Astros’ offseason: Pitching and baseball economics 101

With David Price hitting the $30 million a year level on his latest free agent contract, and Zack Greinke shattering that number, there has been much discussion on where the Houston Astros path forward should be on taking or not taking the plunge into the deep end of starting pitching free agency. The Astros have a low-end payroll and obviously have room to grow so why not go grab a #1 or 1A starting pitcher and dominate the AL next season? A look back at 2015 and a couple of team examples might turn this into a more cautionary tale.

Which team in the AL had the best ERA in 2015? The Houston Astros. How much did the Astros spend on their whole pitching staff in 2015? Right around $40 million, even with spending the biggest chunk of that ($10 million) on Scott Feldman who missed about a 1/4 of the season due to injury.

Which team in the AL had the worst ERA in 2015? The Detroit Tigers. How much did the Tigers spend on their whole pitching staff in 2015? In the neighborhood of $75 million. In fact two of the Tiger pitchers, Anibal Sanchez and Justin Verlander made more money, around $47 million, than the Astros whole staff. The addition of a high-end rental (David Price) during the season did not pull the Tigers ERA out of the gutter.

The Astros obviously are riding the tide of having three good to great starting pitchers, Dallas Keuchel, Collin McHugh and Lance McCullers Jr. making between $500 and 525 K last season. This is a big economic advantage, similar to what the Seattle Seahawks experienced when paying QB Russell Wilson 3rd round money (about $500 K) to lead them to the Super Bowl two seasons ago.

Yes MLB teams do not have a salary cap like their NFL brethren , but they do have budgets and every chance to save money in a crucial spot is good for the team. Frankly, there can not be any spot more crucial than starting pitching in this free agent market.

What makes sense for the long-term sustainability of a good Astros pitching staff?

  • Signing Dallas Keuchel this season to a fairly long-term, but not ridiculous contract and following it up with another next season to Collin McHugh.
  • Being willing to part ways with these pitchers when it does get ridiculous.
  • Filling in as needed with mid-season rentals like Scott Kazmir.
  • Keeping the faucet flowing by promoting a Joseph Musgrove or similar prospect.
  • Being very selective in trading away top pitching prospects.
  • Continuing to collect and develop your own pitching prospects – picking up Akeem Bostick and James Hoyt as almost throw-ins on trades are examples of smart trading.
  • Having a balanced pitching staff that includes mostly home growns with filler from trades and selective free agent signings.

So, where do you fall in looking at the longer view for the Astros’ pitching?

  • Do you want them to stretch out and buy a big name FA?
  • Do you want them to trade 3 or 4 prospects including pitchers for a top end starter or reliever?
  • Do you want them to fill mostly from within the organization?
  • Do you care about budget at all?

 

 

133 comments on “Astros’ offseason: Pitching and baseball economics 101

  1. Answers – No, Hell No, Yes, Yes (you know mgmt is).
    Your figures and analysis do tell the tale. Offer Keuchel a four to five year deal somewhere around 60 – 90MM. Next year if McHugh stays true to form he gets a deal befitting his stature. McCuellars is good for a couple more and lets develop some our our minor league pitchers. If we make trades get more prospects, draft smart, and then fill in the holes as needed. I always thought the Braves were great at doing this back when.

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  2. Always a grand day when I ring up Chipallatta and find a new story!!

    Staying along the pitching storyline, I do not wish to see the club sign a big name free agent at today’s massive costs. The club has not reached the level of spending yet needed to pull the good free agents in yet even though, yes I hear ya, someone has to be the first one in. Spend the money on a bat instead.

    Now I would like to see a trade for a top reliever as long as he is under control for awhile. Just as long as AJ Reed is not mentioned in the trade talks.

    Filling in from the organization is fine but it does catch up also. Having a large percentage of home growns on the 25 man roster can cause the budget to really jump when they all come up together for arbitration or a new deal. Running a budget over a long term plan is difficult.

    Do I care about the Astros’ budget? Heck yeah. That is what brings and keeps goof to great players on the team. I want another run like the Bagwell, Biggio, Alou squads had.

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  3. A big contract free agent pitcher is asking for trouble 9 times out of 10. Not only can it wreck your budget for each year of the contract, most big name FA’s are old enough that the latter years of the contract are very possibly the downside of their career – lots of money for declining productivity. The Astros (and other clubs) can do better growing their own pitchers and letting someone else pay big (BIG) money to those guys when their skills begin to fade.

    So, that being said, trading multiple talented prospects for an aging pitcher makes no sense at all, unless it’s someone in a Randy Johnson-type situation – a high level rental that puts you over the top. And even then, you have to be careful not to pay too much.

    Filling in the from within the organization is addressed in my first thought.

    I care about the budget because I’m afraid this prolonged era of baseball money falling off of trees will burst like the housing bubble did a few years ago. And when it does, those with the most solid foundations will survive better that those who don’t. I prefer to be a survivor.

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  4. I’d rather buy a free agent closer than trade for one for obvious reasons. But what FA closer out there is worth overpaying for?

    I could care less about the budget though. We can spend more without killing the franchise or compromising “the plan”.

    At the same time, I don’t want to give up the ranch for a Chapman. We’ve got guys like Velasquez, Feliz and Musgrove that might be able to help our pen out of Spring Training. I don’t mind using guys that likely will be eventual starters. Vince and Feliz are two hard throwing guys the likes of we don’t have in the pen today.

    It’s very important to get Sipp resigned, even if it costs three years. Lefties will always be at a premium. Speaking of lefties, look for the Stros to push Michael Freeman along. Another guy on the fast track might be Brendan McCurry.

    At this point in time, like most of us, I don’t want to get jolted by the loss of another batch of quality prospects. I’d rather go to battle in April with what we’ve got in house and then look for help if needed at the break. I don’t think we need to force a trade at this point.

    Let’s focus on moving the rest of the guys we don’t need any longer. I know it’s a longshot, but I’d sure like to see a Gattis deal get done.

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  5. I wrote a long post earlier and it disappeared into Chipalatta Netherland. Whenever that happens I stop and reflect if maybe I didn’t think it through and God or Leroy Jethro Gibbs didn’t just slap me on the back of the head and tell me to wait. So, with the Bills just running through the Texans’ defense like water through my fingers, I’ll think about it a little longer.

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  6. I don’t want them to buy a big name free agent. I would like them to be patient and see what opportunities develop over the next three months for them to improve their pitching without pledging $100 million to someone.
    I don’t mind them trading a mid-level pitching prospect and a mid level position player for a proven reliever who is moderately expensive, but I’m against trading bigtime prospects in a blockbuster deal for a closer.
    I want them to improve from within and budget is important to me because I want to not tie up big money so that we can stay good for a long time. Stick to Luhnow’s plan to have a team competing for multiple championships from 2016 on.

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    • OP you have been spot on recently. We don’t need Leake or any other starter that will put us out of budget. Let it play out. Keuchel, McHugh, LMJ and Feldman are fine with multiple candidates at 5. If Kemp and Singleton with one other decent guy can net us a hard thrower – maybe Soren? – so be it. If not don’t pay the farm. The moves he has made has told me he is sold on Reed, and probably White – especially when they abandoned the idea of him learning to catch.

      I think he will move Gattis if he gets a fair offer. Unlike Carter I think there will be a market.

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      • I think Fiers is ahead of Feldman in the rotation order. He would be the 4 and Feldman will be among the many others vying for the 5th spot in the rotation.

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      • Agreed I definitely think higher of Fiers I should not have left him out. Youcsn mark the tape on this spot – I think LMJ has a better future but think Fiers is the number 3 guy next year, I think his experience makes him a little more consistent.

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      • Steven, thanks for the kind thoughts. I would rather not get rid of Kemp yet, because he and Aplin and Kemmer might just be the three outfielders starting at Fresno next spring. Remember Grossman, Presley and Santana are gone and Teoscar and Vasquez struggled immensely in AA. We really do need three outfielders in Fresno, yes?
        I see Fiers as a #4 or #5. How many #4s no-hit the Dodgers? We are blessed.

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      • I have no issue with the parts we’ve already got to make up the rotation in 2016. Not many teams will have a better one.

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  7. If we have the #1 farm system in the league – it seems disingenuous to even consider key pieces of that farm system away for something we should already have – or at least be able to develop – in house?

    This is not 2012. The ‘Prospects’ we have in house now are not 2012-level ‘prospects’. If they are, they’ve sure been doing a good job of playing smoke and mirrors with the other team’s minor leaguers.

    And even if one or two pieces do not pan out as well as we hope, at least it won’t be as expensive a bust as it would be to pay through the nose – in salary as well as in stockpiled talent for the future – for someone from the outside who is only slightly less risky, due to the possibility of injuries, of attitude problems, of aging, of league-familiarity, and of post-trade regression.

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  8. TINSTAAPP

    That’s why people are paying through the nose for Price, Zimmermann, Greinke, etc. It’s why we paid a huge amount, in our opinions back then, for Feldman.

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    • It just means pitching prospects are unpredictable. No one saw Keuchel coming. People thought Redding was going to be great. I remember all the talk of the Lexington 5. Hitters are easy to project and the experts get it right like 70 percent of the time.

      I remember when we were discussing what we would net for Pence. I said trade him to the dbacks, who needed major league OF help at the time for AA pitcher Max Scherzer. Someone told me I was crazy, actually alot did – no one projected him into a plus major league starter, or at least not one worth our all star outfielder.

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      • Steven, I remember you clamoring for that Pence-Scherzer deal. Although admittedly I was on the fence, I was not one of those that considered you crazy, at that point anyway.

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  9. I expect a trade this week at the winter meetings and I expect it to be painful to Astros fans. Whether we want it to happen or not a top 15 prospect is probably going to be traded. If we’re going to trade a top prospect for a closer I would prefer it be for someone like Giles who will be under team control for several years.

    There are a few prospects I don’t want to see traded. Reed, Musgrove and Martes top the list. Count me among the fans that just doesn’t believe Appel will ever live up to being the top pick in the draft. Thus, I’m open to trading him for the right player.

    I expect the Astros to have a budget, but also feel the payroll is sustainable around $110M this year with room to grow in future years. With this being said I don’t want to trade the farm away and I don’t expect Luhnow to do so, but I do feel a trade will happen this week and it will probably be widely criticized here on Chipalatta due to the prospects given up.

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  10. With all the crazy money being thrown around at free agent pitchers who would think the Cubs getting John Lackey at 2/$32M might be the best bargain among starting pitchers. I would much rather have Lackey than Shark even with Lackey at age 37.

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  11. Certainly getting a Giles or a Chapman would be much more painful than just losing Appel. I’d expect that VV or Feliz ( but not both) would go also have to go. And that I could live with too. But I could not accept losing a guy like Reed. I would also not accept losing a guy from the starting line up or any of our present rotation guys. It would have to be a kid who would be considered a 2017 or a 2018 guy. And that might not be enough either. Like I said, if the asking price is too high, than I’d rather go into the season with the guys we have today.

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    • I’m in agreement with your line of thinking. In no shape or form do I want to include Reed in a trade for a bullpen arm, no matter how great that bullpen arm may be. The only player I could accept (not necessarily agree, but accept) trading Reed for is if Freeman is the player the Astros are getting back.

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  12. It looks like Iwakuma is going to the Dodgers. It appears the Dodgers losing Greinke will indirectly help the Astros. Apparently, they made a huge offer to Iwakuma that he couldn’t turn down.

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  13. Evidently my post is so where in outer space…..but in a nut shell:
    We don’t * need* a closer….***need*** is a lot different than “want”.
    We need to let our super star prospects come up and shine for US for a change.
    * Think* before you start trading away our prospects.
    We have a pretty good rotation….and a big righty waiting to take his turn!! Joe Musgrove is going to turn out to be an A+ pitcher….White/Reed have 1st base covered. Matt Duffy is no slouch….he’s good, let him show you in the spring.
    This team needs a reliable DH. Gattis is a good guy…..but he’s not a very good DH.
    That’s all!!

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  14. 1. If everyone you talk to asks you for a certain player or players in a trade, and you have years of control over those players, most likely those players are the ones you should keep.
    2. If you have a young pitcher who is rated by everyone as a top prospect, hasn’t achieved Rule 5 eligible status and has thrown very few games in AAA, but the last game he started was a win for the AAA League Championship, that player is NOT a bust. He has not failed and people who call him a failure are jumping the gun.
    3. We know almost nothing about what minor league pitchers are/were working on. We only know what we see and what they had when they started. Chances are huge that out of the fifteen top pitching prospects in the Astros top 30 list there a four or five of them who will be major league pitchers and two of whom will be stars. When a team drafts at the top of every round for three years straight and their GM has a reputation of his draft picks making the major league club, that percentage goes up considerably and perhaps those pitchers are even better than we hope. Because Luhnow has shown the ability to pick winners in the draft, caution might be considered when throwing names out there for trades.
    4. Of all the pitchers out there that Luhnow has traded or released since he was our our GM, there are very few, if any, that have come back to haunt the Astros. I’d like to see how pitchers Luhnow traded stack up, WAR wise, against McHugh’s WAR alone. I think Luhnow could facilitate better development of his pitchers, but his knack of knowing who to get and who to get rid of has been real keen, so far.

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    • Who’s being labeled a bust? If you’re referring to Appel I don’t recall anyone saying he’s a bust, but I don’t think anyone thinks he will be a strong #1, which is what you expect from a pitcher drafted 1-1. Most Astros fans, myself included, feel the ceiling is higher for LMJ, Musgrove and Martes than it is for Appel. He can still be a solid #2, which wouldn’t make him a bust, but definitely not achieving what is/was expected from him.

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      • A lot of people are calling him a bust and you have him pegged as a solid #2, and as less than expected from him.
        What I am saying is that Dallas Keuchel is a Cy Young Award winner who pitched four seasons in the minors and wallered in mud for two seasons in the majors before showing anything like Cy Young stuff. I’m saying that it just might take the same amount of time for Mark Appel to show the same stuff, but we should at least give him the same benefit of time that we did for a guy that we now suddenly find out to be a terrific pitcher. It’s too early to make any kind of judgement on Appel.

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      • Go read other sites and the “knowledgeable” commenters will tell you Appel is the biggest bust since Todd Van Poppel. In retrospect it looks like Bryant would have been a better pick, but as oldpro points out we aren’t close to being able to make that evaluation.

        I’m still pretty excited on Appel. His BB rate stunk last year. His outings generally had four innings where he dominated that were sullied by one or two where he gave up runs. If we go just by 2014, we should have traded LMJ for a bag of balls. If we go by 2015, you don’t listen on just about any trade offer for him.

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      • I have no problem keeping Appel as, even if he is just a #2 in the majors, those still have nice value. What I’m saying is that if they are going to trade one of their top pitching prospects he would be the one I would want to see traded as I am higher on VV, Musgrove and Martes than I am Appel. I could be wrong as I have been numerous times in the past, but, for me, if it came down to trading one of the 4 pitchers listed above I would prefer it be Appel.

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      • i agree with OP that you need more time to fully evaluate appel. but i think you can use the same logic about some position players. marisnick, valbuena and gattis all possibly could make positive strides this season.

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    • Re: item number 2. This is a big year for Appel. We’ve all had high expectations of the guy. That’s what happens with a number one pick. It’s time he progresses to the point where he deserves a spot with the big club. If he does not do it this year, he’ll definitely be behind schedule and a significant question mark, present high ranking or not. And maybe he’s been coddled a bit too. I’m just not sure if he’s got the demeanor to be what we want him to be. So, if he’s the centerpiece of a trade, yes, I’d rather it be him than a few other less highly ranked guys that seem to be more overachieving.

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  15. Subtraction to me has been a key to much of the improvement the team has shown over the last two seasons.
    – 2013’s bad starting pitching improved by getting rid of the innings pitched by Lucas Harrell (5.86 ERA – though he did make a few starts in 2014), Jordan Lyles (5.59), Phillip Humber (7.90) and Erik Bedard (4.59).
    – 2014’s bad relief pitching improved by getting rid of Jorge de Leon (4.91), Jerome Williams (6.04), Darin Downs (5.45), Anthony Bass (6.33),Rudy Valdes (12.27) and on and on.

    Of course this meant making sure that there were better options to take these folks spot and of course the emergence of Dallas Keuchel from a bad pitcher to an excellent one. But mostly it meant cutting ties with folks who were not good enough.

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  16. With Chapman off the table we might now see a more sensible trade if anything. I actually think we could stand pat and work with what we have but since the buzz from Luhnow and the blogosphere is demanding additions I fear the temptation to do something just to do something is going to be too great.

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  17. heres something i saw that was interesting:

    David Schoenfield: Astros will land Chris Davis, Aroldis Chapman

    The Houston Astros have been quiet this offseason, but they have the financial flexibility and minor league system to make some big moves. First, they’re going to trade for Reds closer Chapman to lock down those late innings and create more depth. Then comes the big move: They sign first baseman Davis to a five-year, $115 million contract, giving them the big left-handed bat they need. They can then trade first-base prospect A.J. Reed for a young, controllable starting pitcher.

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    • Ohh, I can’t wait to pay 23 million dollars a year for a 30 year old 1B to lead the league in strikeouts and home runs! We just sent a guy packing who was going to get $5.6million for doing a similar job. And let’s give up our round 1 pick for him, too because he got a QO!
      Then we can trade a 23 year old 1B who will probably lead the league in home runs for the next five years while making about $10million total. That makes total sense.
      Then, let’s trade some young controllable starting pitchers who are our future starters for a guy who will be our closer for one year, when we actually already have a closer, plus a plethora of arms who could be closers.
      OMG!

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      • I agree with you, but to be fair Davis is an upgrade from Chris Carter. He will have a higher batting average, more HRs, higher OBP and higher OPS. Where I agree with you is that the upgrade is not enough to warrant paying him $15-20M/year more than Chris Carter would have received. He is not that much of an upgrade, in my opinion.

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      • I disagree, Tim. Which player do you want to pay $20 million and which $6 million?
        A: 450 AB 27hr 72rbi .196/.300/.404 173K
        B: 507 AB 24hr 64rbi .199/.307/.427 151K

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    • Well, Schoenfield was wrong about Chapman, so hopefully he will be wrong about Davis. AJ Reed needs to be the future 1B for this team. Not someone else’s team. This team.

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      • Yes, I’m fully ready to give Reed the bag, unless he falls flat on his face during ST. Even if that happens, I’m confident that we’ll find guys in house who will produce more than Carter did in 2014.

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  18. there are a few ways to improve a team: get rid of who is not performing, acquire FA’s, make trades, develop from within, rule v, draft well. lets see which of these we use.

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  19. Again…..we don’t *need* a closer…..Crane and Luhnow would like to sign a hard throwing pitcher at the back end of the bullpen…..but we don’t *need* one.
    Want….and need, are two different things. We HAVE a closer, who would be welcomed to a lot of teams. I know I probably sound like a broken record, but I’m getting real tired of trading a bunch of prospects for some guy who USED to be good. Luhnow has a lot of irons in the fire……I just hope those irons don’t include our top prospects, for a guy who will only be here for one year.Sorry….I don’t mean to rant, but I’m getting nervous…..I don’t trust Luhnow. ((((Sigh))))

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  20. I’m still a bit concerned about a trade for Giles, because they are going to want Reed to replace Howard. Now if Luhnow could swing a deal for Giles that included Singleton, then I might be prepared to take back anything negative I’ve ever said about our General Manager.

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  21. Rumors are that Sipp is seeking a 3 year deal around $5-5.5M/year. Considering Oliver Perez just got 2 years at $7M this looks like a bargain to me. Luhnow, get Sipp signed at 3/$16M and call it a win/win.

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  22. There appears to be more to the Aroldis Chapman/Dodgers deal than has been revealed. There may be another team involved.
    Patience, Caterpillar, patience.

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  23. So, if we get a reliever but don’t pull a trade that affects our MiLB pitching corps, or lose anyone to Rule 5, what’s Fresno’s rotation next year? Who would stay up between Velasquez, Appel, Musgrove, Devenski, Holmes, Wojo, Obie, Straily, Rodgers, and/or Jankowski? Something has to give before roster assignments are made. I hope VV is with Houston. Perhaps Musgrove returns to CC. But that still leaves 8 guys to get 5 to 6 spots.

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  24. where do i go first when i want astro news/information? MLB trade rumors? no. the official astro web site? no astros/espn? no the spit place? heck no. i come right here to chipalatta. if it has been reported somewhere, then somebody from here will have seen it and given a link or commented on it. and if there is no news, there at the very least will be new posts or new comments here. thanks to all who contribute and thanks to dan, brian and chip for getting us interested in or riled up over a wide and varying range of astro subjects. Merry Christmas to everyone as well.

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  25. Did not know this….but evidently Pat Neshek pitched through pain last year. He had foot surgery today. I sure couldn’t tell that he was having pain in his foot, but now that he’s had the surgery…he should be feeling good for next year! The Yankees are still in talks ( sort of) about their closer…..but they want a HAUL of pitching prospects for him. Like I said earlier….*THINK* before you start trading * our* good pitchers away Mr. Luhnow!! I don’t trust him….do you?

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  26. I was aware of Neshek’s injury. He was suffering from it early in the year. I commented on his inability to land on the foot because of the pain, and the resulting elevation of his pitches. Last year he was able to locate his pitches right below the knees and got all the calls. This year he struggled to keep his pitches down, was wilder, did not get the calls and did not have his command. After we got eliminated I mentioned the fact that he wasn’t 100% and maybe should have been replaced on the playoff roster by one of the kids. But they chose to stick him on the roster but did not have any confidence in him and instead used Harris until he was worn out. It was a roster decision that didn’t work

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  27. Well……this just got REAL interesting:
    Seems that hap man is being accused of a domestic violence situation with his girlfriend. Said it happened in Oct and that he was accused of shooting a gun in his garage. WOW!! That makes *3* so far this off season who are in trouble with MLB.
    Think that caused the Dodgers to step back?

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  28. With Chapman probably not going to be traded now that raises the price for the other relievers on the trade market. In hindsight, I wish they had just given Mark Lowe an offer of 2/$15M, which probably would have gotten him, and just wait out the market for another relief pitcher to see if the prices drop.

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  29. Sorry, I just can’t contain myself. Yesterday, Andrew Aplin played in his first winter league game and went 1-5 as the leadoff guy for Tigres de Licey. Aplin’s one hit was a three run homer in the eighth inning of a 10-9 win.
    But, on the losing team was Jon Villar, who was 0-3 with 2 Ks and his 9th fielding error of the season. That error did account for an unearned run in a 10-9 loss.
    Other players in that game were Miguel Tejada, Wilin Rosario and Domingo Santana.

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    • Wow – in my mind I picture Tejada as being like 50 years old. I know he hasn’t played in the majors in a few years, but he is only 41 and hit very well in the Mexican league last season.
      Of course we don’t know if the 41 years old is accurate of not – still feels like he played for us forever ago.

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    • Wow. That’s a shame. His numbers from last year would indicate Coors Field is the last place you would want him to pitch. He is either confident his slider will be good enough in the thin air to get ground balls (on really short grass covering hard, dry ground) or 2/$12m was really hard to pass up.

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  30. Jayson Stark just tweeted that sources believe mystery team for Jose Fernandez is the Astros. This excites me and concerns me all in the same. If we were concerned on giving up too much for Chapman the package for Fernandez would be double. Of course, there aren’t many starting pitchers better than him. I think he ranks in the top 5 of all SPs in baseball, but you can be assured LMJ will just be one of many pieces going to Miami if the Astros acquire Fernandez. We all love LMJ, but only a blinded fan would think he’s better than Fernandez. A rotation of Keuchel, Fernandez and McHugh looks rather intimidating. If Luhnow could find a way to acquire him without including LMJ, oh boy, would that be a stacked rotation.

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    • I just saw that. Luhnow seems to be on a mission to make something happen during these meetings. I have a feeling some time in the next 2 days some, if not most, of us are going to be angry when a trade involving the Astros is reported.

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    • I can see why you wouldn’t trust a guy that has turned a team from 111 losses into a serious contender in 2 years. Those fears are justified. Yes, he built the 111 loss team, but, in my opinion, it was worth it to return to contention status in such a short time.

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      • That’s great, but I’m with Becky. Luhnow was a management consultant. His tendency has been to make cold, calculated moves. Giving up Phillips hurt because we fans were so invested in our farm system thanks to years of losing. Cutting Carter and trading Conger makes sense on paper, but ask any of the players off the record how they feel about those moves and they will not give you a happy answer. Trading Lowrie and cutting Qualls – two guys that came to Houston before the winning of their own volition and wanted to remain errodes trust with agents and the players they represent.

        As fans, we want to root for players and not just the laundry (stolen from Seinfeld). Many of us are unsure how we should feel about Luhnow. As a hypothetical, how would you have felt if Hunsicker traded away Biggio in 2002?

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      • That’s where we’re different. I only care if the Astros win. I don’t get attached to players. I wanted to keep Kent over Baggio after the 2004 season. I felt the Astros had a better chance to win with Kent.

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      • I still get attached to players who play the game correctly. Guys like McCullers, Springer, Altuve and a couple of other make up the heart of this club and I hope they stick around for a while.

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      • I get attached to players that can help the HOUSTON Astros win. I put ‘Houston’ in all caps because, for me, the Houston part is the most important part. I will always love Hakeem Olajuwon for bringing 2 championships to Houston, but I was not the least disappointed when he went to play his last season in Toronto. He was well past his prime and could not help the Rockets win anymore. It was time to move on at that point.

        I will enjoy watching Springer, Altuve and McCullers help the Astros win, but I can also enjoy Jose Fernandz help the Astros win. When a player is traded away or signs as a free agent with another team I separate my feelings from that player as he is no longer helping my favorite team win. I loved Berkman and Pence when they played in Houston, but once they were traded away I didn’t care if they performed well or bombed. I know that I rooted against them when they played against the Astros. For me, it will always be about the name on the front of the jersey more than the name on the back.

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      • Devin, I’m sorry, but I was really disappointed in what we got from Lowrie, again, and I’m glad they traded him. And I don’t have a clue why anyone would think we should have kept Qualls at the money in his option. And paying a guy $250,000 to buy out his option seems really fair on the part of the club, especially, since that’s the contract he signed.
        Maybe we need to look at a GM who would trade his closer and try to hide a huge domestic abuse problem without letting any of his fellow GMs know about it. That is the guy who appears to be a slimeball, not Luhnow.

        Liked by 1 person

  31. Trading a batch of “whatever it takes” ballplayers for Fernandez would be a total crap shoot. We are not a desperate club by any stretch of the imagination. We’ve already got one of the best rotations in the game today, with real talent very close by to step in when needed.

    Let’s not forget that after making 28 starts as a rookie at the age of 20, Fernandez made just 11 in 2014 before blowing out his UCL. And although he came back in 2015, pitching equally as remarkably as he did in 2013 and 1014, he was again shut down in August after just 8 starts, this time with a biceps problem. A bicep issue for a pitcher can be a big problem.

    When a kid just 22 already has such an injury history, how can any team justify trading top prospects and major league talent for him? Not my team. I sure hope not anyway. Honestly, I’d rather have McCullers straight up over Fernandez, not because he’s a better pitcher today, but rather because he’s a much better investment for this club today.

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  32. I have changed over time regarding my player loyalty which is why my second bullet talks about being able to let pitchers go when the salaries get ridiculous.
    I was thinking with my heart when I was ok with Biggio staying instead of Kent.
    I was thinking with my heart when I wanted Bags to get at bats in the WS.
    After 50 years of cheering for a team that has never won it all – I am a little harder edged.

    Liked by 3 people

    • I couldn’t have summed it up any better. Loyalty is great when you’re winning, but after 50+ years without a World Series championship I have put aside my feelings of loyalty and focused more on what it will take for the city of Houston to host a parade downtown with our favorite baseball team.

      Liked by 1 person

  33. * Do you want them to trade 3 or 4 prospects including pitchers for a top end starter or reliever? *

    With regard to a starter, I see absolutely no reason to trade anyone for a starter. I do not think we will – or need to – do any better than Keuchel, McCullers, McHugh, Fiers, and Feldman/Velasquez/Appel. Yes, that includes Jose Fernandez – who odds are, considering his injury history, would probably wind up pitching for us about as much as Jesse Crain did. Starting pitching we’ve got. Where we are extremely weak, for a playoff team, is at DH, at 3B, and – if we don’t promote either Reed or White – at 1B.

    With regard to a reliever, I would be fine with first signing Tony Sipp, and then trading either Preston Tucker or Evan Gattis, and either Andrew Aplin or Nolan Fontana, and/or either Wojo, Peacock, Jankowski, or Obie, for a strong 7th or 8th inning guy. If we find out early in 2016 that Gregorsen just can’t be counted on to close effectively against the better offensive teams [like KC, Texas, and Toronto] I’d give one of our in-house guys a chance to share the closer role with him. We have several guys in-house who could be ready by mid-season if they were groomed for the role beginning in Spring and throughout the first half of 2016.

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  34. Loria is just pulling everyone’s chain on Fernandez. He’s not gonna trade him, he’s just checking on how many TOP prospects….*if* he changed his mind. The guy is a first class jerk, and his reputation proceeds him. Move on. My thoughts on Chapman is Walt Jockety is going to get much less than he thought he was going to get, like last week. PLUS….. Jockety and Luhnow have no love lost in their relationship, and that might blow up the deal if Luhnow IS willing to give up Reed, Bregman, McCullers for Chapman. *Think*……..before you pull the trigger. PLEASE.

    Liked by 1 person

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