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Thread: 2016-7 Houston Astros Off Season

  
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    2016-7 Houston Astros Off Season

    The Astros do have things going on worth noting so without further ado let's take a look at some of the stuff Houston has going on.

    The Astros have begun the $19MM renovation to the center field area which includes bringing in the deep center field wall in to about where the warning track is now. Of course that means that the Park will be saying so long to Tal's Hill which was a predominant feature way back when the new stadium opened in 2000 and it was first called The Ballpark at Union Station. The site had been the old Union Station railroad station and that is why there is the train that traverses left field. The name of the park changed to Enron Field after the investment and energy company bought the naming rights later prior to the start of the season in 2000. It remained Enron Field until the year 2002 when the collapse of Enron Corporation because of scandal and controversy. The Astros had a 30 year naming rights deal with Enron but when the company went bankrupt the Astros sought to distance themselves from anything to do with Enron. After some legal hassle Houston bought out from under the naming rights deal for $2.1MM and from February to July of 2002 the stadium was simply named Astros Field. In June of 2002 Houston sold the naming rights to the Minute Maid orange juice company which is a subsidiary of the Coca-Cola Corporation for $100MM over 30 years and Minute Maid Park was born. It is affectionately referred to as "The Juice Box" because of this affiliation. The center field fence, which was the deepest in all of the big league parks will move in from 436 ft to 409. The three flag poles in center field, one of which was in the field of play will also be removed. It is slated to become a gathering area where people can stand and watch the game as an extension of standing room viewing in left center field. Here's a little more in depth look at what's going on with the Park from an article from Astros.com

    http://m.astros.mlb.com/news/article...ute-maid-park/

    The Arizona Fall League is underway and Houston's #29 prospect Ramon Laureano wins the first Player of the Week award for hitting .571 with two doubles, two triples, three RBIs and eight runs scored through the first week of games. That my friends if the textbook definition of scorching hot in baseball terms. This is the kind of slugger that Houston needs to fill some gaps in the lineup. Is he ready for a shot in the bigs? Who knows and Houston doesn't have to make that call until next February.

    The Astros just concluded the last sessions of the fall instructional camp for young prospects at their spring training home in Kissimmee Florida last Friday. The facility that has been the Astros spring training home since 1985, barring unforeseen issues, has closed the doors on Osceola County Stadium with an eye on moving in to their new joint facility shared with the Washington Nationals at a new ballpark called The Ballpark at the Palm Beaches in West Palm Beach.

    http://m.astros.mlb.com/news/article...-in-kissimmee/


    Don't forget to vote for the Esurance Baseball Awards while you can. Houston's own Jose Altuve is among 5 nominees for Best Major Leaguer. He is in a group that includes Boston's Mookie Betts, The Angels Mike Trout, Toronto's Josh Donaldson and Chicago Cubs' Kris Bryant. Altuve is also up for Best Hitter along with Bryant, Trout and Washington's Daniel Murphy and Boston's David Ortiz.
    George Springer is up for an award as well. He is in a group up for Best Play, Offense of the 2016 season for his 1st inning home heroics on June 24th against Kansas City. Springer led off the game with a triple and the Astros batted around and with the bases loaded he hit a grand slam. Springer became the first player in the modern era of baseball to triple and grand slam in the first inning of a game. Given his circus catches in right field I'm surprised one of Springer's 'web gems' isn't among the contenders for Best Play, Defense. Here's a link to the voting page in case you want to throw a little love to a couple of Houston's best.

    https://securea.mlb.com/mlb/awards/y2016/mlb-awards/

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    Re: 2016-7 Houston Astros Off Season

    Boy oh boy, are the Astros cleaning house. Not only are they doing away from Tal's Hill and renovating the center field area to expand the fan experience at the Juice Box they are going to have a completely new TV broadcasting crew. Bill Brown retired at the end of the regular season, or rather 3 days before the end of the regular season, when he did his final broadcasts in the final Astros home stand. Brown did not travel to Anaheim to do the final 3 games against the Angels. One of the guys who did do the Angels series was former Astros catcher and long time Astros broadcaster Alan Ashby but Ashby won't be returning in 2017. There has been no mention of what the status is of Geoff Blum who did road games with Ashby and he also did a few games in Houston with Brown. This will be a bit of a traumatic change much like the changes in the radio broadcast booth when Milo Hamilton retired a few years ago. Steve Sparks and Robert Ford. Geoff Blum filled in from time to time on the radio broadcasts as well. I wouldn't mind if Blummer is named the color man for the broadcasts because I think he does a good job. It's still going to be weird not hearing Brown do the TV play by play. After 30 years it will be just out of sync for a while.

    Dallas Keuchel, Colby Rasmus and George Springer has all been named finalists for the Gold Glove award. Congrats to all and I hope Keuchel and Springer win. It's not like I have anything against Rasmus but it would be weird for him to win when he is probably not returning to the Astros in 2017. Especially after the weird way he ended the season refusing to play in the last 3 weeks of the season. Maybe he didn't refuse to play, maybe he was benched because he wasn't hitting worth a darn and he didn't like it, but either way he looked like a guy who had already left the building.

    Mike Acosta‏@AstrosTalk Oct 14 The center field flag poles were removed today. Pictured is the U.S Flag pole about to be rested on the field. New poles go in next year.pic.twitter.com/tLlQZJlHtW




    Congrats to Jose Altuve who was named the Sporting News Player of the Year for 2016. He could win another bevy of awards and he's already wrapped up his 2nd batting crown in 3 years after finishing the season with a .338 BA which was 20 points higher than his nearest competition of a pair of Boston players, Mookie Betts and Dustin Pedroia. It should be noted that the last 10 winners of the SNPOTY award also won the MLB MVP award. That would be something if he won that one too!

    http://www.chron.com/sports/astros/a...f-10417103.php

    Astros bench coach Trey Hillman will have a new address next season. As a matter of fact he will have a new country of residence as he has been named the manager of SK Wyverns in the league in South Korea. In case you didn't know what a Wyvern is, it is a two legged dragon with a barbed tail. Hopefully Hillman will take 3rd base coach Gary Pettis and hitting coach Dave Hudgins with him.

    Last but not least is the Astros voided their prospective deal with Cuban pitching prospect Cionel Perez. The Astros voided the deal after an issue came up in Perez' physical. Prior to voiding the deal the Astros had offered Perez the largest deal offered to an international player of $5.15MM back in September. Just because the deal is voided doesn't mean the Astros have given up on Perez and deal could be worked out assuming the problem with his physical isn't a deal breaker. Or more of a deal breaker than it already has been.

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    Re: 2016-7 Houston Astros Off Season

    There has already been movement in the organization in the past week.

    1. Houston claimed Norrichika Aoki off waivers from Seattle.

    http://m.astros.mlb.com/news/article...i-off-waivers/

    2. The Astros pick up the option on Evan Gattis' contract. Gattis started the season as the backup to Jason Castro but by the end of the 2016 campaign Gattis showed he was an equal to Castro as a defensive catcher and much better as a hitter than Castro so he, in effect, became the starting catcher for the Astros. Castro is a free agent and while I have nothing against Castro I just think the Astros can do better. I have no problem with Evan Gattis being the starting catcher for the Astros next season.

    3. Veteran reliever Pat Neshak has been dealt to the Phillies for a player to be named later or cash. Neshak was due a $6.5MM roster bonus or the Astros could have bought out his contract for 500K. As it was, the trade was made and the Phillies paid Neshak his bonus. Neshak is 36 years old and he's been in the league for 11 years, the last two with Houston.

    4. Houston added minor league prospect Reymin Guduan to their 40 man roster yesterday. Guduan was slated to be minor league free agent had Houston not made the move. He is the Astros #27 prospect and he split time last season between AA Corpus Christi and AAA Fresno where he posted a combined 3-3 record with a 4.18 ERA and 2 saves. What Guduan brings to the table is he's a lefty, which Houston is in very short supply of, and he is a hard thrower. Since he is now on the 40 man roster he gets an automatic invitation to spring training and can compete for spot on the 25 man regular season roster.

    Houston's David Paulino was named one of the 9 top players in the Arizona Fall League All Star game.

    An article on Astros.com claims that the best is yet to come from Houston middle infield of Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa. Let's hope they are right! The website gives an outlook of what the opening day starters are next April. I can't say I agree with them but who knows. It's fun to kick the tires a little in the off season.

    http://m.astros.mlb.com/news/article...g-day-preview/

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    Re: 2016-7 Houston Astros Off Season

    The offseason awards are rolling in, mainly for Jose Altuve, but there are other Astros who have been recognized too.
    > George Springer and Colby Rasmus were one of 3 finalists for winning the Best Defensive Player of the Year for their position award for their position but both lost. The Yankees Brett Gardner won over Rasmus in left field and Boston's Mookie Betts won for Right Field over Springer. I didn't watch the Red Sox play much and on the awards show there was a strong case for Springer to win but the Baseball Writers Association of America who handed out the awards are predominantly in the northeast part of the country. Betts was good and I am definitely biases but I've seen Springer make too many plays to think Betts didn't get some yankee push to beat out Springer.
    One award Jose Altuve didn't win was Defensive POTY. That one went to Boston's Dustin Pedroia. Altuve did win his 3rd Silver Slugger Award and it goes right along with his 2nd batting title in 3 years. Earlier in October Altuve won 3 Player's Choice Awards, Major League Player of the Year, American League Most Outstanding Player and his second consecutive Majestic Always Award. That is in addition to being named the Sporting News Player of the Year. It's almost a shoe-in that Altuve will win the BBWAA MVP award when it, and the other major awards, will be announced next week.
    Altuve isn't the only one to win an award this offseason. Dallas Keuchel was awarded his 3rd consecutive Gold Glove award. This was a surprise to me considering that Keuchel missed the last month and half of the season with shoulder inflammation. It's nice to see the team getting some recognition.

    This article from Astros.com talks about how Houston could be big players in free agency this winter. The Astros declined to make qualifying offers to it's four free agents Jason Castro, Doug Fister, Colby Rasmus and Luis Valbuena. The options for these players are discussed in the article.

    http://m.astros.mlb.com/news/article...n-free-agency/

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    Re: 2016-7 Houston Astros Off Season

    The Astros said goodbye a short while ago to their bench coach Trey Hillman who took a job managing for a Korean league team. The coaching spot didn't stay vacant long as Houston managed to lure former 14 year veteran player, Alex Cora out of retirement--sort of. He's been coaching in his home country of Puerto Rico, even working with current Astro and fellow Puerto Rican, Carlos Correa last offseason. Here's the article about the hire from Astros.com. Now, if only the Astros would replace 3rd base coach Gary Pettis and hitting instructor Dave Hudgins.

    http://m.astros.mlb.com/news/article...s-bench-coach/

    In an interview GM Jeff Luhnow said the Astros "are open for business" meaning they are in the market to spend some money for some free agent help. I don't know if I truly believe him because the Astros have not been active in free agency since they signed Roger Clemons and Andy Pettit. That was years and several administrations ago. Since the Astros last big free agent push way back before the 2003 season Houston has only really dipped a toe into the free agent waters. They did absolutely nothing this past summer other than trading P Scott Feldman to the Rangers. In 2015 they went and did a deal to get OF Carlos Gomez with P Mike Fiers thrown in for their best hitting prospect at the time Brett Phillips and 3 other prospects in a deal with the Milwaukee Brewers. Fiers was the best part of that deal as he threw the first no hitter ever at the Juice Box in 2015 and he was a solid starter for Houston this past season. Gomez contributed little in his time in Houston. He stayed hurt most of the time and when he played he didn't offer much in the way of offense which is why Houston traded for him in the first place. Houston got sick of Gomez striking out and knocking himself down when he over swung at pitches both of which occurred all too frequently. So excuse me for being a little skeptical when Luhnow says the Astros are in the market for quality hitting in free agency. I just don't trust them to actually spend money on a player. We should know something soon because Luhnow said he hopes to have a couple of deals done prior to the beginning of the Hot Stove meetings on December 4th.

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    Re: 2016-7 Houston Astros Off Season

    I am so disappointed in the Astros. What I posted earlier about the Astros opting to go cheap in free agency is ringing true as they have signed veteran 33 year old pitcher Charlie Morton who missed most of 2016 due to a torn hamstring suffered when he was trying to lay down a bunt. In the American League he wonít be asked to do anything with a bat in a game unless itís interleague play. This guy has been in the bigs for 9 years all in the National League and he has posted a 4.54 career ERA and a 46-71 W/L record. Thatís just what we needed was a poor manís Doug Fister. Iím losing faith in Jeff Luhnow. Houston needs a front line starter because Dallas Keuchel had his season ended due to shoulder soreness and Lance McCullers keeps having elbow problems. I could easily see Lance as a Tommy John surgery candidate sooner rather than later. Instead the team signs another 5th starter. We already have that with Mike Fiers. The statement, ďThe store is openĒ is just another load of crap from the Houston front office.

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    Re: 2016-7 Houston Astros Off Season

    The Astros have jumped up and made some moves. Iím not sure if Iím happy about the moves they have made but make them they did.
    First the Astros made a deal to get C Brian McCann from the Yankees. It cost the team 2 prospects.

    http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2...s-and-reaction

    Just a short while after the McCann deal was done, the Astros signed free agent OF Josh Reddick to a four year $52MM deal.

    http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2...ments-reaction

    If you remember the Astros have already signed OF Norichika Aoki back in October and on Monday they signed P Charlie Morton. So, the Astros have replaced Doug Fister with Morton, for all intents and purposes they have replaced Colby Rasmus and Preston Tucker with Aoki and Reddick and they have replaced Jason Castro with McCann. Shopping list is complete. Or is it? Whoís to say if a superstar comes free that Houston wonít say, ďwhat the heck, letís go get him.Ē Weíll see.

    Jose Altuve became the first player in ages who won the Sporting News MVP award to NOT win the MLB MVP. That honor went to the Angels Mike Trout. Trout is good but he didnít have the year Altuve did. Not only that, but Altuve won the Playerís Choice MVP. This doesnít make sense to me, not at all. Not only that, but Altuve didnít even come in second place! That was Bostonís Mookie Betts. The extra little kick in the nuts was the fact that Altuve didnít even get a first place vote! Screw the Baseball Writers Association of America. The east and west coast bias is in full view, so all I have to say to them is best said by Eric Cartman.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MTc3zcnIZOw
    Last edited by eagle eye; 11-18-2016 at 02:24 PM.

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    Re: 2016-7 Houston Astros Off Season

    Just a quick note, the Astros have given former top prospect Jonathan Singleton his outright release from the 40 man roster to AAA Fresno. They also lost IF Nolan Fontana when he was claimed off waivers by the Angels. This frees up a roster spot that could enable the Astros from signing another free agent or make a trade if something tasty comes along. The Astros gave Singleton a 5 year $10MM contract when they brought him up from the minors a couple of years ago. Unfortunately, Singleton never lived up to the hype in the big leagues where he took striking out to whole new levels. He wasn't as big a King of the K's that Chris Carter was but he was definitely in the conversation. As a side note Carter joins the long list of Astros to move on to another team only to become much better than he was in Houston. This time around it was Chris Carter who was released after the 2015 season and was signed to a one year deal by Milwaukee where he had career numbers with the Brewers. He had 41 home runs on the season and 94 RBIs. He only hit .222 but his .321 on base percentage means he learned to take his walks. Carter also struck out 206 times but when you hit homers and drive in runs teams will forgive a strike out or 200. Here's a link from Astros.com that talks about the move to ship Singleton back to AAA.

    http://m.astros.mlb.com/news/article...s-clear-space/

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    Re: 2016-7 Houston Astros Off Season

    Damn, I didnít even realize the baseball playerís collective bargaining agreement was set to expire and on Mike and Mike this morning they announced a new agreement had been reached! The absolute best thing about the new deal isnít the fact there will be no strike, even though that is a very good thing, the best thing is they got rid of the ridiculous home field advantage thing in the World Series that was determined by the winner of the All Star game. It was such a lame, Bud Selig, thing to do to generate interest in the mid-summer classic. Home field advantage will go back to being decided by the pennant winner with the best record just as it should be. Hereís an article from Astros.com that has a brief outline of the new 5 year agreement.

    http://m.astros.mlb.com/news/article...ew-labor-deal/

    The acquisition of free agent Josh Riddick means that Houston will have a new center fielder in 2016. That new man in center is going to be George Springer and for his part he is looking forward to the position change. Hereís a look at what Springer feels about the Astros offseason and his new role on the team.

    http://m.astros.mlb.com/news/article...ork-in-center/

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    Re: 2016-7 Houston Astros Off Season

    The Astros have stuff going on even though itís December. They came to terms on a one year deal with Carlos Beltran worth $16MM. Bleacher Report said that Astros owner Jim Crane said that the Astros are done making deals for position players with the Beltran deal. Beltran was with the Astros in 2004 where he ignited the team into a Wild Card spot in the post season. He helped Houston finally get past the Atlanta Braves in the Divisional Round of the playoffs but the Astros were halted in the NLCS by the St Louis Cardinals. Beltran did set a then record of at least one home run in five consecutive playoff games. It was to no avail however as the Cards just had too much for Houston to overcome. Donít expect the same 2004 Carlos Beltran in 2017. In 2004 Beltran was 26 and in his prime but now at 39 he is just a shadow of that guy. The good thing is, that shadow of Carlos Beltran we knew from 2004 hit .295 with an OPS of .850 in 151 games. He hit 29 HRs and drove in 73 runs which are numbers that are better than the numbers of Jason Castro, Colby Rasmus, Jake Marisnick, AJ Reed and Preston Tucker combined. Beltran may not have the skills to play center or right field any more but he could play some left but his main value will be as a DH.

    That said, Houston is rumored to still be in the market for 33 year old Edwin Encarnacion who is a free agent most recently from the Toronto Blue Jays. Encarnacion is a DH/1B and he would fill a big need in the Astros lineup. If the Astros could get him it would make their lineup pretty formidable. Certainly much better than the one they struggled through the past season with.

    The Astros lineup projects like this:
    1. CF George Springer
    2. 3B Alex Bregman
    3. 2B Jose Altuve
    4. SS Carlos Correa
    5. RF Josh Riddick
    6. LF Evan Gattis
    7. DH Carlos Beltran
    8. 1B Yulieski Gurriel
    9. C Brian McCann

    The one area where Houston may not be done making deals is for a starting quality pitcher. Rumor has it that Houston is willing to make a deal for Chicago White Sox ace Chris Sale. The Tampa Bay Raysí Chris Archer is also on the Astros radar. Houston needs a quality starting pitcher because there has to be some concern over the shoulder issues Dallas Keuchel had that caused him to miss the last 6 weeks of the season not to mention the ongoing worry over Lance McCullerís elbow that caused him to miss the final two months of the season. I swear I believe McCullers is headed for Tommy John surgery, I just wish theyíd get it over with so he can move on with his career. I donít think it is very cool to have a guy who only is able to play half the season. If the Astros could land both Sale and Archer then we could ice down the champagne and print the World Series champs t-shirts right now.

    Speaking of contracts, the Astros have 7 players arbitration eligible that they tendered offers to last Friday. That was also the deadline for teams to make such offers to their A-E players. The next step will be to work out contracts for these players for 2017. It doesnít mean they canít come to long term deals with them it just means they need to get them under contract. Well, all but one as Houston came to terms on a deal with free agent signee Norichika Aoki for a one year $5.5 MM deal thus avoiding arbitration altogether. Once the deals are done with these A-E players the Astros total payroll with be on the north side of $100 MM for the first time since 2009.

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    Re: 2016-7 Houston Astros Off Season

    Right now the biggest offseason news is Jeff Bagwell's impending consideration for being voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Seven times his name has been on the ballot and seven times he has gone away disappointed. He has watched his best friend on the team, Craig Biggio, get his moment and he was the first Astro elected to the HOF in 2015. Last year he received 71.6% of the voters to agree he deserves to be in The Hall. All a player needs is 75% to be elected. No player who has received over 70% of the vote did not eventually get into the HOF, most in the year following such a high vote total. This is Baggy's year. You just have to believe it especially considering his numbers are HOF worthy and he put most of those numbers up in the cavernous Astrodome long acknowledged as a pitcher's ball park. The article linked below from ClimbingTal'sHill.com by Eric Huysman talks about all the reasons Bagwell DESERVES to be in the HOF.

    http://climbingtalshill.com/2016/12/...-hall-of-fame/

    The Astros signed Cuban pitcher Cionel Perez to a $2MM deal. This is after they signed him to a $5.15MM deal which would have cost Houston double that as they blew past their international salary cap so they would be levied a huge luxury tax as a result. The Astros voided the original deal after finding a problem with his elbow and they eventually resigned the player to the lower deal. The Astros are happy but Perez is really not saying he feels like he has been robbed by the Astros. Certainly not the best way to begin a relationship but for a poor Cuban kid the reality of that $2MM will sink in and he will bide his time for his next deal.

    Rumors, according to Bleacher Report, are that Houston has been in talks with the Detroit Tigers about a trade involving starting pitcher Justin Wilson coming to Houston. It is not clear what the Astros would be willing to give up is unclear but the Cubs are also said to be trying to work a deal for Wilson as well. So far this is only rumors.

    What has come to light is during the Winter Meetings Houston tried to make a deal for White Sox LHP Justin Quintana but the Sox wanted P Joe Musgrove, RHP Carlos Martes and OF Kyle Tucker. The price was just too high and the Astros moved on.

    Despite the fact that Houston has been pretty active in free agency this offseason they claimed after the Carlos Beltran deal they were done signing players. Things got clarified some when they said they were done pursuing position players but they would be open to signing a pitcher or two. Right now Bleacher Report says the Astros are interested in KC pitchers Yordano "Ace" Ventura, the 99 mph fastball hurler, and Danny Duffy. It's just talk to keep people warm during the winter.

    The Astros have signed C former Twins catcher Juan Centeno to a minors deal with an invitation to Spring Training. The deal was completed last night and is chronicled in this article from ClimbingTal'sHill.com.

    http://climbingtalshill.com/2016/12/...-to-milb-deal/

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    Re: 2016-7 Houston Astros Off Season

    The Astros have finalized their TV broadcast team for the coming season and beyond. Todd Kalas has been tabbed to replace Bill Brown, who retired after the 2016 season after 30 years in the TV booth all with the Astros, as play by play man. He will be joined by former Astro Geoff Blum who had been the color man on road game broadcasts over the last couple of years. Blum becomes the full time color man replacing long time Astros broadcaster Alan Ashby whose contract was not renewed this offseason.

    http://m.astros.mlb.com/news/article...tros-tv-booth/

    The first free agent the Astros signed this offseason was Japanese player Norichika Aoki. Astros.com is calling him the key to the Astros offseason. In the link below they will explain why but I'll steal some of the article's thunder by telling you the main reason is because he doesn't strike out. In the last half dozen years Houston has been the poster child for K's setting the record for futility in MLB history in 2013 with over 1,500 wiffs. The Astros have been rebuilding this team over the last six years and they have been trying to replace the K-kings with guys who know how to make contact. The Astros outfield has had some good defensive players but they haven't been able to a good contact hitter and that is exactly what Aoki is. The guy just doesn't strike out. Instead he makes you work to get him out by putting the ball in play. This could mean the end of Jake Marisnick's time in Houston. Marisnick is a terrific defensive player and he's been good for saving a lot of runs because of his speed to run down balls that has turned hits into outs and he has a terrific arm and he's gunned down more than his fair share of baserunners over the last couple of years. The issue with Jake is at the plate. He's barely a .200 hitter and he strikes out way too much. It he was a contact hitter he would probably better his batting average because of his speed legging out hits other guys could not. He would be a lot like Jose Altuve in that regard but, alas, that is not the case. Because he's good in the clubhouse and he is a great defensive player and because he is a very fast runner he could make the final 25 as a utility man but don't be surprised if Houston lets him go this coming spring.

    http://m.astros.mlb.com/news/article...r-busy-astros/

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    Re: 2016-7 Houston Astros Off Season

    Is it of any interest to you that Houston made a serious run to get Edwin Encarnacion? It was 3 year deal worth $66MM but Encarnacion ended up signing with Cleveland anyway for more money. It seemed as though the Astros lost interest in Encarnacion after they agreed to terms with Carlos Beltran. People in baseball are really loving this deal Houston made with Beltran even though he is a shadow of the superstar that kicked ass for Houston way back in 2004.

    There is report that Toronto 1B Jose Bautista is open to a one year deal. Houston has said they are done with signing offensive players but c'mon, Jose Bautista? You gotta take a shot at this guy don't you? As of today he is still unsigned but it is being reported by Bleacher Report that Bautista and the Blue Jays are in active discussion about a deal. That doesn't mean squat. I am actively in love with Jennifer Lawrence but I have absolutely no shot with her under any condition. Take the bull by the horns, as it were, Houston. I would rather have an embarrassment of riches rather and a player short, wouldn't you?

    Here's a link to the holiday greetings from Dallas Kuechel who began throwing last week. As well as the page with a bunch of other items from Kuechel's twitter account. You'll need to scroll down a bit to get to him throwing. It looks like he had been working hard prior to his throwing session going by how much he was obviously sweating.

    https://twitter.com/kidkeuchy?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw

    From the feature, "Climbing Tal's Hill" website comes a look at what the role will be for Evan Gattis in 2017. He had a breakout season of sorts as he claimed the starting catcher's spot and produced at the plate. Gattis is still a young player and he needs to be in the lineup regularly IMO. If the Astros didn't have shit for a hitting coach that could help the players who strike out too much there could be some super stars in this lineup already. BTW, now that Tal's Hill is a thing of the past what is this website going to call itself?

    http://climbingtalshill.com/2016/12/...role-for-2017/

    The sun has broken through and the rain is gone and darned if it didn't all happen when I looked up the spring training schedule! Right now the only clouds in the sky are white fluffy ones and they are way off on the horizon. What was a total shit day is down just gorgeous and it all seemed to clear up when I started looking at baseball stuff. Just so you know it is just six weeks and 2 days before pitchers and catchers show up at the Astros brand new spring training facility they share with the Washington Nationals in West Palm Beach Florida. Dates for when the Nats report is still TBA although it can't be too far removed from when Houston arrives. What that means in a little over a week after the Super Bowl players will report to spring training and baseball season will officially begin. Nice.

  14. #14
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    Re: 2016-7 Houston Astros Off Season

    I guess that since my football season got kicked in the nuts over this past weekend I can start looking elsewhere for some small modicum of comfort. Yeah, the Texans and Cowboys screwed the poor old pooch and now Iím left trying to figure out who I want to go on and win Super Bowl LI in Houston in early February. All I know is, of the 4 remaining teams in the playoffs I absolutely donít want the egg sucking Steelers to win it all. Iím sick and tired of people drooling all over Aaron Rodgers so screw the Packers. The Falcons are not a hateful team and they have only been to the big dance one time and they lost. I am also a poetic justice man and it would be a hoot if Roger Goodell had to hand the Lombardi Trophy to the Patriotís Bill Belichick and Goodellís favorite whipping boy Tom Brady. I have at least narrowed down by finalists to reach the Super Bowl. Atlanta finally puts an end to Aaron Rodgers and the Packers. Good riddance, go home cheese heads. The Patriots stomp a mudhole in Steelers. So my hope is after next Sundayís games we will have a Falcons-Patriots Super Bowl. Okay, now thatís out of the way letís talk baseball.

    Today, of course, is January 16th in the year of our Lord 2017. What that means is that spring training is less than a month away. There has been some news over the last few days so letís get you up to date.

    Houston has avoided arbitration on 3 of 7 eligible players. Dallas Keuchel, George Springer and Jake Marisnick have all agreed to one year deals. Mike Fiers, Colin McHugh, Marwin Gonzalez and Will Harris are all in negotiations with the Astros hoping to avoid arbitration. With the 3 that have signed I donít think there is any reason why a long term deal canít be worked out but whether thatís something the Astros would want to do is another matter. If Iím the Astros GM I want to have a sit-down with all three individually so I can lay my cards on the table.
    To Keuchel Iíd say, ďDallas, you are the top of our pitching rotation but we want to see if you have any lingering issues with the shoulder injury that shut you down last season. I hope you understand itís hard for us to commit to a long term deal with you until that issue has been resolved. At any rate, we have a deal for 2017 and there is nothing stopping us from talking long term deal later in the season.Ē
    To Springer Iíd say, ďGeorge, we love you and we are glad to have avoided arbitration. We would love to start talking about a long term deal but right now we feel you are not where we want you to be as a hitter. You have elite player skills in the field and you show elite player tendencies at the plate but, George, you just strike out too much to be considered an elite player. We need to see you improve in much the same ways Jose (Altuve) has improved over the past few years. We want you to cut down on the Kís and increase your OBP by working more walks. We would like to see a 2 strike approach of not swinging for the fence so much as focusing on making contact and use the whole field. We know you can do this George, when you are in your zone that is exactly what you do. We know itís in there we just want to see it on a more consistent basis. It will probably cost the team more money in the long run because if you do these things weíre asking you to do we will be paying you elite player money.Ē
    And finally, to Jake Marisnick Iíd say, ďJake, Jake, Jake. We love you man. You are great in the clubhouse, youíre a helluva defensive player and you have a canon for an arm. Not only that but you are fast as greased lightning which makes you a dangerous player on the bases and in the field. But, Jake, you strike out way too much for us to depend on you as an everyday player. We need you to cut down on the Kís --- a lot. We want you to focus on being a contact hitter. Use the whole field and make the other team play defense against you. If you do that then you will even get some cheap infield hits like Jose (Altuve) does. Put the ball in play and let your speed carry you the rest of the way. Weíve seen you have the ability to use the whole field and we love the fact that you have displayed some good bat control but you have got to cut down on the strike outs. Do that, raise your BA 50 points, and you will make filling out a lineup card every day a real difficult because you will have earned the right to expect to play pretty often if not every day.

    So, here is the article from Astros.com about these arbitration eligible players.

    http://m.astros.mlb.com/news/article...gree-to-deals/

    The Astros plan to invite 18 prospects and veteran players to spring training next month. Here is the article from Astros.com listing these additions to the spring training roster.

    http://m.astros.mlb.com/news/article...vites-to-camp/

    Itís time to cross your fingers because the final voting for the Baseball Hall of Fame is this week. The reason you cross your fingers is because Jeff Bagwell stands a real chance of finally making it to Cooperstown. This will be Jeff Bagwellís 7 year of eligibility for the HOF and if history of the voting means anything this should be Baggieís year. Hereís an old article from November of last year by SIís Jay Jaffe touting Jeff Bagwellís credentials for the HOF. HOF voting is Wednesday.

    http://www.si.com/mlb/2016/11/30/

  15. #15
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    Re: 2016-7 Houston Astros Off Season

    4 days ago my son's wishes came true. Since he was a little boy Jeff Bagwell was his favorite player. And just like kids do he emulated Baggy all the way down to his unusual batting stance. My son could hit the ball too hitting like that. He didn't have the power of Bagwell but he hit for a pretty good average and he even jacked one out in little league (11-12 year olds). Over the last six years watching Bagwell climb up the ladder toward getting the necessary 75% of the BBWAA votes needed. Baggy came excruciatingly close last year garnering 71% of the 75% of votes needed for HOF induction. Bagwell got 315 of the 330 votes needed to enter the HOF. No player who had gotten 70% or more but less than 75% failed to enter the HOF so it seemed a foregone conclusion that Baggy would make it in 2017. Weird things happen to Houston franchises though so I wasn't all that confident this was going to be Bagwell's year. It is a pretty sparse induction class with just 3 players Bagwell, Tim Raines and Ivan Rodriguez entering the Hall along with the most gutless BB commissioner ever, Bud Selig and legendary baseball executive John Schuerholz, the first GM to lead a team from both leagues to a world championship. He was GM of the 1985 Kansas City Royals and he was GM of the 1995 Atlanta Braves. Here's a link to ESPN.com that talks about Bagwell's induction. It's a really nice article.

    http://www.espn.com/mlb/story/_/id/1...lose-hall-fame

    The only person I really have a problem with getting into the HOF is Selig. He tries to hang his hat on being the first commissioner to institute random drug testing in baseball but it wasn't all that great an accomplishment. You don't want me to go on about all the gutless, crappy things Selig did. The one thing that I hate about Selig is when Jim Crane bought the Astros from Drayton McClain a few years back one of the conditions of the sale to get approval from the MLB league office was to accept a move of the Astros from the National League, where they had been since their inception as the Colt 45's, to the American League. One NL team needed to move to the AL to make a balanced schedule. Before Houston's move to the AL the NL had 16 teams and the AL had 14. To create a balanced schedule an NL team had to move. Selig decided the sale of the Astros was the perfect opportunity to strong arm a new owner into the move. The most logical source of the team move was the NL Central which had 6 teams. Along with Houston and Milwaukee there was St Louis, Chicago Cubs, Pittsburgh and Cincinnati. If you look at those teams it was most logical to move the Brewers. They had been in the AL from their inception in 1969 until the move to the NL in 1998. The only reason I can fathom why the Brewers moved to the AL was because they were getting pounded by the rest of the AL but it was in the AL in 1982 that the Brewers made their only World Series appearance with future HOF players like Robin Yount and Paul Molitor. Every other team in the then NL Central were life long National League teams and it just made sense to move the Brewers. Selig didn't want to move and he forced the Astros to swallow the move and even though I am sort of grateful considering the Cubs and Cardinals are the class of the NL Central the move was still a chicken shit thing for Selig to do.

    In a sad note, Kansas City Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura was killed this morning in a car accident in the Dominican Republic. Ventura, the fireball throwing pitcher for KC, was only 25 years old.

    http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2...dies-at-age-25

    Astros Of Preston Tucker had a lousy season in 2016 and a lot of that is attributable to a bad shoulder which required surgery to repair about 4 months ago. In an article from the Houston Chronical Tucker claims his about 95% completely healed but he has yet to do any baseball related activity. He is scheduled to do a follow up visit to his doctor around the first of February and he expects to be cleared for all baseball activity. That would only give Tucker about 2 weeks before the start of spring training and it is still up in the air as to whether or not he can join the team from day 1. The offseason additions of Josh Riddick and Nori Aoki will make earning a roster spot very difficult. He may be better off in AAA anyway as he fully recuperates from his surgery.

    The Astros and P Mike Fiers have agreed to a deal for one year for $3.45MM and thus allows the Astros and Fiers to avoid arbitration. The final number is exactly half way between the $3.9MM Fiers was asking for and the $3.0MM the Astros were offering. This leaves just three players that are still arbitration eligible, P Collin McHugh, P Will Harris and utility man Marwin Gonzalez. Fiers went 11-8 with a 4.48 ERA in 31 games (30 starts) for the Astros last year, allowing 187 hits and striking out 134 in 168 2/3 innings. He'll compete for a spot in the rotation this year with newcomer Charlie Morton, Joe Musgrove and Brad Peacock. If McHugh, Harris and Gonzalez can't come to an agreement with the Astros by the end of the month their cases will go to a 3 man arbitration hearing who will decide if they side with the player or the team for the final salary number. I would expect something to get done soon because all three players are key pieces to the Astros team this season.

    Finally, here's a video from Astros.com where new catcher Brian McCann talks about being confused with new team mate Evan Gattis.

    http://m.mlb.com/hou/video/topic/887...fest/?c_id=hou

    Okay, one more video. This is Jeff Bagwell joining MLB Network to talk about how he played 1B.

    http://m.mlb.com/hou/video/topic/213...base/?c_id=hou

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