A sneak peek at things to come for the Astros

So the Astros suddenly have a crowded infield. With real possibilities. Sometime next month, Houston will likely have as strong as an infield in a decade. Or longer.

Problem is, where will they play? When Yulieski Guriel and Alex Bregman join the team, manager A.J. Hinch will essentially have four players who can play the middle infield. Two of those will obviously need to play the corners, someone will have to go or one could serve as DH. Or one of the four could move to help shore up what may be a depleted outfield after this winter.

With Jeff Luhnow’s trade track record, that “someone will have to go” possibility is a sticky subject. Guriel, Bregman, Jose Altuve or Carlos Correa could provide a huge Herschel Walker-like haul.

Obviously, Luhnow plans to have Guriel around for awhile after signing a five-year contract. Altuve is signed to a team-friendly contract through 2020, though Altuve’s recent switch to agent Scott Boras should mean and, ummm, healthy contract for the then-30-year-old second baseman.

Bregman and Correa should be part of the core of the Astros for the next decade plus some.

Remember that bottle neck of salaries we projected for later this decade? Well, Luhnow has played his cards right, at least for now. As the organization passed the $100 million line with the Guriel signing, the 2017 budget is actually fairly clean.

Scott Feldman, Carlos Gomez, Colby Rasmus, Doug Fister, Jason Castro, Luis Valbuena will be free agents if they aren’t traded in the next few weeks. That will make room for upgrades to the salaries of Dallas Keuchel, George Springer, Collin McHugh and others through arbitration or extensions.

Luhnow is slowly putting together his core. And adding to it.

The big question is: Who will still be here in 2017? You know, for that Sports Illustraded-predicted World Series championships? Here’s a quick look, though clearly not comprehensive.

These guys will still be here. Guaranteed.

Gone, but not forgotten.

  • Gomez, Rasmus, Valbuena, Castro.

On the bubble. Salary or other questions may for the Astros’ hand.

The big question. Will these players perform well enough to be a factor on a competitive team? Perhaps, but Houston may be stuck with some due to salary constraints.

A few Monday morning questions to get your week started.

  • What should Hinch do with Altuve, Guriel, Correa and Bregman?
  • Should the Astros bring back Valbuena?
  • If you were to trade one of them for a haul or TOR pitcher, who goes: Altuve, Guriel, Correa or Bregman?
  • What’s the biggest hole facing Luhnow for the rest of 2016 and/or 2017?
  • Most likely to succeed at the major league level: Reed, Moran, Preston Tucker or Tony Kemp?



146 comments on “A sneak peek at things to come for the Astros

  1. Tony Sipp. Neshek, Giles, Harris……..can’t depend on this bull pen anymore.
    The Angels tried to help us tonight, and they did their part. At least we didn’t lose any ground with the team playing in Anaheim. This is a crappy start out of the break really winnable game, it’s a shame Keuchel stayed out there too long he pitched good enough to win. Can’t afford to lose tomorrow.
    Kudos to Altuve with ANOTHER 4 hit game!
    I know I’m gonna get slammed for this…..but Giles really does need to go down so he can pitch on a more regular basis. Pitching every 4 or 5 days in a high leverage game is not doing him any good, or this team. The kid will grow into the closer role someday…..but we’re trying to make the playoffs, and the Ken Giles experiment needs to stop. Bring Hoyt up, because this bullpen is in need of a fresh arm.
    Yes, I’m up I had a chemo treatment today and the steroids are doing their thing😢😢

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Gomez was 0-5 with 2 strikeouts and 6 LOBs!!!!!!!!
    Rasmus was 0-4.
    Marisnick was 0-4 with 2 strikeouts.
    Gattis got picked off.

    This was a team loss.


  3. This was a tough loss. A lead going into the 9th and knowing the Rangers lost was a perfect set up to be within 3.5 games. Unfortuntely, Harris wasn’t able to close it out and the Astros blow another chance to gain on the Rangers.

    I really hate playing the A’s. I am amazed that they don’t have a better record. Their entire lineup is filled with guys who give quality ABs and battle until the final out. Hopefully, the Astros can salvage a win in this series, but then the red hot Angels come to town so it’s not getting any easier.


  4. I go to bed and they are winning 3-0 and wake up and they booted it 4-3.
    Ok – which one of you let this happen. Come on confess.
    Becky – we are behind you – praying for you. Be strong gal.


    • I guess I’m the guy who let this happen, because I stayed up and watched. Fortunately, I’m only going to get three Hail Mary’s as a penance, so you had better blame the weak judicial system. I’m pretty sure Giles, Harris, Sipp, Neshek, Gomez, Rasmus and Marisnick will get off with nothing but another start without any penalty at all.

      Liked by 1 person

    • What was funny was even when the top of the lineup is doing their thing, like the 8-1 win against the Mariners the other night, I was still frustrated when Worth, Marisnick or Gomez stepped up it just felt like automatic out.

      There is so much pressure on the top of the order because no matter what names he writes in the 7-8-9 its dead, and Gattis and Rasmus haven’t been helping at 5-6 either.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. So I’m thinking how do we really feel about the Giles for 20 trade???. Sipp stinks so we need a lefty. Colby Velvetta, Physco Gomez, and great athlete cant hit JFSF, ugh.

    Some how some way we need to improve the OF and a lefty out of the pen. to make a run , Um lIke now.


  6. This may already have been mentioned here, but it looks like Nick Tropeano has a torn UCL and will need TJ surgery. That will put him out of commission until 2018 most likely.
    If I’m not mistaken, Tropeano is one of those pitchers who has that dreaded inverted “W” in his delivery motion, which, many fear, leads to elbow problems. I seem to remember TCB talking about it a couple of years ago in regards to our pitching prospects.
    Anyway, his demise brings me no satisfaction, especially because none of our catching prospects has come close to Carlos Perez, and because Hank Conger was not near the pitcher as Tropeano was, and was a lousy dancer and a worse catcher. I believe Conger was released by Tampa Bay the other day.


  7. Yes, we’re going to need some help to reach the promised Land of playoffs. And as many have already pointed out, we won’t be doing it with some of the aforementioned players that we have. It’s time to cut bait or fish and with these guys, I suggest the line gets cut. Outside of our right fielder the others are a black hole in the batting our. I like JFSF and Colby but that ain’t cutting the mustard and my corn dogs need mustard. Colby Jack’s cheese seems to have molded and who wants moldy cheese. Time to go down to the farm and bring up some fresh horses.


    • This one – i.e. the offensive black hole we have in 2 of 3 outfield positions every night – is not about what the fans want. Nor is it about the 2016 team making the play-offs. The FO does not prioritize either – at least not in comparison to the things this is really about. This is really about money, about reputation and relationship with agents and potential free agents in the future, and about the ‘facts-of-life’ as dictated by the good-old boy network of the MLB.

      Alas, according to the ‘facts-of-life’ in the MLB – with the player’s union, a small cadre of player’s agents, and umpiring crews guaranteed to make life absolutely miserable for your team for years if you violate ‘the MLB code’ – you really cannot bench a veteran in his contract year [like Gomez and Rasmus] – no matter how badly they perform. Since they are both pretty much untradable at this point [no contender wants them, and no non-contender has any incentive to give up anything of value for a rental], we are pretty much stuck with Gomez in CF or DH [I may throw up] and Rasmus playing LF against every righty and occasional lefties just to prove he ‘can’ [0-4, with 2 Ks, last night proves what????]

      Moreover, even if somehow the FO were somehow to miraculously manage to throw all these underperforming guys in on a bigger deal for an SP or Arnoldis Chapman, for instance, AND Mr. Crane were to agree to pay the rest of Gomez’ and Rasmus’ 2016 salaries while they play – or sit – for their new team, the ‘fresh horses from the farm’ that would take their place are limited to the following [all of which assume a move to CF by Springer]:
      1. Bregman [an infielder, but a heck of an athlete] in left field;
      2. PTuck [not much of a defender, but has hit MLB pitching] in LF;
      3. Kemp [not a strong arm, but a hustler who has at least seen MLB pitching] in LF;
      4. Teoscar Hernandez [talented kid, but has never seen MLB pitching] in RF.

      Since our FO and Mr. Hinch refuse to give rookies regular playing time, and do so only in event of an injury to a veteran, it is more likely that they go on the market and find a rental LF – of course, for an exorbitant price in prospects a la the Gomez trade last year.

      I would love to see Gomez, Rasmus and Marisnick gone, and Bregman, Hernandez and Kemp or Tucker up in their place; but I would also have liked to see the Astros sweep the current series from the As. It is obvious that neither is going to happen.


      • Wow Mr. Bill I love ya man , but that was a really depressing read, Now I really need a Zombie dance. I know OP p doesn’t care for it much, luckily my wife loves it.. If we keep running JFSM, GOMEZ and Colby Velvetta out there, were doomed.


      • This is the same front office that let White try and take the 1B this year. That put LMJ in the rotation before lots of folks thought he was ready for it. A front office that gave Keuchel another opportunity at the rotation after his awful rookie year. That put Correa at SS and the three spot from day 1. They gave Carter, a 2nd year player when they acquired him, a full opportunity. They gave Marisnick ample opportunity to grab and be the centerfielder for the next 10 years. Springer, starter from day 1. Heck, they even handed Matt Dominguez and Jon Singleton the job. This front office doesn’t shy away from young players.

        This isn’t about you in particular Bill, for the most part, you get our minor leaguers better than I do. What I think happens on the blog in general though is that people see Teoscar Hernandez or Preston Tucker have some success at AA and think that our path to the playoffs is instantly dump veterans and the Kemps or Bregmans of the world will save the day. Two years ago PTuck was wait on this guy and watch him kill it, well, I’m still waiting.

        I just stick to knowing what I know, and what I know is I don’t know as much about baseball as Jeff Luhnow. I don’t think he is holding any of our minor leaguers back, I think they are minor leaguers for a reason, there is something unpolished in what they do, or what they do well won’t be impactful enough. The special ones, they make it no matter what. Correa, check, here fast. Altuve (yes, before Luhnow, but special), here fast. LMJ, here fast. VV would have been here fast if he could stay healthy. Bregman looks like he is on that path. The rest, they either struggle offensively, are slow, plodding defensive liabilities, strike out way too much, etc. It’s easy to look at a box score and stat line and see some guy “finally gets it,” with maybe 15 homeruns and a .310 avg at AA, but the box score and stat line doesn’t tell me about the baserunning blunders, the bad angles on a line drive, swinging at bad pitches, it just tells me one story.

        That’s why I think some people are stuck with grassgreenerontheothersideitis, only to find out its not always that way. I’ve been vocal that I didn’t want Rasmus back at 16 mil, but I don’t want to replace Rasmus with Tucker. That’s not a winning formula. Maybe once we get out of the season, and Rasmus is gone, and Tucker can compete for and win LF, and go into ST getting the time he needs, the confidence of being named the starter, and a plan for 500 plate appearances, at least offensively, I think he outperforms Rasmus. But for the rest of this year, at the big league level at least, Rasmus should outperform Tucker. I think the same would probably be true of Hernandez and Kemp, though its hard to imagine anyone being as bad as Gomez.

        If I am going to make a move with a minor leaguer in August in a playoff run, it’s going to be either a player that can transcend – and Bregman has a shot to be that kind of player – or I am going to make the move to also limit their playing time so they aren’t overexposed.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Kevin, don’t be depressed. I am not. We are by no means alone in this less than ideal, but still fun, new reality. Every team has its areas of weakness – and each one has to deal with the set of MLB facts of life as we do. Our situation is just frustrating to us because 1. it is our team we are concerned about; 2. we sense that we are – or at least could be – ‘that close’ to the WS; and 3. we, unlike most other teams, know that we have people waiting in the wings in our system who look SUBSTANTIALLY better [except defensively] than what we have now in CF and LF.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Well Billy I do have to be careful not to strum up Tim into thinking I am in Luhnow’s corner now. We can win 5 world series in a row and I will never forgive him for trading Velasquez.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Hmmn. Just need to point out that I recall things a little bit differently

        As I recall it, Tyler White only got the job coming out of ST because Carter was gone, because Singleton, who the FO had said was the frontrunner for the job, was terrible in ST, and because TWhite, unlike any of the other possible candidates, absolutely killed it for us in ST. There was no veteran to replace in Tyler’s situation.

        As I recall it, McCullers got thrown into the rotation last year because Feldman went on the DL, Peacock went down, Wojo was not good, and we had nobody else to throw into the mix.

        As I recall it, Correa got to play SS in 2015 only because Lowrie broke his thumb and the FOs first choice to take his place, Jonathan Villar, couldn’t even make routine plays in the field, much less make a semi-decent throw to first base.

        As I recall it, Marisnick got to play CF last year because we had traded away Dexter Fowler in the off-season for Valbuena and a pitcher we later DFA-ed, and the FO wanted to show the fans how great a ‘win’ the Kiki Hernandez/Cosart trade was going to be. As I recall it, Marisnick was also not a rookie, as he had played – albeit not at all well from an offensive standpoint – with Miami.

        As I recall it, Singleton didn’t come up until AFTER he had signed a multi-million dollar contract and anointed for PR reasons as our first baseman of the future.

        As I recall it, Mr. Carter did not start at FB, but at DH. When he didn’t do that well, he was tried in LF and then ultimately at 1B. He was a TRADE ACQUISITION with MLB playing time under his belt, not a rookie who had spent time earning his stripes in our organization

        As I recall it, Jose Altuve came up under the previous GM, and was already entrenched at 2B before Jeff Luhnow got here in Dec. 2011.

        As I recall it, the only reason PTuck saw the light of day last year [and hit for higher BA than either Rasmus, Gomez, or Marisnick, and had a better OBP and OPS than either Gomez or Marisnick] was because Springer went down with a concussion.

        Now, all that being said, I have given up either blaming Luhnow for all our problems or crediting him for our limited successes. I am neither a kool-aid drinker nor a hater. He is what he is – and he’s the horse we have no choice but to ride until Mr. Crane and his partners decide to get another. I am not – and will never be – a GM fan – I am just an Astro fan.


      • Steven,

        That is one of the best posts you have written in the past 2 months. You couldn’t be more accurate and it tops any posts I have ever written in my Chipalatta life. You nailed it!


      • Unfortunately, Bill, most of your recollection is not accurate. LMJ was promoted ahead of guys like Peacock and other guys already on the 40-man roster. Tyler White earned the job despite Singleton being the higher paid player already on the 40-man roster. There are other examples to show your inaccurate recollection, but I have to head into a business meeting. I’ll address it later.


    • Rasmus is an established streaky hitter. He was awful this time last year too, but was probably the reason the team was able to limp into the playoffs in September.

      We know what he is. What I would like to see is a little more matchup making from Hinch and sit Rasmus a little right now. We know that when he hits one of those streaks he will carry the team, but yes, the ugliness when he is scuffling, is truly ugly.


      • My fear is a little Rasmus has leaked into Carlos Correa. If there was one guy I thought had the approach to fight through cold streaks, it was Correa. Now I’m not so sure.


      • Rasmus really should not be in the lineup against lefties. Problem is, as already discussed, we’ve got a couple of guys that can’t hit against anyone.


  8. My observation about last nights game that I forced myself to stay awake for…was that …those that don’t hit ..didn’t (Gomez, Rasmus, Marisnick). The collective BA of that OF is too low . The Stros will have a difficult time winning with that. They had chances to put more runs on the board.
    What really struck me was how the A’s batters were NEVER fooled by any pitcher we threw at them. They did not swing at bad pitches and hit good pitches.
    Our guys looked like..well…our guys.
    I am eternally optimistic that help (Bregman, Hoyt) is on the way.


    • I’m gonna steal from Bill Maher and say –

      New rule – Carlos Gomez can only be used as a pinch hitter when the bases are loaded. If they are not loaded, the 1B, SS, and 3B must immediately put on Astros uniforms and stand close to the bags.


  9. Steven, I get your point. But YTD, regardless of what positives he brings to the club, Jake has a .517 OPS. Gomez a .598 OPS. Sometimes I wonder how we’ve won so many games with these two guys as part of the equation for more than half a season. I can’t accept the argument that either is still on the field because of defensive prowess. Not as an outfielder with an .OPS so low.

    I have a hard time accepting that something did not get done sooner than the apparent imminent elevation of Bregman and the signing of Gurriel. Yeah, the team is still right in the hunt, but it’s painful to watch these guys at the plate on an ML baseball club. I wish White got a bit longer leash. Same with Kemp. Kemp left with a .697 OPS. White had his back up over .750 before they started playing him every other day and fully messing him up.

    Alas, better late than never. But it is pretty obvious that teams keep digging up lefties to go up against our existing options at the plate. Bregman is not going to turn things around all by himself. Gurriel has not played ML ball. If these guys don’t have a real impact, we’re potentially well screwed. I’m pretty confident that Jake and Carlos are not going to become different players tomorrow or next week.


    • No doubt, Gomez has been terrible, and when I watch him play, I wonder how he got any hits through his career with that swing and approach. I can’t imagine anyone worse. I think the record is clear on where I stand on Marisnick, has been for 2 years. Still, I don’t know that immediately replacing them, right now, today, in the middle of the season will make us substantially better or help the youngster we throw into the fire, unless said youngster is a special talent.

      I agree on White he should have been left alone to do his thing. I believe he would be hitting .270 right now and be in the ROY talk. His approach is right.

      It hurts to watch 7-8-9 be black holes nightly. So much pressure on Altuve, Correa and Springer. Somehow they get it done. Why?

      Because in the end, its all about the pitching. Pitch well, win games, pitch poorly, don’t. Yes, sometimes we lose a 1-0 game (like the other night), but those happen to every team regardless, even the ’27 Yankees got shut out (well, OK, only once, but no one expects this to be the ’27 Yanks).

      I’m not excusing Gomez or Marisnick, my feelings about those players are on record. I am just saying sometimes its not that easy as just replacing an underperforming player with some minor leaguer, turn that minor leaguer into your savior, and expect performance. What I would do is release Gomez – you aren’t getting anything in a trade, and I doubt anyone wants him, put Rasmus in CF the rest of the year, and put Bregman in LF from day 1 – because if you want impact, you have to give him that shot. I believe he will run with it and be good. Most of the others, have holes, and its better for it to be a beginning of the season thing – let Tucker get it down, give him some confidence, set the conditions for success for those players.

      If we aren’t going to play Reed, everyday, at 1B or DH, he needs to be AAA. He isn’t doing us any good taking up a bench slot as a 6-4, 275 lbs warmer. He isn’t a pinch runner, defensive sub, you aren’t sending him out there to get a runner over with a bunt, he doesn’t do anything for Hinch as a bench guy. Plus, he should be batting 4-5 times a day right now. Where is Orlando Palmeiro when we need him?


    • After his first fifteen games Tyler White was horrible.
      He had 132 plate appearances in his last 38 games(many more plate appearances than Reed has) and his slash line was .155/.250/241/.491. I’m just saying White did look as bad as Reed.
      I would not be surprised if Reed is sent down soon.


      • Wasn’t referring to stat-wise, just by looking at his swing. White’s issue was he was trying to pull everything, making him vulnerable to outside pitches. Reed, on the other hand, isn’t following through enough.


  10. 51 wins = same amount this club won in the whole 2013 season. Let that sink in.
    The fat prince in arlington is on DL with a herniated disk in his fat neck. Choo is back on DL.


  11. Steven, I would release Gomez too. I’d be tempted to put Springer in center, but yes, Bregman, Springer and Rasmus would be my three main guys. I don’t know what I’d do against lefties though, because Rasmus should rest against them. I guess I’d go with Marwin, even though he’d have to manage right field in those situations.

    And OP, I’ll be the first to admit that Tyler White is my adopted nephew. You are correct in that after his Player of the Week start, he didn’t do much. But after watching his average drop to .221 and his OBP to .731, in game 35 on May 17 against the White Sox, he hit two homers and a double and was back to .252 with a .839 OPS. He sat on the 18th, and it was all downhill from there. Maybe it was total coincidence, but if I’ve got a rookie battling through his first major league slump, I play him the next day after that performance, even if Marwin was promised a start.

    Fast forward. After a slow start back in Fresno, my nephew has 10 homers and 24 RBI’s in 26 games, with a 1.026 OPS. The kid is still a hitter. He’s my DH.


    • I haven’t given up on White or Tucker. I think that they weren’t given a chance to come out of their doldrums like Gomez and Rasmus and Valverde and Castro have. But it is a matter of money and those four are making a lot and I guess they have earned the right to play or hit terribly for as long as the club has invested in them, is until they get traded or extended or walk away as free agents. None of those four players are worth the amount of a QO, which will be $16million or more. I’m hoping when they move on, White and Tucker are given another chance, along with Kemp and Reed.
      The truth of the matter is that Hinch and Luhnow like their ball club and probably don’t want to mess with it too much, even though it is pretty obvious they are not as good as Cleveland, Boston, Baltimore or a healthy Texas club. If they are satisfied with a team that has four or five guys in the lineup hovering around the Mendoza line, I am going to have to live with it or find another hobby.
      I filled all the feeders with corn this week and cranked them up. I am seeing sign already. I have something to do in the fall and early winter.


  12. Gattis is day to day after getting plunked on the wrist today, thankfully it’s not broken but now Castro will be catching everyday, since we don’t have a backup for him. I smell a Bregman coming up after tonight’s game. He’s playing left field tonight, played 3rd last night. Or might he just fly home with our guys from the West coast tonight? Hmmm…..
    Dave….your nephew is playing VERY well in Fresno, and I for one would love to see him back up.

    Liked by 2 people

Leave a Reply

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

WordPress.com Logo

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

Facebook photo

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

Connecting to %s