Can we stop with the rumors please?


Can we stop with the rumors, please?

So, as I write this, the top story on the Astros’ website is “3 Big Tasks Remaining for Houston.” Those tasks: Find a starting pitcher, get another catcher, find a DH.

Over at MLB Trade Rumors, the “three things” the Astros need includes a left-handed reliever. Oh, and a catcher and a starter in the rotation.

Honestly, if I have to read another story about how Seth Lugo or Robbie Ray or J.T. Realmuto is the answer to all the Astros’ problems, I’m going to scream. (And, even though the Astros aren’t involved in talks about Bryce Harper or Manny Machado, can someone sign those guys so we all stop getting breathless updates about who they added to their Twitter accounts. “Bryce Harper wore a new shirt and watched a movie featuring actor Michael York. ‘New’ shirt! Michael ‘York’! OMG, folks, the writing is on the wall …”)

Here’s my radical idea: Let’s go into the season with what we have.

Last week I wrote that Collin McHugh is like a really good No. 2 starter sitting at No. 3. And despite some of your objections, I still believe that. So, let’s say I’m right. That means the Astros starters, right now, are two Cy Young candidates and Collin McHugh followed by Brad Peacock, Chris Devenski (remember, in the minors he was a starter), Josh James, Framber Valdez and a bunch of hungry guys from the minors including B.J. Bukauskas, Forest Whitley, Ryan Hartman and Corbin Martin.

Some of these guys pitch well, but not well enough to make the rotation right away, put them in the bullpen. Hartman is a great example. Here’s a guy, turns 25 in April, drafted 2016 in the ninth round, across two and a half minor league seasons he’s stuck out more than a batter per inning (281 K in 275 IP) while being used primarily as a starter. A 6’3” lefty, he won the pitching triple crown (ERA, Ks and Wins) in the Texas League last year. He’s got a low- to mid-90s fastball, changeup, curve.

There’s not a place for THAT GUY on the Astros’ roster as either a starter or reliever?

What about catcher? Well, I’d love to have J.T. Realmuto as much as anyone else wants him, but let’s be honest. The Fish are going to ask for the moon to get him at this point. I’m sure they started out asking for Whitley AND Kyle Tucker, plus someone like Tony Kemp or maybe Jake Marisnick.

Uh, no. At this point, I have to look at Tucker and Whitley vs. Realmuto and say who gives me more WAR over the time they are an Astro? Well, I doubt it’s Realmuto.

In the interim, Robinson Chirinos, Max Stassi and Garrett Stubbs and whatever comes across the waiver wire in late March or early April will fill the bill. I’m more interested in a catcher who will work well with our pitchers than one who can hit. Still, Chirinos is a quality backstop who, if he starts behind the plate four days a week will give us plenty of offense.

Last, but not least, is the DH spot. As Dan wrote the other day, we can either go out and spend on a DH or see if we can cobble the position together until the trade deadline and see where we’re at.

And, again, I’ll mention our wealth of talent in position players. Right now, our outfield is Josh Reddick, George Springer and Michael Brantley. Wow. Even if Reddick doesn’t fully bounce back, that’s a WOW.

Bring up Tucker, start Kemp, whatever, and we can put Reddick in the DH spot to concentrate on his hitting. Let Tucker DH. Make it a rotating position with Tyler White getting the bulk of the starts.

These aren’t bad internal options. They are good internal options.

In the end, I’m not saying Luhnow shouldn’t make a move for a piece. I’m just saying, that move doesn’t have to be a blockbuster for a huge piece. I think the Astros are in very good shape right now. So, unless a good deal comes along, why force anything.

So, here are my questions:

1. Sportswriters seem to think the Astros need – NEED – four things: A starting pitcher who is a solid No. 3 or better, another MLB-quality catcher, a lefty reliever and a designated hitter.

  • Can you make a case for the NEED of one or more of these?
  • If you had to pick just one of these, which one is the most pressing?
  • Should they look for a free agent or be willing to spend prospects?

2. I think the Astros have the best rotation, right now, in the AL West.

  • Can you name a better rotation than Houston’s?
  • What does Houston NEED in its rotation, a No. 3, a No. 5, MLB-experienced depth?

3. I see the DH and the catching problem as part of a bigger issue: Does Houston have a deep enough lineup at this point to be competitive?

  • In other words, most lineups have that hole or two, the guy who bats .230 and strikes out about 29 percent of the time but hits 15 homers a year and drives in 58 runs. But too many of those, and your lineup is weak. Catcher, DH and, possibly right field (Reddick) are those spots for Houston.
  • How many lineup holes does Houston have? Is it too many?

30 comments on “Can we stop with the rumors please?

  1. Color me crazy – but I am not worried at all about DH. I fully expect a minimum of .275/.335 from Tyler White in that role. As for our present set of catchers, I expect we’ll be lucky to get .225/.280 from them, but if every other position, including DH, performs at least at league average – and it should – I am fine with one hole in the line-up if they will just CATCH – OR AT LEAST BLOCK -THE HIGH VELOCITY, SUPER-HIGH SPIN-RATE, SLIDERS OUR GUYS THROW. My concerns for the 2019 offense revolve around the health of Carlos Correa’s back and Jose Altuve’s knee, the ability of George Springer to get his OBP and HRs back up and his Ks back down a little, and the ability of Alex Bregman to finally start a season half as well as he has finished the last two.

    Liked by 1 person

    • There is one spot where I think they should consider making a move and that is at SP. IMHO they need a veteran pitcher to build a bridge to the future – the future includes Cole, Verlander and McHugh being FAs at the end of this season. I do want them to give some young guys shots during the season, but I think they need someone to help guide them in 2020 and possibly beyond.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I think the Astros could use another starting pitcher, but I don’t see one out there worth the trouble. I think the Astros could use another reliever, but I don’t see one out there worth the money.
    I think the Astros could use a top catcher, but I think he is in Round Rock.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I agree with you Brian about the rampant rumors. Baseball writers don’t have much to report this time of year, so they have to make up stuff to fill columns. Now if they want to REPORT on what the ASTROS think they need, then fine. But we know, with this FO, that likely ain’t gonna happen. And the spread of blogs vastly increases the “gurus” that think their opinion is worth a flip. Honestly, when I read some of these other Houston sports blogs half the time I’m left slack-jawed at the horrible grammar/spelling/word usage and/or at the lack of substance (if not outright stupidty) of the opinions expressed by the article poster.

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  4. Color me a crazy knucklehead – but I am not worried at all about DH. I fully expect a .350 plus OBP and an .800 plus OPS from Tyler White in that role. And those are my conservative numbers. I know, I broke my non opinion streak, but Brian had to bring this issue up all over again and force me to react! And don’t forget all those delightful late inning, clutch, high leverage and RISP stats, provided by Nephew, gathered so often against tough relief pitchers.

    I do suspect the acquisition of Charlie Morton 2019 though, especially since the more I think about it, it’s going to be tough to keep Cole in Houston after 2019..

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Altuve is the only guy the Astros have actually extended a contract to, I’m not talking about the pennies they gave Springer. At some point this organization has to look in the mirror and realize they are going to think about offering guys like Garrett Cole an extension, for 3-4 years. They are going to be cornered in a couple of years anyway, with Correa, Springer, Bregman, and maybe Yuli as well. Right this red hot minute the one REAL need is another starting pitcher.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. We probably do need a good veteran pitcher but I keep thinking about last year and the frustration the pitchers went through with Stassi.
    A great rotation is nothing without a catcher the pitchers can trust.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I know we are not the Boston Red Sox but the slash line for the starting catcher in 2018 was: .177/.232/.279/.511 and an OPS+ of 37. Their backup was slightly better yielding an OPS+ 46.

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    • I tried Double RR’s suggestion and logged into Word Press with new name. Then I couldn’t “like” and I couldn’t Post. I am glad you are on here with your superior intellect. When you figure it out, and that should be quickly, let me know how much I need to pay you for the solution.

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  8. I would hope we can fill in these slots but no sense in mortgaging the future. Another SP would be nice as well as a catcher but given all the facts, figures, and opinions I would put a SP at the top of the list. We could conceivably be pretty thin next year if we lost JV, Cole, and McHugh. I believe JV has only about a 25% chance of staying around and Cole,is still less than 50%. If McHugh has a good year he could be gone also. That’s not a hole but a chasm . Develop our up and coming guys and hope for the best. I would hope it’s not always about the money but then nobody’s offered me $15MM + to pitch so I can’t put myself in their shoes.
    Anyway, Spring Training is only 5 weeks away.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Unfortunately Zanuda it’s almost ALWAYS about the moolah. How many times have we heard with the Astros or Rockets that so-and-so really wants to come here because of “lower cost of living”, “no state income taxes”, “year-round golf weather”, “wife has family here”, “wants to get a ring” blah, blah, blah. And how often has that played out? Almost never. So I’m with you: let’s start to reap the bounty of the arm farm that Jeff and the boys have sowed

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  9. Rumor has it that Framber Valdez and Josh James are not really pitchers, but lifelike holograms produced by video nerds in the Astros front office.
    Rumor has it that the Yankees and Dodgers don’t have enough money to afford premium free agents.
    Rumor has it that the Astros are favored by Vegas over the Red Sox and that Alabama is better than Clemson.
    Rumor has it that the Astros will eventually announce their minor league coaching staffs, maybe even before spring training.
    Rumor has it that Jeff Luhnow has decided to stop trying to improve his club.
    Rumor has it that someone at Chipalatta doesn’t like rumors.
    Rumor has it that 1oldpro is going into spring training in the best shape of his life.
    Rumor has it that MacKenzie Bezos will not be spotted in Wal-Mart this year.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. With the absolutely *insane* money Manny Machado wants, I would love watching his face when he’s still sitting on his couch when Spring training starts. What a greedy little snot. I haven’t seen anything about “what” Harper wants, and who knows his demands might be just as outlandish as Machado’s.
    Baseball contracts have literally gone from a good living to mega millionaire’s.
    It’s sick😠

    Liked by 1 person

  11. The Brewers are serious. It’s their window of opportunity. They’ve got payroll room but not much in the farm system. Not sure how sustainable their plan is.

    We’re fortunate to have a club that has won a WS and gone to the ALCS in consecutive years but still has a top ten farm system intact. Time to use it!

    That’s why I’m more and more convinced Tucker should stick around. If he’s real, he’ll impact the club as much as anyone and is pretty much free for the first few years.

    Liked by 2 people

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