Started a tradition several years ago at the Chronicle. Over the years, it became one the favorites. Free Blog Friday is simply your turn to start the conversation. You pick the subject. The only rules are to keep it clean and family oriented.
I’ll get it started on this last Friday before the season kicks off.
The Wandy departure sends a signal.
No one would have winced if Wandy Rodriguez had made this club out of spring training. He had pitched decently and could have been a safety net and veteran presence for a rotation and staff that isn’t as deep as it has been in recent years.
Houston could still hang onto him and something could break in the next few days that keeps him on the big club. But in the end, Houston — and Jeff Luhnow — kept its own players and stayed with the young guys who can make a difference perhaps in 2017 and beyond.
Not surprising at all, but the “season” for retreads has passed.
Pressure? What pressure?
But it’s Luis Valbuena who may be playing for his job in April. To some degree, Valbuena is in his put-up-or-shut-up season. He’s a perennial breakout contender, though he’s never hit above .250 in a season and owns a career .228 average. The 30-year-old is not the K-guy a la Chris Carter and Evan Gattis and his OBP is held back largely by his batting average.
He’s with his fourth club and that could become five later this season if Colin Moran forces his way into an Astros’ uniform. Clock’s ticking Luis.
But my hope is slim. Luhnow has made some trades to better the club in the past couple of years and the club has improved. So should we argue? This could be the season, however, that some of those trades manifest in Atlanta, Philadelphia, Milwaukee or other arenas. There are too many to list here, but which of the players traded (e.g. Mike Foltynewicz, Vincent Velasquez, Domingo Santana, Brett Phillips et al) may come back to haunt Houston in 2016?