2016 difference makers: Bregman, Gomez and Reed could solidify Astros

If you recall, I wrote in these pages back in 2012 that the Astros should begin building their nucleus around Jose Altuve.  All they needed to do, I surmised, was add one or two key players a season to reach the goal of competitiveness and regular playoff appearances.

Little by little, one by one, the Astros have added to their nucleus each season since 2012. Altuve. Dallas Keuchel. George Springer. Collin McHugh. Carlos Correa. Even Jason Castro and now Lance McCullers Jr. could be counted among the number.

Now, a few other players are nearing their windows of opportunity. Three in particular stand out as possible difference-makers in 2016. Two have never donned a major league uniform, the third is in his contract year which typically lights a fire that, in this case, Houston could take advantage of.

Here are the three.

Alex Bregman. 21. R/R. SS.

Could the Astros have captured lightning in a bottle…again? Another Carlos Correa? Are we about to witness the rebirth of the Biggio-Bagwell nucleus, only better? Bregman is the LSU product who could play either of the middle infield positions, both presently taken by All Star caliber players.  Elite All Star caliber players.

Bregman could actually force the Astros’ hand this season.  While Jeff Luhnow and A.J. Hinch could be pressured to bring Bregman south when the team breaks camp, it’s more likely — considering historical and traditional data — that Bregman gets a chance at Corpus Christi or perhaps Fresno before moving on up. That also provides the Astros’ brass the time to determine its course for the second so-called ascension in two years. If, indeed, 2016 is Bregman’s year.

But where does Bregman play? The obvious answer is third base. Then again, many project Correa as a much better possibility for that spot in the future. Shortstops to third base isn’t a new-fangled idea. Alex Rodriguez moved to third when he joined the Yankees. Cal Ripken Jr. also made the move in his later years to make room for Mike Bordick. Correa is less established given half a year in the position, but he’s already staked his claim at shortstop.

Bregman could move to third, he could take short and Correa move to third. Or, the Astros could entertain what would likely end up as a PR fiasco and move Jose Altuve…to another team…to make room. Though that would create a haul, would Luhnow ever be so bold?

To be sure, Bregman must prove himself first. Yes, he seems like a no-brainer prospect with a certain All Star future in Houston.

A.J. Reed. 22. L/L. 1B.

No pressure here, but Reed could hold the season in his hands somewhat. First base has been a black hole since Lance Berkman left. Reed may be ready before other prospects this year and, if he even has a decent spring training, he could be pushed into service right out of the gate.

Don’t salivate, but the Astros could do worse now and in the future than an infield composed of Reed, Altuve, Correa and Bregman. That would potentially make Garvey, Lopes, Russell and Cey look like a minor league infield. Okay, yes, pushing it a little with emphasis on potential but you get the point.

Reed has hit at every level, including college, he’s a decent fielder though slow afoot, and he has the power Houston needs from a first baseman.

Carlos Gomez. 30. R/R. CF.

Of course, Gomez doesn’t come from the same class as the first two on this list, but he could change the Astros’ lineup completely if he reverts to his All Star seasons (2013-14). Fast with a solid OBP and stolen base threat would give the Astros that extra threat behind Altuve and Correa.

What’s different from 2015? Gomez is in his walk year and, while he could be traded either in spring training or in mid-season, he could be a difference maker while the Astros sort out their crowded outfield situation. If vintage 2013-14, Gomez provides Hinch one less position in the order to be concerned about. Just pencil him in and wind him up every day.

Like the infield, Houston would do much worse — and has done worse — than Gomez flanked by George Springer and Colby Rasmus.

Honorable Mention.

Yes, there are a handful of others who could make a difference in Houston this year. Michael Feliz, Colin Moran, Tony Kemp or even Brady Rodgers or Matt Duffy could possibly break into the lineup, but the three above stand to make the most impact.


27 comments on “2016 difference makers: Bregman, Gomez and Reed could solidify Astros

  1. I think you might need to put Tyler White in the honorable mention category. He probably has a better chance, at DH, to help the 2016 Astros than the other players in that category.

    Because I have Gomez Attachment Syndrome (G.A.S.) I agree with you that I like him on this team for 2016. I expect him to have a big, bounce back year and really help the Astros this season. With this being said I am also open to trading him if the Astros sign a good OFer via free agency before the season starts. Especially if Gomez can net us a #3-4 SP.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Chip, I think Bregman is a year away. I think Reed will be a Super 2 guy in June. I agree with Tim that White is the guy who may push his way onto the team first.
    I’m trying to remember first basemen that weren’t slow afoot and the list is short, so I think Reed will be okay.
    For the record, none of the first basemen we have had in the last six years showed any speed at all walking back to the dugout with their bat in their hand.
    My darkhorse as a core player who could join the team this season in Joe Musgrove.


  3. I also feel that Gomez will have a big comeback year. The question of course, is how the Astros deal with his free agency year.

    If Reed, gets the opportunity, I think that we’ll finally have our first baseman for the next decade. When he was at Kentucky, I saw him convert double plays against Vanderbilt. He’s a good defensive first baseman (not with the range of Bagwell, but with probably a better arm.) with a quick and very accurate throw to second. He won’t get our SS hurt like Carter and Singleton.

    I would be happy, but very surprised to see Bregman break camp with the Astros. I think that he will begin the season in Corpus and if he get called up, it will be in September. I think that he will be a serious candidate to be in Houston in 17. He will be a full time starter when he does come up. I think the Astros will figure out his position next off season. He could play about any position at a high level, but because of his skill set, I would think he is destined for second, third or shortstop. I saw him play numerous times in his three year career at LSU. He was the team sparkplug and leader all three years. He is a consummate line drive hitter and consistently gets solid contact. He reminds me of a young Biggio. I agree with Chip, the potential of Reed, Bregman, Altuve’ and Correa could give the Astros an historically good infield.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Larry, do you think he could be a good outfielder? If Moran turns out to be a .280-.300 hitter at 3B, Bregman could turn out to be a top of the order .300 hitter in the OF. Moran can’t play the outfield, but who wants to ship out any .300 hitters who are just making the league minimum.
      Goodness gracious, imagine Bregman, Altuve, Correa, Reed, Springer, Moran, White, Kemmer and Heineman coming to the plate in 2017, most of them making near league minimum. That could be an incredible group of hitters and OBP.

      Liked by 1 person

      • 1OP: As I stated earlier, I think Bregman could play anywhere except as a pitcher. Like Biggio, he’s just an all around good baseball player. He’s got his heart set on SS, but he’s first of all a team player and will do what the Astros want him to do. I think he could do well at any of the outfield positions. SEC opponents hated pitching to him as he would very rarely strike out and it was typical whether he got a hit, walk or made an out, that the would work the pitch count. He would fit in perfectly with the Kansas City team.

        Liked by 2 people

  4. Yes – I would add Joe Musgrove and Tyler White to the honorable mention list (at least).
    One of the things that makes your “add 1 or 2 players to the core” thought so interesting and effective is that basically, unlike so many other teams – the Astros have a core that even after 3 years is still under control. They have not had to face up to losing part of their core – at least up to this point. That will make things a bit more challenging moving forward as the front end of the wave heads towards FA. But having a core where you think you will keep it together for 2 or 3 more years and just build upon it can be a powerful weapon.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Just a question. Chip and others are very high on Bregman. J J Cooper and others do not see him to be that much of a current fit. The question, what are the abilities (other than experience) that he is lacking? HIs errors last year were a little high, but not Villaresque.


  6. Let’s see if Bregman puts up Lancaster stats in Corpus before we get too carried away. And I don’t think he has more range or arm than Correa. If Carlos bulks up over the next few years, that might change, but for now, we’ve got a shortstop who is not going anywhere.


    • Last season Bregman came to the plate 62 times w/RISP and two outs. His line in those plate appearances was .393/.452/.554/1.005 with five BBs and only 6 Ks. That .554 SLG was without the benefit of a HR either.
      This guy is a ballplayer and the Crawford Boxes will help him hit enough home runs to keep that SLG up. He will be a doubles machine and can steal some bases.

      Liked by 1 person

      • 1OP, I think he’ll hit too, but I want to see it somewhere beyond Lancaster. Some guys don’t miss a beat. Others don’t adjust as well. Both his minor league samples are small, but his stats in Quad Cities were unremarkable. We need quite a bit more than 63 games total.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Dave, Bregman said the pitching he saw in college was nothing compared to what he saw in QC and admitted it took him a while to adjust. He also said, in an interview I read, that he would play anywhere the Astros asked him to because he was aware of Correa when he got drafted. When asked specifically about the outfield he said he would play anywhere to make it to the majors.

        Liked by 1 person

    • It’s going to be tough. This is the season he has to shine because, in our minors, the jump to AA is the toughest for position players. He needs to get his average up and his Ks down because he is not young for the leagues he’s playing in.


  7. With all the talk about Bregman, had to look him up. No news to anybody here, but he started playing tee-ball at age four and in his first game turned an unassisted triple play. I can’t wait to see him. Assume thought of moving Altuve to another team was Monday light-heartedness (or light-headedness). 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jose Altuve is a gem. He is a wonderful ballplayer who strives to be better. He is the most underpaid fellow in MLB. He came from such a poor childhood that he appreciates what he has and just lacks the rings.
      His poor performance offensively in the playoffs last season is something that will drive him all year long to prove he is a clutch player in the playoffs. He can’t wait for February to get here.
      Even Luhnow isn’t silly enough to think of trading Altuve, unless Jose goes to him and asks him. Altuve is the perfect second baseman for the Houston Astros and that is that.
      You don’t try to replace greatness at a bargain price with Bregman. You add to greatness with Bregman by smartly figuring out where he fits in best without messing anything else up. That is what a good GM does.

      Liked by 3 people

  8. Question concerning our two blue chip outfielders (Cameron and Tucker). Will they both now go to Quad Cities? I am hoping that one or both become good MLB players.

    Liked by 1 person

    • What a great question! I think the answer to it lies in what the coaches see from them in spring training. They are both eight months older than Carlos was when he was drafted. Incidentally, they both turned 19 this past weekend.
      Did they add some weight and muscle this offseason? Are they both advanced enough to face the low A pitching that Bregman said was much tougher than college pitchers? Are they ready for full season grind? I think they will be evaluated as far as their advancement but will be matched together, at least at first.


      • But….boy wouldn’t it be GREAT if both of them are ready to come up and take their place in 2017-2018!!! Speed and power!!


  9. That is vintage Jon Singleton we hear from in Drellich’s article today. While everybody else is working, he’s clearing his mind and getting ready to do what he does.


    • That is the same thing he did last offseason, and the offseason before that, and the offseason before that. Clearly, it has been working very well for him so we should give Big Jon the benefit of the doubt (sorry, I can’t figure out how to use my sarcasm font).

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I just don’t see how moving Carter and replacing him with Singleton improves the team. It is nothing personal. If he needs to eat 5 pounds of grapes to get ready each day, do it, but when you show up – PERFORM. He has not done that yet. And if I read one more post (in other blogs, not here) about how he crushed in the minors, or how he hit better than A.J. Reed in the minors, I am going to explode. Give Jon a chance in March and April, but come May, he better be producing.

    Liked by 1 person

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