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Thread: Astros 2017-18 Offseason

  
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    Astros 2017-18 Offseason

    The Astros have had a somewhat busy offseason so far.
    For one thing, they lost some catcher depth when Juan Centeno was outrighted to AAA just before Thanksgiving and he was claimed off waivers by the Texas Rangers. Centeno played some meaningful games during the past season and might have been in consideration for a promotion to backup catcher but the Rangers will now benefit from his services.
    Mike Fiers was the only free agent not offered a tender offer by last Fridayís deadline. Fiers led the Astros in innings pitched in 2017 and he and Brad Peacock carried the team in June when 4 starters were on the DL. He struggled the rest of the year and, in particular, he allowed a bucket-load of home runs in every month not named June.
    The Astros have committed to Cionel Perez the Cuban pitcher by adding him to the 40-man roster so he will be protected in the Rule 5 draft. Keeping Perez helps ease any heartache the Astros may have had not tendering an offer to Mike Fiers.
    Questions about the additions of at least one more super-star to the Astros roster have been going on since the final out of the World Series. Well, maybe not that quick but, the talk has been out there. First the talk was about Giancarlo Stanton of the Miami Marlins. Stanton is not a free agent, in fact, heís signed through the 2028 season which means the only way to get Stanton is via a trade. Iím sure the Marlins want a gold mine for Stanton plus Stanton has a no-trade clause in his contract and for any deal to go through he would have to sign off on it. The Astros took years building their franchise to the point where they won a World Series and Iím sure they are not going to trade away anyone in the core group of players or sell out their farm system to pay a player like Stantonís salary when they have a group of guys who will be wanting a deal of their own soon. Players who mean a whole lot more than a free agent from Miami.
    The other guy in the conversation has been Japanese phenom Shohei Ohtani. This guy is a double threat guy because not only can he be a top of the rotation type of starting pitcher with a high 90ís fastball but he also can hit. In 65 games in the Japanese Pro Baseball League Ohtani hit .332 with 8 HRís. At 23 years of age the guy who recorded the fastest pitch ever in Japan a just over 102 mph has eliminated Houston as a potential landing spot. Houston shouldnít feel bad because before the Astros struck out so did the Yankees and the Red Sox. Itís being reported that Ohtani wants to go to a West Coast team because it is physically closer to Japan.

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    Re: Astros 2017-18 Offseason

    Life just got harder for the 2018 Houston Astros. Earlier in the week the Angels of Los Angeles signed the most prized free agent of this offseason by inking Japanese star Shohei Ohtani. The Angels will use him as both a starting pitcher and as a DH. Ohtani is definitely a dual threat player who can pitch into the 100 mph range and he hit over .330 in the Japanese Nippon League over the past two seasons. That makes winning the division that much harder because now the Angels have two superstars in Ohtani and, of course, Mike Trout.

    Speaking of bookend superstars, the Yankees have agreed, in part, to terms for a trade that will send IF Starlin Castro and several minor league prospects to Miami in exchange for NL MVP Giancarlo Stanton. Holy crap! You mean to tell me the Yanks have Aaron Judge AND Stanton now?! I guess the Red Sox are duly pissed at the Yankees good fortune. BTW, were you aware that NY has a new General Manager? Yep, the Yankees got a new manager in former player Aaron Boone and their new GM is also a former player. Maybe you've heard of him, Derek Jeter. You might poo-poo the move claiming it's just a PR move and Jeter will be just a figurehead and you could be right but I doubt it. He's also seen a lot of talent up close and personal as a player and I think Jeter is a great choice even though he has no previous experience.

    Both Ohtani and Stanton were associated with the Astros, mostly by the local media, but you wonder how serious the rumors were. Ohtani made it clear he wanted to play on the West Coast after turning down both the Yankees and Red Sox so Houston was never really in the running. Stanton's humongous salary ($265 MM over the next 10 years) was probably too rich for Jim Crane's blood. The Yankees on the other hand have more money than Hershey has chocolate and it was nothing to absorb Stanton's boatload of cash. I think that is how New York started getting called "damn Yankees".

    Astros players are busy this offseason making PR appearances all except Dallas Keuchel who is walking around in a supportive boot after spraining his ankle at, of all things, the victory parade after their World Series win. After a couple of TV spots you are not seeing much of Justin Verlander but it's not hard to figure out he is on an extended romantic honeymoon with his new wife Kate Upton and honestly, can you blame him?

    It's weird but I thought the afterglow of winning the World Series would have cooled off by now but it really hasn't. Not that I'm complaining.

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    Re: Astros 2017-18 Offseason

    Who is in the camp that feels that the biggest weakness on the Astros is the bullpen? Lots of folks would say they are given the struggle by the bullpen the final 5 weeks of the season. It seems that Houston management felt the same way and they haven't exactly been sitting on their hands lately.

    The Astros signed reliever Joe Smith, he of the career ERA just under 3. He's been in the bigs since 2007 and this past season he spent with the Blue Jays and Cleveland during their playoff run.

    https://www.mlb.com/astros/video/ast...h/c-1870034783

    The Astros also signed former Cubs closer Hector Rondon to a two year deal. Rondon had a down year in 2017 but if he bounces back like he should he will be a great addition to the bullpen.

    https://www.mlb.com/astros/news/astr...al/c-263614846

    It doesn't stop there, Houston also attained Anthony Gose in the Rule 5 draft. Gose had been with the Astros as an outfielder who had a very strong arm. This past season the Rangers turned Gose into a pitcher who throws in the upper nineties. What's even better is he's left handed and Houston is lefty poor. Gose' addition is the 40th man on the 40-man roster. He will have to be on the active roster all season or he will go back to the Rangers. In the article below they discuss Gose and at the end some other additions and losses in the major and minor league Rule 5 drafts.

    https://www.mlb.com/astros/news/astr...ft/c-263537546

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    Re: Astros 2017-18 Offseason

    The Astros front office is still making deals this offseason. Even at Christmas time Jeff Luhnow and his staff are busy as Santa's elves. Unlike the deals that has upgraded their bullpen the latest move has cost them a top prospect with little to show for it. The Astros made a deal with Atlanta sending OF prospect Preston Tucker to the Braves but they are only getting the infamous player to be named later or cash considerations. Tucker has spent time on the Astros big league roster but he had his struggles with big league pitching. He has been very good at AAA Fresno and he was likely going to Spring Training to try to earn a spot on the 25 man roster. In fairness, Houston has a well stocked farm system including Tucker's little brother Kyle who is really a better prospect than Preston is. You would have thought Luhnow would have pressed for more than they got for Tucker. All you can say is good luck and God speed.

    The article linked below is from Bleacher Report and it talks about two prospects that could, and probably should, be on the Astros radar. It seems that the Miami Marlins are on yet another roster purge that essentially began with the trade of Giancarlo Stanton to the Yankees. This isn't the first time Miami has had a fire sale but, if i'm not mistaken, it is the first one that isn't coming off a World Series victory. The fans of the Marlins have to be scratching their heads over this latest purge because it seemed like Miami was a player or two away from another postseason run. The BR article below goes into detail about the players currently still under contract with the Marlins and how it could be possible to get one or both of them. Just so you know, the article says Houston should pursue OF Christian Yellich and C JT Realmuto.

    https://climbingtalshill.com/2017/12...-two-big-fish/

    BR is also reporting that Houston is slated to meet with former Rangers and Dodgers star Yu Darvish. The Dodgers acquired Darvish at the trade deadline and he helped the Dodgers reach the World Series. He struggled in his two starts against Houston as the Astros went on to beat them 4-3 in the World Series. Darvish has already met with the Cubs and that meeting is said to have gone well. The Cubs already have a big free agent to sign in starting pitcher Jake Arieta. As you get into the meat of the article it appears everyone is pursuing Darvish and it was basically a waste of time read. I'll let you judge because the article is linked below. What have you got to do anyway? It's only Christmas time?

    https://www.fanragsports.com/heyman-...rvish-tuesday/

    It is being reported that Houston is still interested in signing Tampa Bay starter Chris Archer.

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    Re: Astros 2017-18 Offseason

    The 'hot stove' has cooled off quite a bit but the Astros still need a player or two to improve their roster going into the 2018 campaign. As the saying goes if you don't get better you get worse. Houston has made a couple of moves to shore up the bullpen and it will be interesting to see who gets the old heave-ho this spring. One thing about the bullpen additions, none of them are lefties and Houston desperately needs a quality left hander in the bullpen. Tony Sipp is not the answer and I don't believe Francisco Liriano is either. Neither player is currently signed. Reymin Guduan has potential but he was pretty bad in AAA and the big club and there doesn't seem to be a left handed prospect to hand your hat on. For all the good the Astros front office has done to build this team the only lefty worth a damn on the roster in Dallas Keuchel. The article linked below is from Bleacher Report that talks about a potential free agent, Tony Watson, that could fill the bill for Houston quite nicely.

    https://calltothepen.com/2017/12/30/...main-priority/

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    Re: Astros 2017-18 Offseason

    As the Astros Caravan travels around the state basking in the glow of the first World Series title, the Astros front office continues to ignore the cold by heating up their pursuit of talent upgrading an already potent team. The latest move came yesterday when it was announced that Houston had completed a deal to obtain yet another starting caliber pitcher. In a deal struck with the Pittsburgh Pirates Houston obtained RHP Garrit Cole. Cole was the Pirates #1 pick in the 2011 draft and he's a hard throwing pitcher with a fastball that averages in the mid to upper 90's and has been clocked as high as 102 mph. Cole's career has been uneven even when he has been healthy. Adding yet another #1 pick to the Astros roster is not a bad thing and it has been shown that Astros Pitching Coach Brent Strom has been very good for this pitching staff. Dallas Keuchel has remarked how important Strom has been in his development and every member of the Astros staff credits Strom with helping them get better. Brad Peacock had a career year as a reliever and a starter. World Series Game 7 hero Charlie Morton had a huge resurgence after missing all of 2016 with a torn quad. Even Justin Verlander credited Strom for tweaking his off speed pitch to make it effective and that's just working with him over the final month of the season.

    The Astros didn't have to give up the kitchen sink to get Cole but there are a couple bathroom sinks missing. The Astros had to let Joe Musgrove and Michael Feliz go, both important to the Astros down the stretch, and IF prospect Collin Moran and OF prospect Jason Martin. Losing Musgrove may have been the most hurtful loss in the deal. He struggled as a starter but he embraced his role coming out of the bullpen and he did a very nice job for the Astros. Below is a link to the article about the deal from Astros.com.

    https://www.mlb.com/astros/news/astr...es/c-264677578
    The Astros rotation now features Dallas Keuchel, Justin Verlander, Lance McCullers and Charlie Morton as Gerrit Cole joins a very formidable group. There is depth in that rotation as Collin McHugh and Brad Peacock would certainly be ready to step up if needed. Last season at one time in June Houston was missing four of their 5 starters with Dallas Keuchel, Lance McCullers, McHugh and Morton all missing time due to injuries. Having McHugh and Peacock in the bullpen and ready and able to step up should give AJ Hinch a warm and fuzzy feeling heading into opening day 2018.

    Jeff Luhnow has done a nice job of adding quality pieces to the bullpen and starting rotation. The only thing he hasn't done is find a quality lefty for the bullpen. Right now the options are Tony Sipp (booooo), Francisco Liriano (not bad down the stretch) and Reymin Guduan (has potential but actually sucked for the Astros), and prospects Anthony Gose and Cionel Perez. Nobody who really gets you fired up.

    The questions remaining are, will Houston go after a catcher or a left fielder or are the Astros happy with Brian McCann and Evan Gattis behind the plate and Marwin Gonzalez going from utility man to starting outfielder. Can you think of a stronger lineup top to bottom than Houston's? I can't. Marwin has emerged as a quality every day player who can hit and pairing him with Josh Reddick and George Springer with Jake Marisnick backing them up looks pretty strong from my seat. Up the middle you have Altuve and Correa who are money and you have Yuli Gurriel and Alex Bregman at the corners. Both players had their first full season in the bigs in 2017 and both have proven themselves when it counts. Bregman is young and the sky is the limit as his work ethic and love of baseball will set him up to be a great player. He's already pretty darn good. Even though Gurriel is 33 he could conceivably play at a high level for at least another 3-5 years. The Astros are poised to make one of those epic runs some teams make through history. Teams who are right in the conversation for contention for a World Series title. It's been a long time coming but Houston will remain more than relevant until it comes time to pay these young players. Altuve and Correa are going to command outrageous salaries and so will Bregman, in my opinion. Somebody is going to sell the farm to pay George Springer too. Houston hasn't, in the past, been a team who shells out a lot of cash for players but, then again, they haven't had the players they have now. Let's enjoy the ride folks, we've waited far too long in line for a ride like this. Go Astros!

    BTW, did you know players report to spring training in less than a month! Hell yeah!!!

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