The Astros are obviously not where they will be in a few months personnel-wise. But at least for the short term, the choice to only non-tender Aaron Sanchez gave the fans a glimpse at what the team may be thinking heading toward 2020.
One of the differences for 2020 will be a 26 man roster during the regular season, which will likely be filled by an additional bench hand. This is fortunate, because right now the Astros are struggling to fill in the pitching spots they normally would require for the season.
So, assuming the Astros do a 13/13 split between position players and pitchers (I guess pitcher is not considered a position) what would that look like? (For fun – check out the current Astros depth chart from mlb.com)http://houston.astros.mlb.com/team/depth_chart/index.jsp?c_id=hou
Infield (5). This is very straight forward. Alex Bregman, Carlos Correa, Jose Altuve, Yuli Gurriel with Aledmys Diaz as the main backup. Whether Abraham Toro gets a shot may well depend on whether they think that Alvarez is the 5th OF.
Catchers (2). This space for rent….. Right now Dustin Garneau, who they just picked up and Garrett Stubbs are the top two (also the only two) on the 40 man roster. One of them may be on the big club to start the season, but both starting the year with the big club is not a likely scenario.
DH (1). Yordan Alvarez – yes they will get him to play some OF, but at least to start the season he will be the main DH and deservedly so.
OFs (5). Michael Brantley, George Springer, Josh Reddick, Jake Marisnick and ……a fifth guy (Kyle Tucker? Myles Straw?). This could be the one group that changes the most or is untouched. What if Reddick and/or Marisnick get moved? Straw and Tucker move up or one of these other prospects comes up the ladder (like Chas McCormick). How much does Alvarez get used in this mix?
SP (5). Right now the MLB depth chart shows the Astro starters as Justin Verlander (Yup), Zack Greinke (Good so far), Lance McCullers (better have an injury replacement ready), Jose Urquidy (Give the young man a chance) and Framber Valdez (huh?). 6th and 7th are Rogelio Armenteros and Francis Martes. That is what losing Gerrit Cole, Collin McHugh, Wade Miley, and Aaron Sanchez does to your rotation. So, yes we know they have to add here somehow.
RP (8). The top 8 in the depth chart are shown as Roberto Osuna, Ryan Pressly, Chris Devenski, Joe Biagini, Josh James, Brad Peacock, Cionel Perez and Cy Sneed. Obviously, whoever does not fill the 5th starting spot has a shot here along with anyone they may sign along the way. I keep thinking they will see if Will Harris wants to come back for some redemption.
Now the challenge as old pro pointed out in a recent comment is that the Astros currently have the highest payroll and highest luxury tax payroll in the majors without adding a starting pitcher, a bullpen piece or one or two catchers. That is why it feels like someone(s) will get moved off here for $$ reasons at least.
The questions for you…
- Who do you think will not make it to spring training of the folks above?
- Who do you think might be a surprise trade token?
- What positions will they fill with either free agents or through trade?
- Any youngsters you want to come up and fill a spot or spots economically?
- Would you do a 13/13 split with the new 26 man roster or some other split?
Thanks for laying this down as a marker to refer back to as the year progresses. I don’t think there will be a lot of change among position players. I think they have a group they like. I look for Tucker to beat out Reddick for the starting job. Let’s put it this way: if he doesn’t do it by now then he (Tucker) ain’t the guy we have been hoping for. With Straw and Toro as fill-ins as needed, they have a group to go to battle with. The only hole being catcher – there’s a ton of FAs available. So pitching is the issue. JV and Greinke at the top, that’s fine, but you have to wonder when age starts catching up with guys like that. Certainly there’s a path for McCullers and Urquidy to step up…but they may not. Finding a 5th guy among those in the system is a dice roll at this point, and clearly they need a boost in the bullpen. I’m with Dan, sure would like to see Will Harris back. I can see a scenario where the pitching is a disaster. Problem is, not enough $, apparently, to make a big dent in the situation. Even if things go well with the pitchers, I think we will bemoan our situation all season long.
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Perhaps this will be the year that Whitley steps ups and wins a job in spring training.
Sargeh, I hope he steps up, even if he opens up the season in the pen. I remain the resident cynic in that I do think free agents will hesitate to come here and I do believe that other clubs will shy away from doing business with us, at least until everyone finds out the results of MLB’s investigation. I’m hopeful we’ll get a few guys to resign with us. But I think our club will include very few new names.
I would love that
Dan, thanks for the new post. I was in charge of dinner today and two big pots of Venison chili requires about four hours of time.
I am at a loss of things to say about the topic. One player tendered.
What are the Astros’ plans?
I know we aren’t the only fans wondering what is going on. The Nationals beat us in the WS and their team has a big portion of it going to free agency.
How would you like to be a Red Sox fan and hear the talk about trading Betts, their best player, by far? Or talk about Sale finally being approved to throw a baseball. That’s about as encouraging as root canal.
Or an Indians’ fan hearing Lindor talk?
Or the Brewers?
We know a lot about our team for 2020 and it is all good. Now we need to find out what we don’t know about it and hope that it is all good, too.
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– The Astros will not win 107 games this coming season
– The Astros do not need to win 107 games this season – they need to get in the playoffs (hopefully as divisional winner) and then win 11 more games
– What would their offense be like with a full season of Yordan Alvarez and Carlos Correa?
– We worry about our 4th and 5th starters – look at the 2019 Yanks – they survived 22 starts by CC Sabathia (4.95 ERA) and 30 starts from JA Happ (4.91 ERA). Maybe they need starters with full names instead of initials
– Minnesota won 101 games with Martin Perez (5.12 ERA – 29 starts) and Kyle Gibson (4.84 ERA in 29 starts) in the rotation
– In many ways I am excited to see if some youngsters can come in and do what Yordan did (OK that was once in a life time) or at least come in and seize a job in the rotation or bullpen
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The major concern I have with your comment is that the Twins set a record for HR by a team and I believe the NYY were not far off. As I said before, the Astros offense is stacked and should be able to deliver a lot of run support. This can allow mediocre pitchers to rack up a lot of wins by just not being terrible. Once you get to the postseason you really only need 3.5 starters anyhow.
Dan, both those pitchers had markedly better FIP, and xFIP for the Twins — as you know, a truer measure of their personal efforts. And only a handful started 30 games last year (I think I read, 41).
It’s beyond me with the sheer depth we have alone, why we couldn’t achieve 4.00 xFIP/or ERA as a bottom rotation unit.
There are Gausman, Nelson, Roark, Walker as projects available.
Orioles might be shopping Bundy, who should be reasonable.
Astros have Emanuel, and Javier slated to make their mark in the Spring, not to mention Ivey, Whitley and Bielak. A few BP names; Paredes, Rodriguez just added to the 40-man. What about my sleepers –Top 20 Dubin, Garcia, Conine, Rivera. Or Brandon Bailey, Austin Hansen in September? Footnote: some I respect think Brett Daniels, and Chad Donato will have good years.
More solid list: Martes, Armenteros, Abreu, Valdez, Peacock and LMJ might all get multiple starts. Should we count out Josh James to try and regain that role?
JV, Greinke. Urquidy had the very best World Series outing.
They’re coming out of our ears! Nationally, it is reported that Astros have bullpen needs. Only because every other spot is locked down, other than catcher. Speaking of, Toro used to catch ha!
Other than a catcher, would it not be “Luhnowesque” that he has determined that no one available except by trade is better than what he has already signed.
I think the bullpen section is going to get shaken up. Of the eight Dan listed, only one throws left handed.
I still think Jose’s buddy/Verlanders backstop will be back. If that is all that happens all winter, we’re still in better shape than most organizations.
Looks like Zack Wheeler, who was a possible pricey (but not $250 million pricey) replacement for Cole is going to sign with the Phillies
I would have liked to have Zack.
And it seems the Astros gave it a pretty good shot.
GM for a day
26 men; 12 pitchers, 14 position players/DH
Trade Josh Reddick, #20 Rogelio Armenteros and Dean Deetz to Tigers for shag balls.
Acquire Tanner Roark for $6.5M; or Michael Pineda for $7.5M.
Trade MLB#13 Enoli Paredes and MLB#24 Jayson Schroeder, and Jack Mayfield for Orioles Dylan Bundy, and sign him for $3M.
Rotation: JV, Greinke, Urquidy, Pineda/Roark, Bundy (5)
BP: Osuna, Pressly, McCullers, James, Javier, Peacock, Valdez (7)
IF: Yuli, Altuve, Correa, Bregman, Diaz, Straw (6)
OF: Brantley, Springer, Tucker, Marisnick, Alvarez (5)
Catch: Maldonado, Garneau (2)
First call ups; Stubbs, Biagini/Bielak, Toro, Jones, Ivey
Whitley comes up June 10. No rush unless he dots up the Grapefruit League.
Decide between Sneed, or Armenteros to trade, which opens 4 spots on the 40.
Acquire Braves R5, MLB#18, Thomas Burrows.
Likely, Bielak and Ivey will be ready for call up by late May, similar to Corbin Martin’s 2019 path in late May, unless they’re likely both lights-out, then we can options several relievers.
Ooops, Bundy is off the board — Orioles liked Angels offer better since I was low balling, and Elias knows it. There goes my GM tenure.
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But it was a busy day while it lasted!
Did you mean Maldonado or Chirinos as second catcher?
45, I did mean offer both of them $4.5M, with the understanding first one to take it stays. I would be ok with either one as a primary. JV likes Chirinos, and has experience with free agent, Alex Avila, as you know.
I am guessing that unless acquiring Garneau was mostly because of the insider info he may have that Fiers spoke of from A’s perspective, and purely a “good catcher” move, Garneau is better than Phegley they just let go. He’s probably ahead of Garrett Stubbs, yes.
And by the way, I’m VERY high on his brother, C. J. Stubbs. Those two will be on the field together in 2021 at the latest. He should crack the Top 30, and finish in Corpus next year.
*Boy, did we luck out with Maldy last year. Boras turned down our 2-yr offer, He signed for MILLIONS less at KC, and the Astros ended up with him when needed for a fraction of the cost. The fact that Martín stayed in touch with our mangers and players throughout, earns him the spot from my perspective.
Nice job looking at a lot of possibilities – there are a lot of moving parts to the off-season
I think the Astros will carry 13 pitchers and 13 position players. The main reasons for that is the 15-day IL change that will make it harder to ship pitchers back and forth from the minors, and the ability to make that 13th
position player a young catcher with speed.
A number of times in previous seasons the Astros had a catcher on 2B late in the game and, needing that run, could not put a speedy guy on second for fear of burning their backup catcher. Combine that with the fact that Stubbs played 18 innings in LF in his short time as an Astro, while playing only 8 innings in LF for the Express all year, and I think we can glimpse at what the Astros might try to do with that 13th position player, especially if their top 2 catchers are RH batters. Stubbs, being a LH batter, might screw up the other team’s plans to have a righty reliever come in to face the Astros RH hitting starting catcher, if the Astros have Stubbs sitting there, to come in as a LH pinch hitter, while having a third catcher still on the bench for late game protection. Also, remember that a reliever coming in has to face at least 3 batters and that Stubbs could screw up their plans to face him, and the two batters behind him.
Also remember that if Stubbs is in LF late in the game as a sub, he also is protection as a catcher from that position if the guy behind the plate gets hurt.
As far as carrying 13 pitchers, if your TOR starters are two of the oldest players in the game, carrying 13 pitchers gives you the luxury of taking them out of a game an inning early on numerous occasions throughout the season because you have that extra reliever in your pen.
To me, teams need to use that 26th player to their advantage by having a guy on their bench as a 13th player to bail them out of dilemmas that arise in the late or extra innings and having 13 pitchers to bail them out of late or extra inning dilemmas that happen often over the course of a long season.
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That is provided Stubbs hits for a season in the majors, yet to be seen.
Toro is the better bat, and Marisnick/Straw are the speed that Stubbs is not. We also have Diaz for LF, as well, sitting and waiting to pounce.
You and I have been “onto something” talking Toro up with that 70 grade arm in LF. I’ve gone back to his Canadian/Seminole Oklahoma playing days, and still can’t find evidence he’s played mucg OF. The other big bat in our system who is 3B/C/1B is Colt Shaver, but he is a terrible defender.
By the way, I really like what the Orioles got in return for Dylan Bundy. They got four recently drafted pitchers to get loads of potential innings from. And the Orioles will have a number of inexpensive choices of experienced starting pitchers, after the market clears out, to fill out their rotation innings as they strive to be horrible for several years, get high draft picks and then explode in a few years with talented, inexpensive young players.
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Yes Mike Elias and Sig Mejdal are doing it the Astros way – I wonder if they are being watched closely for electronic sign stealing….
If the Orioles have been stealing signs, they sure are fumbling the exchange.
Remember we are being accused of cheating in 2017 when we hit better on the road than at home and won the WS on the road.
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The idea of the third catcher has always been a kind of luxury item. First, you rarely ever need them. Second, they rarely are a good hitter to have on the back of your bench. Your best bet is always going to see if you have someone who can be that “emergency” guy in the unlikely situation where the first line catcher is out of the game and the backup gets hurt. I mean you will be bringing someone up the next day if there is anything seriously wrong with that backup.
So, having someone who can play elsewhere decently is the key. Could that be Toro, would that be Stubbs? Well at least with the 26 man roster there is more chances to cover this situation.
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A long season, Astros will use the extra roster spot as needed. It will be based on injuries, needs, or somebody getting hot.
OP’s comment on 15-day IL. I don’t believe for a minute the league cares how teams get around these loopholes. I’ve been convinced of that since Collin McHugh’s 2017 season — on/off the DL. Last season, how did the Astros handle it when we had Stassi, Kemp and White with no options, and we wanted to call up Stubbs on his birthday? Stassi hurt his knee stepping on 1B. Yeah, riiiight.
Getting flight arrangements for his family (and CJ) had to be planned ahead of time, dontchaknow?
Last year, Rays played 51 players. Guess they were all “hurt,” huh? Not to make a conspiracy of it, I am sure teams utilize phantom injury; or, more probably, once a guy goes on the IL, he can always go back for said nagging pain. In Correa’s case, he stayed in the minors as a “sacrifice,” he said. That was when we were trying to showcase White and Kemp for some (any) trade value. We planned all along to play the “cheap players,” until Alvarez Super Two was due in HOU.
I’d like to think Toro could get us through part of a game behind the plate in an emergency. And of course overall, he gives us far more versatility off the bench than Stubbs would.
For UT/Arkansas partisans, pretty nice story by David Barron on Chron sports page about 1969’s Big Shootout for the championship.
I just got blipped that the Astros are close to trading Jake from State Farm to the Mets – no details on the expected return