Free Blog Weekend: Harper, Crane, JV and GC


As we wait for the first Spring Training game on Sunday for our Astros, it is a good time to bring back a Chip Bailey tradition….Free Blog Weekend. As always, you can hit on any Astro subject you want, but here are a few things to toss out there for consideration.

Bryce Harper

The Astro connection here is that a number of pundits have said the Astros should pony up for more than the Manny Machado 10 yr / $300 million contract and add Harper to their stable. He is definitely a very good player — at times excellent (2015 – 42 HRs, .330 BA / .460 OBP/ 1.109 OPS and 2017 — .319/.413/1.008 slash) and two of the last two seasons good but not great (2016 – .243/.373/.814 and 2018 – .249/.393/.889). He’s scored more than 100 runs only twice in seven seasons, and his best RBI seasons were 99 and 100. In three of his seven seasons, he has played 118 games or less. He would obviously be an improvement over a Josh Reddick. But would he be worth $32 or so million a year for a team that has Kyle Tucker and Yordan Alvarez lurking around the corner and Michael Brantley and George Springer in the hold for two more years?

Jim Crane

Crane is an interesting owner. He weathered a lot of criticism early with barely a blink, especially in the early days when he agreed to move the Astros to the AL (in exchange for $), when the broadcast agreement left many in the dark (and some still in the dark) and when he approved a complete crash and burn of the team and a budget that made the Marlins blush. He would get hacked off sometimes and hack off the populace like when he basically said if the fans want him to spend $10 million more on certain players they should pony up the money. He’s overseen the rebuild of the team into a champion and an annual contender. He’s put the right people in charge and seemingly has supported their plans even when they have been unconventional. He’s increased his spending annually since the bottom-feeding years (like he said he would) and now they are within reach of the luxury tax.

Is he the best sports owner this city has seen?

Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole

Does the lack of big money offers to pitchers the last couple of years in free agency give a team like the Astros more of a chance at extending their two aces? What would these two guys be looking for? JV: 3 yrs/$100 million? GC: 8 yrs/$250 million? It would certainly help the transition to utilizing more homegrown pitching talent to have one or both of these guys at the top of the rotation. What would you spend to keep them here?

Of course, you can talk about anything else that tickles your fancy here, too.

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59 comments on “Free Blog Weekend: Harper, Crane, JV and GC

  1. 1. Harper, just can’t see that helping the team if JV and Cole leaves. And signing him for that takes away money for them – possibly.
    2. Crane best owner? Well except for a very short list, that is like asking if he is the tallest midget.
    3. Either one is worth Altuve or Harper money on a shorter contract.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. i dont think harper ends up here this year or probably down the road either. i think your info about who is already here and who is on the horizon make a good argument against it. now going back to an OP comment from the past, maybe in two years its trout that they spend the money on.
    to me he absolutely is the best owner. not that a couple of others dont deserve credit as well.
    i think they can only afford one of the two and have a chance of keeping some of the position players here on extensions.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. The Astros are not going to put that kind of money in Bryce Harper’s pocket. It is not how they work. They are going to look for good contact hitters for shorter term deals and find every draft pick they can find to add to their minor league package.
    Their restrictions on signing international free agents expire this year and they are going to look at that market and decide which year is going to produce good prospects before the CBA concludes and they are going to go all in again in that area at the best time.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Let’s not forget that Altuve gets a $20 million raise next year. So either the Astros get to the WS this year, or I expect another (less severe) dismantling just due to contracts like DK and Margo coming to an end.

    JV, Cole, Rondon, Smith, Harris, McHugh, Pressly, Stassi, probably Reddick traded, and a couple others.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. If the club still thinks Tucker will be as good as they have always thought, Harper makes no sense. He handcuffs the club too much from doing other important things with the payroll. We have enough offense. He also makes our outfield defense weaker, assuming he’d immmediately be taking Reddicks job.

    Crane gets a pretty good rating, but indeed, the list is short.

    60 milllion plus a year for Verlander and Cole? I’d like that, but can it be done without entering luxury tax range? I don’t see how.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I’m skipping Crane and moving on to Verlander and Cole.
    If Gerrit Cole has a good year he is going to go into free agency looking to top Corbin’s contract and he is going to get it. There is no way he will sign an extension. The Yankees, Phillies and Dodgers are going to be all over Cole next offseason.
    Verlander is going to test the waters, too, but I think the Astros will make him an offer and he will turn it down.
    You can bet that if they are healthy, they will both get QOs from the Astros and they will turn them down.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Only the Red Sox and Nationals are over the luxury tax in 2018. The Nats have Strasburg at $38 Million, Scherzer at $37, Rendon and Zimmerman both at $18 and Corbin at $12. Corbin escalates dramatically for 5 more years topping at $35. So Harper was not a choice for them, nor Machado. I hope the Astros stay out of that type of a box. (And they won 82 and lost 80 last year. )

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Harper will probably never be an Astro and that’s fine with me. 1OP hit the nail right on the head. Cole is looking for the big payday so I doubt he’ll stay around but the QO is a given. Same for JV except he might possibly be persuaded to stick around. Maybe Nolan can twist his arm. The money thing could get really ridiculous next year but isn’t it already with Machado and Harper (next)? I just don’t think the cost benefit is worth the chance but then again, I’m an accountant so what do I know about their true value? The way things are going you could theoretically have 4-5 players composing 60 – 70% of the total payroll. That’s insane and probably not too bright (IMO).

    Liked by 3 people

    • The Astros have to continue to be smart:
      *They have to draft well and draft often. They are not going to spend a fortune on a 37 year old pitcher, but they could spend smartly on him if he is willing. If not they will settle for an extra draft pick in an early round.
      * They have to set themselves up for the future and that future might include a player strike. If the players strike and it lasts even a year, then every guy who was making $20+ million a year is going to be a year older. A strike that takes a year of play from every player is going to hurt teams who tied up big salaries in players that lost one year of play. For teams with a bunch of players making a lot of dough in their early to mid thirties, that will be a high production year that disappears.
      *Once the strike is over, what will be the landscape of the market? If the players get the things they want, owners will have to fork over more money or will have shorter control of their young players, or maybe a little of both.
      So, teams who have good, young, less expensive players on their roster and in their systems will have more flexibility coming out of the strike than teams with good, older, more expensive players will have.
      * Before anyone looks at who the Astros will lose in the coming offseason, look at who the Astros will still have in 2020 and 2021, including a bunch of very good players in the minors who will be ready to step in and fill voids left by 30-something starting pitchers and relievers who will hit free agency.
      Teams with a bunch of 24 year old good players are going to be better off than teams with a bunch of 34 year old players, because they will be able to fill in their needs because they will have money to spend.

      Liked by 1 person

      • OP – that is a grand slam of a comment there – the key to sustaining greatness is player development. And this strike, if it happens could totally change the baseball landscape.

        Like

  9. Former mlb reliever Byung Hyun Kim retired today (had been pitching in Australia). He gave my kids and me one of our great in person thrill back in 2002 without really wanting to…..
    The D’Backs were winning entering the bottom of the 9th 4-3 and Kim was pitching. Jose Vizcaino grounded to 3rd base and was called out on a blown call at 1st. Jimy Williams came out and argued it until he was thrown out of the game. This fired up the fans.
    They then loaded the bases and Daryle Ward lofted a fly ball that just went foul. he then struck out. Gregg Zaun then pinch hit got down 0-2 in the count and then hit a hard line drive to right that barely got into the stands. The place went crazy for this 2 out 0-2 walk off grand slam!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. The Houston sports story is not particularly a lack of good owners, just more than its fair share of crappy ones. Certainly Crane is one of the better ones. But the Rockets have had good stable ownership for well over 30 years – Charlie Thomas had a spat with Hakeem early on, but that worked out for the best. And McNair did a lot for the city getting the NFL back in town.

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  11. Funny how far the five degrees of the Astros reach sometimes – baseball news in the last day – Cameron Maybin is a NRI signee for the Giants – Preston Tucker signs a minor league contract with the White Sox. Jed Lowrie could miss opening day with the Mets with a knee strain.

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    • Anyone that stupid and unable to see his own value ought to be left out in the cold. I think Keuchel may be in the same boat. I’m really glad that Marwin got a nice deal. He may be worth 10 million/year to the Twins but not to us. We have enough flexibility with Diaz, Gurriel and Bregman to cover injuries and off days and if the roster is 13 position players and 12 pitchers we should be fine with good depth and a solid bench.

      The game tonight is supposed to be aired on MLB network. Hoping Brady Rodgers has a good start.

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    • Thought our young guys did a very good job agents some pretty good major league pitchers.
      Washington’s announcers are nauseating. Too much “Wow! Look at us. Ain’t we great.”
      But at least it was Astros baseball!

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  12. Was looking at the Twinkie blog this morning. For what it’s worth, non of the customers there seem to be sure where Marwin will be playing for them. And overall, while nobody panned the deal, I did not see any real enthusiasm for the signing.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Watching the game tonight, I’ve determined that Jake will hit 41 homers in a part time role. Our new utility guy is dumb on the bases. Tucker will hit 1.000 during Spring Training but will be sent down regardless. Fisher still can’t hit and won’t. Everyone is going to pitch Nephew away. If he doesn’t get the hang of sending those offerings out to right center, his uncle is going to have egg on his face.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Statistically speaking, Jake has a HR once in every 34 trips to the plate. Now if we can get him 1400 PAs this year, he will probably deliver us 41 HRs. We will need a bunch of extra inning games. (Insert Happy Face, Happy Face, Happy Face).

      Your nephew delivers one every 25 plate appearances.

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      • I want to see Nephew get back to walking more this year and get off this swinging for the fences business every time up. If he does that, he’ll get good things to hit. He’s always been a count worker. By the way, I’m not sure if he’s lost a few pounds or not, but he does look pretty sold.

        Thinking about another DH guy for a minute, I feel bad for Gattis. There are not too many DH jobs out there so he might not find one soon. And he’s a nice guy.

        Liked by 1 person

  14. Thursday night my son got a call that a woman was choking to death. He was out on patrol and rushed to her house, knowing he was going to the home of his and his wife’s friends. Try as he could he could not save her and she was gone in his arms. He can’t even talk about it. We thought he had seen everything in all these years as a cop, but nothing like this.
    The next day, he and his daughter(one of our grandchildren) were presenting her show calves at the schools annual FFA show and there is the daughter of the women who had died the night before showing her animals that she had spent all year raising.
    There was not a dry eye in the place. Small town life. Big-time hearts.

    Liked by 3 people

  15. The happiest team to see Marwin go to the Twins is Seattle. Gonzalez has bombed them throughout his career as his numbers against them are unreal compared to his career numbers against everyone else.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. So in the spring opener 25 players played for the Astros and only White and Stassi could be called likely to be on the 25 man – Maybe Marisnick/Straw

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    • And the Nats started Scherzer and most of their regulars. The only thing that I can take out of that game was Kyle Tucker getting hits against two of the Nationals starting pitchers, Scherzer and Ross.
      In the first three ST games the Astros will face starters Scherzer, Folty and deGrom, while countering with Rodgers, Valdez and Armenteros.

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      • Good. I don’t want our MLB starting pitchers throwing too many innings early in the spring. With playoff baseball extending the season into October the Astros had less time to rest their arms than the Nationals and most other teams.

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      • Agreed, Devin. I like the smooth, cautious approach. and I don’t care what the final score is. Which is the reason why I pointed out that Kyle Tucker’s success against Washington’s ace and #5 starter is the only thing of importance in that game to me. And it was important for him. I did not miss the fact that when Washington pulled their regulars, Hinch pulled Tucker.
        The Astros refused to trade Tucker. They let someone else trade a #1 prospect instead. That tells me they value Kyle Tucker a lot. More than I did.

        Liked by 1 person

    • The Phillie announcers were whining about all the Astro regulars having the night off. I had no expectations of seeing our opening day line up out there last evening. I know when the time comes, our 25 man roster will be fully prepared. But I will say this. Some guy named 91 was playing center in the late innings. He was slow to the ball. Single A or double AA?

      Like

  17. Got home from church and watched an inning of the Astros. Liked the 4 run rally based on a lot of hitting up the middle or the other way.
    Liked a nice efficient 10 pitch inning by Corbin Martin.
    It means nothing but to the young guys it means something.

    Like

  18. The free blog weekend is almost over and I wanted to add some things about Tyler White.
    First of all, other than Tyler White, Astros DHs suck.
    White can be one of the most important players on this team for several reasons.
    Reason one is because he is a hitter. It is the one and only trait that a DH needs. He has to hit and that is what Tyler White can do.
    Reason #2 is that the Astros have five full years of control left. He is pre-arb this year and next year and has 3 arbitration years after that. It would be fabulous not to have to go out and find a DH year after year(and pay them $16 million to NOT hit).
    Reason #3 If you groom your own DH you control your expenses through the arb process. If he’s good he gets a decent raise. If he’s great he gets a great raise. But he doesn’t ever get so expensive that you can’t afford him because he’s not a free agent.
    Tyler White is a very important guy on the Astros.

    Liked by 2 people

    • We’ve never had what I’ve always thought a DH should be. TW could be that guy. No doubt he can hit. He just needs to forget everything Hudgens told him.
      I have hope that everyone on the team will get over that swing for the moon philosophy.

      Liked by 2 people

  19. And in the “Whatever Department” – at the end of this season, Altuve will have played 8 years for the Astros and he will have gotten a total of $30 million. Next year he will almost double his total salary for those 8 years.

    Liked by 2 people

  20. Since I don’t have to pay for saying anything on a free blog weekend, I will wait to make comments on Astros’ prospects because most of them will have brand new writeups and brand new grades when the lists are announced later this week by MLB.com. But I will say that I think my initial thoughts on Myles Straw’s abilities haven’t changed.
    The Dodgers and Padres will be the last two organizations filling out the Top10 farm systems I am sure and we will start getting the rundown starting on Tuesday.
    I’m hoping Chipalatta might consider a blog on these new lists coming out. Howver, it might not be free and I will try to save up a little money in anticipation of it.
    I loved free blog weekend.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Well we are the free thought zone around here.
      Have another post that hopefully will get put up later today.
      Mr. Verlander with a perfect two innings. I guess being a new daddy did not slow him down this off-season.

      Liked by 1 person

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