Yes, but who will be around come August?

Carlos Correa is in the group. So is Jose Altuve. Add George Springer and Dallas Keuchel to the mix.

Possibly Ken Giles and probably Luke Gregerson.

You can also include A.J. Hinch. Those guys are going nowhere.

Jason Castro may be close for 2016, but not a lock. Neither is Colby Rasmus nor Tyler White. Jose Valbuena? Possibly, but not in the group.

Though the Astros have a wealth of talent to start the season, there are only a few locks to be in Houston when mid-season rolls around. And, if you’re talking about September, well, that’s another conversation altogether.

No, while the organization is light years ahead of the Astros’ Dark Ages, the core is still small. The core being those players who are anchored in Houston and will be in an Astros’ uniform for some time. Here is that list, those players who would likely create a riot if they were traded during the 2016 season.

  • Correa.
  • Altuve.
  • Keuchel.
  • Springer.

These guys wouldn’t necessarily create that riot, but they’d certainly draw boos and perhaps earn a tennis shoe throw at the TV!

  • Lance McCullers.
  • Collin McHugh.
  • Ken Giles.
  • Castro.

To be sure, other players are important to the success of the 2016 Astros. However, none should be considered locks to be here by season’s end. Some are in walk years, others haven’t performed and still others are unproven. Here are a few players who could be gone by the All Star break. Or at least relegated to a smaller role or even the minor leagues.

Luis Valbuena.

aDidn’t live up to his projection in Chicago. Hasn’t lived up to the promise in Houston yet. He’ll be a free agent after the season and it may no longer be his job to lose. Can you say Colin Moran by mid-season?

Colby Rasmus.

The Astros took a chance by offering the qualifying offer and Rasmus, indeed, was one of the pleasant surprises of 2015, especially down the stretch. If he hits and plays consistent left field, he could be a driving force in a stretch run. However, he could also yield a decent return at the trade deadline if the Astros have someone who’s ready to step in.

Carlos Gomez.

The Astros’ center fielder could possibly have a crazy good year. It is a walk year for him and the Astros aren’t likely to want to ante up the $100+ million he’ll demand/command. So do you simply slap the QO on him at season’s end and let him play out his contract? Or do you trade him at the break for a potential haul?

Tyler White.

He’s looked good in the minors, he’s looked good in spring. Now that he has the job and he’s no longer the underdog, can he/will he keep it up? If not, he’ll be another in the long string of the journeymen, prospects, also-rans, and first basemen wannabes I mentioned yesterday.

There are many other players who could be on the market this summer. Scott Feldman, Jake Marisnick, even Marwin Gonzalez or you-pick-’em out of the bullpen. And, others who simply may not be in the mix beyond August, such as Tyler White or perhaps Evan Gattis or Mike Fiers even.

But it’s clear the Astros are still searching for those additional core players who will be in Houston for years to come. Is McCullers in the core already? Who else is most likely to join that core in 2016?


67 comments on “Yes, but who will be around come August?

  1. First, I hope around July we are buyers and not sellers. Also on this list, probably if one is gone, the FO will have the money to retain another one this is expensive.

    I just want to add that I have been harsh in the past on Luhnow. But he has not done anything that on the front end appears detrimental to the team. By moving Big Jon, he has shown that he knows he can be wrong, but chooses to not continue the “wrong.” With that in mind, I expect him to do what appears best in July. Maybe in hind sight is will not work out, but he has yet to do anything foolish, in my opinion.

    Liked by 2 people

      • Never forget the lessons of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, AC45.
        1. Katherine Ross is no ordinary teacher lady [sorry, couldn’t resist?];
        2. Don’t worry if they think you’re crazy; you’re just colorful. That’s what happens when you live 18 years alone in Bolivia, you get colorful;
        3. You don’t have to worry about not being able to swim; the fall will probably kill you; and
        4. Even if you somehow survive the fall, the Federales always chase you down and get you in the end.

        Liked by 2 people

  2. So, after we take 4 out of 6 from the Yanks and Brewers, we have a little unfinished business to establish at home vs the Royals. If, and I know it’s a big one, if we sweep or take 3 – then, Chip, the answer is we’re already buyers, and these guys are “gellin'”. It will mean we feel good about our BOR, and whichever guy we decided to use as swingman is holding his own. In order to do that however, it’s my opinion we should add Hoyt and Feliz to 25 man, and drop Wandy and Duffy. Keep Fister on short leash, groom Gregerson for long relief toward starter (if Giles is “the guy”), put McCullers, *Musgrove and Martes on excelerated schedules (*early call ups). And find the best left-handed pitching option now!

    Our weakest links toward sustainable winning right now appears to be bottom end. I suggest that what we were thinking when we got Fister is still in play – we need a solid 4 and 5 in a league that crushes right-handed pitching…

    Offensively, any one of our guys, or all of them could be hitting in bunches. I’d say in order the biggest questions after Spring are:

    Valbuena bc Moran is waiting.
    Fister bc he looks as shaky as Wandy, and Feliz/Hoyt are ready.
    When is McCullers ready?
    Will Marwin and Tucker get a lot of AB’s (that will mean the starters are slumping)?

    Most everything else you can set by the sun. Keuchel will confound them. Correa and Springer will light up Top 10 plays of the week. Gomez will showboat. Tuve will get 200 hits. And here’s my bold prediction: White hits 22 HR’s.

    If all goes the way I think come Summertime, the 25 will not have Wandy or Duffy, maybe not Jake or Fields (one of the relievers, Neshek?) I think the emerging guys are Feliz, Moran or two or three of the prospects mentioned. Gattis is likely gone but if he’s not, that’s a great problem to have! A lot depends on Valbuena and Marwin as to how we look on call-ups..


    • Mark, I don’t see an application for grooming Gregerson “for long relief towards starter” even if Giles is lights out as the closer. Gregerson’s role as the 8th inning guy is just about as important as the closers role. And we’ve got other younger guys already being groomed as starters. I can’t think of an example where a team has taken a 31 plus year old guy who has never started and turned him into one. It’s probably happened, but Gregerson is going to remain the one inning guy he’s always been.


      • He never even started a game in college, either.

        Closest thing to an example was Craig Lefferts, who went from being a closer to being a starter for one season in 1992 at the age of 34, and had a pretty decent year. Back in the bullpen the following year, and was out of baseball by 36 years old. Even that is not a great example, in that he was a starter in the low minors.


  3. Regarding Gomez – you guys know I have yet to be impressed. What he did in the city Lenny and Squiggy built means less than nothing for me. [Apologies, Dan P].

    We in Houston have not had any truly high-quality offensive production from CF for a long, long, time. Jimmy Wynn, Ceasar Cedeno, and [choke, spit, boo] Carlos Beltran c. 2004, oh how we miss guys who both patrol center field with excellence AND contend for the team lead – if not the league lead – in hits, BA, OBP, Doubles, HRs and RBIs as well.


  4. Hopefully all three of Rasmus, Gomez and Valbuena will have good years and get QOs from the Astros after the WS and one outfielder stays. If Valbuena slips up, hopefully Moran will be ready. My goodness, he looks ready now. I feel good having Marisnick and Tucker here, in case we have an injury in the OF.
    Feels pretty good having a 35 year old backup catcher at decent salary who is a good defensive catcher and doesn’t strike out as much as Conger. Might be Kratz’s chance at a ring after so many years in the minors. Straily’s good performance the other day nets us the backup RH hitting catcher we needed.
    I still think McCullers, Feliz, Musgrove and Hoyt are going to be a big part of this team down the stretch.
    White’s 2015 season was backed up by a huge winter ball season and a monster spring training season. Usually, going an entire calendar year without a significant cave-in indicates the real deal.
    Folty’s day yesterday is why he is a Brave. He has two pitches, and if one is not working, he is going to get hit.
    I think McCullers is part of the core and Reed and Moran join that core this season.
    From what I’ve seen this spring Bregman has quite a ways to go with the bat.
    I wonder if Teoscar Hernandez has had an awakening and goes to AA ball and steps up his game?

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m hoping Gomez and a killer year and gets a ton of money somewhere else and we get the draft pick. I think ColbyJack is going to solid in 2016. Valbuena has a killer 3 months and we package him in a trade for whatever the team needs and Moran comes up. White succeeds as DH and 1B until Reed is ready. Put Gattis in with the Valbuena trade Bam. Since there is a shortage of decent hitting catchers in MLB, I Hope Castro finds his bat.

    LMJ comes back strong and Musgrove is ready by July. Feldman gone and maybe Friers. BAM were is the WS! I think the bullpen will be good not sure of the order yet, Nesheck could be bye bye.


  6. Regarding Luis Valbuena – yes, I can definitely say Colin Moran by mid-season. We are moving into the next phase. We are looking for people at each position – well, except catcher, I guess – who can hit at least .250/320 and either steal/take a lot of bases or drive in a lot of runs. For corner infielders we need .275/335 with at least 75 RBIs. Luis’ has never hit .250. His career BA is .228, his career OBP is .312, and his high year for RBIs was last year, for us, with 56. And he’s no speedster either -with his lifetime high in SBs being 2, in 2009 [a year he got thrown out trying to steal more than he stole].


  7. Regarding Captain Jack Sparrow [a/k/a Colby Rasmus]. I would have thought that either Andrew Aplin, Derek Fisher, Jon Kemmer, or Tony Kemp would have pushed hard against him this spring. They didn’t – and neither did Teoscar, Jake, or anyone else. Part of that is because Colby finally looks comfortable in both his own skin and the Astros’ clubhouse – and is actually showing signs of having a break-out/career-best year. If Cap’n [Colby] Jack hits like he has showed he can at the end of last year, and early in ST this year, we can afford to wait for at least another year to see our LF-of-the-future to arise.


  8. Regarding Tyler White. Tyler has a hit tool vastly superior to anyone who has manned 1B for us since 2005. His rookie year is virtually guaranteed to show us a marked improvement over the Chris Carter/Jon Singleton strikeout-pop-up disaster. Last year’s .199 BA and .307 OBP by Carter, with only 64 RBI by someone who clogged up the middle of our line-up, should soon be a much less painful memory. And Singleton’s lifetime .181/.290, with 151 Ks in 357 ABs – well, Tyler, we feel pretty comfortable you’ll beat that.

    Will we see A.J. Reed take over at 1B for Tyler this year? A.J. looks like the 1B of the future, is a much bigger target, and offers more power. If Reed comes up in mid-season, I expect to see Tyler move to DH, where he probably belongs. Then it will all be up to Preston Tucker and Evan Gattis to see how difficult they can make it for Tyler to step right into that position.


      • True Devin – Lance has been gone a long time, and I can’t believe I forgot him! Realistically, though, Puma started as an outfielder, and only moved to 1B after he had to have knee surgery due to an injury he sustained in the off-season playing flag-football.


      • My son has just reminded me that Berkman was actually a 1B at Rice and all the while he was coming up in the minors. He moved to the OF when he came to Houston because at the time he was blocked at 1B by some guy named Bagwell.

        Liked by 1 person

      • The Fat Elvis circus catches gave rise to the sleaker Puma moving to the more confined quarters of the infield….for obvious reasons.


  9. Chip – it is so great to see you back hitting this hard. Lots of fun!

    I think that it would take a lot to pry away McHugh and / or McCullers, but I’ve never been very prescient about their trades.
    This team has had a long term hole at 1B and frankly a DH hole since they moved to the American League, so I hope that Tyler White is going to fill 1B for a bit and DH long term.
    I really like Rasmus – don’t like the $15.8 million, but they certainly can afford it this season.
    The Castro situation is the crazy one. There is no point in getting rid of him if there is not a better sub for this season. And unlike other positions, it is not like we are pointing at the minors saying X will be ready later this season.


  10. The core of Keuchel, Altuve and Correa are here for the long haul is my feeling. Springer has the talent to be in that group but he has to stay healthy and perform a bit more consistently. He has also had a rumor or two tied to his name. I do think he will be here through 2017 at this point, but I don’t know beyond that. I would feel more comfortable adding McHugh to that group than Springer. Giles is in a position to put himself there too giving age, team control, and stuff – but he needs to be more consistent in the zone.

    I like what the team is putting around them in players like White and Gomez. I feel pretty confident that Gomez is our rental, and that he will price himself out of town. I’m fine with that if he has the year that prices himself out. A 20/20 year with a gold glove means our best year from a centerfielder maybe since Hidalgo played out there.

    I would find disagreement on Rasmus, I would rather he not be here. I think Tucker would outperform him in 500 plate appearances right now, but there are 16 million reasons that won’t happen. I do like that Rasmus gives us a better than average defensive setup, arguably the best setup defensively in the AL. Still I am not looking forward to the stretches like June/July/August that Rasmus had where he managed 19 RBI the entire time, nor the 30%+ K rates, just because he got hot in the playoffs. The guy has been playing major league baseball for YEARS, he didn’t figure it out in 2 weeks, he just got hot. They are all capable of it or they wouldn’t be there. Carter carried this team for an entire half a season once, and he was justifiably shown the door.

    Of the young players that will add to that core – it is a guessing game, but my guesses are the rest of the world is about to find out what Chipsters have been saying for almost 2 years almost unanimously – and its hard for this group to be in complete agreement on anything – and that is that Tyler White just hits. It’s what he does. I think Reed will be very good. I’m not as in tune with the pitching side of the minor league system, but I like what I see in Musgrove.


    • The great thing about Rasmus and Tucker is that they are not competing against each other.
      Rasmus is the starting LF and we are going to see Tucker starting the year as a LH hitting DH. The Astros are going to get a dose of RH starters to start the year and both of those lefty hitters, plus Valbuena and Castro are going to get a chance to get in a groove against those RH starters.
      Now, if teams want to start subbing lefty pitchers to counteract that, those pitchers will have to face Altuve, Springer, Correa, Gomez, White, Gattis and probably Duffy and they won’t like that either.
      The Astros are putting together a team that has power and batting average from both sides of the plate and they have Moran to add to that mix if they so desire.
      The starters on this team have pounded the ball this spring like the Royals did last year, but with more power. Look at the strikeouts that have disappeared from the lineup. I think there are a lot less holes in this lineup and enough hitting from both sides of the plate to make pitchers avoid pitching around guys.
      If this team jells, they are going to be very tough.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Good point about the team ‘gelling’, OP1. We’ve seen a lot of talented players put together – especially in places like NYC, LA, and Chicago – that just did not ‘gel’ as a team. That is another reason I am in favor of staying ‘in house/in system’ as much as possible, because the guys in our system have been winning championships together for awhile now. We KNOW they gel. Each time you add a new piece from the outside, you add more risk of damaging the ying and yang.


  11. What we do with Gregerson is a minor detail. Hinch said the closer is the guy who finishes. If Giles steps up, Gregerson would probably assume the 8th.

    My big bark, I think in the first rotation of starters, two of them will get knocked out by the 5th. What we do at that point, beit the traditional way we pitched it last year, or do some different things, we better be prepared with that 13th pitcher.


  12. Isn’t it interesting to talk about LMJ, major league pitcher. Core guy on the team. Not one inning thrown in AAA.
    Then we have Musgrove and Feliz, neither having thrown one inning of AAA ball.
    I think back to something I mentioned over a year ago when we lost OKC as our AAA affiliate. I mentioned that Corpus Christi might end up being like a AAA team as far as being the place where we launch from, rather than Fresno, being two time zones away.


  13. Don’t forget we are looking at 90+/- wins. The league leader in saves was 41. Not all games are save conditions, but one closer can’t pitch the 9th or last inning in 90 games. Just by adding Giles, the pen should be slightly better. There is room for both Giles and Gregerson

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Makes me smile to know we have sooo much talent just waiting to make it up with the big club! This year is probably gonna be a little different than the ones we have had for the last few years. If Luhnow finds a guy who is struggling, there is a replacement ready to take his place. No more carrying a Chris Carter type hoping he gets better….put up or move over. Gomez is a strong center fielder….but so is Springer….so when Gomez leaves next year in search of a $150 mill contract we will just scoot George over to his natural poistion. I hope Tucker can play a better left field, because we’re gonna need his bat! I’m really pulling for Duffy to make this team….we’ll find out this week.
    And I’m going to add Springer to this list…..are the core players, no trading these guys. I’ll add A. J. Reed soon to this list as well!

    Liked by 2 people

  15. More than core players, there is also the idea of having the team as one that is built from within the system. I think it goes further than just the draft, though. Here is what I mean:
    Yes the Astros have core players but they have many home grown players on the roster right now. Going from the current depth chart they are Wandy, Preston, George, Captain, Jose, Tyler, Jason, Dallas, Matt and Lance.
    Then you have the guys who we got very early in the minors who have spent practically their entire career as Astros: Big Jon, Max, Marisnick, Marwin and Fields.
    Then you have the guys who came here young and almost all of their development came with the Astros: Sipp, McHugh, Harris, Hoyt and Gattis.
    That leaves the guys who were established that we went out and got because they fit our team needs and are big parts of it: Rasmus, Gomez, Feldman, Fister, Fiers, Gregerson, Neshek, Valbuena, Giles and Kratz. Not one of this last group has done anything but fit in and become a part of the team without any trouble blending.
    It’s not just about home grown, it’s about all of the team feeling that they are at home, and that is what we have. With that kind of team and a group of coaches who are great and who have their player’s backs, that kind of team can gel.


    • And…..Springer’S club Astros!! Like it or not, that did a LOT to get these guys to buy into the Astros and Luhnow’S process! So…let ’em hoot and holler and dance in the clubhouse if that allows them to “gel”! I’ll send Hinch some of the ear plugs I wear everynight to drown out my husband’s snoring!!

      Liked by 2 people

  16. OK – it is probably a smart aleck comment by me, but I was reading about how AJ Reed is close but needs to learn to hit against left handed pitching. How come we were fine with guys like Carter and Singleton who couldn’t hit against pitching either side, but Reed has to learn to hit against the guys he will face about 25% of the time before he gets the call….

    Liked by 1 person

    • Funny they didn’t say the same thing about Preston Tucker.

      I’m not sure how many lefties Reed will see at Fresno, but I like the idea of White getting a shot at MLB pitchers. He has earned that. Tucker was good last year, but had flaws. Ideally he improved those areas in the off season and shows us something before Gattis returns. The 25 man / 40 man crunch is probably as significant as the $$$ in the Reed situation though.


    • I reread that article by McTaggart and, to be fair, the part about learning to hit LH pitching was thrown in there by McT and not a quote from Hinch.
      Let’s face it, when Reed comes up the Astros will have more team control over him and that is a good thing. Even before your comment I had gone to the Astros PAs last season and they faced LH pitching in 33% of their PAs(4000 vs RHP and 2000 vs LHP).
      I want Reed to learn to hit .350 against major league lefties and .350 against major league righties, so If he could learn to do that in 30 days or less, it would be greatly appreciated. Oh, if he could be taught to do it with a 20% K rate or less that would be great also.


      • In a related story – DNA taken from the frozen head of Red Sox Hall of Famer Ted Williams has been injected into Fresno’s 1B A.J. Reed in order to channel the Splendid Splinter’s career line against lefties of .316 BA / .438 OBP / .938 OPS.
        So far Reed’s vision has improved to 20/12, he has stopped talking to reporters, he is able to fly military jets with precision and suddenly loves sport fishing.
        More info as it becomes available.

        Liked by 1 person

      • But I thought they had injected that tissue into Kyle Tucker’s brain, since someone compared him to Ted Williams.
        Mr Bill, allow me:
        I started a joke
        Which started the whole world crying.
        But I couldn’t see
        That the joke was on me, oh no.


    • Naemark was an interesting one on the list – I think he left baseball and then came back was drafted last year and pitched very well at 4 levels as a lefty reliever. I am presuming the numbers game got him – he turned 26 a week ago.


  17. Hellickson again? Let’s see if we can make up for the last time we faced him, when he threw five innings of hitless ball and struck out 6!


  18. So far Keuchel is the only starter that has gone past 5 innings. Currently in the 7th.
    Oh yeah….forgot, ALTUUUUUVE 3 RUN HOMERUN!!


  19. Astros pull Keuchel and most of their starters and give up 8 runs in the 8th inning. Neshek, Sipp and Hoyt and the entire defense just fall apart. 8-3 Braves in the 9th.


  20. Hopefully the BP got that out of their system and Gomez. I have to say however both Sipp and Nesheck haven’t looked very good in ST.


  21. 5 of Atlanta’s runs were unearned due to Gomez’s dropped popup. Hoyt gave up the grand slam, trying to clean up the mess.


  22. The Astros (Luhnow ) is looking outside the organization for more pitching.
    Now… it me, but I thought signing Fister was supposed to fill that need.
    They knew McCullers was gonna be out 5-6 weeks, and Luhnow signed that guy, now it appears (to me at least)…that they are starting to panic, because Fister is still “working” things out. What exactly are you “working” on here? If Fister isn’t ready to go at LEAST 5-6 innings starting next week… you give his next start to Wandy?
    I hope the grand slam today doesn’t hurt Hoyt’S chances of making the last bull pen spot.


    • If they don’t like Fister, maybe they should give Michael Feliz a shot while LMJ is out. He was pretty darn good this spring for them.


    • Well, Becky, Phillip Humber retired this week, so you can scratch him off the list as a Fister replacement. Spring training doesn’t matter and all, but Fister relies on smoke and mirrors. I’m not sure that gets it done…especially when the rest of the rotation (minus LMJ) throw soft.


  23. Grapefruit league 2016 – Guess how many errors the Astros regulars committed?

    In 27 games played we had 2 errors charged to the guys who will be our position players to start the season. One by Correa, one by Gomez.

    We also had 2 errors by pitchers who will start the season with us. One was by Fister, the other was by McHugh.

    Not bad.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Here is our projected opening day line-up with each player’s ST stats:

    Altuve .282/.382/903
    Springer .295/.431/.976
    Correa .400/.500/1.325
    Rasmus .243/.326/.811
    White .348/.446/.990
    Tucker [dh] .300/.349/.924
    Valbuena .263/.364/.811
    Gomez .200/.364/.706
    Castro .333/.442/.997

    And our supersub, Margo .333/.426/1.118

    That sure looks like a better group than last year’s batting order!

    Liked by 1 person

  25. Here is our projected rotation to start 2016, with ST stats:

    Keuchel ERA 0.00; WHIP 0.53, BAA .123
    McHugh ERA 3.12; WHIP 1.27; BAA .265
    Fiers ERA 5.40; WHIP 1.50; BAA .271
    Feldman ERA 4.26; WHIP 1.18; BAA .280
    Fister ERA 8.27; WHIP 1.96; BAA; .329

    Yes, i think we will have to have Mr. Feliz, and perhaps Mr. Devenski, on speed dial. Get well soon, Mr. McCullers!


    • LMJ threw a bullpen session on Monday so he is not currently injured, or he wouldn’t be throwing. I would expect him to throw a few more sessions and then start some minor league rehab assignments.


  26. Today we needed the shut down guy right after the strong starting performance. The “article” I referenced spoke of the research found when you blow leads late in the game, which is the most psychologically devastating way to lose AND recover from for a SEASON – you can read it yourself. Not like that point is lost on this organization. Hinch recognizes this and finding that guy who can go longer than one inning is the task; or, if you prefer, the right matchups in succession of relief. I’d rather have the closer type stuff in line after Keuchel bc if youre the opponent, all your thinking is “ok, Keuchel can only go 7, then we have a chance.”

    At that point, we need the guy who aint any easier! I’ve been saying Neshek (a whole ‘nother conversation if his woes arent injury-related since last season) is Flat, like Wandy and Fister for two weeks. All vets “trying things” – maybe? At some point you have to tip your cap to the other team, or go back to drawing board/depth chart. Feliz is the obvious move (fastball electric) but as with a laundry list of players we’re already paying, the vets will have to naturally fall like chaffe when it counts to unseat them. Feliz will work in the 4th when Fister gets bombed, how’s that? There’s your insurance, instead of Duffy. We have hitters.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

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

Google photo

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

Twitter picture

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

Facebook photo

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

Connecting to %s