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Luhnow Era enters year 4

Discussion in 'Houston Astros' started by The Beard, Feb 20, 2015.

  1. The Beard

    The Beard Contributing Member

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    Optimism abounds as we enter the 4th year of the Luhnow/Crane era. Obviously over the past 3 years there has been a lot of criticism of the organization by many, and also many who absolutely love the stat head direction the club is going in under Luhnow. So as we finally enter a year where the major league team seems to be the focus, ill highlight the major moves made by Luhnow and see what kind of grade all the CF Astros fans would give him entering year 4, and comments on where everyone thinks the future of the franchise is headed.

    Luhnow Era

    Drafts
    2012 - Carlos Correa. Easily the jewel of our farm system and has the look of a true stud. No matter how this one ends up in the long run, can't criticize the pick at this point for sure. No one else really had Correa as the "right" choice here, but it certainly looks like a move that worked out. Of course picking Correa over Buxton gave us the ability to sign both McCullers and Ruiz although some will say we could have signed McCullers anyway. 2012 also gave us guys like Phillips, Fontana and Tucker. Even for the guys who would still rather have Buxton, no way you could give Luhnow anything but an A in his first draft. And dang what a loaded draft it turned out to be, in addition to Wacha already having a big mlb impact, guys like Ad Russell and Giolito are absolute top prospects, Heaney likely to be an mlb starter this year and several other top 50 guys came from this first round...

    2013 - Mark Appel. Obviously the story is yet to be told on Appel, personally I don't think most people realize how much of an impact the appendectomy could have had on him last year. Lots of talk about the impact of the park, but pitchers are creatures of habit and he never had a normal routine to get ready last year. Then add in the piggy back system and the park and it all turned into a bad situation. Talent is obviously there and we can still hope for a top of the rotation type. No one can legitimately argue him over Bryant at this point though, and as deep as the good ones from 2012 look there doesn't seem to be a lot of great depth from this draft. Only Tony Kemp is most of our top 20's out of this draft. With us having the choice of anyone we wanted, and to get what we did, I couldn't give this draft anything better than a C, and taking everything into consideration probably a D

    2014 - Aiken. No need to rehash the whole situation, but it's obvious (to me at least) that they went with a guy that would allow them to "play the game" like they did in 2012 and sign the top pick for less saving money to add some depth by going overslot to others. No way to know about the medicals ahead of time and I get that, but bottom line is we had our choice of any player out there, there was a college LHP that was probably the best LHP prospect since David Price available, and Luhnow passed on Rodon. Rodon will likely be in the Sox Pen/Rotation this year which we wait on the June (July now I think) draft. Any way you slice it, the top of our draft was a failure. There does seem to be some really good possibilities coming from outside of the top pick though. DJ (can't call him Derek) Fisher looks like a good find along with Reed, if we could end up with two legit prospects after blowing the top pick, that would certainly be nice. Impossible to grade a draft 6 months later so I won't give it a shot here, but sure would be nice to see Rodon coming to camp.

    So overall Draft wise the first three years is a mixed bag. With 3 top overall picks the only top 25 overall prospect we have is Correa. I know the draft is more of a "crapshoot" than the other major sports, but we could easily have Correa, Bryant and Rodon sitting in our system. I do wonder how much Crane impacted the drafts and finanaces and if Luhnow would have gone a different direction if he was free to do as he chose, but we will never know the answer to that

    Trades (the ones that have had an impact one way or the other)

    Instead of look at a bunch of trades individually, i'll look at who is gone and who we have for all the ones pre-2014

    When Luhnow took over the rebuild had obviously already begun. The main pieces Jeff had to move were guys like Happ, B Lyon, B Myers, Wandy, Lowrie and Bud. I'll also add J Veras in there as he did turn Veras into a pretty good prospect it looks like.

    In dealing all of those guys what do we have?? Top 20 organizational prospects Hader, Stassi, Danry Vasquez and Wojo. Then you look at the big league roster and Chris Carter was a part of all of this as was Grossman, along with Hoes (who it doesn't look like will do anything) and Peacock. None of those guys he traded away really had major trade value so overall, Carter and 4 of our top 20 guys doesn't look like bad work. Wish he could have gotten more for Wandy though, and Myers was a pretty good closer when he traded him away for nothing. I'd say all of the pre-2014 trades taken as one big lump trade looks pretty good though, if I was gonna give that a grade it would be a solid B

    Then there are a couple of big trades that came from the 2014 season or later that could be big in their impact

    Cosart, Enrique Hernandez (and his mom, damn his mom) for Moran/Marisnik
    ** Two sides have definitely formed over this deal and I still firmly sit on the keep Cosart side. With the emergence of Dallas and McHugh, going into this year with Cosart and those 3 at the top of the rotation would put us solidly in the wild card talk. Marisnik has the look of a great defensive OF, but whether or not he ever turns into a starting major league OF is 50/50 at best. Most see Moran as a potential league average type of 3B and not a guy with a huge upside. There is definitely a strong value to a guy like that, but personally i'd rather have Cosart here. This will be a very interesting one to watch over the next couple of years to see how it truly turns out. But damn, we never should have given up Enrique's mom

    Then the offseason trades....

    Out: Fowler and a lot of prospects..Ruiz, Folty, Thurman, C Perez, Trop

    A lot of arms gone and a 3B that seems to have a big upside

    In: Gattis, Valbueno, Straily, Conger

    While I do feel like we gave up top dollar in making these deals, I gotta say I love the fact that the major league team finally seems important. I love the deals for "now" as i'm ready to watch some major league baseball around here. Having said that, Gattis is gonna have to be a stud and one of those other guys, probably Straily, is gonna have to turn into a solid mlb contributor for these deals to look good in the end. With the word this week from Luhnow that we will likely see more of these type of deals, Luhnow's ability to make the right moves in deals like these will tell the story of our major league success over the next decade in my opinion

    Free Agency/Building a Roster

    Only grade that can be given here is incomplete. This year is the first year that they have actually tried to do this. I love the Lowrie signing, and think the Rasmus deal is one that has very little downside and a big potential upside. I was one of the ones who wanted a true proven closer to be signed, but probably can't blame Jeff for not getting that done as it seems he did everything possible to bring Robertson here the guy just didn't want to come. The Neshek/Gregerson deals were the best options that he had, will be interesting to see how those turn out.

    Bottom Line

    We enter Luhnow's 4th year with 4 of our top 10 prospects still coming from the Ed Wade era (Santana, Feliz, Velasquez and Hernandez) and our overall farm system ranking dropping from the top 5 in most people's rankings. Still a good system with a very important draft coming this summer.

    We also enter his 4th year with the first true mlb roster he has put together. It's an interesting mix as we could easily lead MLB in HR's, K's, 8+ run games and 1 or less run games. In the end we will likely be good enough to have the look of a true mlb team this year, but not good enough to really, legitimately be in the "playoff talk" as the summer wears on. Dallas and Colin will be the key to staying "in it" or painful regression


    The organization is obviously a lot better now than when he took over, but he hasn't taken full advantage of 3 first overall picks. It would almost be impossible to not be better than when he started. Building a 25 man roster is so important and we just don't know yet how he will be at that with this being his first real shot at it. I'm optimistic about the future of the franchise, but not 100% sold on the way the two guys at the top want to run it.

    Jeff Luhnow grade after 3 years: B-
     
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  2. Rocketman95

    Rocketman95 Hangout Boy

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    Nice write-up.
     
  3. samtaylor

    samtaylor Member

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    He will honestly be judged solely on what Correa and Appel do in the majors.
     
  4. Major

    Major Member

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    Disagree. If those two are awesome but the team sucks, he won't be a hero. And if those two suck but the team does well anyway, he won't be criticized.
     
  5. Joe Joe

    Joe Joe Go Stros!
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    50/50 at best for Marisnick be as starter? Considering he is likely starting opening day, I think you are exaggerating the odds downwards on him.
     
  6. bobrek

    bobrek Politics belong in the D & D

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    Outfield could very well be Gattis, Rasmus and Springer on opening day.
     
  7. Joe Joe

    Joe Joe Go Stros!
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    Could very well be. That said, still likely to see Marisnick opening day starter. Marisnick could flame out. Marisnick could also bat league average or better. Grossman is likelier to get first start in OF than Gattis, though Gattis likely gets some games there.

    I suspect Gattis will be starting elsewhere.
     
  8. awc713

    awc713 Member

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    I'm a big Luhnow fan, and I love his plan for this team. But you can't give him anything more than a C for his first 3 years.

    The Astros aren't just terrible, but we also somehow manage to constantly screw up PR and non-on-field related activities. It's embarrassing. Our team is getting better, but the organization has made countless painfully humorous mistakes.

    With that said, this year is pivotal for Luhnow. Our farm system is weaker, but I'm excited about this draft. Luhnow MUST kill this draft like he did with Correa's year. Otherwise, the rebuild will essentially be for nothing.

    I do like how trigger-happy Luhnow is. With a soon-to-be revamped farm system, I could see Luhnow making some really big acquisitions this year.
     
  9. Nick

    Nick Contributing Member

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    So, like the Beard said.... 50/50.

    They're definitely going to figure out what they have in him... too valuable defensively. I could also see Rasmus being shopped/moved if Marisnick sticks and Rasmus doesn't "hurt" his value.
     
  10. sealclubber1016

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    If Singleton hits, where else is there for him to play? Nobody likes him in LF, but there is no way they start Marisnick and sit Gattis. Now I don't think he plays every day there, I think they will super platoon DH/1B/LF/CF to make sure all 5 guys get fairly regular AB's, but him or Carter are gonna have to spend some significant time in LF, half the games at least until injury or ineffectiveness frees up 1B or DH.

    FWIW I am very big on Marisnick, he should end up starting 50% of the games in CF at least, but at this point getting Gattis in the lineup will take priority.
     
  11. Joe Joe

    Joe Joe Go Stros!
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    I expect Gattis to be a league average player if he plays LF. If Marisnick plays CF and is a better hitter than the worst CF last year, he will be a better than a league average player if his defense is anything close to last year with Astros. If Astros go with Gattis in LF, Rasmus would be the guy left out if Marisnick bats like second worst CF.

    That said, if Singleton hits, I don't expect Astros to break opening day with all three of the 1B/DHs.

    It hasn't shown at MLB level, but Astros appear to care more about defense, contact, plate discipline than most other teams in minors. Astros have mentioned more than once they are happy playing 3 CFs in Houston. Astros have also mentioned that it is unlikely that Gattis gets a lot of time in LF. Unless Luhnow was lying for no reason, I expect an OF of Rasmus, Marisnick, and Springer with Grossman likely being the biggest threat to those three.
     
  12. cangrejero51

    cangrejero51 Member

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    Our GM has made one thing clear, we have COMPETITION for ALL players this ST. I like the moves made, the only one not 100 percent sure is Cosart, because I really like him, but, If Marisnick is the real deal, then is a very good one, because getting a very good defensive cfer with power and speed, that is a dream on every team.
    I really like Valbuena and Straily, and i see the pitcher not as our number 5 but could be our number 3 at the end of the year.This year, with the competition, we are not going to be looking at Grossman, Dominguez or Singleton struggle for so long and nothing change. This year, if Singleton does not hit, then we have Carter or Gattis. We will have Grossman where he belongs, as number 4 or 5 outfielder. We have 6 or 7 starters fighting for 5 spots. I like where our team is right now, and again, the word is COMPETITION
     
  13. No Worries

    No Worries Contributing Member

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    I think that this will be certainly true for the casual fan.
     
  14. The Beard

    The Beard Contributing Member

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    Not by the masses he won't

    He will be judged by what the Houston Astros do at the major league level

    Now, if those two end up being All-Star level players we will have a much better chance of being great and if they both don't pan out it will be much tougher for us to be very good as a team

    But in the end, how the major league team does will be how he is judged
     
  15. sealclubber1016

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    This isn't the NBA, plenty of players end up being stars that weren't top 5 picks. Those 2 could flame out completely and we could still build a champion, although it will be harder.

    This is a real rubber meets the road year for Luhnow. Barring catastrophe I doubt he gets fired, but most of our best prospects are finally into the high minors, and most of the big league roster was acquired by him. I just looked at the 2012 draft and it looks insanely good right now. Of course none of these guys have done anything in the show so it could be terrible, but 3 years in and 8 of the first 9 picks all appear to have MLB futures.
     
  16. The Beard

    The Beard Contributing Member

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    While what you say here is true, a lot of the best talent we have wasn't acquired by Luhnow. He is certainly responsible for the great depth we have, but of our top 10 prospects 40% still come from the Wade era.

    And look at the MLB Roster, which looks to be greatly improved because of the depth of major league talent Luhnow has added...but our "best" players are still Wade guys

    I'll take a shot at the "most likely" starters

    C - Castro (EW) Conger (JL)
    1B - Singleton (EW)
    2B - Altuve (EW)
    3B - Valbueno (JL)
    SS - Lowrie (JL)
    LF - Gattis (JL)
    CF - Rasmus/Marisnik (JL)
    RF - Springer (EW)

    So for the everyday players, 4 Luhnow guys, 3 Wade guys and a likely platoon at catcher with one from each. BUT, almost everyone would say that Altuve and Springer are easily our top two players, both Wade guys

    SP - Keuchel (EW)
    SP - McHugh (JL)
    SP - Feldman (JL)
    SP - Obie (EW)
    SP - Straily (JL)

    So the rotation likely 3-2 Luhnow guys with a split of the two guys at the top of the rotation

    RP - Qualls - (Both, but JL gets the current credit)
    RP - Gregerson (JL)
    RP - Fields (JL)
    RP - Neshek (JL)

    So the main guys of the pen are all Luhnow guys

    Of those 18 main guys 11 are Luhnow guys and 7 are Wade guys, but a majority of the top level talent at the big league level is still guys acquired by Wade.

    Like his counterpart over at Toyota Center, there is no doubt Luhnow is good at acquiring mass depth of guys who are good. Just gotta hope he has a talent for picking out the ones who will be great.
     
  17. Major

    Major Member

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    Don't forget about Chris Carter in there as a Luhnow guy.
     
  18. The Beard

    The Beard Contributing Member

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    Yep, I guess all of those years in the NL still makes it easy to forget the DH spot

    Carter will be an interesting case this year, will he prove to be a top level talent hitting around 40 HR, or will he be a power guy who hits .210 and helps your team, but nothing special. If you look at him last year before and after the All Star Break, most people who think he hit a lot more HR after the break. Truth is, he hit 19 before the break and 18 after, but he hit .252 with a .338 on base after the break, if he could approach those numbers for a full season he would be an elite bat in today's game
     
  19. raining threes

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    I'm not worried about miising out on Aiken. They do have picks 2/5/32. Who is to say the 2nd pick this yr wont be better than the #1 pick Aiken last yr. For me if Luhnow can add 2 frontline #1 1's in this draft and a big bat this grade goes from a C+ to an A provided that Reed/Fisher/Davis become the players I think they can become. The ability is definitely there.

    Another plus is by passing on Aiken leaves a huge signing pool.
     
  20. juicystream

    juicystream Contributing Member

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    Would Keuchel have as much success if we didn't have Jeff Luhnow? I give so much credit to Brent Strom.
     

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