[Official] Astros Off-Season Thread

Discussion in 'Houston Astros' started by Castor27, Oct 2, 2016.

  1. tmacfor35

    tmacfor35 Contributing Member

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    I want to thank time out of my day for the Astros coming back and making September Baseball relevant. It was a nice transition phase to football in which it is pretty brutal following sports in the offseason.

    Right now the Rockets style may be something to watch as well. Yay good Houston Sports.
     
  2. Milos

    Milos Member

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    I did this last year, and in the end, we made the Giles trade and little else changed
    Hoping the disappointment of missing playoffs this time pushes Crane/Luhnow to get more aggressive in fixing holes this time around


    LINEUP

    Locks - 5 (3B SS 2B RF DH)
    The 4 you mentioned are set in stone for sure
    I'd also add Yuli at DH/1B to that list, either as DH (my preference) or 1B (if AJ flops)

    Maybes - 2 (CF 1B)
    Considering the options, I'm hoping the lineup can suffer Marisnick as the 9th hitter to keep his Gold Glove in the center everyday (our mini-Kiermaier)
    Guessing Reed gets a loooong leash to lose full-time job he has on opening day, and I expect him to settle in nicely if he drops the 25 lbs this offseason he needs to lose to prove he's not another Singleton (1B)

    Holes - 2 (LF C)
    That leaves just 2 starting spots that could really use an upgrade
    Although pickings are slim, I'd look to address both in FA


    ROTATION

    Locks - 3 (S2 S3 S4)
    McCullers, Keuchel & McHugh should once again form the backbone of the rotation once
    Still hard for me to see any as legit #1 ace material, which remains the team's overall critical weakness IMO
    Keuchel has the CY season, but lacks the overpowering stuff to take over a playoff series
    Lance has the stuff, but hasn't pitched deep, long, or well enough to be considered a sure-fire ace in waiting
    McHugh is modern Shane Reynolds ... a great #4 or decent #3, but not top 2 material on a real contender
    Keuchel and McHugh are starting to get expensive, but should return with reasonable ARB 1-yr deals
    With both coming off major duds in 2016, I can't see either breaking the bank yet
    I project Dallas to get $11.5M (ARB2) and Colin to gett $6.5M (ARB1)
    Lance will also be back on the cheap again, although I could def see him as centerpiece of a major trade if the right deal comes along

    Maybes - 1 (S5)
    A bevy of interesting, cheap, in-house options should spend next spring competing for the final rotation spot
    Musgrove, Fiers, Devinski, Feliz, Rodgers, Paulino and others could all be in the mix for April, with Feliz not far behind
     
  3. juicystream

    juicystream Contributing Member

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    Keuchel started 2 games in the postseason last year and gave up 1 run. His stuff was plenty good enough in the postseason. The Keuchel of 2015 might be very optimistic, but the Keuchel of 2014 was plenty good enough to head our rotation.

    When you look back to last season, our only glaring hole was 1B/DH, and we had White/Reed to fill that spot. Rasmus and Gomez ended up being disasters. Neither Reed or White was able to handle 1B/DH. LMJ being out most of the season and the rest of the rotation all having a drop in performance made the matters worse.
     
  4. Hey Now!

    Hey Now! Contributing Member

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    ???

    In his only two postseason starts (both wins), Keuchel has thrown 13 innings, struck out 14 and given up a single earned run. His ERA is 0.69 and WHIP is 0.92. 2015 Keuchel can absolutely take over a playoff series.
     
  5. Milos

    Milos Member

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    So glad you asked ...
    I did this last year, and in the end, we made the Giles trade and little else changed
    Hoping the disappointment of missing playoffs this time pushes Crane/Luhnow to get more aggressive in fixing holes this time around

    First, let's see how the 25-man roster shapes up now without any additions
    Who stays, who goes, and what obvious holes need to be filled heading into the Hot Stove period
    After this, I'll lay out my plan for how to improve this roster for the 2017 season



    Overall, here's a summary breakdown of the Astros roster as I see it today:

    Locks - 13
    sure bets to make the 2017 opening day 25-man roster

    Cuts - 9
    guys I would drop this offseason by trade or release, or have already been dropped since start of 2016

    Maybes - 8

    roster spot for guys on the bubble competing with each other or whose role is still unclear

    Holes - 4

    roster spots that need to be filled from outside the organization by trade or FA



    LINEUP (9 spots)


    Locks - 5
    2B Altuve
    SS Correa
    3B Bregman
    RF Springer
    DH Gurriel

    The 4 you mentioned are set in stone for sure as the cornerstones of the franchise
    I'd also add Yuli at DH/1B to that list, either as DH (my preference) or 1B (if AJ flops)


    Cuts - 4
    LF Rasmus (15.8)
    3B Valbuena (6.125)
    CF Gomez (9)
    C1 Castro (5)

    These 4 started Opening Day 6 months ago, but no longer have a place here
    Combined, their departure clears $36M from the 2016 payroll

    GoGo is already gonegone, and should have been booted before June
    BatFlip's red-hot June probably earned him around $30M in FA, which he deserves, but Bregman's emergence has made him expendable here

    Luhnow/Hinch fav Castro is probably more of a lock to return than to leave, despite the substantial long-term deal he is likely to secure in FA
    If the catcher market is as bone-dry as projected, we could do worse than re-upping Castro, but I think we can upgrade the position for similar $

    Nobody is giving FA ColbyJack anything approaching the $16M per year he earned in 2016 by shrewdly accepting his QO
    I could see his popularity with fans and teammates keeping him here for something around 2yrs @ $10M
    I would rather apply that money towards finding an upgrade at the plate to hold down LF in FA


    Maybes - 2
    CF Marisnick
    1B Reed

    Considering the options, I'm hoping the lineup can suffer Marisnick as the 9th hitter to keep his Gold Glove in the center everyday (our mini-Kiermaier)
    Guessing Reed gets a loooong leash to lose full-time job he has on opening day, and I expect him to settle in nicely if he drops the 25 lbs this offseason he needs to lose to prove he's not another Singleton (1B)


    Holes - 2
    LF
    C1


    That leaves just 2 starting spots that could really use an upgrade
    Although pickings are slim, I'd look to address both in FA




    BENCH (4)


    Locks - 2
    UT Marwin
    C2 Gattis

    Marwin will be back and I project him to earn $3.8M (ARB3) next year before hitting FA in 2018
    Gattis should also return as the backup Catcher, top RH pinch hitter, and part-time DH once his $5.2M Club Option is picked up for 2017


    Maybes - 2
    IF Kemp
    OF Teo or Preston

    The final 2 bench spots will be filled by 1 IF and 1 OF
    Kemp's positional versatility to play anywhere, his speed as the top pinch-runner, and his cheap contract make him the obvious choice for the IF spot
    For the OF spot, while I probably prefer Preston's lefty power over Teo's bat, the DEF advantage Teo brings to play anywhere probably gives him the edge




    ROTATION (5)


    Locks - 3
    S2 McCullers
    S3 Keuchel
    S4 McHugh

    These 3 should once again form the backbone of the rotation in 2017
    Still hard for me to see any as legit #1 ace material

    Keuchel has the CY season, but lacks the overpowering stuff to take over a playoff series
    Lance has the stuff, but hasn't pitched deep, long, or well enough to be considered a sure-fire ace in waiting
    McHugh is modern Shane Reynolds ... a great #4 or decent #3, but not top 2 material on a real contender

    Keuchel and McHugh are starting to get expensive, but should return with reasonable ARB 1-yr deals
    With both coming off major duds in 2016, I can't see either breaking the bank yet
    I project Dallas to get $11.5M (ARB2) and Colin to gett $6.5M (ARB1)

    Lance will also be back on the cheap again, although I could def see him as centerpiece of a major trade if the right deal comes along


    Cuts - 3
    S4 Fiers (0.6)
    S5 Fister (7)
    S6 Feldman (5.25)

    I've had enough of Mike Fiers and think Luhnow should have little trouble moving him to create room for better arms
    They already dumped Feldman, and I see no reason to bring back the similar Fister
    Combined that is another $13M cleared from the 2016 payroll

    On the cusp of real contention, I feel our days of Fister/Feldman/Kazmir stop-gaps are behind us
    I do not want another mid-priced, short-term patch to fill out the last rotation spot with so many good young options already here
    Our FA $ needs to be spent elsewhere where prospect options are much thinner


    Maybes - 1
    S5 Musgrove or Devinski

    A bevy of interesting, cheap, in-house options should spend next spring competing for the final rotation spot
    Feliz, Rodgers, & Paulino have already arrived and all could be in the mix for April, with Martes not far behind

    Of those already on the team, I feel Musgrove & Devinski are the early favorites, with a slight edge to Musgrove
    Devinski was spectacular as the team's best reliever in 2016, another factor that could push Musgrove into the rotation


    Holes - 1
    S1


    Just as it has for the past 3 season, the lack of a true #1 starter remains the team's overall critical weakness IMO
    Luhnow knows this, but has been unable to find the right deal, despite publicly courting the likes of Hamels, Sale and Archer
    If he and Crane are serious about really contending in 2017, this is the top priority of the offseason, and absolutely must be addressed with a MAJOR move
    Nobody available in FA fits the bill, so the answer will only be found on the trade market




    BULLPEN (7)


    Locks - 3
    R8 Giles
    R7 Harris
    R3 Sipp

    Giles isn't going anywhere after the price Luhnow paid for him a year ago, but has yet to firmly lock down the closer job in Houston
    Harris had the best 2016 of any reliever, and as a first-time AllStar, I project him to get a nice raise to around $3M (ARB1)

    Sipp was a disaster all year after 2 straight excellent turns as the team's designated LOOGY earned him a nice 3yr contract
    That contract makes moving him nearly impossible coming off such a bad year, so he will be back


    Cuts - 2
    R5 Gregorson (6.25)
    R4 Neshek (6.5)

    I expect Gregorson to be moved in a salary dump (like Feldman) and his expiring, reasonable deal should not be short of suitors
    Neshek will certainly have his Club Option declined to free up even more cash
    Dropping these 2 would clear $13M from the 2016 payroll


    Maybes - 3
    R6 Feliz
    R5 Hoyt
    R4 Gustave

    Hinch seems married to keeping 12 pitchers year-round
    This leaves 3 spots in the middle of the pen which will almost certainly be filled by younger, cheaper options next season

    Whomever loses the battle to start will take 2 of these spots
    Of those candidates, I'm going with Feliz and Hoyt as the surest bets to start the year in the pen
    Gustave's arm has the upside to claim the final spot

    Really, it's still way too early to have any idea how the bottom of the staff will shake out this spring


    Holes - 1
    R9


    Maybe Giles finally claims Closer as his for good this offseason
    Nevertheless, a proven vet flamethrower could still do wonders to solidify the rest of the pen
    Such a move would alleviate the pressure that seemed to get the best of Harris and Giles last year, allowing them to thrive in the 7th/8th inning setup role
    More than anything, the confidence boost to the entire team from having a sure thing to nail down the 9th is the biggest benefit
     
  6. Milos

    Milos Member

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    Keuchel reminds me a lot of my favorite Astro starter ... Mike Hampton
    Lefty, good athlete, gets the most from underwhelming raw stuff to surprisingly effective results

    Just like Dallas, The Bulldog also had a CY-caliber season (22-4) for a playoff team that came up short
    Unfortunately, his season of excellence proved to be more of an aberration in Mike's career than a harbinger of the extended greatness to come

    While he was fantastic in his first 2 postseason starts last year, I do not see Keuchel in the same class as the truly elite #1 starters in baseball
    He is not now and never will be able to match up in a Game 1 or Game 7 and beat the likes of Kershaw / Bumgarner / Sherzer consistently

    Therefore, IMO, we need someone BETTER than Keuchel to anchor our staff moving forward if we want to compete for the World Series
    We can't climb all the way to the mountaintop if Dallas Keuchel is our best shot on the mound
    Witness the entire 2016 Astros season in my defense
    His decline from last year to this was the single biggest factor in our failure to return to the postseason

    Keuchel is a decent #2 starter on a championship team
    I think his best fit is actually as an elite #3 starter

    Our best hope (in-house) is that Lance can finally stay healthy and blossoms into a legit ace #1 type
    Realistically, I think his ceiling is also that of an above-avg #2

    Ideally, we use our prospect war-chest to go make a deal for a Sale-type established ace
    By that, I mean a guy already in the midst of several consecutive top10 CY seasons
    A guy that strikes fear into opposing hitters and can match up with anybody in the game on the mound
     
  7. xcrunner51

    xcrunner51 Contributing Member

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    Keuchel at best is absolutely an ace and I'd have no qualms against him going up against MadBum/Kershaw/the like. The real issue is can you bank on him pitching at that level after such a heavy workload these past three seasons. That I'd say no.

    I think the FO has to do everything under the sun to pencil another name above his in the playoff rotation.

    His stuff isn't surprisingly effective. When he's on and he's getting even appropriate calls, he paints the corner with his sinker/changeup/slider combo as well as anyone in baseball.
     
  8. Uprising

    Uprising Contributing Member

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    Dang October baseball is so awesome . . . . Hope we make it next season . . .
     
  9. Milos

    Milos Member

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    A brief list of Starters I'd take in a 1-game playoff to start for the Stros over Keuchel today:
    Kershaw
    MadBum
    Arrieta
    Felix
    Price
    Fernandez (RIP)
    Sale
    Cole
    Kluber
    Scherzer
    Strasburg
    Thor
    Greinke
    Archer
    Hamels
    Lester
    Gray
    Darvish
    DeGrom
    Fulmer

    That's 20 guys off top of my head that I'd trade straight up for Keuchel this second if offered (except the deceased)

    In a league of 30 teams, doesn't a rank outside the Top 20 automatically classify you as Non-Elite among #1 Starters?

    How many aces would you say exist at this moment?
    I'd say 20 at max
    2015 Keuchel was a top 10 SP
    2016 he wasn't among the top 60


    Those guys above all have either:

    A - a track record of several recent or consecutive CY-level years that dwarf Keuchel's 1 to date

    B - vastly outperformed him in the most recent season

    C - youth and time to further develop still in their favor as guys not yet in their prime, while Keuchel apptoaches 30 w little if any untapped upside

    D - power arms built to miss bats, still my most valued asset when determining whether a pitcher has real ace potential


    Maddux and others have become legit aces by nibbling and pitching to contact ...
    But fireballers with filthy break are still the most prized pitchers in baseball bc they remove other factors like fielding, luck, and umpires from influencing their effectiveness on the mound
    81 pitches are ALWAYS better than 27, even if both are perfect games

    It's that and the consistency that separate the true stoppers from the rest
    2016 showed Dallas hasn't yet earned this reliability
    Most who haven't by their late 20s never get there
    RA Dickey also has a CY award ... doesn't make him an ace
     
  10. awc713

    awc713 Member

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    The lesson we learned in 2016 is that 246 IP was simply too much for Kuechel in 2015. Let's all pray and hope that this was the main reason for Kuechel's recent regression. If so, we could very well see a similar version of 2015 in 2017. After all, Kuechel's dominance has never been based on pure "stuff" or "filth", but with elite location and knowledge.

    Hinch made a point this season of letting pitchers go deep in games and in pitch counts. This, no doubt, played him well in the clubhouse and with the pitchers, but I doubt we see that approach anymore, and for good reason.
     
  11. xcrunner51

    xcrunner51 Contributing Member

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    Weird reply. I didn't say that Keuchel is currently an ace, only the he has the ability (as evidenced by his Cy Young hardware). Last year I'd have felt perfectly comfortable sending him against any of those pitchers you listed, he was that good.

    Guys like Maddux, Keuchel and Hendricks got me out of the mindset that an ace HAS to be the proto-typical guy you described. Sure longevity and track record favor the proto-types but even Maddux dominated for an extended period of time.

    All that aside, I openly acknowledge Keuchel had a let down year and can't be relied on as a #1 starter moving forward.
     
  12. Rockets FTW

    Rockets FTW Member

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    Trade for Sale, sign Cespedes, bring young arms up, win championship.
     
  13. juicystream

    juicystream Contributing Member

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    Keuchel has 2 seasons at a Custom Young type level, and the last 4 have good advanced numbers.

    Sony Gray is far worse than Keuchel.
     
  14. Progs

    Progs Member

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    Too bad that Kyle Tucker is still a year away when the 2017 season comes around. I could definitely see Luhnow spending some money this offseason coming up in free agency.
     
  15. Hey Now!

    Hey Now! Contributing Member

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    This is silly for a variety of reasons. First of all, all three of the pitchers you mentioned are in NL so he'd only see one of them - not all of them. And if he was matched up against one of them in the postseason, it's likely because he's been terrific in the ALDS and ALCS. Secondly, '14-'15 version of Dallas Keuchel absolutely matches up with any ace in baseball. Again, 13 IP, 1 ER - you're telling me that would put us at a disadvantage against Kershaw, Bumgarner, etc.? Third, those three may very well be the three best pitchers in baseball; that's a ridiculous standard and even if the Astros went out and got an ace that was better than Keuchel, that ace is still probably not as good as Kershaw, Bumgarner, Scherzer.

    The concern with Keuchel is whether '16 was an aberration or a preview of things to come. If he can't regain form, that sets this team back rather significantly. Hopefully, he was just worn out from the heavy workload in '15 or was battling an injury of some sort and just had a bad year.
     
  16. Zacatecas

    Zacatecas Member

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    Keutchel with his pin point accuracy was much like Maddox, able to extend the strike zone. But the MLB made it official to call the strike zone what it is. Because if the Umps weren't going to call it, then there was technology to replace them.

    I think a lot of Keutchel struggles were that Umpires started calling strike zones tight, for most of the year. In this era, even the great Greg Maddox would struggle too.

    Pinpoint accuracy without the gas leads to a lot of runs, if it's the same strike zone for everyone. There was a graph earlier in the year I saw that stated Keutchel had benefitted the most from out of the strike zone called strike pitches in 2015.

    Maybe MLB didn't want another Maddox type player with 5 in a row CY Young's..... Especially if they don't bring the fastball to challenge power hitters.... Baseballs epic battle power hitter vs. power hitter.

    Keutchel of 2016 is a legit # 3-4 pitcher. An innings eater, who can get by, but not an ace. He needs to go back to do some adjustments to how Umps are sticking to the tight strike zone. With his pin point accuracy, I think there is ability to be an all star again. He has that tough as nails mentality which is a must.
     
  17. DaChamp

    DaChamp Member

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    Nice analysis. For Valbuena, I wouldn't be shocked if a QO were made with the expectation that Valbuena would accept it. He had a 2.6 WAR this year, so that would be about right for value versus dollars. Seeing that he can play 1B, 3B or DH, and they would only be locked in for one year, so there's not a ton of risk there (although I haven't followed what his injury is and how his rehab is going). That would allow the front office to continue to kick the tires on Reed and White at 1B, as they have options. Then they can defer the 1B/DH decision for another year, and focus on catcher, LF and finding another SP. I'd be surprised with any big splashes at SP, I'm betting that the front office's hope is that the solution is already in the clubhouse or on the farm. And there are not a ton of options out there for catcher, think Luhnow made a mistake by not aggressively going after Lucroy. Anyway, I see the only potential splash being the acquisition of a LF, but even then, I don't see this front office shelling out the type of money to get a Cespedes-type outfielder.
     
  18. Zacatecas

    Zacatecas Member

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    And any hopes of luring an Ace via trade will cost the Astros a lot of talent. Which is fine, but might not seem so in 5 years.

    Luhnow needs to see his guys and keep his absolute best as if his GM job depends on it. Because I'm sure the White Sox already held out for Bregman before the trade deadline dealings with the Astros.

    The reward for 3 100 loss seasons were Correa, Bregman, and McCullers. Appel should have been in that list but the fact he fizzled so bad in Houston, causing him to be a part of the Giles trade... We just cant give our 3 top guys from those horrible season in a trade while they are showing tremendous ability and potential. Appel didn't perform, so he's out of the system.

    There are 3 guys on the Astros who have the potential of 900+ OPS ability, Altuve of course, Correa, and Bregman.

    If somebody requires Bregman, give them Gattis or Springer...

    We may be talking like the Rangers, about going all in with the trade chips.

    But the Astros are in need of a true Ace, which compromises the entirety of the minor league system up to the core of the major league club.
     
  19. Snake Diggit

    Snake Diggit Member

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    Free agents who put up at least 1 fWAR by position:

    C: Ramos, Weiters, Ruiz, Castro, Avila
    1B/DH: Encarnacion, Pearce, Rodriguez, Moss, Napoli, Alvarez
    2B: Walker, Utley
    SS: None
    3B: Turner, Valbuena, Hill
    OF: Fowler, Desmond, Cespedes, Beltran, Trumbo, Pagan, Davis, Maybin, Bautista, Saunders, Rasmus, Jay, Reddick, Joyce

    Notables who fell short: Bruce, Morales, Gomez, Holliday, Moreland, Crisp
     
  20. Hey Now!

    Hey Now! Contributing Member

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    Are you suggesting we offer them Springer or Gattis *instead* of Bregman, or that they have to take Springer or Gattis if they want Bregman? Frankly, both ideas are silly but I thought I'd give you an opportunity to clarify.
     
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