A look at the Astros’ (temporary) logjam in the outfield


From the beginning of the 2019 season, the Astros’ riches in the outfield have been something to behold.

  • George Springer (up until his hamstring injury) was a certain MVP candidate as he slashed (.309 BA/ .389 OBP/ 1.038 OPS with 17 HRs and 42 RBIs) to the top of most offensive categories in the AL.
  • Michael Brantley (.332 BA/.389 OBP/.926 OPS with 10 HRs and 38 RBIs) has been on the top of any list of best free agent pickups in the recent off-season.
  • While not quite at the same level as the other two starters, Josh Reddick has bounced back from a poor 2018 and has been solid in the RF spot (.305/.350/.795 with 6 HRs and 20 RBIs).
  • Meanwhile, defensive wizard and fourth OF, Jake Marisnick has put up the best offensive stats over an extended period in his career (.267 BA/ .333 OBP/ .850 OPS with 6 HRs and 17 RBIs) in 120 ABs.

The recent spate of position-side injuries (Springer, Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa, Aledmys Diaz, Max Stassi) has provided OF prospects Derek Fisher and Myles Straw with playing time and both have grasped the bull by the horns.

Fisher, who spent some time with the big club in both 2017 and 2018 and scored the iconic game-winner in the fifth game of the 2017 World Series has looked like a different and much better hitter this time around. In a 10 game sample, Fisher has slashed (.281 BA / .361 OBP/ ..861OPS with 6 runs scored, 2 doubles, 1 triple, 1 HR and 5 RBIs).  Straw, who had a 9 AB cup of coffee in 2018,  has been White Lightning since he came up, affecting the game with his speed and a solid bat and glove (.385 BA/ .429 OBP/ .813 OPS with 6 runs scored and 3 SBs in only 13 ABs). Both of these guys are making cases to stay up or to be brought back up as the season moves along.

So that is six OFs who have all produced between good and excellent at the MLB level. Oh, and then there is the small matter of two 22-year-old top prospects at AAA, Yordan Alvarez and Kyle Tucker. Alvarez has been All-World so far this season (.355 BA/ .451 OBP/ 1.216 OPS with 46 runs scored, 22 HRs and 68 RBIs in only 53 games). Tucker was as bad the first month of the season as he was in his 2018 call-up with the Astros, but has been on fire ever since (Overall – .259 BA/ .333 OBP/ .935 OPS with 41 runs scored, 18 HRs, 40 RBIs and 12 SBs also in 53 games).

Obviously, the Astros have an apparent logjam of outfield talent, but with time limitations.

  • Springer is 29 years old and is receiving $12 million in the second year of a two year contract. If not otherwise signed he will go to arbitration once and be a 31 y.o. free agent after the 2020 season.
  • Brantley just turned 32 and his $32 million contract will run through next season when he will be a 33-year-old free agent after the 2020 season.
  • Reddick will make $13 million this season and next season and then he will also be a 33 y.o. free agent after the 2020 season.
  • Marisnick has one more year of arbitration coming and then he will be a 29 y.o. free agent after the 2020 season.
  • All four could be gone after next season.

So what is coming for the Astros, who have eight talented outfielders at or near the MLB level? Here are some possibilities:

  1. As discussed in the previous post, when the injured return the team will be in a roster squeeze that will likely be addressed by sending Fisher and Straw back to the minors, or…..by saying goodbye to Tony Kemp and Tyler White and keeping one of them.
  2. Despite how he is playing, a mid or off-season trade of Josh Reddick would not be that surprising. He is making a good chunk of dollars and after a hot start, he is slowly sinking back to the pack.
  3. If the Astros pursue another top pitcher at the deadline as has been speculated, the Astros might trade from strength to pick up that pitching help and the outfield prospects (Fisher, Straw, Alvarez and Tucker) certainly have value – some more than others.
  4. September call-ups should be led by these four outfielders (if they are all still here).
  5. The Astros work in the off-season to extend Springer and to maybe touch base on an extension with Brantley and maybe even Marisnick.
  6. Depending on how the extensions work out, they will use 2020 to give a couple of their youngsters a shot to win jobs for the long term.

So, how do you see this “good” problem working out for the team?

76 comments on “A look at the Astros’ (temporary) logjam in the outfield

    • Well Sarge I wrote mine at lunch so I absolutely had no idea this was being done in parallel. I would say great minds think alike but I have no idea if this other guy has a great mind – haha.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I have absolutely no clue what Luhnow will do and I’m not even going to try and figure it out. I do think Tony will go at some point though, sooner than later. The guy I’d miss most would be George, but he’s big bucks coming up, so losing him is a real possibility. Besides all the offense we’ve gotten from the outfield, probably the most in a decade or more, I don’t know if another team in the game collectively plays better outfield defense. And I also don’t know how we maintain that excellence either.

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    • Fairly or unfairly I did not include Kemp in the conversation as I guess I see him like Diaz – an infielder who is sometimes forced to play OF.
      He has done a decent job for them and I think he might end up with a team where he might spend some time at 2nd.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I would like to start off my comments by stating that when the Astros healthy players return from the IL I believe they will beat last seasons record for wins.
    With that in mind, I am not into manufacturing a logjam in the outfield. Springer, Reddick, Brantley and Marisnick are on this team and unless they are injured, they would be on this team in the postseason. Tucker and Straw and Kemp and Fisher will be where they are supposed to be unless someone wants them in a trade. Tucker will be brought up in September and will get some play then. No matter what, Alvarez will be here in September, too, as will Straw.
    If you have room for these guys in Round Rock and Houston, and you have a team that has won a ton of games in the regular season, there is no use in jumping the gun on anybody. You trade guys if you want to trade them and you get decent value for them. And you take the absolute best 25 players you have into the playoffs and try to win every dadgum one of them a ring.
    Almost every team the Astros play against in July, August and September are going to be sellers at the deadline and looking ahead to 2020.
    This whole situation will play out for the best because the Astros are in the drivers seat and nobody is going to push them into making a move. I think if we make a change at DH, that change will come from within our organization. I think if we want to add to our pitching, we will make a trade, but that trade does not require us to weaken our hand at the outfield position.
    From what I hear and see, the Astros are very happy with Josh Reddick’s play. The way I see it, the Astros are a better team now than they were when all our starters all playing, because now we are deeper than ever with our youngsters.

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  3. I invented it daveb. Do I think it will happen? Probably not.
    I like Reddick especially his attitude and his defense. He has hit for good average but not that effective – Marisnick has almost the same RBIs in half the ABs.
    I’m just saying if his average continues to dip he might end up as a trade possibility.

    Guduan continues to show he does not belong.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I could go on forever about the decisions that were made in this game. Now we have two guys in the bullpen that will be on the first flight to Round Rock tomorrow evening.
    1.Guduan does not deserve another trip to Minute Maid.
    2. Brady Rogers had TJ surgery in 2017, this is his first year back from that.
    I really hope tonight’s debacle doesn’t leave him discouraged about making it to the big club. Throwing over 65 pitches in 2 innings it might take a few extra days down before he’s ready to pitch for the Express.
    Mike Leake used to pitch us tough when we were in the NL, and he was with the Reds, or have ya’ll forgotten?!!!
    Diane….girlfriend you didn’t miss a thing with this game.

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    • Becky, when they play on West Coast, I’m out of it, big time, because even the paper next morning doesn’t cover the game. So I come here to get a clue. I’m assuming the score was not something I want to know.

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  5. But there is a problem. Who do you bring up? Martin, Guduan and Rodgers had some of the best numbers at AAA. Cionel Perez and Dean Deetz have been bad. Maybe bring up Brendan McCurry? I did not look at AA maybe someone down there is burning it up?

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  6. Thoughts:
    – Well, at least it was not a heart breaker of a game last night. On the radio it said it was our worst loss since 2013
    – The Mariners did something unusual last night. Most teams take batting practice before the game, they decided to take it during the game
    – Felt like the first game where the “fill-ins” could not generate offense and looked like fill-ins
    – Plus side – Harris, James, Pressly, Osuna did not have to pitch last night
    – Just because Framber is left handed and he moved to the rotation does not mean you have to have a left handed pitcher to replace him in the bullpen. Yes, it would be nice, but not a necessity
    – The Astros have brought up prospects to replace the injured position players and overall they have performed well (Though Mayfield is really struggling at the bat). They’ve brought up pitching prospects and it has not been a very good experience
    – The Astros would like to have 12 position / 13 pitchers on the 25 man – but until they get Joe Smith and Collin McHugh back do they have 13 MLB quality pitchers available?
    – I see where Kimbrel is being picked up by the Cubs now that they don’t have to forfeit a draft pick. Is Keuchel still asking for the moon? All I saw with him is that the Braves, who were rumored to be one of the teams of interest for him are not likely to be in on him
    – What are the Astros going to do with the back end of the pitching staff while they wait for Smith and McHugh to return? Cycle in other prospects? Make a trade for a starter? Make a trade for a reliever? Pull someone off of waivers who has super-spin on his pitches? Take a big gulp and bring Keuchel back?

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  7. I went to sleep as soon as our new lefty in the pen gave up his two run shot. Good move. Just watched the Rodgers shots. None of those homer offerings by either pitcher had any movement on them. Dan, it was BP.

    I disagreed with someone last week when I said I could not identify any pitcher in our system ready to have a positive impact at the ML level. I think that becomes more and more apparent. We can’t afford to have additional injuries to our pitching staff right now.

    We’ll never know exactly what young Mr. Whitney was up to outside of Austin in his free time. We know what he was up to on the mound though. For a guy that literally everyone touted, inside and outside of the organization, boy, he sure has let himself and his employer down.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. The Mariners scored in only three innings last night and it was an Astros player who ignited all three of those rallies. Each of those rallies started with a walk to the leadoff hitter.
    Hinch had to be fuming. The Astros issue the fewest BBs in MLB and last night walks started everything.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Diane – relative to the score last night…..
    The good news is we were winning 1-0 heading into the bottom of the 5th and only losing 2-1 heading into the bottom of the 6th.
    After giving up 7 runs in the 6th and 5 runs in the 8th, we lost 14-1 and I’m sure the M’s were bummed out they did not get to add to their stats by batting in the 9th.

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  10. Heck, we’re 5 and 1 on the trip. We’ve got the season-to-date Cy Young on the mound. We’ve got most of the pen fresh from a day off. We’ve got out hot hitting catcher back out there. It’s mostly all good!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. The ump last night was right up Leake’s alley. On right handed batters he hung over the inside of the plate and he consistently called balls that were outside strikes. Leake did a great job exploiting that. I know in that one at bat Straw got called out on both a strike 2 and a strike 3 that were off the plate.

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    • In watching Brady Rodgers last night he couldn’t get his slider, curve ball, or whatever pitch over for a strike so the Seattle hitters were just hanging around to pound the middle of the plate fast ball which they did precipitously. If he could learn to throw strikes with his breaking and off speed stuff he just might make it. But if a pitcher can’t throw strikes with nothing but a fast ball and can’t keep the hitters off balance he won’t make it in the big leagues. I thought he had good movement on those pitches but couldn’t throw a strike with them. That was part of Peacock’s problem last night that he was trying to nibble at the corner, missed his mark or didn’t get the call, and as a result his pitch count escalated. All in all a good performance but there’s room for improvement.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I figure there will be some kind of trade after last night’s performance. Considering what TK and Blummer were discussing about how many trades Dipoto has made, I would think it’s probably in the cards.

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  12. If a team wants to beat the Astros, all they need is to have a rotation of perhaps Kyle Hendricks, Mike Leake, Frank Tanana (late in career), maybe Wilber Wood, maybe Hoyt Wilhelm, and for sure Ed Lopat. They have a tough time with “Junk Ballers.”

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Harris had good stuff, located the ball well. Balls find holes sometimes. The one line drive was up and out of the zone. Give the guy credit for getting his bat on it.

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  14. It is now OFFICIAL. If we have the technology to show us the strike zone, show us where the umpires are so inconsistent, then we need to let the computer call balls and strikes. I am an old time purist. Didn’t like instant replay util it starting showing us that umps make a lot of mistakes at crucial times. When the pitcher and catcher don’t know the strike zone, then the batter is also confused. And neither team’s fans are happy.

    Liked by 2 people

      • Small zone today. Both teams have been impacted by it. It’s got to very frustrating for both hitters and pitchers. Every ump has a different idea of what a strike is. 45, I feel the same way at this point. And from the few polls I’ve read, most fans do to.

        Let’s score three here and go home.

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  15. Just got home and was skipping over channels. Saw “Mariners and Astros” so assumed it was a replay. Geez Louise, it’s today’s game and it ain’t over. Can’t say I couldn’t stay up for it. Unless it’s still going at my bedtime. lol ?

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  16. Myles Straw may be the third fastest player in the game minus Billy Hamilton (who rarely gets on base so it doesn’t matter)

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  17. I spent part of the last hour reading comments on FB and CF Boxes. There sure are quite a few folks that have no concept of what this bullpen has accomplished as a body of work. And our Manager of the Month for May took some hits too, after our ace put the first two guys on base in the 7th and got pulled, half a game ago. Harris took the most grief, the guy who had not allowed an inherited runner to score all season until today. And it sure was rocky, but the depths of our pen somehow put up goose eggs over the last four innings. And then Jacks jack, three hits in a row by Tubby, Jake catching stuff, 14 inning caught by my favorite backstop, and Straw turning a double into a triple. This is a happy, exhausted club tonight. We might need a couple of reinforcements from RR tomorrow. But who?

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Garrett Cole……dude you are going to pitch 9 innings tomorrow, cause the bullpen is *shot*. Without those wheels on Straw’S feet I don’t think our guys would have won. LORD that guy is un….believable!

    Liked by 1 person

      • So he turned down a reported $90 million from the Astros a couple years ago ($18 Million for 5 years). He turned down a qualifying offer worth $17.9 Million from the Astros. He did not get but a one year contract at $13 Million. Boras did his client no favor in my opinion.

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      • A while back an article pretty much said that it is Keuchel who is driving the train, not Boras. It indicated that Boras has brought numerous offers to Keuchel but he has nixed them. What an ego! While I want to wish him well, my “Mr. Hyde” side says that I hope he fails miserably.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Boras did him absolutely no favors. And there is a fair amount of pressure on Keuchel over these next four months. If he does not impress, his long term contract hopes are over.

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      • You all give Luhnow the benefit of the doubt in most matters. Based on many dealings with draft picks and other former Astros I’m not entirely surprised Keuchel expected to get better money elsewhere. Also, excepting the QO I don’t recall there being a long term deal from the Astros available to him after a point in time where it looked obvious that he could get more on the market.

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  19. Astros won.
    DSL Astros won.
    Quad Cities won.
    Fayetteville won.
    Corpus Christi won.
    Round Rock just scored 13 runs in the 7th inning and lead Las Vegas 19-3.

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    • Tucker’s second home run came off of their starting first baseman, who pitched the 9th inning. Las Vegas’s most effective pitcher only gave up 2 runs in a 26-11 loss.
      Likewise, the Express’s third catcher pitched the ninth for them and gave up four runs.
      The only Round Rock player who didn’t get a hit was Alvarez and LV won’t pitch to him. In the inning RR scored 13 runs, Alvarez walked twice and did not see a strike in those two ABs.

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  20. I’m expecting a fresh arm or two today from the factory. Urquidy’s last start was on the 1st. But he’s only got 52 innings of AA/AAA under his belt. That might be rushing things a bit, but his 1.07 WHIP is the best stat we’ve got down there. If Cole runs into trouble in the 5th or 6th, who gets the call?

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    • Urquidy is not on the 40-man but I expect him to be called up before the end of the season. He is scheduled to start today.
      Cionel Perez hasn’t pitched in 6 days so he might be available but has not had good numbers lately.

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      • I guess they could see how things go with Cole tonight and if need be, bring in Framber, then make a move for a starter tomorrow. Martin again?

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