Results tagged ‘ Jeff Luhnow ’
The Astros’ focus now is on the bullpen.
General manager Jeff Luhnow said Friday the team has some offers on the table for some relief pitchers. He said he would like sign as many as two veteran relievers to join a bullpen that was the youngest in the Majors last year.
“We’ve got some offers out there we’re waiting on,” he said. “Whether or not things happen this weekend or next week or after that, I’m not sure. We feel pretty good we’re going to get at least one or two of the guys we’re targeting.”
The Astros struggled to close out games after trading reliever Jose Veras in July. Houston went with a young bullpen and finished with a 4.90 ERA that was the worst in baseball and blew a league-high 29 saves. Veras has talked to the Astros about returning.
Luhnow also hasn’t ruled out adding another bat or even another starting pitcher.
“If we have an opportunity to bring in yet another starter, we wouldn’t hesitate to do it,” he said. “Right now, our primary focus is shifting to the bullpen.”
The Astros’ pro scouts are in Kissimmee, Fla., with general manager Jeff Luhnow this week to talk through Minor League free agents, Major League free agents and players the club might take with the top pick in December’s Rule 5 Draft, as well as going through offseason planning. The meetings are being held in conjunction with the instructional league, which ends on Saturday.
“They’ve been out seeing players all year, so it’s great to get their firsthand perspective,” Luhnow said. “[Monday] we went over to watch our instructional league team beat the Braves, 12-2. [Outfielder James] Ramsey hit a three-run bomb, and [first baseman Chase] McDonald hit a bomb. We had five pitchers and couple of them were in the high 90s, and one of them [right-hander Jandel Gustave] was over 100. It was really a fun day.”
Tuesday was a camp day, which meant the Astros players remained at the team’s complex at Osceola County Stadium and got their workouts in. On Thursday, the Astros will travel to Viera, Fla, to face the Nationals.
“It’s kind of like Spring Training to a certain extent,” Luhnow said. “I think the program’s been great. They’ve been doing classwork stuff and doing a lot of good stuff. They all know what their marching orders are for the offseason. And looking at some of these kids in this environment, they’re learning the Astros way, and I’m pretty excited about the way we drafted this year.”
Looking to bolster their catching situation following a string of injuries, including a knee injury to starter Jason Castro, the Astros on Tuesday acquired Matt Pagnozzi from the Atlanta Braves in exchange for cash considerations.
Castro, who left Monday’s game with a sprained right knee, underwent an MRI on Tuesday that showed a cyst on the medial side of his right knee, which is the same knee on which he underwent surgery to repair his anterior cruciate ligament in 2011. General manager Jeff Luhnow said Castro is day-to-day.
“We’re breathing a sigh of relief on that,” he said. “It’s a lot better than it could have been.”
Pagnozzi was expected to be in uniform for Tuesday night’s game against the Twins after finishing up the season at Triple-A Gwinnett on Monday. He has appeared in 33 Major League games in his career with St. Louis (2009-10), Colorado (2011) and Pittsburgh (2011) and is a career .310 (22-for-71) hitter with 13 RBIs.
“I’ve got some history with him from my time in St. Louis and so does [catching instructor Jeff] Murphy,” Luhnow said. “He’s an excellent defensive catcher with time in the big leagues with a couple of different clubs, and it’s good fit for us for our catching depth.”
To make room for Pagnozzi on the 40-man roster, the Astros will transfer Edgar Gonzalez to the 60-day disabled list.
Castro, an All-Star this season and two-time American League Player of the Week, is having a career season, hitting .282 with 18 homers and 56 RBIs after going 2-for-2 with two RBIs on Monday. He suffered his injury running the bases in the first inning.
The Astros have two catchers on the seven-day concussion disabled list – Carlos Corporan and Max Stassi. Corporan was injured Aug. 19 when he took a foul ball of his facemask, and Stassi was hit in the head by a pitch two days later and hasn’t played since.
Luhnow said Corporan could see game action later this week.
“Corporan is further along than Stassi, and hopefully we’ll get Corporan into game situations later this week, either it’s with an affiliate or in Houston,” Luhnow said. “We’re feeling optimistic he’ll e back in competition later this week. Stassi has one more hurdle left and until he clears that milestone we’re in a holding pattern.”
Stassi has said in recent days he hasn’t been able to pass his balance tests.
Cody Clark, a 31-year-old who was called up Aug. 23 after 11 years in the Minor Leagues, replaced Castro and went 0-for-3 on Monday, dropping him to 0-for-13 for the season. The Astros didn’t call up a third catcher when rosters expanded. Their Triple-A affiliate in Oklahoma City and Double-A affiliate in Corpus Christi are both going to the playoffs.
Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow for the first time Friday said the outfielder George Springer would stay at Triple-A Oklahoma City for the rest of its season, which could include a trip to the playoffs. Whether Springer gets called to Houston afterwards remains to be seen, but don’t expect him in an Astros uniform anytime soon.
Oklahoma City finishes its regular season Sept. 2, but appears headed for the playoffs.
“The most important thing I want everybody to focus on is he’s having a great year, he’s a guy that unless something changes is going to be in our outfield next year,” Luhnow said. “All this discussion about what day is he coming up is really not that relevant right now. What’s relevant is a he’s a guy we’re excited about, he’s having a tremendous year, we’re going to let him finish his year at Oklahoma City and make a determination after that as far as how much time’s left and whether or not is makes sense to bring him up.
“I see him as a guy who’s going to come to Spring Training next year competing for our every day center fielder job, and I see him as a big part of our team next year. That’s really the message I want our fans to focus on, not worry too much about the date he comes up. There’s a lot of factors that go into it, and we’ll make the best decision for the organization.”
Springer, 23, has split time between Double-A Corpus Christi and Oklahoma City, hitting a combined .303 with a Minor League-leading 33 homers and 98 RBIs with 38 stolen bases entering play Friday. He’s the first player in the Minors to hit 30 home runs and steal at least 30 bases since former Oakland Athletics farmhand Grant Desme in 2009.
“As a general manger, when the fans are asking when your players are coming up because they want to see them in the big leagues, that’s a testament to our scouts and player development people and Springer himself for doing what he’s done this year,” Luhnow said.
The Astros announced Saturday they had signed popular second baseman Jose Altuve to a four-year contract extension with a pair of option years, marking the team’s first significant contract commitment under general manager Jeff Luhnow. The deal was first reported by MLB.com.
The extension begins in 2014 and runs through the 2017 season and provides the club with options for the 2018 and 2019 seasons. Additional terms were not disclosed, but Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reported the deal is worth $12.5 million for four years with two club options for $6 million and $6.5 million.
“Jose values security and we value Jose, and it starts with that,” Luhnow said. “He’s done a terrific job for us ever since getting called up from Double-A two years ago, and he’s been a consistent force in our lineup. He just knows how to hit and he’s a good defender at second base, and when you get a player like that who can add value, not only when he’s at the plate but on the base paths, but also when he’s out there at second base, those are the types of guys we feel we need to have and have long-term. Removing some of the uncertainty for him and for us at this point makes sense.”
The Astros are essentially buying out Altuve’s three arbitration years (though 2017) and doing it in a relatively cost-friendly manner for the team.
Luhnow spent most of his first year on the job trading away players who were in the midst of multi-year contracts in exchange for prospects as the Astros went full-bore in their plan to rebuild through the Draft and player development. The Astros opened this year with a payroll of about $22 million, with Bud Norris ($3 million) as the highest-paid player.
The Altuve deal, which has been in the work for a couple of weeks with talks intensifying in the last few days, means the club is taking the next step in its rebuilding process by locking up some young players it feels will be building blocks for the future. All-Star catcher Jason Castro could fit that mold.
“This won’t be the last time we tie up one of our young players,” Luhnow said. “In this case, it made a lot of sense, both in terms of timing and length of deal and so forth, but it’s something we’re going to look at.
“We’re going to have a lot of exciting young talent coming through our system and to the big leagues and once we feel there’s enough certainty on our side that the player is going to be around and be able to contribute at the level we need him to for the long haul, we’re going to try to get deals done. It eliminates some of the back-and-forth that goes on year in and year out with arbitration and gives the player some security and gives us some certainly know the player is going to be there for us.”
Altuve, 23, was promoted from Double-A Corpus Christi in 2011 after the Astros traded Jeff Keppinger and plugged into the starting lineup. He batted .284 with three homers and 28 RBIs in 85 games as a rookie before a breakout season in 2012, when he hit .290 with seven homers, 37 RBIs and 33 steals en route to an All-Star Game berth.
He is hitting .280 with three homers, 28 RBIs and 21 stolen bases through 86 games this season.
Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow spoke with hosts Brian Kenny and Harold Reynolds on Tuesday during MLB Network’s “MLB Now,” discussing the rebuilding Astros, roster moves and the team’s tandem pitching project in the farm system. Here’s the video:
Here’s a video of Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow and manager Bo Porter on Monday’s roster activity:
Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow said the team has gathered enough information to make a decision whether it wants to keep Rule 5 picks Nate Freiman, a first baseman, and Josh Fields, a relief pitcher, and is now debating the future of both players.
Fields, the No. 1 pick in December’s Rule 5 Draft, has a good shot to make the team considering how wide open the bullpen is. He’s appeared in eight games and has allowed seven hits, six walks and three earned runs while striking out four.
Freiman, who didn’t play Thursday or Friday, has hit .278 with one homer and seven RBIs and is trying to make a club where the corner infield is crowded, especially with the emergence of Brandon Laird and Brett Wallace’s good spring output.
“At this point in spring, [manager Bo Porter] has done a really good job of giving everybody that’s in camp at-bats and we feel like we have a lot of information to make the decisions we need to make,” Luhnow said. “The tough part between now and next Sunday is whittling it down to the 25 guys and figuring out what our strategy is with the ones who aren’t on the 25.
“With the case of the two Rule 5 players, it’s all or nothing for the most part unless you can work out a deal. We’ve done a good job working Fields out there enough times to get a feel for where he’s at, and the same thing with Freiman. We have to make those decisions here in the week.”
The Astros could work out a trade to keep Freiman. In that case, they would place him on outright waivers and the other teams would have a chance to claim him and would subsequently have to keep him on their 25-man roster all season.
If he clears waivers, which most Rule 5 picks do, the Astros would have three days to work out a deal with the Padres or offer him back if they can’t. If the Padres take him back, they would give the Astros $25,000. If they don’t, the Astros are free to take him off the 40-man and put him in their Minor League system.
Houston worked out a trade with Cleveland in 2005 to keep Rule 5 pick Willy Taveras, who wound up finishing second in the National League Rookie of the Year voting that season behind Ryan Howard. Luke Scott also came to Houston in that deal.
Astros manager Bo Porter, general manager Jeff Luhnow and pitcher Bud Norris react to Wednesday’s announcement that Norris will start for the club on Opening Day.
What happened: Chris Carter hit a pair of two-run homers and drove in five runs, and Bud Norris threw six strong innings to lead the Astros to an 11-2 win over the Blue Jay sat Osceola County Stadium (boxscore).
What we learned: LF Chris Carter has his timing down. Astros manager Bo Porter could tell early in the spring that Carter’s timing wasn’t great and preached it was only a matter of time before he came around.
“Carter has done a lot of extra work with[hitting coaches] John Mallee and Dan Radison, and they’ve done a tremendous job getting things dialed up with him and you’re starting to see the power display,” he said. “We knew when he got his timing down, he has power to all fields and he’s capable of doing what he did today consistently.”
What we learned II: RHP Bud Norris is ready for Opening Day, if the Astros choose to give him the assignment. Norris worked six innings against the Blue Jays and allowed three hits and two runs in six innings.
“The slider got lazy a couple of innings,” he said. “Obviously, the third inning when they scored there were a couple of bad sliders, but once I got it out of my head to go out there and compete and be confident with it, they started coming along. You’re always trying to locate. That’s the No. 1 priority, but attacking and being aggressive is also a priority.”
What else: In addition to the two homers by Carter, Houston also got long balls from C Jason Castro and IF Brandon Laird. Carter, Castro and Laird are tied for the team lead with four homers this spring, and Carter leads with 11 RBIs. … The 32 homers the Astros have hit this spring are three more than they hit in the entire spring schedule a year ago, and there are 14 exhibition games remaining. … LHP Erik Bedard followed Norris with three scoreless innings, allowing one hit and striking out five batters, in his longest outing of the spring. Bedard had been slowed by a strained gluteal muscle, but he appears healthy now. … The Astros didn’t commit an error.
What went wrong: Well, not much. The Astros were 2-for-9 with runners in scoring position, but when you slug four homers, it doesn’t really matter.
What they said: “I don’t know how many pitches I threw, but to get the pitch count higher than it was at and to get up and down is the big key – how you feel in between innings.” – LHP Erik Bedard on his three-inning outing Sunday.
What’s next: The Astros are off Monday, but RHP Philip Humber will throw in a simulated game in Kissimmee. The team resumes Grapefruit League play Tuesday at 12:05 p.m. CT against the Jays in Dunedin, Fla., with RHP Jordan Lyles on the mound.
Who’s injured: OF Fernando Martinez (lower back strain) is day-to-day.
Tweets of the day:
CC power show here in Osceola County. Happy St Patty's Day!—
Jeff Luhnow (@jluhnow) March 17, 2013
Links of the day: Astros notebook is chock full of information, including more on the roster cuts that came down Sunday morning and where prospect Carlos Correa will likely begin the 2013 season, and much more.
Video of Jeff Luhnow talking roster moves:
The day in photos