FanGraphs Baseball

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  1. The ‘Stros best position player is the ball boy. Dude’s been a + WAR player.

    Comment by Steve — June 26, 2013 @ 1:55 pm

  2. Astros philosophy: “Don’t spend.”

    Astros resulting future: Decreased revenue –> Elongated process to compete

    Astros template to follow: Oakland

    The fallacy of promising a perennial contender by sacrificing the most important asset, a MLB season, should not be accepted by any fan base.

    Comment by Charlie — June 26, 2013 @ 2:01 pm

  3. I wouldn’t say their philosophy is “don’t spend,” I’d say their philosophy is more along the lines of “don’t spend a lot.” You’re welcome. :)

    Comment by Steve — June 26, 2013 @ 2:03 pm

  4. Who is their all-star this season?

    Comment by Matt — June 26, 2013 @ 2:12 pm

  5. Won’t be Castro. Has Wieters, Mauer, Santana all ahead of him. Sal Perez also.

    Comment by Matt — June 26, 2013 @ 2:14 pm

  6. Good grief, now we’re trading 25-year-olds due to ‘how far we are from contention’?!? Of course Castro can still be a legitimate MLB starter if the Astros rebuilding program goes according to schedule. Doesn’t mean he’s untradeable, but no reason to actively shop him. He’s one of the guys you figure on keeping around.

    Charlie up above noted the revenue reason for not just punting seasons. There’s also a production/rebuilding cost to treating your employees as cattle. ‘Really work hard so we can trade you elsewhere!’ does not encourage your players to put in the extra work on days where you really really just don’t feel like it. The odd veteran (e.g., Erik Bedard) who signs with you in return for playing time with which to rebuild his career? Fine. A young player who produces? That’s reason to work him into your long-range plans, not shop him around.

    Comment by Richie — June 26, 2013 @ 2:19 pm

  7. I don’t think Sal Perez will be sniffing the All-star game unless he buys a general admission ticket…

    Comment by Matt is talkin' to himself again — June 26, 2013 @ 2:25 pm

  8. Ensberg was a boss.

    Comment by Mat — June 26, 2013 @ 2:40 pm

  9. Don’t be surprised if Altuve gets the backup 2nd base spot by finishing 2nd to Cano in the players’ vote. Altuve is very popular among the players, much more so than say Pedroia for example. Castro would clearly be a manager’s add as a 3rd catching option (or 4th if someone drops out of the game).

    Comment by reillocity — June 26, 2013 @ 2:43 pm

  10. I’d hold on to Castro. He’s a LH bat with developing pop at a premium position, plus catcher is generally thought to be the weakest position in the organization, as far as depth and upside go.

    I thought Altuve should have gone last season. I know he’s cheap. I know he’s under club control for a while. I know he’s fun to watch. However, I believe his stock peaked and we missed an opportunity last year. He is what he is. Limited pop, limited strikezone discipline, limited range. Maybe give Villar or Fontana a shot at 2B, or we can continue down the “what-to-do-with-Jimmy-Parades” road and try him at 2B again.

    Comment by BiggioHOF — June 26, 2013 @ 2:47 pm

  11. That 2005 year will be in my head for the rest of my life.

    Comment by Charlie — June 26, 2013 @ 2:47 pm

  12. I don’t know. If I played for the Astros and knew that playing hard and well could/would lead to a trade to any team that isn’t the Astros…I think that might just encourage me to put in that extra work. I really don’t buy the “treating your employees like cattle” argument.

    True, you can’t be ridiculous about (see: Loria, Jeffrey) moving people willy-nilly. That will have a negative impact.

    But the Rays have seemed to do okay with their strategy of trading most players (esp. pitchers) as they reach the end of arbitration years. And I’ve not gotten the impression that most players are not fans of what the Rays as an organization are up to.

    Comment by KDL — June 26, 2013 @ 2:48 pm

  13. Castro throws well and has improved a bit at blocking since a dreadful 2012 at it but is a poor receiver who struggles to catch pitches cleanly and does a lackluster job framing borderline pitches. Offensively there has been a noticeable to the eye increase in the amount of carry to his flyballs that dates back to last September, and I would suspect it is an offshoot of some combo of transferring more backswing to the ball via changes to his swing path, a small bat speed increase, or healthier legs. He may actually be underperforming his offensive talents now given the near complete absence of competent major league bats behind him and that he only recently seems to be catching up with lefthanded pitchers in terms of his offensive production against them.

    Comment by reillocity — June 26, 2013 @ 2:59 pm

  14. Weiters hitting .225. Castro will be Astros rep at AS game

    Comment by illinibob — June 26, 2013 @ 3:06 pm

  15. I think his pitch framing is noticeably better this year.

    Comment by illinibob — June 26, 2013 @ 3:08 pm

  16. lol Morgan Ensberg

    Comment by Eminor3rd — June 26, 2013 @ 3:21 pm

  17. Castro is #2 in WAR among AL catchers, for what it’s worth.

    Comment by Jay29 — June 26, 2013 @ 4:03 pm

  18. The problem with keeping Castro is that he’s only a couple years from free agency, whereas the Astros might be competing in 2 or 3 years. That means if they trade him for prospects as he approaches a possible payday (e.g. after 2015 season), the prospects that come back won’t be ready to contribute right away.

    But if they trade him this offseason, it only increases the stockpile of prospects for the (they hope) contending ~2015-2018 teams.

    Comment by Jay29 — June 26, 2013 @ 4:07 pm

  19. * backspin, rather than backswing

    Comment by reillocity — June 26, 2013 @ 4:25 pm

  20. I sense a miniature FanGraphs meltdown if/when Altuve and Castro both make the 2013 All-Star team. Two Astros!?

    Comment by reillocity — June 26, 2013 @ 4:27 pm

  21. It’s Castro, duh. I already voted for him 35 times for the All-Star game.

    Comment by supershredder — June 26, 2013 @ 5:41 pm

  22. I think it would be more accurate to say “Don’t Spend….on mediocre veteran Free Agents who might help you win 2-3 more games if everything goes well”….So much of the backlash against the Astros rebuilding plan seem to come from agents who can no longer use Houston as a landing spot for fading veterans to get a final payday when the front line teams no longer want them….

    Comment by Jim — June 26, 2013 @ 5:44 pm

  23. There is also some guy name Delino DeSheilds, Jr. stealing as many bases as Billy Hamilton in the minors.

    Comment by supershredder — June 26, 2013 @ 5:46 pm

  24. I think this article puts a little too much stock in the “Astros won’t be competing for another twenty years and need to build up the farm system” belief. The Astros have an outstanding minors system and are under no pressure to keep flipping Major League players with value to compile prospects. Luhnow has even said that this year they aren’t really targeting those types of trades (unless somebody makes a ridiculous offer, of course). Truth is this team may be competing in 2015 and Castro could be a valuable part of that. Especially when you consider that there is not much depth of Major League ready talent at the catcher position for the Astros. Someone is going to have to overpay for Castro (which is possible) to acquire him this summer, in my opinion.

    Comment by supershredder — June 26, 2013 @ 5:53 pm

  25. “Given his past performance, Castro is probably over his head.”

    You’re basing this on a 67-game callup as a 23 year-old and <300 PA in a year where (a) he was returning from a season-long injury and (b) he was banged up? I agree that there will likely be a small bit of regression this year, but I don't think there is enough past performance data to make a statement like this.

    Comment by Jake — June 26, 2013 @ 5:56 pm

  26. A balding pedophile isn’t popular among athletes? you don’t say!

    Comment by pudieron89 — June 26, 2013 @ 6:00 pm

  27. Uh, DDJ has 18 stolen bases this season. Hamilton has 47.

    Comment by Terence — June 26, 2013 @ 6:15 pm

  28. This article seems to look at the year Castro is having and comparing it to amateur and minor league scouting reports, so it must be an outlier. He’s obviously changed something in his swing as he is hitting for more power and striking out more.

    If you look at this year only, you might think his power is an anomaly. But if you pull out the magnifying glass and look at the last month of the 2012 season, Castro raked. This year in spring training he raked and then continued into the season.

    Comment by Raidas77 — June 26, 2013 @ 6:24 pm

  29. Well aware of DDJ, thanks, just not a believer.

    He’s running far less this year, his power has regressed (which should be the exact opposite, being in Lancaster), and I’m not sure he sticks at 2B. And if he doesn’t stick at 2B, where does he play? Springer has CF locked up and then you have guys like Santana, Tucker, and probably even Aplin and Wates who are established OFs who’d be ahead of DDJ in an org depth chart.

    Even if DDJ does stick at 2B, I believe, by the 2015 rankings, Tony Kemp will be ahead of DDJ in the org depth chart.

    Would be thrilled to be wrong.

    Comment by Donito — June 26, 2013 @ 6:45 pm

  30. Altuve is money. Signed, able to play every day, decent glove and a bat and speed enough to stay on the keystone. He is 23 years old and may yet develop a propensity to walk more as well. Lots of prospects are still in the minors at this age. Unlike Starlin Castro, he is not devolving even if his OBP is a little low for the top of the lineup. Once the Astros actually have a major leaguer at every position, he will be scoring more and may walk more often as well. If I was in the Astro front office, I would work on his defense and batting eye. He is too quick to have the fielding numbers he has, not sure if he needs help with positioning or not. But as long as you do not expect 15-20 homers a year and 30 steals at a good percentage comes with close to a .300 average? A great 9 hole hitter in a great lineup and a decent 1-2 hitter on a mediocre club.

    Comment by Kimbal Binder — June 26, 2013 @ 7:04 pm

  31. The primary responsibilities for a catcher are to call a game and handle a pitching staff. Next comes his defense. Any good hitting is a bonus.

    This article had a sentence or two about his abilities in those areas.

    Know why the Pirates have turned it around? How about their pitching staff? Funny, how that happened when Russell Martin showed up.

    Why are the Royals ranked as the 1st or 2nd best pitching staff in the AL? I’d say Salvador Perez – next in line to Yadier Molina…..and can we talk about how well all the young Cardinal pitchers are doing?

    Analyzing a catcher by how he hits is the difference between geeks that never payed competitive baseball, and people that did.

    Comment by Ben Melman — June 26, 2013 @ 7:45 pm

  32. “….is the difference between geeks that never payed competitive baseball, and people that did.”

    HAHA

    Fangraphs,

    Could you please update the database to include Ben Melman, I can’t seem to find him.

    Comment by BiggioHOF — June 26, 2013 @ 7:54 pm

  33. I think Castro is a piece to build around and being a Stanford man doesn’t hurt. I think many don’t realize that the Astros will be back sooner rather than later. So thanks, but we don’t you guys trying to sell off one of few solid assests.

    Also, Castro may be an overdraft, but I bet most teams from that round would take him over their pick right about now.

    Comment by Ryan D. — June 26, 2013 @ 8:23 pm

  34. Yea this is stupid. I much rather watch Wandy, Norris, Pence, Lawrie, and Melancen battle it out for 70 wins, and keep them around than to wait for Castro, Altuve, Appel, Singleton, Correa, Springer, and Deshields Jr to possibly do anything.

    Comment by MakeitRayn — June 26, 2013 @ 9:03 pm

  35. Um, Pedroia’s brother was accused of pedophilia.

    Comment by Scraps — June 26, 2013 @ 9:03 pm

  36. Oh, I forgot: You moron.

    Comment by Scraps — June 26, 2013 @ 9:04 pm

  37. The Astros != the Marlins.

    Comment by Scraps — June 26, 2013 @ 9:13 pm

  38. Approximately!

    Comment by Scraps — June 26, 2013 @ 9:19 pm

  39. What does his religion have anything to do with it? Typical ignorant, prejudice RedSox fan.

    Comment by MakeitRayn — June 26, 2013 @ 9:23 pm

  40. How about their pitching staff? Funny, how that happened when Russell Martin showed up.

    The Pirates throw the fewest strikes of any team in baseball, did you know that? Maybe Russell Martin taught Pittsburgh’s staff that novel approach. Of course, Pittsburgh’s staff this year had the fewest hits on balls in play; maybe Martin taught the defense some tricks when he showed up. Maybe some other explanation is the case; I don’t know, I never played since high school.

    Comment by Scraps — June 26, 2013 @ 10:19 pm

  41. No joke!

    I remember “experts” skewering the Astros for “going cheap” and taking Castro over Smoak.

    I’ll take Castro over Smoak every day of the week and twice on Sundays!

    Comment by Donito — June 26, 2013 @ 10:19 pm

  42. No, spend on mediocre veteran free agents (by veteran, I assume you mean post arbitration years – maybe 30-32 years old?) because of a variety of positives. 1) Potential trade netting more minor league talent and 2) Adding more MLB value to potentially hit the upper end of a win curve. Punting future seasons, which is exactly what they would be doing by trading cost-controlled players, is not only statistically irrationale, but potentially detrimental.

    The goal is to put the best MLB team on the field. If the Astros believe an upcoming prospect has will better the team, then certainly signing the free agent would decrease the product on the MLB team.

    Witholding money, simply to withhold due to a perceived timeline, can do significant damage on longterm goals – both in terms of revenue and on-field-talent.

    Comment by Charlie — June 27, 2013 @ 1:06 am

  43. Also, let me clarify “spending.”By spending, which I should have said in my previous post, I mean short term, cost-friendly contracts that don’t hinder future baseball operations.

    Comment by Charlie — June 27, 2013 @ 1:07 am

  44. At least they avoided the two Beckhams that suck and Ed Wade was running the draft. Cue Fangraphs nerds ripping Ed Wade…..

    Comment by Ryan D. — June 27, 2013 @ 2:18 am

  45. A’s never try to be the worst or really god awful. They always sign veterans and players that can produce to keep them watchable. Not very similar in strategies.

    Comment by Josh — June 27, 2013 @ 6:47 am

  46. They did spend on several low-priced free agents. They just traded everyone last year who was making a decent bit of coin, hence their low payroll.

    Crane was actually willing to spend more, but his GM Luhnow that he didn’t need it. The Astros farm system is just about at saturation in terms of depth and to get a top-flight prospect back, you have to buy an expensive free agent. That would obviously be a bad idea for Houston at this point.

    Houston isn’t following the Oakland blueprint, at least in terms of payroll. Both Crane and Luhnow have stated that the payroll will be similar to Texas’ when their top guys are settling in.

    Comment by Kev — June 27, 2013 @ 7:18 am

  47. I think the author is referring to his MiLB track record as well.

    Comment by brendan — June 27, 2013 @ 2:01 pm

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