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Spring training 2016: The non roster invitees


Every year teams bring the members of their 40 man roster to Spring Training. These include the most likely folks to go west with the team on the 25 man roster, and the 5 to 10 players who will be the next men up, plus a number of other players who likely need seasoning, but who the team did not want to expose to the Rule 5 draft.

In addition, the teams bring along the NRIs – the Non-Roster Invitees. These players are an interesting mix of veterans who have been invited with no more promise than a minor league contract (e.g. Wandy Rodriguez), older minor leaguers who were exposed to the Rule 5 draft (e.g. Chris Devenski) and prospects who do not have enough experience to be exposed to the Rule 5 draft, but are well thought of (e.g. A.J. Reed). These folks have a much smaller chance of making the 25 man roster out of spring training, but every year an injury, trade or hole in the roster appears and is filled by one or two of these players. Also, every season some of these players get called up to the big club during the season (e.g. Lance McCullers Jr.), so it is worthwhile to keep some of the following folks on the fans’ radar.

Pitchers

Jake Buchanan (26 y.o. RHP) – He has been neither an embarrassment nor anything special in two shots with the big club. After a very good 2013 in the minors his numbers have worsened each of the last two seasons including high hit totals and low K totals. Prognosis – Filler, if there is an injury.

Edwar Cabrera (28 y.o. LHP)– Free agent signed out of the Rangers organization. He has been excellent in 3 stops at AA and mediocre in 3 stops at AAA. One bad cup of coffee with the Rockies. Prognosis – Poor man’s Tony Sipp?

Chris Devenski (25 y.o. RHP) – The last piece left for the Astros from the Brett Myers trade. Has been creeping up very slowly through the minors, but had a very good season (7-4 with a 3.01 ERA) in his second stab at AA. Prognosis – Needs to hit it big at AAA and hope for a call.

James Hoyt (29 y.o. RHP) – The “other” piece picked up in the Evan Gattis trade, he came from independent ball and the Mexican League to be an intriguing reliever. The number that screams at you is the 11-12 Ks / 9 IP. Prognosis – Late bloomer who could displace a Josh Fields in the bullpen.

Jordan Jankowksi (26 y.o. RHP) – 34th rd. pick by the Astros in 2008, went to college and became….the 34th rd. pick in 2012. Has pitched very well rising through the minors except for a short stop at Lancaster. Overall numbers 3.17 ERA and 10.3 K/9IP in the minors stand out, but always against younger competition. Prognosis – Could get the call with a strong performance at AAA.

Brendan McCurry (24 y.o. RHP) – Picked up from the A’s in the Jed Lowrie Trade Part Deux, he has only pitched 16 innings at AA so far but has put up insanely good numbers at all levels to date. In 2 minor league seasons he has a 1.37 ERA, 0.796 WHIP, 11.7 K/9 IP with only 2 BB/9 IP. Prognosis – Needs to prove things at AA and AAA, but definitely could be there when Neshek and Gregerson move on.

Brady Rodgers (25 y.o. RHP) – 3rd round pick in the 2012 draft, he has moved up steadily in the organization, but his stats have been fairly pedestrian to date. Again, not knowing what he may be working on or how he reacts to the tandem pitching requirements – who knows, but his 4.55 ERA and 6.5 K/9 IP at AA in 2014 was followed by 4.51 ERA and 6.9 K/9 IP at AAA in 2015. Prognosis – Needs to really show improvement or could be one of the next pitchers moved.

Wandy Rodriguez (37 y.o. LHP) – Wandy was with the Astros for 7-1/2 seasons and evolved into a solid starter for the team before being moved on to the Pirates. But after fighting injuries and poor performances lately, it is hard to see where he fits. Prognosis – Unless he has a talent not yet shown as a LOOGY, he is an insurance policy for pitching injuries at this time in his career.

Cesar Valdez (30 y.o. RHP) – He may be the biggest head-scratcher on the NRI list. He pitched 20 innings with the Pirates back in 2011, which is the last time he played in the “real” minors also. The last four seasons he has pitched in the Mexican, Dominican and Venezuelan Leagues and really not very well until last season. Prognosis – Unless he has had his blood doped with the spirit of Fernando Valenzuela, I think he is here to take the strain off other arms during ST.

Infielders

Alex Bregman (21 y.o. SS) – The 2nd overall pick in the 2015 draft will likely start off in AA this season after a strong showing at Lancaster. He seems to be pretty darn polished right off the bat coming from college. Prognosis – He would seem to be likely to make it to the majors in the next couple years. But it will probably be at another position or another franchise than the Astros.

Joe Sclafani (25 y.o. UT) – It was a little surprising he got an invite, because he was a .300 BA / .380 OBP player last season (and throughout his career) and only got in 75 games last season. So he sat a lot last season. He has little power, his best position is probably shared with Jose Altuve, but all he does is hit and get on base. Prognosis – He would seem to be a candidate to be packaged in a trade, because he just never has gotten much traction in the organization.

Tyler White (25 y.o. 1B, DH, 3B) – There were almost 1000 players drafted before him in 2013. He is supposedly too short and too wide. But heaven’s to Betsy the man can hit. At every level he has made contact, had good to great BAs and has been an OBP machine over .400 everywhere. Prognosis – This man will get a shot some time this season at either 1B or DH and the sooner the better.

A.J. Reed (22 y.o. 1B/DH) – The Astros 2014 2nd round pick has gone from the best college player to one of the best in the minor leagues. Complaining about a little higher K rate and some problems against lefty pitchers after a season where he scored 113 runs, knocked 34 HRs with 127 RBIs in only 135 games with .340 BA / .432 OBP and 1.044 OPS feels like complaining about a freckle on Miss America’s ankle. Prognosis – He will be the Astros first baseman, but when…..ah there is the rub.

J.D. Davis (22 y.o. 3B) – The next pick (3rd round) after Reed was Davis. He had a very good year in Lancaster where most batters do, but interestingly his numbers were almost identical to what he put up at Tri-City and Quad Cities in 2014. Now he has to prove that he can do this at AA and AAA. Prognosis – He may be at the wrong position or the right position as things evolve.

Tony Kemp (24 y.o. 2B/OF) – This Altuve-ish (5′-6″) 5th rounder from 2013 is a good hitter and top base stealer. He will probably never have much power and he may end up in one of these trades that he keeps getting rumored to be a part of, but he is a good ball player. Prognosis – Unless Jose Altuve goes down or goes away he probably tops out as a utility type player.

Colin Moran (23 y.o. 3B) – Part of the Jarred Cosart trade (Moran, Marisnick and Martes may turn this into a huge robbery of a trade) and a very solid prospect at a position of need. He has a good glove and a solid, but not yet powerful bat (.306 BA / .381 OBP/.840 OPS last year at AA). Prognosis – It will be fun to see which one between Moran, Davis or Bregman makes it to Houston at 3B first.

Danny Worth (30 y.o. UT) – Signed to a minor league contract and invited to camp. Over 5 call-ups with the Tigers he has had 261 mostly weak hitting ABs at the major league level. For those who are glad Jonathan Villar is gone, Worth has 1 error in 61 major league games. Prognosis – Hard to see where he would fill a role unless it was after the first of September as a late inning glove.

Catchers

Tyler Heineman (24 y.o. C) – This 8th rounder out of 2012 had steadily risen up the minors flashing a good arm (40% CS overall) and a solid but not powerful bat. The fans would take a repeat of his overall minor league numbers (.288 BA / .364 OBP / .773 OPS) sight unseen. Prognosis – He could well come out of Spring Training as the backup instead of Max Stassi.

Roberto Pena (23 y.o. C) – The 7th rounder from the 2010 draft couldn’t hit the ground if he fell out of a plane (.238 BA / .264 OBP). On the other hand…. the last 3 seasons he has thrown out 52%, 57% and 49% of runners. Prognosis – He is at spring training because you need a bunch of catchers to catch a bunch of pitchers.

Outfielders

Derek Fisher (22 y.o. OF) – He was the supplemental (37th overall) pick in the 2014 draft. Last season he stole 31 bases and scored 106 runs in 123 games and surprisingly hit better at Quad Cities than Lancaster. Prognosis – There is room for an outfielder to move up quickly in the organization especially if Rasmus and Gomez leave after 2016.

Jon Kemmer (25 y.o. OF/1B/DH) – A surprise as a 21st rounder in 2013, he hit very well in 2014 at A and A+ and ramped it up at AA in 2015 (.324 BA / .413 OBP / .988 OPS).  Prognosis – A repeat of 2015 this season could get him a permanent call-up to the majors.

Eury Perez (25 y.o. OF) – Signed to a minor league deal after being let go by the Braves. Showed a decent (but powerless) bat in the minors and not much in small appearances at the major league level. Prognosis – Might get a call-up for a short stint if someone with experience is wanted.

Do you see anyone of interest in the list above?

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About Dan P

Dan Peschong is a full time engineer and a long time Astros lover from the days of Joe Morgan to the days of Jose Altuve.

82 comments on “Spring training 2016: The non roster invitees

  1. rj
    February 18, 2016

    nice post dan. i found this video, time to get pumped up for spring training and beyond. https://twitter.com/AstrosGrande/status/699991963853004800?cn=ZmxleGlibGVfcmVjc18y&refsrc=email

    Liked by 2 people

    • Kevin
      February 18, 2016

      Awesome Ty RJ

      Like

    • Dan P
      February 19, 2016

      Thanks for the spring time inspiration rj.

      Like

  2. 1oldpro
    February 18, 2016

    Bregman might be the most interesting to me because of the baserunning and defense that are added to his bat
    I like Reed, Moran, White and Kemmer for their bats. But all of them are slow and there are questions about their defense.
    I just love the idea of Reed being our first baseman of the future.
    But we need a good 3B starting in the spring of 2017 and I like Bregman, Moran and Davis all there and fighting for it and getting to choose one for 3B and the other two to keep working in the minors or maybe at DH.
    But Bregman adds some future speed to the lineup, and other than Springer, Kemp and Altuve, we don’t have a huge abundance of it in our youngsters.
    That circles me back to Marisnick, who has only one tool holding him back, and it is the biggest one. But he still has shown he could hit, just not consistently enough, yet.
    He’s not a prospect, but he’s still young, still fast, and is very well liked by fans and teammates.
    Of the pitchers, Hoyt and McCurry are the most interesting to me, followed by Rodgers.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dan P
      February 18, 2016

      When it comes to speed for Reed, Moran, White and Kemmer I think we can all agree that we’d rather have these guys slowly making their way around the bases than Singleton, Valbuena, etc slowly making their way back to the dugout after another K.

      Liked by 1 person

      • 1oldpro
        February 18, 2016

        Dan, I agree 100% with you, but Bregman is a very high draft choice, a very highly regarded prospect by everyone and has things we will need to ADD to the bats we have coming up. I want him to be good. I think it is important for the Astros that he finds a place on the Astros, because he is one of ours. I think that Bregman, coming from LSU would add a lot of fans to our organization and more prestige to us if we drafted him and had him turn out to be a good major league player.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. rj
    February 18, 2016

    hoyt, mccurry and jankoski are interesting to me, but barring injury i dont expect to see them in the bigs this year. bregman, white, reed, moran are of interest and probably have a better shot at the majors than the pitchers at this point. i have stated before i dont want bregman traded and all of them may help us within 2 years, but for now i think the best shot is reed, followed by white.
    fisher is of interest because of our lack of outfield depth after this year (assuming gomez and rasmus are gone). its interesting that he was part of the giles trade but was taken back and replaced by appel due to injury concerns. interesting to see whether appel or fisher helps their team more in coming years.
    .

    Like

  4. Mr. Bill
    February 18, 2016

    The Derek Fisher NRI brings up an interesting question: What will the Astros’ outfield look like in 2017?

    Rasmus will probably be gone. Gomez will probably be gone. Springer will probably finally get to move to CF where he belongs. Young Tucker and Young Cameron will probably not be ready. Who will flank George: Will it be Kemmer [LH batter] in RF? Will it be Kemp [LH batter] or Fisher [LH batter] – or Bregman [RH batter] – in LF? If it is Bregman in LF, is it possible P. Tucker sticks around and gets some starts in left to go with some starts at DH that he shares with Tyler White?

    Like

    • uncleknuckle
      February 18, 2016

      Assuming he keeps hitting, I look for Kemmer to end up in left. He’d be a somewhat limited ML right fielder, speed, arm and range wise.

      Like

      • Mr. Bill
        February 18, 2016

        Come on, Dave, you and I both know that Joe Sclafani has the left field spot nailed down in 2017.

        Like

      • Mr. Bill
        February 18, 2016

        Left field peanut vendor, I mean.

        Like

      • uncleknuckle
        February 18, 2016

        Oh Bill, you had to bring up my guy Joe again. I swore off Joe when I picked up on 21st pick Kemmer last season. But alas, if given the chance, I still think Sclafani would be a solid second baseman or utility guy someday, if given the chance. It won’t be in Houston though, unless Nolan Fontana and Marwin both decide to join the priesthood. I’m hoping he has a good spring and gets a shot with another organization.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Mr. Bill
        February 18, 2016

        Dave, Sclafani is my kind of player – not flashy, but always seems to get it done, and is especially tough when it counts. He’s the polar opposite of Jonathan Villar. Alas, the brass in our organization like flash and pizzazz – and all Joe’s got is an uncanny knack of doing just the right thing at just the right time.

        Like

  5. Mr. Bill
    February 18, 2016

    Getting a good mix of lefties and righties in the batting order would be a plus. As McTaggart predicted our line-up it is 5 righties followed by 4 lefties – none of which – with the possible exception of Rasmus – has the capability of moving up in the order.

    Our ‘default’ top three in the order – Altuve, Springer, and Correa – all bat RH. Our DH and our CF also bat right.

    Three of our current lefties – Singleton, Valbuena, & Castro – have been absolutely horrible at the plate. If they are as bad in ST as they were last year, we will have to seriously consider moving two of them out of the regular line-up.

    If we are going to break this trend in 2016, we could really use one high-OBP, low K, swift-running lefty to bat 2nd and one high-OBP lefty with some power to break up the Gattis/Gomez tandem. We might actually pull the first one off with either Aplin, Kemp or Fisher. Perez, a RH batter, is just insurance against injury. We might pull the 2nd LH need off with P. Tucker, Jon Kemmer, or Colin Moran. And, of course, Tyler Heineman is a switch hitter, if Castro gets injured or is the guy who goes.

    Like

    • Dan P
      February 18, 2016

      Mr.Bill – “high-OBP lefty with some power” to put between Gattis and Gomez sounds like you are begging for A.J. Reed……

      Like

      • Lester J. Gillis
        February 18, 2016

        And “one high-OBP, low K, swift-running lefty to bat 2nd” sounds an awful lot like Kemp. Just need a defensive position for him.

        Like

      • Mr. Bill
        February 18, 2016

        I would be ecstatic if Reed came to ST and blew through MLB pitching like or better than Hunter Pence did a few years ago. But with White coming up too, and with the clock ticking issue that the GM has to deal with, even if he hit 875 and drove in 25 in ST, with 10 HRs I don’t figure he would have a snowball’s chance in Harlingen of starting the year in Houston in 2016. So I am really just musing about what Preston Tucker or Jon Kemmer might do for us. Remember, vs. lefties last year Valbuena hit .158, Castro hit .192, and Singleton had only 9 ABs. Tucker at least hit .200 vs. lefties. Rasmus hit .250 vs. them [20 points better than he hit righties, albeit in limited action vs southpaws], but he also struck out every third time against the guys who wing it from the first base side.

        Liked by 1 person

      • rj
        February 19, 2016

        Mr. Bill, this may be the year when the ticking clock for arbitration and/or super two status gets ignored or discounted. in the past it didnt do us all that much good to bring up players before these marks were passed because we were so bad it really wouldnt have helped that much. this year we are in a very different place as we are very close to a deep playoff run and if, say reed, put up a great spring and no one else did, i believe the front office would be much more inclined to ignore the clock and go full speed ahead at trying to win the division.

        Like

  6. Steven
    February 18, 2016

    Lots of good comments. You guys put so much research into our minor leaguers that I learn so much just from reading your thoughts.

    I think this year will be more of a stability year for the Stros. Barring a heavy amount of injuries I think the Astros feel confident with some combo of Keuchel, McHugh, LMJ, Fiers, Feldman, Fister and Wandy as the insurance. The BP also looks to have some depth. I am guessing they bring Feldman back slowly from injury (as well as Fister – but I think Fister has the better opp to be on the roster opening day) – keeping Wandy on the roster. If we need more than 7-9 starts from Wandy this year it’s probably not going to go the way we are hoping it goes.

    My hope is Reed wins the job. I don’t think the Astros will go that route as they will probably Springer/Correa him into super 2 for at least another year of control. I think Luhnow is rolling the dice that Singleton improves enough to hold the water back. Overall I again think that we won’t be dipping to far into the minor league pool this year – I can see White getting some time up and Kemp maybe – and the aforementioned Reed winning the job by June – but unless there is a big injury to one of the three starting OF’ers I think the expectation is all 3 of them will see 145+ games at their positions, Gattis will see 145 games at DH, and there won’t be a lot of room to go around. I am on record as to giving White an opportunity to take the job from Gattis (or Singleton), that I would start Reed on day 1 if he outhits Singleton in ST, and that I would have for the love of all that is baseball holy not resigned Rasmus, but that isn’t the hand we are being dealt – so I do expect all 3 in the lineup the majority of the time.

    Like

  7. Mr. Bill
    February 18, 2016

    One thing I will be watching closely is the budding competition between young third basemen in 2016 – Matt Duffy [RH hitter], Colin Moran [LH hitter], Alex Bregman [RH hitter], and J.D. Davis [RH hitter]. If Moran shines as a LH hitting 3rd sacker in 2016 [ST and beyond, at Fresno], that could make the FO think about sending Bregman’s right hand bat to LF in 2017. If Davis or Duffy outshine Moran this year, it probably won’t help either long term, as Bregman probably takes 3B in 2017.

    Like

    • Dan P
      February 18, 2016

      It is nice to have competition (and so far good minor league players) fighting to take over a spot of need. It would be great if two or three of them look very good, because you could move Bregman to LF or you could have somebody on the bench or you could have a good trade piece and trade from strength.

      Like

    • Steven
      February 18, 2016

      I don’t have a lot of confidence that any of them will be the third baseman I want – but I think Bregman or Moran can be serviceable. Bregman IMO is a little overrated, and his role seems more suited to be a better than average offensive SS rather than a little less than average third sacker (think Lowrie), while Moran may hit a bit more, but his K numbers have risen at every level and his power isn’t where I would want it to be. Davis hasn’t shown the power he promises outside of the place everyone shows power – and he may not even make it to AAA this year with Moran in his way – making him 25 before he is even looked at in 2018.

      I’ll admit it’s anyone’s guess as to how any of them would pan out, but I suspect the Astros next third sacker, at least the next one that isn’t sharing time with someone else to hide some deficiency (like defensively they may have to do if White gets time there) will come from outside the organization.

      Duffy’s ceiling to me is a backup corner infielder that can probably hit at least .250 with moderate power, but he is very old for a rookie and has been meh in the minors.

      One thing we both probably agree on – the Astros will be better off moving away from Valbuena sooner than later.

      Like

      • 1oldpro
        February 18, 2016

        Steven, I thought Bregman was a little overrated too, but five top-notched ranking systems have him rated anywhere #19 to #50 in their rankings with three of them having him #22 or higher. I’m waiting for Sickels to come out with his top 100, but, right now it seems to be a consensus that he is going to be an above average player, including at third base.
        We are going to know a lot more about how the Astros feel about him when we see where he and JD Davis are placed in the Astros organization when spring training is over.

        Like

  8. Mr. Bill
    February 18, 2016

    Speaking of competition down the road, what does anyone know personally, from observation, about these guys:

    James Ramsey, CF [at Lancaster last year, .322 BA, .384 OBP, 10 HR, 64 RBI];
    Jamie Ritchie, C [at Lancaster, .308 BA, .422 OBP, 1 HR, 8 RBIs in 39 games]
    Nick Tanielu [3B] [at Quad Cities, .308 BA, .354 OBP, 6 HR, 70 RBis in 110 games]

    Like

  9. astrocolt45
    February 18, 2016

    As to the NRIs, first there is no way 2/3 of the over 25 crowd go anywhere. It would be great if one of them (Example Hoyt?) broke all the rules and was a true late bloomer. But most of these will sadly disappear back to the minors and maybe later to another organization. We have an immediate need for improvement at 1st, 3rd, catcher, DH, and perhaps replacing an injury. Just do not see it in any of them, or the FO has to admit they made a mistake of several million dollars. In late 2016, or in 2017, or if some of those on the 40 man are traded, a few will make it to the club. I am not questioning the moves made by the FO (Example: Adding Gonzalez as the catcher) but in so doing, they can’t carry 4 or 5 catchers. Unless they put 3-7 guys on the DL, there is just no room currently for any unless someone bumps Singleton or Gattis out of a job. In 2017, there will be a need for probably 4-5 of them to be on the team with 3 starting, but not in 2016. The FO is not going to sign someone for $2-16 Million and not play them. I would love to be wrong.

    Like

    • 1oldpro
      February 18, 2016

      ac, remember that Hoyt finished the year as the closer at Fresno. Then, after talking to his pitching coach, he decided to try his cutter that he used earlier in his career but never perfected it and abandoned it. He went to winter ball and threw it extensively down there until he was so happy with it he came home early.
      When Jayne Hansen interviewed him, he said he couldn’t wait to show that pitch to the Astros. It gives him a 95mph fastball, a slider that is his out-pitch to righties and this cutter that moves down and away from lefties. He’s jazzed, and with no mileage on his arm at age 30, I think he could be the next man up for the bullpen.

      Like

      • astrocolt45
        February 18, 2016

        There are late bloomers. Fiers would be a current example. He is 30 and is not arb eligible. I saw Hoyt briefly last ST on MLB.com and he looked OK to me. Lets hope he has a breakout year. But if so, he bumps Straily, or Wojo or Chapman or somebody. But on the above list, just don’t see too many given a chance. Especially when we have some many signed for a large contract. That “logjam” of Chip is here now.

        Like

      • uncleknuckle
        February 19, 2016

        I appreciate young old guys.

        Like

  10. astrocolt45
    February 18, 2016

    I am not knocking Gattis, nor Singleton, but it is amazing to me that for some reason Pucker was brought up last year. His numbers are equal to Gattis and way ahead of Singleton. Pucker is “average at best” LFielder, but he obviously can hit as well as some that are starting. Trade the kid or give him a chance.

    Like

    • Mr. Bill
      February 18, 2016

      Maybe PTuck needs to grow a beard. Our organization loves beards.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Devin_
      February 18, 2016

      I’m selfish – I want real hitters coming off the bench. If Preston Tucker can’t win the starting spot at DH, I don’t want to cut bait on him. He can earn the ML minimum to watch games from the bench if necessary…no reason to help another team win games.

      Like

      • uncleknuckle
        February 19, 2016

        Problem is, there is not enough space on a roster for a part time DH/PH that can’t run or play D.

        Like

    • Tim
      February 19, 2016

      I don’t want to be cruel to PTuck, but calling his defense ‘average at best’ is over-valuing his defense. Since you put it in quotation marks maybe you were saying the same thing. I guess the best thing I can say about PTuck’s defense in LF is that he is a slight upgrade from Gattis in LF, which isn’t much.

      Liked by 1 person

      • astrocolt45
        February 19, 2016

        If the 4 OFers on your team are El Caballo, Manny, PTuck, and Dr. Strangeglove (Dick Stuart), then he would be “Average.”

        Liked by 1 person

      • Dan P
        February 19, 2016

        Wow – a Dick Stuart reference. I think the worst fielder I ever saw was Cliff Johnson trying to play catcher. His favorite way to catch Joe Niekro’s knuckleball was to wait until it stopped rolling.

        Like

  11. astrocolt45
    February 19, 2016

    Sometimes you just have to laugh. Here is a line from a “Spit” article today.

    “We’re going to individualize things a lot based on how we feel is the best way to get each individual guy ready not just as a group as a hole,” Hinch said.

    Like

    • Dan P
      February 19, 2016

      Now, now – they will be covering homonyms when they get to 3rd grade…..

      Like

      • Mr. Bill
        February 19, 2016

        Oh boy, Homonyms! My favorites are the yellow ones.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Dan P
        February 19, 2016

        I would have thought your favorites would be the colors read or blew….

        Liked by 1 person

  12. Dan P
    February 19, 2016

    One omission in my write-up, I mentioned that the Astros got the 3 M’s for Cosart (Moran, Marisnick and Martes) but forgot they also got the pick that turned into Daz Cameron. This could be an insane haul of talent for Cosart.

    Like

    • 1oldpro
      February 19, 2016

      We gave up Kike and Austin Wates in that deal. Looking back at that trade, the Marlins were so cocky. They had gone on a winning streak and their manager said Cosart would make a big difference for them in a pennant run because the Marlins were a much better team than the Astros and that would help Cosart.
      The Marlins folded. They may be the dumbest group of baseball people I have ever seen.

      Like

      • Devin_
        February 19, 2016

        Cosart was really good for them in 2014. Based on 2015/2016 free agent contracts to pitchers, if they projected Cosart to continue the production it’s not a bad trade for Miami.

        Like

      • Dan P
        February 19, 2016

        Yeah, Devin – I have not heard if Cosart ever recovered from his chronic inner ear balance problems from last season.

        Like

    • Mr. Bill
      February 19, 2016

      I get no Kike from champagne, Dan.

      Liked by 1 person

      • rj
        February 19, 2016

        lol mr. bill

        Like

  13. 1oldpro
    February 19, 2016

    For those of us hoping for Valbuena to be a different player this year, there isn’t a lot of hope.Luis was withing four points of his career BA last year. He had the lowest walk rate and highest K rate of his career and many more homers than he ever had. Unless he stops trying to hit bombs and goes for contact I see him hitting around .225.
    Somebody mentioned what a disaster it could be if we ended up with Valbuena, Rasmus, Singleton and Castro as the four left-handed batters in our lineup.

    Like

    • Mr. Bill
      February 19, 2016

      The really bad news, to me, is that Valbuena is blocking both Colin Moran i from the major leagues, and blocking Matt Duffy from getting a chance to see if he can replicate anything close to his breakout 2015 year at Fresno in the major leagues.

      Like

      • Dan P
        February 19, 2016

        I haven’t taken Spanish in 40+ years, but I think Valbuena translates to either Good Breeze or Crazy Uppercut.

        Like

      • astrocolt45
        February 19, 2016

        I went to the Internet and translated Valbuena in Spanish to English and it said “Valbuena .228 hitter.” I will try another web translation later.

        Like

      • 1oldpro
        February 19, 2016

        Valbuena is blocking Duffy somewhat, because Duffy is as ready as he’ll ever be and Moran isn’t. Valbuena is a better fielder. It’s Singleton who is blocking everybody.
        Seriously, with a bench of four, how do we have room for Tucker, Duffy, Marwin, Stassi, White, and Marisnick, if Gattis and Singleton are the starters at DH and 1B?
        And where will you play those guys in Fresno with Moran, Reed, Fontana, Kemp, Kemmer, Aplin are already there.
        Kemp could play second base at Fresno, but how does that help him improve in the outfield.
        White can play DH in Fresno, but how does that help his fielding at 1B.
        Singleton’s .192 BA and $2million salary is holding everyone hostage. Tucker hit .243 in his first major league try. Does he lose his roster spot to a guy who has hit .192 in three major league tries?
        By the way, I read it in another article again this week: Singleton crushed AAA pitching last year. If Singleton crushed AAA pitching with a .254 BA, how would you descibe what Tyler White did with a .362 BA against the exact same pitchers?

        Like

      • Dan P
        February 19, 2016

        What White did to AAA pitching ….nuked them? Obliterated them? Hurt their whole family? Stole their manhood? Made them look as bad as Singleton has looked in the majors?

        Liked by 1 person

      • Mr. Bill
        February 19, 2016

        OP1, I am sure you have watched Moran closer than I have. He’s 23 [about the age of Kris Bryant when he joined the Cubs last year]. He’s got three full years in the minor leagues, with some success at all levels except for AAA. What do you see him needing to work on most at Fresno in 2016?

        Like

  14. 1oldpro
    February 19, 2016

    Despite all my misgivings about DH, 3B and 1B, I still think a full and healthy year from Correa, 150 games in RF from Springer, 2 closers, a healthy Gomez and an October-like Rasmus, Stassi instead of Conger and six major league caliber starters puts Houston in great shape for the coming season.

    Like

    • Steven
      February 19, 2016

      I think they are in tremendous shape. This team is built around 3 superstar caliber players, a guy that can win a Cy, a MVP candidate at SS, and a favorite to win the batting title at 2B. Add in Springer, a solid McHugh, an improving LMJ, and a solid bullpen and I think the Astros are at the very least poised to win 85 with that core doing their daily chores.

      I don’t really have anything against Gattis, Valbuena, Rasmus or Castro. I think any of the 4 can be serviceable – assuming that not all 4 are there together. Together they train wreck your offense into a lot of strikeouts, which kills our situational stats and ends up losing close games. Springer doesn’t help with that group either. I think it’s important that we are getting CGomez type production from CGomez to prevent Marisnick from joining that group. We all want White replacing Gattis, if Luhnow was to read this blog he would probably stop in short order, but Gattis has salary and tenure blocking White. We may not agree with that, but that is how it goes. They all 4 will continue to run into pitches and knock some HR’s, and they all will take advantage of meh pitching, but the Valbuena’s and Rasmus of the world, the guys that hit 25-30 HR and end up with 60 something RBI, are killing us.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Mr. Bill
        February 19, 2016

        I look at ‘tremendous shape’ through the lens of how do we stack up against the team[s] we will be fighting with day in and day out in our division. Does our line-up as a whole match up well against their line-up? Texas is the team that makes me question that – especially in 2016. Last year Texas superstars in the middle of the order whipped the snot out our superstars at the top of the order. They were, up and down the order, more patient and disciplined at the plate. They were more ‘clutch’.

        Hopefully our superstars at the top of the order will be a little more patient, disciplined, and ‘clutch’ this year. But the middle of our order this year sure looks a heck of a lot like the middle of our order last year to me, and that is what has me somewhat concerned. We have to beat the Rangers. And I am not sure, without improving the last 6 men in our order, that we can do that.

        Like

      • Mr. Bill
        February 19, 2016

        I think Conger, and his hot head, being gone can help – if Gomez does not get goaded into repeating Conger’s mistake. The season series turned last year when Conger squared off against, then Keuchel spouted off at, Roughned Odor. That fired up the Rangers, and from that point on they played Deguello, and we died like dogs – superstars at the top of the order, and Cy Young winner, and all

        Like

    • Kevin
      February 19, 2016

      Double Ditto, the glass his half full. We were an inning away from beating KC. We don’t or wont have a perfect 25 man roster ever. I like our chances for a lot of years to come and if my memory serves me right, from 2007-13 the ship was on the bottom of the ocean, we have come along ways fast.

      I’m pumped for 2016

      Like

  15. Dan P
    February 19, 2016

    Mr.Bill
    I have not seen any of the 3 guys you were asking about play – but I thought this 2014 interview from Jayne Hansen at “what the heck bobby” was very insightful about catcher Jamie Ritchie.
    http://whattheheckbobby.blogspot.com/2014/08/an-interview-with-tri-city-c-jamie.html

    ….As is this 2015 interview about 3B Nick Tanielu…
    http://whattheheckbobby.blogspot.com/2015/08/getting-to-know-astrosriver-bandits-3b.html

    Even one year apart they talk about Joe Musgrove being someone they would not want to face….

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mr. Bill
      February 19, 2016

      Good articles, Dan! Thanks for the links. Knowing our catching ranks are relatively thin, I am excited to see how James Ritchie progresses over the next couple of years. We are also needing depth in the younger classes in CF, so I am hoping Ramsey [with speed, consistently good OBP, and 18 OF assists over 2 1/2 years of minor league ball] can develop into a Marisnick type defender but with a more consistent bat.

      Like

      • Dan P
        February 19, 2016

        One thing I noticed was that Ramsay hit a lot better at Lancaster than at lower levels, while Ritchie hit pretty well both places.

        Like

  16. MarkW
    February 19, 2016

    Curious how Tyler White could improve on .996 1B FP? I know it presents a problem bc of Reed’s tools in the field, but if it’s position player White, he’s never gonna be a glass of wine at third ala Billy Spiers!

    Like

  17. 1oldpro
    February 19, 2016

    Former Astro Luis Cruz apparently did not pass his physical with the Cubs and was released today.

    Like

    • Billy Castillo
      February 19, 2016

      Who is that? Name doesn’t ring a bell

      Like

      • 1oldpro
        February 19, 2016

        Left handed starting pitcher who was drafted by us many years ago and spent his entire career in our farm system. Was a starter in AAA to start 2015. Never was able to develop what it took to get to the majors and was released after the World Series ended.
        He spent the last two years on the Astros’ 40-man roster, so they had hopes for him. It turned out he was maxxed out as a AA pitcher. He did well in AA, but never could consistently get AAA hitters out.

        Like

    • Dan P
      February 19, 2016

      He was a little lefty who worked his way up but kind of stalled out when he got to AAA – was he one of the guys the Astros protected from the Rule 5 by putting him on the 40 man a couple years ago?

      Like

  18. astrocolt45
    February 19, 2016

    On the lighter side, if a person consumes a do nut, can he say “I ate the hole thing?”

    Like

  19. astrocolt45
    February 19, 2016

    Stats tell us what we want them to tell us. Using 2015, the players with the most appearances per position, the Astros had a catcher, DH, one LF, and two CFers that had an OBP of .285 or below. The only major Ranger player below .300 was Josh Hamilton. So we have to hit timely home runs again (or be lucky) or change to batters that can get on base.

    Like

    • Dan P
      February 19, 2016

      The other side of the coin is that the Ranger’s pitchers gave up about 3/4 of a run more per game than the Astros pitchers. My gut feeling is that the Ranger pitchers may improve and the Astro hitters may improve.

      Like

      • Mr. Bill
        February 19, 2016

        Dan, I don’t think they gave up 3/4 of a run more than our pitchers in head-to-head match-ups. That is why they won 13 of the games to our 6, and wiped the mat with us the last month of the season when we were at our strongest.

        Like

      • Dan P
        February 19, 2016

        Well like we talked about on a previous blog I think there are two points of improvement that I expect with the pitching against the Rangers.
        1) Six losses were started by Deduno, Hernandez, Straily and Kazmir. That is not happening this season and Perez and Qhalls will not be losing two games in relief either.
        2) This very inexperienced pitching staff will not melt the second time around in a pennant race.

        Like

  20. uncleknuckle
    February 19, 2016

    I’m having a hard time visualizing the 25 man roster on April 4. We pretty much know that Gattis will not be on it. The schedule is not very soft in April, so I’m guessing we might have 13 pitchers out of the gate. We’ll have two catchers. We’ll presumably have Marwin and Jake. We have three starting outfielders. We have Altuve and Correa. I think that’s 22. Valbuena is 23. Then a first baseman tbd as 24. My line would be 80% Singleton and 20% Reed. I don’t think we’ll see a right handed bat get the first base job because we’re short on lefties. And then # 25. I could see a DH by committee initially, especially if we go with 13 pitchers. Maybe Duffy gets the 25th seat to start the season. He can play the corners against lefties. Sad to say, but Tucker probably only gets a job if the pitching staff is 12 guys deep.

    There is so little room to get new blood onto the roster. Do we introduce anyone for the first time knowing they will not get to play everyday? I don’t know if we want White spending most of his time on the bench in April. Too bad he’s not a lefty bat with the same stats! We’d find a way. I think the only way we see new faces in April would be due to injury or trade.

    Like

    • astrocolt45
      February 19, 2016

      I must agree. In years past, we could have NRI’s and we had multiple positions open. Going back to 1OP post, we have $89 Million committed to 15 players. To that you have to add another 8 or 9 Non-Arb players (Springer, Correa, etc). Just need to hang a sign saying “No Vacancies.”

      http://www.spotrac.com/mlb/houston-astros/payroll/

      Like

  21. 1oldpro
    February 19, 2016

    If Gattis goes on the DL to start the year, he leaves a spot open for a RH hitter. If you go by who is already on the 40-man that means Duffy would take his place on the roster and be available to play 3rd, 1st, or DH.
    If Singleton wins the 1B job, there is your fourth lefty in the lineup(Jon, Jason, Luis and Colby) and they would start against righties all the time.
    The only way I see White on the opening day roster is if he just blows Singleton out of a job and Gattis is on the DL, giving White and Preston both a job, White as the starting1B and Preston as the starting DH. leaving Duffy, Marisnick, Marwin and Stassi on the bench and 12 pitchers.
    If the club wants 13 pitchers, Duffy or White end up in Fresno.
    Basically, I think a guy who isn’t on the 40-man roster is probably going to Fresno, because Singleton will hit the crappy pitching in spring training and hang on to 1B and then strike out 40% of his at bats once the season begins and he faces real major league pitching.

    Like

  22. astrocolt45
    February 20, 2016

    Remembering last year, when Hinch pulled Gregerson and he was NOT happy. The recent story about him not wanting to lose the job of closer should be of no surprise. He is very competitive. We don’t need anyone like Phil Linz saying “Play Me or Keep Me!”

    Like

  23. astrocolt45
    February 20, 2016

    If you want to see an opinion on the difference between the Rangers and Astros.

    http://sportsday.dallasnews.com/texas-rangers/rangers/2016/02/17/sherrington-aging-rangers-really-want-stick-astros-win-now

    Like

  24. 1oldpro
    February 20, 2016

    Mr Bill, you asked me above about Moran and what he needs to work on.
    I think the Astros would like to see a little more fly ball in his swing, a little more range in his defense. But most important for everyone is that he hits for average, because that was always his ticket to the majors.
    He hasn’t had three full years in the minors. He had his short draft year season.
    His second year was cut right in half by a trade to the team who was the laughingstock of baseball, resulting in a change from the East Coast high A to the gulf coast AA
    His third season was interrupted by a leg injury and then by a broken jaw from a throw to second base as he slid in on a double.
    Most scouts have wanted to see fire in his eyes, but 67 RBIs in 96 games last season tells me the fire is there.

    Like

    • Mr. Bill
      February 20, 2016

      Good analysis, OP1. That helps me get a much better feel for the guy, who really has not impressed me yet as our 3rd baseman of the future. This will be his year to show who he is and what he can do.

      Like

  25. 1oldpro
    February 20, 2016

    An interesting interview with Joe Musgrove. I liked what he had to say about Keegan Yuhl and about facing “The Monster” He is a confident person.
    http://dynastydigest.sportsblog.com/posts/11006458/exclusive-interview-with-houston-astros–top-prospect–joe-musgrove.html

    Like

    • uncleknuckle
      February 21, 2016

      I sure liked the video of Joe. Not any wasted movement from the big guy. If he continues to be able to locate his pitches the way he has, one has to think he’s got a pretty good future ahead of him. He’s a hard thrower like McCullers. These are the guys I want to see making up the rotation.

      Like

    • Dan P
      February 21, 2016

      Yes we have something special to look forward to when big Joe comes up.

      Like

  26. astrocolt45
    February 20, 2016

    There is a new blog posted but it is not currently showing up on the “Home” link above.

    https://chipalatta.com/2016/02/20/what-a-difference-a-year-or-two-makes-for-astros/

    Like

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This entry was posted on February 18, 2016 by in Astros.
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