Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Astros County Roundtable: June 17 Edition

We at AC have decided to give any readers out there small a window into the inner-workings of the AC offices.  Once a week, we meet in the AC Boardroom, get Betty and Cynthia to hold all calls, and discuss pressing issues, such as the Constable discussing the gossip from the Nashville Academy Awards after-parties, and which brand of premium vodka that we need to buy him for Christmas.  We sometimes even get to talking about the Pressing Issue of the Week.  The results of the discussion for this week are below.

The Pressing Issue:  Name two moves that you would like to see happen prior to the Trade Deadline.

Batguy:  First of all, I'm horrible at this type of thing.  The only time I've ever been close to predicting a roster move was when I guessed Jason Castro's call-up date in a contest here at Astros County.  The prize was supposed to be a t-shirt, but somehow The Constable conscripted me to start writing here instead. I feel like I got hosed twice on that deal, but anyway...

First, I'd try to move Scott Feldman.  With the emergence of Keuchel and McHugh and the near-ready status of some of the guys in Oklahoma City, I think the role Feldman was supposed to fill is unnecessary now.  Looking at teams that could use a solid, veteran starter, I'd target Cleveland, a team that's in the AL Central race despite having the 5th worst starter ERA in the majors.  I think getting a small package including LHP Sean Brady, the Indians' 5th round pick in 2013, and 2B/3B Joe Wendel would be good assuming the Astros eat some of Feldman's salary.

2nd, I'd do something, anything, with Jesus Guzman.  It would take a decent hot streak to generate any kind of trade interest in him, but maybe we could get trade him to Ruben Amaro, who I'm sure is convinced his Phillies are just one more overpaid, unproductive veteran away from charging up the standings, for a PTBNL who ends up being Jesse Biddle because his Palm Treo autocorrected from Jesen Dygestile-Therrien when he sent the list of players to choose from to Luhnow.

Masked:  Firstly, I am also bad at this, as you are about to see.  For example, I am not even going to mention Guzman or pr0FF3ss0r_F4rnsw0rth below.  Secondly, I can't see the Astros getting much value for Feldman, plus he was our Veteran Signing for the offseason and has a big contract, so he ain't going nowhere.  What I am going to suggest happening to Feldman isn't going to happen either, but perhaps worthy of consideration...

With a number of the Astros rotation struggling to eat innings at the moment (looking at you, McHugh, Feldman, and Peacock), the 'pen clearly needs two long men.  I would like to see the fifth starters spot turned into a revolving audition for guys from Oklahoma, including Oberholtzer, Owens and David Martinez (who are on the 40-man) then (perhaps later) Nick Tropeano, Mike Foltynewicz and Jake Buchanan, who aren't on the 40-man.  How I would create the space is to send Paul Clemens down (and perhaps rotate him through like some of the others above) and move Feldman to the long-relief spot.  Jerome Williams gets a stay of execution by virtue of his rubber-armed-ness.  But if he continues to struggle, then I imagine the Astros will abandon him on a road trip by saying the charter flight leaves an hour later than it actually does.

Second, lets bring up Preston Tucker, and plug him in to LF.  Left has been a black hole for the Astros this season, and if it can be filled and Castro heats up, then Short becomes the only remaining real black hole.  Tucker is 24, so it isn't like he is far from being the right age for debut anyhow.  Tucker, a left handed batter, isn't on the 40-man, so what I would do is get what you can for Presley, and make Grossman the fourth outfielder.  Fowler, Springer, Grossman and Sipp (ha!) can all play both CF and RF, so perhaps worth a look...

(Not Hank):  It would be far to easy to say I'd like to see the return of Albers and the appearance of Crain, with the corresponding roster move of getting rid of Williams and possibly pr0FF3ss0r_F4rnsw0rth.  What am a saying?  I love easy.  That's my answer. 

Cockroach:  Jesus Guzman is dead roster weight, whom I strongly believe is only still on the team due to his opposite-handedness from Jonathan Singleton.  As of the time of typing this, Guzman is dead last in SLG (.284) among all position players Houston has used this year, regardless of sample size.  But in Singleton, the Astros now have an everyday first baseman, so there's no need for a righty/lefty platoon pairing anymore.  Of course you still need a backup, but I'd rather give Chris Carter the occasional field day and use Guzman's roster spot on someone more useful than keep Guzman around at all.  In his place, I'd take a flier on some waiver claim and give them a 2-3 month audition in the backup role; they really can't do much less than Guzman has.  Failing that, I'd say left-handedness be damned and bring back Marc Krauss.  Or get creative and call up Max Stassi, carrying three catchers; besides Carter, Marwin or maybe Jason Castro could be used as an emergency 1B in a pinch.

And because sometimes the best roster moves are the ones you DON'T make, what I hope NOT to see is the Astros trade some prospect(s) in exchange for any star player or mid-level veteran in an attempt at grabbing for a playoff spot sooner than later.  There was some chatter from national reporters in recent weeks that Carlos Gonzalez could be available, and could make sense for Houston.  NO.  There was some sentiment before the season that the Astros should make a run at David Price, or before last season that they should go after Justin Upton.  NO, and NO.  Sure, the team has been playing better of late, and they're almost unbelievably "just" 6 games out of the second AL Wild Card right now.  I'm as eager as anybody to see our boys make it back to the playoffs; the last three years have been hell, and don't we deserve it?  But IMO, this current team doesn't have any holes that can't be filled by guys already in the system (except maybe 1B2), and after waiting this long to see the guys we've got now, I'd rather wait a little longer for the Foltys/Wojos/Correas/Santanas to join them.  Rather than making some ill-advised McLane/Purpura-esque grab for immediate MLB name recognition, because I believe that waiting on the young guys will help us be better for longer than any quick-fix vet could earn us right now.

The Constable: I'm shamefully late to the party here - unfashionably late - but I'd like to be the voice of the knee-jerk reaction and see Robbie Grossman out and Domingo Santana up. I feel like we are waiting on the Robbie Grossman who killed the ball with a BABIP north of .400 in a stretch last season to show up, and there's not a whole lot to indicate that it's going to happen.

And while I wholeheartedly agree that Jesus Guzman needs to go - unless we're forgetting the possibility that he is a Clubhouse Guy and they're keeping him around for his biting sense of humor and charming tendency to leave really sweet Hallmark cards in lockers during games - I'm going to bail on that and say that Jonathan Villar is frustrating to watch, and I don't want to watch him anymore. Yes, he got two hits last night and *almost* hit a go-ahead homer. But I feel like being a 12-year old and not providing any solid statistical evidence. It's just what I want.