Astros’ orbit: Spending moves budget into all-time high…already

This time last year, the Astros were involved in what was a ho-hum off-season.

Houston had just non-tendered Chris Carter, traded Hank Conger to the Rays for cash, and Jeff Luhnow was about to make his biggest splash of the winter, trading former #1 Mark Appel, Vince Velasquez, Brett Oberholtzer and others for Ken Giles. Before Thanksgiving 2015, Jed Lowrie and Jonathan Villar were gone in trades and Chad Qualls, Oliver Perez and Scott Kazmir had become free agents. Ho hum.

Wandy Rodriguez and Doug Fister would join the team in January. The biggest attention getter of last off-seaon was Colby Rasmus‘ decision to become the first player to accept a qualifying offer, perhaps providing somewhat of a handcuffing detour for the Astros.

Through it all, though, Luhnow was muddling through another roster restructure in search of the magic potion.

This off-season is different. Owner Jim Crane and Luhnow are making good on the promises they made when they took over five years ago and making Sports Illustrated look pretty good.

With the acquisitions of Josh Reddick, Carlos Beltran and Brian McCann, not to mention Charlie Morton and Nori Aoki, the Astros have put in place much of their roster for 2017. Manager A.J. Hinch can start penciling his lineups and, this year, have resources few Astros’ managers before him have had.

With those five acquisitions and the nucleus of Carlos Correa, Jose Altuve, George Springer, Yulieski Gurriel, Alex Bregman,Dallas Keuchel, Lance McCullers and others, Houston has the largest part of its roster set a full two months before spring training. What must Colin Moran, Tyler White, A.J. Reed and Max Stassi be thinking?

Only once — back in 2009 — has Houston’s payroll topped $100 million. Now, nine players take up combined salaries of $78.5 million. Another six were guaranteed contracts last week and will get a projeted $29.2 million in arbitration. You can do the math: Houston has 15 players under contract for approximately $107.7 million.

And that doesn’t include players like Correa, Bregman, McCullers, Devenski or Musgrove. Fill out the roster with those players and a few others and the budget could start the season approaching $120 million. Here’s a quick look at the payroll as it stands today.

Brian McCann $17 million
Yulieski Gurriel $14.4 million
Josh Reddick $13 million
Dallas Keuchel * $9.5 million
Charlie Morton $7 million
Luke Gregerson $6.25 million
Tony Sipp $6 million
Nori Aoki $5.5 million
Evan Gattis $5.2 million
George Springer * $4.7 million
Collin McHugh * $4.6 million
Jose Altuve $4.5 million
Mike Fiers * $4.3 million
Marwin Gonzalez *$3.6 million
Will Harris * $2.5 million
Jake Marisnick * $1.1 million
Brad Peacock $550,000
Ken Giles $550,000
Lance McCullers $550,000
Carlos Correa $550,000
Preston Tucker $550,000
Chris Devenski $550,000
Alex Bregman $550,000
Joe Musgrove $550,000
Michael Feliz $550,00

*–Projected arbitration salaries. $550,000 is minimum salary this year for other players.

Of course, this roster will change and some of the players — especially those at the bottom of the roster — will change. Granted, the Astros haven’t turned into the Yankees, Dodgers or even the Rangers at this point, but this new-found aggressive budgeting will certainly propel the organization into the top half of spenders (Houston was 23rd last season).

Anyway you stack it, Crane has opened the checkbook and Luhnow has pulled the trigger. While Crane has said you shouldn’t expect another big splash, it’s also clear Houston is still searching for additional characters to play to Sports Illustrated’s 2017 World Series script.

The Astros have attracted the attention of the other 29 teams, and even the media is barking here, here and here. But more importantly, Houston’s fan base is abuzz with anticipation for spring training. And, of course, the next addition to roster that will rival the best in Astros’ history.

167 comments on “Astros’ orbit: Spending moves budget into all-time high…already

  1. The Astros needed a kick in the pants boost to their team and certainly got it in the everyday lineup. Crane and Luhnow have kept their collective words and this is an exciting lineup.
    The key for this team will be if they get a full, good year out of Keuchel and LMJ.
    But I am excited to see a lineup that will not be partially great/mostly black hole.
    This has been a fun time to be a fan.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2016/12/tradefa-rumors-bregman-solarte-dodgers-jays-tribe-holland.html

    This is the news I wanted to hear. Bregman is not going to be traded and I don’t care if we could have gotten Chris Sale as we still would lose that trade. It’s not a Bregman for Sale straight up, but Bregman plus 3-4 top prospects, which would probably include Martes, Paulino and KTuck. That might make the team slightly better in 2017, but it would definitely weaken the team starting in 2018. There is enough highly rated prospects in the system where the Astros can get a solid #2-3 pitcher, but Bregman should, and won’t, be involved in any trade. Luhnow is really growing up as a G.M. and realizes we have a good 3-5 year window here and there is no need to mortgage just for 2017. This team, as it stands today, is good enough to be a WS contender and they will still have serious payroll flexibility in the 2017 off-season.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Tim, I worry about matchups, but that’s getting ahead of myself. We all saw our 2016 team was good enough to beat the Orioles and Indians (but not CLE + umpires), but couldn’t play on the same field as the Blue Jays, Rangers or Red Sox. In the spirit of the season I’ll put on my optimist’s hat and say this team should be able to win enough regular season games to get to October…and then we’ll just have to hope we’re playing great baseball at that time of year.

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    • Tim, this is the news I was hoping to hear also. I’ve had a dread this offseason that the Stros would include Bregman. in a trade. I think that he will show improvement from his brief rookie season and be our 3rd baseman with this generation of players..
      I still have hopes that Reed will come around. If so, the Astros could have a historically good infield.

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    • I’m also hopeful that Bregman or Springer or the other guys we don’t want to lose will not be traded, but I don’t believe much of what I read this time of year. There is plenty of speculation out there.

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    • OP, this is about where I have it, except they count things like Jonathan Singleton’s salary and other buyouts that count against this year, etc. With just the 25-player roster, which is how many count the payroll, the Astros — as they are aligned now — should start the season about $120 million.

      Guesses on if they exceed that by adding a front-line pitcher? Of course, Luhnow is apparently dangling Gattis and McHugh to get that pitcher, so that transaction could balance the scales somewhat too.

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      • Yes, Michael, the Yankees pay $5.5 million this year and another $5.5 million next season. The 2019 team option can vest or turn into a player option if he meets certain critera (e.g. ABs, starts at catcher, etc.).

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  3. The Blue Jays signed Steve Pearce to a 2-year contract to platoon at 1B with Justin Smoak. This move definitely takes them out of the Encarnacion sweepstakes. I’m getting a very concerned feeling the Rangers are going to swoop in and get him. The market for EE has thinned and I don’t see many other fits for him.

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    • Tim, I might be okay with the Rangers tying up a huge chunk of change. I was never particularly enamored with EE. Yes, he had a career year in HRs and RBI, but he also had a career year in Ks. The Rangers are still paying Josh Hamilton and Prince Fielder this season so tying up funds now might keep them out of the hunt in July and help the Astros with that starter they’re looking for. I know, sort of a backwards approach to looking at it, but I’m with you, not sure who else may be in the running.

      However, if EE’s value is dropping, could the Astros see him as a 1B solution? Just askin’.

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      • It just looks to me like the 25-man roster is too full – barring a trade of one or more of our projected starters for a TORP or MORP. If we sign EE, I think we have to trade one of our projected position players. Altuve and Correa are going nowhere. Bregman and Springer are apparently out of the question. Gurriel’s contract is too expensive and his ability to perform under the pressure and stress of the MLB is too unproven to interest any team that is trying to ditch a TORP or a MORP. Gattis is our only reasonable platoon partner for McCann. Beltran has a full no-trade clause. Marisnick is not wanted. With older guys like Aoki and Beltran on board, and a guy like Gurriel who has not proven any durability, Marwin is absolutely indispensable. We just acquired Reddick and McCann. Who goes if EE comes?

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      • Mr. Bill, as I mentioned, not necessarily enamored with EE anyway, but if the Astros were in on him early and he can be gotten on the cheap (and kept away from the Rangers), Houston could move another player (e.g. Gattis as has been rumored) and find a place in the lineup for him. Again, not pushing the move and really don’t see it happening, just saying if he fell into our laps….

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      • Mr. Bill,

        I have thought about the possibility of the Astros getting EE if the price drops and who might go if this happens. I think, as stacked as the offense would be, that they would be fine giving Max Stassi about 40 starts at catcher against LHPs. He would definitely be the weak link, but the team would be completely different from the past 2 years and they could definitely handle giving Stassi the backup catcher job. Obviously, the reason I mention this is I could see them trading Gattis to help offset some of EE’s salary, if it came to fruition. I think they’ll keep Marwin to be able to plug him in as a defensive replacement for EE late in games. This is just my thought, but Gattis, as much as I love the big lug, is very limited in where he can play. He’s either a DH or catcher and he is not a strong defensive catcher (he is good at throwing out runners, but in other areas he is weak).

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      • Okay I have a solution [Warning: tongue in cheek!]:

        Put the gear on . . . . Jake Marisnick! If he could be as good a defensive catcher as he is a defensive outfielder, we could insert him in the game in the late innings to catch Giles and he could smother all those sliders that went for wild pitches and passed balls last year, and still throw out as many runners as Gattis did last year. Ah, but Jake is so hyper that I am not sure framing would be his cup of tea . . . .

        Liked by 1 person

      • Bill, Gurriel Gurriel’s contract over the four year period is declining: 14/12/10/8million. I think that contract is fair and that he has a real good chance of delivering on it. Considering he had a pulled hamstring and played through it in his first look at major league pitching, I think he really started to adjust and could turn out to be the player Luhnow was envisioning.

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      • The other point about Gurriel is now he doesn’t have to be the star of the lineup. He can relax and perhaps fit into a better spot in the lineup that’s less pressure and more productive for him.

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      • OP, I am personally fine with and very hopeful for Gurriel as an Astro. I think he’ll be just fine – especially now that he’s surrounded by a bunch of guys whose presence should guarantee he finally gets some pitches to hit. My comments above were just about his present trade value – considering what the teams we would be dealing with [White Sox, Rays, Tigers?] would be looking for in return for a Sale, an Archer or Odorizzi, or a Verlander.

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  4. I’m sure it good for us , but Altuve making 200k more than Fiers and Springer making 200k more than JA,, Wow. I wonder if good guy Altuve was honest what he thinks about that?

    JL has done a good job in the off season so far, I finally have a feeling that our team will get out of the pack of mediocrity in the league. Now lets get 3+ million fans asses in the seats. If I still lived there I would be going a lot.

    Still wish there was a good lefty out there we could snatch fro the pen.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kevin, about that bullpen. This guy who works for Baseball Prospectus is turning the analytics world upside down with his forward thinking. His name is Jonathan Judge and BP thinks he has come up with the best method of ranking pitchers on yearly performance. The Astros had five of the top 34 pitchers in baseball, according to his system. You may rethink that bullpen when you view this and you may see why the Astros are going after a TOR pitcher when you view these rankings, now known as DRA: http://www.baseballprospectus.com/sortable/index.php?cid=1933656.

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      • Wow! So Michael Feliz has a better DRA than Chris Sale (and equal to Cole Hamels)! And among available starters this off-season, only Rich Hill has a better DRA than Feliz – and that only by 0.09? Hmmmn. If DRA is the stat that matters . . . why not just go with Feliz in the rotation?

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      • Michael Feliz and Ken Giles were not nearly as good as this would lead you to believe. The biggest problem I have with Giles is how often he put himself in harms way. It was constant. People keep throwing around labels like elite and dominant, but they don’t fit. Here are three pitchers from 2016:

        A: 2.86FIP 14.0 K/9 1.294WHIP 2.41DRA
        B: 3.24FIP 13.2 K/9 1.185WHIP 2.65DRA
        C: 2.34FIP 8.6 K/9 0.914WHIP 3.72DRA

        Strikeouts are pretty good. Along with popups they’re the best way to prevent runs from scoring. That’s the whole goal after all.

        Here are some more stats since I’m talking about relievers:
        A: 13 inherited runners (IR), 7 inherited runners scored (IS) – 54%, 8 games of 69 entered with runners on base
        B: 18 IR, 10 IS – 56%, 11 games of 47 entered with runners on base
        C: 30 IR, 3 IS – 10%, 19 games of 48 entered with runners on base

        We need a larger sample size on all three guys to know whether what we saw in 2016 was legitimate or not. The article does say DRA is supposed to be more predictive than results based, but it sure doesn’t look like that to me. It seems to reward 1 inning relievers a bit too much for my taste.

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      • Bill, with an analytics driven front office, who knows where Feliz fits in? The Astros haven’t said anything. But this DRA opens my eyes to their way of thinking, because four of our relievers were among the top 30 pitchers in baseball, according to this stat. My biggest surprise was where Devenski’s slot was in the rankings.
        Once Hoyt gets his head around the way he is supposed to pitch to big league hitters, I think he is going to be a very good reliever, too.

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      • I’m having real problem with a stat that shows Michael Feliz 22nd and Chris Devenski 111th!!
        I know that Feliz picked up wins especially in that part of the season where he kept pitching multiple innings and winning extra inning games – but my goodness Devenski was absolutely terrific the whole time he was up.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Dan: 22 year old Feliz was optioned and recalled three times in the first six weeks of the season. As a result, April was a terrible month for him, stat wise. For the rest of the season he was terrific. The guy struck out 95 batters in 65 innings. In 33 of his last 43 appearances he gave up zero earned runs. After that season at age 22, isn’t it possible we might have overlooked just how good he was and how good he could be?

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      • I really was not trying to talk down Feliz – he was good for us. But let’s say you drop Feliz’s April and you drop Devenski’s four early season starts….
        Feliz – 3.47 ERA in 59.2 IP
        Devenski – 1.52 ERA in 88.2 IP

        Feliz was good – at times very good and his K/IP is impressive.
        Devenski was great and certainly deserves to be ranked much higher even if you don’t drop Feliz.

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    • This is an interesting article devoid of details, which based on how quietly our FO works is not a surprise. Other than flexibility they are not saying what the Astros are looking for in return. Is this to be part of a package for a better SP? Is this to pick up prospects for the future? Is this to pick up prospects to package for a better SP?

      Are they looking to apply their salaries elsewhere? Might they chase a good LOOGY with one of these guys? Enquiring minds want to know?

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  5. David Grossman ‏@DavidBGrossman
    He’s gone. Reports claim Edwin Encarnacion is now part of the loaded Houston Astros with 5-year deal and $115 million.

    Ahem?!

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    • Really? I was going to ask if he is Robbie’s dad, but apparently David B is a retired sportswriter from the Toronto Star.
      The last thing I saw was the Yanks were in line for EE.

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      • Even if true, I can’t imagine that the Astros’ F.O. would announce another signing before giving Carlos Beltran his moment in the media spotlight [i.e. today’s press conference on his signing]. One thing at a time – for the sake of PR if nothing else.

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    • The thinking is that signing Pearce to platoon with Smoak meant Encarnacion was no longer on the table for Toronto. With NYY signing Holladay to DH they are not liklely to be in the running any longer. That leaves Boston and Houston as the two teams rumored to be chasing him (any others?).

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    • No Billy, me either. Toronto supposedly took their 4-year, $80 million offer off the table. If that is true, hard to figure that Houston would actually beat that with an extra year and $25 million! Or that Houston would actually NEED to beat that…Fun to think about though, have to admit.

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  6. OK my dinner is ruined as I read that Bud Selig has been elected to the Hall of Fame and I don’t mean the Bowling Hall of Fame in Milwaukee.

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    • In light of this news, if Jeff Bagwell were somehow to make it this year, he might feel inclined to politely refuse the induction. The Hall is indeed now tainted.

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    • It’s disappointing that someone has not been enshrined yet by the voters because some media members spread rumors and innuendo about whether they used chemicals to enhance their performance…but the guy who presided over that entire decade can claim he knew nothing, turn a blind eye, and still be rewarded.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Ken Rosenthal ‏@kenn__rosenthaI Nov 30
    Source Confirms: Edwin Encarnacion to Astros, 5 years, $115M. Pending Physical
    First Reported:@antoniopuesan

    Like

  8. I was just checking out this set of Tweets from
    Dan P @ Dan_____Peschong lying sack of shaving cream

    Source confirms: Jim Crane buys the Chicago Cubs for $3 billion and moves them to Houston. Astros are sent to Mexico City with the Oakland Raiders. W’Sox move to the North Side.

    Source confirms: Dan P is the new Astros GM for $10 million / yr

    Source confirms: Bud Selig is made Commissioner for a day and rescinds all Astro signings…just because

    Source confirms: Astros sign Chapman, Encarnacion and trade for Sale, Archer and all former and future Cy Young award winners.

    I’m kind of enjoying this fake news stuff

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’m not blaming our readers for this – it is getting ridiculous out there. As a U of H grad I was freaking out on Thanksgiving when tweets went out that Tom Herman was the new LSU head coach….and of course that was false.
      The problem is that too many people get their jollies out of mis-leading or too many want to be the first out there with a tweet and there is no standard holding anyone responsible when it turns out to be hooey.

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    • Dan, you forgot a couple:

      * Source confirms: Trump names Ronald Reagan as secretary state.
      * Source confirms: Astros’ acquisitions of Beltran, McCann and Reddick only a dream. Ooops, sorry.
      * Source confirms: Chip Bailey doesn’t really exist. Dan P wrote under a pen name/pseudonym for 8+ years at the Chronicle.
      * Source confirms: Trump fires Mike Pence, hires Bernie Sanders as VP.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I’m going to stay away from fake news and point out that Tolliver was added to a now-full 40-man roster. The Astros now have 4 LH relievers on their 40-man roster: Sipp, Chapman, Guduan and Tolliver. Tolliver has two option years left, Guduan has three and Chapman has none.

    Liked by 1 person

    • This should allow them to DFA Kevin Chapman once they make that trade for a TORP. By the way, I hear the Royals are listening on Duffy and considering he’s only team-controlled for 1 year the cost shouldn’t be outrageous. I would love to add Duffy to this rotation.

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      • I agree 100%. Duffy had a breakout year in 2016. He was 12-3 but his team was 17-9 in his 26 starts. He was #82 on the DRA ratings, better than any of our starters, except Lance, who was #34.
        He has a high fly ball rate and gave up a lot of homers, so Strom would have to try and work with him on that. MMP is not suited for his style, but that 25% K rate works.
        This is his walk year, so he is not going to require a ton of prospect, just a decent return and it would be great for his future to put on a show with the Astros in his walk year.

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      • Dan Szymborski at Fangraphs suggests Paulino, Teo and a lower level prospect for Duffy. I would make that trade if it was offered by K.C.

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  10. I have to admit this is so interesting. The Astros have filled holes at LF with Aoki, RF with Reddick, DH with Beltran, BOR with Morton, LH reliever with Tolliver and Guduan and Catcher with McCann.
    They have had to give up two prospects from the rookie league level, traded Neshek for cash or a PTBNL and saved $6.5 million doing that, and they let Nolan Fontana walk.
    As of now, they have filled the 1B hole with Gurriel and the 3B hole with Bregman
    They may actually have a dream CF in Springer.
    They have Carlos Correa at SS.
    They have Jose Altuve at 2B
    They have one of the best defensive outfielders in baseball as a backup outfielder and one of the best super utility players in baseball for two more years.
    They have a complete rotation and one of the strongest minor league systems in baseball and the ability to go after another TOR starter.
    They have one of the best bullpens in baseball.
    They have a backup catcher who hit .251 with an unlucky .273 BABIP last season who hit 32 home runs in only 499 plate appearances.
    I must be dreaming.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Our CBS station took a survey of Astros fans, whether they were glad to have Beltran back. 14% said no, 22% said yes……and 62% “meh”. I didn’t join in the fun, but I would be in the “meh” group. I’m still not convinced Luhnow NEEDS another pitcher, but I guess if he thinks he HAS to get one, I’m glad Bregman, and Springer isn’t in those talks. Who else is on your radar with the Rays rotation, besides Archer????

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      • Nope. 1op has looked at them both and Archer is the guy, and for me it’s not close.
        Archer is terrific. His advanced stats were so good last season. He is one of the best pitchers in baseball. He has five years left on his deal at a wonderful club friendly salary and this guy deserves a shot at stardom. and these five years are his age 28-32, the prime years.
        I’m afraid Freidman will go after him with all the Dodger prospects. Hopefully the CBA will hold Friedman back.
        Archer is the guy I like.

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    • Becky, my main concern is that Luhnow doesn’t feel pressed to do something for “do something’s” sake and give up too much in trade. Rememer, trading hasn’t been his forte. I’d rather go to war as is than give up something we may regret just to get a #1. These hitters will pick up the slack for a bad outing here or there.

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      • I *KNOW* Chip……that’s why I said I was glad any talks with the Rays aren’t going to include Springer or Bregman. Since I’ve never seen the other top prospects and I don’t have a personal attatchment…..I can’t speak to them. After the Kazmir…Gomez and Conger trades, I’m VERY concerned when Luhnow starts talking trades. What I can’t figure out, is why Luhnow has sooo little faith in our OWN pitchers. I want to see who takes the ball and delivers for US, rather than lose a guy like Devenski or Musgrove to another team, and watch them excell. Maybe it’s just me, but when pray tell are we going to grow our OWN Chris Archer? I don’t get it.

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      • Becky, this FO seems hesitant to give these young pitchers a real chance. They get sent up and down like yo yos and when they are here they mostly sit.

        I too am sooooo relieved to hear Bregman and Springer won’t be included in any trades.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Chip – in defense of Luhnow, who probably is on the losing end of most of his trades to date – he has really only shuffled C type players for D types. Conger, Carter, Gomez, Fiers, others, have been bad moves, but he didn’t exactly trade away future hall of famers to get them. Even Giles has been disappointing though he still has a chance to win that one. I think he is just now getting to the point that as an organization he has the ability to play with the big boys.

        If there is one move he loses sleep over, it has to be that Appel pick – he could have Kris Bryant at 3B, and its not like Bryant was a sleeper. Most organizations had him pegged as their first choice, but the Astros at the time felt like pitching was their need and a college pitcher could get here and help faster.

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      • Steven, I’ll concede that the jury is out on most all the trades Luhnow has made. But I don’t think there’s a single chance that he wins the Giles deal. Giles essentially came over by himself while the Astros gave up five guys. The Phillies actually have possible upsides with three of those guys and all the Astros’ marbles are in the Giles’ basket, if that makes sense.

        It’s just clear that Luhnow has much more success with free agent signings and waiver wire pickups, so would hate to see him ruin an A+ off season with a bummer of a trade by giving up too much (which has been the concensus of most every trade he’s made thus far). Just MHO.

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      • Chip, the only defense I’ll give Luhnow on the Giles trade is that the market for relievers went bonkers. He thought Giles was in that Kimbrel/Chapman class when really he’s not. Paying for one of those guys, or a Melancon even, was not happening in 2016 and certainly not in 2017. The big failure was in not developing strong relievers in the milb system the way STL did while he was there.

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      • Chip,

        I’ll have to disagree with you on the Giles trade. Not that I think Luhnow got the best of it, but I think there’s still a chance the Astros could win this trade. In my opinion, the parts the Phillies got that I think can contribute at the major league level are VV and Appel. Also, don’t forget about Jonathan Arauz and Luhnow’s track record of turning these low level prospects into top level prospects (Martes, Paulino, etc.).

        Devin,

        Was Jansen better than Giles when he was Giles’ age now? I wouldn’t dismiss Giles as not being able to achieve elite level reliever status in a few years. Giles’ last year in Philly was very impressive, albeit under very little pressure pitching for a last place team. His peripherals are already in line with some of the elite relievers in the game. I am not saying he will become Kenley Jansen, but I’m not going to say he never will either. There is no disputing he has the arm and the stuff to get there, but will the mental aspect catch up with the physical tools?

        Liked by 1 person

      • I meant to say the ONLY parts the Phillies got that I think can contribute at the major league level are VV and Appel. If VV’s injury history continues to be a problem and Appel can never capture the mental toughness it takes to succeed at in the major leagues it is quite conceivable the Astros win this trade, especially if Arauz turns into a top level prospect.

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      • When I say he has a chance, I don’t think it’s on Giles. If VV is healthy he has an elite arm. He could become a top 10 starter in this league. To me, that determines the winner/loser of the trade. If VV spends a few years piddling around 10-15 starts a year and flames out with a 88 MPH fastball after three surgeries, all possible, we probably win because I have confidence that Giles will be pretty good. Not Wagner/Lidge good, but Dotel good. I don’t have much confidence in Appel.

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  12. I just have a hard time talking too much about anything during the off season. I guess it’s my off season too. I want to see the Opening Day line up out there on the foul line. I want to see the rotation and the pen. I want to see the 25 man.

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  13. I can’t find the exact quote in print, but saw a cut of Carlos Beltran at the presser yesterday being asked about being booed here. He basically said he wanted to come back, but laid it at the feet of the previous management team. They just would not go for the no-trade clause.

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    • Our perception of the players and their intents is heavily influenced by the media. At the time I recall the rumors about the negotiation reported by ESPN talking heads claimed Beltran was using the Houston offers as leverage and not really considering them. Ultimately, it’s a business decision, but I felt like Beltran had a really strong chance to win in Houston in 2005 instead of leaving for NYC. Only he can say whether it was something he regrets.

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      • A business decision: not just what the media says, but the amount of information an agent is smart enough to let out … bc remember the NY fans will feel better if Beltran “really wanted to be there.” You’re not ever going to say, “Borus, we could have won in HOU.” He’s going to laugh at the thought, handing you One Hundred & Nineteen Million (plus endorsements), back when it was absurd.

        This story only adds to the cheap grocer’s legacy. I literally heard Lance Berkman (sort of under his breath) on Houston radio a year AFTER he was a Cardinal say that he would’ve taken 2 or 3M if Drayton had offered – instead agreeing to 8M. That comment was a slap in the face to StL and McLane, but a brilliant stroke by agent to get him more money.

        Beltran realized he was a rental back then, who parlayed an incredible run in the 04 playoffs … into a bonanza! Hopefully he shows the young guys how to walk the walk to becoming a champion. Himself included.

        I like their chances.

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  14. I like all of the moves made so far. Never thought I would be able to say that. The odds are that at least one of them will not turn out as I expect right now. But I don’t expect perfection from JL. I like adding veteran presence to the clubhouse. I do want to see a move for a TOR pitcher. Archer is my choice. I do not count on Dallas and LMJ to be healthy all year. One difference between me, JL, and almost everybody else – with the acquisitions we have made I would be willing to include Springer if necessary to get that TOR pitcher. But not Nregman, Correa, or Altuve.

    Liked by 2 people

  15. I think they should mortgage the future (meaning draft picks and/or prospects slated to mature 2018 or later and/or cash) and snag Archer. The time is now. Keep Bregman at all costs. That means forget about Sale.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Rumors are that the Rays asking price for Archer is as much as the White Sox wanted for Sale. I don’t think we will be getting Archer any time soon unless the price drops.

      I agree with your comment below on McHugh. I would not trade McHugh as he will be needed on our World Series winning team in 2017.

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      • The Rays are asking for a haul, but not for Bregman specifically. Archer sure would solidify the staff, that’s for dang sure. Future picks and prospects galore would be expensive, but the object is to win and put butts in the seats! Prospects come and go, but with all our cheap young studs, the time is now to build a complete team around them!

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      • I think if Luhnow could get Archer without trading Bregman the deal would be done by now. Archer, while not quite on Sale’s level, has 2 more years of control. I think, at this time, Bregman would have to be included.

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  16. Trading McHugh and prospects and/or picks for Archer doesn’t compute either. McHugh may be trending in the wrong direction, but he’s a decent #4 innings eater. Teams need inning eaters, so keep him in 2017 and hedge against the future. That’s my take: go after Archer!

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  17. I think at this point if we add anybody else, it needs to be a pitcher. If we can’t, then we can stand pat and try to add somebody at the ASB if needed.

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  18. Rumor mill has the White Sox also shopping Quintana. He will likely come cheaper than Archer or Sale either one in terms of prospects and is also team controlled through 2020 with a team friendly deal. I think its possible to put together a deal for Q without including Bregman, who is probably more valuable straight up anyway.

    Now that Sale has moved Tampa owns all the leverage. Archer is the next target for most teams. We should probably bow out unless he figures out how to get it done without Bregman or Musgrove.

    My Christmas wish list is to get BOTH Odorizzi and Quintana. If you can open with a rotation of Keuchel, McCullers, Quintana, Odorizzi, and Musgrove you are a division favorite. If you open with a rotation of Keuchel, McCullers, McHugh, Morton and Musgrove you are a division contender. I’ll take favorite.

    I hate to see all this work go into the offense, which has its own durability issues, and sell it short on quality starts to give them a chance to win. If Fiers and Peacock are here to take 25 starts or more combined, that’s probably 12-15 losses, and turns a potential 90 win team into a 85 win team, and there goes your playoff hopes.

    This offense with Beltran, Reddick, McCann, Gattis, well, lets just call it our MASH unit. They are going to mash, no doubt about it, but they will also need some doctors from MASH. As we stand today we are one Springer diving catch from 6 weeks of Jake Marisnick. We need a lot of right to happen and only a little wrong in order to take home the prize.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m not sold on Odirizzi, personally. I guess I’m over guys who average less than 6 innings per start,

      Quintana, though, would be nice.

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      • It is part of my dream as well. I would love to get Quintana, but I’m with Billy on Odorizzi. I am not that big of a fan. I would rather have Smyly despite his down year last year. Continue with your dreams as we all have them and they end with a parade in downtown Houston.

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    • Can understand the angst about Odorizzi, but he is an upgrade over Fiers or Peacock. The other choice is to keep McHugh, but I think McHugh would have to be any part of a Quintana deal.

      I’m not even sure why the White Sox, with team friendly deals to Sale and Quintana, and having Rodon, needs to “rebuild.” That is an all 28 and under rotation that starts with 3 very good pitchers, give me that and I’ll find an offense.

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    • I would’ve also. The problem is the Red Sox #1 is either the top or 2nd rated prospect in baseball depending on your source. Moncada would have been the equivalent of Bregman and I agree with Luhnow in not giving him up.

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    • Well its the one place I’ll differ. I would have given Bregman for Sale, but I know I am the minority on that. I would NOT give Bregman for Archer though. It was Sale or bust, and Bregman would have dropped the price after that, maybe one other prospect around 10, not 4. There is limits, but Sale is a bona fide Cy Young contender under contract for at least the next few years and adds legitimacy to any staff. Given where I would have been, I would have lost out on him as well.

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      • Well, the Red Sox did not give up Benintendi and he would have compared to Bregman. The reason we would have had to give up Bregman is because our #1 prospect, Martes, is not nearly as highly regarded as Yoan Moncada is. If we weren’t going to give up Bregman, Boston just had better prospects to trade and that’s why they got Sale. The White sox did well, but I am just not sure why they didn’t keep all their good players, unless their clubhouse is a shambles and can’t be fixed without getting rid of the problems and starting over. The White sox were a bad team with good players. What a horrible job their front office and coaches have done with a fine group of players.
        We just need to move on and Luhnow needs to find us another good pitcher.

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  19. I think Archer would be a great add. To get him will COST. My opinion is we have the minors to make the majors better. One way is they advance, the other is trade chips. When you play poker, to win you have to risk something. To me Archer would be a large pot to win, but I couldn’t go all in on him. 28 may be an exaggeration, but I would do multiple even knowing I might get booed if one turned into a star

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    • Archer is legitimate. I would make a deal for him, but there are at least 3 other teams trying. The price is steep. I wouldn’t get caught up in a competition. I would make what I thought was a fair offer, something like Reed/Paulino/Ktuck/Moran and leave it at that, and that isn’t going to get it done. They will want either Bregman or Musgrove AND 2 or 3 of our top 10 prospects.

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      • I think Musgrove is going to be a pretty good pitcher in his own right, and while he may not be a stud ace next year, he is healthy and a 90-percenter and we can’t say that about most of our rotation. If they do it, I would like to see them keep Archer AND have Musgrove in the rotation.

        Who knows what they are going to do. If I’m Tampa, and Houston calls me and offers me Musgrove, another top 10 prospect, Reed, and Paulino I would take that offer without pause.

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  20. Not gonna get Archer without Bregman. PERIOD. And the powers that be are NOT gonna trade Bregman……nor should they. Hinch says they will stretch Devenski out in spring training to 50-60 pitches, just in case they want to insert him in the rotation. I personally would rather him stay in the bullpen, because he can be used in more games, but that’s not up to me! Want and need are two very different subjects. We don’t *need* another starter, but Luhnow *wants* another pitcher……and I don’t trust him any further than I can spit to make a “good” trade.
    Kazmir
    Conger
    Gomez
    Did I miss somebody?

    Liked by 1 person

    • In all fairness, many here had been clamoring for Kazmir to come here for quite a while…I was one of the lone dissenters…

      Like

      • I recall many suggesting we sign him after his stints in Sugarland and Cleveland, but don’t recall Chipalatta leading the charge to acquire him via trade. Are you sure it wasn’t a TCB agenda?

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  21. I am a bit confused on the news regarding Devo. Are they planning to stretch him out to be a starter or have him stretched out in case we need him to start? If they plan on being a starter what do they plan to do with Musgrove? If Devo is in the rotation we’re looking at Keuchel, McCullers, McHugh, Devo and Morton. I think the handwriting is on the wall for Fiers to be traded. With the free agency market so bereft of starting pitching it makes sense to put Fiers on the block and see what you can get for him. They said Feliz will remain in the bullpen and, I presume, be our long man, but he has the stuff to be a legitimate setup guy.

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    • Maybe it’s Keuchel, LMJ, Musgrove, Devenski and a new guy with Fiers and Collin traded and Peacock, Morton to join the bullpen with Feliz.
      Looking at all the buzz about Musgrove, Devenski, Morton, McHugh and Fiers, it looks to me that the Astros are looking to not have many starting pitchers with Fastballs in the high 80’s.
      We’ve been talking about this soft tossing a lot lately, and the names I hear coming up in trade rumors are the two RH starters from last year who got hit hard and throw soft. And the one guy I have seen mentioned as a position player who might be moved is Gattis, who is one of the last two Astros position players with a propensity to strike out quite a bit.
      I’m just sayin. Suddenly the Astros have a low K lineup and appear to be looking at pitchers who can throw hard.

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      • Yup, and just like I said 3 years ago…the Astros had the potential to be a dominant team in the future once everybody matures and we open up the pocket book. Well, the future may be now.

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    • The despicable team in arlington gave gomez who, another chance tonight.
      What I can’t wrap my mind around is the amount of money he’s gonna get.
      $11.5 million for 1 yr. Oh well……a fool is born every minute. You’ll be sorry!

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    • I have to think its a just in case thing. They gave Musgrove more than a cursory look, and while he was up and downish in his starts, he did what he needed to do to go into the season with a job to lose. His BB/9 is outstanding at 23, his stuff can be dominating, there is no reason for this guy to be at AAA or in the BP. He got a third of a season worth of starts to audition, and to me, he passed.

      He will probably pitch an upper 3, lower 4 ERA, but he will probably average over 6 an outing because he throws strikes, he will have some starts that make you scratch your head, and he will have some 8 inning 1 run games that make you cheer him. That’s what happens to 24 year olds that are merely very good and not phenoms. To me, he has already earned that 5 spot, subject to move up, not move out.

      Of course, no one from the Astros front office has bothered calling me and asking me yet……..

      Like

  22. Before Gomez signed with the Rangers, Delino Deshields Jr was listed as their starting center fielder on their website, with Choo in RF and Mazara in LF.

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    • That would’ve been one of the worst defensive OFs in all of baseball. Gomez is not the stud defensive player he was, but he is definitely an upgrade over Deshields.

      I have heard they want to give Choo as many starts at DH as possible to lessen his chance of injuries. Of all the offense on that team Choo is the one hitter that I think is the toughest out so I can see why they want to keep him in the lineup as much as possible.

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  23. Bob Nightengale tweeted this morning that the White Sox were in serious talks to trade Quintana and listed the Nats and Astros as 2 of the teams. Then I go to MLBTR and it indicates the Nats are no longer pursuing starting pitching. I don’t know what the cost would be, but if Luhnow can get Quintana and keep Bregman, which apparently is the only way Luhnow will trade for him, I think the Astros jump back ahead of the Red Sox, albeit slightly. Quintana is a stud and under control for 4 more years. I actually preferred him to Sale as I thought the cost would be a little less and you get that extra year of control. If this trade happens I won’t be able to contain my enthusiasm and excitement for the 2017 Astros. In my opinion, we are ready to go to war with that team.

    Liked by 1 person

      • My thought is something like Martes, Paulino, Reed and McHugh. If they acquire Quintana someone from the 25-man roster will have to go, in my opinion.

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      • I’m with you on Martes and Reed because they need a close-to-major-league-ready starting pitcher and our #1 prospect fills that bill. The Sox don’t have any good 1B prospects, so that is why I’m going with Reed, since Abreu is going to get traded.
        I don’t think the Astros want to give up Paulino and Martes in that trade, but I may be wrong.
        I think the Sox might want an outfielder who is close, maybe Teoscar or Fisher.
        I’m not sure about McHugh because I thought the idea of their rebuild was to shed salary and McHugh will quickly get expensive. I think they will want a SS prospect, because they are thin on those in their minors.
        I’ll go with Martes, Reed, Teoscar and Areuz

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      • I am absolutely fine with the players you mentioned if that is all it takes. I mentioned McHugh because he’s still under control for 3 more years and the White Sox will need some major league ready pitching if they trade Quintana now that Sale is gone. Martes is close and since they are rebuilding they may just throw him into the fire. I am betting they will ask for K. Tucker since he is our best OF prospect. I am hoping Luhnow can find a way to pull of this trade w/o including him, but we shall see.

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      • Interesting, though not all that surprising to anyone that has followed his milb career, that absolutely nobody seems to be talking about – much less asking for – Brady Rodgers, the PCL’s pitcher-of-the-year in 2016. Where on earth does Brady go from here?

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  24. Let’s start winning those games against the Rangers before we get carried away. If Gomez produces anything close to what he did for them over his initial short stretch, that 11.5 million will be well worth it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Have to come alongside you here, daveb7. Not trying to rain on anybody’s parade, but haven’t we learned anything from decades of dashed hopes? I admit some seemingly serious moves have been made, but before we start talking trash and spanking, let’s see what comes down in April, May and June. Hitting is looking up. Pitching? Show me the money, and not just what’s in player pockets.

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      • My biggest concern, after adding all these bats, is that we still have the exact same hitting coach that we had last year. The Carlos Gomez, Tyler White, Jon Singleton, and A.J. Reed experiences show how the Huggins influence seems to coincide with – if not result in – catastrophic offensive failure.

        I want to believe. But there is no way I am mouthing off about how ‘good’ we are yet.

        Liked by 2 people

  25. I would offer significantly less for Quintana than Sale. He’s been good. He has never been great. He’s basically Wandy Rodriguez from 10 years ago. The White Sox are shopping him because they don’t think his value will hold up.

    So I go to MLBTR to look into these rumors and see the Cubs are trading Jorge Soler to the Royals for Wade Davis straight up. WHAT? Houston can’t find a package for Davis that’s better than a powerful strikeout machine who doesn’t know which hand the glove goes on? The last time I was this angry about Houston not being in the running on trades was when the Diamondbacks gave up Trevor Bauer for Didi Freaking Gregorius because they needed a SS.

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    • Quintana has improved every season culminating in an All-star year in 2016. Unlike Wandy, Quintana’s increasing fastball velocity has highlighted that improvement.
      In 2012 Quintana’s FB velocity averaged 90.4 mph and he used that pitch 53.7% of the time.
      In 2016 his FB velocity averaged 92.1mph and he used it 66.5% of the time.
      The pitch he has eliminated for the most part is his cutter. He uses his curve 25% of the time and his change up 8% of the time.
      His success has mirrored the increased usage of an increasingly good fastball.

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      • Im with OP on that, Quintana is a bit better than Wandy was, and solidifies the rotation at number 2. Stuff wise, MuCullers and Musgrove are the best the Astros have in the rotation right now, but Keuchel and Quintana are guys that have gotten stuff done with less. Give me all 4 of those guys, and if you can keep McHugh, great, if not, Morton at 5, and I feel better about where we are. Keeping McHugh is important though given the recent injury issues of McCullers and Morton – and Keuchel.

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  26. Goodness, if the Cubs get Wade Davis for Soler, they are going to be really great again. Plus, they will have been there, so they won’t need Ross’s steady hand on their shoulders. I don’t blame the Cubs for going after Davis. With that rotation, they need a good closer, because he will get lots of save chances.
    Hard to believe Sale is the only top pitcher the Nats were interested in.
    What does Laureano need to do this year to push Aoki out next year?
    The combined projected salaries of arb eligible Fiers and McHugh are higher than Quintana’s 2017 salary.
    Adding another lefty starter to the Astros rotation means that teams will stack more RH batters into their lineups, which plays into the Astros mostly-RH bullpen.
    I wonder how much improvement we will see in Beltan’s power numbers hitting from the right side, going from one of the deepest LF fences(Yankee Stadium) to the shortest in MMP.

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    • The Rangers seem like the big winner there. They now have a sandwich pick so signing Encarnacion and losing first round pick doesn’t hurt so bad.

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      • Yes, but that also skyrockets the Rangers’ already sky-high payroll.
        Let’s hope the Marlins sign Kenley Jansen. We would move up another slot in the draft.

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      • At this point it wouldn’t bother me so much if the Rangers got Encarnacion, especially if we get Quintana. I know it hasn’t happened yet, but even if it doesn’t it will severely limit their payroll flexibility in future years. It also means Choo will probably have to play the OF much as EE would probably spend 1/2 the season as the DH.

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      • EE by himself does not cause me much concern. I suspect, however, that the Rangers are about to become big players in the market. Money just does not seem to be an object to their ownership – and with the pitching they already have, if they add guys like EE AND Eaton/Abreu, and a couple more that match or exceed our off-season ‘haul’, getting the Silver Boot – and with it the AL West Championship – could prove to be a steep challenge ndeed.

        Liked by 1 person

      • The Rangers definitely can afford a higher budget than the Astros, but they are already pushed fairly high. I don’t see them adding another $30M as they haven’t saved much losing Beltran, Desmond and Moreland, but adding Gomez and Cashner. Also, their farm system has been drained over the past 2 years. They still have some decent prospects, but I doubt they have enough to get Abreu and Eaton.

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  27. According to mlbtraderumors.com – the D’Backs are open to moving Shelby Miller and/or Patrick Corbin. Both were rotten last year, but were much better previously. The D’Backs are looking for catching help (Gattis??) ….any thoughts on a couple young guys looking to bounce back

    Liked by 1 person

    • This will absolutely shock you…but I’d rather have Gattis than both of them. I’d take a chance on Corbin, but I’m sure Arizona will find a trade partner if they really want to move them.

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    • I have very little interest in either of them. I don’t see them being an upgrade to what we already have and I don’t want to trade Gattis and his 30+ HR potential for a pitcher that, in my opinion, won’t improve the team. I would be very interested in Robbie Ray if they wanted to make him available. I would prefer to use prospects in any trade at this point, unless the market drops far enough on Encarnacion where the Astros get back into his acquiring his services. This would allow us to flip Gattis in a trade.

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  28. Obviously, with the Red Sox getting Chris Sale, and there being no comparable pitcher [including Archer or Quintana, in my opinion] available now, we really need a next-generation Cy Young contender to arise from our system. Could that possibly be McCullers? Musgrove? Feliz? Paulino? Martes? Devenski?

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  29. After seeing the insane package the Nats just gave up for Adam Eaton I am guessing the Astros will not be getting Quintana. Wow! I like Adam Eaton, but the Nats gave up a ton of high quality prospects for him. Rick Hahn has cleaned up this week in re-stocking their farm system.

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  30. Now we know why the Nats said they weren’t going after a TOR starter. They were after Eaton instead.
    With KC having to back off from their stars and Detroit having to watch their dollars and cents, Chicago is looking toward the future thinking they might be able to get young and beat those two teams to the punch. They have just obtained two of the top 3 prospects in baseball and a bunch more to go with them.
    I wonder if the Astros think Martes might be ready to make the jump by the end of July. It would be good to have another pitcher we developed actually come in and join LMJ and Musgrove and Devenski to form a solid home grown rotation.
    Feliz and Paulino would be so great, to have all the young flamethrowers develop at the same time.
    Giles, Ferrell and Gustave and Guduan slowly filling in the bullpen.
    Oh, well, we shall see, God willing.

    Like

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