. They can’t afford to re-sign them so they may as well get something in return. Never is any single player a savior, but most can fill a need for a team and help that team perform better than they would without him. Trades don’t always work out they way teams hope, but many times the player acquired dies help his new team. There have been numerous instances of a player acquired at the deadline performing very well for his new team,

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      • Dave, I am certainly old enough to remember Dobie Gillis (and Manard G. Krebs), but this pseudo identity is much more nefarious.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. * What do you think are the most critical decisions for Luhnow in the second half of this season? *

    After the decision to or not to trade – or who to trade – for a half-season rental SP, the most critical decision Luhnow will make in the 2nd half of the 2015 season will be who on the 40 man we need to part with, and how to part with them in the most Organization-advantageous way. Some, those who might provide back up insurance for another team without the level of depth we have, he might be able to trade away for prospects who won’t be on the 40-man. Others may be eligible for arbitration or free agency next year, and we have seen enough to know that for 2016 and beyond they just aren’t in our plans. Still others just need to be given their DFA.

    At the same time, Jeff will need to be deciding who in the minor leagues he needs to put on the 40-man in order to avoid losing them to other teams in the Rule 5 draft. This may result in packaging two or three ‘on the cusp’ guys in the minor leagues for either short-term pitching help or some good looking guys from the other team’s 2014 or 2015 draft that have some development potential and aren’t Rule 5 eligible this year.

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  4. I think the most critical decision for Luhnow is whether to give up his prospects that he hand picked to help this team for years to come, for a two month rental. If the lousy offensive producers currently in the lineup continue to waste the pitching a rental pitcher wont help.
    If Correa, LMJ, Tucker, and Velasquez are good enough to help this team today, I am a lot more willing to try some guys who are even older, like Kemp and White and get rid of the strike out kings and sub .200 hitters that are dragging this team down.
    The biggest mistake Luhnow could make is to trade the future for the present and then have the same bad hitters that have been letting the pitchers down this season, ruin good starts by scoring no runs. Keep bringing the youngsters up and trade the older, expensive, non producing hitters.
    My untouchables: Correa, Altuve, LMJ, Keuchel, Neshek, Gregerson on the big club.
    Reed, Nottingham, Phillips, Hader, Appel, White, Heineman, Musgrove, Moran, Ferrell, Kemp and Bregman in the minors. The reason I picked those players is because I see them fitting in important positions on that 2017 club.

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  5. You folks are just deep thinkers with lots of good thoughts.

    I did want to talk a little bit about the play for 2017 vs. 2016 statement. Deep in my baseball heart of hearts I feel like a young team like this (especially with more youth coming) might struggle next season. I think they are out-playing their talent so far this season and might have a few more challenges next season. They certainly could contend in 2016, but my gut tells me they may fall back a little and then come charging in 2017.

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    • Dan, I’ve thought a lot about that, too. The Astros minor leagues have been built completely different than the Astros previous minor leagues. The players drafted fit a numerical profile implemented by Luhnow and his FO. They don’t guess. They fit the types of players they want through scouting and heavy reliance on advanced statistical formulas. This is not like picking a Towles and then being disappointed.
      The Astros have a core of players for the lineup next year: Springer, Correa, Gattis, Altuve, Lowrie. and Tucker. If you add three or four more players to that core, say White, Santana, Kemp, Heineman, and Sclafani who are young but show the ability to get on base and not strike out, you might have a team that can hit .265 and score some runs, steal a ton of bases and play good defense, while carrying one player like Valbuena who can hold down the 3B spot for another year, contribute some power, defense and fit in with the young guys for 2016, while Reed, Moran, Nottingham, Fisher, and Phillips get to AAA and are right on the verge and ready to show up in September and push into the lineup in 2017.
      I am of the opinion that Correa, Springer, Gattis, Altuve, Lowrie and Tucker, can contribute a lot more in 2016 than they have this year because four of them have not reached their prime age or talent, one of them(Gattis) has, but is still learning to hit major league pitching, and the other one(Lowrie) has missed most of the year.
      If you give Santana, Kemp, White, Heineman and Sclafani a chance to see the majors in September of this year. They will know what they need to do to make this team and contribute in 2016.
      The naysayers may say that we will sacrifice too much power and experience by getting rid of Rasmus, Carter, Castro and Singleton. and I say bunk! Correa, Springer, Gattis, Lowrie Tucker, Santana and White will supply enough power, especially if we are in the top 10 teams in BA and OBP. That is the type of team that Luhnow has been designing all along, not a team with a .237 team BA.

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  6. Tough call , but man giving up great prospects for a rental SP with Castro, Valbunea, Singleton/Carter, might be like pissing in the ocean hoping the tide will rise.

    I would love to see the playoff this year but like everyone here at what cost. Glad I’m not Luhnow. I’m a thinking the next 10 games might reveal the course of direction for 2015.

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  7. Good notes from everyone. Can’t really mince much of what anyone thinks. Agree with most of it.

    It’s not a question of 2015 vs. 2017. You can compete in both.

    It’s important to remember that no matter how good a minor leaguers numbers are, they don’t all become major leaguers, or at least quality major leaguers. There were articles written about Chris Carter the minor leaguer projecting superstardom. Remember 3 years ago how excited we were to get Singleton?

    At the same time given up any number of good prospects for a rental is really never a good idea. I remember when Boston rented a relief pitcher from us. Worked out great for us. Not so much for Boston. Some people didn’t like the Randy Johnson rental. I think it was worth it, even if Garcia put together a pretty good career all in all.

    I think he goes into buyer mode, but shrewd buyer mode. I wouldn’t expect him to trade the top prospects like Reed, Phillips or Appel. I don’t think he ends up with Cueto, Samardjiza or Kazmir. One name that is potentially on the block is Wandy Rodriguez – though I wouldn’t expect to deal with the Rangers inside the division unless the Rangers feel like they are pulling one over on us. Mike Leake could be another target, though the Astros would be paying a bit for that rental – in terms of prospects and the 4 mil or so left on this years salary.

    We do know from his own words a few days ago that Carter and Singleton are both entering the second half on short leashes. He specifically said that Carter has to get out to a fast start. Valbuena has been taking grounders at first. Lowrie could end up the everyday third sacker.

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    • I had a great weekend in Chicago that summer when we rented Johnson. I’m pretty sure he threw a shutout on Saturday afternoon during that trip, but the specifics are a bit fuzzy. From that standpoint, the rental was worth it.

      If we go out and get a starter, I’d like to see a Samardjiza or Leake type deal, but only if it looks like any such relationship will go beyond a rental. We’ll always need rotation help and there is no guarantee of a solution from within for 2016 and beyond..

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    • While it is true that all prospects do not make it in the majors, it is not true that everyone was so gung ho on Carter and Singleton. They carried high false rankings from people who chose to ignore the signs that these two were projecting. That would be the tendency to strike out more as they moved higher and that neither of them were able to hit for average in AAA. Both of them have the type of AAA batting average that spells trouble hitting major league pitching. Carter had over 1300 plate appearances in AAA and carried an average of .268 in them at age 24 and 25. Tell me how that projects to the majors. It doesn’t and the proof is right in front of us.
      Singletons career BA at AAA is .256.
      When I look at guys like Phillips, Reed, and Nottingham I am looking at guys who are all hitting well above .300 in each level with good power, much better contact rates and good BB/K ratios. If they continue to consistently hit .300 or above at AA and AAA, they most likely will not translate to mere .200 hitters in the majors
      One of the reasons you can look at a guy like Springer and project him to be able to hit major league pitching is that he was consistently over .300 in the minors, especially at AAA, as were Altuve and Correa.
      So you have guys like Carter and Singleton who have 30 home run power and hit .200 and were huge prospects.
      And you have a guy like Trout who has 30 home run power and hit .300+ and was a huge prospect.
      What is the difference? As Trout gets older, he gets better and is the MVP.
      As Carter and Singleton get older, the pitching passes them up and they turn the Astros first base position into a hitting nightmare. Ashby wondered out loud last night how Singleton could swing through that 93 MPH fastball right down the middle on a 2-0 count. The answer is simply that Singleton is a powerful AA hitter batting against major league pitching. The truth is that most pitchers in the minor leagues are just that: minor league pitchers. If you get to AAA and cant hit as high as .260 there, you are going to struggle in the bigs. Even our buddy Brandon Barnes was able to hit over .300 in AAA and he was never even close to having a ranking like Singleton and Carter did up until the day they stepped to the majors.

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      • Pro – I generally agree. I think your theory fits Carter. I’ve stated my case against Carter – I don’t think he is long for the majors.

        I think Singleton has a chance. It’s easy to say he is a .250something hitter at AAA, but he was hitting .280 when he got called up. He has a pattern of underperforming at a level before adjusting. Using his career stat at a level where he was years younger than a lot of his competition when he first got there is misleading to advance a narrative.

        At AAA this year he wasn’t striking out a lot at all. I think he is a better opportunity than what Carter brings.

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  8. I think what we all agree on is that this is a critical time where a good GM earns their salary and a whole lot more.
    I think it will be a fascinating time for the present and the future of the franchise.

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  9. Mike Leake….for Feliz and wojo.
    Jay Bruce for Rasmus and hoes and pay the rest of Rasmus’s money he’s owed for this year. The reds are prepared to trade, and these are just a suggestion. If you trade Rasmus you still have a bonified center fielder….his name is George. Look
    we have no idea what this team will look like in September, but if we are still hovering around first place or *in* first place, you’re going to have to get a pitcher and a bat….that’s why I would try to pry Jay Bruce from the reds right now.
    luhnow is probably not getting cueto, or Hamel’s but there are more choices than these few guys. I have to agree with old pro…..unless you are *sure* that guy is gonna make your team better right now, keep your gems on the farm. I still trust luhnow to make the best deal possible, he hasn’t dissapointed us yet!

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  10. I keep wondering about timing on a trade. If they wait until the trade deadline they will know more about whether they should be a buyer or a seller. But if they wait until then they may be farther behind than if they pull the trigger sooner – like now.

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    • Every day – indeed every hour – that passes makes the announcement of a ‘major’ trade that much less likely, I suspect. I think it’s wise to wait. The Astros pretty much HAVE to win this series vs. the Rangers at home to feel good about their chances the rest of the way. The Angels are getting the privilege of hosting the lowly Red Sox – so they should be expected to win that series. If we lose this series to Texas, and the Angels blast the Sox as suspected, there will be much less of an incentive to trade away prospects for rent-a-pitcher.

      After the Red Sox, the Angels host the Twins for 3 then the Rangers for 3, then they come to Houston for a 3 game head-to-head. After the Rangers, we get our shot at the Red Sox at home too, but then we have to deal with the Royals in KC [tell all our hitters to please wear protective gear!!!!!!] before our head-to-head with the Angels at Minute Maid.

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  11. 1. Critical Decision: Attempting to determine who has reached their limit. Both on the 40 man and AAA roster. He will jettison those that he believes have peaked. 2. No rentals but he can do both. (I just don’t see JL as being one that would go “all in” on any one player.) 3. His biggest mistake could be in mis-reading the tea leaves. But if he cuts 4-8 players and only 1 makes it later, he discarded 2 to 8 that never make it. We tend to focus on the one that got away and fail to see all of those that JL took a flyer on and they did not pan out here nor at their next stop. 4. Untouchables: My list would be those that JL feels he has no replacement or no “near” replacement value. As an example, if JL thinks Kemp can replace 90% of Altuve, then he can trade either. (Not advocating that trade just using an example). Let me add that JL traded (and even Wade) MLB players for players to help in 2015-16-17, etc. Some of those have turned out to be good value. He may have to do it for one more year, just to clear roster space. Relating to the guys that need to go, I really don’t see them providing much value. It is easy for me to say trade Carter, Singleton, Grossman & Presley for Player X. But those guys have their clock running and become expensive soon. Plus why would any team want them? You might get a prospect or two for all of them.

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  12. The Astros are averaging 24,489 fans so far in 2015. That’s a fairly healthy increase from the 21,600 per game last year. You’d have to assume that in 2016, with what should be a better on field product and more folks accessing games on television, that interest will continue to grow. An average of 30,000 might not be out of the question. Along with the growing broadcast revenues, there certainly should be money available to take on a significant contract, even for one of the better pitchers available. That’s a consideration that we really have not considered a whole lot.

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  13. I see the Rangers are throwing lefty Martin Perez – just coming back from a year off for TJ surgery – at us tonight to start the latest round of the Silver Boot series. You’d better believe our in-state rivals have noticed that our hitters tend to go out of their way to make lefties look good. With a lefty on the mound, Hinch is going with Hoes in place of Tucker and MarGo in place of Valbuena. Confidence level, everyone?

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  14. Starting lineup tonight:
    Jose Altuve – 2B
    Marwin Gonzalez – 3B
    Carlos Correa – SS
    Evan Gattis – DH
    Colby Rasmus – RF
    Chris Carter – 1B
    L.J. Hoes – LF
    Jason Castro – C
    Jake Marisnick – CF
    With Collin McHugh on the mound

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  15. For the first game after the 2014 ASG
    Altuve SS
    Castro C
    Springer CF
    Carter DH
    Dominguez 3B
    Singleton 1B
    Grossman RF
    Kiki Hernandez SS
    Hoes LF
    Feldman on the mound

    First game after the 2013 ASG
    Elmore SS
    Altuve 2B
    Castro C
    Carter 1B
    JD Martinez LF
    Maxwell RF
    Barnes CF
    Dominguez 3B
    R.Cedeno DH (No kidding!)
    Norris on the mound

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  16. We keep hearing about Cueto or Kazmir and others. I say if we make a trade we grab Ben Zobrist. He’s like a better version of Marwin Gonzalez. He’d be the bat we need to make contact and fill in around the diamond — third base, first base, left field. He’s not just an addition, he’d be an addition by subtraction as well.

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  17. Pettis should have never sent him, especially with no outs. Of course, the following single verifies that. Should be 4-0 but it’s not. Hope we don’t regret that. Texas does not look good in the field tonight, although they have turned 3 DPs, but that is totally on our batters.

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  18. Gregerson decides to try to field his position at the wrong time allowing Fielder to come up and almost knock Correa over with a line drive. Singleton makes a second really good dig and the good guys start the second half with a win. Whew.

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    • Notice that we completely shut down on offense after the fourth inning, reverting to pre-break ineptness. All three of their relievers shut us down without a hit. It is a good thing we had Carlos Correa at shortstop. His play at the end was like Springer’s grand-slam stealing catch against the Rangers back in April. And cudos to Singleton for a nice snag to seal it.

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  19. Doesn’t it sound good to say we just got our *50*th win, and it’s only the first game back after the break???!!! Not a very pretty win, but I’ll take it. Jon singleton is just a lost cause. Thought I’d never say this, but we might miss carter.

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      • Did you ever watch a Class B basketball game in high school? It takes 5 to play and that 5th player might be an 8th grader. In baseball it takes 9. We just need the other 8 to step up and HOPE the 9th gets better quick. Fewer hits, more errors but more runs. A BEAUTIFUL win.

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  20. Phillies aren’t gonna trade Hamel’s unless they are completely blown outta the water. Luhnow is now on record with ” we need another bat”. I’m gonna go out on a limb and predict. Luhnow goes after Mike Leake, he won’t cost the farm, and Ben zobrist??? Zobrist can play 1st 3rd and the outfield….

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    • Some people complain about the Ranger’s bandwagon fans, but I would like to say thanks to them for paying good money to purchase tickets and perhaps helping us afford some upgrades on the field. Would love to see four thousand more of them tonight and get us a sellout.
      Ranger’s fans, if you want to help us out, we’ll take it!

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  21. Wonder if we’ll see Conger tonight. Part of Lewis’s success against the Astros is because of Castro’s miserable career numbers against Colby.

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  22. Sometimes I am so blown away by the depth of knowledge here and the level of quality suggestions that I think Luhnow should read this blog to get ideas. And, for all we know maybe he does.
    Then, I also wonder if Luhnow really doesn’t know what to do. He may claim he has a plan, but so do all GM’s. Deep down he probably would have some difficulty answering Dan’s questions—not that he would ever admit to that. But, the history of success, or lack thereof in these July trades, and the lifespan of GM’s, suggests it’s all so subjective (read lucky).
    All we know for sure is that he will provide us with much to discuss.

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  23. The hardest decision for JL may be in the DFA department. (See # 2 above) You look at those 7 names and at one time each was highly rated though not the highest. Time is running out (or has run out) for each of them. My only two comments is it has to be hard to give up on Villar who hit .263 in the majors this year and still leads the team in errors. And Stassi at .186 in AAA, so I wonder if he owns a 1st baseman’s mitt. Seriously at some point, they move from “prospect” to “suspect.” And you can add Deduno and Buchanan.

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  24. The Rangers have $109million tied up in contracts for 9 of their players next year and $84million for 2017. Some of that will be paid by the Tigers and the Angels, so three of our competitors have big obligations to players on the Ranger’s roster.
    It would be great if we could find the pitching help we need to finish the year, get rid of some our more expensive players who are not producing well, not tie up future funds, keep the players who can help us next year and keep our key prospects who will be ready by August of 2016.
    Do that, Jeff, and you truly are a genius.

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    • Castro is the only one which concerns me. If we keep him, it limits other moves as he keeps getting more expensive. If we send him on his way, we have Framin’ Hank and a lot of questions marks.

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      • He’s getting worse and worse. As down as I’ve been on Conger all year, I’m starting to agree with Tim that he’s doing better than Disastro has been. Heineman should be up IMHO at this point. Half-assedStro needs to go.

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      • With Castro you have a guy who hit’s .210, has almost no RBIs and is the worst hitter on the team. Without him, you get to see what you have in the minors for almost FREE.
        Oh, and somebody may give you a worthless pitcher for him, like Akeem Bostick who is 19 years old and throws 98mph. After all, that’s what we got for our #3 catcher last offseason.

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  25. Domingo Santana leads the PCL in OBP and OPS. And it’s not even close. Other ML teams seem to have found a place for their guys with similar numbers.

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  26. Colin Moran is healthy. His slash line for July is .321/.390/.472/.862, with a K rate of 18.6% and a walk rate of 8.5%. He has 10 RBIs in those 14 games. This is definitely the best he has looked since he was drafted and he is only in his year 22 season in AA. If he keeps that up and heads to AAA next spring, he could be ready if needed by next summer, after the trade deadline.
    A lot of people have forgotten about Moran, but I think he is going to get better and better.

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      • They are tonight. Thank god for Correa.
        or we would get shut out….by the way
        why in God’s green earth is Joe thatcher
        on this team??? I can’t remember the last time he pitched, that he hasn’t given up at least one run. Oh look…it’s
        Chad Qualls!! Time to give up some more runs.

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  27. Not our night but dang that was a good benches clearing show! I’d love to know what was said between conger and odor….little sh*t.

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  28. I was at the game tonight – have some baseball and non-baseball thoughts.
    – It was a sellout and frankly the zombies working the concession stands can’t handle it after usually handling 1/2 that crowd.
    – Got there two hours early but apparently you need to be there about 3-1/2 hours early to get one of those Nolan Ryan jerseys.
    – Feldman was Feldman – hittable and irritatingly slow. The game really dragged with both starters
    – This game Singleton was decent at the plate – not so in the field.
    – A couple Ranger fans were muttering that Hamilton was thru after his two Ks then he hit a double homer and A triple
    – When Correa whacks them they are lasers
    – Too bad our bullpen did not hold the line

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    • so what was a benches clearing brawl about?? Might just be me, but do you think Jon Singelton looks lost playing first base? I got to sit in my recliner and see the game tonight, first time I’ve gotten to actually see Thatcher…….why is he on this team? Nice to see the boys stay in the fight tonight. I almost called them the 1980’s cardiac kids!!

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    • Dan, always eat before going to the park! Unfortunately, the story of the game is that the pen lost it for us. Thatcher again looked like the real Thatcher. And Fields got hit hard. His two runs were the difference.

      One more thing. Although it worked out, Gonzalez should never have been sent home down four runs. That was a terrible. glaring decision.

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  29. Becky – We didn’t know anything at the ball park – since a pitch had not yet been thrown we were not even looking when it started. Suddenly everyone in the world including both bullpens were charging the plate area.
    Singleton always is in limbo on whether to go for the ball or cover first. He charged to get a bunt when the shift was on and Altuve had no way of covering first, so he and Feldman are standing side by side while the batter makes it to the uncovered base. Truth to tell, Feldman took a long time to unwind that frame and get to the ball.

    daveb – we usually eat before we go, but since we got to the stadium to get a Nolan Ryan jersey (that were long gone) it was only 4 PM. Lots of captive audiences at the ball park last night.
    Yes Gonzalez should not have been sent, though he seemed to be moving faster before he got to 3rd base, really slowed down coming to home. That was a super long review of the play. I think if he had been called out it would not have been reversed either. When a review takes that long, it should not be reversed.

    Good fight in the guys, but a tough game to lose.

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    • Odor is a hot dog, but I wonder if it was not brewing after he took out Altuve at 2nd with Jose not even attempting a throw to 1st. Although it was “bang bang” – it appeared avoidable.

      Like

  30. So now we get down to the final third of July. Our ace is pitching today and if we win we’re still in it and take the series from our sudden rival. I noticed immediately that the attitude of the Rangers is different, now that Hamilton is back as they return to being the jerks they were when he was there before.
    However, none of that matters if our big bats walk back to the dugout with their bats on their shoulders. Guys like Gattis and Rasmus and Keuchel have to step up today and take this game. And the Astros have to keep their cool.

    Liked by 1 person

  31. A couple other things from being at the game.
    – Rasmus made an insanely great throw from deep right field on a sacrifice fly. Made something close that had no business being close.
    – Also Conger came close to having two homers. He barely got under one earlier in the game – it was grazing the roof and still got back to the warning track. He has surprising power.

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  32. Bad thing about trading a catcher who used to catch your ace….corporan can tell the Rangers what to look for in keuchel. Tucker sucks in left field….my opinion only.

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    • I’m hoping that stint on the DL did Qualls some good and that he comes back pitching strong again. He actually had a good inning.
      We need him to step up, along with Valbuena, Carter, Castro at the plate, and Singleton. I wish they could get a real first baseman. We need Stringer and Lowery back. I, too, would like to see A. J. Reed get a shot, but I don’t think it is in the cards this year. Astros win 10-0!

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  33. Aces up, Kid Keuchy!
    Welcome Back, Luis, Luis!
    Bombs Away, Preston T!
    Carlos being Carlos.
    Sit down, Delino.
    Stick that in your silver boot and smoke it.

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  34. Good game to finish off the series with an exclamation point. Nice silver boot reference Mr. Bill and I like what you said about Qualls, Old Senior.

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  35. Gattis, Rasmus and Keuchel stood up and took the game today and the Astros kept their cool.
    That is how you pay back a team for their antics last night.
    Biggest win of the year.

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    • Hey don’t ignore Tucker and Correa with 6 runs scored and 5 hits and a dinger and Valbuena with 4 hits and 4 ribbies. A great effort all the way around for the team.

      Like

      • The reason I picked those three is because early in the game it was Gattis and Rasmus who started spanking the ball and Keuchel throwing darts. Those are the three vets that I said, in an earlier post, needed to step up and get the Astros buzzing and they did.

        Like

  36. Didn’t think I’d say this a few months ago, but it’s time for Conger to start getting more playing time. Castro is *done*

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    • Castro does something I hate with a catcher, which is question the pitch calling of the umps when he is at bat. These are the same guys you want calling strikes when you are catching and you don’t need to be showing them up on close pitches. I don’t know what has happened with him, but he has more than double Conger ABs, but only 5 more RBIs.

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  37. I think Castro has become a complete head case at the plate. Early in the year he was hitting line drives right at people. I suspect he was so discouraged that he probably just gave up. At least it has not impacted his defense which has been quite good. If the rest of the offense was working you could put up with a non-hitting catcher but despite today I think this offense is still suspect. The shame is that Conger is a better hitter left handed. His BA vs RHP is .306 whereas Castro is actually hitting LHP better than RHP. Perhaps they should be used in a platoon with Conger playing against RHP and Castro against LHP. Its unconventional but I think the sample size is large enough that the trends are real.

    Its also ironic that Conger was acquired for his pitch framing abilities but it is Castro who is first in the AL for pitch framing. Looks like Conger is the better offensive catcher and Castro the superior defender, Kind of a role reversal from what was expected.

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  38. Castro’s precipitous drop in RBIs stands out. He had 56 RBIs last season just like he did in his statistically over the top 2013. Of course he came to the plate last season with 100 more base runners on than the year before – so that is why his RBIs stayed decent. This season he does not have that many base runners on which is OK because he can’t get them home any way.
    He looks lost – won’t shoot pitches the other way (keeps getting called strikes low and outside corner) and keeps swinging at sliders at his ankles.
    Heck they might take a chance at trade him – he might look decent to some team that needs a catcher and is not looking too hard at him.

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    • At the very least, Luhnow needs to hype up his defensive prowess to any potential suitors. Maybe his bat would improve with a fresh start, too.

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  39. Listening to Keuchel talk after game, he must have called a team meeting and told the guys “No one comes into our house and disrespects us”! The entire team stood tall and showed Prince “fat a$$” Fielder who they were messing with! I know Rasmus was LIVID after last nights game……*GOOD*, maybe that will wake up those bats we had a month ago!

    Like

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