Random Astros’ thoughts with spring training approaching

It is coming! The start of spring training is nigh as the Astros’ pitchers and catchers report on Tuesday and celebrate Valentine’s Day with their first workout. So here are some random thoughts as the excitement builds.

Why Trading Collin McHugh would be a good and bad idea….

  • Good idea. With Justin Verlander, Dallas Keuchel, Gerrit Cole, Lance McCullers Jr., Charlie Morton, Brad Peacock, Francis Martes, David Paulino and Rogelio Armenteros there are plenty of solid major leaguers plus prospects to fill his spot. His approximately $5 million salary (depending on arbitration) could be applied elsewhere – like two-thirds or three-fourths of Tony Watson‘s salary. Just sayin’. And he would bring some decent prospects in return to help make up for the Verlander / Cole trades.
  • Bad idea. He did miss significant time last season, but he came back and pitched very well down the stretch as a starter. There is no doubt with, Morton, LMJ and Keuchel’s histories that you can never have enough starting pitching and you would be giving up a pitcher who has a 48-28 record and 3.70 ERA since coming to Houston.

Why the Astros are not likely signing a free agent left fielder…..

Though there has been sporadic discussion about chasing a Carlos Gonzalez or other free agent LF, the Astros certainly could fill that spot (at least until the trade deadline) with some combo of Derek Fisher (a young gun who showed flashes last season – 21 runs scored, 5 HRs, 17 RBIs – but 54 Ks in 146 ABs), Jake Marisnick (who enjoyed his best season to date – 50 runs, 16 HRs, .815 OPS in only 230 ABs), and Marwin Gonzalez (who was their playoff go to guy). It would make sense to go with a lefty right platoon with Fisher and Marisnick to at least see how it works out.

Are there some playoff hangovers coming?

Beyond just folks having problems with getting behind “Never Settle” heading into 2018, there were a number of Astros, who really struggled in the playoffs. Will that be reflected in problems starting 2018? Josh Reddick (who went 5 for 49 – .102 BA w/ 1 XBH and 0 RBIs in the ALCS and WS), Marwin Gonzalez (who went 11 for 61 – .180 BA, w/ 1 huge HR and 4 RBIs in the whole playoffs), Chris Devenski (9.00 ERA in 10 games and 8 IP) and Ken Giles (2 losses, 11.74 ERA and lost his closer spot) all struggled mightily. Does that hang on or was that wiped away by the first spray of champagne after the last win?

The Riches of Leadership

This team has more leaders than you can shake a stick at – boy is that a bad cliché…..  Brian McCann and Justin Verlander are the obvious veteran leaders, but by this time Dallas Keuchel, Jose Altuve, George Springer and Carlos Correa have been around long enough to be considered leaders too. With Luke Gregerson gone, who is the veteran leader in the bullpen? Will Harris? Newly acquired Hector Rondon and/or Joe Smith? Swiss army knife Brad Peacock? The Astros have a lot of players who can lead by their actions and their performance. It should be fun to watch.

So what do you think about Collin McHugh and left field and playoff hangovers and leadership?


64 comments on “Random Astros’ thoughts with spring training approaching

  1. This Collin McHugh situation has so many possible angles.
    Are the Astros pushing McHugh out there in the trade market or, more likely, are other teams who don’t want to spend 5/150 or 4/80 in the free agent market coming to the Astros and trying to trade for McHugh? After all, it’s pretty obvious to everyone that the Astros suddenly have quite a few capable starting pitchers. And other teams would have more incentive to leak this sort of thing than the Astros would, or would they?
    Maybe after fielding a half dozen or so calls concerning McHugh, the Astros might have a hot item on their hands and they are just running along with the idea to see what they might get in return.
    McHugh went to Arb hearings last year and is on his way there this year.
    The way the market is squeaking because of everyone pinching pennies, it would seem that nothing would happen until McHugh’s salary is finalized.
    Would the Astros trade McHugh and his $5+ million to free up room for a preseason addition or a possible mid season addition? Do they have their eyes on a certain prospect they might really like in the farm system of a team that has approached them? Maybe. McHugh is a major league starter and he is only a #5 starter on a few teams in baseball and is a #3 or #4 starter on a bunch of teams.
    Ever since the Astros got Cole, I have thought of McHugh as the key to getting a reliable lefty reliever, by one method or another. We’ll see.


  2. I personally hope we keep Collin, as I think he is due for a break-out year. But if we do entertain trade talks on him, and we don’t ‘need’ to trade him, we had better demand at least a #2 or #3 pitching prospect at A or AA level, a lefty reliever better than Sipp or Gose, and a really good looking young catching prospect in return.


  3. Playoff hangovers are all in the mind. That, I like to think, is why the team motto this year is ‘Never Settle’.

    Never settle for one world championship.

    Never settle for one big year.

    Never settle for barely good enough to somehow beat the Dodgers in 7 games.

    Never settle for having only two players that hit .300 in the post-season [Altuve .310, Gurriel .302] – or for having four players hit below .200 for the playoff run [McCann .175, Marwin .180, Reddick .169, and Beltran .150].

    Never settle for only 3 players with an OBP over .325 for the playoffs [Altuve .388, Springer .386, and Correa .342].

    Never settle for a team ERA that was over 4.00 for the playoffs, or for having four pitchers with playoff ERAs of over 5.00 [Peacock 5.11, Musgrove 8.10, Devenski 9.00, and Giles 11.74] and with a playoff WHIP of over 1.35 [Peacock 1.38, Devenski 1.50, Harris 1.75, and Giles’ whopping 2.22].

    There is a lot of room for improvement. We are now competing against ourselves as well the rest of the league.


  4. Collin is 31 in June. He started last year with a “dead arm”. His fastball has steadily lost velocity the last 3 seasons. He probably has more value to other teams than he does to us. Perfect trade candidate in my view.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Great catch on the decreased velocity. It has gone down steadily every year from 2014 when it was 92.4 to 2017 when it was 90.7.
      Even so, his calling card of ground ball percentage has stayed good.
      As an infielder, he puts me to sleep, though. OMG, Collin, please throw a pitch!


      • still pretty good ground ball %, but it’s down about 10% from 2014 and his use of the (declining velocity) fastball is up about 10%. Not saying we SHOULD trade him, I just think he’s ripe for it and we should be able to get decent value in terms of other assets that might help us more in the long run. I think we’re pretty much on the same wavelength OP.


      • I am not picking on you, but my, how a World Series title can change one’s opinion 180 degrees. I remember you having very little faith in our front office prior to the 2017 season. If it took a World Series title to change your opinion I am glad it happened. Welcome to the dark side, Kevin. 🙂


  5. I think it is fascinating that Lance Lynn has had interest from the Cubs, but not the Cards and that Jake Arrieta has had interest from the Cards and not the Cubs.


  6. If Collin does end up being traded it will bring to an end a most extraordinary partnership that helped both sides immensely. He came here at 27 years old after being released from one of the worst teams in the NL. His career ERA was a shade under 9 and his WHIP was a shade under 1.80. There was a good chance that no one would pick him up, but the Astros picking first off the waiver wire gave him a shot and gave him a career.
    On the other side the Astros got 48 wins out of a pitcher in exchange for about $5.3 million. That was a tremendous bargain and assisted the Astros in their rebuild to respectability, contention and a championship.


    • I still feel that way Diane. As mentioned above, some of our starters are DL prone and others are un-predictable.
      He came off the DL last summer and picked up where he left off in 16.
      He’s a reliable fill in to the rotation when Morton, LMJ, or Keuchel get hurt.


      • Agreed a very reliable fill-in. But if some other team sees him as maybe a #3 starter, that’s exactly my point: more value to someone else is what makes for good trades. Now, if the FO expects to move Keuchel, then maybe Collin accrues more value for the Astros. All very interesting stuff.


  7. The Astros have a cure for the hangovers. They have a manager who loves them enough to throw crap at them if he needs to.
    And they have a guy who is 5’6″ tall and will find a way to get up in their face. Somebody may not be ready to play, but there are enough guys on this team who will be ready and it will get handled. I think Springer is happy as anybody I ever saw, but I think he is not a guy who will stand for somebody who is too big for their britches.
    Then there is Verlander. He strikes me as someone who if he thinks something is wrong, he will let you know about it. Verlander is somebody I wouldn’t want upset at me.


    • OP, we don’t have to talk about clubhouse problems very often. Ours is a self policing operation. Lot’s of integrity in the group. And that’s another nod to Luhnow. He requires good baseball players that are also good people.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I’m kind of expecting McHugh to get traded but hope he isn’t. I can see another J D Martinez scenario where he goes somewhere else and goes off. When he returned last year he had developed a slider that was a really good pitch. And while his fastball velocity is down he can at least command it, something that remains a mystery to LMJ. I know it’s heretical but I’d rather trade McCullers who would bring a much bigger haul and rid us of a very mercurial arm that is neither durable or consistent. If Strom can’t fix his lack of fastball command then he may not be fixable.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Bill, fair points on McCullers. But that three inning snapshot against the Yankees remains a reminder of how good Lance can be. And then there was the HBP fest against the Dodgers. He was just 23 though. He’s still a kid. We were collectively pretty hard on him last year. This is a pretty big year for him. Because next year he can start making pretty good money. But if can give 150 healthy innings, I suppose I’ll be surprised.


    • My memory must be fuzzy again. I remember LMJ making the AS team last year and dominating until he went on the DL. I remember him missing a lot of time and being a question mark for the postseason rotation. However, I also remember him pitching great against KC (in a loss) in 2015. He’s inexpensive and we currently have depth if he can’t stay healthy again. What need are we trying to fill by trading him?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Devin, there were those here on this blog suggesting he be left off the post season roster. He was very carefully handled in order to be ready to pitch in October. I’m glad he was there. But at some point, we’re going to need to figure out what he can do as far as volume of work is concerned.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Astros have the best bullpen against lefties in important metrics, so why waste another roster spot on a situational, one-out “specialist”?

        As for the spin doctors, McHugh and McCullers – Lance is a warrior in the weight room, a beast of a personality to be contended with in *that clubhouse. He didn’t have control problems, he threw inside and hit the Dodgers best batters … get this, as he said, since he was down in count and didn’t like the odds (in effect). What does that tell you? Right!

        He doesn’t back down.

        He battled through a back injury tweak that I saw visibly, and it looked to me like he changed his landing foot to allow less torque on his lower back. How he did that while coming back throwing so effectively his breaking pitches is a testament to his work ethic, and will to power.

        Now, the curious case of Collin McHugh. Fights with arbitration twice – hey, if you’re going to be relegated to 70 innings in 2018 (Steamer, Depth Charts), maybe you should get paid for some past performance. Everyone has given him a lot of leeway; he was cheap, a reclamation project and turned out solid. If fully healthy, he may posses the best command and poise on the team. Against most of the league, I must admit, since he won’t have to face Bellinger agiain for awhile *ahem! maybe he’ll be serviceable this season for us. But if we have big plans for Paulino Martes Armenteros obviously Whitley (or any other possible BP help like Hoyt is a strong possibility), there’s really no room for a McHugh. I’m not trading Lance McCullers, Jr. voluntarily, ever.

        I expect him to win 15 in a full season this year!

        My biggest dilemma is my belief that the #4 spot is Brad Peacock’s, until someone else says so. If he were given carte blanche and the confidence to keep his spot – now that we may potentially be so loaded in the pen that we let Musgrove and Feliz go?! Has that sunk in?

        I imagine Brad will just say, “whatever A. J. decides.” But according to my eye and a number of stats, Brad Peacock’s starts were smoother than any other starter by far! How is this fact being lost? Again.

        Instead, what may be brewing is that Hinch (the psychology major) has given Peacock just enough high leverage along the way to build his confidence to McCullers’ level?

        We don’t necessarily require additional flexibility in longmen, or “tandem” candidates. We’re overflowing with them. In the playoffs, the slick ball and inexperience of Musgrove, Devenski and Giles was showing, so Hinch who has makes no bones about Closer By Committee inserted Morton, LMJ and Peacock. In my opinion, until I see a full spring,…

        Those are your fortified, back end, money rotation guys during the season of 2018!

        What I suspect is the up-and-comers will do just that, and we’ll maintain that good problem to have, depth.

        Devin, since you see more Nationals, do you have the skinny as to why no one has picked up Adam Lind? 15% k rate, 9% bb, .303 batting .316 babip 122 wRC+ for league minimum and an extra bat?


        Liked by 1 person

      • I like most everything about McCullers. My only concern is whether or not he’ll stay healthy. But I’m certainly not buying the premise that Lance got behind guys and thought hitting four of them illustrated a refusal to back down. He got 7 outs and gave up 7 base runners to start that game. It was flat out bad pitching and got him yanked from the biggest game of his life.

        Liked by 1 person

      • daveb, as you know very few pitchers in the playoffs had their stuff on demand, based on their public comments about the baseball. But after seeing the one-of-a-kind tilt Lance was able to get v the Yankees – we probably don’t advance to the WS without him – it doesn’t surprise me a few of his pitches got away from him. The plan. Was to pitch inside though. If you’re going to err, do it on the right side.

        I’m not saying he admitted to being that wild on purpose in Game 7, but I am saying he wasn’t about to throw a meatball, or cement mixer, if the conditions aren’t right. He’s a bulldog, and that’s just one reason he got the biggest start of any young pitcher.

        We’ve all questioned his durability since day 1, mainly because we expect more from him. I like his chances this season because he showed up early, has financial incentive and because his standards for himself are just as high.


      • Grayson, your question about Adam Lind is simply that he is a player that only played against LH pitchers and plays only one position. He had only 32 plate appearances against LH pitchers, so his numbers look better than they are.
        Lind had to settle for a low deal last year and is going to have the same situation this season.


      • Geez Grayson, talk about spin, he’s the only guy on the planet to hit four guys in a game in World Series history. And he managed it in 2.1 innings. Easily the most remarkable feat in a remarkable Fall Classic.


  9. In 2020, Lance McCullers, Jr will be 26, the same age Dallas Keuchel was when he figured out how to win as a pitcher.
    We’ve seen LMJ pitch in the majors as a 21, 22, and 23 year old and I am ready to see him pitch for the Astros all the way to free agency before the 2022 season. He has had injuries and he does have great stuff. He needs to be in the rotation now, when he has very good pitchers ahead of him to pave the way. If he learns how to pitch as a reliable starter that is great because we will need him as a starter. If he doesn’t get it together as a starter he will probably make it as a good reliever.
    I believe trading him before he hits his 25th birthday would be a mistake because he is one of us and he has done his job.


    • It’s interesting to observe pitchers as they learn to pitch and finally “get it”. The most remarkable one I’ve ever seen is Roy Oswalt. His first season with the Astros he was good, but I remember in the middle of the season just from watching him on TV you could tell when the light went on. It was startling: for several months he was good and then BOOM all of a sudden he was great.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. So, one of the discussions presented in this post is about LF for the Astros.
    With Gurriel sitting out the first five games of the season and the Astros starting off with four games against Texas, who feature four lefties in their current rotation, we may not see the real left field setup until the second week of the season.
    I think the Astros would like to see Derek Fisher grab the job and run with it and, as with Stassi as the #2 catcher they want Fisher to succeed and provide the Astros with a youthful promise of a starting left fielder for a long time. I believe the astros are willing to put up with some bumps along the way from Fisher, as long as they are playing like the team we saw last season.
    This link is from a fantasy baseball site, but fantasy baseball sites follow individual players closer than most fans do because they have lots invested in the game. How do outsiders view Fisher? Here is one observation:


    • I got myself in a good discussion two weeks before Fisher’s call up, saying he should replace Aoki. Noted at the time, it was based on what I saw last Spring Training. He had laser-like focus about winning a spot, exceptional speed and an air about him that he didn’t belong in the minors anymore.

      Even so, I lean the other way with the fantasy comment link favoring him winning the everyday LF spot in 2018. I have bigger expectations for Jake (Reddick moving over to LF); and, even a small tick down with a “coming into his own” Marwin is much more productive with bat to ball skills thus far, than Derek Fisher.

      I think Fisher will make the team, and White will be sent to the minors when Yuli returns. The ability to place guys on the DL, or to option them will allow a bit more flex in getting some playing time for our AAAA until they’re a proven regular major leaguer.

      Something comes to mind that Altuve thanked Correa at his awards speech, saying Carlos always told him what to watch for, albeit fastball or curve. In the big miss strikeouts I’ve seen of Fisher, it appears more like Reed, that neither of them are recognizing the shape of the pitch better than White. Recognizing is much easier if you can narrow down to a pitch! With in-game leadership and advanced scouting, we probably already have the natural hitting potential needed to improve.

      That’s my take on the depth chart going into this Spring, as it relates to the fringe players vying for an extra spot.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. The best thing about the decisions to be made on both the rotation and left field and possibly DH is that the Astros have a tremendous base to build upon. They were the best hitting team in the majors even with having the DH with the worst OPS in the AL and middle of the road numbers from LF.
    The starting rotation had the 3rd best ERA in the AL with only 5 starts from Verlander, 0 starts from Cole and with injuries to all the other starters limiting their starts.
    – Jake is an interesting player to think about. Yes, he was a better average and OBP hitter against leftys vs. rightys (.266 BA/.349 OBP vs. LHP and .228/.298 vs. RHP). But he had a very good .813 OPS vs. rightys almost identical to his .817 OPS against leftys. His far worst split was home (.308 BA/ .373 OBP / 1.008 OPS) vs. the road (.187/.273/.647). Will they give him more of a shot at consistent play or use him as they did last year for sometime spots and many times later inning defense?
    – They can afford to give ABs to Fisher to find out what they have and they can use JFSF more if it is not all good. They just have to fill until Tucker is ready – maybe at the end of the season?
    – I’m good either way with McHugh, but if it looks like they will not be using him that much – there is sure no harm to find out if you can pick up some prospects for him.
    – Catcher will be the other spot of interest this season. The Astros have to find out if they have anyone internal they can trust long term and if not they need to trade for longer term help (maybe after next season) or make sure they get a catcher high in the draft that might be ready fairly quickly.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. As for McCullers – along with his health I think one of the things he has to work on is control of his emotions. When he has it together (e.g. against the Yanks) he is terrific. When he doesn’t (Game 7 against the Dodgers) he is problematic.
    But some things to remember:
    – He will have time to work with and watch JV pitching. One of the most impressive things to me about JV was how he was unshakeable no matter if he was getting squeezed by the ump or not. I think some of that bulldog-ness was rubbing off on Morton and I sure think it could help LMJ.
    – You were asking Lance with less than 60 career starts (less than two seasons worth) to start game 7 of the WS. Yes, he was over-amped, but the big thing was that even though he struggled he did not give up a run. He did not put the team in a hole he just had them head to the bullpen earlier than they would have preferred.
    – What was Justin Verlander doing when he was LMJ’s age? He was the Tigers best pitcher, but he went 1-2 in the playoffs with a 6.00 ERA. He lost the first and fifth (last) game of the WS – pitching badly in the first game and being let down by his team’s hitting, while committing a crucial error in the last game.
    – LMJ may never grow into an ace, but I sure think we need to be patient

    Liked by 3 people

    • Hinch called McCullers’ “killer instinct” as impressive as he’s seen at 24 years old after Game 3 of the World Series. In the Game 7 post game interview, he conceded Lance was missing spots but showed no concern long-term.

      In this interview, you can see the difference in these guys’ personality, and just how competitive McCullers is.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Hadn’t lamented about the fact that we lost veteran leadership in Gregerson, but it’s so true. He handled his business with a lot of class, plied and shared his grips with the other guys. Although he tapered off a little after the World Baseball Classic, his stuff was so nasty that teams just stopped swinging, knowing a drop that severe is difficult to locate in the strike zone. Eventually, they waited him out and got their pitch. Otherwise, he wouldn’t have been forgotten in the shuffle of a very solid group. I think it’s a tribute to their tenacity to finish as the Bullpen of the Week last week of the season.

    That makes coming into HOU for Rondon and Smith a much easier transition, in which they’ll be expected to lead. Both seem like big game pitchers to me, and maybe playing for something as significant as a Repeat, we’ll see what kind of mettle they possess.

    In guys that are due a bit of an “adjustment back to the mean,” let’s call it; Marwin, Peacock, Reddick, maybe Devo. You know, guys who had phenomenal years? The one guy that I am more leary with is Reddick. Love his defense and when he’s excited the team is going. I just think he needs a makeover with the scowl. Alright, so help me out – what is it I’m trying to describe? Everyone knows his slamming his helmet down means he cares. But what’s really going on?

    For the season, I give him a B. He came through against lefties like not even I could believe. He seems like an instant clubhouse fave. I just want to see him smiling is what I’m saying. Maybe he’s just a super intense person, who works so hard that when he fails, it’s that much more frustrating. Dealing with adversity is probably the most common but difficult things to do in baseball.

    If we see a difference in his demeanor this year, I’ve seen Hinch with his arm around Josh, I’m going to say it’s the guiding hand of A. J.

    An interesting theme to me this season will be that Hinch is managing three potential Hall of Fame players.

    The main reason that Peyton Manning went to the Denver Broncos in his retirement years was because John Elway told him that he understood he was on the brink of a Hall of Fame career when he himself came to Denver in his final years. They all want to play for someone who will ensure the greatest riches, to challenge and help them achieve the unthinkable. I think this is the task ahead of AJ Hinch with Verlander Altuve Correa.


  14. * On the 24th of May the Astros arrive in Cleveland from Houston for a 4- game weekend series with the Indians. On Sunday night they fly to New York for a 3 game series starting Monday afternoon with the Yankees. After a night game on Wednesday they load up and fly back to Houston for a 4 game series with the Red Sox, starting on Thursday night. That is 11 games in eleven days in 3 cities against 3 of the ALs best teams with no days off.
    We will know a lot about the Houston Astros by the time those games are completed.


    • Op, I looked at the schedule before and noticed that brutal stretch. But I was kind of struck with how easy the rest looked, and that is especially with the idea that most teams aren’t spending this early because they cannot contend, and that we should have our way with TEX, OAK and SEA.

      We are, after all, favored with NYY at 5/1, Dodgers slightly behind. Possibles are Nats, Indians and Boston as of today. All others are long shots for good reason.


  15. The PECOTA Fangraphs projections are out and the Astros are tied with the Dodgers for best projected record in baseball with 99 wins. The Astros are projected to have the best offense, the second best starting rotation and the third best bullpen.
    That said, PECOTA projects every offensive player on the Astros roster to have a drop in batting average, except Derek Fisher, who they project to hit .235 instead of .212.
    They project the Astros to have one batter hit over .300 and that is Altuve, at .309.
    Overall, their projections have the Astros’ team batting average of .266 as the highest in baseball, a full 16 points behind last season’s .282 team batting average.


    • Let’s hope they are wrong big time and it’s even better than last year. Without the hitting we had last year we wouldn’t have won 101 games. 99 this year means the pitching will be much improved (hope so) to compensate for the downward direction of the hitting (hope not). The final test will be getting to the playoffs and winning another WS.

      Liked by 2 people

    • It makes no logical sense because if we continue the exacting science behind plate discipline, then teams just won’t pitch to our wreckers. Problem there, as described by Hinch about Gattis is that, if he’s not swinging at balls, he’s the most dangerous hitter there is. I agree. There are no holes. It’s just a ridiculous assertion.

      The ONLY way to stop Bonds was to walk him. That is what it’s going to be like facing Correa Altuve Bregman Springer Gattis Reddick Gurriel McCann Marwin – a nightmare!


  16. I guess as far as Fangraphs goes – what did they say about the Astros projected win total and BA heading into 2017. I think I would be right in saying that they did not predict 101 wins or a .282 BA.
    Perhaps the Astros will trend down a little in BA. Maybe Altuve hits in the .320’s. Maybe Reddick and MarGo trend back towards their career norms. Maybe age catches up a bit more with Mr. McCann.
    But folks like Bregman and Gurriel and Fisher may carry the day.
    And like Grayson says – how do you really measure how players will perform when they are part of such a deep lineup. Hitters are getting pitches to hit because they are so protected behind them in the lineup.


  17. A few things that I have read about in the last few days:
    In the last hour of August, Justin Verlander received a phone call from Dallas Keuchel. Verlander was overwhelmed by the questions he had about the trade to Houston and Dallas told him that he knew Verlander didn’t have time to talk but wanted Verlander to know that, if he came to Houston, he would not regret his decision.
    What I didn’t know was that Verlander also said that Keuchel’s plea resonated with him.
    As Verlander and Luhnow were walking off the field together to join the clubhouse celebration after winning the WS, Luhnow told Velander that it was one down and two more to go.
    In an interview with Danny Knobler right after the trade, Verlander said he wanted to pitch as long as he could. He said he had made a lot of money pitching, but would pitch even if he wasn’t getting paid huge bucks because he loved playing baseball.


  18. Six years at $21 million a year puts the Cub right at their payroll from last year, perfectly filling the void they had imprinted on the marketplace.
    $21 million a year to the #1 free agent of the year sure sets a low bar for future years. It makes me wonder if Kershaw will give up his $34 million per year for two years, and become a free agent after the end of this season.
    This also cuts down on what the Cubs may spend next year.
    Darvish was expecting a $150 million deal but he can earn more if he wins multiple Cy Youngs with the Cubs.
    The Brewers have a higher hill to climb now and the Cubs may think they have caught the Dodgers.
    And the Cubbies did win the Whirling Darvish Sweepstakes as predicted.


  19. Realmuto manages all facets of his job pretty well. That’s a tough find. He can even play some first to help keep the legs fresh. I think McCann is best served spending about 80 games max back there during the regular season. If Fisher breaks out, we won’t feel so bad about losing Tucker. In Luhnow I trust. Man, I would never have said that three years ago!

    Liked by 3 people

  20. It would solve my concerns about catcher for a few years, but as untouchable as Tucker has apparently been I don’t see the Astros letting him go in this case. Plus, I’m sure the Marlins would want multiple prospects.


  21. 1. If the Astros were serious about trading Tucker for Realmuto, I doubt we would have heard about it this early.
    2. I believe the Astros could be in talks about a trade for JTR because of the situation with McCann’s $15 million option. I believe the Marlins would want Tucker, but I would be surprised if the Astros included Tucker in the deal.
    3. Why would Tucker suddenly be considered tradeable now, unless they knew this was coming and were holding Tucker for this trade?


  22. I’m not in favor of trading Tucker for Realmuto, but there are some interesting arguments made for retaining him with lesser prospects, and trading McHugh to try to replenish.


    This is the argument I favor most:

    “Realmuto might help Houston set the high score in 2018, which would be cool, but we’ve got the division on lock for two seasons, regardless of what the catching situation looks like in 2019. Things get a little murkier after that. We’ll need as many chances at cheap production then.

    There is just no way that Houston is seriously considering dealing Tucker. Such a deal does little for Houston in the three-year run, and it’s clearly a loss beyond that. I’m not even sure I’d deal Fisher or Alvarez. Yuli probably isn’t going to be productive for more than a couple more seasons, and Reddick will likely be a guy we’ll be happy to see go after 2020, if he even makes it that long. This team is going to start springing leaks all over if we over-consolidate now, and man, isn’t that exactly what Houston would be doing if it burns its A or B+ prospects to go from 98 to 100 wins? We just have to beat these scrubs, not humiliate them.

    We have the division by 10 or so games next year. Probably 8-10 the year after that, even if Stassi is the primary backstop. 2020? Sure, Realmuto would probably be a 2.5 or 3.5 win advantage over whatever we have at catcher that season, but we’ll need one, maybe two OFs by then and a 1B most likely. Houston isn’t especially thick with minor league talent at either position.

    If you can get the Marlins to drink from Houston’s deep well of farm pitching, then sure. But burning top tier hitters for wins that aren’t needed? That’s no way to keep a window open.

    And really, why not see what you have in Fisher before selling him off? There are no holes on this team. None. It makes zippo sense to consolidate, using potential plus talent, when you don’t have to. It would reek of impatience. Maybe Crane wants to give the rest of MLB a gigantic f** swirly or something, but those flourishes cost extra.”

    Liked by 1 person

  23. #1. Can we please stop talking about when we can jettison Reddick? The guy is coming off a great year and the Astros fully expect him to carry his value into the fourth year of his deal, when he is going to be 33 years old. Reddick is a player who stays in shape so it’s not like he is going to look like Prince Fielder in the last year of his deal.
    #2. The Astros have Reddick and Springer for another three years of team control and Fisher for five years and Marisnick for two more years. If the Astros consider Fisher a starting caliber left fielder, then they are not sitting here dying for Tucker to make it to the big leagues to bail them out of a hole in the outfield.
    #3. If the Astros want to go with Realmuto and McCann behind the plate this year, they basically have the absolute best catching position in the major leagues this year, and could then decide what to do with the catching position in 2019. They could retain 35-year old McCann for 2019 or go with Realmuto as the main catcher with Stubbs as a left-handed hitting, very inexpensive backup, allowing the Astros to go after a good starting free agent pitcher in the banner 2019 free agent year to replace Keuchel using McCann’s money($15 million), if Keuchel decides to walk.
    #4. Yuli Gurriel is a third baseman by trade but has a bunch of time playing second base also and is now a first baseman. He has tree years left on his deal and his salary drops by $2 million each year. It would not surprise me to see the Astros utilize Gurriel as a replacement for Marwin AND Gattis next year as the DH/backup infielder, and then transition him to the DH position in the last year or two of his deal as he approaches his mid 30’s. The Astros absolutely see Gurriel as earning his paycheck through the end of his contract, just like Reddick. This is the reason the Astros look for guys with high BA/low K potential, so that they can still deliver production beyond their peak HR years.
    #5. Please remember that trading for the last two years of the contracts of Verlander and Cole is a sign that the Astros are going to do everything they think is necessary to try and win the WS for those two years. I believe they are going to be all in for the next two years and then look and see who they have coming up from the minors to start filling in, all the while waiting for those young arms to hit the majors.


  24. I doubt the Marlins are gonna get Tucker, but you never know. However, I haven’t fallen in love with the guy yet ,but…..we NEED a good catcher sooner rather than later.

    Liked by 1 person

  25. OK, I am going to quote from a Richard Justice MLB article posted a few hours ago: “Manager AJ Hinch had a great postseason by mixing and matching hot starters and slumping relievers to bring a World Series trophy to Houston. He hinted last week that he may not designate a full-time closer and could play matchups, just as he did during the World Series.”
    Did anybody else read, hear or see this? I have not heard anything about this. Am I dumb, because I read everything I can get my hands on about the Astros and I can’t believe I would have missed something like this.
    Please, help me out here!.


    • Hinch has stated repeatedly that he will pitch his hot hand at the most crucial time of the game, whether that’s in the 6th, or any other inning. Closer is not a word he uses often. Maybe Justice should go back to Baltimore, and find a real scoop?


    • Yeah that was an impressive interview…
      I heard them interviewing Reddick last week on Astro Line and he just comes off as such a cool regular guy – really pulling for him to keep the edge from last year


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