Showing posts with label Winter Meetings. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Winter Meetings. Show all posts

Thursday, December 10, 2020

Friday Morning Hot Links

So the Winter Zoom Meetings came to an end on Thursday. The Astros lost Jose Alberto Rivera to the Angels in the Rule 5 Draft, as well as outfielder Drew Ferguson to the Mets and catcher Chuckie Robinson to the Reds in the minor-league phase of the Rule 5 Draft.

Rivera will be 24 in 2021 and is coming off a 2019 season in which he threw 75.2IP, 61H/32ER, 95K:36BB, but is most notable for throwing 102mph. He has to stick on the Angels' active roster for the whole season or be returned to the Astros. Prior to 2020, I would not have thought it possible to make it on an MLB roster for the entire season after having never been above Low-A. But who knows. The Angels paid $100,000 for Rivera, and if he gets DFA'd or sent to the minors, the Astros have the opportunity to get him back for $50,000. James Click said the Rule 5 rules mean that there's a good chance they get him back, and they needed the 40-Man Roster flexibility:

If we've added Rivera, we'd obviously be down to one [roster spot], and we've got quite a few holes on the roster to be filled. So we anticipate additional roster changes over the course of the season and had to balance the need for those roster spots over the next couple months with the ability to protect a player like that. 

Ferguson was the Astros' 19th Round pick in the 2015 Draft and hit .281/.395/.440 at Round Rock in 2019. Chuckie Robinson was the Astros' 24th Round pick in the 2016 Draft and hit .217/.276/.324 at Corpus in 2019.

The Astros also picked up pitcher Joe Record in the Minor-League Phase of the draft, and pitcher Seth Martinez. Record was the Twins' 27th Round pick in 2017. He threw 55IP in 2019 - his professional debut - between Low-A and High-A, posting a 5.07 ERA/1.27 WHIP, with 68K:16BB. 

Martinez, 26, was Oakland's 17th Round pick in 2016. In 2019 Martinez threw 71.2IP, 50H/20ER, 74K:18BB, 2.51 ERA/0.95 WHIP.

*James Click told Chandler Rome that the word for this offseason is "Patience."

If immediately we have not addressed some of the areas that we have identified as needs, that doesn't mean we're not looking to do that later in the offseason. We're going to have that patience and make sure that we wait until we get to Spring Training - or maybe even a little bit into Spring Training based on previous winters - to assess this roster and how this offseason has gone.

He also said the Astros are still engaged in talks with representatives for both George Springer and Michael Brantley. Click here for McTaggart's un-paywalled version of the Click conversation.

*The Athletic's Eno Sarris predicts that the Astros sign catcher J.T. Realmuto to a 4yr/$85m deal this offseason.


Adding Realmuto to an infield that includes Alex Bregman, Carlos Correa and Jose Altuve could be a masterstroke, particularly if a lack of competing offers suppresses Realmuto's contract requirements.

He also predicts Springer to the Mets for 5yrs/$110m. 

*If you look at FanGraphs' Depth Charts for 2021, you see the Astros are projected for a .545 win% - 88-74 - or the 3rd-best record in MLB (and the top team in the AL). I don't know how FanGraphs is doing this, but I'm not going to question it. 

*Yahoo's Tim Brown wonders whether the 2021 season will start "on time."

*Great news: Gary Pettis and his world-famous windmill will return in 2021, following his bout with Multiple Myeloma.

*SI: The Hall of Fame must act with more urgency, before it's too late (RIP Dick Allen).

*I acknowledge that the Houston Texans exist and hooboy this SI article on chaplain-turned-GM(?) East Jackerby. 

*I am adding "This is Branchburg" to my very skimpy podcast queue.

*The incredibly-true story of Renting A Friend in Tokyo.

*An Italian man had an argument with his wife and then walked 280 miles to "clear his head."

*"Xmas or Bust:" The Untold Story of National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation.

*Leeds United v West Ham at 2pm Central Friday.

*A pre-Musical Selection: I'm obsessed with Kent Nishimura's YouTube channel:

*The Musical Selection for today, which came from a movie my kid watch a few weeks ago, and hasn't been out of my head since. So you can have this happen to you:

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Wednesday Morning Hot Links

Well there's some movement on a lot of fronts. Let's try to run it all down.

*Chandler Rome writes that the Astros' moves in July are impacting their December. Hinch:
We're trying to be just as creative and just as aggressive at the needs that we have, but you've got to find a dance partner if you're going to make a trade. You've got to find a free agent that's ready to sign. You've got to evaluate your own talent to see who can fill from within.

I can't comment on what our budget is, and that number is something that Jim and I discussed. We're clearly going to be in territory that we've never been in before. But we feel like with the resources available to us, we can accomplish the goals we need to accomplish. Any bigger moves would require some sort of trade to free up the payroll space. But those are things that are also part of our consideration.

*Jim Crane is confident in the Astros' nucleus. Crane:
I think anybody can do the math on where we're at. We've got a few holes. We need to sign a catcher, need a few arms - bullpen, maybe a starter. When you look at those ingredients and look at where we're at, more than likely that will put us over the luxury tax.

This would be the first time the Astros have been over $208m - the cutoff for the financial penalty, which would be a 20% tax from $208m-$228m, and a 32% tax from $228m-$248m.

*Ken Rosenthal reports from "sources" that the Astros have considered trading Carlos Correa. Rosenthal:
No deal appears close, and the timing might not be right for such a move, considering that most teams are set at shortstop and Correa's trade value is down. But at some point, the Astros will need to make difficult decisions, and Correa might be the odd man out...A trade of Correa might help the Astros address their pitching shortage at a time when they want to sign center fielder George Springer to a long-term deal, sources said.

Let's be clear: the Astros have parameters in place to trade you and I, and the mustache guy, and every single player, should the conversation come up. That the Astros "have considered" trading Correa means absolutely nothing, other than that they have contingency plans on contingency plans.

That said, these dudes are saying that there is framework in place for a Correa (and possibly Reddick) swap with the Reds for Luis Castilo.

*Lance McCullers is apparently ready for Spring Training, and the Astros are looking at 100-120IP out of him in 2020.

Between Gerrit Cole and Wade Miley, the Astros are looking to replace 379.2IP from the 2019 rotation.

*The Astros are going to have to bid against the Rangers, Tigers, Rays, and Pirates for Robinson Chirinos, the last living catcher.

*Chandler Rome has a story on the most uncomfortable 19 minutes of the Winter Meetings - A.J. Hinch's press conference regarding the sign-stealing scandal. Hinch:
If I was in your shoes, I would be on the other side of this table, and I would want to ask questions and find answer and get some more information on the investigation and all the allegations and things like that. I know you're probably expecting this, but I can't comment on it.

Hinch promised to talk about day.

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts indicated that, if the allegations against the Astros are true, then it represented an attack on the integrity of baseball.

Related, Yahoo's Tim Brown: Mike Fiers - hero or snitch? He interviewed some people:
"Heroic," said one current American League West player. "Takes big nuts to call bull-- on people and stand there and take the heat that follows. I admire that.

"Freakin' punk-ass bitch," said a former Astro.

"Mike Fiers?" said a current Astro. "Then give back your ring and your World Series share.

*Jeff Passan is reporting that the Yankees are in agreement with Gerrit Cole. It's apparently 9yrs/$324m, an AAV of $36m. The Astros were one of Mark Feinsand's "mystery teams" (and Joel Sherman's) in on Cole, apparently. The Astros will get an extra pick in Comp Round B in 2020.

11 years after getting dropped like 3rd Period French by Gerrit Cole in the draft, the Yankees finally got him. Chandler Rome, on Gerrit Cole's legacy in Houston.

In just two seasons, Gerrit Cole left his mark on the Astros' record books. He's 19th all-time in franchise history in fWAR (13.4). He has the highest K/9 among any Astros pitcher in a career (13.13) as well as the highest K/9 in a single season (13.81 in 2019), the 4th-lowest ERA for a starter (2.68), 3rd-lowest FIP for a starter (2.67). Cole is one of four Astros pitchers to strike out 300 batters in a season. He set the Astros' single-season strikeout record in 2019, with 326. Cole is one of ten Astros pitchers to record 20 wins. Hinch, on Tuesday prior to Cole signing with the Yankees:
I had a very heartfelt conversation with him following Game 7 of the World Series. I'll cherish his words that he said to me whether he returns to our team or whether he goes on, but those are some big checks being talked about around the league, and I'm not writing them.

We were truly blessed to watch Gerrit Cole pitch in Houston for two seasons and I'll never understand how he didn't get a ring. Cole was eight outs away from winning a ring (in the bullpen) in 2019 and apparently getting those final eight outs was what sent him to New York. A friend told him, "When your primary goal is to win a championship, it doesn't matter where you sleep." Andy Pettitte was instrumental in Gerrit Cole signing with the Yankees.

Bob Nightengale is ready to print some "Yankees: 2019 Winter Meetings Champs" shirts.

ESPN's Alden Gonzalez: What will the Angels do now after losing out on Cole? Well, I'm not sure, but I'm guessing the answer is "Waste the prime of Mike Trout's career."

*There's apparently an All-MLB team and some Astros are on it.

*They lost the biggest New Jersey high school football game ever played. Can one agonizing defeat destroy a life?

*Magnus Carlsen, the best chess player of the last decade, is on the verge of topping the fantasy (English) football table.

*A Musical Selection:

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Wednesday Morning Hot Links

Everything is simply whispers.

*Jeff Luhnow is looking for pitching, but likes what he sees in the organization. Luhnow:
We are looking at both short- and medium-term deals for pitchers. That being said, I think a year from now we'll know a lot more about Corbin Martin, we'll know a lot more about Forrest Whitley, and we'll have a better sense on James and Valdez, and it could be we don't have an issue a year from now. 

*Yep, looks like Collin McHugh is back in the rotation. Forrest Whitley and Corbin Martin will be in Major League camp.

*Mark Feinsand reports the Astros are "engaged with" J.A. Happ and Lance Lynn.

*Hinch, on the rotation:
I get asked a lot about the rotation because we lost McCullers to injury and Morton and Keuchel to free agency. Time will tell how those gaps are filled. We do have some internal guys, including McHugh and Peacock, who have done it before, and Josh James and Framber Valdez came up and did well. And you talk about the prospects that were in Double-A - Corbin Martin, Forrest Whitley, Cionel Perez made his Major League debut last year. Those are easy names to rattle off. 

*Meanwhile the Astros "have interest" in Michael Brantley.

*Speaking of corner outfielders, here's Luhnow, on Kyle Tucker:
Kyle has all the ability in the world, and he will do it, but when things come easy to you in the Minor Leagues, sometimes you just expect that in the big leagues. He'll be fine. I have a lot of confidence in him.

*Nelson Cruz is deciding between the Rays and Twins, and the Astros appear out.

*Eno Sarris went gamblin' and asked baseball people about the early odds.

*Scott Fowler rang Rae Carruth's doorbell. This is what happened next. *Here is a cursed video of Tyler Bauer earnestly singing/rapping:

 *Wash your ears with today's musical selection from Ocean Colour Scene, one of my favorite bands of all-time:


Monday, December 10, 2018

Monday Morning Hot Links

*The Winter Meetings start today. Will the Astros do something? Maybe! Possibly not!

*Jake Kaplan has ten thoughts on the Astros as the Winter Meetings get underway. Among the names bandied about: Arizona's Robbie Ray, St. Louis' Jose Martinez, Nelson Cruz, Daniel Murphy.

*It doesn't look as though Houston is in on Japanese LHP Yusei Kikuchi.

*The Boston Globe's Nick Cafardo reports that the Astros have checked in with the White Sox on Jose Abreu.

*Jon Heyman said the Astros were dangling J.B. Bukauskas and Cionel Perez to Arizona for Paul Goldschmidt.

*Buster Olney has an Insider-Only piece that tells us:
-The Astros have competition looking for a starting catcher in the Dodgers and Mets.
-The Astros were not seriously involved in chasing down Nate Eovaldi, but it seems as though the Astros are more interested in upgrading the rotation via trade (meaning Kluber or Bauer or Syndergaard or Greinke).

*The price tag for Kluber or Tyler Bauer is said to be "very, very high." And why not? Also, I feel that if the Astros acquire Tyler Bauer it will be solely to troll me, personally.

*If you want Robbie Ray - a 27-year old lefty with 601 strikeouts in 460IP and a 3.89 FIP over the last three years, with two years of team control remaining - the price tag is pretty high.

*The Padres are interested in Marwin. Any team with a brain and/or a pulse should be interested in Marwin.

*Alyson Footer writes about the two-day women's inclusion conference hosted by MLB.

*Todd Kalas stays winning.

*Sunday Night Baseball games will be an hour earlier next season.
*Harold Baines' similarity scores on B-Ref are Hall of Famers Tony Perez (1), Al Kaline (2), Billy Williams (4), and Andre Dawson (5). His election to the Hall of Fame significantly helps Jeff Kent, Carlos Beltran, Dale Murphy, and Edgar Martinez.

*If this Irish woman and her husband, a 300-year old Pirate Ghost, can't make it then what hope do the rest of us have?

*A musical selection:

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Sunday Morning Hot Links

*Happy Winter Meetings Eve!

*Chandler Rome writes that the Astros are keeping their hands close to their vest(s), preferring to add a middle-of-the-rotation starter.

*Brian McTaggart says the Astros could also use a veteran impact bat, and notes that Myles Straw and Cionel Perez have drawn trade interest.

*Beyond the Box Score: Half the world wants J.T. Realmuto.

*ESPN's David Schoenfield and Bradford Doolittle suggest the Cubs trade Kyle Schwarber to the Astros for Cionel Perez or Framber Valdez; Arizona should trade Zack Greinke to the Astros for Josh James, Forrest Whitley, or Framber Valdez.

*Alex Bregman has hit 58 regular season home runs: 28 at Minute Maid Park and 30 on the road. He also only got to an 0-2 count 32 times in 2018, and only ended up striking out in 11 of those.

*Meet the woman who outruns men 200 miles at a time.

*Lima Time Time is back.

*A Musical Selection:

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Tuesday Morning Hot Links

The first day of the Winter Meetings is in the books. Let's see what did and didn't happen:

*The Astros are looking to add two arms to the bullpen. Luke Gregerson, Tyler Clippard and Francisco Liriano account for 89.1IP in 2017 - of course the majority of which were Gregerson's IPs. Luhnow:
At this point, it's a lot of feeling each other out and trying to see where the market is going on some of the players we're interested in. I think it will be a productive three days. Even if we don't get a deal done while we're here, we're certainly going to put ourselves in a spot where we'll have an opportunity to potentially (do so) after. I'm optimistic we're going to do something to improve the club while we're here or shortly thereafter.

We find in McTaggart's link that the Astros did offer a contract to Mike Minor, but the Rangers gave him the opportunity to start.

*With Dallas Keuchel and Charlie Morton's contracts set to expire following the 2018 season, the Astros could look into adding a starter. Here's a non-quote from Luhnow:
I think the reality is if we're going to improve our rotation, it's going to have to be somebody that's better than what we have, and we've got a pretty good rotation penciled out for next year. So we're not going to be looking at fourth and fifth starters. We're probably looking at something north of that. There's not a big population (of available starters who fit that criteria), but we'll probably touch base with maybe not all of them but some of them.

More Luhnow:
Typically the ones that we like require much more significant commitments and we're not sure that's the best path for us to take right now.

*Ken Rosenthal writes in the (subscription-only) Athletic that the Astros have shown interest in Jake Arrieta and Yu Darvish, which would be, uh, interesting.

*Jon Heyman used pretty much all 280 of his characters and said that the Astros never came very close but did try on Giancarlo Stanton.

*Jerry Crasnick notes that Marwin Gonzalez - a free agent following 2018 - has also hired Scott Boras as his agent. Stros looking to get PAID.

*An anonymous Astros player told Sports Illustrated how they knew Yu Darvish was going to his slider before he threw it:
The players said it worked like this: Darvish holds the ball at his side when he gets the sign from the catcher. Whether he re-grips or not as he brings the ball into his glove was the tip-off whether he was going to throw a slider/cutter or a fastball.

*Did the acquisition of Giancarlo Stanton change the Rays' mindset? Maybe Chris Archer is available (for a steep price).

*The Astros signed catcher Tim Federowicz and reliever Matt Ramsey to minor-league deals with an invitation to Spring Training.

Federowicz, a 30-year old catcher, was the Red Sox' 7th Round pick in the 2008 draft. In 403 games at Triple-A, Federowicz has a .304/.374/.503 slash line. Federowicz was part of the three-team trade at the 2011 deadline that saw him get sent to the Dodgers while the Mariners sent former Astros great Erik Bedard and Astros World Series Hero Josh Fields to the Red Sox. Then in December 2014 he was part of the trade that sent Matt Kemp to the Dodgers and Yasmani Grandal to the Padres.

Matt Ramsey, a 5'11 205lb, 28-year old RHP, posted a 3.65 ERA/1.35 WHIP for Double-A Biloxi in 2017 with 58K in 44.1IP. In his five-year minor-league career Ramsey has 239 strikeouts in 198IP. He did hit Triple-A briefly in Colorado Springs (5.1IP), but that's been it so far.

*Kate Upton had a whole bunch of details I don't really understand for Vogue about The Wedding. Except cornhole, I know that. And the Uplander Games sounds legit.

*Red Sox GM(?) Dave Dombrowski:
If we can get better, we're going to do that. But it's really not based on the Stanton move. We're not changing based upon that. It was already our plan to get better. We not only have to beat the Yankees, we have to beat the Astros, world champs, because our goal is to not only win our division but to be the world champs.

Pretty much never going to get old seeing "Astros, world champs" in a row.

*A RUSH OF BLOOD TO THE HEAD: Rangers sign Chris Martin.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Monday Morning Hot Links

*Random 2017 Astros Fact:

Luke Gregerson saved 47 games for the Astros, which is the 4th-most in the franchise since 2006:

1. Jose Valverde (69 saves)
2. Brad Lidge (51 saves)
3. Ken Giles (49 saves)
4. Luke Gregerson (47 saves). 

*Gregerson signed a 2-year/$11m deal with the Cardinals. There's a vesting option for a 3rd year based on the number of games in which he pitches.

Gregerson's FIP, 2015-17: 2.86, 2.99, 4.62.

His three-year deal was perfect. Gregerson was good over the first two years (which included the Astros' first post-season berth since 2005), and it expired the year he posted a 0.0 fWAR. Gregerson pitched in 188 games for the Astros over the last three seasons.

*Dallas Keuchel switched agents and signed with Scott Boras. Keuchel, who will be in his Age 30 season in 2018, is arbitration-eligibile for the final time this offseason before going into his first shot at free agency for the 2019 season. 

April 2014: Scott Boras:
The Cubs and Houston are major markets not choosing to spend. They might as well go around carrying a sign, 'Please help me finish last.' Where's the integrity in that?

November 2013: Boras goes all in on the Mets, Cubs, and Astros for their rebuilding strategy. For the Astros he says, "They're like Disneyland. If the kids come, it's a great attraction."

June 2013: On the eve of the Astros' 2nd-straight #1 overall pick (which they would use on Boras client Mark Appel) Scott Boras says he thinks the Astros will spend for talent. Brian T. Smith wrote:
Boras thinks highly of the person charged with directing the Astros' rebuilding and believes the organization is open to selecting the best available player based on talent, not just monetary.

You can't run a successful baseball organization by refusing to deal with Scott Boras, who represents the best players in the game. What we see over the selected excerpts from a few years ago is that Boras wants what's best for his clients. He was mad at the Cubs and Astros because they flat-out wouldn't spend money on his clients, thereby reducing the negotiating pool by two clubs. That's not good for Boras or his clients, so you're not going to see him come out at the beginning of free agency and say, "Not paying my guys is pretty smart." That said, this front office hasn't been in a position to lock up one of its players heading into free agency (with the Astros, anyway.)

If the going rate is $8m per 1.0 fWAR then Keuchel, who will be entering his Age 31 season in his first free agent season, could reasonably get in the $20-25m range per year. I just don't see the Astros paying that. 

Jose Altuve (who signed his current deal after dropping Scott Boras before re-hiring him), Dallas Keuchel, and Lance McCullers, Jr are all Boras clients currently on the Astros' 25-Man roster.

Should the Astros and Keuchel - who told Evan Drellich in October that he hopes to stay in Houston -  not come to an agreement on a longer contract, he would be one of the top-liners in next year's free agent class of starting pitchers.

*The Winter Meetings start today in Orlando or whatever faceless Disney suburb in which the hotel is located. Jake Kaplan expects some bullpen movement, but not much else:
The Astros' franchise-altering Aug. 31 blockbuster for Justin Verlander eliminated their need to seek a front-line starting pitcher ahead of 2018. With almost their entire World Series-winning roster returning, they need only tinker.

*At least six teams have shown interest in pitcher Tom Koehler, and I'd be surprised if the Astros weren't one of them. Koehler's dashboard stats are absolutely God-awful, but he fared much better in 14 appearances as a reliever (.711 OPS-against) than in 13 starts (.918 OPS-against) in 2017. And, as MLBTR notes, he almost abandoned his slider as a reliever in favor of more curveballs. 

*Dallas Guy thinks it's time for the Rangers to rebuild.

*The Cubs signed Brandon Morrow (5.1IP, 8H/5ER, 4K:1BB in the 2017 World Series) to a 2-year deal between $10-11m per year with an option for a third year.

*Jon Heyman talked to agents who think there will be a run on relievers this week.

*Jack Morris got into the Hall of Fame because of one good game.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Wednesday Morning Hot Links

*Random 2017 Astros Fact:

Since 1962 there have been 1488 seasons in baseball (the number of teams multiplied by years since the beginning of the 1962 season). According to FanGraphs the 2017 Astros posted a 121 wRC+ - meaning the Astros' offense was 21% better than league average. Here's how that ranks among all teams since 1962:

1. Houston: 2017
2. Cincinnati: 1976 (120 wRC+)
3. Milwaukee: 1982 (120 wRC+)
4. Boston: 2003 (120 wRC+)
5. New York: 2007 (119 wRC+)
6. New York: 1994 (118 wRC+)
7. Five teams tied at 117 wRC+

*Jeff Luhnow and the Astros are focusing on bullpen upgrades at the Winter Meetings after "losing" Luke Gregerson, Tyler Clippard, Francisco Liriano, and Elite Closer Nori Aoki. McTaggart notes that, while Derek Fisher looks like he could be The Guy in LF, the Astros will check in on possible free agents.

*Tom Verducci writes about Jose Altuve, Sportsperson of the Year. Altuve:
The city of Houston has treated me really good since I got to the big leagues. And I felt that I owed them something. They made me the player I am by supporting me every day. So when they were having a hard time, I wanted to give something back to them. 

*Lance McCullers and Charlie Morton headline a group of starting pitchers with ridiculous reverse splits.

*Baseball Prospectus released their Top 10 Astros Prospects list. Click the link for the write-ups (which is free), but here are the top 10:
1. Forrest Whitley
2. Kyle Tucker
3. J.B. Bukauskas
4. Yordan Alvarez
5. Rogelio Armenteros
6. Jonathan Arauz
7. Gilberto Celestino
8. David Paulino
9. Colin Moran
10. Corbin Martin

*George Springer told Bleacher Report's Joon Lee that they made a beer funnel out of the World Series trophy. As you do. Read about that and other Springer news like why he's smarter than all of us combined by not having a social media presence.

*AT&T was hit with an antitrust lawsuit over the cost of AT&T SportsNet Houston (or whatever it's called) and how they handled the previous iterations (CSN Houston, etc).

*That Evan Drellich story about Alex Cora's bust-up with Geoff Blum and A.J. Hinch is causing a little kerfuffle in Boston, in light of the ridiculous David Price/Dennis Eckersley feud last season.

*The Angels nabbed hyped prospect Kevin Maitan after his contract with the Crooked Braves was voided.

*The 2017 Astros World Series Film was released yesterday (spoiler: we'll have a giveaway of it in the next couple of days). Here's the trailer, grab a tissue.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Beltran back: Tuesday Morning Hot Links

*The decision to sign with Houston was an easy one for Carlos Beltran, who said the Astros were the most aggressive in courting him:
It wasn't difficult for me to make the decision to come here. I have so many good memories of the three months that I spent in Houston. And when I look at the team, for me, what really does it is the team. The opportunity of winning, the opportunity of hopefully you get to the playoffs and win a championship, that's what it's all about. When I look at the lineup, the whole team, I really like our chances. 

Brian McTaggart, who notes that Beltran and A.J. Hinch were teammates in Kansas City in 2001-2002, says Beltran will play LF at least twice a week and the rest of the time at DH. Luhnow:
We felt he'd be a great fit here, his offense would balance out our lineup and outfield and would be a positive for us. 

*Tony Sipp was bad, real bad, in 2016 - the first year of a 3yr/$18m deal that saw his WHIP jump from 1.03 to 1.61 from 2015 to 2016. And since the Astros only have Reymin Guduan and Kevin Chapman available as other left-handed bullpen options, they claimed lefty reliever Ashur Tolliver off waivers from Anaheim yesterday.

Tolliver, a 5th Round pick in 2009, has only thrown 4.2IP in the majors. But he has recorded 278 strikeouts in 284IP in the minors. He throws about 94mph with a splitter and - according to the Chron report - has been developing a breaking ball. He has two minor-league options left so, while he's on the 40-Man roster, he could go to Fresno to work on that breaking pitch.

*Jayson Stark reports that the Astros are dangling Collin McHugh and Mike Fiers in an effort to create roster and payroll flexibility.

*The Astros are not in on free agent Ivan Nova, Buster Olney tweets, as his price is too high.

*Brian McTaggart says that Evan Gattis is not being shopped.

*Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa, and Carlos Beltran will all play in the World Baseball Classic this Spring. Nori Aoki is expected to play for Japan while Alex Bregman (Israel) and Marwin (Venezuela) are on their country's respective provisional rosters. George Springer could play for the United States or make Puerto Rico the preferred international choice of the Houston Astros.

*Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times says that the Rays are asking for "five or six players" in return for Chris Archer, and is doubtful he gets traded this offseason. The Pirates are making a run at Jake Odorizzi.

*Would you like Sonny Gray in Houston? The Braves made a run at him and, while Oakland did not ask for Dansby Swanson, their asking price was too high for Atlanta.

*Luis Valbuena wants a multi-year deal and his initial asking price scared off the Yankees.

*The White Sox said the Nationals were "very aggressive" in their push to land Chris Sale.

*Bryce Harper wants 10yrs/$400m and will likely single-handedly hamstring a franchise.

*Minor League Baseball has established a Political Action Committee to fight a lawsuit over higher pay. This is fun.

*Bud Selig wishes he could have done more about steroids in baseball, but placed much of the blame on the MLBPA.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Monday Morning Hot Links

*Ken Rosenthal says the Astros chose Beltran over Edwin Encarnacion in part because of the positional flexibility he provides, allowing Yuli Gurriel to play 1B. The Astros are "paying close attention to" the Rays' starting pitchers. However, Rosenthal tweeted that if Encarnacion's price were to drop, the Astros could get back in and play Gurriel at LF, Edwin at 1B, and Beltran at DH.

This is me talking (a noted idiot), but I don't see how the Astros sign Encarnacion. There aren't enough positions now. This may be a good reason for why they would do it. But with the Yankees signing Matt Holliday yesterday, the Astros getting Beltran, Encarnacion's market seems to be drying up. I would imagine that the Rangers would try to take advantage of his falling price tag (I don't think Edwin gets that 5yr/$125m deal, after all.)

*Jeff Sullivan referred to the Astros as "the league's best lineup." The Astros. Our collective favorite team. What a time to be alive. Peep these 2017 Projected Standings from FanGraphs, and that's before the Astros potentially add a front-line starter.

*Tommy Stokke of FanRag Sports says that, while the Astros' lineup isn't perfect, they've improved in the "Veteran Leadership" category.

*From Saturday: Jon Heyman reports the Astros are positioning themselves to make a play for Chris Archer.

*Reid Ryan told MLB Network Radio that the Astros are missing "an automatic W" at the top of the rotation.

*McTaggart: All that's missing is a starting pitcher

*Brian T. Smith: Beltran adds to a stacked 25-Man roster.

*With 19 ballots in, Jeff Bagwell is running at 84%, appearing on 16 of 19 known ballots. To that end, David Maril says Bagwell "comes up a little short" as a hitter regardless of steroids talk. Bruce Jenkins didn't even attempt an explanation as to why Bagwell didn't get his checkmark. Tony Massarotti has already been addressed.

*The Nationals are going after both Chris Sale and Andrew McCutchen.

*John Schuerholtz and Bud Selig are going into the Hall of Fame.

*The Runner took a look at pitching prospect Rogelio Armenteros.

*The Padres' rotation will feature Paul Clemens and Jarred Cosart and might be "historically poor."

*Players' meal money on the road is going from $105/day to $30/day, but teams will provide pre- and post-game meal options in the clubhouse.

*Michael Lewis' new book (out tomorrow) is about the guys who shaped the paradigm of Moneyball.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Talking with Lance McCullers and your Tuesday Morning Hot Links

*Last night we recorded Episode 32 of Lima Time Time with special guest Lance McCullers. We talked Tal's Hill, 7th grade literature, hair products, and Rangers masturbating each other.

*The additions of Morton, McCann, and Reddick prior to the Winter Meetings means that Luhnow & Co. can focus on specifics in Washington next week. Luhnow:
It does make it a little easier in that we've already accomplished a couple of goals. When you go to the Winter Meetings and try to get everything done in three or four days, it can be pretty intense. If we can afford to go to the Winter Meetings focused on one or two complementary moves, that would be the best outcome for us. 

*Jim Callis says that, with a little work on his command and his changeup, Francis Martes is ready for the big leagues.

*The saga, and fallout, of Jon Singleton.

*Minor-league catcher Roberto Pena has signed with the White Sox. The Astros' 7th Round draft pick in 2010 (and son of former Astros catcher Bert Pena) hit .237/.283/.342 in six seasons from the GCL to 15 games in Triple-A. Tyler Heineman and Garrett Stubbs are the highest-ranking catcher prospects in the organization now.

*26-year old RHP Nate Eovaldi has been released by the Yankees. Eovaldi, a Houston native, will be coming off Tommy John surgery as well as flexor tendon surgery. But with velocity increases over the past three seasons (up to 97.1mph in 2016 before needing surgery), a team will surely take a chance on him. Might that team be the Astros?

*Chris Carter and his 41 home runs in 2016 will not be tendered a contract by the Brewers.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Here's what the Astros did today at the Winter Meetings


Tuesday Winter Meetings Update

Let's recap what has happened so far on the Astros wing of the Opryland Hotel...

*Those battered bastions of baseball morality, the Miami Marlins, are - or are not - prepared to deal Jose Fernandez. And the Astros are a #MysteryTeam linked to this possible - or impossible - deal, according to ESPN's Jayson Stark. Nah, says Evan Drellich's source.

*Jeffrey Loria said of Fernandez:
There is nothing I am thinking about doing at the moment with him.

I'll echo Drellich's sentiments here: the Astros are easy to float in a rumor because they have a lot of prospects to offer for a big package, and that can be used to increase other teams' offers.

*Aroldis Chapman is "untradeable" according to Jon Heyman, while teams let MLB investigate last night's bombshell news of the alleged domestic assault.

*The Rockies signed Chad Qualls to a 2yr/$6m deal.

*The Rangers are "surveying" rival teams' interest in Prince Fielder.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Saturday Winter Meetings Update

While we wonder what the heck even is the University of Texas football team, here are some updates from Nashville:

*The Astros want to upgrade their bullpen with a strong 9th-inning closer, says Brian McTaggart, specifically mentioning Aroldis Chapman, Brad Boxberger, and Ken Giles. He also mentions there is mutual interest between the Astros and free agent Tony Sipp.

*Jerry Crasnick tweeted that the Astros have discussed Drew Storen as a possible target, but more as a Plan B if they don't land one of the aforementioned closers.

*Jeff Samardzija got 5yrs/$90m from the Giants. So just give Dallas Keuchel 6yrs/$100m already.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Monday Evening Rumor Sheet

Nooz and Noats from the 1st Day of the Winter Meetings...

*Luhnow would like to get "one or two" deals done this week.

*The Astros' focus, according to Jeff Luhnow (via Jose Ortiz) is relief pitching, then lineup help, then starting pitching.

*RIP SauerKrauss, who was claimed off waivers by the Angels.

*The Astros are interested in bringing back former Astros legend Jed Lowrie. Evan Drellich writes that his infield versatility could play to the Astros needs not only at SS, but 3B, as well. MLBTR sees a 3yr/$30m contract for Lowrie.

*The Braves aren't necessarily willing to trade presumed Astros target Evan Gattis, but the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's David O'Brien says the Rangers may have the pieces to get a deal done.

*The Astros are "absolutely" open to bringing back Jose Veras. Veras, who signed with the Cubs last season, realizes mistakes were made:
I really made the mistake to sign with the Cubs instead of to sign with Houston early in winter time. But that's the way it is. You learn by mistakes...I'm available to do anything.

*The Astros were never apparently very interested in Jason Hammel, to whom the Astros were connected for some reason or another.

*I'm thinking about blogging about this at some point in the very near future, but Jerry Crasnick is tweeting that the Astros not only offered Andrew Miller more money than the Yankees ($40m to $36m), but they also offered him an option for a 5th year.

Monday Morning Link Dump: December 8

Here's what you knead two no as the Winter Meetings kick off and your favorite beat writers talk about what a drag it is to go to San Diego in December. 

*Of course, the Astros are looking for bullpen help after the Goatpen of 2012-2014 blew eleventy billion leads.

*Perceived top target? Reliever David Robertson, who has thrown over 60IP in each of the last five seasons, with a sub-2.70 FIP in each of the last four, and recorded the 3rd 13.0+ K/9 in 2014. He's looking for a 4yr/$50m-ish deal for his next contract. Next problem: the Astros don't think Robertson wants to pitch in Houston.

*But the White Sox are going after David Robertson, too.

*And if they can't get Robertson (after all, they did offer more money to Andrew Miller, who just went to the Yankees, anyway)? The Astros are expected to go after former Giants closer Sergio Romo. Romo will be cheaper than Robertson, especially since he's coming off a "down year," in which he had his first season with an ERA+ under league average. That said, his WHIP was 0.95, and he posted a 4.92 K/BB ratio.

*Another bullpen possibility: Luke Gregerson, whom Evan Drellich describes as "the Astros' most logical remaining free-agent option."

*According to TSN, the Astros have inquired about 3B Chase Headley, but "it looks like it has come down to the Yankees or Giants."

*The Astros apparently have interest in free agent starter Brett Anderson, who recently ripped the Astros and Lucas Harrell:

*Phil Humber signed a $600,000 contract with the Kia Tigers in Korea.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Winter Meetings Day 4

Your Winter Meetings Day 4 running post!

12:32pm: Rosenthal says the Tigers are signing Joba Chamberlain

12:20pm: The Rangers will offer Choo five years. Boras wants seven years.

12:11pm: The Tigers are in talks with Joba Chamberlain

11:39am: Evan Drellich says that landing Tanaka and/or Choo is not impossible, just not likely.

11:37am: Luhnow tells Evan Drellich that they're not making offers just to make offers.

11:36am: One GM says he thinks Houston is the likely landing spot for Shin-Soo Choo

9:56am: Morse deal is for $6m guaranteed + incentives

9:54am: Jon Heyman says Milwaukee and New York are meeting about Ike Davis and lists Houston among teams still looking for a 1B.

9:49am: Evan Drellich says injuries slowed Ravel Santana down, but "he's a five-tool guy"

9:15am: Morse's contract with San Francisco is for a base salary of $5m with incentives.

9:10am: Meanwhile, in court, the Rockets are taking over from the Astros as lead negotiators in the CSN Houston fiasco. Follow David Barron on Twitter for updates.

9:02am: Rick Ankiel is working out, but hasn't told Boras if he wants to play again. But he Will. Not. Pitch.

8:53am: The Astros made a strong push for Mike Morse, but ultimately Morse wanted to sign with San Francisco.

8:52am: The Astros did indeed send Patrick Schuster to the Padres to cpmplete the Anthony Bass trade.

8:45am: Michael Morse is nearing a deal with the Giants

8:44am: The Astros have "several offers" out to free agents.

8:43am: The Astros finalized the Anthony Bass trade by sending the first Rule 5 pick, Patrick Schuster to the Padres in exchange for cash.

8:39am: Rockies join the Astros in J.P. Howell interest

8:39am: The Cubs trade Brian Bogusevic to Miami for Justin Ruggiano.

8:31am: The Astros select knuckleballer Blaine Sims from Atlanta, who spent 2013 with the Braves' GCL, Low-A, and High-A teams, compiling an 8.44 ERA/2.04 WHIP with 56K:44BB.

8:26am: The Astros selected LHP Carlos Vazquez, from the Mets' Double-A roster.

8:25am: The Rays selected Enderson Franco off the Corpus roster. Franco had a 5.05 ERA/1.47 WHIP for Greeneville last season.

8:24am: Read our post on Ravel Santana.

8:19am: With the first pick in the Triple-A phase of the Rule 5 draft, the Astros selected OF Ravel Santana from the Yankees. Santana will not have to be on the 25-Man roster - in minor-league phases, you just pay the draft fee and he's yours. 

8:17am: Read our post on Patrick Schuster.

8:11am: The Astros didn't lose anybody in the Major League portion.

8:08am: The Astros passed with their first pick in the 2nd Round.

8:07am: Wait. The Padres just passed in the Rule 5 draft. So maybe Schuster isn't going to San Diego? So much confusion wow. As TCB reminded us, the Bass deal was for a PTBNL or cash. Maybe the Astros keep Schuster and just send fat stacks of nickels over to San Diego.

8:05am: Hooray! The White Sox didn't take Carlos Perez!

8:04am: The Astros select LHP Patrick Schuster from Arizona, and will send him to San Diego.

8:00am: Carlos Perez is an often-talked-about name to get selected in the Rule 5 draft.

The Anthony Bass trade with San Diego yesterday is a trade for the Padres to move up in this morning's Rule 5 draft. The Astros will pick first and send that player to the Padres.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Winter Meetings Day 3

Here's the Day 3 Winter Meeting running post...

7:25pm: The Rangers have an offer out to Shin-Soo Choo, but they're not optimistic about signing him.

6:51pm: Astros in "serious discussions" with Mike Morse

6:42pm: Astros still in on Veras, Crain, and J.P. Howell

6:17pm: The Orioles have made an offer to John Axford

5:16pm: Astros "have a lot of offers out"

5:14pm: The Astros were in on Logan Morrison before Seattle continued their effort to have All The Players

Check Not Hank Aaron's post on the Anthony Bass trade here

3:33pm: Bo Porter didn't slam the door shut on the possibility of Mark Appel breaking camp with the Astros.

3:32pm: Buster Olney reports that the Astros' signing of Feldman has messed up a lot of negotiations because agents are "obligated" to start negotiations there. Hahahahahahaha.

3:30pm: Bo Porter says the top of the 2014 lineup will be Fowler-Altuve-Castro

3:23pm: Someone apparently offered Detroit reliever Joaquin Benoit 2yrs/$14m.

3:14pm: Chris Cotillo says an unidentified AL West team made Matt Thornton an offer today.

2:45pm: Scott Boras has received offers from teams that are both "rebuilding and some that are expecting to win."

2:43pm: Bo Porter tells MLB Network Radio that the Astros are going to add more bullpen pieces

2:39pm: The Mariners have signed Corey Hart to a Mike Napoli-like deal ($5m guaranteed, incentives up to $13m)

2:34pm: The Astros have had discussions with Scott Boras, and the discussions were not about Carlos Rodon. Reminder: Boras represents Shin-Soo Choo (among others, of course).

2:00pm: The Phillies are aggressively marketing Jonathan Papelbon, and would be willing to eat some of his contract - which still has $26m guaranteed for 2014-15, and a $13m vesting option for 2016. The Phillies are looking for a back-end of the rotation starter.

1:55pm: The Marlins have traded Logan Morrison to the Mariners for Carter Capps

1:28pm: Report from the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram that the Rangers are interested in Shin-Soo Choo, but not at $22m/year

12:51pm: The Astros might have to fight the Tigers for Joba Chamberlain.

12:38pm: Corey Hart is apparently torn between offers from the Brewers and another team - maybe the Mariners

12:15pm: Chris Cotillo says there is increased interest in free agent reliever Matt Thornton over the last 24 hours - especially from AL West teams. Thornton has spent his entire career in the AL, and in 2013 posted a 3.74 ERA/1.43 WHIP for the White Sox and Red Sox.

11:56am: L.J.Hoes switches agents from CSE to Dan Lozano's MVP Sports Group (who also represents Brett Wallace and Paul Clemens)

11:50am: Baseball America has a breakdown of 24 Rule 5-eligible players.

11:45am: The Brewers expect to have a decision from Corey Hart today.

11:09am: Max Scherzer is available in trade talks

10:50am: ESPN summarizes what the Astros are looking for this offseason (O_O)

10:42am: Evan Drellich says the ideal 1B situation is a stop-gap signing, but that won't eliminate the Astros' interest in Hart or Loney.

9:54am: Market for Choo is apparently around 7yrs/$140m

9:44am: The market for relievers is shaping up slowly while everyone waits for the first guy to make a deal.

9:36am: "Multiple teams" are in on Corey Hart.

9:34am: The Indians have a surplus at OF, and are listening on "virtually all" players.

9:25am: Baseball America's JJ Cooper says to keep an eye on Cubs RHP Marcus Mateo. In 31IP between Double-A and Triple-A, he allowed 24H/6ER, 13K:1BB in 2013. And in 19.1IP in the Dominican Winter League, he has allowed 12H/2ER, 22K:7BB.

9:05am: Rakuten doesn't know if $20m for Tanaka is fair, but Tanaka wants to pitch in MLB next season

6:28am: Peter Gammons says the Astros are excited about Jon Singleton's winter stats and calls him "a man to watch."

Via Evan Drellich, Bo Porter is awfully excited about what has happened over the last week.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Winter Meetings: Day 2

Here's what has happened on Day 2 at the Winter Meetings (all items below have at least something to do with the Astros)...

7:16pm: Houston has interest in Joba Chamberlain

6:38pm: The Astros are "one of a handful" of teams who have talked to Grady Sizemore.

5:57pm: Free agent starting pitcher Jason Hammel - who is looking for a one-year deal - has interested from four teams. The Astros aren't listed in the link, but he might fit their off-season plan.

5:17pm: Jose Veras is also a possibility for Houston, says Jon Heyman

3:31pm: Jesse Crain said "it would be fun" to play in Houston

3:00pm: Astros are pursuing outfielder Mike Morse - who wants $7-8m in a one-year deal.

2:00pm: Astros one of six teams interested in reliever Chad Gaudin

1:59pm: Yep. Three-team trade between Chicago, Arizona, LA is complete.

1:38pm: The Phillies would want "2-3 players" in return for Domonic Brown.

1:37pm: The Royals still might trade Billy Butler

1:35pm: Rangers, Mariners, and Orioles are the teams Stark lists as "still involved" in Nelson Cruz talks.

12:42pm: Looks like that three-team deal is about to happen and the Angels are going to get better (boo).

12:17pm: An AL GM doesn't see the White Sox trading Chris Sale.

12:15pm: Comcast says the Astros aren't willing to put CSN Houston's best interests ahead of their own.

11:55am: Bo Porter arrived at the Winter Meetings

11:27am: The White Sox, Diamondbacks, and Angels are all in preliminary stages of the deal.

11:19am: The Pirates are resuming talks about acquiring James Loney

11:08am: Talks between the Cubs and Nationals about Storen are dead.

10:50am: The White Sox, Diamondbacks, and Angels are working on a three-team deal that would send Mark Trumbo to Arizona, Adam Eaton to Chicago, and Hector Santiago and Tyler Skaggs to Los Angeles.

10:29am: Washington is shopping Drew Storen and Tyler Clippard, with Clippard drawing "more interest," but Washington would have to be blown away by an offer.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Winter Meetings Day 1 running post

We'll be keeping track of events of some importance at the Winter Meetings here...

6:12pm: For whatever reason, the Chronicle decided to ask Ron Washington what he thought about the Astros. He likes Bo Porter, and he likes Scott Feldman. Also, Jeff Luhnow and the Astros promised their new acquisitions that they wouldn't become immediate trade bait.

6:05pm: If you saw What The Heck Bobby's cumulative Winter Ball stats, you would see that Jon Singleton is hitting .283/.405/.565. That doesn't mean that the Astros aren't willing to *try* to upgrade at 1B - even with "Chris Carter" and "Brett Wallace" on the 40-Man.

5:31pm: Jayson Stark says the Astros are looking for a reliever who might be able to close. Among them? Jose Veras.

4:57pm: Apparently Lucas Harrell is drawing some trade interest.

4:14pm: Three execs talked to Buster Olney, all of whom guessed David Price would end up in Seattle.

4:09pm: Jonathan Mayo has a Rule 5 preview

3:00pm: Astros officially announce the release of Eric Thames

2:00pm: Alex White is throwing off the mound in Kissimmee and is on track to begin Spring Training healthy.

1:30pm: One GM says Chris Sale isn't really on the market.

12:51pm: According to McTaggart, the Astros will "take a flier" on a Rule 5 pick

11:58am: The White Sox would want a package better than what David Price will get to trade Chris Sale.

11:56am: The Phillies are shopping Domonic Brown. (Brown hit .272/.324/.494 with 97K in 540 PAs in 2013).

11:10am: Angels outfielder Mark Trumbo is "in play."

10:18am: Lancaster GM Derek Sharp was named the California League Executive of the Year

10:12am: White Sox pitcher Chris Sale is available for a ridiculous package of players in return.

10:03am: Astros announce they have hired Tom Koch-Weser as Coordinator of Advance Information, and will be responsible for advanced scouting, with an emphasis on video. Koch-Weser has written for Yahoo Sports as well as the blog for STATS.

9:56am: Roy Halladay is retiring.

9:10am: Joe Torre, Wife-beatin' Bobby Cox, and Drunk Drivin' Tony LaRussa have been unanimously elected by the Veterans' Committee to the Hall of Fame.

8:10am: Rakuten's president may not post Masahiro Tanaka this season.

7:19am: Matt Kemp's agent will be surprised if he isn't traded this off-season.

6:11am: Jon Heyman says Reid Ryan is a nice guy. (Ed. Note: Today needs to get going.)

Brian McTaggart: Luhnow looking at another reliver and a bat this week.

Evan Drellich: Astros preparing for Thursday's Rule 5 draft.