Astros on the mountain top, but payday is coming

Someday, we’ll look back on these times as the good ol’ days!

The Astros are flying high today, just as Sports Illustrated predicted several years ago. But, as is often the case in any field, it’s sometimes easy to get to the top of the mountain. The difficulty comes in staying there.

You can’t argue with the path that Jeff Luhnow has taken, especially given the recent results. Painful at times over the past decade, the mile markers have been obvious as the organization has rocketed to the best record in baseball in 2017. To be sure, in 2017, there are the Astros. And, then, there is the rest of the major leagues.

But there are still tough roads ahead for Houston, especially off the field.

When all is said and done in 2017, Houston will have an overall payroll around $120 million — and maybe a World Series trophy. But none of its stars — Dallas Keuchel, Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa, George Springer et al — are earning exorbitant salaries. In fact, Altuve — thanks to that early contract — is making only $4.5 million this season and continues to be one of the shining stars in the league.

Luhnow is pacing himself well though, not clogging up the payroll arteries long-term. In fact, only two players — Yuli Gurriel and Josh Reddick — are signed for 2020, though Houston does hold options for Altuve ($6.5 million), Brian McCann ($15 million) and Will Harris ($5.5 million) for that season.

The big questions ahead for the Astros will be the Big 4 mentioned above. Keuchel will be due up first, heading into his final year of arbitration in 2018. And he’s having the perfect set-up season for it. If Houston is able to keep him, he will undoubtedly become the highest-paid player in the organization’s history.

Can you say $30 million per season?

By the time Altuve becomes a free agent, he’ll probably have a few more All Star games under his belt and maybe another batting title or two. He’ll be 30 when he gets what will probably be his one big contract.

Can you say $200 million, with at least $25 million per season?

Correa? Well, who knows. He won’t be a free agent until 2022, but is there any doubt he’ll make the big $ within the next 2-3 years? Correa has actually said he’d be open to an Altuve-like deal, though he said that would have to be sooner than later. That, however, could buy Luhnow some time.

Springer, though, may be the odd man out or the centerpiece of the future. A somewhat late bloomer compared to Correa, Springer won’t be a free agent until 2021…at age 31. The fleet center fielder is earning $3.9 million in his first year of arbitration and that will jump dramatically next season.

By 2022, if the Astros keep their core together, Luhnow could be handing out $20 million salaries to at least four players. Can you justify $100 million for four players, even if those four players are named Correa, Springer, Altuve and Keuchel?

Oh, and I didn’t even mention Lance McCullers and Alex Bregman, who will be free agents in 2022 and 2023.

Will the Astros have to pick and choose between their best three position players? Which one will Luhnow pull the trigger with first: Springer? Altuve? Correa?

And, if the Astros go out and buy another Keuchel-like starter, what then?

Yes, the bottleneck is coming and you can bet that Luhnow is spending a good amount of time crunching those numbers. He had the latitude this way to up the ante to $120 million, but how far will Jim Crane dig into the till?

So for the conversation starter, here are a few questions:

  • Which of the Big Four are still around in an Houston uniform in 2022?
  • Which of the Big Four will be traded after the Astros win the 2017 World Series?
  • Which of the Big Four will be most valuable, most necessary to the World Series run in 2019?
  • It’s way too early — and very unfair — to ask the question, but that’s what I get to do: How many of the Big Four are Hall of Fame bound?
  • Which of the Big Four would the Astros miss most in 2018?

 

141 comments on “Astros on the mountain top, but payday is coming

  1. I think the Astros should just ride out Springer’s arbitration years, thank him for helping us win those World Series trophies and wish him the best with his new team and that 7/$175M contract. Someone will pony up close to that for Springer and, as much as I love the guy, it would not be a smart business decision to sign him into his late 30s.

    Also, I think it is going to be hard to keep Altuve. He will over 30 when he is a free agent and speed is one of his best assets. I expect him to get a very sizable, similar to Cano, contract. Again, as much as I like Altuve I don’t want to be paying him that much into his late 30s/early 40s. Correa is the one player they should look to lock up and this should be done, in my opinion, within the next 2 years. He is a young, power hitter than should be able to maintain most his hitting prowess into age 34 season. If they come to Correa at the end of the 2018 season with a 10/$275-300M offer it may be difficult for him to turn this down.

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      • I’ve never had the loyalty gene to individual players. I have stated here before that the name on the front of the jersey will always be more important to me than the name on the back. I wanted the Astros to keep Kent and let Biggio go after the 2004 season. My only concern is what is best to help the team win now and in the near future. I cheer for all the players when they are wearing the Astros jersey, but when they move elsewhere I can quickly detach myself from my fandom for that particular player. Maybe I am just cold-hearted. 🙂

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  2. Great article Chip and timely too.
    I would like to discuss another side to this situation and that is some addition by subtraction.
    Around 45% of the Astros salaries this year are tied to the following folks:
    Beltran ($16 MM)
    Reddick ($13 MM)
    McCann ($17 MM)
    Gregerson ($6+MM)
    Sipp ($6MM)
    Aoki ($5.5 MM)
    Total ~ $64 MM

    There is a good chance that most of these folks will be coming off the payroll and be replaced with cheaper options in the next two seasons. That will help in what the Astros are trying to do.
    And on top of it – if the Astros finally get to the mountaintop there should be a whole lot more money available. The band wagon folks should start pushing the attendance back up towards that $3 million mark.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dan, Reddick is signed through 2020 (@ $13 million per) and may become more valuable if the Astros find it necessary — as Tim concludes — to move Springer. The Astros will also have nine — count ’em 9! — players in arbitration this winter. Among those are Keuchel and Springer, not to mention Giles, McHugh and Peacock.

      Yes, the trappings of a great WS run will start the $$$ pouring in, but it’s going to be an interesting few years on the payroll side.

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      • I agree Chip – the other interesting piece to this is who is available from below. Are guys like Fisher, Reed, Martes, etc. going to be legitimate major leaguers or AAAA players

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      • Since we are looking past 2018, I would focus that inquiry on guys that are further down in the system – guys like KTuck, Forest Whitely, Riley Farrell, Brett Adcock, Akeem Bostick, Cionel Perez, Garrett Stubbs, Jake Rogers, Yordan Alvarez, Drew Ferguson, Jason Martin, Stephen Wrenn, Ronnie Dawson, Chuckie Robinson, Myles Straw, Alex De Goti, Rhyne Birk, and Abraham Toro-Hernandez, just to name a few. These guys won’t all make it – at least in the Astro organization. In fact, odds are pretty high that most of them will falter before they make it to the Bigs in Houston or anywhere else. But the ‘farm’ is called the ‘farm’ for a reason. That’s where you grow baseball players. And some of the guys I named above have the talent – if we just train them right – to step into the shoes of guys who choose to leave us over the next few years.

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      • Just to clarify I am not proposing moving Springer, but just keeping him through his arb years and then letting him leave via free agency. Maybe that is what you meant by “move Springer”, but I just wanted to clarify this.

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  3. I love our current players. But there are more coming behind them. That is why we need to continue to focus on the minor leagues and the international signings. Some of our current heroes will be given plenty of reasons to stay if they wish, Others will be given plenty of opportunities to leave if they wish. So it goes. But right now, I am enjoying every minute!

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  4. Keep Correa (if you can). I think Altuve develops a little more power when that speed factor disappears. He will inevitably also lose what makes him so much better than everyone else – even a hundredth of a second of hand eye will cost him on that batting average. I think he goes from being superman to merely half immortal, but whats the going rate on a second baseman hitting .280 with 25 hr?

    Keuchel is iffy. We know how good he is when he pitches with a chip on his shoulder. We also know how not good he is when he thinks he is so good he doesn’t have to tell anyone his shoulder is bothering him. Or did he just get over worked in that 232 inning season? Something his arm and shoulder had never experienced? When people doubted him, he won a cy young, when people expected greatness he laid an egg, when people said he was just a one hit wonder, he is giving you another cy season. This guy could pitch .500 ball the rest of the season and still go 19-10 and put himself in cy contention, and thats crazy. The question is how does he respond to a 25-30 million a year salary? Does he go all 2016?

    Springer’s age will probably make him the odd man out. As good as George is, he isn’t Altuve or Correa.

    You should ask yourself where is Marwin going after this season, or has he been so good that Gurriel becomes the most expensive backup in the league?

    One things for sure – Luhnow has it good. Which pretty girl to take to the prom is helluva problem to have, one I never got to experience.

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  5. 1. It wouldn’t surprise me to lose all four. I don’t think they can resign Correa as a free agent. The only real hope is that one or more want to give us a hometown discount. Altuve might be the most likely as an overpay by Crane may not be met by other GMs.
    2. I think trading any of the four would be a PR nightmare.
    3. Correa. We have no replacements in system.
    4. Odds are the answer is that 0 are HoF bound, but I’m going to be optimistic and say 1. I think Altuve can play another 10 years and get another 1800 hits if he stays healthy…which should punch his ticket. I think Correa has all the potential in the world, but we’ll have to see what happens. As much as I like Springer and Keuchel I just don’t see them having the longevity and consistency to put up the numbers.
    5. I think Correa would be most missed. As I mentioned, we don’t have a replacement SS in system. Having to trade for one would cost prospects who we either need to step into the rotation or want to use as trade pieces.

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    • Nobody has a replacement SS for Correa in their system.
      His youth makes him a great candidate for the Astros springing for a big deal for him.

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  6. Great Post Chip and some great thoughts from everyone. I like Dan’s spin , a lot of money will come off the books with the 6 he has listed maybe Reddick is still around in 2019. Of the 4 listed I see CC getting the kind of money we cant touch. DK man I’m glad I’m not the GM he will be 30 in 2017, soft tossing crafty lefty and 5 and 150 yikes.
    I hope Altuve and Springer retire Astros , so pay them and keep that hustle fun attitude around another 8-10 years. LMJ healthy we have to keep him.

    So we need 3.5 million in the park every year, WS runs, more TV Money, and keep it coming with good young talent that are under control for 5 years

    GO Uncle Jeff

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  7. May I go off topic, Debbie Downer?

    In following MLB for several decades, we have seen Williams, Musial, Mantle, Yaz, Ken Griffey Jr, Pujols, Trout, etc al “carry” their team. Some guys when “hot” win games by themselves. I have never seen in my memory seen 6-7-8-9 place hitters carry a team to a pennant. It is almost in the late innings the “bottom of the order” is Springer,Reddick, and Altuve.

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  8. To face Paulino – our #3 prospect – the Royals are calling up their #5 prospect, Jake Junis, to start tonight’s game. In June of last year, Junis was pitching for NW Ark in the Texas league against our Corpus Christi Hooks. He beat the Hooks on June 4 last year, throwing six shutout innings. He struck out eight in those six innings, twice victimizing a kid named Alex Bregman. Breg went 0-4 that night.

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  9. Luhnow has a huge page on his computer with the next five years mapped out on it with the names and projected values and projected salaries of every player in the system. It will feed an app with the expected roster for each year and the estimated payroll for each year, the expected WAR and the expected attendance and revenues.
    He has a plan and he has backup plans and he knows what to expect and who he might retain and who he might not be able to or expect to.
    It’s not etched in stone because everything is different if the Astros win a championship and player’s markets change because of it.
    But, if Harper, Freeman, Goldschmidt and Altuve and other great players end up on the rich teams after 2019 and 2020, those rich team’s payrolls will already be fat by the time a Correa is ready to hit free agency.
    Almost every team can afford one big salary and the rich teams can afford two. But there are only three or four extremely wealthy teams and their tendencies have been to overpay for 30 year old stars and lock them up to deals that are horrible in the later years.
    How is the Seattle/Cano deal working out?
    How is the Angels/Pujols deal working out?
    How are Dodgers/ billions working out/
    The Cubs deal worked out. but the Cubs have not given out a $300 million contract, that I know of.
    The big difference is if a team can keep the pipeline moving and producing, while locking up a top player in his year 26-27 for a ton of money for 8-10 years so that he is able to produce on the back end of that deal.
    One more thing. If the Astros win a ring in the next couple of years and a guy like Altuve can be signed to a long term deal, the cohesiveness of the Astros team and organization would be enhanced and it will be a magnet for the type of players who fill out the team yearly or in 2-3 year deals, like the guys Luhnow managed to add to the team this past year.
    There are tangents aplenty in this discussion for the next few days that we can keep putting out there to feed discussion of the perceived direction of our club.

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  10. I am about to go on my Luhnow lovefest again so stop reading if you are still anti-Luhnow.

    I don’t see how anyone cannot appreciate the great job he has done in not only making us the best team in baseball this year, but setting us up to be competitive for several more years and not saddling this team with any deadweight contracts. Yes, the Yuli contract is probably inflated from what we will get from him, but Luhnow structured it so each year his salary decreases. Thus, the final year of his contract he is only making $8M, which would equate to about 1 WAR. In addition, he has helped keep our farm system one of the very best in baseball. Luhnow has done nothing to lessen my appreciation for him in making the Houston Astros one of the best organizations in baseball.

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    • I am presuming the FO sees some peripherals in Rodriguez that do not show up in his stats from Cuba. The stats are . . . well, let’s just say a good bit less than one would expect for a signing that carries a net cost of $4M.

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      • You can bet your booties, Granny, that they see something. They have seen him pitch. They have timed his fastball, which has jumped 10 mph in the last 1.5 years. And you can also bet they have established the spin rate on his breaking pitches.
        They looked at his flaws, and think they could fix them. They have looked at his arm and decided it was ok and they have looked at his delivery to see if it is the kind of delivery that does not ask for trouble.
        They have also looked at the fact he is a 20 year old lefthanded pitcher who can hit the high 90’s with his fastball. That alone is worth taking a chance on, especially in light of the performance of Reymin Guduan in the last month.
        Left handed pitchers who can throw in the high nineties are golden.

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      • Well, hell, no wonder they signed him! The guy threw in the 80’s as a LHP and now throws in the high nineties as a RHP He’s handbergerdexterous! That ought to be worth $6 million raht there. Pay the man, Jeff. Tim, tell Jeff to pay the man!

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  11. By the way OP and Mr Bill Ty for all you Farm reports and who to watch etc etc, I’m going between work and community groups about 70 hours a week, so TY TY.

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  12. Before the ML Astros go for their 12th straight win against KC, the Buies Creek Astros will be trying to regain a share of 1st place for the franchise in the Carolina A League. The Buies Creek boys have missed the middle-of-the-order bat of recently promoted star Kyle Tucker badly, and as a result have fallen out of 1st for the first time in 2017. Tonight they take on the league-leading Myrtle Beach Pelicans [a Cubs’ affiliate] behind recently promoted righty Ryan Hartman. Hartman needs a good game to take the edge off a really ugly high A debut on Memorial Day [3.2 IP, 6 ER, 6 H, 4 BB, 1 K]

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  13. Chip……you just gave me a headache thinking about losing ANY of that core four.
    At least we don’t have to think about that possibility for another 2-4 yrs. (((SIGH))).
    AND…..I STILL think Luhnow needs to trade for another TOR if this group is going to make it over the hump. Waiting for Charlie to make it back, and waiting to see *if* McHugh will be effective when he gets back (looking after the ASB) I absolutely do NOT want a two month rental like the disaster Scott Kazmir was. I gotta go take some excedrin!!

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    • Becky, my guess/hunch/thought is that you won’t have to wait for “another 2-4 yrs.” before Luhnow makes a move. With Springer, especially if the Astros take it all this year, there may not be a better time than this winter. Who wouldn’t give up a haul for a young, speedy, power hitter who’s coming off a 30 HR season in the leadoff spot? And, if Luhnow hasn’t already pulled the trigger for a Quintana-like pitcher, he WILL do that this winter…again guess/hunch/thought. Just sayin’…

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      • Springer is the very heart and soul of this team…..it would crush every single fan in Houston and around the state of Texas, if Luhnow traded him this winter. NOT KIDDING. Trade Marisnick…..or Yuli, but not George. I know…. I’m thinking like a girl and I understand we can’t keep everyone…..but I don’t think I could be ok looking at him in another uniform😢.
        Paulino has the *stuff*…..think they will keep him up??

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  14. I don’t want to think about losing any of these guys either. But that’s not realistic. It’ll come down partly to who we have in the system at the time, ready to take over a particular position. What if Springer is just now becoming the .900 OPS guy we’ve been waiting for. 40 homers might be a reality for him this year. What other center field starter in the game plays his defense? Maybe Trout. That’s special company though. I hate to think we’re doomed to watching George play for the Yankees. But on the other hand, maybe Tucker becomes his replacement and helps us forget. Bregman might be the guy that replaces Altuve. But what a shame that would be too. I think more Astro fans identify with Jose as the genesis of our resurgence than anyone else.. He is! I think we’re more apt to sign Keuchel to a long term deal. Every club needs more pitching. If we’ve got a weakness in the system, it is a lack of arms. And I’d like to get Correa locked up soon, for at least five years. He can then still get his ten year deal somewhere else down the road.

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    • I would LOVE to get Correa signed to a 5-year extension, but I think he and his agent, are looking for a very long-term contract to buy out his arbitration years and then some. If he would sign a 5/$150-$160M contract I think Crane may be open to this. I just don’t think it will happen, but I have definitely been wrong before.

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  15. This is a topic I didn’t want to think about any time soon but I’m sure it’s in the back of everyone’s mind including the FO.

    Altuve has the shark of all agents in Boras. It’s doubtful the Astros could reach an affordable deal there.

    I’ve read that Correa is open to signing a long term deal but only if it’s done this year. I’m surprised the Astros aren’t all over that.
    I remember Keuchel saying the same thing in 15.
    Could be, as Tim says, an unreasonable deal.

    Could the FO be planning to grow there own position players and spend the $$ on pitching.

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  16. Play too long with matches…..and you get burned. I saw this inning developing when they left that kid in too long. Bullpen is tired, and you can tell it.

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  17. That was a tough way for the streak to end. As much publicity as the Astros are getting right now you have to expect every team is going to give us their best. K.C. has always played us tough and they are similar to us in that they have hitters that put the bat on the ball. We knew the Astros weren’t going to win every game the rest of the season and we are still 42-17 with a very sizable division lead, but no doubt, this one hurt.

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    • Agree. I am not impressed with Giles based on what we gave up to get him. Most of his pitches were right in the “kill zone” for the batters and those guys aren’t going to miss that often. A double in the 9th scores three and then the “offering” to Moustakis. Might as well been set up on a tee for him.

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      • I’m more concerned with our LHP options in the bullpen. I think Luhnow goes after help there and doesn’t upgrade the rotation in the next month. Ideally the offense keeps clicking and it’s a non-issue until October.

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      • We really didn’t give up much for him. VV has a checkered injury history and has been battling injuries during his short time with Philly. The rest of the players in that trade are playing like hot garbage right now. So far, the Astros have gotten the better of the deal and, honestly, it’s not really that close.

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    • Like I said earlier, I think both Gregerson and Giles will become more effective at some point. I also think Feliz will become more dominant. If Giles proves not to be the lights out closer we want, his replacement might be an in house guy. I’d be surprised if Luhnow went after a ninth inning guy this year, but I can’t say I’d be disappointed!

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  18. We are 42 and 17 on this fine morning! And remarkably, our two traditionally late inning right handlers have not pitched all that well on the season. They will improve!

    I’m worn out from this stretch of remarkable baseball. I need a break. It’s mentally taxing. Imagine how the guys on the field feel!

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  19. Giles has been streaky since he has been here – last year and this year. He started the year by giving up runs in a number of games, settled down and had a nice 6 week stretch where he gave up 2 runs in 17 appearances, and now he has allowed runs in 3 appearances in a row. He had done a good job of avoiding the HRs….until giving up 2 in his last 3 games.
    I mean he is not Sam Dyson bad, but he can be worrisome.

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  20. Talking about outing Springer when there’s joy in Mudville for first time in aeons? I don’t get it. My heart isn’t up for it. Too many business heads here. Too smart for me. Can’t keep up. There’s enough pain in the real world without more here. Can’t we just play ball and enjoy it?

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    • I’m with you how soon we forget those 100 loss seasons. Lets win tonight start a new streak, have fun, enjoy the ride, Uncle Jeff and Hinch have done an amazing job, this group is special, lets roll for 7-10 years, pay the good guys, say good bye to the underachievers, and we will lose someone to FA. It’s baseball not life.

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  21. Hinch’s hiring in 2014 highlighted the Astros’ ability to function not merely as machine. Their metrics were the limo that took them to prom; Hinch was their date. And quite the catch: funny and intelligent, serious when he needs to be and ridiculous when he does. Like with playing Gonzalez. Earlier this season, Hinch called Alex Bregman, one of the Astros’ finest young talents, into his office. Hinch told Bregman he wasn’t in the lineup that day. Bregman did not take kindly to this, not out of disrespect but because, like Carlos Correa and Jose Altuve, he carries himself with a competitive mean streak that imbues the Astros with the sort of attitude reserved for teams stocked with graybeards.
    To explain, Hinch turned around and grabbed his Astros cap. He told Bregman that Gonzalez needed to play, and in order to figure out who would sit out, he put the candidates’ names in the hat.
    “So you picked my name?” Bregman said.
    “No,” Hinch said. “I picked Correa’s, but there was no way I was sitting him, so I put it back in.”
    And with that, all was well in the Astros’ world.

    From a story in Yahoo Sports by Jeff Passan

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  22. #Mariners confirm contract extension with SS Jean Segura. Believed to be five years, $70 million with $17 million option for 2017.

    So what is “a fair deal” for Correa? We know he and his agent read this.

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    • Well, if some of the players read this blog yesterday, maybe that’s what snapped the winning streak. Hope not. Hang in there, AC45.

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    • Are we paying Correa based on his accomplishments or based on what we expect he’ll accomplish? I think you make him one of the top 5 paid position players in baseball if it’s the latter.

      As a fan, however, I have to wonder what Correa will target. Is there a number in his mind that he thinks is “enough” or is it going to strictly come down to whatever team throws out the highest bid? I’m certain he’ll wait to see what Bryce Harper gets this off season.

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      • If he signs a deal, it will be somewhere less than what his agent wants and somewhere more than what Luhnow wants to pay. I’d just like to get our shortstop situation resolved for the next half decade or so. Correa has a great advantage in that if he does a deal with us now, he’ll still have the opportunity to sign another ten year deal down the road. Segura is already 27. I think Seattle got a good deal.

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    • Guli and Bregman at the bottom of the order could be key tonight. Guli has been red hot [3 for 5 last night] and Bregman is . . . well, WAY OVERDUE. In the middle of the order, we need Altuve and Beltran to both have a monster game, as Altuve comes in hitting .417 against Vargas and Beltran comes in hitting .600 against him [albeit in only 3 ABs]. The rest of the lineup either has not faced Vargas or has not done well against him. I guess Reddick gets the nod from Hinch because he did once hit a homer against the Royals lefty, and I guess McCann gets the nod because he is DK’s personal catcher.

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  23. Tonight will be interesting – two tough lefties on the hill – DK and Vargas. They have the two lowest ERAs among all MLB starters. Vargas’ WHIP coming into the tilt is 1.10, while Keuchel’s is 0.87. Vargas’ K/9 is 7.01; Keuchel’s is 8.21. Vargas’ BAA is .234; Keuchel’s is .183.

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  24. When my team wins, I am happy and when they lose, I’m sad.
    All the time, I love them.
    When my team was in the World Series, I was working from six in the morning until nine at night trying to keep our business alive and I couldn’t find the time to enjoy them.
    I am going to enjoy this. Losses that come(and they will come) are not going to take away from my enjoyment. I want to have the ride of my life that I have been waiting decades for.
    This feeling I have for the Astros is something I have had since I was twelve years old. It is worth the wait, or I would have given up on them years ago, like so many of my family did. Some of them are Cardinal’s fans and some of them are skeeters fans. I am an Astros fan, for life.
    I’m expecting the Astros to win tonight. Like I do every night.

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    • On the night they won the game that got them into the Series, I was at the office working and running back and forth to sneak looks as they popped champagne. Later, much later, I drove down Richmond Avenue and people were lined up on the sidewalks cheering and horns were blowing and I blew mine. During those days I too worked impossible hours, on one occasion 36 hours straight, all day, all night and all day the next day. Just last Thursday I was at the office all night, 26 hours straight. Woe is me. LOL. It’s not gonna stop me lovin’ the ‘Stros and I REFUSE to discuss who we’re gonna cut, now or this winter or prolly ever.

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      • EXACTLY Diane!! Let’s ot discuss what Luhnow might, or might not do over the winter! Makes me sick to think about it. Becky⚾

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  25. I’m in Ft. Worth visiting my sister…..and behold, she can get Root sports!
    BUT….. it’s been pretty disappointing. Last night was an avoidable loss, leaving two kids from the minors in too long cost them big time. Now having to patch together pitching from your depleted bullpen…..*wow* top of the 7th, losing 7-2. Are the wheels coming off already???? dam-it.😭

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    • Becky,

      You crack me up with your panic after 2 straight losses. I believe our record is 42-18 so relax and realize they’re going to lose at least 40 more games. They may even lose tomorrow, but they’re winning this division and we’ll see how the playoffs go.

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      • It would take long term injuries to Keuchel and LMJ for the Astros to lose this division and even if that happened they still probably hang on. Relax and enjoy the ride as this is the best Astros team we’ve ever seen.

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  26. Best wishes and a quick recovery to Dallas Keuchel. A hearty ‘we miss you’ and ‘get well soon’ to Joe Musgrove. A wistful ‘Hope to see you back in your glory in late-July’ to Collin McHugh. Offense, don’t fail us now, and we will weather this storm.

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  27. For those like myself that like to follow betting lines you can wager on what team you think will win a particular division in baseball. All the betting sites I visit have taken the NL East and AL West off the board. The wise guys know both those division races are over. This may not alleviate your fears over this horrific 2-game losing streak, but it should give you an idea the chances of another team besides the Astros winning the AL West. If worse comes to worse we can have some fun discussing what we can get in a trade for our aging veterans like Springer, Altuve and Keuchel. I’d have to imagine we could get quite the haul (Chipalatta does not allow for sarcasm font).

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      • Interesting question. Here are the standings:
        HOU 42-18
        SEA 30 – 30
        LAA 30 – 32
        TEX 27 – 32
        OAK 26 – 33

        Every game has a binary outcome, so we can really focus only on losses here. For us to be caught, over our next 100 games we have to:
        – lose 12 games more than SEA out of 100
        – lose 14 games more than LAA out of 98
        – lose 14 games more than TEX out of 101
        – lose 15 games more than OAK out of 101

        If you break the season down into smaller sprints, SEA has to be one game better than us over each 10 game sprint the rest of the way…to still finish 2 games behind us.

        However, the great equalizer is head-to-head. Houston has 12 games remaining against SEA. Playing devil’s advocate, if SEA were to rough us up and go 9-3 against us in those match-ups it would change the landscape considerably. To tie in the standings SEA would then only have to lose 6 fewer games the rest of the way than Houston out of 88 games against other teams.

        TL;DR: TEX won the division the last two years because of luck and how consistently they beat us head-to-head. Don’t print your playoff tickets yet…but feel free to put down a deposit.

        Liked by 1 person

  28. Our starting pitchers have thrown the 7th most innings in MLB. I would have guessed that comparatively, we’d have been much worse in this regard. It illustrates the real shortage of quality pitching throughout the major leagues, or at least the lack of quality pitchers than can go 7 or 8 innings on a regular basis. Look at Lance. He’s turned into an excellent number two for us, but he gives us less than 6 innings a night.

    Our bullpen guys rank 15th in innings pitched. Again, I would have thought we’d have thrown more relief innings than the majority of clubs. And we’ve got a 13 man pitching staff, partially thanks to Marwin. The last two nights have shown just how quickly a pen can get taxed. Clubs throughout MLB are calling for minor league arms more than ever and we’re only in June. We might see someone new from Fresno today.

    As part of our clubs offensive mentality, we work hard at the plate to get the opposing starters pitch count up. I think we’ll see this approach more and more throughout baseball. Last night the guys were talking about a 26 man roster. That might help for awhile, but unless MLB can develop more guys that can throw 6 plus solid innings, today’s pitch count will continue to drop in the future.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Our bullpen ranks second in baseball, behind only the Dodgers, in innings pitched, not fifteenth. The biggest reason for this is our impressive road record. When you lead going into the ninth inning on the road you have to pitch the bottom of the ninth. Most teams lose on the road and their bullpens don’t have to pitch that extra inning. Leading in road games has added 10-15 innings to our bullpen so far this season, over what other teams have faced.

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      • OP, as of this morning, ESPN, the stat page I looked at, has the Astro bullpen at 200.2 relief innings, 14th in MLB. The Trolley Dodgers are listed as 12th in MLB in relief innings pitched. Perhaps we are looking at two different stats pages.

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      • You are right and I stand corrected. I need to be better at this, especially at double checking someone else’s work before I quote it.

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  29. Right now, today, we’re down to two starters with any real ML experience.
    We have a bullpen so exhausted their tongues are hanging out.
    And no days off until next week.

    Kinda hard to sit back and enjoy the ride.

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    • It’s basically been that way for the past 10 games and our record is 8-2 in those 10 games. Why panic because we lost 2 straight? Did you really expect us not to have any type of losing streak again this season? I am not worried in the least and no reason any other Astros fans should. We have one of the best offensive teams in baseball and one of the easiest schedules remaining for the rest of the season. RELAX and enjoy the ride, both the ups and downs as this division belongs to the Astros.

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  30. I wonder if Reymin Guduan even left Kansas City. They used Diaz up last night and sent him back down to AAA, but they had optioned Guduan the night before after his outing. If he just stayed in town, I guess they could recall him and use him tonight.
    If not, then we might see Jankowski again. He last pitched on Monday night and it wasn’t pretty.

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    • Guduan won’t be eligible to be recalled until 10 days pass. The exception is if someone goes on the DL in which case they could recall him immediately.

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  31. Tim, is it possible that Martes has been throwing a huge majority of his lesser pitches(changeup and slider) this season in AAA and not throwing many of his devastating fastball and curve ball. He has been hit hard and has walked a huge amount of batters?
    The only reason I can think of that the Astros would add him to their 40-man and active rosters now is if he has been working on his lesser pitches to bring them up to par and not focusing on getting batters out with his good pitches.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think that’s exactly what it is. He’s trying to work on his other pitches in order to be a top level starting pitcher. Since he’s going to start in our bullpen he can survive on 2 high quality pitches for now.

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    • my spies tell me he has been focused on working on his changeup. so i am hoping that much like in spring training when pitchers are working on a curve or slider or change and their stats dont look so good, the same has been happening with him in his work this year in the minors. makes sense. #1 prospect with a couple of real good pitches that could really deal with a third and fourth pitch available, you would be working on it. prob wont throw it much at all with the big team until he gets it more perfected.

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  32. I’m looking forward to seeing Martes best two pitches for now. This bump in the road is just what it is, all clubs go through it during a 162 game season. Fortunately for us, a whole bunch of hard work has given us a big cushion. No need to rush out and make a crappy deal with some other club.

    My only real question is why Keuchels illness remains undisclosed. Did he eat some bad barbecue? He should always wait until getting home where he can eat the superior Texas product. Or maybe he’s a victim of George Brett syndrome and is too embarrassed to talk about it? Regardless, I sure hope it’s a simple minor thing that we all deal with from time to time.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Tim, in my mind, this merely escalates Luhnow’s efforts to find another starter. Wouldn’t be surprised if he were to make a decisive move before all the hectic trade deadline stuff gets rolling in a few weeks. As fragile as LMJ has been in his career, Luhnow can not afford to be caught in a starting pitching predicament with this lead.

      I’d expect you’ll hear more rumors in the next few days about the Astros and their search for a starter.

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    • BP 180 over 140 yikes now we are in a pickle , funny how all of us talked about these kinds of fears at nauseam over the winter.

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    • Well it is interesting that yesterday they said that he had an illness and now they say it was his neck woes that kept him out and put him on the DL.

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    • I don’t know why these guys hold information back from us. I was quietly concerned about the neck thing. Why not simply say he’s experiencing trouble with the neck again and will be evaluated?

      Tim, Chip, Luhnow might have to give up more than he wants to, and do it now, because he pretty much needs to fix his rotation sooner than later at this point. Necks are funny things. This could be a reoccurring issue.

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  33. I knew this was gonna happen……so now what happens. Right now it’s Fires and McCullers……Musgrove is still a question mark, and other team may think it’s too early to even THINK about trading a Frontline starter. DAM- IT!!!

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  34. Moved McHugh to the 60 day DL.
    Does that mean we have to wait 60+ days before he can come off the DL? Like I said above, what happens if we can’t get another team to give up their ace…….even if they are 17-18 games out of it!!?? Luhnow has a BIG problem to solve.
    Forgive me, I forgot to include Peacock to the remaining guys who can throw a baseball as a starter. Where’s my blood pressure medicine.😧

    Liked by 1 person

  35. I was hoping maybe Deetz would continue pitching as well as he had in Corpus, but he sure got shell shocked the other night for Fresno. I guess we can’t count on him being the next Lance McCullers.

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    • If I have learned one thing following the prospects, it’s not to base anything on an extremely small sample and I only look at one thing on their first appearance at a new level: Ks.

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