Saturday, December 10, 2011
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's David O'Brien says that he thinks Carlos Lee makes sense for the Braves, if the Astros are willing to eat more of his salary.
Peter Gammons tweets that CEO George Postolos has re-energized the entire Astros organization, and he was blown away by Luhnow powerpoint. It's a long,long climb, but it's begun
Jon Heyman says the Astros will have interest in Ryan Theriot, if he's non-tendered by the Cardinals.
Friday, December 9, 2011
No offense to Rhiner Cruz specifically, but I spent the entire 2009 season watching him close for Savannah, the New York Mets full season A affiliate and never felt the need to actually scout him. At the time, Cruz was 22 and lived off a bit of a funky delivery and a fastball which topped out at 92. With a fringy little slurve, it was enough to keep lower level hitters off balanced, but not an arsenal that would translate well at the big league level...
The Angels and Rangers are so far out in front of the Athletics, Mariners and Astros (their AL West rivals beginning in 2013) that those clubs can't delude themselves into pretending to be contenders. The Athletics need the San Jose money more than ever, the Mariners may have to re-assess keeping Felix Hernandez out of any trade talks and the Astros will long for the good old days of the friendly NL Central.
This seems silly.
"I’m working to get back to the major leagues, and I think I’m as close as I’ve ever been. My agent and my wife and I talked about my desire to come back to the majors, that it’s still a goal. There will still be a need a year from now for a left-handed pitcher."
Van Hekken threw 129.2IP for OKC in 2011, allowing 152H/49ER, 111K:47BB, for a 3.40 ERA/1.54 WHIP. He has a career 122-86 record in 14 minor league seasons, with a 3.94 ERA/1.35 WHIP, and a 2.51 K:BB ratio.
I'm honestly sorry to see him go.
Still, it frees up a rotation spot at OKC, so we'll see where the rosters shake out, but it could bode well for Cosart, Oberholtzer, Clemens, etc.
The issue in those talks is that the Tribe would need the Astros to assume more than half of Lee's salary. To take on a contract in the range of $7-9 million for 2012, the Indians would have to move salary in another trade.
For God's sake, do it.
Indians GM Chris Antonetti:
"We were able to further some of the discussions and dialogue that we had on both trades and free agents. Hopefully that's led us closer to a deal that will allow us to improve the team."
Gonzalez is a 22-year old 6'1" 186lb switch-hitting infielder who came up in the Cubs' system. In six seasons, he has 1973 PAs, with a .258/.305/.352 line, 272K:116BB.
In 2011, he split time between Double-A Tennessee and Triple-A Iowa, hitting a combined .288/.343/.400, with 48K:33BB (465 PAs).
Red Sox GM Ben Cherington:
"Yeah, we took him on behalf of the Astros. There was a guy in the minor league phase we wanted to take higher and so it was simply we took a guy for them in the major league phase and they took a guy for us in the minor league phase.”
If there's anyone in baseball who can turn around the moribund Astros in relatively short order, I trust Luhnow as much as just about anyone to find a way. Make no mistake, this is very bad news for the Cardinals. Under Luhnow's stewardship, the Cards have seen their minor league system go from among the worst in all of baseball to a top seven, maybe even top five system despite never having the chance to draft within the top ten.
Luhnow will make things better . . . because they can’t possibly get worse in Houston. Whether he can build a juggernaut remains to be seen. Either way, the rebuilding process won’t be dull.
hearing good things about new astros gm jeff luhnow. "eminently qualified," 1 person said. was w/ champion cardinals.
Cardinals GM John Mozeliak:
"I'm glad they're moving to the AL West."
Then I saw the tweets roll in that the Angels had spent the GDP of 46 countries to sign Albert Pujols. And then C.J. Wilson. And I got mad. I wrote a one-word email to some friends, and I bet you can guess what that one word was.
But then I started to think objectively. A future division rival has just committed $327 million to two players who will not be worth it towards the end of their contracts. Before the realignment mess, I was hoping that the Cardinals would over-commit to Pujols, because it would hamstring their payroll. So the Angels did it, instead.
Will Pujols out-produce his contract? Maybe. Seven of the ten players on Baseball-Reference to Pujols are Hall of Famers. And the other three are Ken Griffey, Juan Gonzalez, and Manny Ramirez; and Griffey is definitely a HOFer. Seriously, just take a second and look at Pujols' B-R page. It's insane.
C.J. Wilson is a different story. C.J. Wilson's similar players through age 30 are Joe Page, Paul Lindblad, Joe Price, Ray Narleski, Grant Jackson, Bob Chipman, Dave Hamilton, Fred Scherman, Don Mossi, and Ricky Horton. Exactly.
I don't know about the Angels' financial flexibility, but with paying Vernon Wells for three more years, and Jared Weaver through 2016, it's unlikely they'll be adding too terribly much in the future (not that they necessarily need to.) But they've just committed to Albert Pujols until 2021, and C.J. Wilson through 2017.
That said, where we should be concerned is through an existing AL West war. If the Rangers answer the Angels' moves by signing Prince Fielder, or...I don't know who's left, but if the Rangers answer with their own high-splash signing, it's not good for the rebuilding Astros. Should this happen, and the Angels/Rangers are looking like the US and Soviet Union in the late 1950s and the Astros are, you know, Bermuda, where the fallout will be terrible if shots are fired, it's a bad position to be in.
Luckily for us, after six hours, Jeff Luhnow looks like a freaking genius.
Ultimately, this makes the most sense...for one more year. We're at the stage in the off-season where you're about eight weeks late on making managerial moves. So Luhnow will roll the dice on Mills. And I'm okay with that.
Duarte is a 25-year old, 6'2" 185lb RHP, spending all five of his professional seasons with the Rockies' organization. In 2011, he played in the Triple-A Mexican League with the Diablos Rojos del Mexico, who finished 63-40, tops in the North Division, and led the team with 12 wins.
He made 23 appearances - 19 starts, going 12-4 with a 4.94 ERA/1.76 WHIP. In 109.1IP, Duarte allowed 139H/60ER, 93K:53BB, with 13 wild pitches. In five seasons, Duarte is 26-17, with a 5.07 ERA/1.56 WHIP, and a 2.63 K:BB ratio.
Cruz is a 25-year old, 6'2" 205lb righty from Santo Domingo. In 2011 he pitched in both High-A and Double-A Binghamton. At Binghamton, Cruz threw 58.2IP (36 appearances), allowing 43H/27ER, 51K:39BB, for a 1.40 WHIP. In seven minor-league seasons, Cruz has compiled a 3.44 ERA in 340IP, with a 1.44 WHIP. He doesn't have much in the way of command, walking 5.5 batters per 9 innings, with 40 wild pitches and 43 HBPs in those 340IP.
Mets GM Sandy Alderson said of losing Cruz:
There was a certain amount of buzz about Cruz and we did expect that he probably would be taken. He's got a very good arm, hasn't had great command during his minor league career...
Jeff Luhnow became a polarizing figure in the Cardinals front office. Many old-school baseball guys bristled at his new-age thinking.
His willingness to tap unconventional resources – stat guys, bloggers, baseball outsiders with oddball theories -- drove some folks nuts.
Luhnow became one of Bill DeWitt Jr.’s favorite employees. His ascension to player development czar and the resulting turmoil drove general manager Walt Jocketty from the organization.
But Luhnow got results, both through the amateur draft and international signings. While the Cardinals quickly assembled a small army of prospects that helped them win the 2011 World Championship...
...Now Luhnow he moves on to the mammoth challenge of rebuilding an entire organization. He is brimming with confidence and ambition, so the fun is about to start in Houston.
That's just a snipped of the article. Click the link for the whole thing - well worth a read.
The national response to this hire has been mostly positive, an unusual phenomenon for recent Astros moves. Obviously time will tell, but so far it seems that Crane and Postolos have the organization turning back towards a place of respectability.
"Congratulations to the Astros on getting the right guy at the right time. Luhnow resurrected a struggling Cardinals farm system when he arrived in 2003. The Cardinals had the last ranked farm system at the end of the 2004 season and today have a mid-range ranking, despite big league promotions of impact players to the World Championship team and using some as trade material for Holliday. Everything changed for the organization when he took over both scouting and development, smoothing these two usually at odds groups was a brilliant move. I’m sure whoever he puts in place in Houston will follow a similar philosophy.
He’s a very rational guy who seems able to balance both the sabermetric side of things with the “art” of scouting; at the very least he can get people from both sides of the spectrum to co-exist. He seems to understand the value of his prospects, which should help at the one facet that is really a question mark, how will he do when it comes time to sell off some pieces to make a move. The Astros are still a few years away from this really being a big problem, and in that time they will only get better and more stocked at the early levels.
As a Cardinals fan I’m very sad to see Jeff go because I think he has had as much, if not more, to do with the World Series we just won than any other member of the Cards front office. You’re in good hands Astros fans and who knows, you may even end up with Colby Rasmus before it’s all over."
He's athletic, he's a major league-caliber defender right now, and his speed and defense could buy time for his bat to develop. One scout compared him to Dewayne Wise, whose long big league career started when he was Rule 5'd back in 1999.
BA also says that talk pretty much stopped when Luhnow was hired, and nobody has any idea what the Astros will do with their two open roster spots.
However, Subber10 - the Juvenile Court Clerk's counterpart at TCB says:
the dude is SOOO raw, I don't see him lasting the full season on a 25 man roster.
"Jeff has a demonstrated the ability to inspire and motivate staff in the front office and out in the field. He was born and raised in Mexico and his bicultural background will be an asset in recruiting players from Latin America and developing the Hispanic market for Los Astros."
Luhnow, 45, graduated from the Wharton School of Business at Penn, and had been with the Cardinals since 2003, overseeing their drafts since 2005.
Derrick Goold writes:
A pet project of his has been increasing the Cardinals' ability to evaluate and sign players in the Caribbean, and two of the Cardinals' top prospects — pitcher Carlos Martinez and outfielder Oscar Taveras — have been products from that system.
Here's a 2008 interview between Luhnow and Baseball Prospectus. And here's another interview from 2004.
The Cardinals' minor league affiliates have posted a 2953-2912 (.503) record in Luhnow's tenure as Draft Overseer, including a 920-803 (.534) record in the past two seasons. Just for comparison, the Astros' affiliates have a 2583-3113 (.453) record in the same span, and a 697-956 (.422) record over 2010-11.
Luhnow - who has a difficult name to make a nickname of - is the 4th general manager of the Astros since 2004.
Wednesday, December 7, 2011
TALE OF THE TAPE!
Buehrle: 32-year old lefty
Wandy: 32-year old lefty.
Let's keep going (career)...
How about the last three seasons?
The point is, for the past three years, Wandy and Buehrle have been two very similar pitchers. Buehrle is getting a deal that pays $14.5m for the next four years, while the team that trades for Wandy is getting a similar pitcher for $12m/year for the next three years.
Ultimately, Buehrle's deal is going to skyrocket Wilson's asking price, which means that the team that wants Wandy is going to deal with a franchise motivated to move him, with a friendlier contract than expected 20 minutes ago.
And Jon Paul Morosi says yes. Sort of. Of Lee, whom Morosi says the Astros will pay half his contract:
The Indians are a fit, but wary of cost.
Well hell! If the Astros are going to pay $9.25m for Lee to not play for them, they might as well pay $10-11m.
Also, Morosi says Wandy won't move until Wilson, Buehrle, and perhaps Gio Gonzalez find a home.
Royals Assistant GM J.J. Picollo
Dodgers Assistant GM Logan White
St. Louis' VP of Player Procurement Jeff Luhnow
Colorado Assistant GM Bill Geivett
Cincinnati's Scott Nethery
Thanks, But No Thanks
Texas' Thad Levine
Chicago's Rick Hahn & MLB's Kim Ng
*So did Dodgers Assistant GM Logan White. White interviewed in 2007, when the Astros decided to hire Ed Wade.
*The Tigers were interested in trading for Wandy Rodriguez, but aren't happy with the price tag.
They were approached at some point with the idea of trading for Houston's Wandy Rodriguez, according to sources, but while there was some limited interest, the idea died quickly.
*The Marlins, however/of course, are interested in trading for Wandy. They seem to be more interested in Gio Gonzalez, but it's likely that Wandy wouldn't cost as much. But since the Marlins are printing money underneath their new stadium, it may not matter.
Tuesday, December 6, 2011
With the price tags for Michael Cuddyer and Josh Willingham proving high, the Indians are looking to trade for a right-handed hitter to help at first base and/or in the outfield.
Alright. Michael Cuddyer was apparently offered a three-year $25m deal. Willingham is also looking for a three-year deal.
Hey. Wait. Perhaps they'd be interested in Carlos Lee, who "plays" first base and/or outfield. And can be had for half of his 2012 salary - or about $9.5m - but at one year.
The Indians are said to be interested in dealing from their bullpen, which I'm not sure matches up with the Astros' needs, but it's a starting point...
The rebuilding could continue this offseason if the Astros can find a new GM to coax someone into taking first baseman Carlos Lee and/or lefthander Wandy Rodriguez off the books.
About the best Astros fans can hope for is that the team lands some prospects who can spark their interest enough to not completely forget about this team.
-2012 Opening Day 1B is Carlos Lee, unless Brett Wallace beats him out of a job in Spring Training.
-Jimmy Paredes' transition from 3B to SS is "unlikely."
Mills says, via Stephen Goff that Angel Sanchez, Brian Bixler, and Anderson Hernandez are your internal candidates for SS1.
Zach Levine says that the bullpen coach position won't be in place until after the GM is hired.
On Mills getting a computer:
He learned how to file scouting reports on line, how to do spreadsheets. Along the way, Mills became increasingly comfortable with statistics and analysis. He began compiling his own database, which he has married with an affinity for video study. Before making out a lineup, Mills would make it his business to know if Clint Barmes was 13-for-27 against that day’s starting pitcher (Paul Maholm) or 1-for-18 (Matt Cain). He would look for the matchups that set up best for his relievers, though such nuances don’t tend to pay as many dividends for teams that are going 56-106 and shedding payroll along the way.
On one hand, awesome. Mills played matchups. On the other hand, I'm worried that the County Clerk would do about the same amount of statistical preparation for a game preview than Mills did in filling out a lineup.
Basically, my feelings are exactly 50/50 on Brad Mills. He seems like a nice guy. Campbell did bring up the "Why did Jason Michaels get so many ABs" question (click the link), and for that reason alone I feel as though he is unfit to use Baseball-Reference.
How does this make you feel?
Keppinger played 10 games in 2010 at SS for the Astros. But before you start getting ideas, heed Baggarly's warning (not that you didn't see this with your own eyes):
He isn’t a utility infielder and his value is rather narrow. There’s a reason he hasn’t played much if any shortstop since 2008 with the Reds. He looked pretty wooden at second base, too.
The Astros have tried to interest the Red Sox in pitchers Wandy Rodriguez and Brett Myers, but have been told the price for both s too high. Houston would probably take some money back on Myers, who is due to make $11 million in 2012.
I'm guessing that Brett Myers wouldn't be overly thrilled about playing at Fenway since, you know, he reportedly said, "I don't ever want to pitch in Boston again."
Royals Assistant GM J.J. Picollo interviewed for the GM position last night.
The Astros will pay half of Carlos Lee and Brett Myers' salary in a deal, but want a prospective team to take all of Wandy's salary.
Andrew Friedman's rejection of the Astros "is in no way a reflection on the Houston organization," say the Rays.
Alyson Footer explains, in detail, what the Astros are looking for in a GM.
Monday, December 5, 2011
So I guess that means Johnny Damon is, in fact, full of crap.
I have to admit, I felt a little flutter in my heart when Friedman hadn't said yea or nay about coming to the Astros. Now it's all black, all fear, all anguish.
Matchmaker, matchmaker, make me a match!
Hearing #Rays GM already has decided against taking Astros job.
This is not good news for the Whooping Cranes, who now may find themselves without Friedman, and turned down by Thad Levine, Kim Ng, and Rick Hahn. Maybe it was inevitable, and we shouldn't be surprised, but it's still - for now - disappointing.
“I haven’t even talked to them just because our GM [Andrew Friedman] is a free agent. He’s not going to sign me and then leave. If he goes to Houston, his hometown, he’s going to try and bring me along with him. That’s where my waiting game is.
Again, your options are:
1. Johnny Damon is full of crap.
2. Johnny Damon is telling the truth (and, with a case of El Presidente "securely strapped to a cart," he may very well be) and Andrew Friedman is seriously considering to the point of telling Johnny Damon that he may have a job in Houston.
-They're willing to eat most of Carlos Lee's contract.
-They expect to get a good return from Wandy and Myers.
If you're wondering how much money the Astros should be eating to get rid of Carlos Lee, you're thinking about it wrong. It's not your money, and saving $3m (this means the Astros would still pay Carlos Lee $16m to not play for them) is better than wasting $19m. Still, how much would you expect the Astros to take on, should they be able to find a taker for Lee?
Scott Nethery (CIN)
Jeff Luhnow (STL) (Interviewed)
Bill Geivett (COL) (Interviewed)
(Via Evan Grant):
A.J. Preller (Texas)
Both have been integral in the Rangers' rise to two-time defending AL champs. Both endorsed the club tear-down from the top that took place with the trades of Mark Teixeira, Kenny Lofton and Eric Gagne in 2007.
(Via Rosenthal and Morosi):
Gerry Hunsicker (TB) - The club reached the postseason in five of his nine seasons, and sources say he would embrace a return to Houston.
A.J. Preller (TEX)
Dan Jennings (Florida/Miami) - Was denied permission to interview for the Orioles’ GM vacancy by Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria.
All of the above, and then...
Peter Woodfork (MLB) - He's a Theo Epstein disciple, having worked under him with the Boston Red Sox.
J.J. Piccolo (KC) - As the assistant GM of the Royals who oversees both the player development and scouting departments, Picollo has plenty of experience listening to a variety of opinions.
Jeff Kingston (SEA) - Kingston worked with Kevin Towers in San Diego before being hired away by the Mariners.
Billy Eppler (NYY) - Eppler interviewed recently for the Angels' vacant opening and is considered a solid candidate to be a GM in the future.
Logan White (LAD) - White's in charge of amateur and international scouting for GM Ned Colletti. In 2007, he interviewed with the Astros before Wade was hired.
De Jon Watson (LAD) - The head of player development with the Dodgers, Watson interviewed for the Orioles' vacant GM position in October before withdrawing.
Al Avila (DET) - The assistant GM of the Tigers, Avila is more of a veteran scout, in the mold of Colletti, but he has a very good track record.
Allard Baird (BOS) - If the Astros find themselves looking for a veteran GM not named Hunsicker, Baird could be their guy.
Obviously the quotes for each candidate are not the entire quotes, and you'll just need to click the source link for the full version.