Mid-winter checkin: Are Astros better now than opening day 2017?


With Christmas now just a few days away, A.J. Hinch must like his early gifts.

Jeff Luhnow has added three pieces recently — Joe Smith, Hector Rondon and the intriguing Anthony Gose — but has given indications the Astros may expect more activity by the end of the year (that’s next week folks!).

All of that said — and with Chris Archer and others possibly on the Astros’ wish list — things could change before opening day, much less the beginning of spring training in a couple of months.

Can the Astros be better in 2018 than they were in 2017? Are they already a better team than at the beginning of the 2017 season? With Justin Verlander in the fold, the rotation is stronger. The bullpen is arguably better on paper than at the beginning of last season.

Add in full seasons from George Springer, Dallas Keuchel, Carlos Correa and even Jake Marisnick and Will Harris and Hinch is likely salivating about opening day. Take a look at the comparison between the 2017 opening day roster and what it looks like currently.

2017 2018
SP Dallas Keuchel Dallas Keuchel
SP Lance McCullers Jr Lance McCullers Jr.
SP Mike Fiers Justin Verlander
SP Joe Musgrove Collin McHugh
SP Charlie Morton Charlie Morton
Bullpen Ken Giles Ken Giles
Bullpen Will Harris Will Harris
Bullpen Chris Devenski Chris Devenski
Bullpen Luke Gregerson Joe Smith
Bullpen Brad Peacock Brad Peacock
Bullpen Tony Sipp Hector Rondon
Bullpen Jandel Gustave Joe Musgrove
 Bullpen Michael Feliz Francis Martes
Catcher Brian McCann Brian McCann
Catcher Evan Gattis Max Stassi
First Base Yuli Gurriel Yuli Gurriel
Second Base Jose Altuve Jose Altuve
Third Base Alex Bregman Alex Bregman
Shortstop Carlos Correa Carlos Correa
Outfield George Springer George Springer
Outfield Josh Reddick Jose Reddick
Outfield Nori Aoki Marwin Gonzalez
Outfield Jake Marisnick Jake Marisnick
DH Carlos Beltran Evan Gattis
Reserve Marwin Gonzalez Anthony Gose

Yes, yes, yes, there are probably a few names who won’t be among the names on the roster once it’s set it March, 2018. But, play the game. Remember, though, for some players (such as Beltran), hopes were much higher back in April than the performance he ultimately turned in.

  • Are the Astros better — at least on paper — now than they were at the beginning of the season?
  • Which players are most likely not to be on the roster coming opening day next spring?
  • If the season started today, how would you stack up the back of the bullpen?
  • Do the Astros need to upgrade at catcher (especially backup) and in left field?
  • How much of a difference will it make to get full seasons from Keuchel, Springer, Correa and Marisnick?
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89 comments on “Mid-winter checkin: Are Astros better now than opening day 2017?

  1. I’m like the lady at the casino with coins in my cup approaching the casino floor for the first time – get out of my way, I’m on a roll on this Peacock thing. 🙂

    Just compared fangraphs
    Soft contact% / medium / Hard
    Brad Peacock *25 / 48 / 26
    Collin McHugh 9 / 62 / 29
    Chris Archer 13 / 47 / *39

    I really think this speaks to Brad’s exquisite late movement. Archer may well pitch better for a team he knows has his back, but that hard contact number scares me! Like Ac45 wrote. What the eye test tells me is that Peacock gets away with more mistakes than the other two, and the uptick in Archer’s velo makes him more flammable (like a Musgrove, or Giles).

    All things equal, Brad Peacock is my #5.

    To Chip’s post. First of all thanks, for being here Chipalatta!

    1. Much better on paper with JV, Smith and Rondon already, but what’s always missing in these questions is the year of development from the farm. There’s a juggernaut fomenting in the minds of those hungry prospects. There are going be guys like Moran who force their way on with the bat! Several players like LMJ, Jake and hopefully McHugh if we retain him, willl come into Spring strong.

    2. I can see those same guys going to Fresno (or CC), who have no Room in the Inn. Guys with options.

    3. Let’s say Peacock begins in the pen. I carry 8 pitchers; Sipp, Devo, Harris, Brad, Musgrove, Rondon, Smith, Giles. From there you’re interchangeable with Martes Paulino Hoyt and a possible lefty (Perez, Guduan, Gose). Hinch said they made a tweak with Sipp they saw bearing fruit in Sept. They like Tony, as they say up East, “what are ya gonna do?”

    How do we stack ’em? High!

    4. I like Stassi (posssible Gattis), and Jake Marwin Fisher GS Reddick combos for OF just fine. Loaded here.

    5. Hopefully with the amount of injuries we sustained last season, it’ll lend some perspective on trying to stay healthy. Not that it’ll be easier with the Angels, M’s retooling, A’s on the rise; and the Yankees spending spree, but we need to spread out our depth and give all those AAAA guys as much time as we can. Keep in mind, our offseason is so much shorter. Guys haven’t even had time to rest.

    Did you hear the story that Verlander’s wedding party was literally waiting at the venue until the WS ended. Marriages, babies on the way…these guys won’t even be able to catch their breath.

    Liked by 1 person

      • The more I think about it, the more I think Gose has a shot as a three-way player. Late inning defense, key base running addition, lefty out of the pen who could be used in multiple innings, one batter at a time (shifted to left, then back in later to face another lefty etc). Intriguing, to say the least, if he can harness that pitching thing.

        Liked by 1 person

      • AC, it’s really too early to start saying who won’t make the final roster honestly. I’m just saying that Gose may not necessarily be the long shot we suggested immediately after the signing. I think Luhnow is still remaking the roster and he is privy to a lot of information we aren’t, not to mention moves that none of us can see. Go back to my prevous post when I predicted that “Luhnow makes a move or two, possibly one that isn’t popular or one that comes with a gamble.” The shuffle is on and Houston still has some cards to play.

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  2. I know Peacock was on the opening day roster last season because he had no options left.
    Here are the areas where we are much better in 2018 than in Spring of 2017.
    First base. Gurriel’s offense and defense were not good at the beginning of 2017 because he had no experience there and little experience against MLB pitching. Gurriel is much better now than he was then.
    Third base. Bregman was not good a year ago at 3rd base. He became a good third baseman halfway through the season and is a much better player now than in April of last year.
    Justin Verlander replacing Mike Fiers in the rotation. What is there to say about this?
    If Marwin is in LF he is an upgrade both offensively and defensively over Aoki.
    If Collin McHugh is healthy, he is an upgrade over Musgrove as a starter.
    Musgrove and Peacock as trusted relievers are big upgrades over Feliz and Gustave, who were on the opening day roster.
    There are the intangibles to consider also. What have Springer, LMJ, Peacock and Morton learned about themselves in the past year that makes them better now and more capable because of their confidence?
    What have these young players learned about themselves and each other that will make them more experienced and less prone to make mistakes?

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    • You could see those intangibles in the guys who were there in 2015. None more obvious than the misplay Correa made vs KC. He was absolute nails in the field in 2017.

      Hard to characterize Gurriel as a rookie last year, but after he learned better footwork, and to use that oversized mitt, he’s become a good first baseman. His contact rate has never been in doubt.

      Bregman had a sea change of play at 3B – major props to him! His brash confidence has paid off, because he backed it up with his play. He was quoted before last season saying, “I know I’m polished.” That tells me he’ll improve even more.

      The guy I think who will most improve is Jose Altuve. How much better can he get? He has that Biggio hunger, and now that he achieved the highest honors in all of baseball, I don’t think he’ll ever be satisfied again. He plays a mean second base, but when it sinks in, second best to no one again.

      Lastly, we’ve learned a lot about Brian McCann as the quiet leader of the team. I think he reflects Luhnow and Hinch’s deathly serious side, cold calculating but gentle. He must’ve done a ton of buffering umpires with all the terrible ball/strike calling. Seeing how smoothly a game runs, one might not even recognize what he’s doing.

      Haven’t even mentioned Springer and Gattis cutting down on K’s.

      I asked a Cubs friend about Rondon, and he mentioned how solid he was before Chapman replaced him as closer, but that a change of scenery would help. There’s every chance that our overall pitching will improve via staff making corrections and the veterans imparting their wisdom.

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      • I characterized Gurriel as a rookie because he had never played 1B and had a total of about three months of American baseball under his belt. If you look at Gurriel’s game logs you will see the steady climb he made going from a .250 major league hitter in April to a .300 hitter by the end of the year. They don’t do breakdowns on defense much in the stats, but the eye tells us that he was a much better fielder in September than he was in April.
        Defense at 1B may not sound like a huge deal, but go back to the first half inning of game 7 of the 2017 World Series and look at what an outfielder playing 1B for the Dodgers did to set the Astros up for their first WS Championship. One thing that is imprinted in my mind as a baseball coach is that playing players out of position at crucial times will come back to bite you in the butt. That is why I love the Astros giving Marwin and Gurriel time to play their positions during the whole year, and it made them much better players when the playoffs rolled around.

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      • The play Marwin made in Arlington!

        I completely agree with you about certain guys playing out of position, and think it is a huge deal that Marwin and Gurriel (who I think lost a step from 2016-2017) is they’re very athletic anyway. It really paid off that Luhnow insisted on giving Marwin innings progressively in 2016 at 1B.

        Does anyone have insight into George Springer on the PA announcement during his MVP ceremony say, “I love everybody, even Marwin Gonzales!” George being George, calling out an unsung hero?

        As to Gurriel’s rookie status, seems masterful they gave him just the right amount of AB’s to qualify.

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      • Yeah, that’s just George’s shtick. In most interviews he called out Jake Marisnick, but I suspect he chose Marwin during that final one because Jake was not on the roster following the injury.

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  3. To the overall premise – yes this team as currently constructed is an improvement over last year’s beginning 25.
    – Everydays – Bregman and Gurriel were better players at the end of the season than the beginning. A full season of Correa could rival Altuve for MVP. More games from Springer would be a boost too. It is likely that however the DH is split up – the results will be better than last season.
    – Starting pitching – Adding Verlander and McHugh and taking Fiers and Musgrove from the rotation is a boost.
    – Relievers – Adding Smith, Rondon and Musgrove (who was nails in the pen at the end of the year) makes this a much deeper bullpen.

    Which players are most likely not to be on the roster coming opening day next spring? I have my doubts about Gose making it, Stassi has been bypassed before and may be bypassed again, and if they make that outfield move hinted at – does that mean Gattis or Marisnick are heading out? If they bring in an Archer or such – McHugh would seem to be heading out for prospects.
    If the season started today, how would you stack up the back of the bullpen? Giles still closes, but if he has a playoff hangover – maybe Rondon or Musgrove are next men up. I think Hinch will mix and match Smith, Musgrove, Rondon, Harris and Devo for the 6th-8th innings as matchups warrant. Peacock might be used there when he is not needed to be the innings eater.
    Do the Astros need to upgrade at catcher (especially backup) and in left field? I don’t think there is much out there to upgrade catcher that is going to give you more than Stassi or one of the other C’s the team has picked up lately. I think they could be fine with a Marwin/Jake tag team in LF.
    How much of a difference will it make to get full seasons from Keuchel, Springer, Correa and Marisnick? You may not get a full season from Keuchel (He may be gone by the trade deadline), but Correa and Springer project to tremendous numbers with a full season of play. I’m not so sure Marisnick will be as good as he was last season – was it an anomaly or the new norm?

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  4. Not so sure we need to do anything more at this point unless a real deal came along. I’m ready for Spring Training to see what we actually have. I like Archer but just don’t see us parting with good prospects for him. And based on what I’ve read I don’t know if he’s all that big of an improvement over what we already or could possibly have. Don’t we wish we had a crystal ball to see what is happening 6 months from now?

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    • I like Archer. But, if I’ve learned one thing as a rancher, it’s that you don’t mortgage the ranch to buy a stud bull. The bank will end up owning them both. If you can get a stud bull for a good price, fine. But don’t give away the farm to get him.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I’d still like to see us unload a few prospects, who have a window.

      Although.

      https://www.si.com/longform/astros/

      This is the story featuring Sig Mejdal, a rival scout with the Cards at one time, which apparently made Chris Correa so envious that prompted him to hack into the Astros database.

      Wasn’t it foresight of Luhnow that Stassi drew interest from the Rangers and we didn’t deal with them (according to leaked conversations), and we later even drafted Rogers, and Stubbs. Max’s prospect comments in 2015

      17) Max Stassi, C, Grade C+: Age 23, hit .247/.296/.378 in 101 games in Triple-A. Fundamentally sound defensive catcher although injuries have lessened his tools and overall impact. Won’t hit for average or OBP but could last a long time as glove-oriented backup with some power. “Max Stassi”: good name for a West German import tech band from 1983.”

      Isn’t it a testament to our system that an also-ran, C+ #17, who fell off the prospect list will make the team if they follow the prescription. Max is serious, he’s cut with good upper body strength, his brother broke in last season, and he’s ready. Turn him lose and see if he can make adjustments, under the tutelage of a few good ones, including Hinch.

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  5. Gose might end up with a job on the roster of the defending World Series champs compliments of Marwin Gonzalez. Marwin’s versatility allows us to keep a pinch runner/defensive replacement who might also, even as a long shot, turn into a lefty relief specialist. I’m with you Chip.

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    • DB and Chip, for Gose to make the team, I don’t see a spot for Jake. Not that he would be a huge loss as we did quite well while he was hurt. But Jake and Gose have about 1,000 ABs in the majors. Jake apparently is a better hitter. And Gose was out of the league for 2017. Gose will cost about $1.4 million less than Jake, but don’t see anyway with 13 pitchers, a DH, etc with both on the team.

      Liked by 1 person

      • 45, hypothetically, if Jake gives us an .800 plus OPS again, he’d end up being a semi regular starter in the OF. Marwin could spend most of his time spelling the infield. If Gose shows enough in ST, then maybe the club commits to him at least through the AS break. And if they think he can get loogy outs, maybe the club goes with only 12 full time pitchers, at least initially. We know a couple of clubs already have not been impressed with the guy, but if our club thinks they can tweak his game, how many cheap 100 MPH left handers are out there?

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      • Have you watched video on Gose, Dave? He needs fastball command, and his breaking stuff is raw. We already have one of those in Guduan.

        You’re forgetting Derek Fisher. Gose is not going to beat him out – no shot! Derek should serve in the late inning PR, and probably split time with Marwin, depending whose hitting better.

        I rather think these type of players are similar to those we “throw at” guys we want pushed. His signing was basically a message that we’re standing pat and not going after an OF slugger. Last season, we added three also-ran arms to push Sipp. None were any good until Liriano started aiming for the whole plate, instead of trying to be precise, which was killing his control.

        All we are looking for here is Sipp to get back that 2015 bite on his curve. He’s going to come around, have some faith. Loogy roles are so minimal, anyway since we have Harris Devo Peacock and in theory, if a miracle happens and McHugh and LMJ are part of the starting five for a few months, Morton are all good against lefty bats.

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      • Grayson, I’ve not forgotten Fisher at all. But if Jake can put up that .800 plus OPS again, along with all else he does so well, Fisher, Gose, whomever…..they won’t get much of a shot unless Reddick or Springer take a significant trip to the DL. I have not forgotten about Yelich either. I’m still pretty certain Luhnow will do something else quite significant. And if Gose is in the way, he’ll go. But, I believe the club has at least a reasonable degree of belief that they can tweak Gose and turn him into an ML pitcher. Heck, we’ll know by the end of Spring.

        But I’m not one of those looking for Sipp to refind himself. I hope he finds a new home. I’m looking for a replacement, righty or lefty, to get guys out better than Sipp has. And I think Luhnow has got a whole bunch of talented arms for the pen, enough so that Sipp is expendable.

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      • If Gose makes the team I think it’ll be as a bullpen piece. Sure, they will also use him as a PR/defensive replacement as needed (probably not much), but his spot on the team will be one of the 13 pitchers. This means that Sipp will probably not make the team. It is either Sipp or Gose, in my opinion. The $6M is getting paid to Sipp no matter what so, while it may hurt Crane to pay someone no longer on the team, I think he would have no problem parting ways with Sipp if he and Luhnow felt he couldn’t help them better than Gose.

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      • We’d like to think Sipp is gone, but he is not and Hinch has been very positive looking forward about him every time he’s asked. That amounts to squashing any more questions until Sipp implodes in 2018.

        So, barring any trades … keep in mind the Stros could have just sent him down. If so, they know another team would pick him up. Apparently, they think a little bit more highly than every single blogger, including me.

        I’ll reiterate that Joe Smith was at Sipp’s wedding, and that is where Hinch Luhnow made inroads to sign him. Smith said the Astros are like family.

        Additionally, Tim, if you think about it more, it’s not just Gose and Sipp. There are other possibilities. Gose is an absolute long shot we have a little familiarity with, or he would’ve stuck somewhere last season.

        Guduan, Perez, Framber and even Brett Adcock (a starter) are probably ahead on the depth chart. The first time Gose appears in ST and hits the mascot with an errant pitch, you’ll know what I mean by “raw.” Again, I realize he’s a righty but if we’re going all Ohtani this year, give J D Davis a chance. He’s got a cannon!

        I’ve already alluded to Alvarez, which is a much more intriguing story about debuting, since the LOOGY spot is so minimal, and since our offense is good enough to overcome bullpen meltdowns.

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      • We found him 62 AB’s last year, and he hit 4 bombs with a 107 OPS+ Not terrible for a cup of jo, and reason why we’ve held onto him.

        If ya think I want Bregman hurt, or that I don’t realize we literally have a bunch of B type prospects vying for super stars time. I just think the toll the game takes on guys necessitates more rest than we’ve traditionally been accustomed.

        In retrospect, if Correa had rested his ailing thumb, maybe he wouldn’t have needed surgery. Not a good example if there was already a tear, but… A manager has to balance it every time he fills out the lineup. Resting guys through slumps; or, just good old fashioned competition when Davis hits 500 in ST. It’s what we’ve all waited for. This is the time of year to dream big, and to realize it takes a bunch of guys unified. I want to give them hope, not give them any indication otherwise.

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      • Grayson,

        Sipp can’t be sent down. He is out of options. We would have to DFA him and if he clears waivers we could offer him a minor league assignment, but with his years of service he could opt to become a free agent.

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      • First, have you ever seen Sipp smile on a baseball field? Wouldn’t it be cool if he was happy. Then we’d be happy.

        Tim, DFA’d right
        I meant he’d get picked up, and we’d foot his bill. He’d pitch for more than half of the league if he combined his best outings from 2017 into next season.
        We just won’t know any of this until the jocks get strapped on. We’ve surely tried to get him shipped off. Most fans think to trade him we’d only have to sweeten the deal – no problem. But doesn’t it seem obvious they see certain peripherals, or that he’s improved the delivery of what they’re asking him … he just hasn’t had the results because he lacks the kind of consistent separation needed. Is t it admirable the staff hasn’t backed down from the challenge of shaping him? He must be a tough competitor and hard worker, or they would have dumped him way sooner. Don’t you think? You don’t actually think I want his ’17 version in the bullpen?

        My contention is that it’s not very important how you start, but finish. If Sipp makes the team, no big whoop. We’ll adjust if needed. There’s going to be a lot of guys in and out of the lineup. Hinch is a tinkerer.

        It’s a little like watching a game you already know we’ll win. Have some faith that Moran, or Fisher are going to play well enough to earn teammates’ respect. That’s all that’s needed, it’s their inner circle. Not ours. We’re the outsiders making assumptions that ownership has already covered and dismissed. Until we have proof, Tony stays. I’d like nothing more than to see someone in-house beat him out. And force the Stros hand to do SOMEthing, take a financial loss. Or, better yet, to validate what the experts foresaw, despite the dips. We don’t need THE perfect team on Opening Day. We need to be rested, good vibes, healthy and on a tear come playoffs.

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  6. AC, my point is that many roster moves can still happen — and probably will — between now and spring training. There could ultimately be room for both Jake and Gose or there may be room for either, or neither. All I’m saying at this point is that Gose may stand a much better chance at fitting into the bigger picture than previously discussed.

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    • I totally agree that we have no idea where JL and Hinch will place on the final roster of 40. Much less 25. But I see so few spots to improve the current roster. If it were 2012-13, there might be a place for Gose (see Brian Bogusevic), but this team is solid. Now if he comes to ST and throws strikes, his chances may improve and bump someone like Guduan. But he has to stick on the 25 or a move has to be made (as I understand the convoluted rules)

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  7. Question: as an organization, have the Astros paid players to play for another team? I know this ownership has only done it once. That was at least 365 agonizing days too late, but we finally watched CarGone bust out as a Ranger in 2016.

    Six million dollars is a lot of Hurricane Harvey money to worry about releasing Tony Sipp. He is serviceable and he is under contract. If we don’t think they’ve tried to fit him into trade packages. Cmon. But you get what you get and you support the guy as a team member for competing. He sucks and then sometimes he doesn’t. It was a bad deal but it could’ve gone the other way! This season is their chance to redeem what bond was made with 3yrs/$18M.

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    • They’ve done it before – just looking back a couple years – in 2016 along with CarGo they paid money to Scott Feldman and Josh Fields. In 2015 they paid money to the great Roberto Hernandez.
      I remember them eating salary on Carlos Pena and Rick Ankiel.
      What it comes down to is if you don’t have a spot for him where you will use him why keep him? The guy is going to get paid whether Hurricane Harvey happened or not. If he keeps you from having effective innings from another source or from giving a youngster a shot – why keep him? If you have figured out a way to tweak him – have at it – because in 2015 he was a very effective reliever.

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      • We traded Josh Fields for Alvarez, and traded Scott Feldman for Lupe Chavez. Did you mean cash considerations?

        I’m saying 6 million, Dan? Maybe that’s why you’ve been a little grumpy lately HaHa! It’s just a little much, like 9 million was last year when we were incensed he’s still pitching in ML games. Not long after he went on the 10-day.

        The Hurricane reference was for perspective in trying to raise that kind of money. Hey, everybody can switch gears and default to, “it’s not my money.” But we’re discussing what we think the FO will do, or should. Just opinions based on what they’re saying.

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      • I think I’m reading Spotrac.com wrong – they were showing us retaining $5million on Feldman but maybe that is what we paid him before he was traded. I do believe they swallowed $3 million when they let Pena go… hey they’ve more or less swallowed about $10 million on Singleton with nothing to show for it, but a guy who is taking ABs away from other minor leaguers.

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      • Weren’t you making my point with Singleton, we don’t like eating salary.

        I think if we had a chance of trading Stassi when we weren’t worried about catcher depth, then it goes to show that we stick with our guys who’ve trained in the system, and even when he doesn’t have Lucroy career numbers. I would’ve at least thought about Chris Ianetta 254/354/511, but not at what the Rockies paid! [It’s still a LOT cheaper than McCann]. This is Stassi’s year to see how the first few months go as a primary backup catcher. I’m pulling for him to prove he’s a better choice than Centeno.

        Maybe someone like Stubbs will show their year of seasoning. You recall last Spring he made the best catch in the modern Statcast era. I saw him hit a walk off in Corpus, and at one point hit 3 HR in 5 AB’s. It’s just a matter of time.

        https://www.crawfishboxes.com/2017/4/1/15149258/astros-prospect-garrett-stubbs-can-cover-some-ground-behind-the-plate

        Going lighter on that type of budget move hopefully means we’re going to save the money to “dance with who brung ya.”

        Does anyone have a good candidate to add? Brad Hand

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    • Sipp and more Sipp. Our team does not have to waste a valuable roster spot on a “serviceable” baseball player. We want strength throughout the 25 man. Luhnow has already assembled enough talent in the pen so that we’ll not have to also include a guy who is just serviceable. I think Luhnow will find soneone to take him and eat half his salary if needbe.

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    • I concur with the Schuerholz quote, as the Astros consistently look within, and hold firm that they still want Reed, Moran, Davis and others to move. To move forward. It’s a clear message that they can have a chance, like a Derek Fisher and more importantly, Tyler White. With the advent of teams using the 10-day DL for minor issues, it allows the younger players a chance to see if they’re playoff worthy, ala Francis Martes. A lot of my faith in them comes from bloggers who have followed and reported our prospects’ success.

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  8. The Astros could go after other players to make this team better but it still is good to back up and look at the whole picture as an offense, and as a pitching staff.
    The Astros won the World Series in 2017 as a team that was known to have a relentless lineup from top to bottom and a team with question marks on the pitching side.
    Offensively, the Astros had a lineup that did not have a big hole in it on paper, but, in reality, Beltran was a weakness at DH. The Astros have addressed that with Gattis, who was tons better at the plate than Beltran was. and does not figure to be an old, worn out shell at age 30, especially if he is able to focus more on his hitting and less on his job behind the plate.
    The Astros managed to cover up their weakness in LF with Marwin late in the season. But if Marwin is in LF they don’t have a super utility player to replace him
    One of the things that gives the Astros confidence in Gattis was his ability to cut his K-Rate from 25.5% in 2016 to 15.4% in 2017. That move got his wRC+ up to an above average number.
    But Marisnick and Fisher have not made the move to eliminate Ks like Gattis did and their presence in the lineup every day creates a hole in the bottom of the Astros lineup that wasn’t there last season when Marwin was in LF.
    All this talk about giving young players a spot so that they don’t get disgusted with their organization is horse dookie. Marisnick has earned his spot on this club as a fourth outfielder. Fisher has earned nothing yet.
    If the Astros want to keep being that team without a weak spot in the lineup and a team with great depth, they ought to look for a good hitting left fielder who fits the mold of the team as guy who hits, gets on base, doesn’t strike out and plays good defense. I don’t care if he hits from the left or the right side, as long as he hits. If you put Jake or derek in the lineup they will strike out 33% of the time and teams will pitch around somebody else to get to that hitter. So go get somebody to play left field who fits in with the team who won the WS by being the team who struck out less than any other team in baseball.
    Then, your lineup is complete.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Most teams don’t dote on prospects, no. And they don’t caudle them when they’re discouraged.

      But who cares if Fisher strikes out twice and hits the game winning HR, or scores the winning run of a pivotal World Series game? Who cares if Jake strikes out when he is one of the best defensive OF in the game? Every team has a hole, if not five!

      You guys are getting all spoiled now that we won a championship, spending others’ money.

      Anyway, they will go after your prototype OF

      If there was that need, and obviously they do not feel that way yet.

      Not that we won’t, but at some point you have to see how a guy like Marwin Gonzales can play LF (as they did). I personally don’t think that’s optimal, but I sure like his approach at the plate.

      There are several bats available that would be upgrades, so why haven’t we signed Adams at $4M, who had 186 hits last year? Because he’s not a good defender in LF, and we already have four first basemen.

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  9. I guess you hadn’t noticed that Jake was not one of the best defensive outfielders in the game last year.
    Derek Fisher was exactly what we have seen from him in the minors. He is fast and he has power. He has always struck out a lot and was not a high BA guy. He has a weak arm and has never taken great routes to the ball in the outfield. The fact that he hit a game winning home run or scored from second on a single in the playoffs does not necessarily mean he can be the guy you want in LF in 2018 to defend your World Series title.
    Look at Fishers stats last year over 166 ABs. They were terrible.

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    • You’ve said Fisher would be good. He’s a solid UVA approach, and has come a long way. I know he petered out a little, but give him this year to see more pitches. His routes can’t be worse than Marwin’s.

      Jake Marisnick in 2016 had more elite and semi elite catches in baseball. I don’t believe he got worse, but I do recall a few that sort of “ate him up” at the wall last season. When his full speed gets him to a ball that he misplays, it’s still better than a guy who couldn’t get there.

      He’s another that may improve by consulting the video and coaches with how they’re being attacked. It’s a new year, soon to see progress, or not. He’ll be slowed like Gustave coming off surgery.

      Like

      • I distinctly remember two that Jake misplayed. Well, two that we expect HIM to get and don’t expect others to even touch. So in his limited playing time, I could see how they graded him down in 2017.

        And with all the moving parts to his swing, I just don’t see him ever being an above average hitter. Love the guy, but that is my honest assessment.

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      • Z-Swing contact%
        Jake 77
        Derek 79
        Yellich 89

        I can’t deny Jake needs improved hand-eye coordination, and anticipation. I think it’ll come in time because I’ve seen him be as athletic as any player, plenty of power and speed. He was limited because as you know Teoscar got a quick callup and injury, Aoki Beltran Marwin and Fisher emerged. Maybe this year he’s tired of being a 7th inning defensive replacement?

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    • He speaks perfect English, but DEMAND aN interpreter. If he catches that guy talking to other guys in the clubhouse, he’s fired. Too much DRAMA for me.
      PLUS……he carries grudges…..ask any guy on the arlington little league.

      Like

  10. If the Astros are going to spend big money on a free agent pitcher and the options are Darvish and Arrieta I am taking Darvish everyday that ends in ‘y’. Darvish misses bats better than Arrieta and he is still a TORP with a plethora of different pitches he can throw for strikes. Arrieta looks to be on a big decline and I would steer clear of him unless his price drops.

    Like

    • Darvish’s stuff has remained consistent as far as velocity is concerned. His slight drop in production this year has everything to do with being on a team that sucked and facing the Astros, one of the best hitting teams in baseball history.
      Darvish may have some attitude, but that comes from living in Dallas and that could be handled with a move to Houston and some therapy and exposure to normalcy and Alex Bregman.
      The money is not for me to worry about because the geniuses in the front office handle that. I would like to see a front loaded deal if we were to sign Darvish, which would call for more money in the first years and less as he ages and we need to tie up Correa.
      Darvish would give the Astros a terrific rotation this year and buys time for our young pitchers to maybe break out and cover the back end of the rotation in the coming years. I would love to see him with Strom as his coach to point out the big difference between Strom and Brocail.
      But, mostly, I just love more good pitching and that is what this would amount to.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Led the league in H9 in ’15, and ’16. Cy Young and AS. 215 to 135 to 123 in OPS+ is a pretty bad regression. I like his demeanor and experience. but he costs way too much. Just not a fan of Darvish. At all.

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  11. I don’t know if we will win it all in 2018 with this roster, but this is the first year in memory for me that when I look at the available FA list, I think we have equal or better talent at every position. One exception might be LF or Alex Avila as the backup instead of Stassi.

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  12. I agree with this comment on Darvish:

    I don’t think this is serious. Maybe a ploy to get Texas to jump in, overpay in a panic move. Plenty of rotation pieces to utilize. If Houston is going to add to the rotation, it’ll be Archer or Stroman….. Maybe Fulmer if Detroit makes him available.
    I can’t see Houston paying that much for a piece they don’t “need” necessarily. If the starters get hurt or struggle, then they can make a move via trade. No need to panic and go nuts.

    Like

    • Grayson, you say” If the the starters get hurt or struggle, then they can make a move via trade. No need to panic and go nuts.”
      Signing a free agent TOR starter who carries no draft baggage, who is not a “need” is a cold, calculated and foresightful move. Trading later, out of necessity because of “hurt or struggle” costs money AND prospects. You have it exactly backwards. Verlander is an example of that. He costs us a big salary and 3 top 10 prospects. Darvish just costs money.

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      • I was quoting another comment, but like the idea of Stroman going way back. Darvish, I just haven’t liked him going back to TEX. Op, I thought you wrote you didn’t want any former Rangers (in relation to Lucroy)!

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      • I did say that, but Darvish is a former Dodger. My thinking is that they took a lot of the suckiness out of him from his days as a thug.

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    • I’m with you. Looking to improve is a good thing, but I think this is all over hyped. But speculation is OK. At this point is the $ spent on a potential signing/trade worth the risk? Would adding Darvish, Arrieta , Archer, or somebody else going to make that big of a difference at this point in time. I think the statistical term used is JND (just noticeable difference). Currently, we have DK, JV, LMJ, Morton, McHugh, Peacock, and a pretty decent bull pen with some other guys waiting in the wings. At this time we’re trying to make sure we get back to the playoffs. Once that picture is clear I would think we can then look at the situation for that next step as repeating the WS. I just don’t know if the aforementioned pitchers are worth it and will make that big a difference in the regular season. Hey, look at the money the Dodgers, Yankees, Red Sox, and others threw out there but didn’t win it.

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  13. Ladies and gentlemen, just remember, this post is merely a snapshot in time. You can’t say the Astros don’t “need” Darvish — or any other player — just because of today’s roster. Remember, Keuchel is now in play simply because he has a cold, hardball playing agent. Luhnow knows exactly where they stand in negotiations and he may also already know he has a shot or not.

    He’s having the discussion with Darvish or perhaps making a play for Archer or others with the Keuchel discussions in his mind. The fun part is that the off-season isn’t over and the Astros could be major players. The scary part is that the off-season is over and the Astros could be major players!

    Merry Christmas!

    Like

    • Yep, Chip, come mid-season we will hear:

      If No Injuries : “Why did he sign ???, he was not needed.”
      If Injuries: “He is a lousy GM, he should have planned for injuries.”

      Probably not here, but on other blogs they will be voicing this nonsense.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. I think the details of that possible trade were made public, but I forget who we were giving up.

    One trade whose “ship has sailed,” even up to his injury, I read. Maybe durability was a concern of Luhnow’s as to why the trigger didn’t get pulled [we didn’t offer enough based on that]?

    O’s are shopping Machado already, so rebuild yes. Full?

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    • Their catcher is gone. Britton is gone for 1/2 a season. Adam Jones is signed for this year only at $15 million. Machado is at the door and leaving probably. Davis and Trumbo had negative WAR in 2017. Don’t forget Britton WHIP was 1.527 in 2017. On the Astros, he would rank between Feliz and Martes, just ahead of Asher Tolliver.

      They finished in last place in the East. One could see why they would just do a full rebuild. Not sure they will, but you can’t blame them if they do.

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  15. Who would’ve guessed a few years ago when Darvish would be a threat to no hit us that we’d ever get to the point of saying hes not good enough for our rotation? That’s an awesome sign of the times.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hey, here’s another thing.
      When Gurriel pulled his hat off and saluted Darvish, he did nothing. That was his chance to squash all speculation of racism by making a formal gesture of some kind.
      Pay his money and some to Altuve Springer and Correa.

      Like

    • After reading the article I would love to be a partner in MSD. That is the epitome of a win, win, win scenario. And probably at the expense of others (fans, players, majority ownership group).

      Like

    • I’m sorry, all I got out of reading that article was that MLB allowed an ownership group to purchase the Marlins who likely should not have been able to do so. However, because the previous regime was carrying $400M in debt, Manfred and his buddies probably wanted the sale to proceed ASAP…

      This all gets even more confounding and infuriating if you read into it more. For the stadium, Loria and friends paid about $150M towards construction. Their yearly lease is only $2.3M. The total costs on the stadium ran about $600M. This was largely supposed to come from three new taxes on tourists, but it appears that Miami-Dade county had to borrrow the money (sold $488M in bonds) in advance to pay for it. The payouts on those bonds will total $2.6B when they finally clear the books in 2049.

      So what we have here is a Billionaire was able to fleece the city for 80% of the construction costs (actually more…$35M of the money the Marlins paid was borrowed from the city). What I don’t understand is where that $400M in debt came from. Unfortunately, the writer of the article didn’t finish investigating or didn’t want to report on that after he got interested in the preferred stock part of the sale. Anyone have another source with details on the debt?

      Like

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