Thoughts on free agency and the 40-man roster

Today, we take a quick look at two offseason subjects that will be addressed soon by the Astros – we hope.

It should be noted that, unlike other seasons, the Astros did not value any of their free agents enough to extend a qualifying offer. None of them were worth risking them accepting a one-year $19.65 MM contract. Since the Astros offered Justin Verlander a qualifying offer last season, he cannot be extended one this year. It is likely one of the conditions JV set to sign a contract the last off-season was being offered a QO first.

As the offseason begins, the following folks are free agents from the 2022 team:

  • Dusty Baker – This one was a done deal from the moment the Astros won the World Series. Dusty said he was going to come back for a second shot at the title, and Jim Crane had no problem extending him one season.
  • James Click – There had been rumblings a few times in September in MLB Trade Rumors chats that Click was not a sure thing to return. Since Click turned down the one-year offer from Jim Crane, he was not actually fired. But c’mon, that is basically what happened. This was kind of the opposite of the horse head being left on the pillow in The Godfather. Instead of an offer you can’t refuse, this was an insulting offer you could not accept. Maybe this is like leaving a live horse in your bedroom, but a pretty darned flea-bitten one.
  • Michael Brantley – The decision on whether to pursue Brantley is a complicated one and will be directly tied to how few years he wants and how much of a pay cut he would accept. He made $16 MM in each of his 4 seasons with the Astros with descending returns. His bat was good to very good each of those seasons, but his health was getting in the way. He only played 121 games in 2021 and then went down for good a few months into 2022. He will turn 36 in May, and he has slowed a bit in the field. His bat has been good overall but not great against left-handed pitchers, and his power seems to be falling off. Would they go two years $18 MM or 1 year $10 MM? Or do they go younger?
  • Jason Castro – With his pitiful offensive performance in 2022, .115 BA/ .205 OBP/ .384 OPS, it is difficult to picture any scenario where he would return here in 2023.
  • Aledmys Diaz – On the plus side, Aledmys performed solidly in both the field and at the plate as the new Marwin Gonzalez. But a few things signal they may go elsewhere. His hitting has dropped off a bit in each of his four seasons. But more importantly, he was only available about 50% of the time due to injury over his tenure here. The other side to this is that his salary has been going up each season, with him making $4.45 MM in 2022. The Astros may well want to pay David Hensley $700K instead in 2023.
  • Yuli Gurriel – This is a tough decision. How many runs did Yuli save with his wonderful defensive ability? How many runs did he cost them with his ineffective hitting for the season? He made $8 MM in 2022 and will turn 39 years old in 2023. Would you bring him back at $4-6 MM for one season while you work on a replacement? Would you try to replace from within or from out?
  • Rafael Montero – This one went away as quickly as it popped up. Montero coming off by far his best season in the majors, way out-earned his $2.7 MM salary and has reportedly been rewarded with a three-year / $34.5 MM contract. This was surprising but shows the team has confidence that the Montero who anchored the 8th inning last season is the Montero they will have going forward.
  • Christian Vazquez – This feels like a situation where the Astros might well like to bring Vazquez back, but why would Vazquez want to come back to be Martin Maldonado’s caddy and catch a couple times a week. He was solid for the Astros on a very limited basis, but this seems like it is over.
  • Trey Mancini – A little different than the other folks on the list, Mancini could have returned as he had a mutual option for $10 MM for 2023. The Astros, on their end, declined this option, so he is a free agent, and it is not likely they will pursue him at a lower price, nor that he would take it.
  • Verlander – This was the biggest non-surprise of the last couple of weeks as JV had long indicated that he would pass on his option for 2023 at $25 MM as the likely Cy Young winner and likely receiver of a big honker of a bankroll. Since Jim Crane supposedly shoved through his current contract agreement and since the Astros have to pretend GMs in place, this may well come down to Crane’s vision of the future here. How much for how long would he pay to get JV back? We all guessed he was likely gone the last off-season, so don’t listen to us. This writer’s guess is that he will leave for similar annual money he could have received here, but for more seasons. (But don’t listen to us).

The Astros, like all their competitors, will be working towards carving from and adding to their 40-man roster as they work on protecting folks from the Rule 5 draft.

Currently, they have 34 players on the 40-man roster. Some thoughts here:

  • Montero — when that agreement becomes official — will be No. 35.
  • If you were going to DFA, anyone on the current 40-man roster and expose them to the world – names that have to at least be a consideration are a pair of 29 years olds, Ronel Blanco and Josh James. James has certainly shown more than Blanco, but he has to be getting close to the point where they move on to younger arms for opportunities.
  • You would think that folks like Forrest Whitley, Brandon Bielak, Shawn Dubin, Enoli Paredes, Blake Taylor and Parker Mushinski are safe for the time being unless they might end up in some trade package for help down the line.
  • The Astros only have 14 position players on the 40-man, so this looks like an area for adding to, not taking away.
  • The top 30 prospects that are Rule 5 eligible include RHP Jayden Murray (No. 12), SS Cristian Gonzalez (No. 17), and OF Corey Julks (No. 30). But there can always be other players not on the wags’ top prospects list that the Astros might want to protect.
  • Normally the Astros head into the free agency part of the season with 2 or 3 spots open on the 40-man after making their protections.

Your faithful servant, Dan P is no prospect wonk, but some of my faithful commenters are, and I know you will be helping me out here with your thoughts about this.

  1. Who would you take off the 40-man list, if anyone?                                                   40-Man Roster | Houston Astros (mlb.com)
  2. Which prospects would you protect from Rule 5 on the 40-man roster?
  3. And, of course, of the free agents heading out the door, who, if anyone, would you try to bring back.
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72 comments on “Thoughts on free agency and the 40-man roster

  1. Like I said in the previous blog, I don’t think they would trade for Murray and then not protect him. I believe there is a chance they protect Julks, but just because of the outfield situation.
    I don’t see them taking anyone off the 40-man until it is full and they need a spot or in a trade.
    With the players they will have going through arbitration in the next three years that they need to keep for the future, I don’t see how they can afford Verlander.

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    • I think Murray is a player they could trade easily before spring training, so leaving him unprotected would seem an unnecessary risk. I think there are a lot of mediocre hitters on MLB rosters right now. Leaving Julks unprotected will mean losing him…at least for spring training. I think Gravemen got 3 yr / $24M and Pressly 2 yr / $30M last winter so the contract for Montero makes a lot more sense considering what other teams will pay and that we will lose Pressly after 2023. I think Crane can afford to pay Verlander whatever he wants to pay for as many years as he wants – it would just put us in the category of teams going over the cap. I think if Crane makes him a good offer and Verlander goes elsewhere then so be it. If Crane makes him the same offer I suspect he made Click we should be critical. I think $35-40 for a WS championship t-shirt is too much and MLB should be raked over the coals for pricing them there.

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  2. I think Crane is going to make a statement, continuing the tone he’s set with Montero. I don’t think we’ll see Yuli back at first with his .650 OPS. My preference is a short deal, 2 years, with Abreu.

    And I think we’ll get an outfielder. I know Pittsburg keeps saying that Reynolds is not available, but we do have talent that could include Whitley and a couple of other guys that would initially seem painful to lose. Going in a different direction, Nimmo would probably need five years, so I don’t know how realistic he would be, but I do like the guy. He gets on base. He’s a lot like Correa injury wise though.

    Mancini, not athletic enough. He’ll get a fulltime job somewhere else and start to hit again. Vasquez will get a fulltime job somewhere else. Aledmys is great to have around when he’s hitting and healthy, but too often he’s not. Hensley, yes. Frenchy, no.

    Brantley is a tough call. He’s family. If there is room, he might be back for a year at a time. But both he and Yordan are a liability in left, regardless of how well Alvarez throws, and it scares me to have our best hitter out there too often.

    We’re in great shape already. We’ve got 6 good to excellent starters without even thinking about Verlander yet. We’ve got Abreu around to become a 7th starter if that’s the plan.

    Our pen is almost set. And we’ve got Seth Martinez not getting enough innings. Do we really need a lefty? I don’t think so, but Crane can look to Chafin and pay him too much if he wants.

    I’m looking forward to seeing what the next few weeks bring. I think we’ll see some Astro moves.

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  3. The hype about Anthony Rizzo being our ‘prime target’ in free agency is amusing to me. Sounds to me like deliberate disinformation being spread by the F.O. – to cover who we are really going after.

    As far as Rizzo vs. Abreu at first base, the Rat is 33 years; – Abreu is just 2 years older (35). Rizzo hasn’t hit above .250 since 2019, and last year he hit only .224 [Abreu hit .304 last year, and has never hit below .260]. Rizzo’s OBP keeps slipping each year. Last year is was .338 [Abreu’s OBP last year was .378 (his highest OBP since his rookie year]. Yes, Rizzo hit 32 HRs last year and Abreu only 15 – but Rizzo had the benefit of the short porch in right field in Yankee stadium. Abreu bats righty – he’ll would have the Crawford Box equivalent. Moreover, Abreu’s OPS is consistently better than Rizzo’s.

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  4. So begins our annual exercise in what we wish, what we think is reasonable, and then try and guess what the Astros will do.

    Abreu is the best fit for what this team does. He makes more contact than Rizzo. Last year was either a down year or the beginning of a decline. There was zero decline in line drive rates, exit velocity, swing rates, contact rates, unlike Yuli who did see decline in some of those. So I think the 15 HR was like, just a year. But you want to talk being on the field. Abreu is the king of available. 110 K’s seems like a lot until you look at 679 PAs where he was once again among the league leaders in.

    This team was built around a particular set. Altuve, Bregman, Brantley, they put the ball in play. Yordan and Tuck K some, but not near as much as other teams middle of the order guys. Abreu fits in and immediately bats 6th with results.

    I’m crazy though. This is probably well established. I’m handing 1B to Diaz, who can also function as your backup catcher. Then yes, I am bringing back Yuli and Brantley both, I’m going to take a chance and ask Yordan to play 100+ games in LF, Brantley gives me 40 in LF and 90 at DH, Diaz moves around between catching 1 or 2 times a week, playing 1B 2-3 times (where he can still enter and catch if necessary), and Yuli is back at 1B most nights. Of course, the fear is what happens if Maldy gets hurt? Diaz is probably not defensively a guy you want catching 5 nights a week. Signing another catcher is probably going to happen however it shakes out.

    And yes I am bringing back JV. That’s where the money is going. I got it, everyone is convinced we don’t need him. I am convinced we do. The reason we have the deepest rotation in baseball is the Cy Young winner at the top of it. If you move everyone up a spot, we are still VERY good. We are just not as good. We have a chance to be even better than last year. Think about those starts Odorizzi got going to Brown. Think about Brown filling that role that Javier has filled the last few years, can give you 3 quality out of the pen OR 5-6 quality on a start. Let Javier get 30+ starts next year. If all 6 starters enter the season healthy (what a good “problem” that would be) go with a 6 man rotation until someone falls, which is inevitable. I’m throwing Hensley in the mix to replace Aledmys, he does basically the same things defensively and while he might not have as much pop he works pitchers a little better than Aledmys.

    The whole idea that we would enter without JV, and depend on an exact 5 to stay healthy, if you get even 2 injuries in your rotation you are looking at 10 starts from Peter Solomon? Really? We didn’t win 106 games because we had an offense that was the envy of the league. We did on the back of the deepest pitching staff on the planet. Keep it that way. Yes, a .650 OPS hitter batting 6th is going to frustrate you, but so will a 7th starter giving up 7 runs in 3 innings before he stretches out the BP the rest of the week.

    What do I think they do – I think they bring back Brantley. I think they let JV walk. I think they sign a 1B not named Yuli. I think they sign a back up C. Everything I don’t want. That’s fine, they have been smarter than me for 7 years now, I assume they will be again this year.

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    • I like the idea of multiple players spending time in LF and at 1B. I like Rizzo for his defense as much as his bat. With shifts being eliminated I think that becomes even more important. I do see him as more of a risk, offensively, than Abreu. But I also agree with your thoughts. It wouldn’t surprise me to see them roll the dice at 1B the way they gambled on Pena in 2022. You have Y Diaz and Matijevic as possible options, but don’t forget Joe Perez. He’s on the 40 man and in my opinion is not destined to play 3B at the MLB level. I’d like to see him get a lot of innings at 1B in back field games this spring. If none of those work, you can always give innings to Alvarez there. If they bring Aledmys Diaz back he can give you some games there too…at least until the mid-summer trading season heats up.

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      • Devin, I’ve only looked at Baseball Reference, but they’ve got a -1.2 dWAR for Rizzo in 2022. Historically, he’s better defensively, but at this point, he might not be getting better, offensively or defensively.

        As far as Y. Diaz, Matijevic, Perez, Brantley and a couple of others go, I could see Click rolling the dice with a couple of these guys. I just don’t see Crane going in that direction.

        But I do think we’ll see a fair amount of Y. Diaz this year in various roles though.

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      • I think it would be a fun spring if Diaz and Perez are in camp with an open position that they both could play open for competition. I think the Astros are more likely to sign a 1B but we can dream, can’t we?

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  5. I like the idea of Rizzo being added to the lineup. He brings another big LH bat and his dWAR was the exact same as Yuli’s in Baseball Ref. His oWAR was way better than Yuli’s. He is six years younger than Yuli and three years younger than Abreu.
    Add plenty of playoff experience and a sound reputation with him.
    Like Yuli, he hit much better in the playoffs than he did in the regular season, including against Astros pitching.

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  6. Chip sent me the text of an article that is available on ESPN+ (if you want to pay for the whole thing…) Here is the teaser part of the story
    https://www.espn.com/mlb/insider/insider/story/_/id/35029103/houston-astros-inner-turmoil-2022-world-series-run
    Basically it sounds like the conflict between Crane and Click has been on-going and that Crane was listening more to Bags and Reggie Jackson than to Click.
    It sounds like Luhnow was much more aligned with Crane – especially with the cut throat part of the business.
    It is a little worrisome towards the end when they say Crane negotiated the Montero contract himself. Montero was really good last year, but he is not like Pressly with a bunch of solid years behind him. I would have given him something like 2 years $20 MM. I don’t want Jim Crane to end up being Jerry Jones or Bill O’Brien as a GM out of water.

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    • Please tell me Ausmus is not a possible GM for the Astros. I don’t want a good old boys club running the organization. I want a nerdy group with advanced degrees from good schools using the latest analytic tools running the ship. That’s what got us to where we are. If the owner wants to get a particular deal done from time to time, so be it. But Crane has been successful because he was smart enough to hire smart people to run his organization. I’d hate to see him screw it up now. It’s not encouraging to hear that we might have a dysfunctional organization behind scene. But I’ve also got to see what transpires in the next few weeks.

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  7. I’m not all that informed about our minor league system but it would seem like we have some cards that we could use in a trade situation for a catcher, 1st base, or outfielder. We have plenty of relievers and at least 6 starters currently so pitching is not an issue or so it would seem. I’d think the odds less than 50-50 on resigning Verlander so I’ll color him gone. We need to take some of that “excess” cash and get Kyle Tucker signed to a 5 – 6 year deal. I like the resigning of Montero but it looks like we paid “stupid” money to do so. I’m befuddled with that one.
    Would like to have Sean Murphy of Oakland here rather than the other options mentioned by the pundits. Not sure what it would take to get him though.
    Next is the 1st base situation but the money seems to be on Josh Bell or Jose Abreu. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could convert Yordan to a 1st baseman (unlikely) or develop one internally. The there’s always the return of Yuli.
    Tucker is cemented in the outfield but there seems to be questions elsewhere. Is Chaz ready to become the full time CF? o we resign Uncle Mike for left field and reduce Yordans playing time there to DH when not playing LF?
    Another issue do we bring back AD? I’d rather have Hensley in that spot as AD has lost some of his hitting prowess and he was injury prone this past season. Hensley is a lot cheaper also.
    Lots to think about besides all of the GM controversy. I don’t think that position will get filled or it will be an interim GM until Sterns becomes available for the ’24 season.

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    • I like Sean Murphy. We’d be getting three years of him and then he’d likely be gone. And we’d have to give up Y. Diaz or Lee along with a starting pitcher and likely another guy from AAA close to being ready. So we’d lose guys that can help us now for the minimum or close to the minimum.

      I’m still prepared to go with a patched up Maldy for one more season with Lee and/or Y. Diaz as back up. If we can improve first base and the outfield, heck, we’ll be tough.

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  8. Seems that Rizzo signed somewhat of a team friendly deal to return to the Yankees. Thing is, he put up a pretty good year, but can he repeat those numbers and games played? I think it’s also an indication that Judge will get resigned. The Yankees don’t really have a choice.

    At this point, we have a pretty good indication of what Abreu will cost. If the Astros want him, he is relatively affordable.

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    • If we’re comparing the two
      Verlander is 1 yr, 5 mo. older
      Verlander averaged just under 6 1/3 innings per start in 2022
      Scherzer averaged right at 6 1/3 innings per start in 2022
      Verlander 10.5 K/9
      Scherzer 10.7 K/9
      Both 1.5 BB/9 in 2022, career avg of 2.5 BB/9
      Both had a 13.50 ERA in the LDS in 2022

      We can find more stats, but they’re pretty similar. I don’t know why anyone would give Scherzer that type of money and by extension Verlander either. They only play once every 5-6 games (if healthy) and neither performed well enough to bring home any individual hardware during the postseason. $43M can fill a lot of holes in the offense.

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    • My biggest concern in that regard was the non-addition of Corey Julks. I look at our team, and see that if KTUCK is not in the line-up (rest-day, injury, family leave, etc.) we have no one with an arm strong enough to replace him in the RF position. While Julks’ routes aren’t great, and while his arm isn’t as good as KTucks, at least he had a rightfielder’s -level arm. Chaz is beloved, of course, especially after that incredible WS catch, but putting him in RF would not be pretty. Baserunners would be on a merry-go-round.

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    • I think there are a group of players currently on the 40 man who won’t contribute to the club much. It would be nice to have a GM who could be working on moving some of those guys rather than losing them for nothing when we DFA, but we don’t have that. I think our starters and end of game relievers are fairly set. The middle of the bullpen is more questionable and France gives you an option there. Since we have to address 1B and another OF position at some point you couldn’t protect more fringe prospects without having to make decisions before Spring Training.

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  9. Crane pretty well cleared up the Verlander situation: JV’s comps are Scherzer money.
    Crane said they would like a way to keep Yuli in some capacity and that Brantley’s health situation might not be cleared up until March.
    He also said he might not find a GM until after the new year begins.
    I take it he was not happy at all with James Click’s work.

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  10. The current 40 man roster looks like this:
    https://www.mlb.com/astros/roster/40-man

    – That includes 22 pitchers now that France has been added and Montero has been re-signed.
    – There are 14 position players
    3 Catchers (though Diaz can play 1B)
    5 Infielders
    4 Outfielders
    2 DHs (Alvarez who can play some LF and Hensley who can play
    some OF and IF
    – You would think they will add at least one infielder and one outfielder including maybe someone who can do a little of both
    – You would think they will at least pursue another experienced catcher
    – You would think that if they miss out on JV – they might be very picky on pursuing any other pitching. They basically have the bullpen covered, if they end up with any holes they would likely fill from within. Same thing with starting pitching – if they don’t have JV, who would they pick up that would make a run at squeezing into a rotation that includes Valdez, McCullers, Garcia, Javier, Urquidy, and with Hunter Brown in the wings?

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    • I would point out that 14 position players on the 40 man is very slim considering that they normally carry 13 position players on the 26 man

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      • They apparently like their pitching, including liking JP France more than Jayden Murray.
        They also appear to want to add position players with those empty roster spots.

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      • We know we’re going to get some new position players, and a 3 or 4 for 1 deal could change the balance of the 40 man pretty quickly. We’ve got some interesting pitching prospects that we’ve been protecting. Are we still going to feel terrible if Whitley goes in a trade for more offense?

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      • Whitley only appeared in ten games for Sugarland last year. The good stats are that he only allowed 2 HR over 33 IP and struck out 36. The bad is that he walked 25. I don’t think any of us should feel terrible if he goes in a trade for offense. We should feel terrible if he goes in a trade for the sole purpose of freeing up a 40 man roster spot.

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  11. The rumor mill says Crane was critical in private of Scherzer’s deal to begin with and is unlikely to pony it up.

    I guess it begs the question, does anyone? I do believe the Yankees have their sights set on him, I just don’t know if they are going to be in a position to do 40 mil AAV after whatever Justice gets.

    Everyone I hear on the radio seems to think the Astros are fine without him. I think we are still very good, and probably the AL favorites. But I think he makes us the prohibitive favorites.

    I’ll never bet against dominant pitching. Ensuring the pitching is leagues above everyone else is more important than 1B, LF, CF or another C. Altuve, Alvarez, Bregman, Tucker their jobs is to produce, Penas job is at least repeat and give us some production, the rest, just give us something occasionally. Don’t need a 20 mil a year 1B. We just need someone to produce at times, and we need to be dominant on the mound.

    There are many more 4-2 games played across the major leagues than there are 8-4 games. Be the team that wins those 4-2 games. Don’t be the Rangers. They spend their money on offense. Then they play 7 games decided by 3 runs or less going 2-5, before their offense crushes someone on a bad day 9-2, before going on another 4-5 run losing a bunch of close games. Offense can win a game, pitching wins pennants.

    I get it there is pitching without JV and the exhorbant salary, but there is never too much, the team has the cap space – and could still upgrade 1B if they want – and it’s not my money. Since it’s not my money it doesn’t look like he will be back. I don’t know how I would feel if I was writing the checks.

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    • Steven, I’m sure Verlander would give us another great regular season in 2023, but likely not 18 and 4. In the meantime, I would expect a better outcome from Javier (11-9) and McCullers (2-1). Then there is Brown. I think we win 100 pretty easily without Verlander. And although it’s a tiny sample, Verlander has indeed been unremarkable in the post season. It seems we sometimes ignore that fact.

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      • Javier had two starts all year where he made it to the 7th. He did make it through 6 a bit, and that helps, but there are a lot of 5 inning starts too. When you hand the ball to the middle of the pen instead of the back of the pen you end up with no decisions or even losses (think, you leave after five down 2-1, and the middle reliever gives up 2 before your offense can move, and now it’s an uphill climb and you get tagged with a loss). Javier just reminds me of DeGrom too much – most people think that’s a mighty fine comparison, but if DeGrom is so great why does he finish barely over .500 year after year after year? Even when he won back-to-back Cys he was 21-17 in those two years. I know his teams were not good, but they weren’t 100 loss teams either. Give me Framber any day. I mean Javier lasted only 6 innings in a game that he didn’t even give up a hit!

        Now I love CJ, I’m on record with that, they aren’t all going to be Framber, and he is the best pitcher on the staff to get any one hitter out. But he ain’t no JV and even in tandem with Lance I don’t think they can replace him. I also don’t want to assume that 5 starters are going to stay upright, especially Lance.

        I get it, really I do. I’m not gonna be distraught woe is us if he isn’t back. We will win. Not trying to be the glass half empty guy and we aren’t debating the potential of Fausto Carmona here. We don’t have any control. I am just reinforcing my belief that outpitching everyone isn’t enough, crushing their hopes is.

        As for Brown, I’m excited. But it was 20 innings. He did plenty of 7 IP great performances in the minors followed by 4 inning performances that he struggled with the zone (yes some were on the back half of tandem pitching, some were not though). I’m not going to fool myself into thinking he will carry a load. He CAN, but it’s not a potential league, it’s a performance league, and I don’t know that he WILL yet.

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      • See, you ignored Verlander and his post season record. His agent certainly won’t mention it either.

        As far as Javier goes, I see a guy who went 6 innings in 7 or his last 10 regular season starts.

        He had to wait around until October 22 to finally get a start and went 5.1 innings and gave up one hit on a soggy, crappy night in the Bronx. One hit.

        And then he had to wait 11 more days to pitch again against a rabid crowd in Philadelphia in a must win situation and we all know what he did in 6 innings on that night.

        No way I would have rather had Verlander pitching that game.

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  12. Yes, Javier is not Justin Verlander…but
    – He is really young and certainly can get better. When JV was 25 he went 11-17 with a 4.84 ERA
    – Javier has thrived despite being jerked around from starting to relief
    – When they finally decided to mostly leave him in the rotation down the stretch he started 10 of 11 games and he had a 1.49 ERA (and he still went 5-3 in that time). He pitched 6 innings in seven of those 10 starts. Two of the games where he was less than 6 innings were right after he was pulled from the rotation and threw from the bullpen once.
    – Maybe he will be like McCullers and not be able to reduce those pitches thrown per inning. But damn I will take 6 innings of what he is dishing and if the team can’t score more than a run or two in his starts – shame on them.

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    • Oof, I get it. Don’t make me the CJ hater, I am far from it. I’ve said many times he is the BEST pitcher on this staff even when it includes Verlander. I just know you can’t win the way JV wins until you figure out how to not let every other hitter take you to a 3 ball count. Yes, he can outgrow it. No, he hasn’t yet. But it might be this year! I believe in CJ and I think he has Cy Young stuff. Matter of fact, even without JV, 3 of our 5 pitchers have Cy Young stuff (Framber, McCullers and CJ) and the other 2 are pretty darn good. I get it. Really I do.

      As for JV’s playoff record, take out the WS, and he isn’t bad. For some reason the WS has been a poke on him even back to Detroit days. But you can’t suck in the playoffs if you suck in the regular season because you won’t get there.

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    • But also Dave – a better argument would be – I don’t want to give JV 40 mil because you will be OBLIGATED to start him game 1 of a series, and whether he likes it or not, he has proven to be unreliable in the playoffs. THAT is a fair argument, he literally isn’t even one of the 4 best playoff pitchers we have right now, but give him 40 mil and Dusty will be obligated to pencil in the ace because he has the Cy Young awards.

      That alone makes me feel better about losing him, that we will literally be a BETTER playoff team without him.

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      • When I was young they had a 4-man rotation. So, your ace pitched every fourth day.
        Then, they went to a five-man rotation. So your ace pitched every fifth game.
        Baker had a 6-man rotation for a lot of the year. His ace then pitched every sixth day because of his age and his TJ surgery.
        Now, that ace wants $40 million or more and he is only pitching every sixth day and he is 40 years old.
        The Star here is not aligned with his constellation and he already has $66 million of Crane’s money that he got paid when he didn’t pitch.
        Wave goodbye to a great pitcher who helped us win 2 titles. Let’s move on and get younger.

        Liked by 1 person

  13. A great comeback year by Justin Verlander. His winning the Cy Young is one of the big highlights of our World Series Championship season. I’ll bet Maldy is quietly proud right now too.

    1oldpro, I had pretty much forgotten about that 66 million, or at least written it off. I’m sure there was an insurance policy covering a good part of it, but the man did get paid in full.

    If Verlander leaves town, I hope he ends up in a National League town. I could see the Mets shocking the Yankees with his acquisition.

    On a separate note this morning, I’m glad Rizzo is back with the Yankees. He’ll get to hear the Bronx cheer when they turn on him.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Maldy may be quietly proud but he may be quietly sore as they announced he has had his hernia surgery
      Of course the way this organization works he might have had it a week ago

      Like

  14. I didn’t want George Springer to go
    I didn’t really want Carlos Correa to go
    I didn’t want Gerrit Cole to go
    And I don’t want JV to go
    But it is a business, and it has a certain amount of resources and more importantly it has some future obligations that will be coming along soon.
    They have sustained their success by making some really tough decisions along the way. Unlike some of their competitors they have avoided having long term bad contracts around their necks. Heck, its hard to fault them for too many short term bad contracts – Baez?
    I guess we will see if the new front office can keep them out of contract hell while keeping them very competitive.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The Astros can improve their team by replacing 2022’s worst backup catcher in baseball. Castro had the lowest BA and the highest K-rate of any catcher and his -0.6 WAR was accomplished in only 34 games.
      Korey Lee’s salary for 2023 of $720,000 would be one-sixth of what Castro’s $3.5 million was in 2022.
      Making Lee the backup catcher would improve the team, make it younger and more athletic, and actually lower the cost of that position. Does anyone here think Lee can’t beat Castro’s .115 BA, 45% K-rate and his 11 wRC+?
      Korey Lee hit 25 HRs, knocked in 75 runs and stole 12 bases in Sugarland last season(in only 104 games). He has power and a cannon for an arm.

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      • I’ve long complained about Casto’s inability to hit, but the Astros were 15-7 in games he started last season. They were 18-16 in games in which he appeared. My takeaway is that you don’t want him pinch hitting as he is unlikely to help you. In fact, he was 0-7 with 1 BB as a substitute last year. Regardless, they’re not going to bring him back.

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      • Unless Maldy can’t play, retires, or other situation he’ll be back for next year. No sense in spending big bucks or trading for a top of the line backstop. So we might as well bring Lee or whomever up to catch a 2-3 times a week until ’24. Save a few million $.

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      • If the Astros were 15-7 with Castro, it just proves the theory that 8 huskies and one slug attached to a sled can get you a good showing in a race.

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      • I don’t know….I’d be afraid one of the huskies would eat the slug. You’d then either get disqualified or the dog might get sick.

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      • Well Castro I am sure could out do his own .115. Afterall it was short sample from a player we know was trying to play hurt. Castro is 35, has made 51 mil, and has had multiple surgeries through his career. I doubt he is back in baseball next year, and I really doubt he will even have a conversation with the Astros if he does for some reason want to play. Afterall, he did say in the Spring he thinks this year was it, and that was before injury number 1,232.

        Lee should probably be at AAA playing every day. His K rate at AAA was 28%, higher than ever, he isn’t walking, and he hit just .238. I don’t know if he gets the at bats in the bigs backing up Maldy to continue to mature as a hitter, though he couldn’t ask for a better catching mentor.

        Omar Narvaez is a phone call I would make. Probably 2/12,and let him split time with Maldy this year. It helps that he is a lefty hitter. He gives you depth, and he is a parachute to the move to Lee as a starter in 2024 if he struggles. It seems to me to be a great fit.

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  15. Besides what Lee did, Diaz had 25 homers and 96 RBI’s of his own between AA and AAA ball in 105 games. More reason for optimism within our frequently maligned minor league system. One day we might be thanking James Click for that deal.

    Liked by 2 people

  16. An Astros non-roster move….
    Nov. 16: LHP Austin Davis signed to a Minor League deal with invitation to Spring Training
    Davis, 29, appeared in 52 games in 2022, splitting his time between the Red Sox and Twins. He had a 5.79 ERA with 64 strikeouts in 56 innings, holding left-handed hitters to a .198 batting average and a .554 OPS. A veteran of five Major League seasons, Davis has appeared in 136 games in his career, while pitching for the Phillies (’18-20), Pirates (’20-21), Red Sox (’21-22) and Twins (’22).

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  17. To see Teoscar Hernandez moved for a middle reliever, disappointing. Stanek would have been a better swing and miss guy, Hernandez could immediately fix LF and more importantly the 6 spot in the order.

    The Blue Jays have been vocal about wanting to 2-3 swing and miss leverage arms. It could explain why we overpaid to keep Montero.

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    • Generally speaking I think the good from Teoscar outweighs the bad, but there is some risk there. Another thing to consider is that Seattle is getting his final two years of arbitration eligibility. I think Crane is hoping that Leon delivers similar performance at a much lower price than a guy like Teoscar gets.

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      • I still don’t think money is a significant issue with Crane. Sure, I would be pleased to have Teoscar in left today, but the Astros might be working on something more significant for the outfield as we talk about this particular deal.

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  18. This evening is important.
    It is the tender/non-tender deadline and any arbitration eligible player who is non tendered a contract will become an MLB player who is then a free agent.
    The free agent pool of players will grow a little bit tonight, and they are free of qualifying offers.
    There will probably be some trades made before the deadline, as some teams try to make room for adding a player who fills a need, or lower payroll or trade arbitration eligible players for a younger, cheaper player who fills a greater need than the player they are trading away.

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  19. A reminder of who is up for arbitration
    https://www.si.com/mlb/astros/.amp/opinions/recently-released-houston-astros-arbitration-salary-projections-suitable

    I assume they tender them all contracts.
    Stanek, Framber and Tucker are automatics
    James is a possibility to non-tender but I think they still think he could come back and be someone. Maton is lower end on this staff – but has been healthy and at times good

    James might get DFA’d later if they want to add someone in

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  20. With the addition of JP France and the subtraction of Josh James from the 40-man, the astros have 35 players on that 40-man.
    That breaks down to 21 pitchers and 14 position players.

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