Can’t a team even have a chance to bask in peace?


Has it really been only six weeks since the Astros basked in the glory of its first World Series championship? Can’t the Yankees, Red Sox, Angels, Cubs, Dodgers and others just give a guy a chance to bask in peace? So much for peace on earth, good will toward men!

Meanwhile, the American League is fast becoming a league of the haves and have nots. Fortunately for Houston fans, the Astros are clearly entrenched in the group of teams in the former group. At least for now.

The Yankees, Red Sox, Indians, Houston and now perhaps Angels are beginning to leave a chasm between the leaders of the pack and the rest of the league. Yes, things can change and they can change quickly, especially with injuries, under performers, trades yet to come and other factors. Including agents. Enter Scott Boras.

Still, it is very clear that the Yankees aren’t going to stand pat after missing the World Series by one win. Between additions, subractions, new coaching staff and more, you’ll already need a scorecard in the Bronx.  The Angels have made the biggest signing of the off-season to date, Boston is chasing key additions and several players are already off the boards, including two former Astros (Luke Gregerson, Mike Fiers).

Key question: Will the early heavyweight activity force the hand of Jeff Luhnow? Or should he feel confident and content going into a slate-wiped-clean 2018 season when he hopes to have a full year out of Carlos Correa, Dallas Keuchel, Justin Verlander, George Springer and others?

Indeed, there is never rest for the weary. And, Luhnow is likely facing the need for a major shuffle of sorts, whether it’s bringing in another top-of-rotation piece, strong bullpen additions or even a even designated hitter/outfielder that allows Marwin Gonzalez to go back to his Super Sub status.

Joe Smith is a nice addition to a getting-crowded bullpen, but he’ll likely need to make another splash or two before the team heads to Florida in a couple of months.

Here are the key questions for Luhnow going forward. None of these are new, but perhaps more highlighted now. My responses, takes and impressions are also probably a little obvious as well, but it’s where we are as Christmas approaches with a nice trophy already under the tree.

What to do with Dallas Keuchel?

Scott Boras is an absolute game-changer for Luhnow, Keuchel and the Astros. Luhnow can trade him now or trade him mid-season, but it’s reasonable to wonder if Keuchel is worth the Boras contract he’ll get (from some team). He’s obviously a Gold Glove All Star who has struggled at times since his 2015 Cy Young season (168 IP in 2016, 145 in 2017). He turns 30 on New Year’s Day and the Astros will have to determine if he’s worth a gargantuan contract.

What it comes down to: Is Keuchel serious about making Houston his long-term home? If he/Boras want to test the market and say “we’ll talk at the end of the season”, he has to go. Now or by July 31. The haul Houston would get via trade vastly outweighs the single compensation pick if it offered a qualifying offer and Keuchel declined. From Keuchel’s perspective, he will have to weigh if he can get a better deal now or during the season with Houston rather than become a free agent next November and face $ battles with a free agent class that likely includes Clayton Kershaw, Madison Bumgarner, J.A. Happ, David Price, Matt Moore and others.

To tandem or not to tandem?

Fresh off the most unusual World Series pitching demonstration in history, the Astros can enter the season with a new approach. Will Charlie Morton and Brad Peacock start next season? Or do they became trailblazers and pioneers for a new category of pitcher: The Tandem. Most of us are old enough to remember when the elite closer came on the scene. (There were only three 30-save seasons before 1970, then came the likes of Mike Marshall, Sparky Lyle, Goose Gossage and Rollie Fingers). We’re all young enough to have witnessed the use of set up pitchers and the implementation of the “hold” in the mid-80s.

So is it possible we’re entering a new phase, where a “reliever” enters the game in the fourth, fifth or sixth, throws as many pitches as the starter and “closes” out the game? Are Morton and Peacock the John Smoltz of their generations? Pitchers who begin their careers as starters, but finish strong in a completely different role?

What it comes down to: Can Houston keep Keuchel? Can the rotation stay healthy? Does Luhnow bring in another rotation piece like Jake Arrieta that pushes Peacock and others to the bullpen?

Seriously, where to upgrade?

Other than the bullpen, it’s difficult to find a place for a major upgrade, especially when you’re talking megabuck offers. The bullpen is the bullpen and, yes, it needs help. Around the horn, it doesn’t get much better than Yuli Gurriel, Jose Altuve, Correa and Alex Bregman. On Springer, I’ll borrow a line from the 2016 presidential campaign: Lock. Him. Up!

You can make your arguments on Josh Reddick, but he’s Luhnow’s guy and likely is going nowhere. Enter Marwin, who was the left fielder down the stretch and playoffs and now has an I’ll-get-every-dollar-for-you agent. Sure Giancarlo Stanton would have been great in right and Houston may need to go for broke on that type of player. It’s a question of where to spend your money.

What it comes down to: Do the Astros believe Jake Marisnick, Derek Fisher or even Kyle Tucker (or maybe Colin Moran we hear now?) will provide enough bang to move Marwin back to his Backup Everything as Super Sub.

Who to lock up?

It’s time to start prepping for the future and Luhnow will have to cast his lot soon. The plight with Keuchel demonstrates what is to come — and even more dramatically — with Springer, Altuve, Correa, Bregman, perhaps Peacock and others. The Astros can still win big with Keuchel, either in a long-term deal or Herschel Walker-like trade. But now time is of the essence.

As I’ve mentioned before, Altuve, Correa, Springer and possibly Bregman could easily become $200 million players. Think about that! You can pay me now, or you can pay me later, but payday is coming soon.

What it comes down to: Luhnow and his statistical minions likely already have projected all of the above forementioned players into their early 30s, mid-30s and perhaps into their 40s. There are plenty of upsides and even some downsides to consider. For example, and don’t shout me down when I’m preaching so good…shorter players don’t always have longevity, so Luhnow will need to consider Altuve’s long-term viability.

Bottom line, he will prioritize these players with criteria that includes age, durability, free agent class, willingness for a home-town deal, fitting into the plan, other players at the position etc.

My predictions:

  • Luhnow makes a move or two, possibly one that isn’t popular or one that comes with a gamble.
  • Keuchel is likely traded by July 31, especially if the Astros can sign another top-of-the-rotation pitcher and Boras plays hard ball.
  • The rotation is the strong point for 2018.
  • More tandem (long relievers) like Morton, Peacock and possibly Lance McCullers Jr for next season.
  • Altuve or Springer are the first guys to lock up.
  • Boras creates a monopoly and becomes the agent for all Astros’ players.
Advertisements

125 comments on “Can’t a team even have a chance to bask in peace?

  1. Anthony Gose? Really? There are so many directions to go with this.

    Well, they didn’t pick until #28, but the Astros may have the most intriguing selection in the Rule 5 draft. Sorry, Dan, so much for the “ho-hummer”.

    If he sticks, Gose could actually be a three-way player for Houston. Lefty specialist, late-game defensive replacement and/or late-game basepath specialist.

    Is this the Astros way of getting back at the Rangers for selecting Delino Deshields? Does Jeff Luhnow realize the Astros actually traded for Gose once before? Can Gose really hit 100 mph on the radar gun? (If so, why didn’t some team take a shot at that before he turned 27?)

    Like

    • This is a head scratcher. They took an LHP in the minor league portion as well. I wonder if they suspect Texas will either relinquish his rights or agree to sell him to Houston on the cheap. I like the way you’re thinking though – if Gose can make it as a pitcher you open him up to being a re-usable LOOGY by facing a batter, sending him to the outfield for some hitters, pulling him back to the mound, etc. Also, my belly-aching over not having speed off the bench to pinch run in games gets solved by having him on our pitching staff.

      Like

      • The Gose deal is an all or nothing deal. Gose has no options remaining, so it’s make the team or else as far as the Astros are concerned.

        Like

      • Being out of options means they can DFA and he could choose whether to accept it or become a free agent, right? I’m sure they would only go this course if Texas relinquished their rights. Otherwise, this seems to be money down the drain as his A+ numbers are good, but don’t give an indication he’s likely to hold a 25 man spot all year.

        Like

      • DFA is just a “holding pen” designation. It would give the Astros 10 days to determine what they want to do: release, trade, outright, etc. If Houston outrighted him and he cleared waivers, then, yes, Gose could accept the assignment or choose to become a free agent. Not sure if he’s already been outrighted or not (that is likely), but that could be a factor as well.

        It’s doubtful that he has pitched that much, so this is a long-shot given his age. But with a near-100-mph fastball, it may be worth the gamble.

        Like

  2. ‘What to do with Dallas Keuchel’

    If we are going to trade him – and I should point out that I consider that highly unlikely – it needs to be now, and not at the trade deadline when the pennant races are heating up. Hopefully, by July 31 we will be atop the AL West and no one will want to mess with the team’s chemistry – or he will be on the DL again.

    Keuchel for Archer?

    Like

  3. Players bask. Front offices and coaching staffs move on.
    The Yankees and the Angels are not going to let the Astros rest on their laurels because they have tons of money to spend and no trophy. The Astros have a trophy and less money to spend.
    I looked back at the last seven years of the Astros Pipeline prospects and did not ever see the name Dallas Keuchel listed in the Astros prospects. I did find him as the #10 prospect on TCB’s list in 2010. Basically Keuchel is a former Cy Young winner who was never a top prospect in his own team’s rankings, let alone in all of MILB. With all the science and analytics available, who in the hell knows how 99% of the pitchers in the minors are going to turn out?
    Who knows how Rogelio Armenteros will turn out. He appears to have better stuff and better numbers in the minors than Dallas Keuchel did. Is Rogelio another Dallas Keuchel? or another fringe player?
    The Astros have been smarter than other organizations and it has paid off with the prize. They need to continue to be great in their thinking, their approaches and their spending and, of course, they will have to outwork and outplay other clubs.
    The Astros may seem loose in their approaches because of the closeness of their players and the fun they allow in their clubhouse. But the Astros don’t put up with a lot of BS either and Oberholzer, Conger, Gomez and Fiers are examples of players who caused problems and were gone. Singleton is a mess and look where he is. Colby was a fan favorite but he had problems and caused problems and he is gone.
    I think the Astros are smart and may use this offseason’s moves to start preparing for more than just 2018.
    And I still think there is another pitcher out there that the Astros think they can fix and use in 2018 and I think they are hoping that they can wait and sign him later to a minor league deal with an invite. He is a rather large RH pitcher.

    Liked by 1 person

    • OP, while we have a history to pull from on how Luhnow handles free agents, or waiver wire pickups or even trades, we have absolutely no history on how he will handle negotiations on current players and long-term deals. The only one is Altuve’s (or Singleton’s) early deal, which isn’t comparable here, especially given the Scott Boras approach.

      The fact he hasn’t locked up Keuchel yet or other players hopefully isn’t very telling. Is Keuchel the result of health concerns? Wants too much?

      Like

  4. Keuchel: Let’s worry about the present. Go after wins in 2018 because it’s harder to predict what will happen in 2019 and beyond. Entering spring training we know we have a team capable of winning a championship. Selling off the best or second best starting pitcher because of contract uncertainty means you weaken the team in 2018 in hopes of strengthening an unknown down the road.

    Tandem: No. If a team has enough talent, they can stock their 13 man pitching staff with 5 starters, a couple of almost-starters, and then the traditional one out to one inning guys. Having some Peacocks or Devenskis who can got more than an inning is a luxury. How many guys like that are out there?

    Upgrade: I think it’s role players who could provide upgrade opportunities. I wouldn’t tinker with the starting lineup. However, the big concern should be health. If all those guys are healthy we should get solid to spectacular contributions from all returning starters. If injuries come…who provides the relief (other than Marwin)? As for Reddick, he was fantastic in the regular season and likely outperformed what we should expect. However, keep in mind some things don’t show in the stats. He tied the franchise record for sacrifice flies, and that wasn’t by accident. He made a lot of productive outs, played all three outfield positions (ok, not great in CF…but better than Berkman was), and was apparently a huge part of the great clubhouse chemistry. It’s tough to replace those things.

    Lock Up: I’m concerned with how Luhnow handles the human aspect and egos here.

    Like

  5. I know this post is a tough one for folks, but it is reality. I don’t blame someone for sitting it out, because as fans we have the luxury of sitting it out if we wish. But the Astros don’t.
    The Astros had a bulls eye painted on their back the minute they won the whole enchilada. The plus side is that they have a great base – a World Series worthy base before they make a single move. Other teams are making huge moves (e.g. the Angels, Yanks) to catch up. Our team needs to make some moves to raise the bar even higher.
    I like the fact that the Astros have multiple options for going multiple innings out of the bullpen.
    I would like the Astros to do what they can to sign Keuchel longer term, but I would expect that at some point they would jettison that salary as they needed dollars to lock up Correa and Bregman and Springer (locking up Altuve soon is a must and assumed to happen within the next few months).
    I like the Joe Smith move – great numbers.
    Yeah Chip – the Gose move totally moved this Rule 5 out of ho-hum territory.
    I like the Gose move – thinking outside the box with very small risk and high reward. Worst case is he doesn’t cut it and they swallow $100 K or about .6% of Beltran’s contract. Hey, along with giving you an extra defensive OF and an extra pinch runner – he can hit if you need another batter somewhere in a late inning game. Not a great hitter, but better than your pitchers.
    The Marlins take a chance on taking Elieser Hernandez. He has good numbers but not blindingly so for a 22 y.o. who never jumped past A+ ball. If the young man can jump from A+ to the majors, he is falling into a situation where the expectations will not be big as the Marlins have so far traded off 3 of their bigger salaries and seem to be in a total re-build.

    Like

  6. Tandem or Random after the Anthem?

    I suppose our presumptive rotation is Verlander, Keuchel, McCullers, Morton, & McHugh [VKMM & M].

    Or is it going to be VKMM & Peacock [VKMM & P]?

    Or is it going to be VKMM & Musgrove or Martes or Paulino?

    Or, lacking elite 7th, 8th and 9th guys, will we go with a ‘MiLB’ style tandem, with 5 IP or 75 pitch limit for starters 3-5 [Verlander and Keuchel (if healthy), with a stable of ‘long-hold’ tandem back-ups to go with 3 or 4 true one-inning relievers [Hoyt, Smith, Harris, Giles]?

    After watching the World Series, the latter option seems the most likely.

    Like

  7. On the Tandem pitching I wasn’t a fan but it sure worked well for game 7. You don’t have to necessarily phrase it to “Tandem Pitching” but in the real world there are a lot of starters who are lights out through 5 innings but then run out of gas. Typically, we have “long relievers” who can come into a game after 2 -3 innings when things go south immediately and stay around for 5 or 6 innings. Then it’s back to the BP where we burn up the relievers. We may actually have something here as instead of using 3 – 4 relievers after 5 innings we only use 1 and save the BP for those games where we need the 7, 8, 9 relief pitchers. It’s nothing more than a change of semantics and a slight baseball adjustment. We might be starting a baseball trend.
    On Keuchel, I would love to keep him but what’s his real worth and for how long. He’s going to be 30 and he’s a pretty “soft tosser” that is somewhat injury prone. In my book that equates to about 3 – 5 years at 15 – 20MM a year. Of course, what do I know? I would not invest any more than that considering. So if we can’t do a deal amenable to all parties you trade him before the season gets going. I can’t see us unloading him in the middle of the season whether he’s lights out or is totally worthless. It will be interesting.

    Like

    • Houston’s rank in runs allowed per inning in 2017:
      1st inning – 0.34 – 1st
      2nd inning – 0.37 – 4th
      3rd inning – 0.39 – 3rd
      4th inning – 0.48 – 11th
      5th inning – 0.67 – 28th
      6th inning – 0.55 – 17th
      7th inning – 0.55 – 20th
      8th inning – 0.53 – 21st
      9th inning – 0.36 – 20th

      I’ve provided those numbers without the context necessary to understand them. I kind of expected to see a higher variance. The problem is we can’t burn through pitchers like the Dodgers did in the WS games. Getting starters who can go a minimum of 5 IP is pretty important. It sure would be nice to see more than two guys who can routinely work into the seventh inning. Regardless, I think our relief corps has some room to improve in 2018.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Is the 5th inning all Charlie Morton? Haha – The guys hold the line early and then are pretty mediocre the rest of the way – of course with our offense they are pitching from ahead a lot and maybe grooving a few with a 4 run lead late in the game.

        Like

  8. i am interested to watch how gose does in spring training. not much risk, possible good return. i mean after seeing our lefties out of the pen the last couple of years, who wouldnt want to try out a guy who can throw in the high nineties? if he has decent control he could easily be a loogy. and the versatility he brings to the bench is valuable. i hope this works out. looks like it could be another under the radar win for luhnow.

    Like

  9. Anthony Gose??? A pitcher??…..well I guess Luhnow knows more than me, but I don’t get it. As far as Keuchel is concerned, the very fact that he signed up with Boris kinda tells you everything you need to know. Dallas has said he wants to stay here, but man I love the guy but he ain’t worth $200 million dollars for 5yrs. Arbitration is a lot different than working out a big contract with these guys, but you HAVE to be thinking about it pretty soon, cause you have 3 or 4 other guys that make up your core 4 that are gonna be making BIG BUCKS in a year or so. Jim Crane……open up your wallet, because you can’t keep trading a guy when it’s time to pay him to stay here. TRUST me……when we played the Yankees at their park, someone from their organization snuck in our clubhouse and took Correa’s measurments. They are just licking, their chops to get him in “Pin Stripes”. Tree is up and decorated, and I’m pooped!! Becky⚾

    Like

  10. Let me try again. This is an excellent post with a “topic” that I would prefer to not see. Like a cancer diagnosis, you have to deal with it, but you don’t enjoy it.

    DK has pitched hurt for two years, yet has pitched 313 innings. If he is guilty of anything, it is wanting to pitch when he should be sitting. He is the pitcher that got caught on camera yelling at a batter after a strike out “Go sit down.” So it is no fun to have to cut ties because of money. He is like one of our “Junction Boys.” But Yes, life moves forward and not backward.

    Like

    • “Go sit down!”
      -Dallas Keuchel

      Now, that made my day.
      We’re not trading him, period. I woke up with nightmares about Scott Boras gutting our team. It isn’t going to happen!

      the Angels will have pressure to win now, something they haven’t even had to deal with before. This Astros team is the same one Beltran was prepared to walk into the Game 7 locker room pep talk and to say just relax. Found out, oh! We got this, old man, step aside!

      We have solid stud pitching, plenty of money to spend and make what ever splash needed. Yellich would be nice, but at the expense of Tucker and Whitley+, no thanks! I’ll take my chances on one, or two guys to step up in Spring and surprise. My money is on Jake, Tyler and Derek to kick ass. We’ll add a Maybin type, I imagine – good in the clubhouse, solid D, decent bat (bats we have a few).

      I’ll take my chances on Gattis.

      I’ll go to war with Musgrove and Devo. I know if Springer messes up, or you break his hand with a pitch – he will come back and haunt you. What possible evidence is there that Marwin reverts to 2016 numbers? Why think that Reddick wont come in rejuvenated?

      I know Carlos Correa, when engaged (pardon the pun) and intense, is the best player on every field he steps on. And he plays with All-World, Altuve. There was one double play Correa turned, I think in Game 6, where he wheeled around like a jack rabbit. What I witnessed last season were guys who could turn it up a notch higher in any given situation.

      From Springer’s walk off HR to christen MMP to Yuli’s 3-run blast off Kershaw, it wasn’t just luck but a solid approach and confidence. Trust the process, Vamos!

      I’d love to see some of the guys like Feliz, and Moran show they belong. Basking in this team means looking closely at the camaraderie. A recent pic of Musgrove and Hoyt at Aplin’s wedding with Big Jon Singleton. These guys literally love each other.

      The 2017 team was epitomized by Brad Peacock cruising to another victory during one of his starts. It seems that every fan wants to put him back in the pen, when if you’ll see clearly, the games he gave up 7 and 4 runs, we won handily! Those completely skewed the perception of his 3.00 ERA. The guy is money, and to think he’s not a top of rotation type is stuck in 2013. 13-2 when we needed him, 11 SO/9, 132 ERA+
      What more are you looking for?

      https://www.baseball-reference.com/players/gl.fcgi?id=peacobr01&t=p&year=2017

      The guys “on the clock,” or in the doghouse in my mind are McHugh, Reed and Paulino. Each of them had better come into Spring Training well prepared.

      Like

      • Just to support your post, I wanted to point out the experience that Correa, Altuve, Springer, etc. gained from the loss in 2015 to KC was invaluable. We’ve got guys who understand the pressure, can handle the adrenaline rush, and are amped up to do it again!

        Also, I think this is a big year for Martes. We saw his age as much as his talent last year. I’m hopeful he learned a lot and comes to spring training ready to go – he could be the “addition” that improves this team under the radar.

        Like

      • I don’t like to call him chubby although he is, but obviously sort of forgotten as he was once #1 prospect. Martes can well harness that aggression, and it’s truly a three-pitch wipeout combo. I’ve seen video of Armenteros, and he’s another one.

        Want to talk about Brandon Bailey? I saw some of the stats on other guys playing off season ball, and Eliser Hernandez had the best showing. Including guys like Ferrell, Framber and Winkleman.

        We have several LHP prospects, including Guduan, and now Gose!

        Seems the organization will pay in-house, the longer they don’t try to land a big bat (salary). Kudos

        What about Corey Dickerson?

        Liked by 1 person

    • Noticed the article said Mike Minor and Anthony Swarzak were offered contracts but declined. Minor got 3 years/$28MM. Didn’t see Swarzak’s deal. That’s more than Smith. Don’t you wish we were average relievers? I’m really anxious to see how Anthony Gose fares. Now that one has a tremendous upside.

      Like

    • Sandra, I don’t know much about the inner circle of the Astros, nor how they think. But one thing I am sure of is this: you can count the number of left handed pitchers in the major leagues on one hand who can throw 100 mph. It is a short list and Gose has that ability. You start with that one thing and then try to make it two pitches and you have something that very few teams have.
      And nobody has one of those pitchers who also can run like a deer and play outfield.

      Like

    • Thoughts? The bullpen is going to get crowded very quickly. Perhaps Luhnow is just loading up and will allow Hinch to pick and choose. Giles, Musgrove, Devenski, Harris, Hoyt, Gose, Gustave, Feliz, Martes, Joe Smith. And, of course, you have the left-overs from the rotation like Peacock, McHugh, etc.

      Or, it could also mean that Houston will move some of those pieces, but it’s for certain Houston is in overstocked position as of this morning.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’ve long thought Chip – that this was the area they might deal from, but totally unsure how they value these guys and more importantly how they are valued elsewhere. Now that they’ve seen them at the major league level, where do Gustave, Feliz and Martes especially fall? Is McHugh now expendable? Do they have eventual starting plans for Musgrove, Devo, Feliz, Martes? Would they send some down to work on being starters?

        Like

    • Interesting pickup. Was below average last season (4.24 ERA), but was good to excellent the previous 3 seasons (2.42, 1.67, 3.53 ERAs). His walk rate doubled last season and his HR rate has been way up the last couple of seasons.
      If they saw something they could correct with him – he would be a solid piece in the bullpen.

      Like

    • Excellent signing. Great career splits. Once he made it to the majors with the Cubs he has never been optioned.
      I think Rondon makes the team as a late inning reliever and will be a mainstay in the bullpen.
      He was the Cubs closer until he got hurt late in 2016 and the Cubs got Chapman. He has a ring and postseason experience. Averages above 96 on his FB and is the perfect age for a reliever at 30.

      Liked by 3 people

  11. Let’s see . . . our bullpen candidates presently are:

    Righties [13]

    Devenski
    Musgrove
    Harris
    Rondon
    Smith
    Giles
    Hoyt
    Feliz
    Peacock or McHugh [whoever’s not the 5th starter]
    Martes
    Paulino
    Gustave
    Rodgers

    Lefties [3]

    Sipp
    Gose
    Guduan

    Total: 16 bodies in the bullpen.

    Did somebody say ‘stampede’? Or are some of this group of longhorns headed for the sale barn?

    Like

  12. A look at the list of potential relievers for the Astros in 2018 in no particular order. The list does not include the six pitchers who comprise the current list to be considered for the rotation.
    Giles Harris
    Devenski Rondon
    Musgrove Sipp
    Hoyt Paulino
    Martes Feliz
    Guduan Gose
    Smith
    That is 13 relievers for 8 spots and six starters for five spots and does not include other pitchers who are on the 40 man and not listed here, like Perez and Deetz.
    What this means for the Astros is that they can
    a) Put Feliz, Martes and Paulino back into the starting rotation at Fresno and get them more prepared to be like major league ready starters, or
    b) Package some young pitchers for another starting pitcher to help prepare for the inevitable walk of Keuchel, or
    c) Package some young pitchers for a starting outfielder or another bat or both, or
    d) some of a combination of the above.

    Like

    • So our AAA affiliate might actually have some decent pitching next year?

      Possible Rotation:

      Rodgers, Martes, Paulino, Feliz, & Armenteros

      Possible Tandem Pitchers/Modern Bullpen Pieces:

      Gustave, Guduan, McCurry, Hauschild, Dorris, Thome, Winkleman, & Thornton

      Like

    • Here’s my prediction…
      Sipp gets traded or released and we eat the contract.
      Martes is a starter at Fresno
      Does Hoyt have options? Fresno, trade, or release
      Musgrove is a starter at Fresno
      Guaduan is a reliever at Fresno
      Gustave is a reliever at Fresno
      Paulino is a starter at Fresno

      That leaves Giles, Harris, Devo, Rondon, Feliz, Smith, LOOGY (TBD), and Gose.
      If Gose doesn’t impress during spring training then he is sent back to Texas and they probably take either Guduan or Gustave to start the season.

      This all assumes Luhnow is not trying to trade Giles to another team as we speak.

      Like

      • I think Gustave will not be ready, because of his reconstruction surgery.
        I think Musgrove will be in the Astros bullpen.
        James Hoyt does have 2 option years left. I think he is a trade candidate, but also a bullpen guy between Fresno and Houston.

        Like

      • Do not overlook Armenteros. He could also get the last pen slot, although with the two new guys, it’s a longer shot. Something tells me Luhnow will be making a significant deal that will leave us with fewer of the prospect arms we’re all speculating about.

        Like

  13. You can finish this reply with the words “Duh”, but if any of the young pitchers can dramatically improve their control by the end of ST, or if Devo gets a 3rd pitch, I think we are a better team in 2018 than 2017. (Providing no major injuries during the season).

    Now, you can say “Duh.”

    Like

  14. With the addition of Rondon to the roster, the Astros estimated
    payroll just hit the $150 million mark.
    Everything seems to point to the Astros being done, so, why can’t I shake the feeling that they aren’t?

    Like

    • i have that same feeling op. seems like alot of pitchers around, so either they are stocking up for bigtime depth in the system or a trade is frementing some where. to me at this point using your list above, the 8 relievers would be giles,
      harris, devenski, musgrove, rondon, smith, gose (cuz he has to stay all year if he makes team), so thats 7 of the 8 and i expect the guy out of the 6 that didnt make the rotation will be #8. so that leaves 6 guys on the list. with martes, paulino, feliz you have the start of a fine rotation at AAA OR any two together would be a big part of an enticing deal for a bigtime player in return.

      Like

  15. Interestingly enough, the designation for assignment of PTuck gives the Astros only five outfielders on their official 40-man roster. One of those five is Marwin Gonzalez.

    Liked by 2 people

  16. Excellent post Chip. One of this years best. I’ve been so busy, just got my first peek late tonight.  I mentioned this above, and a couple of the other guys earlier noted that our GM is stockpiling pitchers. I think we’ll see a significant deal done soon, using at least a couple of our younger arms to help make it happen.

    The Gose move also intrigues. Just another example of the creative line of thinking by management. If Gose is throwing close to 100, a bit of tweaking might make him a 100 plus guy who can do other stuff too.

    We won the WS because our pitchers were used in unique ways. We’re doing some things no other organization has even considered.

    Goodnight people.

    Like

  17. Speaking of pitching, saw a twitter post from Brady and Virginia Rogers that the baby (due in May) is starting to kick. So perhaps we can get another Astros fan this year and maybe dad can come back and pitch great.

    Like

  18. I had to babysit late last night and, when I laid down my weary head at 1:30 this morning. reality hit me. My Houston Astros won the World Series. I basked! and then I fell asleep.
    -Beltran’s 76 wRC+ was, by far, the worst of his career.
    – The Yankees and the Angels are both predominantly RH batting teams. The Indians are not.
    – The position that had the worst K rate for the Astros in the hitting dept was the SS position.
    – The Astros have addressed the bullpen situation.
    – Alex Bregman led the Astros in games played in 2017 with 155.
    – The Astros had the most shifts of any team in baseball. The Astros traded to get Brian McCann to be their gamecaller behind the plate. The Astros are the World Series Champions. Luhnow’s plan worked.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. I really hope Martes is getting with a personal trainer who can work some of that baby fat off, and get him in shape for 2018. He’s going to be an excellent pitcher one day, just needs to get in shape so when he throws those fast balls, he doesn’t get winded! I have high hopes for Martes AND Paulino next year! We need BOTH of them to take the next step, especially if Luhnow decides to trade Keuchel at the break next year! Would I trade both of them and a couple other MLB ready players for Chris Archer??? IN A NEW YORK MINUTE!!

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Not surprisingly, I love how Luhnow is handling this off-season. He has strengthened the one area that needed tweaking, the bullpen, and at very reasonable contracts for this market. I wouldn’t rule out another addition either via trade or free agency. The Astros didn’t need to do much to improve the team, but the area that needed any improvement was addressed rather quickly. I can see him swooping in if the price drops on one of the two big free agent starting pitchers, Darvish and Arrieta, like the Indians did with Encarnacion last year. Also, I could see him just rolling with what we got and reassessing our needs closer to the trade deadline. As always, in Luhnow I trust.

    Like

    • First reaction – count me out on Darvish. Not sure why he’d come here anyway? Arrieta, Yes please.

      ARIZONA FALL LEAGUE
      Mesa Solar Sox
      Yordan Alvarez, 1B: .313 BA/.353 OBP/.438 SLG, 5-for-16, 3B, RBI

      Kyle Tucker, OF: .214 BA/.305 OBP/.310 SLG, 18-for-84, 6 2B, 3B, 9 RBI, 9 BB, 2 SB

      It seems a distinct possibility that Alvarez fits better into DH, until we can afford his defensive drop off in the OF, and until he isn’t blocked at 1B by Yuli, and Marwin. But by these numbers, and his body of work, it’s no surprise he’s shot up the prospect list to as high as #3. Imagine that guy hurting the Dodgers next year in the WS, after we bombed Josh Fields in the last one! Another Luhnow coup

      Like

    • Tim, I could see that happening, also. Darvish doesn’t carry the loss of a draft pick and Luhnow likes draft picks.
      The reason he would do this would be to get a jump on the Dodgers and Yankees, who are going to drop below the salary cap penalty threshold this season, in order to totally blow by it next season, when the big boys hit free agency.
      If Luhnow were to sign one of these two pitchers, he would have three TOR pitchers for the majority of 2018 and have Verlander and the other to lead the rotation in 2019, especially if he has a pretty good idea that Keuchel is headed for free agency.
      That kind of move raises the payroll considerably for this year, but keeps the championship window open longer without having to add 2019 dollars in 2019.

      Liked by 1 person

  21. We have talked about this some, but being World Champions, the Astros should draw better especially at home. The following link allows you to quickly scroll through and see the attendance at each game. The Opener was 41,000 followed by 21,000 at the next game. There were several home games at or below 20,000 early in the season. If we pick up only 50,000 more, my guess would be an additional $3,000,000 in revenue over last year. We know from walking around town that the apparel revenue for somebody has to have sky rocketed. So there should be monies to add if JL thinks they improve the team.

    https://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/HOU/HOU201704030.shtml

    Like

    • Unfortunately, it will take much more than this, Kevin. The Rays really wouldn’t want McHugh and his 2 years of control. I’m sure they will want either Tucker or Whitley (they’ll ask for both) in a trade for Archer. I would guess Tucker, Martes, Paulino and Alvarez might be what we can expect to give up. Archer comes with 4 years of control on a very team-friendly contract. It’ll hurt to get him.

      Like

    • His FIP and xFIP were both below 4.00 and he’s had a WAR of 3-5 each of the past 4 seasons. When a player has a surplus value of of around $20M/year and you are guaranteed to have him for 4 years the cost to acquire him will be heavy.

      Like

      • I’m not advocating trading for him. I’m just explaining why the cost will be high. I don’t think it’s possible to get him without including Tucker or Whitley, but if we could then I’d be fine trading for him.

        Like

      • I wasn’t talking rate – I just meant he gave up 57 HRs the last two seasons vs 58 for Fiers. 57 is a lot no matter how many innings you are pitching – it is not elite and I’m not giving up Tucker or Whitley for non elite – I don’t care how much control you have over him

        Like

    • Thank you, Dan.

      Archer’s stats to Peacock

      Brad has better winning percentage, ERA, ERA+, WHIP, FIP, etc etc. Gave up less hits, and HR per 9 …. they both pitched in 34 games. The only stat Archer shows better is SO/W, which hints at better control, but Peacock draws enough soft contact that walks didn’t hurt him.

      I ask again, what more do you want? The guy isn’t even mentioned in syndicated publications as a Starter headliner. We’d actually consider giving up our top prospects, and push out these QS? No, sir!

      We already know pretty clearly what the floor and ceiling are for Tucker, Martes, Whitley. Wasn’t this same question on the table for Quintana? Aren’t we glad we held firm with in-house options? Let someone else give up their farm.

      Can’t recall if this is the ‘tandem’ post above, but let’s be frank about what that really is. Every Mgr tells the starter to finish the game. Hinch has a little itchy trigger finger, I’ve noticed because as soon after 5 IP if our guy has runners on equal to the chance we lose the lead, BAM! He’s gone! I’ve never seen anyone so quick, except that he’s got horses in the stable that need runnin’, too. And since Hinch mainly focuses on matchups instead pitching his “set up man,” or “9th inning guy,” most of those guys are former starters, it looks a lot like tandem Morton finishing Gm 7. In fact, the only thing that makes it tandem is the coincidence of having two pitchers who happen to finish nearly equal half games.

      In the same breath, I imagine that McCann is the pulse on whether a pitcher has his full arsenal every night. He’s mentioned as most likely to be a Manager someday.

      Like

    • You forgot Morton, Kevin.
      By getting Archer, we effectively leave Martes, Paulino, probably Peacock, Musgrove, McHugh and limit McCullers as game starters. That’s not even counting a contribution from Armenteros (starter, not reliever), or an upstart. We’re telling this list of names, your services will be limited, and you won’t be able to compete.

      I don’t know about you, but that’s a lot of talent I want to see come to fruition!

      If the Rays were inclined to take two B prospects, and three C+ prospects then okay because we have to get something for the guys who are blocked. If I was pushed I’d offer: Martes, Davis, Reed, Sipp and Guduan. But I also want Corey Dickerson! Work your magic, Jeffrey!

      Like

    • I think Peacock is already slated for the bullpen without any other additions. McHugh will probably be our #5. If they got Archer they will probably look to trade McHugh or move Morton to the bullpen.

      Like

    • Yeah I would be ok with that – my only fear with Archer is that he would be another Kazmir – somebody who looked better playing for a losing team.

      Like

      • I still would take Archer, but DanP, you bring up an interesting point. Rays play in a pitcher friendly park. If Archer comes to MMP, Marwin/Marisnick/Fisher may have to play with their backs against the scoreboard.

        Like

  22. Pitch Quality Averages

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quality_of_Pitch

    Justin Verlander 5.18 QOPA
    Charlie Morton 5.11 QOPA
    Dallas Keuchel 4.90 QOPA
    Lance McCullers 4.63 QOPA
    Brad Peacock 4.14 QOPA

    Joe Smith 5.88 QOPA
    Joe Musgrove 5.26 QOPA
    Michael Feliz 5.18 QOPA
    Chris Devenski 5.11 QOPA
    Ken Giles 5.09 QOPA
    James Hoyt 4.71 QOPA
    Hector Rondon 4.62 QOPA
    Francis Martes 4.35 QOPA
    Will Harris 4.31 QOPA
    Tony Sipp 4.06 QOPA

    Like

  23. Tim
    I’m sorry for being kind of grumpy and stubborn – you were just saying Archer would draw a top prospect not that you wanted to – the Texans have me in a nasty mood today.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I didn’t take your comments that way. I thought we were having some good back and forth banter. Besides, I think we were primarily in agreement. While we wouldn’t mind Archer we don’t want him if we have to include Tucker and/or Whitley.

      Liked by 1 person

      • It’s a weird situation – he could come in and be awesome or he could come in and be kind of meh.
        Of course there is a good chance that coming in to pitch with this kind of offense brings out the best in guys like we saw with Verlander. Or even Morton who never pitched that good in his career.

        Like

      • I know this is not an NFL blog, but I have to comment on this. I am not boycotting the NFL, I just don’t enjoy watching it anymore. But flipped on the Thursday and Osweiler was in the game and threw 4-5 great passes. I just think God is teed off at the Texans.

        Liked by 1 person

  24. I never said I would give up Kyle Tucker or Whitley for Chris Archer, but I think we have the pieces to put together to get him. No……I doubt seriously that he would all of a sudden become Kazmir. Personally I think he would JUMP at the chance to join this rotation and this awesome team!! Rondo chose the Astros over the Cubs AND Nationals……and they were giving him the same money and years. Look……I’ve been pitching Chris Archer for two years now, and I was jumping up and down for Verlander last summer!! Think about how AWESOME our rotation would be!! Make it happen Luhnow!

    Liked by 2 people

  25. General manager Jeff Luhnow said “it’s hard to say” when asked whether Peacock would more valuable to the Astros as a starter or as a reliever.

    “I’m comfortable with how A.J. assesses the talent in our bullpen and reacts accordingly,” Luhnow said. “The nice thing about having a manager that’s always looking to optimize how effective the bullpen is in terms of winning games is there are some times where guys that are used in the ninth inning are used in the eighth or the seventh.

    “… I think that gives us a lot of flexibility. As we’re talking to agents and players, we’re telling them, ‘There is no role that you’d be coming into. You’re coming in to pitch important innings toward the end of the game, and there’s other guys that are going to be doing that and we’re going to mix and match based off of what makes sense.’

    “But I have confidence that Ken Giles is going to be one of the very key relievers at the end of the games for us and in doing so probably rack up a fair number of saves.”

    Like

Leave a Reply

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

WordPress.com Logo

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

Twitter picture

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

Facebook photo

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

Google+ photo

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

Connecting to %s