Chipalatta: Off-season and other stuff


It is the dog days of winter when the baseball news comes out in spikes (Cue the Gerrit Cole signing) surrounded by flat lines or small lukewarm blips tied to vague rumors (Cue the Brewers are close to trading an OF, but we don’t know which one or if the Astros are involved).

So here are some unrelated ramblings to chew on here a few weeks short of Spring Training.

Attendance

One thing for sure is that unless the whole Astros team is found to be 25 mini-Weinsteins running around harassing women, the Astros will have a significant attendance bump this season. Last year they drew 2.4 million fans which was far ahead of the awful days of 2012-13 (1.6 million).  But far below the halcyon days of the mid-2000’s, when they went over 3 million fans 3 out of 4 years…though ironically not in their WS season of 2005 when they dipped to 2.8 million.

Here are some reasons to expect a big bump:

  • The Tampa Bump. the Astros gave up 3 home games against the Rangers to play in desolate isolation in Tampa. They drew 13,000 total for the three games.  They should have drawn somewhere north of 100,000 for this series.
  • No Harvey. God willing and knock on wood the city will not be heading into the stretch of the season with a huge chunk of the city under water or drying out
  • Band wagon fans. True fans can gripe about it, but the reality is that there will be those who show up because the Astros are winners and hopefully will be again in 2018.
  • Better Economic Conditions. Houston is the energy capital of the world and there have been a ton of folks out of work or hanging by a thread over the last couple of years. We are not out of the woods yet, but all signs point to a better 2018. This affected individual ticket buyers and corporate buyers in the last couple of seasons.

Will they get over 3 million again this year? Nope, but somewhere between 2.8 and 2.9 million feels about right.

Free Agents

The lack of FA action this off-season is unprecedented in this non-collusion world of baseball. By this point in the off-season there are normally a few stragglers left out there.  But, for instance, if we look at CBS’s tracker of their top 50 list of FAs – half of them are unsigned as Spring Training soars into view on the near horizon. https://www.cbssports.com/mlb/news/mlb-free-agent-tracker-2017-18-latest-hot-stove-signings-best-players-available/

Is there anyone of interest for the Astros on this list (and believe me there are a lot more where these came from in the area below the top 50)?

  • Starting pitcher. There has been speculation that Luhnow and the front office will after another high end starter, if certain FAs prices comes down to set the team up to absorb the loss of not only Dallas Keuchel, but also Charlie Morton. Choices could include Yu Darvish or Jake Arrieta or Lance Lynn or Alex Cobb or maybe someone lower on the list.  After the Gerrit Cole trade this just does not feel right…. at least not at this time.
  • Catcher. The speculation is that with the Astros moving Evan Gattis to DH, that they might bring in a longer term C to pair with Brian McCann – like Jonathan Lucroy or Alex Avila. This also just does not feel right, tying that much money up in a definite backup C. But the lack of depth in the minor league system might drive this decision.
  • Outfield. If the Astros want to keep Marwin Gonzalez available to wander the diamond like Caine from Kung Fu, they might chase a more full time LF in the FA market. The top of this list includes folks that may just cost too much like J.D. Martinez and Lorenzo Cain. Carlos Gomez is still out there……crickets. The best fit might be Carlos Gonzalez.
  • Relievers. It does not seem like the Astros would go chase a Greg Holland type for closer option B. There are no left handed relievers available in this list of the top 50. The best guess is that the Astros might pick up someone to bring in and compete at ST, but are not going to go after someone they have to guarantee a spot in the bullpen.

Stats 101. Folks can hate on me for this, but I would like to at least try a feature that would try to explain a few of our statistical terms in very down to earth language. If everyone hates this it will be a short lived feature. Here are three fairly simple terms:

  • PA. (Plate Appearances) Pretty simple, this is the number of times a player goes up to the plate during the course of a season. A ball player who is a starter will have PAs numbering in the 500’s to 600’s during a typical season (depending on how many games they miss and where they are in the lineup).
  • AB. (At Bats) Hey, Dan. Aren’t Plate Appearances and At Bats the same thing? Nope. In the world of baseball ABs are a portion of PAs. A hitter’s ABs do not include the number of time he walks, is hit by a pitch, makes a successful sacrifice bunt or a successful sacrifice fly. This is important because ABs are used in calculating batting average and other stas. Most starting ball players will have ABs in the 400’s to 500’s in a season.
  • BA. (Batting average) This is a very straightforward number. It is Hits divided by ABs. So in reality it is just the percentage of times a hitter gets a base hit in his ABs (not his PAs). A player who hits .300 gets a hit in 30% of his ABs. In 2017 the AL average BA was .256 while the Astros averaged .282 BA. Simply our guys as a team got hits in a little more than 28% of their ABs which is outstanding. And the most outstanding player was Jose Altuve who had a .346 BA – getting a hit in 34.6% of his ABs.

So….

  • What is your over/under number for the Astros 2018 attendance?
  • If the Astros get off to a slow start will the attendance lag?
  • Are the Astros going to go after anymore FAs this off-season and in what area and what quality do you expect if they do?
  • Do you love/hate/ tolerate the new Stats 101 feature?
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64 comments on “Chipalatta: Off-season and other stuff

  1. “The lack of FA action this off-season is unprecedented in this non-collusion world of baseball. ”

    Alleged non-collusion. But hey works for me, in that these salaries are out of control.

    What is your over/under number for the Astros 2018 attendance?- not really my area of expertise.

    If the Astros get off to a slow start will the attendance lag?- moot point, they won’t start slow.

    Are the Astros going to go after anymore FAs this off-season and in what area and what quality do you expect if they do?- bullpen, maybe. Otherwise, no.

    Do you love/hate/ tolerate the new Stats 101 feature? I like it. There’s so much stuff out of the new stats like FIP or whatever ERA+ is that is like explaining a rainbow to Stevie Wonder. I just don’t get it

    Liked by 1 person

    • Billy C
      I almost wanted to use my “tongue in cheek” font for the non-collusion wording. I must be crazy but I really don’t care if a bunch of billionaires collude to “suppress” the earnings of mutli (or 100 times) millionaires.
      Now – if you want me to feel something for the minor leaguers (the ones who did not get a hefty signing bonus) for making below minimum wage – yeah I can do that.

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  2. Attendance is always a factor of two things:
    1. consistent winning, and
    2. really likeable, approachable, role-model quality players [see Dictionary under Altuve, Jose’].

    As long as we have both, attendance will be great. If one or the other lags, attendance will fall. If both falter, attendance will go back in the toilet again.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Pitchers and catchers report in three weeks. This has been the most pleasant off-season I can remember as a baseball fan. I’ve watched very little football and NCAA basketball. I haven’t watched whatever that three point shooting competition is that airs on TBS a couple nights a week. It’s a shame there isn’t a professional basketball league anymore. Anyhow, I don’t think any of those sports can hold a candle to the excitement of the World Series games last fall. Let’s do it again!

    Dan, I’m all about numbers, so any stats related discussion is good in my book. I think the key to making it approachable is to try to keep it as simple as well as not getting too verbose.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Additional FA signings?

    I really don’t think there will be any more FA signings of significance this year. I thought for a while the F.O. wanted Carlos Gonzales, but the combo of Margo and Fisher looks just as good, and a lot cheaper.

    But hey, what do I know? This F.O. is unpredictable as all get out.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I love fresh meat.
    If the Astros are ever going to hit 3 million attendance this is the year: Defending champions-check.
    Same guys returning- Check.
    Maybe 16 starts for Verlander at home instead of just two-check.
    Maybe 16 starts at home for Keuchel instead of just 11-check.
    Maybe 16 starts at home for Gerritt Cole instead of none-check.
    Fans are going to want to get out and see these new guys, just like they turn out for the games that Keuchel pitches.
    The Astros are hot. I think they break the 3 million mark.
    I still think Luhnow makes one more substantial move.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Where’s the love and fanfare for these AAA numbers?! Normally, this would be a top prospect!

    8-1
    2.16
    58.1 innings
    72 K’s
    1.05 ERA

    And three others I’m excited to see in camp are; Straw, Kemmer and Ferguson. I think they’ve all surpassed Garcia, and (now-departed) Laureano. Depending on their progression the question is, who is the 2020 starting OF?

    Two under-the-radar pitchers I’m hoping will turn the corner this year are McCurry, and Riley.

    Two guys I expect to crack the rotation that nobody nationally is including, Martes and Paulino. McHugh – trade candidate, but clubhouse fave.

    -Attendance? Many, many new fans were added this year. Judging from the parade etc., ‘Stros could start to dominate the Houston sports scene with big numbers.
    -No more FA’s.
    -I’m a fan of stats that explain wins, better competition and turning points in games.

    The way that the Astros beat other teams’ best finishers (Diaz, Kimbrel, Chapman, Jansen) sure has gotten me spoiled! The way to keep that elusive success is to feed the team fresh meat, and that ain’t no horse dookie.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Furthermore, Dan, they’ve now added another outfielder, Lorenzo Cain. Talk about a loaded outfield now and it probably leaves them with less leverage now since everyone knows they’ll need to trade at least a couple guys. And the Brewers still need pitching! Brett Phillips and Domingo Santana are among the 3-4 guys on the depth chart who will likely get shuffled off. And, remember, Milwaukee is a NL club, so noone is pushed to DH!

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  8. So apparently Yelich cost the Brewers their 1,6 and 14 prospects along with a single A arm. I liked Yelich, but not at that cost. Maybe my buddy Domingo comes home after all. I’d rather have him than Carlos Gonzalez. Seems Santana might not be very expensive at this point either.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Why didn’t Whitley get a NRI?
    No to Santana and his high K rate. I got spoiled real quick by a team full of guys who put the ball in play.

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    • I think Whitley did not get get an NRI because of the number of pitchers the Astros have on the roster and the number of pitchers they have who are maturing in AAA. I think he is too young and not ready for that yet. I’m not saying he isn’t going to be terrific, but I think they are being cautious about going too fast.
      I agree about Santana. I have always not liked his strikeout rate.

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      • I agree. I think some teams get off to a slow start because they take too many to ST. So there is not enough innings or ABs to go around. So first month of the season is just extended ST.

        Also expect a bunch to be transferred to minor league camp fairly quickly.

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    • Bill, I can overlook the K rate when the OBP is .371 and the OPS is .875. Now 1OP has a point. Does the high BABIP in 2017 suggest less attractive numbers? Don’t know, but if most projections for 2018 are close, he’s still looking at a .360 OPS annd a .850 OPS. I think he’s for real and a .900 plus OPS would be realistic in an Astro lineup. I would not mind those numbers in left. Cost is the issue. What will a team be willing to pay for him? Milwaukee is building a pretty solid club from outfield depth alone. But they sure need pitching.

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  10. attendance/slow start – Astros attendance usually suffers early in the season after opening day. I think the WS glow will offset that this year, even with a slow start, and we’ll see 3 mill for the year.

    More FA – I doubt it. I think the real reason for the slow offseason is that most FOs are now much more stats/MoneyBall oriented, which emphasizes value over reputation. Much more valued these days are young proven players with “team control” as opposed to 30-ish yo free agents. Next year’s FA market with a bunch of young mega-studs may be a different story,

    Stats – I always enjoy a good stats discussion . I think the Chipalatta group is probably more ready for Stats 201, though. I don’t sense much complaint about use of traditional stats, it’s mainly the new-fangled stuff that baffles a lot of folks.

    Random thought – I think the White Sox have done a fantastic job restocking their system. We got a glimpse of their future when they swept us in August. Although it’s still early for the Marlins, and I think they got a good return for Yelich (I’m glad we didn’t pay it) I just don’t have the same confidence that they will be as successful…

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  11. Attendance: 3 million + a few. Remember that if they sold out 100% of all games, they can only get to 3.3 million.
    Lag: Nothing to write home about.
    FA: I expect a few more of “rebound” quality. Those who had an off year in their walk year and want to rebuild their stats. Probably minor league deals.
    Stat 101: Good idea. Unless you start acting like Keith Law and tell us that scoring runs and winning games are unimportant stats.

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  12. Not to beat a dead horse, but our guy George had 178 K’s with a 125 OPS+ at the age of 26.

    Domingo, at 24, had a 178 K’s with an OPS+ of 126.

    Interestingly similar numbers. Some here used to downgrade Springer because he struck out so darn much. I think the younger guy is on his way to being a terror.

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    • How about we get Domingo, so Marwin can beat out Bregman at third? Geaux’d forbid! Or SS, I’m sure Correa won’t mind platooning?

      You see, the more you clamor for a LF, the more you’re forcing a *regular, who would’ve been an All-Star to spell a core player!

      We have FOUR outfielders whose ETA is 2019/2020, which includes Celestino (and those I’ve mentioned elsewhere). I don’t think we need anyone to bridge until Tucker is ready. That will be sooner than ya think..

      What are you saying to Marwin, Jake and Derek by picking up Cargo? He’s better than you guys?

      Carlos Gonzales age 31 -0.2 WAR .262/.339/.423
      Marwin Gonzales Age 27 4.3 WAR .303/.377/.530

      Let’s just leave “well enough”, errrr, damn good, alone?

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      • Marwin does a fantastic job spelling our core guys. That’s always been his forte. That’s what he does better than anyone else in the game. That’s one significant reason why we are World Champs. In a perfect world, no one will play more than 150 regular season games. Yuli, maybe 140. And then there will be injuries. The new 10 day variety will become more and more the norm. Marwin allows for those realities seemlessly. I agree with Luhnow. If the right deal allows for us to get stronger in left, by all means, that deal should be made. Marisnick at 1.9 million is a great value for perhaps the best #4 outfielder in the game. He’s another reason why we won the WS. He’s got his role. Fisher might be another guy that can get the job done. But look no further than him. He’s the guy who did not take ownership of left. Outside of a couple of early long balls, he gave no hint of reliability. As a result, Luhnow will look to make his club better. That’s his job.

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      • It’s still wait-and-see on Fisher with contact issues, poor routes and avg arm. Having that lefty-righty combo with Jake helps to decide who gets the later innings.

        But I don’t want to get into whether Marwin is better as a sub, or not. I’m not going to project any kind of drop off for him, because he’s yet to regress year-to-year.

        I think he was aided greatly by Beltran’s advice/mentorship, but he’s toiled many years and through the minors. His approach is unique in that he frustrates pitchers’ rhythm. He made himself a better hitter by lifting the ball, and only swinging at balls he could do damage with – grounding out less!

        This is what they’re pushing for with Tucker. Not only are guys like Gattis and Springer making huge strides in strike zone discipline, we’re challenging guys to only swing at strikes in their hot zones.

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  13. I’m still on Cargo, a proven professional hitter that can still play in the OF. Get him for 2 years till Tucker is ready. All is cost is some money which I think we still have and don’t lose anyone in a trade. We can still make a trade if needed in July and get more bang for the buck

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  14. Some thoughts:
    *We tend to forget that we have a guy who is a former #1 prospect still in our organization and he just turned 22 years of age. I think there is a great chance that Frances Martes fulfills his promise to be a good major league pitcher.
    * I also think that if Tyler White hits as well in 2018 as he did in 2017, he could forge his way into the DH picture for 2019, because DH was always foretold to be his future. White was an above average hitter last year and Evan Gattis reaches free agency at the end of 2018.
    * Is this the year Folty finally realizes his potential?
    * It might surprise some people, including me, that both Fangraphs and Baseball Reference placed a higher WAR value on Derek Fisher’s performance last season than they did Cargo’s. Fisher had about one third of the playing time that Cargo did. Neither lit it up, but one of them was 32 and made $20 million and the other was 22 and made less than $500,000. I’m just sayin’.
    * David Paulino turns 24 in February. All-Star Dallas Keuchel started producing positive numbers at age 26 in 2014.

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    • The “former #1” reminded me of A. J. Reed for a second, and his name synonymous with Tyler White in that they were competing for a first base job two seasons ago. The three of those guys though, including Martes have to start to get physically dominant. Are you reading this guys – replace that baby fat with tempered steel. You’ve all tasted the show and have been around greatness, there’s no reason to think you can’t all contribute.

      Each one of them had to be replaced by other players, and each have big questions o’erhanging.

      Martes needs to harness his emotions, and pitchibility. He’s got wipeout stuff, like Gustave, Paulino and Bukauskas. Let’s hope a few of these guys are impact pitchers.

      Reed continues to work hard in the offseason. His timeline always had a wide birth. What is the time line now? When do you think we’ll need a 1B, and is Alvarez the future? I can’t help but think that Reed will figure it out with
      34 HR
      .261
      142 & 124 wRC+ respective. (“wRC+ is the most comprehensive rate statistic used to measure hitting performance because it takes into account the varying weights of each offensive action and then adjusts them for the park and league context in which they took place.”)

      And Tyler White? Can you imagine a 60-something rounder being the World Champs’ DH with the FA class next season? Talk about an overachiever! ‘If he could just duplicate his minor league season’ is a phrase we use a lot. Seemed to workout for Gary Sanchez his 4th try into the majors.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Great post!. I do love wRC+ because it is all about the bat. When it come to DH it’s also all about the bat.
        Again, Martes just turned 22. Of course he has to learn to harness his emotions and pitchability, but that is what AAA and spring training is all about. Martes needs to look at guys like Verlander and Peacock and learn those those things from them and listen to McCann. I think Martes has a bad rap on his conditioning though, because he has a chest like a whiskey barrel and it makes him look more overweight than he really is. He’s a big man.

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      • Grayson – good job – lots to chew on.

        OP – loved the point about Martes learning from guys like Verlander. What I loved about JV is that even when he was squeezed on the strike zone (and he was just like all pitchers are) you could not tell it from his demeanor. He would just turn around and throw another 96 mph FB on the black. Assassin attitude.

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      • 6’1″ 225 reads more like his optimal weight.

        If you look at Francis Martes numbers, he reminds you of Ebby Calvin ‘Nuke’ LaLoosh!

        In just 54 innings he beaned 8 guys. He also K’d 69. His WHIP and ERA+ were abysmal, but he had 11.4 SO/9.

        Steamer and Depth Charts project he’ll improve LOB% by 12 points, but will allow more HR/9. They also project only 20 IP in 2018.

        I’ll take the over on that.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Just watched a good movie called, Sugar. It’s probably well-known here, but if you haven’t seen, it points out the language barrier that keeps Latin players from gathering the essence and concepts in instructional leagues. This is why the high demand for guys like Cora and Beltran, to relate the familial lifestyle, of what it means to a poor family like Altuve’s to achieve in this league, and translate it into “just like you were playing at home.”

        Just a thought, it seems Martes needs more of those guys around him. Wonder if a Jose Oquendo at Cardinals, maybe a Dyer Miller/Strom/Luhnow connection. A mentor. Who among the new staff will be able to instruct in detail to a Martes? Are Correa and Altuve those in-house leaders, now that Beltran and Cora departed?

        Josh Miller and Chris Holt are the new pitching coordinators.

        https://www.mlb.com/news/astros-announce-2018-minor-league-managers-and-coaches/c-264940588

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  15. Can I be allowed to disagree with Ken Rosenthal, who describes Lorenzo Cain and Christian Yellich this morning as “elite outfielders”? I describe Mike Trout and Bryce Harper as elite, and Cain and Yellich as real good.
    To me an elite outfielder is the very best.

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  16. Lots of fun discussion here. Here are some additional thoughts:
    – I would not get CarGo due to age and lack of production away from Colorado
    – I would be worried a bit that Marwin might slink back to 2016 production (kind of Beltranish) than his 2017 production. In reality I think he will regress a bit but end up somewhere in between
    – You might consider picking up someone like Santana if you don’t think you will be re-signing Marwin at the end of 2018.
    – You might consider Santana if you think he will bring you more than a Fisher or any of the guys that are coming up the minor league system
    – You might consider Santana if you think you can teach him to walk more an K less like Springer and Marwin have done
    – Yellich is a very good not elite OF. He is basically Springer with a better batting average and less power.
    – Cain is getting to the age where you have to believe his speed, which is a chunk of his game , is on the downward swoop.
    – Not very many pitchers make it to the bigs at the age Martes just did. He is bound to improve and maybe in a big way in the next few seasons.
    – If the Astros made no more big moves I would be just fine.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Agreed on all points, so let’s see what the Spring Harvest looks like?

      Instead of thinking about players outside our clubhouse, just look at the Springer wedding pics with Fiers, Hinch and Sipp in attendance. This is a family. What more do we really need until we know what the new year, new aches, new triumphs, new context brings?

      Someone mentioned White Sox retooling. Who can forget what Yoan Moncada did to us? So for the Astros: Who is the next Bregman? Is it J. D. Davis, or Joe Perez?

      Here’s a question: which prospect has the only 80 grade FB in our organization? Hint: will he ever have it again?

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      • I can answer your question without looking it up. It’s Jandel Gustave. It’s always been rated an 80. We will wait to see if the surgery and rehab brings him back to what he was.

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      • I liked Davis in spring training two years ago. I thought his presence in the box foretold a guy who would be able to come into the big leagues, eventually, and consistently make hard contact, but not consistently put the ball in play. I’m no longer sure he can be that guy. Last year it only took one pitch he didn’t like being called a strike to ruin his at bat. This was the same problem Singleton had. I really feel he has a lot of work to do with his mental approach.

        On the flip side, what impressed me about Bregman is how he turned things around. The start to his career was horrid.
        First 10 games
        2 – 38
        4 BB
        10 K
        0 RBI

        Next 10 games
        13 – 44
        1 BB
        9 K
        6 RBI

        He managed to pull it together and ended the season with a very respectable .791 OPS. His defense left a lot to be desired and the start to 2017 was the same…but by the end of the World Series he was playing stellar defense at 3B. It would be foolish to predict he becomes a HOFer, but it’s not unreasonable to expect continued improvement and possible selection(s) to the All Star Game. As such, I don’t see any position players in our system I would tab as the next Bregman right now. I do really like Tucker’s approach though.

        Liked by 1 person

  17. There are a lot of things to think about with the Astros.
    – While there are merits to looking for a proven #2 catcher this year, there is also the wisdom absorbed from Brian McCann by Max Stassi to consider. Sometime soon, McCann is going to wear out and maybe he will be the #2 catcher somewhere in his last year. How do you get your catchers to get his smarts? You have to pair them together while you can and when, it is time to say goodbye, you have to be able to do that. McCann costs us $11.5 mil this season after the Yanks pay some of his salary, but his option for next year is $15 mil and the Astros may have to make a really tough call on that at the end of the season, as a bunch of younger guys get raises in arbitration and holes made by free agent exits need to be filled.
    – Because of the way baseball is set up with 2nd year and 3rd year players getting automatic raises and arbitration players automatically getting raises and free agent salaries skyrocketing, there is only one way for a team to lower payroll and that is to say goodbye to some players. That is the only way. Retirement, releases, nontenders, DFA’s and letting free agents walk are the only way to control payroll because player salaries go up every year if they produce.
    – The Astros are going to have to walk the line on salaries the next few years to keep some of the really good young players they have. And they won’t be able to keep them all. No team under the set of rules in effect now can keep all of their players. Even the Yankees will not be able to keep all of their players, as you see them ship off Headley to cut payroll and fans clamor to get rid of Ellsbury so the Yankees try to keep up with the Astros and go get someone more expensive to make them better.
    Luhnow proved himself and the plan. Now his job gets tougher, and we, as fans have to understand that he will have to make some moves that maybe won’t sit well with us in the coming years. That is the time to remember the sweet taste we have on our tongues right now as champions, and remember the hell Luhnow had to endure as he spent six years getting us here, to this wonderful place.

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    • Let’s face it – the rest of baseball would love to be where the Astros are this season with basically no holes in the 25 man. They will lose folks along the way but hopefully will fill in from below. If the worst thing is they have a couple below average hitters or bullpen guys a couple years down the way they will probably survive

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      • The Astros are the envy of a lot of clubs now.
        But, what I’m saying is that two or three years from now, guys like Mr. Stubbs need to have replaced Mr McCann. Guys like Mr Whitley, Martes and Bukauskas will need to have replaced Mr Keuchel, Cole and Verlander, in order for Mr. Altuve, Mr. Springer and Mr. Correa to still be able to be here.
        And it starts next season with decisions about Misters McCann, Keuchel, Morton, Harris, Gonzalez, and Gattis.
        I added up salaries including raises for the players we will have under contract for 2019 and it comes out to around $120 million not including the six players mentioned above who are either free agents or have large options. Then you are down to one year left for Altuve. I want to keep him! so that is why I talk about the hard decisions coming.

        Liked by 2 people

    • Good point 1op. You know, I’m not sure if Luhnow pissed me off even once last season. That can’t happen two years in a row, unless I’m getting too soft and agreeable. And I can promise you that’s not the case.

      I think our man is still actively involved in making our club better in 2018. Should he get something done, some of us wil not like it. It will make for great conversation though!

      Liked by 2 people

  18. * Abraham Toro Hernandez is a player to watch. The Astros kept him in extended spring training in 2017 in order to completely revamp his swing from a ground ball/ line drive into a fly ball/ line drive hitter and he had to make that change from both sides of the plate. The changes in his ground ball/fly ball rates from 2016 to 2017 definitely show success for the endeavor.
    The Astros also asked him to become a 3B/ C and he worked on that and is now a two position player.
    He had a good half season in Tri City but struggled in Quad Cities until they got to the playoffs and then he turned into a monster at the plate.
    Things aren’t easy for a switch hitting 3B/C so look for him to take his time moving up, but be ready to be impressed. I think this guy could be a player.
    One thing to note: Toro Hernandez’s best splits are with RISP. That is an indication to me that this guy, who just turned 21, knows how to bear down in the clutch, but now must learn to turn it on in every at bat.

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  19. Well, it’s slow here so I am going to throw out some names for you to mull over. These are some of the names of players who can be free agents after the 2018 season ends. You see, these names are the reason why teams, including the Astros are hesitant to tie up their long-term money this season:
    Josh Donaldson and Joe Mauer
    Adrian Beltre and Bryce harper
    Hunter Pence and Manny Machado
    Adam Jones and Nelson Cruz
    Charlie Blackmon and Dallas Keuchel
    Chase Headley and Marco Estrada
    Brett Gardner and Daniel Murphy
    Zack Britton and David Robinson
    Cody Allen and Craig Kimbrel
    Andrew Miller and Andrew McCutcheon
    Drew Pomeranz and Gio Gonzalez
    AJ Pollock and Patrick Corbin
    Garrett Richards and Clayton Kershaw
    Yasiel Puig and Marwin Gonzalez
    Charlie Morton and Evan Gattis
    Michael Brantley and Jose Iglesias
    Brad Brach and Brian Dozier.
    The 2019 free agent class is the keg of dynamite in the 2018 cauldron of mediocrity.

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    • I’ve seen it predicted that Beltre will be traded mid season, which makes sense because the Rangers will most likely finish last.

      I suppose it goes for any team who wants to be on the plus side of gaining value for the players. But as we’ve discusssed before, those names carry big price tags. We can’t even hold onto Keuchel, and most likely Marwin and Gattis if we’re trying to keep CC, Tuve, Springer and Bregs.

      That makes for filling out our roster with the new wave of youth; the same as other teams who have less money, yet are dependent on worse farm programs. My question is: who is going to leverage their future if Harper wants $400 mil? Yes, he’s elite …. playing in a team sport, though.

      Most teams like the Angels who carry two albatrosses are easier to mobilize by pitching around. But when your entire lineup is a threat – it’s what propelled us in later innings last season, and impossible to match our depth. We have to find a way to keep the contact hitters in the fold, and replenish the pitching staff with a good mix of veterans and fresh arms.

      The farm is the lifeblood, just as the Astros dried up after the spending sprees of 2004 and 2005 – it cannot be ignored! We might be wise to unload our own as soon as the younger version starts nipping. The gauntlet has already been dropped with the hiring of Boras, but no one is expecting him to accommodate “the beast” in Houston.

      It’s really up to the players to keep that drive alive, and build upon a word we’ve not used around here much: tradition.

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      • This is what I wanted. I want a discussion.
        It’s not that we would have to sign someone for five years to fill a hole.
        If Fisher turns out to be a decent player, who adds to the team rather than taking away from it, we have a hole filled and can use our money elsewhere.
        But, if Gattis leaves seeking a big deal, there is Cruz or Beltre or Murphy who might do a Beltran deal to be the DH on a World Series Contender! There is an Iglesias who might be a good fielding replacement at a good value to replace Marwin for a couple of years until you have a prospect who is ready to do that.
        Need a pitcher to replace Keuchel. Maybe one of our youngsters are ready, but he replaces Morton and you shop for a guy to replace Keuchel. You don’t have to pay trillions for Kershaw if you can sign a Corbin or a Pomeranz at a fair deal. Those pitchers are still going to be out there because once the Dodgers and Yankees and Phillies and Cubs pay $30 million a year(or more) for the studs, then you sign players who fit your needs to keep your team at the top without blowing by the $200 million penalty cap and your Whitleys and Tuckers and Bukauskuses and Alvarezes are a year closer to being ready.
        The real prize of the 2019 free agent class is the number of really fine major league players to fill the holes for a year or two until you have seen if Altuve will re-up or not or if Whitley and Martes really are TOR material.

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