Have the Astros “invested” in the wrong places?

This is a question that we all ask of ourselves when we put away what pittance we can put away in our own lives. Did we put our savings in the right places, right hands, right stocks, right mutual funds, right investment firms, etc.?

It is tough to second guess the amount of risk we take on with an amount of money that we may have to survive on later in life. We have a tendency to think we are doing our best. Who can predict markets, future performance, government intervention, inflation, wars and pandemics?

But when it comes to our favorite baseball playing millionaires and team owning billionaires, we love to second guess those decisions and risks.

What about the Astros and their recent investments? For quite a while the Astros were famous for not signing talent to anything more than two year contracts or extensions or even trading for such. Justin Verlander was traded for with 2 years + 1 month left on his contract, got extended for two seasons (that he ended up spending hurt) and signed to a 1 year extension that could have been two but was not. Gerrit Cole had the two seasons left when they traded for him. Charlie Morton signed for a couple seasons, Zack Greinke was traded for with 2 years and 2 months on his contract. Brian McCann was picked up with a two year free agent contact. You get the picture.

But with their sustained success, there has been more money available and one of the places they have spent it has been on extensions and on free agents (their own and others).  So, what does that look like so far?

  • Jose Altuve – Mar-16-2018 – The 5 yr/ $151 MM contract Altuve signed with the Astros was tacked to the back of the two years (2018 and 2019) that he had on his contract at the time and tied him to the Astros from 2020 through the 2024 season. It was and is the biggest contract the team has handed out to date. Since the extension kicked in, Altuve had a bad 2020, a good 2021 and a very good 2022 with of course an incomplete in 2023 due to his broken thumb.
  • Alex Bregman – Mar-22-2019 – About a year later Bregman signed a 5 yr / $100 MM extension that also ran from 2020 through 2024. During the extension period, he has had a so-so 2020, an injury riddled 2021, an above average 2022, and so far, a below average 2023. He has done nothing as good as his excellent 2018 or 2019 seasons.
  • Yordan Alvarez – Jun-6-2022 – Even if Yordan misses a few games here and there with hand problems or a sore neck – it is hard to see where the 6 year / $115 MM extension he signed was not a great investment by the team for one of the very best power hitters or non-power hitters we have ever seen. He just needs to get in about 85-90% of regular season games and 100% of playoff games.
  • Rafael Montero Nov-15-2022 – Yeah, it’s only 3 years and “only” $34.5 MM, which is chump change in the free agent market, but this was a disturbing extension when it happened due to Montero never, ever, ever having been as effective as he was in 2022 in any of his previous seven seasons in the majors. This felt like an unnecessary overspend and so far his early season struggles has gotten the fandom puzzling about this. Hey, even Ryan Pressly is only on a 2 year contract.  
  • Jose Abreu Nov-29-2022 – When the Astros signed up the White Sox first baseman to a 3 yr / $58.5 MM free agent contract shortly after the championship celebrations, practically everyone including this writer was excited to see what his big power / big RBI bat would do in the middle of this batting order. In general, we are still wondering and worrying. Perhaps the team should have figured out why he had only hit 1 home run in the last 1/3 of the 2022 season. Anyways, if he does not improve, this is going to be a long three seasons.
  • Cristian Javier Feb-10-2023 – Signing Javier, one of the big heroes of the World Series team to a 5yr/ $65 MM extension seems like a great move on the team’s part. This carries him thru the 2027 season. He has not been quite as unhittable in 2023, but still has been pitching solidly and most importantly – often. This looks like a bargain today and should continue to be one thru the length of the contract.

So, how do you rate these investments to date and more importantly, what do you think about proposed extensions for Framber Valdez and Kyle Tucker and re-extensions for Altuve and Bregman?



52 comments on “Have the Astros “invested” in the wrong places?

  1. I can identify with Jim. World Press and Apple just are not on the same page.

    Altuve and Bregman. I’m not going to try and manipulate WAR and other stats to suit the situation. But I do think Altuve is aging far more gracefully than Bregman.

    At this point, as an organization, I’d be trying to find a solution at third base. I said last week that I think Bregman is an old 29. That’s not saying he won’t finally recover from the worst slump of his career, but he’s just not going to be worth another extension.

    Altuve looks a heck of a lot more mobile at this point and did have a great 2022 season. I sure liked the 18 of 19 stolen base attempts too. But the negative dWAR can’t be overlooked either. We can’t move him to first base, and we’ve already got too many DH candidates.

    But to date, Jose has been an excellent investment all along. Jury is still out on Alex.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Short of catastrophic injury, I think everyone, friend or foe would consider Alvarez and Javier as team friendly deals.

    Alvarez just does not hit. He hits when it’s important.

    Javier pitches his best baseball on the biggest stage.

    I really hope these two guys stay well.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. If Montero puts up 3 years of what he did last year, we won’t be complaining. Fair to say that’s a long shot, it’s still too hard to call. After his Saturday performance in Seattle, seems like most have jumped off the bandwagon. But had Bregman/Pena made just one of two plays on those infield weak contact balls induced by Montero, then we’d be coming off 2 of 3 from the M’s and we’d be happy today.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Abreu could be the real ugly one. And I admit, I was all in. I did not mind 15 homers a year. The exit velocity was still there. I thought he’d be giving us 40 doubles and a pretty good eye in the 6th slot. And his dWAR was actually better than Yuli’s in 2022.

    But the guy looks terrible. I almost believe at this point that something is wrong with him and he’s not telling anyone. I think Dana Brown will need to find another solution at first, if not this year, in 2024. Joey Loperfido?

    Liked by 1 person

  5. As far as long term contracts go, I am always really wary. As fans, we love to spend our owners’ money – not realizing that the more they spend today the more we will inevitably pay in ticket prices, merchandise prices, concession prices, viewing fees, etc. as well. An then, we look at how we wound up losing a year of Andy Petitte’s contract, a year of Justin Verlander’s contract, and a heck of a lot of time on the DL/IL for Jose Altuve – and we wonder how much playing time can we really expect from the guys we love – or want -so much [Trout?]

    Ideally, we would never give anyone a contract for more than three years, relying upon excellence in drafting, recruiting, and minor league training to keep a regular flow of relatively consistent talent in systemic flow. Unfortunately, unlike the Dodgers and Yankees we do not have a history of that level of success in drafting, signing, and training in all phases of the game – with consistent success only in the area of starting pitching. That means we have to be really wise with regard to signings. Things like bone structure, injury history, work ethic, physical conditioning state and routine, risk-taking behavior, community engagement, fan popularity, and team-mate quality need to be considered as well as stats and wow factor.

    An example of how all this works is George Springer. Who could not love George? Who could not be awed by his talent, his passion, and his stats? But who could also not see that he was an injury waiting to happen? I miss George tremendously; but I am glad our FO did not pay him multi-millions to sit on the IL.


  6. With the long term health of McCullers, Garcia and Urquidy a big question mark, can the Astros even allow themselves not to get a deal done with Framber? For a lifetime 8.4 guy, he’s going to get paid.

    Tucker. After paying Framber, we won’t have money for him.


    • The question I have is whether our window of contention either has closed or is on the verge of closing anyway. Altuve can’t seem to stay on the field. McCullers can’t seem to stay off the IL – and gets massacred when he tries to mount a come back. Bregman can’t hit. Abreu can’t field OR hit. Brantley’s old -as is Maldy. Diaz is unproven. Meyers is broken. Hensley is playing himself out of a job. Julks has no batter’s eye or patience. Pena is great in post-season – if we get there – but is freakishly inconsistent in the regular season. Javier version 2023 is nowhere close to Javier 2022. Valdez isn’t giving us the eerie level of excellence he gave us last year either. Garcia is lost for all this season and probably the first part of next. Our bullpen, except Pressly, is suddenly leaking like a seive. And our entire Milb cupboard is dismal looking – save Dirden, Gilbert, and a couple of very young pitching prospects.

      We’ve seen how ugly it gets when a window closes and we are stuck with a few good players with big contracts – who unfortunately never seem to be quite good enough to carry those who are underperforming. A good investor knows when to sit one out, and wait for the next rally.


      • A couple guys not mentioned there Mr. Bill are Yordan and KTuck. They are good enough to carry the team a ways as they wait for Altuve and Brantley to return and for Bregman and Abreu to arrive. I also would say that overall McCullers when he does arrive pitches very well – yes he had that one really bad start in last year’s playoffs, but so did JV, and Framber had a few the season below.
        And they have added Hunter Brown to the mix.
        But – yes, the window may be closing – six seasons making the ALCS or better is unusually long.


      • As the resident chief cynic, it is my duty to point out that Alvarez and KTuck have shown us that the best winning percentage they can (and Frenchy Dubon) carry this team to is .500. To me, the upcoming series with the Angels is a litmus test for the team. After watching the team lose three straight series that they should have won even in their injury-decimated condition, if this group of doesn’t find a way to win this important series against the 2nd place Angels, I will consider the latest wonderful window of competitiveness to be closed.


      • Mr. Bill,

        Losing three starters makes yours a relevant question. Altuve has averaged 147 games a year. That’s pretty durable. McCullers is not. And he did get massacred in the post season. I think he was hurt again already.

        But I’ve just realized you’ve got too many things to comment on. Some guys will be okay. Some will thrive. Some won’t make it or are pretty much done. Someone will step up. That’s what makes the whole thing fascinating. We’ll find out over the next few months. This could be the year we go home at the end of the regular season. But I’m pretty sure Jim Crane does not have that scenario on his mind right now. I’m sure he’s asking Dana Brown what he’s going to do about fixing our mess THIS year.


  7. I checked on the Astros updated injury report just now.
    They have established that the dates for Brantley and Chas McCormick to return are May 8th. I checked my calendar and verified what today is.


  8. Abreu

    This is not a line up. This is the alpha list of the 9 guys I want to see in a line up before the month of May is out. If we get there, good things will happen.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dave, our generation was always partial to alphabetical order. Makes for a good phone book (but as you pointed out, not for a good line-up).


  9. We might be seeing the results of the punishments meted out as a result of “IT”. We lost our 1st and 2nd round draft picks for 2020 and 2022. Even if only one of those made it I believe that it has and will have an impact for the next few years.


  10. Montero loses again. I’m getting tired of this movie. It always ends the same. Who ever decided to pay him 34.5MM for 3 years needs to be gone. Probably the same guy who gave Abreu the 3 year 58.5 MM contract. On “Stone Cold Astros” they were debating this along with the never ending saga of the same lineup with Abreu hitting 4th behind Yordan. I don’t know if Altuve and Brantley’s return will make a difference but it might be a long summer.
    Hunter Brown wasn’t bad tonight but wasn’t good either. Too many hits even though some of them were kind of funky. Positions 5 – 8 were 0 for 15. Not good at all. below 500 again. Who would have thought it?


  11. The M’s, Angels and Rangers all look forward to playing the Astros at this point. I don’t think any one team is going to separate themselves from the pack. But we could be looking up at the pack if we don’t turn into a hitting team, one that can win regularly with a compromised pitching staff.


  12. Dana Brown, you really have your work cut out for you. I have no doubt that you are wishing you had stayed in Atlanta.


  13. – Montero – The recipe for reliever disaster…..miss your mark and walk a hitter and then start grooving it to the next hitter(s).
    – Abreu – I feel like he is on the cusp of breaking out of it – has had much better contact lately (but still not pulling the ball).
    – Bregman – Looked much better last night
    – Brown – he’s a young guy, he is not going to be JV 2.0 every time out. But he needs to get through more than 4.1 innings even when he is struggling.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I really am concerned about Abreu. I know there is a usually a second half surge, but this year it just feels like he is behind every fastball. He is hitting some line drives, so the ball to barrel is still there – and his exit velo’s seem reasonable, I am just concerned that he isn’t getting there fast enough. I played ages 31-37, and at 37 I was still hitting whistlers, but they kept going in the 1st base dugout. When it goes, it goes. At BP we used a machine – and it was set on 70. I remember accusing them of putting it on 90 my first day to mess with me. It wasn’t. What I am hoping is that Abreu hasn’t become a mistake pitch hitter only. I wouldn’t think so – when Biggio become a mistake pitch only hitter he was a dead pull hitter. That isn’t the case with Abreu, yet. I could see him very easily hitting only .260 this year with like 10 HR, and that will be the worst 19M we have ever spent.

    Maldy isn’t hitting, but Diaz isn’t really either. I think Diaz can pull himself up by his bootstraps with consistent PT but he isn’t getting that unless he takes advantage of the times he gets out there. Baker has no incentive to move to a more equal PT schedule if Diaz is only hitting .210 himself.


    • I could type all day on this topic, but I see Abreu’s hands and hips being disconnected too often. He’s never been a pure fastball hitter and feasted on offspeed stuff that got hung. He may be overcompensating right now.

      I’m not willing to give Click a pass on anything. None of the deals he made worked out and had the Contreras trade been finalized it looks like that would have been just as bad. The deals by Crane to Abreu and Montero look bad right now, but ultimately the question is who else they would have signed for the money. I think both guys can bounce back and neither dollar amount scares me like what the Mets gave JV.

      I fell asleep watching the game last night. What happened on that Rendon HBP? The Astros pulled Brown, but did they challenge it? The ball clearly hit the knob of the bat and not Rendon’s hand. Seth Martinez got a GIDP to end the inning after that so everything worked out, but I’m kind of tired of bad umpiring and it’s only May.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Montero. It’s been ugh. I blame Dan. He wrote a few days ago about the “escape artist” and it jinxed him. Now he is getting in trouble and not escaping.

    Montero and Abreu look like careless, bad contracts. I had my doubts about Montero even before the ink was dry. I had no doubts about Abreu, but when you do the homework and look at the last 2 months of last season – and really just a steady decline overall – an actual GM may have dodged this bullet. Those two contracts are squarely at the feet of the guy who thought he didn’t Click. At least it’s his money.

    I don’t know what to think of Bregman. It was a good adjustment he made last night. It looks like he took a tenth of a second off the time it takes to get the bat in the zone. That is huge. I kept thinking this new bat placement that he would fall into a bad habit and start raising it back to its original spot before the swing, but he wasn’t. He was bringing it through smoothly. We’ll see if he can do it consistently.


  16. I can’t believe I forgot to include one other extended contract….I guess out of sight/out of mind.
    Lance McCullers – March 24, 2021 – 5 years / $85 million
    This tied him to the Astros (like an anchor? albatross around the neck?) through the 2026 season.
    How has this looked so far? 2021 he pitched very well with the most starts of his career (28) and placing 7th in the Cy Young. And of course getting hurt in the playoffs, which possibly cost them the title.
    2022? He pitched very well and very little in the regular season (8 starts) and then in the playoffs pitched excellently in the ALDS, so-so in the ALCS and badly in the World Series (probably foreshadowing his injury)

    2023 – Nothing so far, but he is finally throwing off a mound
    Three more years to go after this one.


    • Beginning to wonder if Lance could be a 2 – 3 inning guy. Maybe a guy who comes in at 6 and stays through 8. Otherwise he might blow his arm out again and another wasted contract.

      I’m a little perplexed at the bullpen management. This year as previous years Dusty hardly ever lets a reliever go more than an inning, while I notice other teams relievers are going two to three innings against us and kicking our butts. If a guy is on, why not let him pitch another inning or two. If he gets in trouble then there’s a backup plan. I’m not a big fan of using 4 relievers to pitch 4 innings. It limits your options.

      Next observation is watching our pitchers trying to hard to put the ball on the edges. As a result, they’re already down 2-0, 3-0 or 3-1 in no time. Then the batter knows the pitch has to be close to the zone so he’s ready or it’s take your base. Brown was missing with a lot of his initial pitches that were a foot off the plate. You’re not going to get an out that way.

      OK, I’ll get off of my soapbox now.

      Liked by 1 person

  17. I would say part of the reason for their prolonged success was the fact they were not tied to long term deals. Sure it would be great to sign Tuck long term, but he’s no dummy. There are untold riches waiting in free agency. If I were Framber I would sign for five in a heartbeat but that would be a risk for the club. Nothing looked like a surer thing than extending Bregman… The Montero deal still has me scratching my head. And Abreu, well I think that is Bagwell’s baby. Can only hope he turns it around.


  18. Dubon left the game with a hamstring injury – the announcers couldn’t figure out why – but I noticed he looked funny on a previous defensive play before pulling up lame on his bloop single


  19. See what happens when the pitcher throws strikes. Framber with 75 of 95 pitches for strikes. Maldy with a 2 run blast, wow! And a short hit parade of singles for another run. Good game to watch. Bregman with a couple of hits and Abreu ( the 58MM wonder) was 0 for 4.
    Did break the losing streak. Way to go Framber. Pressley with a perfect 9th for the save.


  20. Tonight, I was waiting at the Bus Stop with my friend Carrie Anne, but the bus passed us by even though I yelled, Stop,Stop, Stop! I should ask the transit authority to give me a refund on my bus pass. She said, “They should Pay You Back With Interest.” With extra time on our hands, we wrote this song:

    His arm is long
    Whips many a winding curve
    That leads us to who knows how many wins?
    How many wins?
    But he’s strong
    Strong enough to carry his team
    His pitches are heavy, he’s our Framber

    So on we roll
    His wealth is not my concern
    No payroll burden is he to bear
    At least not this year
    For I know
    He’s our number one, indeed
    His pitches are heavy, he’s our Framber

    If he’s leaning at all
    He’s leaning towards greatness
    And every team’s scorecard
    Is filled with batters gone hitless
    When we glove all their weak grounders

    It’s a long, long road
    To reach a World Series return
    While we’re on the way to there
    Why not cut his hair?
    And chains of gold
    They don’t weigh him down at all
    His pitches are heavy, he’s our Framber

    He’s our Framber
    His pitches are heavy, he’s our Framber


    • Nice one Astro Nut – one of my favorite songs from way back when – my youngest brother has Down’s Syndrome so this song always meant a little extra to me.


  21. Framber did what aces are supposed to do, stop bad times with a masterful performance. There will probably be a slightly different energy in clubhouse today.

    I think I keep watching every night right now because I keep waiting on Abreu.

    Another sputtering by the offense. Ohtani is tough. He seemed to get a little impatient in his delivery in the 5th. Then he righted his own ship to finish 7. Unfortunately for him Framber was just better.

    Chas may be back just in time. If Dubon ends up with a trip to the IL he can slip back to the leadoff spot. He was doing a good job there before the bug. Julks PT is probably about to evaporate.

    That was a poor defensive effort from Hensley on the hard hit ground ball. He turned his head before that ball got there, lost it, and it bounded into RF. Luckily it didn’t matter. Dubon had a few tough plays not work out for him in Seattle – but truthfully he had two go off his glove on balls that NO ONE else on the roster even gets to, even our usual guy there. The one thing that seems a certainty with the new shift rules, range has become important again, and making tough plays is more important again because a computer doesn’t have the luxury of telling ’em exactly where to stand.


  22. Nothing like a win against the most hyped pitcher in MLB. If Framber keeps acting like our ace, we won’t have extended losing streaks.

    Brantley playing baseball for a week and obviously had to swing a bat. But now he’s back but not ready to swing a bat. Is he going back on the shelf?

    Liked by 1 person

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