FREE BLOG WEEKEND: Trades, rules and questions

Hello friends, it’s a Free Blog Weekend, the tradition that began over a decade ago at the Chronicle. Today, you can take the discussion where you want, but I’ll get it started with a few thoughts.

How do you like that trade now?

The Astros have made quite a few eye-opening, head-scratching trades in the Jeff Luhnow era.  Often, many of us shake our heads at the moves, even drawing conclusions that trades are not Luhnow’s strong point.  However, several of those trades — especially those huge multi-player trades — were made because of a burgeoning roster rather than lose certain players in the Rule 5 draft. Others were made because the team had concluded a certain player may not ultimately perform at the level where he was currently ranked.  Still, others the organization had just given up on (e.g. Jonathan Villar, Dan Straily).

In the case of many trades, the Astros may have appeared to be losers on the surface. Now, however, some of those trades have begun to either even out or swing in the direction of the Astros.

Here are a couple. Where do these stand now?

Many fans wailed when Cosart was traded, but this is a trade that, at the moment, seems to lean Houston.

Gattis has performed well, but it’s Ruiz and Hoyt who may ultimately determine the outcome of this one.

Changing gears to a much-discussed subject, the Astros are still interested in Jose Quintana. And the White Sox appear to be still discussing the subject as well. The move would clearly improve the 2017 rotation and it could clearly upgrade the Astros into the next decade. The more the Astros discuss, and the more teams that are involved (the Cardinals, Pirates and Yankees are still considering), the more likely it is that the Sox may pry away a high prospect like Kyle Tucker or Marte.

The problem with trading Marte is that Marte may well become Jose Quintana himself in a few years. So that question is whether you want to stay the course with a top prospect who may not develop into a front line starter for a few years or make the investment for a now return.

As for suggested rule changes, baseball is becoming a bit like football. Too many little things that seemingly make no difference?

  • Base coaches must be in a certain place when the pitch is made: An amendment to Rule 5.03 requires base coaches to position themselves behind the line of the coach’s box closest to home plate and the front line that runs parallel to the foul line prior to each pitch. Once a ball is put in play, a base coach is allowed to leave the coach’s box to signal a player so long as the coach does not interfere with play.  Huh?
  • And teams may not use any marks on the field that could give fielders a reference point. The Dodgers were accused last season of using lasers to mark positions on the field for fielder positioning.

And a few questions to start the weekend:

  • With a few games under the Astros’ belt, do you still feel as good about the Astros’ off-season acquisitions?
  • Houston was apparently interested in Miguel Cabrera. That would have been a huge splash. What would the Astros have to give up for a player of his ilk?
  • The Astros will have a payroll somewhere north of $120 million in 2017. Can you name the four players who, at this point, will earn over $10 million per season? Extra credit for naming the four in order or their contract earnings this season.
  • Generally, how do you feel about The Luhnow Plan these days?



63 comments on “FREE BLOG WEEKEND: Trades, rules and questions

  1. ‘Do you still feel as good about the Astros’ off-season acquisitions?’

    I still feel good about Beltran, Aoki, and to a lesser degree Reddick. I have no idea what to think about Morton. Spin rates and WAR projections do not impress me one whit – I need to see a guy who actually get tough outs when the team needs them and who somehow manages to find ways to lead the team to real victories against Division foes and playoff teams.

    With the position players, and especially Reddick, I am beginning to see a little bit about the infamous ‘Hudgens Effect’ – where every hitter he touches turns into Jake Marisnick.


    • I left out any reference to Brian McCann. That was primarily because we haven’t seen much of him this Spring [just 2 AB so far, no hits, no walks, one K], because he is likely to be part of a platoon with Evan Gattis instead of a full-time catcher, and because he simply has to hit better for us than Jason Castro did, doesn’t he?


  2. *What would the Astros have to give up for a player of his ilk?*

    It would start with Martes, Altuve, Bregman, and Correa – in short, the present and the future of the franchise.


  3. Regarding the Cozart/Hernandez for a package of M & Ms [ Marisnick, Moran, and Martes] trade. We haven’t won anything yet. Marisnick has been a horrible albatross – albeit one with nice, flowing locks – around our offense’s neck. Last year he hit .209, with an OBP of .268 and an OPS of .588. That is called an automatic out. Collin Moran hit a whopping .130 for us last year, with an OBP of .200, an OPS of .374, and a strikeout to plate appearance percentage of .333. That’s worse than an automatic out – that’s an embarrassment. As for Martes, so far he’s all hope and hype. So far he hasn’t thrown a single pitch for us in the MLB – or even in AAA – much less won a game at the major league level. As for Daz Cameron – after the ridiculously tough start he had last year [.212/.287/.608 with a strikeout rate of over .333 per plate appearance in 2016] in low A and short A, I think we have to seriously temper our expectations of Mike Cameron’s son.

    I don’t think it is fair to judge a trade primarily by how the people you gave up do or don’t do; I measure it by how much the team’s record has improved by reason of the trade. On paper, Martes actually looks pretty average. Fortunately, in person, his stuff looks a lot better than it plays in the stat sheets. Can he improve his actual game performances in real time to the point they match his ‘wow’ factor? Who knows – but one thing is for sure: it hasn’t happened yet.


    • To date, we have won the trade. Marisnick has a higher combined WAR than Cosart and Kike combined and we got our top prospect along with 2 other top 30 prospects out of the trade. This is not to say the Marlins still can’t get the better of the deal, but the Astros are the winners, so far.


  4. As little Robbie Zimmerman might have once sung over us:

    There ain’t no use to sit and wonder when, Babe;
    if’n we ain’t champs by now.
    And there ain’t no use in throwin’ at their chin, Babe;
    if we can’t beat ’em anyhow.
    When anthem’s through and the ump shouts ‘Play Ball’,
    if ya don’t outscore the bad guys you’ll sit on your butts this Fall.
    Your finally earnin’ millions; and you’ve got two in the Hall –
    but don’t swing twice, it’s alright.


  5. • With a few games under the Astros’ belt, do you still feel as good about the Astros’ off-season acquisitions? I’m saving all feeling about the acquisitions to around the end of May and that may be way too soon. Baseball is too streaky to make judgments about after a week of the season much less a week of the pretend season.
    • Houston was apparently interested in Miguel Cabrera. What would the Astros have to give up for a player of his ilk? Too much
    • The Astros will have a payroll somewhere north of $120 million in 2017. Can you name the four players who, at this point, will earn over $10 million per season? Extra credit for naming the four in order or their contract earnings this season. Beltran, McCann, Reddick and Gurriel . In order?? Beltran, Gurriel, Reddick and McCann (and that is complete guess).
    • Generally, how do you feel about The Luhnow Plan these days? I am Ok with it – the proof will be in the pudding and the trades…..


  6. *Generally, how do you feel about The Luhnow Plan *

    Waiting patiently, more or less, knowing that at present there is no ‘Plan B’.


  7. 1. I feel good about the acquisitions and doubt I’ll feel differently in July.

    2. Cabrera – I suspect every $10million the Astros takes on prevents another Josh Reddick signing, so Cabrera would have prevented us from adding three players but would solve a position of need (1b or DH). For 2017 I’d rather have Beltran at half the cost. I don’t like the Cabrera deal’s dollars or length. As such, I imagine Luhnow would only have taken him on in salary dump fashion where the Tigers got 25 cents on the (present) dollar for him. In other words, I don’t think Detroit would have entertained any offer we would have made.

    3. Tricky – but I think it’s McCann, Beltran, Gurriel, and then Reddick. The key is the Yankees get to pay a lot of McCann…so Houston is on the hook for the least amount to him.

    4. Is it still a plan if it changes every year?


  8. Of subject but Morton Hitting 94-96 on his fastball. I didn’t know he threw that hard,
    2 innings, 1 hit no runs he looked good


    • That was one of the reasons Luhnow pursued Morton and gave him the 2/$14M contract (the increase in his velocity). He only pitched approximately 17 innings last season, but his velocity increase was noted and it is good to see he may still have that velocity.


  9. Maybe Luhnow could find a team of little leaguers to come into practice and teach the team fundamentals. Mental errors in the field, bad baserunning…we’re in mid-season form already.


  10. It may only be spring and spring stats don’t matter, wait that’s what we all said last year and how was our April, a big hole to dig out of. I hope it gets better , right now like watching good MLB teams Playing a Single A team. )-; Ill check in tomorrow


  11. I turned on Root Sports and couldn’t believe they pitched Peacock again today. Then realized it was a replay of yesterday. (No I didn’t attend A & M, I couldn’t get in.)


  12. I don’t get to watch the games, and for the 3rd day I can’t hearthem either.
    BUT….I watched an interview with Charlie Morton, and all I can say is this is ONE STRANGE DUDE. So far we are on the losing end of every single trade Mr. Luhnow has made. I know you don’t think so Tim…..but let me ask you where these players are that we traded for:
    Carlos Gomez -gone
    Scott Kazmir- gone
    Hank Conger – gone
    The jury is still out on the Giles trade.

    P. S. Virginia Rogers just punched his ticket for Fesno after today😔

    Liked by 1 person

      • I cant like but that is funny Becky, Mr Rodgers neighborhood is looking like AAAA.
        On a positive, JFSF has actually swung the lumber pretty well last few games.


    • We won the Cosart trade. You mention losing every trade right after your comment on Charlie Morton, but I assume you realize Morton wasn’t acquired via trade. He was a free agent.

      The Astros will probably lose the Gomez/Fiers trade unless Fiers provides solid pitching, but that trade is still up in the air since no one traded away has played in the majors other than Santana. We didn’t give up much in the Kazmir and Conger trade so, although we probably lost them, those trades are a dime a dozen and in the grand scheme of things very inconsequential since the value lost will not amount to much, if anything.

      How did Luhnow do in the Happ trade? The Jays have won that trade so far, but Musgrove might shift it to the Astros. Did the Astros win the Brett Myers trade in getting Chris Devenski? How about the Jose Veras trade getting Danry Vasquez and David Paulino? So far, the Astros have won the Gattis trade. How about Marwin Gonzalez for cash and Marco Duarte? What about Bud Norris for L.J. Hoes, Josh Hader and a pick that turned into Derek Fisher? I guess it is safe to say Luhnow is not “on the losing end of every singe trade…”.


      • The nature of prospects and years of control make it hard to evaluate some trades. I think we won the Cosart trade at this point, but how might 2015 have ended had we had him and Kike Hernandez instead of JFSF?


      • Also, if not for Jake’s April in 2015 would the Astros have made the playoffs? You know, if ifs and buts were candy and nuts…


      • Maybe, but since it’s a hypothetical I’m asking you to consider how Cosart either in the rotation instead of Fiers or Kazmir and Kike as a super sub may have impacted the summer and finish. I’m proposing they would not have traded for Kazmir or Gomez. This would have made Maverick, Nottingham, and Hader available for different, more useful trades.


      • No offense, Devin, but the reason for my ‘ifs and buts were candy in nuts’ comment was to illustrate why working in hypotheticals doesn’t work. We could play that game all day. There are so many interchangeable variables in trying to orchestrate different scenarios and potential outcomes.


    • Trust me Becky, living in a black out is better than watching the way our minor leaguers are playing. Most of the starters are on the bench except those that are leaving in a few days for WBC.


  13. I hate the word “synergy” because it is used too often, but it sometimes describes the value of a trade. For me, it is difficult to value one player against another by using stats are metrics. For example, does JFSF allow the Astros to play Beltran in LF because Jake covers so much ground. (Example ONLY) And it is always good to have players that Want To Be Here.


  14. The odds are that Astros will not be out-hit, out-played, and blown out of every game this spring. Most of them, yes. But all of them? What are the odds?


    • Yes he did, that one paragraph was a big slam on analytics and we don’t care about the player. I would say he is a bit bitter. I thought he was paid and treated pretty well for being mostly mediocre.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I am not an analytics kind of guy but it seems to me if the analytics guys at the Astros did not value Castro for his pitch framing etc – then he sure was not passing the eyeball test. The Astros decided they wanted guys who hit more like major leaguers and were willing to risk a little down side on the more analytic defensive numbers.

      Liked by 1 person

    • That attitude will probably follow him. Jason Castro *is* a good catcher, there was never a negative on that. He just couldn’t hit the ball. I wish both of these guys all the success in their baseball life. I liked BOTH of them😍


      • I liked them both too Becky. My only attitude complaint about Castro is that I did not like him complaining about pitches so much when he was batting. You want the ump to give you those same pitches when you are catching so just swallow and walk away.
        Plus he was usually wrong when he was batting.


    • It’s just the nature of second guessing for a Neshek (or a fan) to say, “oh, Hinch/JL put that guy in bc he pitches better against so in so”, rather than, “coach knows I’m the best option anytime.”

      Kinda like drafting for need, instead of best available. Kinda like taking a chance on a guy, irrespective of anyone else, trust that that player like Castro who is so well-prepared on/off the field (lacking productive bat) is the best option, and subsequently treating him like a mule.. I can see where cAstro was a big part of the best and worst of times – never given full due bc he never really stood out; he was just steady. Much like Neshek. We could have kept them both if they were cheaper and played to 2013 and 2015, respective.


  15. Just for fun – our projected line-up through seven spring training games [though not all players have played in all those games]:

    Springer – .333/.333/.778, no BB, no HRs, no RBIs
    Bregman – .294/.294/.647, no BBs, no HRs, no RBIs
    Altuve – .143/.333/.446, 2BBs, no HRS, 1 RBI
    Correa – .250/.500/.875, 4BBs, no HRs, 1 RBI
    Beltran – .400/.500/1.500, 1 BB, 1 HR, 1 RBI
    Reddick – .143/.250/.393, 1 BB, no HRs, no RBI
    Gurriel – .286/.286/.571, no BBs, no HRs, 2 RBIs
    Gattis – .200/.273/.473, 1 BB, no HRs, 1 RBI
    Aoki – .500/.625/1.125, 1 BB, no HRs, no RBIs

    Note the dearth of BBs [except Correa], of HRS, and of home runs. Note also that without Beltran and Aoki, the BA/OBP/OPS numbers would be beyond ugly. This is . . . the Hudgens effect.


  16. Offensively [well, theoretically]:

    Astros are now 26th of 30 in team BA
    Astros are now 21st of 30 in team OBP
    Astros are now 27th of 30 in team OPS
    Astros are now dead last in the league in runs scored.
    Astros are now 28th of thirty in hits.
    Astros are now 29th of 30 in extra base hits
    Astros are now 25th of 30 in home runs
    But hey, we are 4th in the league in stolen bases – and haven’t had a CS yet!


  17. Spring training stats are meaningless.
    Spring training stats are meaningless.
    Spring training stats are meaningless.
    Spring training stats are meaningless.

    Have I mentioned that spring training stats are meaningless? If not, I want to make that point so we don’t panic over the first week of spring training.

    Liked by 2 people

  18. Last year the DBacks were 24-8 and the Cubs were 11-18 in spring training. Due to the WBC spring training started much earlier this year and the first week involved many players who will open the season in the minors. In addition, players use spring training to work on different things such as new swing mechanics or different pitches they are trying to develop. I urge you to not get worked up about the stats or W/L record, especially in the first week.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yep. I’ll give in to the panic and hysteria if we have another April like last year. Right now the games are completely meaningless and it’s barely a week into spring training. Any panic and complaints are unwarranted and, honestly, a bit silly. Again, look at how the Cubs did last spring training. I think their season ended fairly well.


  19. I am concerned that Hinch will, as he did last year, not play the “starters” enough in spring training and that these players will not be in game shape, as they were last year, to begin the season. True, some starters are playing in the WBC and this, in turn, does affect the effect that the team is attempting to accomplish. One pitcher that is being used plenty this season, in a starter’s role, is Brad Peacock. In my l’il opinion, he is being showcased for a possible trade since he has no options left. I can accept this. Hinch, do not wait too long for the others!


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