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  • Olney: Astros expected to make a big splash this offseason

    MLB roundup: Astros expected to make a big splash this offseason

    Buster Olney, ESPN
    The only teams remotely close to the Chicago Cubs in the collection of young, high-quality position-player talent these days are the Boston Red Sox, with Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts & Co., and the Houston Astros, whose batting order is filled with star-caliber players, including Jose Altuve, George Springer, Carlos Correa and Alex Bregman.

    But there has been one significant difference between the Astros and those other two teams. The Cubs' young stars have been surrounded by veterans like David Ross, Dexter Fowler and Jason Heyward, who has been widely credited with saying exactly the right thing at the right time to teammates before play resumed in the 10th inning of Game 7 of the World Series. The Red Sox have had Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz to cajole and counsel the others.

    The Astros, on the other hand, are a team perceived by players and agents as a team desperately needing some experienced players to provide guidance in a clubhouse lacking a leadership rudder. It is because of this void that some rival evaluators sense Houston will be among the most aggressive teams in making lineup additions this offseason.

    "The Astros and the Braves are the teams, to me, doing the most to put themselves in a position to win next year," said one official.

    Not only is Houston looking to add some productive left-handed hitting to balance a lineup that is predominantly right-handed, but the Astros also have been discussing players with reputations for being good in the clubhouse.

    Houston is competing with the Yankees, Red Sox and perhaps the Blue Jays for the services of Carlos Beltran, who is coveted because he's a good hitter who won't require a long-term commitment. Beltran also drew raves from players like Starlin Castro for the way he extended himself to his younger teammates. The Astros might have to overcome Beltran's past experience with Houston to land him: When Beltran left as a free agent more than a decade ago, some Astros fans were angered by his departure and have always let him know when he has returned to Houston.

    The Astros have also been in discussion with the Yankees about catcher Brian McCann, who is owed $34 million over the next two years. Like Beltran, McCann has had a reputation for being very good with younger players, and for the way he can lead and help a pitching staff. McCann has a full no-trade clause and must approve any deal, but he seems to be open to listening. It may be Houston would have an advantage over some NL teams because McCann could serve some time at designated hitter when he's not catching.

    Imagine a Houston lineup with Beltran and McCann:

    RF Springer
    3B Bregman
    2B Altuve
    SS Correa
    DH Beltran
    C McCann
    1B Yulieski Gurriel
    CF Jake Marisnick
    LF Tony Kemp
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  • #2
    If the Astros are serious about winning in 2017 as opposed to accepting the past two winning seasons as benchmarks...then these are my moves and what this potential lineup looks like: **Note: Astros have the payroll flexibility to make this work**

    Lineup
    3B Bregman
    2B Altuve
    SS Correa
    DH Encarncion (FA) **Respected power bat at cleanup...Correa and Springer could be big benefactors**
    CF Springer
    C Weiters (FA Switch Hitter) / Gattis **This move makes far more sense than trading for McCann**
    1B Gurriel / Reed
    RF Reddick (FA) **Supplies a good LH bat to the lineup and possibly a better than expected defensive OF once he realizes he's not a trade chip for the next few seasons**
    LF Aoki / Hernandez

    Rotation
    Sale (Trade) LH Ace **He's going to cost the team players but they've also got him for 3 years while he's affordable**
    McCullers
    Keuchel ***In his true spot**
    McHugh
    Musgrove

    Long Relief / Spot Starters
    Devenski
    Hill (FA) **Answers LH BP need**

    Setup / Closer
    Gregerson
    Hoyt
    Giles
    Last edited by Optimistic; 11-17-2016, 04:28 AM.

    Comment


    • #3
      Buster Olney @Buster_ESPN
      Braves are aggressively swapping offers for starting pitchers. Rival officials think Braves and Astros will add the most help this winter.

      Whatever we do, Bregman better be off limits. There's a reason every other team wants him.
      Photobucket has changed it's image hosting pricings, moving my $2/month plan to $480/year -- so most of the images I have posted here will revert to dead links sometime soon. There's no workaround other than replacing them one-by-one. So my posts the forums are going to look funky for a while. My apologies.

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      • #4
        For now, the lineup might look something like this:

        1. George Springer, RF
        2. Alex Bregman, 3B
        3. Jose Altuve, 2B
        4. Carlos Correa, SS
        5. Brian McCann, C
        6. Evan Gattis, DH
        7. Josh Reddick, LF
        8. Yulieskey Gurriel, 1B
        9. Jake Marisnick, CF

        Of course, the offseason is young.
        Ch..ch..ch..changes
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        • #5
          Originally posted by H2O4me View Post
          I wouldn't mind seeing this lineup with the lefty's sprinkled in every third spot:

          1. Bregman 3B
          2. Altuve 2B
          3. Reddick RF **Could really make him much better sitting between Altuve and Correa. Doesn't hurt to have a lefty splitting up the right side run not to mention a steady dose of fastballs with Bregman and Altuve on the bases.
          4. Correa SS
          5. Springer CF **He could find his power stroke sitting between Correa and McCann**
          6. McCann C / DH
          7. Gattis DH / C
          8. Gurriel 1B
          9. Aoki LF **Aoki's steady bat and low SO rate sets the table nicely from the bottom of the order.**

          Comment


          • #6

            Ken Rosenthal @Ken_Rosenthal
            As @EvanDrellich said, #Astros still want Beltran. Believe they can make it work with McCann and Reddick, enough at-bats to go around.
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            • #7
              Peter Gammons @pgammo
              Some owners are too dumb, cheap to invest in Latin America...

              Houston's international staff signed Albert Abreu and Jorge Guzman for $65,000 & $25,000 and turned them into Brian McCann
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              • #8
                Jake Kaplan @jakemkaplan
                Outfielder Jon Kemmer and righthanders Mike Hauschild and Jordan Jankowski are among those left exposed to next month’s Rule 5 draft.

                The Astros did not make any additions to their 40-man roster before tonight’s deadline to protect players from the Rule 5 Draft.
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                • #9
                  Astros Rumors: Luhnow creating a offensive juggernaut?

                  The Houston Astros might be trying to build an offense that rivals the 2016 Red Sox offense. If so, don’t expect an ‘ace.’
                  Ladies and gentlemen of Astros Nation, Jeff Luhnow, is not done adding. He could be trying to build a lineup that will make opposing pitchers tremble the night before they pitch. The Stros core of young stars in George Springer, Alex Bregman, Jose Altuve, and Carlos Correa is already intimidating. With the two recent additions, the Stros could have one of their most balanced lineups in a while.

                  Last year, the Stros added Yulieski Gurriel and Evan Gattis became the offensive force that he was expected to be. They have already added Brian McCann (trade) and Josh Reddick (free agency), two left-handed bats in a mostly righty lineup. Read my lips. The Astros are looking to add one more bat. Evan Drellich has written that the Astros are still in on Carlos Beltran even after adding McCann and Reddick.

                  Ken Rosenthal has echoed the statement saying that they can get enough bats to go around if they add Beltran. Jake Kaplan has consistently stated that they will not go after a big starting pitcher. If acquiring Chris Sale or Chris Archer means giving up Bregman, the Astros are not willing right now. I think the Astros are comfortable with the rotation for now but have the resources to acquire one at the trade deadline.

                  Need an offensive powerhouse.

                  If the Astros are not going to bring in an ace, they better build an offense that can keep the team in games. I am talking about an offense similar to what the Boston Red Sox had in 2016. Last year, the Red Sox batted .282 with 208 homers, 2615 total bases, and scoring 878 runs. Maybe even challenge the Baltimore Orioles, who lead the MLB with 253 homers. The Red Sox made a 22 game winner out of Rick Porcello, who won the AL Cy Young in 2016.

                  They are looking for one more big bat, which could mean that they are still waiting for Edwin Encarnacion‘s decision. The big bats will most likely wait until the CBA is finalized and the high salary teams’ know what the luxury tax threshold is. Luhnow could be targeting a big bat but will go back to Plan B if needed, the 39-year-old Beltran.

                  Return of Grandpa Beltran.

                  But why would Beltran want to come to Houston after a decade plus of booing him? I think most Houston fans have gotten over the whole ‘Bootran.’ The Astros might be one of the few teams willing to give him at least a two-year deal. If he returns to Houston to finish his career, he will undo the wrongs from 2005. Maybe the Stros will call him Grandpa Beltran.

                  Beltran is a leader, like McCann, who could help this young team become more consistent offensively. Last season, Beltran batted .293 with 29 homers and 93 RBIs. His days of a .900 +OPS are over, but he did have a .850 OPS in 2016. He was an All-Star in 2016 and could add to an already potent Stros offense. The days of Colby Rasmus and Luis Valbuena days are over, welcome to the new Crush City!

                  They'll have to pry Bregman from my cold, dead hands.
                  Last edited by H2O4me; 11-19-2016, 10:47 AM.
                  Photobucket has changed it's image hosting pricings, moving my $2/month plan to $480/year -- so most of the images I have posted here will revert to dead links sometime soon. There's no workaround other than replacing them one-by-one. So my posts the forums are going to look funky for a while. My apologies.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    The Astros' evolving plan
                    Ken Rosenthal
                    The Astros’ trade for McCann and agreement with free-agent outfielder Josh Reddick has not precluded them from continuing their pursuit of Beltran, according to major-league sources.

                    The most likely current scenario is that Reddick will play right field, with George Springer moving to center and Nori Aoki and Jake Marisnick platooning in left.

                    Beltran certainly could take some of the Aoki/Marisnick at-bats, and the Astros would not use one of their catchers, McCann or Evan Gattis, as a DH every night. A full season of Yuli Gurriel at first and Alex Bregman at third should make the team’s lineup rather potent even without Beltran. But the team would benefit from Beltran’s leadership and presence, just as it will benefit from McCann’s.

                    The other question with the Astros is whether they, too, will pursue a top starting pitcher in trade.

                    The team has parted with a considerable amount of young pitching in recent years; Jarred Cosart went to the Marlins; Josh Hader and Adrian Houser to the Brewers in the Carlos Gomez/Mike Fiers trade; Vince Velasquez, Mark Appel and others to the Phillies in the Ken Giles deal.

                    The Astros still believe they have enough of a prospect inventory to include pitching in a deal for a Sale or an Archer. If they’re not comfortable with the asking prices, they can always start the season with Dallas Keuchel and Lance McCullers at the top of their rotation, and hope that oft-injured free-agent acquisition Charlie Morton gives them 30 starts instead of 10.
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                    • #11
                      Astros' deal with Josh Reddick makes Nori Aoki a non-tender candidate

                      The Astros have a decision to make in the next two weeks regarding recently acquired outfielder Nori Aoki.

                      Thursday's four-year, $52 million agreement with free agent corner outfielder Josh Reddick makes it less of a certainty the team tenders Aoki a contract in arbitration before the Dec. 2 deadline. The 34-year-old from Japan stands to make about $6.8 million through the arbitration process, according to MLB Trade Rumors' projection, a lot for a player who now most likely projects as a fourth outfielder.

                      Whether the Astros tender Aoki a contract depends on how they view him fitting in their new-look outfield mix. If they plan for Reddick to play right field and George Springer to play center, they could platoon the right-handed Jake Marisnick and left-handed Aoki in left field. But if they project the left-handed hitting Reddick as their everyday left fielder, Aoki's skillset becomes mostly redundant.

                      When they claimed Aoki from the Seattle Mariners earlier this month, the Astros' plan was for him to play left field against righthanded pitchers. He batted .300 with a .793 OPS in 320 at-bats against righthanders last season.

                      The Astros could attempt to strike a below-market deal with Aoki or tender him a contract in arbitration only to trade him. Non-tendering him would make him a free agent.

                      Teoscar Hernandez, Preston Tucker and Tony Kemp are the Astros' other in-house options for backup outfielder spots.

                      Once Reddick's deal is finalized, the Astros will have a full 40-man roster, though they have a few players they could outright to create more spots. They did not add any players to the 40-man roster Friday, the last day to make protections ahead of next month's Rule 5 Draft. Outfielder Jon Kemmer and righthanders Mike Hauschild and Jordan Jankowski are among those who were left exposed to Rule 5.
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                      • #12
                        Ken Rosenthal @Ken_Rosenthal
                        Among hitters in whom #Astros have shown interest, per sources: Mike Napoli.

                        Team prefers LHH, but Nap could be 1B/DH and offer leadership.
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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by H2O4me View Post
                          Ken Rosenthal @Ken_Rosenthal
                          Edwin Encarnacion fills that roll as well. He's a 5 year consistent producer and 2 years younger. I'd pay the difference in money and enjoy the return.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Busy Astros could still add another bat

                            GM Luhnow says club would like to lengthen lineup

                            By Brian McTaggart / MLB.com
                            HOUSTON -- The Astros, as promised, have moved at a breakneck pace this offseason to upgrade their team. Last week, they signed veteran starting pitcher Charlie Morton, tradedfor veteran catcher Brian McCann and reached a four-year, $52 million deal with outfielder Josh Reddick, whose signing is expected to be announced as early as Wednesday.

                            Even after signing Reddick, the Astros will likely still be in the market to add another bat. Houston general manager Jeff Luhnow hasn't ruled out acquiring a frontline starter, but he said Tuesday that he feels good about the Astros' starting pitching as it stands. Dallas Keuchel and Lance McCullers ended the year injured, but they are a strong 1-2 if healthy. Collin McHugh is a steady hand, and Mike Fiers and rookie Joe Musgrove are also in the mix, along with Morton.

                            "A lot of assumptions about health for next year, but if we're healthy, we certainly have a solid, very good pitching staff that can get us where we need to go," Luhnow said. "Adding Morton gave us some additional depth. We're certainly in the market for another top-tier pitcher if it presents itself, but those are difficult trades to make. We're looking, but nothing is imminent right now."

                            Luhnow said signing Morton and trading for McCann were critical early moves because the Astros wanted more rotation depth and needed an upgrade at catcher. The club is still looking for offense at first base, designated hitter and the outfield, which Reddick will provide. Houston is believed to be interested in bringing back Carlos Beltran, who could provide leadership and a feared bat at DH.

                            "Whether it's one more guy, two more guys, we're certainly talking to a lot of different players and hoping we can improve our offense, the length of our lineup," Luhnow said. "That's been the focus for the last couple of weeks."

                            An offense that too often has had holes in the bottom half the past couple of seasons should be as deep as the Astros have had in years once Reddick and McCann are on board. Plus, there will be full season of Alex Bregman and Yulieski Gurriel, with Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa and George Springer remaining as the anchors. DH/catcher Evan Gattis was second on the club in OPS this past season, and don't forget veteran Norichika Aoki, who was claimed off waivers earlier this month.

                            "That's what we want," Luhnow said. "The last couple of years, we've had some weak spots at the back end of lineup, and we'd really like to shore that up, and adding another bat or two to what we've already done will do that and will lengthen our lineup.

                            "We love our top four guys from last year, but if we can get if we can get three or four … guys who are consistent offensive performers [lower in the lineup], this should be a fun, productive lineup."

                            Aoki, 34, could be a non-tender candidate for the Astros now they've added Reddick. MLBTradeRumors.com estimates Aoki could earn $6.8 million next year in arbitration, and Houston has until Dec. 2 to decide whether to tender him a contract.

                            "I do think his role is very much dependent on what else we do and what positions the other players [are in] if we're able to get deals done, but Aoki has value being a left-handed hitter, high-contact, high-on-base guy who can play multiple outfield positions," Luhnow said. "He's got value on the team for sure."
                            Photobucket has changed it's image hosting pricings, moving my $2/month plan to $480/year -- so most of the images I have posted here will revert to dead links sometime soon. There's no workaround other than replacing them one-by-one. So my posts the forums are going to look funky for a while. My apologies.

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                            • #15
                              Mark Berman ‏@MarkBermanFox26
                              Jeff Luhnow: "We're not done."
                              Photobucket has changed it's image hosting pricings, moving my $2/month plan to $480/year -- so most of the images I have posted here will revert to dead links sometime soon. There's no workaround other than replacing them one-by-one. So my posts the forums are going to look funky for a while. My apologies.

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