Questions Facing Astros in 2016-17 Off-Season

Actually Winning is the thing that eventually determines the continuity of big crowds at the ballpark.

“Actually Winning” is the thing that eventually determines the continuity of big crowds at the ballpark. Guess which season this not-so-big Astros Saturday game crowd was taken? Try 2014.


Roster Questions and Comments Facing the Astros and GM Jeff Luhnow in the Winter of 2016-17:

(1) What’s the starting rotation for 2017? Once you write down Keuchel, McHugh, McCullers, Musgrove, Fiers, and Fister, where do you go from there?

Comment: There’s not a name on that list that’s neither too hurt, too Jekyll and Hide, maybe still too hurt, too young, too erratic, or too over-the-hill.

(2) Is Keuchel repairable? Is McHugh’s erraticism correctable? Will McCullers still have it? Is Musgrove ready? Is Fiers worth keeping? Does Fister have anything left in the tank?

Comment: Musgrove gets our only positive vote; the other questions are unanswerable at this time and we don’t know enough about Peacock or other home-grown prospects to comment on other in-house options.

(3) Who’s on first?

Comment: Singleton’s already getting paid to do what he apparently cannot do – that is, hit big league pitching. Reed swings like a big tub of goo. And White is battling back to mediocrity with the stick. How about schooling the hitter Gurriel at the out bag during the winter?

(4) What positions look set, going into next spring?

Comment: Our takes are the obvious: Altuve at 2nd; Correa at short; Bregman at 3rd; and Springer, in either right or center, depending on how we fill the other holes. Marisnick can’t hit; Tucker is starting to be a health and hitting for average question; and Hernandez is also flirting with Mendoza. Kemp doesn’t bring enough bat or tools of strength to the lineup beyond speed and Rasmus isn’t worth what he got paid in 2016. Again, do we have any pipeline talent that’s ready to compete for the outfield – and are any of them left handed batters?

(5) What do we do at catcher next year?

Comment: We’ve got a power-hitting guy without a lot of athleticism or baseball-savvy nuance to his defensive work; and we also have a strong handler of pitchers who can’t hit a lick himself. We need the athletic defensive guy and pitcher-Svengali, but we also need one who can hit – and neither Castro or Gaddis can do both. Do we spend the money looking for one outside the organization? There may not be any. The kind of guy we seek doesn’t exactly grow on trees.

(6) Where do we find a few good lefty bats for our lineup?

Comment: We have no ideas to offer, beyond – it would be nice if they played outfield, catcher, or first – or were comfortable filling the DH spot.

(7) What’s the plan for using the winter helping Giles to hone control of his skills for being the closer?

Comment: Giles has great stuff. Considering what the club gave up for him last winter too, his full development of control over his talent should be another primary off-season goal.

(8) Who fills the short and late relief roles that too often failed us in 2016?

Comment: Good question. Relief was spotty again in 2016. And, if the earlier guys can’t hold leads, the 9th inning closer isn’t going to be used enough to really matter.

(9) Where do we get the talent to fill the holes the Astros obviously have – the holes that stand in the way of winning? Do we continue to play the “suck it up slowly from the farm system” card? Or do we do what the Rangers so fearlessly do in winning AL West division championships? They go out and buy it when it becomes available – while the Astros and others are still home “debating” whether the money is worth it to the ripple losses those kinds of acquirements cause to the revenue stream plan.

Comment: Maybe this off-season needs to be a doubleheader question period – one in which the Astros ask themselves not only (1) what do we need?, but also (2) how do we go about getting what we need to be a real contender – and not simply trying to sell our team product as a convincing pretender?


Bill McCurdy

Publisher, Editor, Writer

The Pecan Park Eagle

Houston, Texas


One Response to “Questions Facing Astros in 2016-17 Off-Season”

  1. Bill McCurdy Says:

    This excellent e-mail column response from JEFF SHARE came in this afternoon. Since I don’t think confidentiality was the intention of Jeff’s decision to send this level assessment of his own by e-mail, I would like to share it with everyone:

    “Good write-up. They didn’t add a single player this past season from outside their system. Obviously they were gun-shy after the Gomez fiasco and they got little from Kazmir – and Giles cost them plenty. They have too high a value on their own prospects of whom just a few are worth anything. Reed turned out to be a total bust and White was almost as bad. Castro’s defensive capabilities also declined this season. Gattis is a good back-up catcher and DH who should be hitting 6th or 7th in the lineup. I also have to question how valuable Springer is with a .260 average, 180 strikeouts and more caught stealings than SBs. Fister was terrible in the second half and he needs to go. Not crazy about Fiers, but he can be a back of the rotation starter. Be interesting to see how they’ll spend their money. A lot of what I read and hear about the Astros nationally doesn’t make them sound like a top flight organization.”


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