Ranking the Astros 1-25 heading into spring training


It is never easy to rank any team from 1 to 25. How do you value every day players vs. starting pitchers vs. relief pitchers? How do you value leadership and dugout presence vs. on the field performance (think Brian McCann)? How do you anticipate how players will react to a different role they may be asked to do during the season ala Brad Peacock moving from the bullpen to the rotation and back? Here is the definitive ranking of the team (until you do your own in the comments section).

  1. Jose Altuve. Until someone pulls the #1 value spot out of Jose’s hands he has to be ranked here. Of all the top players on the team in 2017, the AL MVP played the most and put up great numbers – leading the team with .342/.410/.957 tied for first in runs scored 112 and of course leading with 32 stolen bases.
  2. Carlos Correa. Carlos started 2017 slowly and then was on a real roll when he got hurt. But in those 62 games leading into his injury he put up a .352/ .431/ 1.11 with 53 R/18 HRs/59RBIs. Those are the kind of numbers that could put him in the league MVP talk much less the Astros.
  3. Justin Verlander. No player meant more to the Astros heading into the playoffs than JV. The team had stumbled in August, but his arrival and absolutely brilliant September (5-0, 1.06 ERA, .647 WHIP, 11.4 K/ 9 IP with only 1.3 BB/ 9 IP) helped put them on the upswing as they played on into October. He will turn 35 in a few days. There is no way he will be as brilliant as he was in September, but with this offense he does not need to be. He is the ace heading into 2018.
  4. George Springer. He has a few more flaws in his swing than Altuve and Correa but as he showed in the playoffs, his ups can help overcome his downs. He set career highs with 34 home runsand 85 RBIs and with his .283 BA, .522 slugging percentage and .889 OPS. The Astros have such riches that this star is the 3rd (or depending on how you feel about MarGo) the 4th best hitter on their club.
  5. Dallas Keuchel. He missed significant time last season. He pitched poorly in 2016 when he was hiding an injury. But if he is not traded in his walk year, he will be critical to the team’s success and will be expected to anchor the 2nd spot in the rotation. His 14-5 record and 2.90 ERA were one of the main reasons the Astros got off to such a great start and coasted to an AL West crown.
  6. Charlie Morton. Was there a more critical contribution from an unexpected source than Mr. Morton’s playoff performance? He had a 14-7 record and a 3.62 ERA in the regular season, but seemed to lose some of his edge in a poor September and a shaky early playoff appearance. His heart seemed to pull a Grinch as it grew 3 sizes and helped him to win game 7 of the ALCS and game 7 of the WS.
  7. Alex Bregman. No one grew more during 2017 than Charlie Morton unless it was Alex Bregman. He started off the year looking like someone who was learning third base and ended the season like someone ready to tutor others. His very solid .284/.352/.827 hid the fact that he looked so much better in the second half of the season – as he put up a terrific .315/.367/.903 slash after the All Star Game. He does that again and he may be playing in an All Star game soon.
  8. Gerrit Cole. Cole was one of the best young pitchers in 2015 and pitched decently in 2016 but missed a chunk of the season with an injury. Most of his stats (except one) looked better in 2017 than 2016, but that one stat — home runs — led to a so-so 12-12 4.26 ERA season. It has been hinted that he had been coached to pitch to contact in 2017, but this may have resulted in his giving up 31 home runs, which was more than he gave up in the 3 previous seasons added together. A return towards 2015 with this team behind him could make him a most dangerous weapon for the Astros.
  9. Lance McCullers Jr. Will the 24-year-old be the guy who threw 4 brilliant one hit innings for the 7th game save against the Yanks? Will he be the pitcher who had to come out after 2.1 IP against the Dodgers in that 7th game because he was hitting them more often than they were hitting him? Is he a starter or a future reliever/closer? He is a tremendously talented young man, who will hopefully put together a healthy year with a more steady mental approach to the game.
  10. Brian McCann. His .241/ .323/.759 slash was below his career average. But the fact that he hit 18 home runs and knocked in 62 runs in only 349 ABs showed that he was a big power bat at a normally anemic Astro position. But beyond that he seemed to be the rock that the pitching staff clung to during the roughest times.
  11. Ken Giles. Yes, he pitched his way out of the closer’s spot in the WS. Yes, A.J. Hinch says he will throw the hot hand during the season. But his 34 saves, 2.30 ERA and 11.9 K/ 9 IP during the 2017 regular season showed he was the hot hand most of the time.
  12. Brad Peacock. Maybe he should be higher on this list. It is tough to do that not knowing how he will be used in 2018. His 13-2 record and 3.00 ERA in a mix of 21 huge starts and 13 relief appearances made him as important as any pitcher to the Astros WS success.
  13. Marwin Gonzalez. MarGo could end up higher than this if he repeats his terrific 2017 (.303/.377/.907 with a team leading 90 RBIs). He could end up lower than this if he repeats his meh 2016 (.254/.293/.694 with 51 RBIs). You tell me which Marwin will appear in 2018.
  14. Yuli Gurriel. You could not ask for much more out of the Astros 33-year-old team Rookie of the Year. He struggled in May, but was terrific in every other month of the year. His .299/.323/.817 slash along with 18 HRs and 75 RBIs while learning a new position was so solid.
  15. Chris Devenski. Right about now you realize how frigging deep this team is. This top twenty could be top ten on most every team in the majors. Devo struggled a bit in the playoffs, but he had pitched a team high 10 playoff games and he had thrown 189 mostly relief innings in the last two seasons. His regular season numbers were strong: 8-5 record, 4 saves, 2.68 ERA, .942 WHIP and 11.2 K/9 IP.
  16. Josh Reddick. Josh had a bit of a Renaissance in 2017, putting up a career high .314/ .363 / .847, while reversing his life long trend of struggling against LHPs. It would be a lot to expect a repeat of that great season at 31 years old….but 90% would be pretty darned good.
  17. Evan Gattis. If he does take over the DH spot from Carlos Beltran as announced – his 2017 numbers of .263/ .311/.767 would be a step up from the retiree. If he could repeat his 2017 first half prior to some injury problems his .284/.343/.832 slash would be a big step up. The big question is can Evan hit as well as a DH as he did as a catcher.
  18. Joe Smith. Smith, who is a Pat Neshek side-winder continued a very solid 11 year career with a very solid 2017 with Toronto and Cleveland. He put up a 3-0 record with a 3.33 ERA and a great 11.8 K/ 9 IP tied to a great 1.7 BB/9 IP. Oh and note that he also had 4 scoreless appearances against the Yankees in the ALDS.
  19. Will Harris. The quiet man in the bullpen missed a little time in 2017, but when he pitched he was his same old solid self (3-2, 2.98 ERA). Will he lose any time among all the other options in the bullpen? Probably not.
  20. Hector Rondon. Rondon had been a very good closer in 2014 and 2015 for the Cubs and lost his job in 2016 to a better closer in Aroldis Chapman. His 2017 was a bit spotty, but if the Astros can bring back the Rondon of 2014 and 2015 they will have another option for when Giles struggles.
  21. Jake Marisnick. Jake had his best offensive season in the majors, which was cut short by his ill-fated slide. Considering he only had 230 ABs, his 50 runs, 16 home runs and 35 RBIs were very impressive. Will he get more time in 2018 or be used judiciously?
  22. Max Stassi. As we stand right now Stassi after patiently waiting will finally get a shot at being the Astros back-up C. The other piece left from the Jed Lowrie trade. He had a solid season at AAA in 2017 (.266/.383/.856) in 1/2 a season, though only throwing out 16% of runners.
  23. Collin McHugh. It is possible the Astros will have McHugh as a $5 million insurance policy in their bullpen. Having a pitcher who has been 48-28 in 102 starts the last 4 seasons as a backup or as a swing man is a heck of a luxury.
  24. Derek Fisher. He played sporadically in 2017, while scoring the walk off run in the greatest Game 5 in WS history. The Astros will likely give him plenty of chances to show his speed and power in 2018.
  25. Tony Sipp. Maybe this is not Tony Sipp. Maybe Tony is gone and this is Anthony Gose or Buddy Boshers or a RHP like James Hoyt or Francis Martes. Whoever it is will be the 25th player on the deepest team in the majors.

Your turn – how do you rank these folks?

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107 comments on “Ranking the Astros 1-25 heading into spring training

  1. Ranking them in order of importance to the Astros:
    1. Correa- After all the buildup, an MVP type season for the guy with four years of control left is the key to the Astros repeat.
    2. Bregman- He’s the guy they don’t appreciate nearly as much out there in Baseball Land as they should. He gets the attention of a whole stateload of fans the Astros would like to get back. He is a huge part of the Astros future and he matters. Five seasons of control left.
    3. Altuve-As Altuve goes, so goes the Astros.
    4. Lance McCullers, Jr.- Take a look at the Astros rotation and tell me who needs to be a top of the rotation pitcher two years from today. This guy is super important to the Astros success for the future. He needs to be good this year in order to help the Astros when all the young guys have to replace our current older aces. The same old Lance, does not give the Astros a rock to build a staff on in the future.
    5. Ken Giles- With a top tree starting rotation out there getting you leads, this guy is super important. You have a lot invested in him, he is currently inexpensive in the market and you have him for three moreof the most important years in Astros history. This is the guy who decides whether or not the Astros have to go out shopping at the deadline.
    That’s my top 5.

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    • Well everyone knows I have the real list….but yours is more the long view list, but it could be the real list by the end of this coming season.

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  2. Dan, I like your ranking , but I’m betting that Martes becomes our 25th and Sipp gets his money and is let go.
    1oldpro, I can see that if we just had to pick two players to build on for the Astros future, they would be Correa and Bregman. For this coming season, I feel that #1 is a tossup between Correa and Altuve.

    I am hoping that Cole will benefit from Astro coaching, scouting analytics and from being around Velander. If so, I hope can the Astros can sign him for a longer contract.

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    • Larry, it will be interesting to see what we have in Sipp this year. It always appeared to me that his pitches were always very flat and hit-able. An adjustment is definitely needed.

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  3. A little off topic but I’ve been reading about the potential trade with the Marlins for Realmuto. Maybe I’m “off base” here but no way do we give up Tucker or Whitley. I can understand that we want to put our best team out on the field but as far as Tucker and Whitley go I believe that we shouldn’t mortgage the future. We’ve got a rock solid team now and I just don’t know if another trade will really make the difference. We need good players on the farm so that when their time comes we’ll be ready. What if we need one of those top prospects and we don’t have them because we traded them away two seasons ago. Sometimes a bird in hand is better than two in the bush.

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  4. Zanuda, I agree. I think everyone and hopefully the Astros front office have Tucker and Whitley offlimits. Realmuto doesn’t want to be in Miami and can probably be obtained without giving away our #1 and #2 propects.

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  5. #6. Springer-Why #6? He was projected to be a good base stealer, but isn’t. Was projected to be a .300 hitter, but hasn’t been yet. Was the poster boy for center field, but the team messed that up. And he’s streaky for a leadoff man.
    But he is a great player when he is playing great. When he puts it all together, he jumps up to the top of the list.
    #7. Cole- This guy has a chance to add something to the team they did not have in years past. A stopper in the middle of the rotation who, if he chooses to, could make a mark with great pitching this season and sign a deal with a team he could love, after his experiences in Pittsburgh. This guy could really make a difference.
    #8. Justin Verlander- 200 good innings as an ace. The Astros last had one of those in 2015. This is a great chance to have that again.
    #9. McCann- Most important position on the field, especially if there are few visits to the mound allowed. A clutch hitter who calls a great game. The glue on the field.
    #10. Gurriel-The bat. It’s his calling card and it always was. Down in the lower third of the order he gives pitchers fits and he is the guy who keeps the Astros from having to go shopping for another hitter. While he is still adjusting to pitchers, they have trouble adjusting to him because he is a real good hitter.
    That’s my second five.

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  6. A Keuchel comment pertaining to his 2019 free agency. Given he has a good season (ERA 3.25 or lower and 160 – 180 IP), with the bumper crop of FA available, I would wonder why he would not accept a team friendly deal with lots of incentives to stay in H-town. What’s he going to be worth considering the above stats (20MM) for 4 years with an option? Let’s say somebody wants to pay him 25 for 5. Does he fly? Most of those teams who might want to pay that money have high state income taxes. I just thing there’s a lot to be said for staying with the team that’s home already. But then maybe I have a different perspective on all that money. I wouldn’t even know what to do with that kind of money but it would be interesting to find out.
    My list…Correa, Altuve, Verlander, Bregman, Springer, Keuchel, Morton, Cole, LMJ, Gurriel, Gonzales, McCann, Peacock, Giles, Harris, Reddick, Marisnick, Gattis, Rondon, Smith, McHugh, Devinski, Fisher, Stassi, Sipp.

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  7. My list is how I view their order of importance to the Astros based on how they do this year. So here is 11 thru 15:
    #11. Devenski- So valuable the last two years and has three years of control after this season ends. He could be so impotant if he maintains his reputation as a guy who puts out fires and then gives you another inning. It is a position that very few have and, I hate to say this, but, arbitration has yet to catch up to role players like this, making Devenski so affordable for the rest of his time here.
    #12. Josh Reddick- If you wanted a guy to prove he is a good player in the first year of a four year deal, you got that from Reddick. Look at his deal and the results and then look at Heyward’s and his results. A good base runner, a good fielder, a fan favorite who hit over .300 delivers the goods. If this guy can turn out to be a .270 hitter with low Ks for the next three years it is a fabulous deal for Luhnow. What I love the most about Josh is the way the Astros changed his life and how he has fit in.
    13. Peacock- A playoff hero who pitched well out of the bullpen and then as a starter during the regular season. He’s only 30, has two years left on his deal and seems like a good candidate for an extension because he still has low mileage on his arm because of his past and because he lives in West Palm Beach. I think Peacock could give the Astros some great production for years in their pen, and could be a reliable spot starter.
    #14. Keuchel- Even with only a year remaining on his deal he has a chance to leave a huge mark on this team, because he may be facing other team’s #2 starters rather than their ace every time he pitches. If he has a healthy year I could see him winning 20 games.
    #15. Gonzalez- Entering his walk year, Marwin has a chance for a big payday. He has to overcome the new rules and remember to lay off the breaking pitches down. His hitting last year was a bonus, but his real value to this team is playing good baseball at five different positions and being a switch hitter. Isn’t is weird that Marwin was once considered a more powerful hitter from the right side and is now viewed that way from the left side?

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  8. #16. Derek Fisher- How important would it be for this guy to hit? He’s an average fielder with speed, so he could improve when he gets used to the hardest left field to play in the majors. It’s also the shallowest and that helps his arm. Hitting for a major league average with his power would certainly offset a high K rate. I’m pulling for Fisher to merit 400 PAs this year.
    17. Charlie Morton- Matching up against other team’s #4 or #5 for 28-30 starts this year would be a dream come true. Here’s hoping he pitches like last season and listens to the Astros about another year or two.
    #18. Harris- The only reason he is this low is because of his age and the volatility of his position. He needs a good year to earn that fat option he has lined up for 2019.
    #18. Gattis- This is his natural position now that he has become more patient at the plate. My hope is that he outplays his career numbers and gets a fat paycheck in free agency.
    #19. Rondon- it’s a tossup between this guy and #20 Joe Smith. I like both of them and feel very secure about our bullpen with their acquisitions.
    If Harris should lose some of his previous awesomeness, I think these guys will work in the late innings, too.
    Five left.

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  9. I can’t do this exercise. There are too many guys that seem almost equally important to me, that I think we’d miss as much as 5 or 6 others. Sure, Jose is an easy choice, because of what he’s already done and what he’ll do again in 2018. But my third baseman, my ss, my center fielder, a couple of my starters, losing any of them might hurt as much or more. I think I’d be okay losing Tony Sipp though. Is that mean?

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  10. Taking a different avenue than most value to the Astros, the fantasy crowd (according to CBS) bases it’s predictions on production. They have us ranked:

    Altuve Correa Springer JV Bregman DK Gattis Cole Giles LMJ Mac Marwin Charlie Gurriel Reddick Peacock

    An interesting take.

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  11. My ranking may be as poorly done as Daveb7. I say Group A (6)- Altuve, Correra, Springer, Verlander, Keuchel, Bregman. Place them in any order, or call all of the 1. Group B (16) – Morton, Cole, LMJ, Gattis, etc, etc until you have all except. Group C (3) Sipp, for obvious reasons, plus Fisher and Stassi as yet unproven. The first seven are irreplaceable for the season. The next 16 make the team what it is. And lets hope the last 3 show me to be wrong. If so, that would be the first time ever.

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  12. I just want to apologize for not posting comments or “likes” recently. I cracked the face on my IPhone. They sent me a replacement, but it is Billy’s old phone. I wrote a comment on McCann the other day and the autocorrect changed McCann to “hummingbird.” So I went from a “cracked phone” to a “phone on crack.”

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    • Well played, sir.
      Unfortunately, AC, at this time, it’s to the pit of misery for you … dilly, dilly!

      I got to reading Hinch’s comments about Stassi, three catchers and no guarantees of that in relation to White Davis and Kemp. If any of these force their way on, good chance the sleepers will appear on the rankings later.

      I also started watching video of Riley Ferrell at Ariz Fall League. His breaking pitches lack depth, but he’s got potential. The guy with a ton of natural talent on a fast track we don’t talk about much yet is Bukauskas. He showed very little effort getting to 97 mph at UNC. He’s going to be exciting, reminds me a lot of Sonny Gray.

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    • I will change the poor woman’s name to protect the innocent, but you will get the idea. My wife was sending something to a school official – a Mrs. Toberworth (let’s call her) and autocorrect changed it to Dear Mrs. Overweight.
      Thank God she read it before she sent it….

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  13. Three or four posts back, I gave my listing of the 25 by order of importance as I saw them. The listing went as follows:

    The most critical player[s] for the Astros in 2018 will be . . . in descending order, based on how much a disastrous year from the player would hurt our chances:

    1. Carlos Correa;
    2. George Springer;
    3. Justin Verlander;
    4. Gerrit Cole;
    5. Evan Gattis;
    6. Ken Giles;
    7. Jose Altuve;
    8. Alex Bregman;
    9. Will Harris;
    10. Chris Devenski;
    11. Lance McCullers, Jr.
    12. Yuli Gurriel;
    13. Brian McCann;
    14. Scott Morton;
    15. Brad Peacock;
    16. Josh Reddick;
    17. Joe Smith;
    18. Hector Rondon;
    19. Max Stassi;
    20. Tony Sipp;
    21. Derek Fisher;
    22. Jake Marisnick;
    23. Collin McHugh;
    24. Dallas Keuchel
    25. Max Stassi.

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  14. Jose de Jesus Ortiz had a column interviewing Bud Norris about signing with the Cards. Norris uses the words I, me or my in every sentence, sometimes using two of them in the same sentence. Ortiz interviewing Norris is the perfect gag reflex storm.

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  15. I find it a very, very happy situation that a man who was finally given a chance to play everyday, at every position except pitcher and catcher, from both sides of the plate, putting up a .303/.377/.530/.907 slash with 23 bombs and 90 RBI, and a 149 OPS+ on just $3.75 mil salary is ranked 19th on this team.

    Especially when he finished 19th in MVP voting vs the entire league.

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  16. For the fun of it I took everyone’s top 10 above (Me, old pro, Zanuda, AC, Mr. Bill and the CBS poll from Grayson ) and assigned 10 points for first down to 1 point for 10th spot. And here is how it fell out.

    1. Correa – 57
    2. Altuve – 51
    3. Springer – 43
    4. Verlander – 41
    5. Bregman – 34
    6. Cole – 24
    7. Keuchel – 17
    8. McCullers – 15
    9. Giles – 14
    10. Morton – 13

    11. Gattis – 12
    12. McCann – 3
    T 13. Gurriel – 2
    T 13. Harris – 2
    T 15. Devenski – 1
    T 15. MarGo – 1

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    • That should have been the way Dave and I did our rankings. You know, like a politician. Take a poll and then announce that is always the way we believed it is. Sort of like finding a crowd going somewhere and then run and get in front of it.

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      • Well myself, Zanuda and you (AC) all had 9 of these top 10 (none of us had Giles). OP had 8 (missing Keuchel and Morton). CBS had 8 (missing Keuchel and Giles). Mr. Bill had 7 (missing Keuchel, Giles and Morton).
        And what did this mean? Absolutely nothing because good arguments could be made for each list.

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  17. If you want to know why we aren’t trading this young man, take a moment to relish these towering shots! Many experts believe he’ll be ready after the ASB, and whether the Astros would start the clock is another matter. He could easily be in the rankings in short order.

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    • The Astros valued George Springer so much that they did not bring him up to the majors after his magnificent year 23 in the minors. They waited until April 16th of 2014 to bring him up because it gave the Astros an extra full year of George Springer before he hits Free Agency.
      I hollered and screamed and called the Astros every name I could think of because they were lousy and I wanted them to Free George Springer. How dumb I was, because the Astros didn’t really need him, as they still sucked in 2013 and now we have Springer for the year 2020, which we wouldn’t have if they had paid attention to all the hollering.
      It’s the exact same thing with Tucker. With the great team the Astros currently have, why bring up Tucker early, just to use up his year 22(2019) in the majors and shorten his time with us.
      Springer was ready faster because he was drafted out of college, whereas Tucker was out of high school and three years younger.
      The Astros plan is to win the World Series multiple times and they should not include Tucker in their plans until he is ready to be a starter in a world Series caliber lineup. The worst thing they could do is to bring him up before he is ready to be a Bregman type of player, which he is not ready to be, yet.
      Tucker does not even have to be added to the 40-man until the conclusion of the 2019 season because he was so young when he was drafted.

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      • I still don’t believe in holding a guy back who is ready. It’s the same for any business. When someone earns a promotion, recognize that person. It’s good human relations.

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      • Op, I favored the argument, same as you about the Astros being good enough without Tucker, concerning trading top tier for Realmuto.

        Frankly, if we could acquire the catcher at/before deadline for several C+ guys and headline with a Paulino type, it’s possible. That’ll give us a chance to see about what the Marlins think, and the McCann (all things holding up) Stassi (ready for the big time) Gattis (good enough as just a hitter) shakeout, for example. It would have to be someone FO has lost that “lovin’ feeling with” and I don’t know who that is?

        But, it’s still too early to tell whether Kyle Tucker is ready by July. He and Whitley are a luxury only to have as I think of rankings.

        They may not contribute in 2018. It is Martes’ chance, Hoyt and Armenteros too who project this year. Same as the AAAA guys not named Moran and Teoscar. We have some real good depth already and don’t need to start the clock until all signs point north. If Tucker is a Cody Bellinger – I know you hate comparisons – but if he turns out to be that kind of masher more quickly than expected, I’ll remind you to start screaming.

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    • I’m not in love with this kid yet, but that could change in hurry if Luhnow brings him up this year! But……I think he needs to face AAA+ pitching before he’s ready to make the jump. Thanks for the video treat!

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  18. signed by Seattle Mariners on 12/6/2013 (Free Agent)
    2014: $24M, 2015: $24M, 2016: $24M, 2017: $24M, 2018: $24M, 2019: $24M, 2020: $24M, 2021: $24M, 2022: $24M, 2023: $24M

    I just want to put the Marwin comps in perspective. This is the absurdity that the Mariners have bought into, compared to much better numbers and versatility – from a Moneyball standpoint, the Astros have figured it out with guys who only swing at strikes and play multiple spots.

    For Cano, you get one position and exploitable lefty only pull swings at 24M per albatross rates.

    Cano
    .280 .338 .453 .334 wRC+112
    Marwin
    .303 .377 .530 .382 wRC+144

    Now, Marwin may have been aided by protection in the lineup. His BABIP (.343) is high vs his batting avg. once again, which perhaps leads you to think he’s lucky, but his walk rate doubled, overall OBP improved dramatically. That tells me he places the ball well, fouls a ton of pitches off and makes you throw him his pitch – in every offensive category better than Robinson Cano. At $20,000,000 less. Think about that..

    If Gonzales actually does NOT regress by mid season, it’s time to think about locking him up for a few years at $7-8 mil each, and I don’t think one player would be against it. A huge bargain which frees up international money, pays the attorneys suing the general contractor at palm beach. Stuff like that.

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    • I like the point you are trying to make, but consider that Cano is already 35 years old and Marwin will enter this season at 29. I dislike Cano because he played for the Yankees and then signed that ridiculous contract, but you have to respect a guy like him who lacks quite a bit of athletic talent working hard enough to make himself one of the best hitters in baseball. It’s a really strong argument against giving big contracts to free agents who have likely hit their plateau or are on the downside of their careers though.

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      • I’ve always liked Robbie, because he’s smoother than a 100 year old wine out there. He gets along with our middle infielders, an elder statesman, I know there’s a Latin comraderie. But he’s obviously tapered off quite a bit getting older.

        My main point is how our guys are multi talented, including the pitchers who go from starter to pen, and back. Position players like White who have adapted, and outfielders who can play anywhere out there. The way we position our players, interchangeably exploiting for example Bregman playing SS on a LHH shift, or Gurriel like a 3-bagger playing first. Best of all though is the importance we’re placing on only swinging at pitches we can do damage with. Our overall strength allows us to have patience at the plate.

        This versatility (of having Gattis in case Stassi doesn’t workout, etc.) is going to allow us throughout the season to get the AAAA some stats to see if we’ve got trade value, or keepers.

        Btw, I watched a replay of Gerrit Cole vs James Paxton yesterday. A complete game 10-1 Bucs tilt. Cole commented at his press conference that HOU does things “a little differently,” so I’m anxious to workout with the guys and Strommie. I’m feeling pretty excited about his addition!

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    • 2017 Marwin age 28
      .303 .377 .530 .382 wRC+144

      2011 Cano same age forward (Yankees)
      .302 .349 .533 .374 134

      .313 .379 .550 .394 149
      .314 .383 .516 .384 143

      If there are specific reasons why he cannot, or will not follow a similar path, then we’ll be able to identify them. My prediction is he won’t see 681 PA’s like Cano (maybe 450), so it won’t be as productive. After toiling for 5 years in the Cubs minor league system, and being picked up as a Rule 5, it’s understandable he’d regress without Cano’s pedigree. Most fans just want him available as needed.

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  19. As to DK and his FA status, if Darvish got $23 million and Arrieta unsigned right now, this coming winter could be very interesting for SPs. Does Kershaw give up his $70 million? Does David Price give up his $114 million? If they opt out, does DK get Darvish money? 6/$22 million?

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  20. Collin McHugh will miss the Astros’ first spring training workout today as he travels to West Palm Beach after his arbitration hearing yesterday in Phoenix.

    He couldn’t get on a plane afterwards and meet back with the entire team, like Altuve last season? I seriously cannot figure this guy out! In his interviews he talks as though he’s part of management staff, but his name is being thrown around in trades as often as yesterday with Baltimore. Obviously, he’s not my favorite player.

    So, Mr Bill, or someone else please explain where this guy gets his license to arbitrate twice now after what amounts to two years of non-chalance?

    Why didn’t the guy come in with pi** and vinegar trying to win a spot, like the other four starters have?

    Like

    • I don’t know that the Astros have much to complain about with McHugh. They’ve gotten 48 wins out of him for about $5.5 million to date. He had one terrific season (2014), one very good season (2015), one average season (2016) and one season where he pitched good but missed most of it (2017).

      Perhaps he is not excited because he already knows that he is not going to be one of the five and that he is likely to be traded before the season starts.

      I would say he gets his license to arbitrate based on the agreement between the players union and the owners that made him eligible for it.

      We will see how he pitches in spring training and whether he is needed in place of a pitcher who gets hurt in the meantime.

      Like

    • Grayson, I don’t know what was going on in McHugh’s family or personal life that caused him to want or need to spend another evening in Phoenix. I know that arbitration hearings are long, hard, and often bitter – and may go longer than planned, meaning that if flight arrangements are made in advance, they may well have to be cancelled. Moreover, at the arb hearings themselves, players have to hear things that are hard for them to hear, and then have to listen to their advocate say things about management that are not exactly polite and often incendiary. Sometimes they need a day or so to work through the emotions.

      Or McHugh could be a whiny, selfish jerk.

      Either way, I just want him on the field as soon as possible, with a glove on, throwing a baseball. It is amazing how therapeutic the sound of a popping catcher’s mitt can be.

      Like

      • I got to thinking the same thing later. And I know Collin is cerebral enough to concede facts, just in case they see it the Astros’ way. For all I know, when Peacock said in his post game World Series win, “someone had to get hurt for me to make the team…” could’ve been a step aside by McHugh. Maybe he’s a company man and doesn’t have to try too hard because they’re going to keep him as insurance depth anyway. He mouthed off to Gomez the Ranger from the dugout, and spoke for the team? Like I wrote before, he gets a lot of leeway. But if Martes and Paulino come knockin’… all the more to keep them at Fresno if McHugh wins a few games early.

        These are peripherals compared to our core.

        There was a good article today about how strong Chicago came into 2017 and went 41-43 at the break. That’s a concern.

        Also, Gerrit Cole went to Game 2 to visit Charlie Morton, and he said the clubhouse seemed different in Houston. To me the biggest news if the offseason is Springer’s extension. I’m as ready for those gloves popping, and trying to squeeze in a spring training game, or two in West Palm Beach.

        Like

    • I have a lot of respect for Collin McHugh. He is not the gifted athlete so many are. With help and a willingness to learn, he became a very effective major league pitcher, a guy that did not mind getting the ball in a tough situation. He produced. And has he ever whined about his present situation? And do we know today’s flight schedule:? If the guy goes, I wish him only the best. If he stays, he’ll help this club. He’s a professional baseball player.

      Liked by 4 people

  21. I’m a free agent ballplayer and I want to go to the special camp set up by the MLBPA.
    I need an agent and I’m hoping that could be daveb because he would fly me down the the Caribbean to sign the papers and then arrange for me to join the union and then fly me to Phoenix to work out.
    I do have a good arm.
    But I also have one bad one.
    I am a damn good base runner but have a little trouble remembering where they are.
    I have a real good glove.
    But it falls off my hand sometimes
    I have a real good bat.
    Every night it comes out and circles the light on the barn.
    Dave, can you set me up? There is no other free agent out there that is willing to sign for that $525,000 minimum like I am.
    Show me where to sign. Can I just type in my name, cause I’m a little shaky with that hand.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Found this to be an interesting article on the secret camp for unsigned free agents.
    https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/02/secretive-free-agent-camp-opens-today.html
    1) Bo Porter is running it …..bet the players love his boot camp style
    2) It doesn’t seem like the bigger FAs are there – maybe it is just FAs who were likely to be signed to minor league contracts anywhere
    3) Very interesting how secretive they are making it – what is the fear?

    Like

  23. I don’t care what city the AL Championship has to go through – it’s a silly, non-starter issue. I just want to see our guys outplay everybody else a majority of the games we play, beat the stiffest competition when it counts, never settle, and EARN IT.

    Like

  24. I was going to cheer about the first day of Spring training, but one 19yr old kid in Florida…….took my happiness away😢. I have nothing more.
    “Talk ” to you folks tomorrow.

    Liked by 3 people

  25. Interesting reading about the Top Secret Free Agrnt ST. If the reports are close to accurate, only 15 showed up out of possibly 40-70. So there will be no inter squad games. With 15 they need to revert to the old school yard game of “work up”.

    Like

    • When I read that AC – I pictured this camp with 15 setup relievers in it trying to play pickup.
      – I’m seeing names like former Astros Tyler Clippard and Chris Johnson – guys who have been around a while but have not performed lately
      – I don’t understand their stance on allowing scouts to see them workout. Bo Porter says if they want to come see a particular player work out they would be welcome but not to come see them all. What’s the difference?
      – 11 yr veteran Donovan Hand was bemoaning the fact that he wasn’t even getting an offer on a minor league contract – like there is no action at all – but I see those minor league agreements happening every day.
      – Calling it Camp Jobless makes it feel like these guys are destitute

      Like

    • I guess I should explain “work up” for the city fellows. When you lived in a small town, you get girls to play ball sometimes. We needed at least 7+. You had 3 batters, everyone else had to “work up” to bat. A fly out or ground out was an out. The runner was forced to score from second or he was out. The runner/batter that was out, went to the last position in the outfield. Just like scoring, every on moved up a position so 1-pitcher became a batter, 2- catcher, moved to pitcher. 3-1base to catcher and so on.

      So at the FA camp, 15 would give them a couple extra outfielders unless they let “the girls “ play too.

      Like

  26. Recently acquired first baseman, Ryon Healy of the Mariners, underwent surgery to remove a bone spur from his hand Wednesday. He will miss 4-6 weeks, which wipes out a lot of his ST.

    Like

  27. My question is: who can you get in exchange for Collin that is worth more than having Collin as a # 6 starter/long reliever?

    1. Can we really get a close-the-door loogy that will make us DFA [and eat the salary of] Tony Sipp AND feel comfortable letting Anthony Gose go back to the Rangers?

    2. Can we get a ready-to-contribute big time left fielder that will make us put Derek Fisher back at Fresno for another year?

    3. Can we get a DH with a better history as a DH than Evan Gattis?

    4. Can we get a couple of really promising young pitchers to replace Joe Musgrove and Franklin Perez in our system?

    5. Can we get a really, really talented young catcher – with more upside than Stubbs – to replace Jake Rogers in our system?

    My suspicion. no to 1-5. And if the answer to 1-5 is ‘no’, Collin stays, joining Peacock and Devenski in the long relief, long save, and critical-situation role, and Paulino and Martes both start for Fresno this year.

    Like

    • The answer to your question depends on who who would approach the Astros about McHugh, how badly they think they need McHugh and want him, and what the Astros can get in exchange for McHugh from them and if the return is of higher value to the Astros than McHugh as a sixth or seventh starter who is in the bullpen.

      Like

    • Bill, I’ve already told you not to worry about Evan. The Brewers, with their wealth of outfielders, might make that move for a starter who would fit right onto their rotation. At this point though, I’m ready to give Fisher his shot.

      Like

      • My thought is that we don’t really need anything at the major league level this year. So if we are going to trade Collin – and it appears that is a foregone conclusion – we really need to load up on prospects [esp. pitchers and catchers] to replace some of the better guys we have traded away to get here. We could also, I suppose, use a legitimate SS prospect for the future, which we really don’t have anywhere in the system.

        Liked by 1 person

      • The Astros #10 prospect is SS Freudis Nova. The guys in the Fangraphs podcast I linked to earlier today spoke highly of him.

        Like

  28. Speaking of ranking the Astros…..ESPN put their 100 best for 2018 out today.
    Correa
    Altuve
    Bregman
    Reddick
    Keuchel
    Verlander were all on the list!
    I love what Keuchel said yesterday about the rotation, “we have three fire ballers and a “poo” baller, but we all know lefty’S rule”!!!

    Like

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