Houston Astros State Of The Union Address: Fall 2013

From 1992 - 2006, Houston was one of the best franchises in the games of baseball, not having one losing season in that time span.  They won 4 Division Titles, 8 2nd place finishes, and appeared in 6 playoffs.  After being swept in the 2005 World Series, the core got old, and the team waited too long to rebuild.  Once it was time, the management actually did a smart thing in totally gutting the entire franchise, in order to restock the Minor League System.

From 1992 – 2006, Houston was one of the best franchises in the games of baseball, not having one losing season in that time span. They won 4 Division Titles, 8 – 2nd place finishes, and appeared in 6 playoffs. After being swept in the 2005 World Series, the core got old, and the team waited too long to rebuild. Once it was time, the management actually did a smart thing in totally gutting the entire franchise, in order to restock the Minor League System.  Now with 3 105+ Loss seasons, and back to back 1st overall picks, the team has begun the process.  An ownership changed mirrored the last transference of all the remaining Veterans from the previous regime.  How long will it take for the Astros to compete again?

By Chuck Booth (Lead Baseball Analyst/Website Owner):

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The Astros had one of the easiest years to peg down in the game of baseball for 2013.

They were horrible early, traded away every possible Veteran that were making any kind of cash on the Major League Level, and then proceeded to be even worse after the ALL – Star Game.

The worst part of the campaign was left for the end, where they promptly lost their last 15 games – to finish with a record of 51 – 111.

It was their 3rd straight 100+ Loss season.  But overlooking the obvious is that they actual drew a few more fans in 2013 – compared to 2012.

That was more a symptom of the club moving to the American League.  At least they were not last in the league for Attendance, like payroll.

Jarred Cosart has given the fanbase and the management reason to believe he could be the future ace they have been looking for since Roy Oswalt left the fold.  In 10 Game Starts, the Rookie had a 1.95 ERA.  Cosart was obtained with prospect Jonathan Singleton in the 2011 Trade Deadline to acquire Hunter Pence.

Jarred Cosart has given the fanbase and the management reason to believe he could be the future ace they have been looking for since Roy Oswalt left the fold. In 10 Game Starts, the Rookie had a 1.95 ERA. Cosart was obtained with prospect Jonathan Singleton in the 2011 Trade Deadline to acquire Hunter Pence.  The 23 Year Old from League City. Texas originally is Arbitration Eligible only in 2016 – and is under Team Control until 2019.

The franchise continues to pilfer the Major League Roster, and are building from Ground Zero.  The Astros will draft 1st overall yet again in 2014.

Now there is talk that Jeff Luhnow and ownership are willing to spend about $60 MIL on 2014 Team Payroll.  My thought is why??  The MLB is not enforcing anything on the club for sabotaging the last few campaigns.

Their school of thought is a more effective way to rebuild faster.

Much like the 1998 – 2007 Rays, 1992 – 1999 Twins and 2005 – 2010 Nationals, it behooves your team to be horrific for a longer period of time, as oppose to try to aid your franchise by signing Free Agents.

As of this moment, the club doesn’t have many players on the Major League squad that you can build around.

Jose Altuve looks pretty solid at 2B,  but is he going to be a regular when Houston is finally competing again?

Chris Carter blasted 29 HRs, drove in 82 RBI – while showing a penchant for walking, but he also led the AL in Strikeouts.  He is still a good stop – gap measure for now, and he may be able to improve every year.

Jason Castro at Catcher also looks like he could turn into an everyday player.  18 HRs, 56 RBI and a .835 OPS in 435 AB is great production from the position.

Carlos Corporan is a great backup Catcher with 7 HRs and 20 RBI in 191 AB. 

Matt Dominguez (obtained in 2012 for Carlos Lee) might need another year to prove himself at the hot corner.  You could do a lot worse than .241/.286/.690 – with 21 HRs and 77 RBI through 543 is decent power wise for a 3B.

He needs to learn how to draw a Walk.

The club must give Brett Wallace one more extended look.  After starting an abysmal 1 – 26 (.043) – he was sent down to the Minor Leagues.

Upon returning, the slugger found his stroke in July and Aug, with OPS’s for .870 and .816 respectively.  For the two months combined, Wallace also bashed 11 HRs and added 25 RBI in just 162 AB.

All looked well until he withered in Sept – with a .597 OPS again, during his 83 AB.

Wallace was traded back in 2010 from Toronto to Houston, for Anthony Gose.  While he has struggle with a .242/.313/.704 Slash Line, he does possess 29 HRs and 102 RBI for his 971 AB.

He could definitely play some 1B next season.

Jonathan Singleton had a poor stint in AAA Oklahoma, and will need to do better than his .220 BA.  He needs more seasoning.

The Astros also have Brandon Barnes listed as #1 for their CF position.  He didn’t hit much of anything in 2013, with a 3 Slash Line of .240/.289/635 – with 8 HRs and 41 RBI in 409 AB.

What may be worse, is that Barnes only converted 11 of 22 Stolen Base Attempts as well.

2nd on the CF list is Robbie Grossman, who fared considerably better than Barnes, at .268/.332/.702.  While the numbers don’t jump out at you either, the guy shows the ability to draw a Walk.

As the only player that has played in the MLB for the Wandy Rodriguez assets (Rudy Owens and Colton Cain have seen action only in the Minors), Grossman had great numbers in the MiLB (.269/.381/.768).

L.J. Hoes was acquired at the Trade Deadline, when the team parted with Bud Norris,  He played 44 Games for the Astros after coming over.  He featured a .704 OPS with 7 SB in 167 AB.

Hoes has great speed, and should be given an opportunity to make the 2014 Opening Day Roster.  Ultimately, he may be better off as a 4th OF.

Marc Krauss is listed on http://www.mlb.com as the #1 Depth Chart player for the 2014 year.  He did play in 52 Games for the Houston club in 2013, sporting a .633 OPS.  I am not sure he can play next campaign in the OF.

They could always try George Springer, but I am not sure he is quite ready with just a half of a season in Oklahoma.

This is a spot where they could really use a Veteran in the OF.  However, I would not break the bank for an ALL – Star.

To fill in the gap in the Outfield, perhaps they should look at some of the following Free Agent Outfield players available:  Skip Schumaker, Tyler Colvin, Andres Torres and Rajai Davis.

If all of those aforementioned players hit their full capacity, the club would receive decent production.

Jake Elmore, Jonathan Villar and Marwin Gonzalez all split time at the Shortstop position, and none really took charge.

The club simply has to stem the tide until they bridge the gap to 2012 1st RD pick Carlos Correa.  The Shortstop held a .320/.405/.872 Slash Line in Quad City – with 86 RBI in 450 AB and 117 Games Played.

The Starting Pitching looks to be okay in going forward with young guns Jarred Cosart (10 GS, 60 IP and a 1.95 ERA) and Brett Oberholtzer ( 4 – 5, with a 2.76 ERA in 71.2 IP).

Dallas Kuechel, Jordan Lyles, and Lucas Harrell, all featured ERA’s north of 5 – although Kuechel held down a 4.90 clip in his 22 Game Starts.

Brad Peacock (part of the Jed Lowrie trade), fared decently in his last 9 Game Starts, yielding a mid 3 ERA – while sporting a 4 – 3 Record in August and September.

The team could add a couple of Veteran’s to take off the load of some of the youngsters in 2014.  It has to be cost-effective, and with the Starter of relative young age too.  Maybe a Zach Duke, Jeff Karstens, Clayton Richard, or maybe a bit pricier in Phil Hughes?

The club may also give Michael Foltynewicz a chance to make the team, as he has developed into their best pitching prospect not currently on the big club

The deal will have to be more of an incentive laden move than anything, and can’t exceed more than a couple of million.

The franchise will grow as the pitchers do.  Mark Appel is still a couple of years away, and maybe the team will draft some more pitching with the 1st overall pick in 2014?

The  Bullpen is always the last thing a team should fix, however it will be a breeding ground for guys like Paul Clemens, other failed Starters.

Josh Fields is listed as the Closer right now, but with a 4.97 ERA that could change by spring.  The club also claimed Raul Valdes off of waivers from the Phillies at the end of the season.

Lefty Kevin Chapman was the most effective guy out of the Relief Core down the stretch, posting  1.77 ERA in 25 Appearances, spanning 20.1 IP.

Chia-Jen Lo pitched okay with a 2.70 ERA at the end of August until the Twins blew up his ERA with a 4 – run Inning in early September.

All of the guys, and a litany of players from the Minors should field out the team.

If the team should decide to sign any of the Free Agents, they should only be 1 – 2 Year Deals, and continue to build from the Draft.

Maybe pickup a few Utility Infielders for really cheap like a Yuniesky Betancourt, Willie Bloomquist, or if you go high end – how about Mark Ellis or Kelly Johnson?

Guys that can play multiple spots, or OF and INF are very valuable to a young team that may want to keep trading in and out players.

Whatever happens this winter, it will probably be another long season for Houston in 2014.

Jose Altuve is locked up with the franchise until potentially 2020 with the club.  It was the first big move the new ownership made.  Besides being a speedy little big man, he has a nice fan club, his own metric system, and his 5 Foot 4 Inch frame makes him the smallest MLB Player in the game.

Jose Altuve is locked up with the franchise until potentially 2020 with the club. It was the first big move the new ownership made. Besides being a speedy little big man, he has a nice fan club, his own metric system, and his 5 Foot 4 Inch frame makes him the smallest MLB Player in the game.  Altuve managed 177 Hits, 64 Runs,  31 Doubles and 35 SB during this last campaign.  He led the team in all of those categories in 2013.

*** The views and opinions expressed in this report are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of mlbreports.com or their partners. ***

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***Chuck Booth – Lead Baseball Analyst/Website Owner and author of the Fastest 30 Ballgames:

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About chuckbooth3023

I played competitive baseball until 18 years old and had offers to play NCAA Division 1 University Baseball at Liberty University. Post-concussion symptoms from previous football and baseball head injuries forced me to retire by age 19. After two nearly made World Record Attempts in 2008, I set a New World Record by visiting all 30 MLB Parks (from 1st to last pitch) in only 24 Calendar Days in the summer 0f 2009. In April of 2012, I established yet another new GWR by visiting all 30 Parks in only 23 Calendar Days! You can see the full schedule at the page of the www.mlbreports.com/gwr-tracker . In 2015, I watched 224 MLB Games, spanning all 30 MLB Parks in 183 Days. Read about that World Record Journey at https://mlbreports.com/183in2015/229sked2015/

Posted on November 1, 2013, in MLB Teams State Of the Unions, The Rest: Everything Baseball and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on Houston Astros State Of The Union Address: Fall 2013.

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