Sunday thoughts on the last day of the 2016 season

Some random thoughts on the last day of the season while wondering which 3-4 games the Astros might have won over this 162-game season to have backed into the playoffs today.

George Springer.

I’ve watched a few of your comments following the last blog entry. Several seem obviously okay trading the Astros’ right fielder (okay, center fielder). Here’s how I look at it. If Jeff Luhnow is forced to trade a key asset this winter, he will obviously look at which player(s) can bring the highest return. And, it may depend on which team matches up the best for what the Astros need as well.

That said, here’s a thought from the Astros’ perspective. Which player — if forced to trade to bring a TOR pitcher — would be the easiest to replace. In other words, who replaces Springer in the already-thin outfield? Now, I’m not necessarily suggesting Houston trade Carlos Correa or Jose Altuve, much less Alex Bregman, but a Hunter Pence like outfielder doesn’t come along everyday. And, there is nothing in the system even close. Nothing!

Frankly, I can’t bring myself to trading Bregman, Correa, Altuve or Springer. In my opinion, the Astros should exhaust every other opportunity to improve before that discussion even happens. And, then, resist the urge and temptation with great restraint if possible.

Collin McHugh.

When speaking of the rotation, most comments and eyes turn to Dallas Keuchel and Lance McCullers Jr. But McHugh has quietly done his work since arriving in Houston via a waiver claim a few years ago. The move is arguably Luhnow’s best move in his tenure. Certainly in the Top 5. Since he’s not even arbitration eligible until next winter and won’t become a free agent until 2020 — and with other key players hitting arb-eligibity — McHugh is very critical to the picture over the next few seasons.

Moreover, he has been effective. Is he that top of the rotation guy. Of course, not, but he’s a solid #3 whom the Astros can plug in and almost forget about.

Consider this: Over the last three years, he’s 43-26 with a 3.71 ERA. Keuchel is 41-29, 3.21.  While some of his indicators were up (or down, depending on how you view it) this year, he’s been steady for the most part and dependable in the least. He generally goes out every five days and most often gives the team a chance to win.

In three years in Houston, his FIP is 3.54 with a 8.4/2.5 K/BB ratio. Go find another $529,000 pitcher with those numbers!

Again, his 2016 numbers were off a bit, but most of the team was off this year too.

What am I saying? McHugh should get the credit due him. He may not be a candidate yet for extension, but in a rotation that lacking depth, the Astros have a dependable cog in the wheel.

Coaching staff.

Methinks this should get the most attention during the off-season. Why is it that the Astros have so much trouble hitting. Hitting in key spots. Hitting with the game on the line. Hitting in Houston.

Why is it that players fare well before coming to Houston, then fall on their faces when they get to Houston? Then, go to another team and pick up where they left off before Houston? Those are serious concerns that need to be addressed.

Pitching coach? Yes, review and examine, but not as concerned here.

strength and conditioning? Why are so many players hurt here? Is it the all-out style of Altuve, Correa and Bregman that keeps everyone else pushing so hard? Or is there something else?

After only one season in the playoffs under Jeff Luhnow and with expectations for a World Series run trending upward, it’s time for a thorough review.

Thank you.

And, on this last day of the 2016 season, a simple thank you to Dan, Brian and the hundreds of you who make chipalatta a refreshing haven for conversation. We are blessed my friends.

186 comments on “Sunday thoughts on the last day of the 2016 season

  1. I agree don’t no what but something hasn’t been right for a while I don’t really care what the record is in 2017, it was a bust, except Bregman’s awesome potential , Gattis showing up and of course Atluve doing again what no Astro has ever done.

    Anyway TY for all of you folks, you always make me laugh and I’m glad most of us just realize that It’s just game played by over grown good kids and not life.

    Cheers to you all and 2017

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The Astros had three players in the top 18 in the AL, as far as WAR goes(Fangraphs), and yet I think Correa and Springer would both tell you that they could have been better at the plate and see themselves improving next year.
    Add into that mix, Bregman, who played less than half a year and had a bad debut month, and you could see him actually as a top 30 player in WAR next season.
    Now consider Gattis. who was a part time catcher, part time DH and he had 2.6 WAR this season. Let’s say he catches 110 games next season and plays like he did this past season. He could turn into a 4 WAR player.
    Now, we sign an outfielder and he gives us even a measly 2.0 WAR compared to the negative WAR we got from Gomez this past season. That doesn’t seem farfetched, does it?
    Now, what if we got Valbuena to sign for a couple of years and play 1B and he gives us a measly 2.0 WAR next year(That is what he had this season)? As a team, the Astros got -0.9 WAR from the 1B position this year. Fangraphs only lists Gonzalez, White and Reed as our first basemen in their rankings and White and Reed’s negative WAR at 1B drags down Marwin’s 1.0 WAR there to -0.9.
    Now, let’s assume Gurriel could give us 2.0 WAR( that would actually justify his salary in WAR dollars). That’s an add on.
    What if LMJ and Keuchel stay healthy?
    What if Devenski and Musgrove replace Fiers and Fister in the rotation and manage to pitch a little better than Fiers and Fister did this past year?
    What if McHugh just stays the same.
    How do the Astro look with those improvements?
    The only pie in the sky I see in this scenario is Gattis being the player I pictured him to be and Altuve not quite being able to duplicate his 2016.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Gosh the season went by fast. Seems like last week we watched the Astros and the Yanks start things off.
    I’ll pay attention to the playoffs just to root against that team in Arlington. Hope they go down in the first round.

    Luhnow must overhaul the coaching staff. That should be his first priority. Then he needs to lure a good hitting RFer, move Springer to Center, and hope Hernandez can hold down LF. Gurriel hopefully can be that FB that keeps eluding this team.

    The Rotation is a big concern. I would rather go within the organization than via trade. Just the thought of JL trading for a TOR pitcher makes me want to hide under my bed.

    The last game of the season always makes me sad. At least we have each other to keep baseball alive in the offseason.

    Thank you Chip, Dan and the rest of the gang. What a lonely Astros fan I would be without y’all.

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  4. Thanks to the entire gang here. Makes even the bad seasons more tolerable and the good ones more fun. As one who would consider trading Springer with prospects for a TOR pitcher, I think enough of his production could be replaced by opening the checkbook and signing 2 FA outfielders. Please, a new hitting coach.

    And off topic, but I think Reed was rushed to ML. Don’t want to see that with internal pitchers out of necessity. Hopefully, Reed can lose some weight and play winter ball and prove himself ready in spring training.

    Wishing everybody and their families here at Chippalatta a safe and happy off-season.

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    • Nance, I agree on Reed. Too soon but also too heavy. Let’s see what effort he puts in over the winter and let’s see if the club gives him additional time in Fresno. Right now, I’m all for Valbuena getting resigned. He’ll hit righty pitching and give us very solid defense at first.

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  5. Good post, Chip and thanks to you for giving us a place to come to and express our opinions. I have taken a little break this week posting – kind of getting my head on straight for the off-season which is always challenging. I kind of burned out a little this summer and I am disappointed that this team fell short of what I thought they could be.
    – I know I’ve said that Springer might be a possibility to trade due to value but I don’t want him to go. Along with talent he is the heart of the team.
    – Was thinking about McHugh and thinking about how he had pitched much better down the stretch when they needed it badly. He has been a bargain and will continue to be that.
    – Coaching staff – Dave Hudgens does not have pictures of Jim Crane. He must have HD videos of him…. Obviously some of the kids do not have great plate discipline, but I sure saw very little that looked like anyone was being worked on the basics of hitting.
    Strom has been one of my favorites, but I sure felt like there were signs of pitchers pitching up too much. I just don’t know how much of the pitching troubles were due to the lack of velocity by most of the starters. I would give him more time to work things out – see if having starters with fastballs over 90 (Musgrove, Devenski, Feliz) pitch better because they are better.

    Chip – this has been a great forum for all of us – we feel safe to express our opinions and to have pretty high level discussions with all our friends here.

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  6. Today is the first day that Moran has looked like a major leaguer. Very impressed with him today….has not had that “scared” look that he had in the first stint.

    Reed? Looking more and more like Jon Singleton minus the weed. Or a plumper Preston Tucker. Needs to start next year at AAA unless he drops some weight and completely retools his swing.

    About time Stassi gets a start, but despite getting his first (and likely only) hit of the season, has not looked good at all. Him and Heineman need to battle it out next spring to see who is Gattis’s backup, but I think Heineman is going to take it.

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  7. Great time this year reading and writing on this blog. ST is only 5 1/2 month’s away. No I don’t think we should trade away all of the aforementioned future including Springer. Can we find another TOR pitcher? Who knows? Yet with Keuchel, McHugh, LMJ, Devinski and Musgrove, we have a pretty good starting point. I agree with all that we need some changes int he coaching staff. (Are you listening JL? A new hitting and base running coach are a number 1 priority). If we could just improve our hitting by just a smidgen, we can get back to the playoffs.Kudos to Chip, Dan, Brina and all who make this the best blog in all of baseball.

    BTW, the USA won the Ryder Cup today. Congratulations to the team, coaches, and all those making it possible. I watched it more than I had any other golf this year. Boy was it ever exciting for all of us golf aficionados.

    Looking forward to next year.

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  8. It’s the offseason and on the last day of the regular season the Astros now know they have the 16th pick in the draft. Of course that could change if there are free agent signings that cost draft picks, either by the Astros or by any of the five teams that pick 11-15 in the draft

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  9. The last game of the season always makes me sad, as my husband said “what WILL you do until next season”. I don’t know!! LOL!! Tomorrow we will be arm chair GM’S and we can argue about who what we need, and what we are willing to give up. This I can tell you…Luhnow isn’t going to trade Bregman. PERIOD!! Ya know, I really hope the Cubs take it all this year. They have the pitching, and they have the hitting to get it done. We have weathered some personal storms together this year, and through it all the one thing that kept me sane was this blog. A *BIG* thank you to Dan and Chip for giving us a home where we can talk about the one thing that we all love…………..
    Astros Baseball!! Becky⚾

    P.S. I got a rangers voodoo doll….can’t wait to start putting pins in it.

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  10. This blog keeps me going for my Astros discussions throughout the year. I thoroughly enjoy reading everyone’s comments and opinions, even though most of them are wrong. 🙂

    With all kidding aside let me say that I will enjoy the playoffs and enjoy the banter with all of you during the Hot Stove League. The one thing all of us have in common is our undying love for this team that has broken our hearts for many, many years, but we still remain loyal and steadfast in our devotion to them. I’m excited to see what changes will take place for next season. I am not a big proponent of making wholesale changes to a team as I think it disrupts the chemistry and I still strongly believe this team doesn’t need wholesale changes to be a World Series contender. However, the it is clear to me, and probably all of you, that the status quo will not get it done. My hope is that we see baby Gurriel signed by Halloween and a few free agent acquisitions added. I don’t want to make any trades unless it is a smaller trade as I don’t want to mess with the core of this team. I think a lineup with Springer, Bregman, Altuve, Correa, Gurriel and Gattis is a great start for a decent offensive team. I like our bullpen and, if healthy, I am fairly comfortable with the starting rotation. Adding some additional offense, for me, is the key area to address. An OFer seems to be the most important area where an addition can be made along with DH/1B. I am definitely open to bringing back Valbuena, depending on the cost.

    The playoffs start tomorrow and I am looking forward to watching them. I am picking the road teams to win both WC games again this year, which means we won’t get to see the Rangers play the Blue Jays, if my prediction is correct. I am going to surprise everyone and pick a Rangers/Dodgers World Series and I am hoping the blue team from the N.L. wins it.

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  11. Luhnow announced “the entire coaching staff will return for the 2017 season”.
    Hudgens must be doing a happy dance in his kitchen this morning, thinking to himself….*SUCKERS*!!! JEEZE I have a headache just thinking about next year.

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  12. Mistake #1 for the offseason: Astros announce that all the coaches will be returning next season.
    For all the stuff from the Astros 11:30 am press conference, go to Julia Morales’s twitter account. She’s got the news. Gives the inside info on what Luhnow and Hinch think about the team and what they think they have to improve on.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I could tell you I’m done watching baseball for the year, but that would be a lie. I don’t like the Rangers or Red Sox, but have no real feelings about anyone else remaining. I’ll probably pull for the Orioles.

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  14. WOW! The one radio personality who enjoyed talking baseball and was well versed has been dismissed! KBME 790 has released Charlie Pallillo effective immediately!

    Welp, guess what station I am erasing form my listening list.

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    • That really surprises me Sarge – he has been the main stay for them. My only complaint with Charlie was that he was solo, there were times I would have liked another experienced voice with him to give some counterpoint arguments.
      But he was always very knowledgeable and like you say the one guy who really liked to talk baseball, though truthfully Matt Thomas does still, but nobody as sharp as Charlie.

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      • Just read where Charlie is being replaced by Josh Innes who used to be on KILT and who purposely played to controversy and to being a real butt. He was recently fired in Philadelphia for a photo he posted on Twitter of a performer in blackface in reference to a producer at a rival station who would call in to that station and pretend to be black.
        Well the IQ levels have fallen at KBME.

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      • Dan, I also enjoy listening to Matt. However… since he went to the morning show with Lance, Lance’s sophomoric behavior has rubbed off onto Matt and I cannot listen anymore. Just give me sports man, just sports.

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  15. I hope the Astros don’t use Devenski’s success this past season as a reason to snuff out his dream of being a starting major league pitcher. It will hurt the team more than they think because other starting pitchers in the organization will see Devenski and Feliz’s situation and not be too happy about the possibilities of not being given a chance to start for the team that they worked their tails off in the minors for. They may see Straily’s path as a real good one to follow.

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  16. Wahoo another supper Intelligent baseball move by our awesome GM, are u kidding me. GRRRR Another year of no Astro baseball in October. Oh well we can all talk prospects. I’m sure they will sign Rasmus to a 2 year deal, Castro to a 3, and go after Matt Holiday

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  17. What are the ten the worst things that could happen to the Astros in the offseason leading up to the 2017 campaign? Design your own scenario [no injury discussions allowed].

    Number one on my list:
    1. The day after we wrap up the 2016 season with five losses in the last seven games to an Angels team which could manage only a .457 winning percentage, and close out the season second in the league in offensive strikeouts and with only one player on the team hitting .275 or better, only one player with an OBP over .825, and no one who started 10 games or more with either an ERA under 4.00 or a WHIP under 1.20, Jeff Luhnow could hold a press conference and proudly announce that the entire coaching staff from 2016 is returning for 2017.

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    • My only theory is that Luhnow feared purging some of the coaches would mean he is next in mine when the players can’t get it done on the field.

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    • Luhnow has no business running a Major League Baseball Team. Period.
      What an extreme disappointment is an understatement

      In case Tim didn’t see the first time and you are correct

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  18. The only person I would like to have seen gone is Hudgens, but there is something to be said for continuity. I have no problem with Hinch and Strom returning. I’m not going to panic about Hudgens despite my concerns with him and I’m definitely not going to make a broad stroke statement that this means Luhnow should not be the G.M. I will give it another year and if this team fails to improve from this year then I will reconsider, but unlike most fans, I don’t want to over assess any decisions made a day after the regular season has ended. This is not to be critical of your opinions, but this is how I prefer to look at it.

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    • Well, It’s not like the Astros gave this a lot of thought either. One day after folding up the season they were expected by everybody to contend, there is nobody they can think of who can better help their players hit the ball. It seems like the Astros are the ones who made the knee jerk decision to do nothing about their offensive production from a coaching aspect.
      So if it’s not coaching, it’s either the players’ fault, the GM’s fault, Cole Hamels’s fault or just rotten luck.
      My guess is that Luhnow thinks it’s #3.
      Hudgeon’s thinks it’s #1
      Hinch thinks it’s #4
      and everybody else in baseball thinks it’s #2.

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      • Not everybody. I’ve come across some fans on other blogs who credit Hudgens for improvement by Altuve and Gattis, prmarily, their increased walk rate. I’ve seen too many teams panic and fire coaches/trade players because the fans demand it only to see those moves backfire. There will be a time to make wholesale changes and it’ll be obvious to everyone, including myself, but that time is not now.

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      • Not to mention Altuve and Gattis have credited Hudgens for their improvement. I’m sure that was taken into account when making this decision. Furthermore, although the season just ended yesterday I’m fairly certain this decision wasn’t assessed and settled in 24 hours.

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      • By the time it’s obvious to everyone, it’s too late to do anything about it
        Firing someone who isn’t getting the job done isn’t always panic. A lot of times it’s good for everybody else and just not-so-good for the guy who didn’t get the job done. The time to turn on the bilge pump is not when the ship is halfway to the bottom, but when the leak is discovered.
        Maybe those fans on the other blogs are just covering for their GM.

        Liked by 2 people

    • So how do you and Luhnow explain situations like Gomez. He comes here a good hitter, during his time here he bottoms out, then goes on to become a 270s hitter with another team and credits their hitting coach with his new found success.
      Altuve is just plain good ( no explanation needed). Gattis credits his success this year to catching and being more involved in the game.
      Hudgens is not a good hitting coach. Just ask the fans in NY.

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      • How do you explain Altuve and Gattis crediting Hudgens for their improvement? Some players improve and some players regress and I’m not defending Hudgens, but I am sure there is more to it than what the fans are saying. I would like to have seen Hudgens gone, but I’m not going to panic and make a statement like ‘I guess we won’t be seeing October baseball next year’ or ‘Luhnow has no business as a G.M.’ This team finished 2 games off the pace of last year despite key injuries for long durations to key players.

        Also, despite Altuve being a great hitter he has improved from last year. He gave much of the credit to Dave Hudgens. Just because someone is a great hitter doesn’t mean they will automatically improve. Altuve took a step back in 2015 from 2014, but made huge strides this year. Valbuena made huge strides from 2015 before his injury and I’ve already addressed Gattis. Sorry, you can’t blame Hudgens for the players that have regressed unless you want to credit him for the players that have improved. Either he had an effect on both or neither. You can’t pick and choose just to fit a narrative.

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      • His players, for the most part, performed fine. Injuries played a large part in how this season finished. He should listen to his players and assess the situation. If he felt that Hudgens was the primary reason for the improvements by Altuve, Gattis and Valbuena and those players expressed this to him then I can understand his reasons for retaining him.

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    • I gagged when I saw that yesterday. Stuck with Castro, Bautista, Rasmus and McCutcheon.
      Quintana for Fiers, Jake and Kyle Tucker. Yeah, that’s gonna happen.

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      • Yea, that trade scenario for Quintana is a laugher. In the comments section it was addressed how far McCutchen has fallen in defense and he is clearly past his prime. I would rather sign Dexter Fowler who, although not a Gold Glove OFer, is better than McCutchen and probably similar offensive production. Also, his trade offer for McCutchen was horrible. I bet the Pirates would jump on that in a NY minute, if Luhnow was dumb enough to offer it.

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  19. for those of you wanting fire Luhnow, you need to first fire the guy at:
    NYY, KC, CWS, LAA, OAK, TB, MINN, MIA, PITT, COLO, MIL, PHIL, ARIZ, ATL, CINN and SD. all of whom had a worse record than the astros. (NYY was a tie with us)

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    • Or hire a guy that got 13 teams that have a better record than us and the 10 into the playoffs.
      Just saying why compare our record to who is worse than us and not aim to be one the teams in the dance every year.

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    • RJ, I don’t want to fire Luhnow. I want Luhnow to fire Hudgens. and I want somebody, anybody to fire Cole Hamels, because he’s the cause of our pitching problems.

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      • I agree with this, except the Cole Hamels comment, but I realize it was tongue in cheek. I also would have liked to seen Hudgens dismissed. I was just saying that to make the statement Luhnow should be fired over retaining him was a big reach. He has his reasons for retaining him and he probably realizes if it fails not only is Hudgens gone, but so is Luhnow himself. Devin sort of addressed this above.

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    • Those guys at NYY, KC, CWS, LAA, OAK, TB, MINN, MIA, PITT, COLO, MIL, PHIL, ARIZ, ATL, CINN and SD do not have a dawg in this fight in Houston.

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  20. Some of the excuses for keeping a guy like Hudgens around are absolutely asinine.
    Situational hitting…..grounding in double play, pretty much told the story of this team in 2015 *AND* 2016. How much more clear can ya get. Just shaking my head.

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  21. I’m taking time to reflect! At least until I get back east. I’m not sure if anything about this club will surprise me any longer. Seems our hitting coach might have had a guardian angel in the form of our batting champ. But sure enough, there will be plenty to talk about over the coming weeks and months. We’re going to find out a bit more about how serious our ownership is about being an elite organization.

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    • Right now we have three things about this organization that are elite: The roof, the air conditioning, and the second baseman.
      Next season, I think the field, with a normal center field fence, will be elite, because it is one of the most beautifully manicured fields I have ever seen.

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  22. Luhnow may also genuinely believe that the hitting woes were exacerbated by Tal’s Hill. It’s no secret some teams get pull-heavy when they come to Houston and the general belief is that the Astros become more inclined to pull the ball at home. Bringing in the fence in CF will create a more reachable target for hitters and should benefit guys like White and Tucker. It may help players keep their approach more consistent regardless of whether they are at home or away.

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  23. I do hope that the defensive philosophy of shifts is looked at. I am resigned to the fact that shifts are going to be conducted. It is what it is. However, I do not agree with shifting the infield in one direction and then the outfield in the opposite. That exercise has cost us a couple of wins this season.

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      • Because “Net data” does not pass the eyeball test. It does not take into account the morale of the team after a certain play. Example, the infield shift is to the right side and the outfield shift is to the left side. The ball is hit to the outer part of right field… not down the line but to a spot where a normally positioned right fielder would be at. However, in this instance, the right fielder is shifted to the centerfield side. That ball then goes for a double or triple instead of a single. When a runner is already on first, he could be held from scoring instead of having a track meet. We have seen this happen this past season.

        Additionally, if you are going to use your articles to back your debate, please use current ones.

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      • Sarge,

        There are 2 fallacies with your statement. First, your example is a poor one because ‘net hits saved’ takes this into account. It is the total number of hits lost subtracted from the total number of hits saved to accumulate the ‘net hits saved’. Second, I addressed the article was from 2 years ago, but I found no data anywhere that supports your assertion that shifts have hurt the Astros…NONE. Can you provide any data to support your assumption?

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      • A third fallacy is the ‘eyeball test’. This is a last ditch effort by fans to try and support their false narrative when no other data is available to support it.

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      • All teams get burned by poor positioning of their outfielders from time to time. I think the excessive shifting has cost us a few runs, but ultimately don’t believe it’s changed the outcome of too many games (neither positive nor negative). Where I expect to see a real impact is in the postseason where batters are much more concerned with making outs.

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      • Devin,

        Do you think the excessive shifting has cost us more runs than it has prevented? I don’t and I have found no data that indicates it has. Obviously, we notice when a player hits the ball into a vacated spot due to the shift, but we aren’t as perceptive when outs are made because of the shift. I recall several balls hit up the middle that turned into outs because the Astros shifted Correa or Altuve behind 2B.

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      • Tim, I think it has saved us baserunners overall. It’s hard to say whether it has cost us runs because there are always holes in the defense. The times we shifted with a RISP obviously cost us runs and probably cost us a game against Oakland earlier in the year. At the same time, we probably saved a few extra base hits or homeruns when players chose to hit through the vacated hole rather than trying square it up and drive the ball. I can also remember a few inning ending groundouts in the later parts of games that would have been singles without the shifted infielders. It must at least seem to be more effective than not because most every team is shifting a lot more than they did just a few years back.

        The smart teams (and FO) will be the ones the figure out when NOT to shift or at least strategically reduce their shifting.

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  24. Here is my “I Know It is Way Early” prediction (tongue firmly in cheek here) 2017 Houston Astros win-loss record: 82 – 80. Mediocrity begets mediocrity.

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  25. A few things boiling on my stove are:
    Coming off a down season with a fastball that averaged over 94 mph, could Brett Strom do some tweaking and turn Conroe native, Andrew Cashner back into a winner? After all, it’s not like San Diego or Miami have been able to do anything to improve anybody in years, have they?
    It seems as though if the Astros end up making a trade, it’s going to have to be for a LH reliever, because Aroldis Chapman is really the only good LH reliever free agent out there.
    George Springer played only one game in CF this year and the stat guys at BR and Fangraphs agree that it was the like the center fielder from heaven. But everyone still says the Astros need a LFer and a CFer. My pots are boiling over!
    Luhnow says point blank they need help at Catcher. That tells me they aren’t happy with their AAA catchers and maybe even their AA catchers, if they really don’t believe Stubbs is big enough to keep behind the plate in the majors.
    When Preller gets back from his suspension as GM of the Padres, is he going to have a job? Why?
    Folty actually finished up with a decent year in Atlanta.
    With all the injuries to their young pitchers and players, and the year Daniel Murphy had with their rival Nationals, how did the Mets manage to be a wild card team. Amazings! I guess being in the same division with the Phillies and Braves helped out.

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    • Also didn’t the big nice guy Carter hit 40 Bombs. I’m sure he K’s a lot. but I’m happy for him good guy. I also thought I saw somewhere that Jake Buchanan did decent with the Tigers organization the last month or so.

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      • Have you seen Carter’s heat chart? Basically, if the pitch was down the middle and mid-thigh or lower he hit for a very respectable average (.300ish). If the ball was anywhere else in the zone or outside the zone he looked like an automatic out.

        Don’t get me wrong – I’m happy for him as well. I wish he’d been able to put a bit more success together for Houston in 2015 as we certainly didn’t improve our 1B situation much (if at all) without him.

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    • What do you think of Boone Logan or J.P. Howell as LOOGY’s? Also, I would love to add A.J. Ellis as a backup catcher. He is a great defensive catcher and was beloved by all his Dodgers teammates when he was there. He appears to be a great clubhouse guy and team leader. He’s not a strong offensive catcher, but he can get on base.

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      • Both Logan and Howell look to be soft tossing lefties who are strictly LOOGYs, from what I see. RH batters give both of them fits. I don’t know, a lot depends so much on if Sipp can bounce back. Neshek got his so hard by lefties and Sipp got hit so hard by righties that I don’t know if we can afford to carry both of them in the bullpen because opposite handed hitters hit them so hard and the means they drew out a lot of pinch hitters from the other teams, and a lot of those pinch hitters hit pay dirt.
        I would love Ellis to supplement Gattis. He would probably help Gattis defensively. But Ellis has not seen a lot of American league hitters or pitchers, so he would have a lot to learn.
        Ellis has hit well in playoff games, the oppo of Castro, and he strikes out at half the rate of Castro. He’s a fly ball hitter, so if you need a SF instead of a strikeout, he’s your guy.

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      • You’re probably right that we have no room to add Logan or Howell if we keep Sipp. Considering Sipp is paid through the 2018 season I doubt they cut ties with him yet. We know that Gregerson, Giles, Harris and Fiers/Devenski are locks for the bullpen (Fiers/Devenski is one as one will be a starter and the other will be in the pen). You can probably add Sipp in there, which leaves 2 spots. I have to think Hoyt will make the team next year and that only leaves 1 spot open. I doubt they want to give that to a LOOGY as the Astros like to have pitchers that can pitch at least 1 full inning at a time.

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    • He loses further credibility with me after that quote. The outfield has been a glaring weakness for years now. I won’t hold the pitching against him, but what about the DH and first base too?

      Like

      • well dave your solution was tyler white at DH and reed at 1B, he tried that. it didnt work. he got screwed when rasmus accepted the QO in the off season (unforeseen by anyone as it was the first time ever a qualifying offer was accepted, he had done that strictly to get the compensation pick) then turned around and had what was a horrible season of injury and illness. many deride the GM, but if you go back and look, their solutions didnt work either. if we hold him on his choices lets take a look at ours as well, very seldom are they any better and many times they are worse. and really sometimes the best trades are the ones you didnt make. i’d hate to be without bregman or springer or correa from now on because we traded for a player that didnt get us to the playoffs. he has more info than we do, he said the price was too high, if it was, i am glad he didnt pull the trigger. most fans suggestions are based on emotion, not info.

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      • RJ,

        I agree with most of everything you said, but slightly disagree on the Rasmus QO. I don’t think Luhnow was blindsided by Rasmus accepting it. I think Luhnow thought he would reject it, but surmised that he was worth $16M if he put up another 2.4 WAR like he did in 2015. Thus, he thought it was worth the gamble. I agree that he probably hoped Rasmus would reject it and, if so, he probably would not have re-signed Rasmus, but opted to take the compensation pick instead.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Nance,

        Can you provide examples of the non-professional decisions he has made? Can you also provide examples of G.M.’s who have not made mistakes in player signings/trades? The key is to make sure you win more than you lose and Luhnow has done that, so far.

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      • I don’t ever recollect anointing Reed to be the solution at first. Sure I was hopeful, but unless you find a post from me dogging Luhnow for not bringing him up sooner, I don’t think I’m guilty of that one. Now as for my nephew White, yeah, I still think he’ll hit for someone, hopefully us, and I was indeed adamant that he got sent back down too soon. I still feel that way. But I’m not the guy getting paid to resolve weaknesses on our roster. That’s our general mangers job. We don’t get paid here on the blog, unless some of you guys have a deal that I have not been included in.

        What remains though is that the resident well paid expert, Jeff Luhnow, has not yet resolved his outfield weaknesses. Regardless of what happened with Rasmus, the outfield was weak last year, and the year before and this year too. Luhnow responded with more Jake Marisnick and then Tony Kemp and Teoscar Hernandez. That did not work either.

        One thing we certainly agree on. I’ve never suggested that we even consider trading Springer, Correa, Bregman, Altuve, even Gurriel, for help in any area.

        I’ll always disagree when I do disagree with you or anyone here for their opinions. But I’ll never hold you or anyone, even Tim, accountable. That I reserve strictly for our GM. He needs to be much smarter then us, and much better at building our roster. He gets paid to take the blame.

        Like

      • Ok there has to be something in the Austin water Uncle Jeff’s records is 346-464.
        The ownership and management tanked 2012 and 2013 and ran out a AAA team to accumulate high draft Picks.

        He has taken from crap to the middle of the pack. Congrats

        Like

      • thats kinda my point nance, i think he does make better decisions than the average fan, or even the above average fan which i believe most in here to be. if we held the comments and commentators in here (mine included) to the same standards that we hold luhnow and evaluate those suggestions (if possible) i expect luhnow comes out pretty well. a season or two ago you couldnt find hardly anybody that wanted to keep gattis. now he is our primary catcher. and i seriously doubt anybody in here drafts as well as luhnow does. i hope to see next year what he can do with a more flexible payroll and an increase in available funds.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Kevin,

        Using the overall record of a G.M. during his first 5 years to determine his worth when the team was in complete rebuild the first 3 years is lunacy. Do you know how many great G.M.’s accumulated bad records during their first 5 years? How many G.M.’s inherited a situation like Luhnow did at the end of the 2011 season? How many G.M.’s, when dealt that hand, could have gotten the farm system rebuilt and the major league team to the playoffs by the 4th season? I will help you out…very, very, very few. Even Epstein with the Cubs was not dealt a similar situation as Luhnow.

        Like

      • Dave, he did trade the equivalent of Fister by trading Feldman. Did you see the numbers Feldman put up after being traded to Toronto? They were very similar to Fister’s numbers so in essence he did trade Fister.

        Like

    • DK’s performance indicated some kind of problem and LMJ started season on DL with a shoulder issue. How does one of the “best GMs in baseball” not have the foresight to thinking starting pitching could be an issue?

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      • Tim, I never said JL made un-professional decisions. I was pointing out that he is a professional GM and none of us are (that I know of) so I would expect his decisions to be better than mine. Nor did I say he should be a medical professional. I did point out that there were warning flags associated with the two top starters on the team before the All Star Break. Therefore, I think there should have been some foresight instead of just hindsight. Realistically, there probably was but JL decided to gamble that it would work out rather than spend money or prospects. We will never know if that was the right or wrong decision because we cannot replay this season. I also don’t think winning more than you lose is the ultimate goal. Winning it all is the goal I want the team to achieve.

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      • Nance,

        Spending money wasn’t an option at the trade deadline. He made strong efforts to pursue pitching, as it was reported, but the cost was substantial. If we had gotten Archer at the deadline do you think the Astros would have won the World Series this year? I wonder if they would have even made the playoffs. It would have cost them Springer or Bregman to acquire Archer. He made the right, professional decision to wait until this offseason to look at trades and free agents. Neither he or the majority of fans wanted the Astros to pay the price it would have cost to obtain a TORP at the deadline. It would have set this team back more than moved it forward.

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  26. as far as the team goes, i am mighty proud of how they played hard and never gave up, even late in the year without their top two pitchers, a 16 million $ outfielder playing like a 16 thousand $ outfielder and many injuries to our top talent down the stretch. just not enough depth to recover. right now by my way of thing we have altuve, correa, bregman, gurriel, gattis and springer as pieces that ought to go forward together. that leaves two positions and a DH to figure out (as well as backup catcher and bench, i think marwin and marisnick would be a good start to a bench assuming others have taken the aforementioned slots.
    i would like to see a very solid #2 or #3 starter brought in to go with keuchel. LMJ. mchugh, musgrove and devenski. no fister!!. fiers can be a #5 or spot starter if devenski stays in the pen. i’d like to see a bullpen that keeps giles, gregerson, harris, feliz, hoyt, and brings in at least one more fireballer, two would be better. sipp stays if they cant find a lefty to take his place. would be real nice if one of the fireballers was a lefty!!
    i would like to have seen a change a hitting coach, but i aint getting that.

    thanks for 2016 guys and lets win in 2017.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I would LOVE to get Hosmer, but he only has 1 year of control left and I’m sure the cost will be high. I would be open to including Reed in a trade for him, but I still wouldn’t want to include Bregman or Springer. Are there any players on the Royals you would like to add?

      Like

      • i agree dave. valbuena also brings some postion flex in that he can play 1B or 3B. that gives the teams option when injuries occur or rest is needed. a valbuena/gurriel combo at 1B sounds alot better than we have had lately. and with gurriel being able to play 1B, 3B and fill the DH, lots more options are available. if we could just get that dad gum OF straightened out…..

        Liked by 1 person

      • Hosmer’s six year career described to a T:
        2011-up
        2012-down
        2013-up
        2014-down
        2015-up
        2016-down
        2017
        Still, he is the type of player I would love to have. Terrific defense, due for an up year, a tiger for a teammate, and a left handed hitting/fielding first baseman.
        I would like Kendrys Morales for a DH if the Royals don’t pick up his option.

        Like

      • Valbuena would definitely be an option, depending on the cost. He is LH, but not as good defensively at 1B as Hosmer. He could put up similar, or even better, offensive numbers.

        I completely agree on Morales as a DH. His strong side is LH and we need more LH bats in our lineup. This would allow Gattis to rest when he is not catching. Can Morales provide spot starts at 1B or is strictly a DH at this point?

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  27. hey dave, i was relying on my memory (not a sound policy) on comments about reed, if that was inaccurate, i apologize. i just remember most everybody pounding the table for them both. and who knows, maybe white and/or reed figure it out for 2017, i havent completely given up on them. i wasnt trying to call you or anybody else out so much as i was trying to point out that if ANY of us were the GM, there would most likely be an even greater uproar to fire the FO.
    i think maybe if luhnow had the resources at the time to hire joe maddon and had a 150+ million budget he would seem a bit smarter.

    Like

    • I was one who wanted Reed at 1B by the fall of 2016 or Spring 2017. I think every one of us, Jeff Luhnow included, is surprised by his major league debut. It has been bad enough that Jeff talked about finding a first baseman yesterday. I think that Reed has a ton of work to do to become what we hoped he would become.

      Like

    • I’m the guy still beating the drums for Reed. I would like to see him in the lineup, not in for a week, out for a week, pinch hit today, play for a week again, out for 2, etc. I would like to see him get comfortable, confident, and not pressing.

      It’s interesting that you point out that you haven’t given up on him, but you would like to find another answer. Which is it? Either you go with the guy and you give him 40 games and 200 plate appearances to prove something to you, or you go get a free agent, put him at AAA and effectively give up on him. Singleton never had Reed level talent, but has a similar path and gives you a precedent to what happens when you take a fairly high rated first base prospect, change his role 3 times a year for 2 to 3 seasons, shuttle him around, and watch his confident and level of comfort disappear.

      Given the reward you can get back from the guy if he does become that hitter you hope he does, for minimum salary, I take the chance. Being a GM is rolling the dice on some guys. You can’t win without doing it. The rotation is in a worse place, and is far more important than who plays first anyway.

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  28. I know people are weary of heavy first basemen with high strikeout rates in their debut. Singleton has made everyone anxious.

    In 70 games at AAA Reed was hitting .291 and on pace for 30 homers and 100+ RBI. He was having yet ANOTHER fabulous season in the minors. Golden spikes winner. This guy has been far more successful in the minors than Singleton ever was. That .291, his lowest average in the minors in any significant time. Singleton’s HIGHEST is .289, at a low level 6 years ago.

    There are no guarantees. No free agent is a promise. Neither is Reed. Baseball is a constant leverage of cost/returns. If I am Luhnow I am ready to leverage 1B to White or Reed because of the possible return I can get for minimum salary knowing that my rotation is a mess and I need to invest money in it.

    I would look at Devenski as a starter. I don’t know that he will be as good multiple times through a lineup in his third start of the season against the Rangers, but maybe. He got guys to swing out of the zone 36% of the time – a big reason for his low walk rates – I don’t know that he duplicates that in constant reps against the same hitters in the AL West as part of the regular rotation, but I would be willing to again leverage that risk given the upside of the reward if he is successful.

    Like

    • The difference that I see between Devenski and Fiers/Fister is that Devenski won’t get to the sixth inning down by five runs. There is a big difference between leaving the game having given up one or two runs and giving up a bunch! That is what happened to the Astros way too often this season.

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    • Agreed OP, there is something to be said about giving your team constant quality starts. Fiers ends up with decent stats at the end of the year because one day he is Jekyll with 8 innings of 1 run ball and the next start Hyde shows up and gives us 3 innings, 5 runs and puts us out of the game.

      Changes need to be made. The kind that moves a guy like McHugh, who does belong here, but moves him down to the 4th spot or 5th spot – that is if they want to win a championship. If they are content with the illusion of contending, then we will see Fiers and a Fister like signing join the rotation again this year and be sold that we will be fine because Keuchel and LMJ are healthy.

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    • I think part of the reason Luhnow mentioned 1B as a possible area to upgrade was to get the message out to Reed that he needs to get into shape and earn the position. I’m perfectly fine going with a Reed/White 1B. We still have MarGo as a fall back option as well as Gurriel. I want to add offense in the OF and I like OP’s suggestion of Morales at DH if he is available. We do need a solid MORP and I’ll never say no to someone like Aroldis Chapman for the bullpen. The Astros will have some serious payroll flexibility this offseason so it will be interesting to see how they spend it.

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  29. Should Luhnow take the credit for 2015?
    I think April was just a streak of good luck that surprised everyone JL included. From May through September everything went downhill despite the addition of Correa and McCullers from the farm, and Kazmir, Gomez, and Fiers via trades.
    Keuchel and McHugh had outstanding years which neither will probably ever have again.
    When I look at this team I see some outstanding talent mixed with less than stellar veterans and bad leadership.
    Now the Cubbies, that’s an exceptional rebuild with a possible championship this year.
    Go CUBS

    Like

    • It sure would be nice to be able to afford a mistake like Jason Heyward and not bat an eye. The Astros are more like the Cardinals than Cubs. They can’t make foolish expenditures and not be set back by it for years.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Maybe, but starting Fister in September was not bad luck it was a bad mistake. You know what they say about doing the same things and expecting a different outcome.

        Like

      • Fister was outstanding the 1st half of the season. He’s probably the main reason the Astros were even close enough to make a run. We trotted out several young guys and they didn’t work. The options were limited and Fister may have been the best choice considering the alternatives. Besides, Luhnow doesn’t decide who pitches. That call is up to Hinch and he made the decision to trot out Fister in September, not our G.M.

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      • Tim, I’m not so sure Hinch fully determines of his own accord who is going to start games. On the flip side, Fister was allowed to suck and make his bonus money, raising his take to 11 million on the season. So I wonder if Hinch was responsible for that extra 4 million or if it was a group effort or a verbal promise by Luhnow. I’d love to know.

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      • Hinch will consult his front office on statistical analysis, but all parties indicate the starting lineup and pitching decisions are solely on the manager.

        I don’t buy into good or bad luck. I was just trying to make a point that luck had nothing to do with the hot start in 2015 just like it had nothing to do with the bad start this year. Teams make their own ‘luck’.

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    • There are similarities to Chicago. Both teams tanked and stocked their system. Both teams brought a nucleus of young guys up planning for extended runs. Both teams took a pitcher another team gave up on and got 18+ wins out of him (Arrieta, McHugh). I think the differences, however, make it a bit depressing to be an Astros fan. We signed Hinch and everyone wondered why a guy run out of Arizona would get a chance. Chicago brough in Epstein and Maddon and everyone said, “how’d they get so lucky?” We signed Colby Rasmus. They signed Jason Heyward … ok, maybe we win that one. They get Jon Lester as a free agent. We got Doug Fister. They traded for Aroldis Chapman at the break. We traded for Ken Giles at a winter meetings where relievers cost their highest price in history. They gave up on a SS and traded him to NYY where he had a big year in exchange for a bullpen piece. We traded a SS we had given up on to MIL in exchange for a minor league reliever.

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      • Ok, but the Astros don’t have the budget to sign Lester and Heyward and then be able to afford more upgrades. Second, the Cubs traded for Arrieta, but they didn’t give up much for him (Scott Feldman) and they gave up a ton of prospects to get Chapman, probably more than the Astros gave up for Giles and they could lose Chapman at the end of this year. The Cubs can afford to make more financial mistakes than the Astros. We can afford a mistake like Sipp, but we sure couldn’t afford a mistake like Heyward and hope to upgrade for 2017.

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      • Tim, that’s kind of the point – Crane is cheap compared to many other owners/ownership groups. Is he capable of spending ridiculous amounts of money?

        But I disagree – he could have signed both Lester and Heyward if they were willing. There was plenty of room to add another $55-60 million per year to our payroll that already sits in the bottom half of the league. It would have been foolish, perhaps, but if he can’t get our payroll into that neighborhood he needs to either get additional investors on board or sell the team.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I’m not sure I’d call him cheap. He did just pay 100% tax on the Cuban pitcher. Let’s see what he allows Luhnow to spend this off-season.

        Sure, he could have signed Lester and Heyward, but that would have been a huge mistake and we’d be limited in what we could spend going forward. The Cubs have a much better TV contract than the Astros.

        Liked by 1 person

  30. Hey rj, if we were to find a good first baseman outside of the organization and played Gurriel at 3B, which is his best position, we could put Bregman in LF or RF(remember he has a shortstop’s arm), move Springer to CF where he belongs. Now we are looking for 1 corner outfielder and not 2. Remember, Luhnow said we’re looking for help at 1B, C and the outfield and he said he has money. There are corner outfielders in this free agent class and he said he wants to be in on this free agent class.
    Considering the Astros spent $118 million on 2016’s payroll, Luhnow saying Crane would give him more if they needed it, if our free agents walk and Luhnow opts out of Neshek’s deal, the Astros could have as high as a $130 million payroll next year and that is going to buy some very good players.
    I said Luhnow was going to spend a fortune on international free agents because the regular draft cost him less than half of what it did the previous year and because the free agent market was so good this year and predicted to be weak for the next two years. He did that.
    I think he is going to go for broke this offseason and spend Crane’s money.
    I think the Astros want to be players and I think that they want to combine the new Spring Training facility, the renovation of MMP and the major acquisition of players this offseason and we will see some big-time moves this winter, including Lourdes Gurriel.
    I sincerely believe Luhnow thinks 2017 is the year.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I agree that Luhnow thinks that, yes. I don’t know that I agree that it will come to pass unless he addresses depth and clears some uncertainty in the rotation.

      Like

      • I believe he addressed that uncertainty with the rotation when he admitted that he probably should have acquired some help at the deadline.
        With that in mind I believe he is going to try very hard to get that help with some of the money he has available this winter. His comments about wanting hard throwers on our team last winter, blends with his dismay at the loss of LMJ from a lot of this past season and the volatility of the production of soft throwing Fister/Fiers.
        I expect that we are going to have a much harder throwing rotation this coming season, be it from Devenski, Musgrove or an addition. Possibly, it could be all three.
        I think he wants to add a SP, a reliever, a catcher, a first baseman and an outfielder to what we now have. That does not include Lourdes, whom I think he wants to slot in further down the line.
        If he can sign Lourdes Gurriel, our top 10 prospect list could look quite a bit different come April 1st, because Lourdes could make other prospects more available to trade for what we need this coming season, if you get my drift.

        Liked by 1 person

    • im all for whatever works op, and that does solve some of the OF problem. the versatility on the infield allows bregman move to OF if needed. so an OF and DH and we can start thinking pitching. btw of all in here if we had to vote for someone, you would be my choice for GM.

      Like

  31. a comment on a story about lourdes. i dont know where he gets his info about that last sentence. LeifLeif1 day ago
    Lourdes Gurriel Jr. will have orange/blue colors on. I think the Astros brought his older brother in the pack so that they could play together. Look for Lourdes in the outfield of Houston. The Astros are gathering a good group of Latin players. I think he will make a great outfielder for the Astros. I think they might even make a play for Edwin Encarnación for 1B/DH this year.

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  32. When I hear “that’s not in the budget”….it makes my blood boil. You either WANT to own this team and make it a winning club, year after year…..or you don’t. PERIOD.
    I totally realize money alone will not put the players we want on this team, that’s why I said in early spring guys like Bregman had $ signs on their backs. We WILL have to give up more than a few top prospects to get what we need, but everytime I hear it’s “not in the budget”, when we have the smallest payroll in MLB….it makes me go balistic. Who knows how much Lourdes Gurriel is gonna cost, he might price himself out of Cranes wallet.

    Like

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