Results tagged ‘ Jeff Luhnow ’
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
The Astros made their first roster cuts of the spring Sunday morning, reassigning second baseman Delino DeShields Jr., outfielder Jake Goebbert, outfielder Marc Krauss, center fielder George Springer and catcher Chris Wallace to Minor League camp and optioning left-hander Rudy Owens and right-hander Sam Demel to Minor League camp.
The cuts leave the Astros with 54 players in camp.
“The important thing for players like DeShields and Springer, who are a part of our future, was to come up here and make a good impression with a new staff and both of them absolutely did that,” Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow said. “Goebbert has been a part of our Minor League system for a while and made a good impression, and Krauss had some big hits for us.
“The message to all those guys basically is you accomplished what your goal was this spring, you came up here and made a good impression on the staff. Krauss is a little bit closer. He’s a guy you could see having some time in Houston this year, and it’s nice when the staff has positive feelings about them so when we have a discussion, if there’s an opening later in the summer, they’ll be inclined to want him to come up.
“For all those guys, they did exactly what we wanted them to do.”
Minor League games begin on Thursday, and the Astros are expected to make another round of cuts later in the week, likely Wednesday. Players who were added to the 40-man roster for the first time this year can’t be cut from camp until Wednesday.
“It makes sense for them to go down there and get regular playing time rather than struggling to get at-bats up here,” Luhnow said. “As we get deeper and deeper into spring, the pitchers are going to be extended, but we want to see the position players be out there longer than two or three at-bats. It’s just a matter of allocating that resource of playing time.”
Luhnow said it hasn’t yet been determined at which level of the Minor Leagues the players cut on Sunday will begin the season. DeShields, the team’s first-round pick in 2010, was Houston’s Minor League Player of the Year after stealing a combined 101 bases last year. Springer, the team’s top Draft pick in 2011, put up big numbers at Class A Lancaster last year.
“Obviously, the more impressions they made here the better chance they have of starting at a higher level,” Luhnow said. “Realistically, given that Springer got a taste of Double-A last year and DeShields got a taste of high A, we don’t want to be too unrealistic about what the right level is for their development.”
Greetings from Port St. Lucie, Fla., where the Astros will play the Mets at 12:10 p.m CT today.
Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow and assistant GM David Stearns are on the trip, and Luhnow said he’s pleased with some of the players who are having consistent performances, such as Brandon Laird, Rick Ankiel and Brandon Barnes.
“Those have been good outcomes,” he said. “It’s nice to have a couple of starting pitchers do well like [Philip] Humber and [John] Ely, so you can find good news and bad news in every game during the spring. It’s still early on, but I’m very excited about some for the early strong performances and hoping that more guys jump on that train.”
Luhnow and manager Bo Porter talk roster composition on a daily basis, but with three weeks before the start of the regular season, a lot can change. Remember last year? It wasn’t until halfway through spring a year ago when Lucas Harrell was stretched out and put in the rotation, and he wound up being their best starting pitcher, going 11-11.
“Bo and I are talking about it constantly, and upstairs we’re hypothesizing on scenarios on who makes the club and what it means for everybody else,” Luhnow said. “Our conversations will different today than they will a week from now and than they will at the end of March. If spring would end today, what we would we do? We have that conversations every couple of days.”
2B Marwin Gonzalez
LF Fernando Martinez
1B Carlos Pena
DH J.D. Martinez
3B Brett Wallace
CF Rick Ankiel
C Jason Castro
RF Trevor Crowe
SS Jonathan Villar
RHP Alex White
RF Marlon Byrd
2B Justin Turner
1B Ike Davis
LF Lucas Duda
C John Buck
CF Matt den Dekker
DH Anthony Recker
SS Ruben Tejada
3B Wilmer Flores
RHP Jeremy Hefner
Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow met with the front office and the field staff for a few hours Monday afternoon to pore over every player on the Spring Training roster. It’s standard procedure in advance of pitchers and catchers hitting the field Tuesday for the first official workout of the spring.
Pitchers and catchers were officially scheduled to report Monday, and the only player who didn’t show up was catcher Carlos Perez, who’s dealing with visa issues in his native Venezuela. Luhnow didn’t have a timetable for his return, but doesn’t think it will be a long-term issue. The Astros have 29 pitches and six catchers currently in camp.
“The staff, we just all got together upstairs and talked through every pitcher and catcher in camp and it look us a few hours to do that,” Luhnow said. “Really talking about what our expectations are this spring, what’s it’s going to take for them to make the club, what scouting reports do we have for them from last year, talking about new players we haven’t seen yet. Trying to give everybody who’s here in camp as much background as they can on the players that are here.”
Monday’s Astros notebook has updates on who might start on the mound on Opening Day, the health of left-hander Sergio Escalona and more.
Here are some pictures from Monday’s camp activity:
Here’s a look at the significant deals made by Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow since he took over 14 months ago (you can click on each player’s name for his 2012 stats):
Date: Dec. 14, 2011.
Red Sox receive: RHP Mark Melancon.
The skinny: Luhnow’s first trade as GM was a good one. Weiland showed promise last spring before a serious arm infection ended his season, but Lowrie proved to be one of the team’s top offensive weapons when healthy. Luhnow wound up dealing Lowrie to the A’s for three players earlier this week, giving this trade even a more significant return. Melancon was a bust in Boston and has landed in Pittsburgh.
Date: March 21, 2012.
The skinny: Quintero and Bourgeois were back-ups who couldn’t crack the starting lineup of a last-place team, and Luhnow managed to trade them for two Minor Leaguers. Chapman had a good year in relief at Double-A Corpus Christi last season and could be a left-handed option in the pen down the road. Toney played at Greeneville and remains a work in progress.
Date: July 4, 2012.
The skinny: The first of five major trades in July, the Marlins were desperate for first base help and gave the Astros two Minor League players for the aging slugger. The Astros were happy to get him off their roster, and were even willing to pay the bulk of his remaining contract. Dominguez was brought up to the Majors and was impressive, hitting .284 with five homers and 16 RBIs in 109 at-bats. Everyone knew he could play defense, but he showed enough offensively that he’ll enter spring as the starting third baseman. Rasmussen was shipped to the Dodgers for RHP John Ely a few months later.
Date: July 20, 2012.
The skinny: The Astros acquired seven players, including four Minor Leaguers and a player to be named later, in a 10-player deal with the Jays. Happ had been with the team two years and could never gain consistency, while Lyon was in the final year of his three-year deal. This trade was more about the Minor League arms the Astros received, while addressing a catching shortage in the system, more than it was about the two big league players they received. Neither Cordero nor Francisco made it to the end of the season in Houston. Musgrove, Comer and Perez are among the Astros’ top 20 prospects.
Date: July 21, 2012.
The skinny: With Myers having a good shot at vesting his 2013 option that would have paid him $10 million, the Astros sent him to the White Sox and stockpiled a few more Minor League arms. Myers was having a solid season as closer after starting 66 games the previous two years in Houston. Heidenreich finished the year in the rotation at Double-A Corpus Christi and pitched well, while Walters took his lumps as a starter in the hitter-friendly environment in Lancaster.
Date: July 25, 2012.
The skinny: The rebuilding effort continued as the Astros sent Rodriguez – the last remaining member from the 2005 World Series team – to the Pirates for three more prospects. The Astros had to pay a substantial part of Rodriguez’s remaining contract, but they felt getting more prospect was worth the price. Owens will come to Major League camp and will likely start the year in the rotation at Triple-A Oklahoma City. Grossman will also be at big league camp after getting on-base at a .422 clip in 36 games last year in Double-A Corpus Christi.
Date: July 29, 2012.
D-backs receive: 3B Chris Johnson.
The skinny: The Astros pulled off their fifth trade of the month. Houston wasn’t actively shopping Johnson, but he had recently gone on a tear and some teams were getting aggressive in their pursuit of the 27-year-old third baseman. Unlike the previous trades in July in which the Astros stockpiled the pitching, the Johnson trade brought a pair of bats, and in the case of Borchering, maybe some much-needed power to the system. Borchering hit four homers in 30 games at Double-A Corpus Christi, giving him 24 homers and 86 RBIs for the season as a whole. Krauss killed it in Corpus Christi, hitting .414 with a .514 on-base percentage and a 1.000 slugging percentage with five homers and 16 RBIs in only seven games. He finished the year in the outfield at Triple-A Oklahoma City.
Date: Dec. 5, 2012.
Rockies receive: RHP Wilton Lopez and player to be named later or cash..
The skinny: Less than a week after the Astros tried to send Lopez to the Phillies, they were able to use the arbitration-eligible relief pitcher to acquire White and right-hander Gillingham. White appeared in 23 games (20 starts) for the Rockies last season and was 2-9 with a 5.51 ERA. He split the season between Colorado and Triple-A Colorado Springs, where he went 3-4 with a 3.71 ERA. He will battle for a spot in the rotation this spring, but could pitch out of the bullpen.
Date: Dec. 19, 2012
Astros receive: RHP John Ely.
Dodgers receive: LHP Rob Rasmussen.
The skinny: The Astros gave up a 23-year-old left-hander they had acquired only months earlier for a 26-year-old right-hander in Ely, who gives them Major League experience. Ely, who is 4-13 with a 5.70 ERA over three seasons with the Dodgers, is expected to compete for a spot in Houston’s rotation, though he could begin the season in Triple-A Oklahoma City.
Date: Feb. 4, 2013.
The skinny: The Astros shipped Lowrie, who was set to make $2.4 million this year, to the A’s along with Rodriguez and go three young players. The trade was text book for a rebuilding club — trade an established player with a rising salary for youth. Peacock will compete for a rotation spot, and Carter is expected to be a fixture in the lineup. He’s a right-handed hitter with plenty of power. Stassi becomes one of the Astros top catching prospects in a position where there was a definite need in the Minor Leagues.
Here are some photos from Saturday’s FanFest event at Minute Maid Park:
The Astros took a flier on another reclamation project Monday, signing veteran left-handed Erik Bedard to a Minor League contract that includes an invitation to Spring Training. Houston signed outfielder Rick Ankiel last week.
Bedard, 33, made 24 starts for the Pirates last year went 7-14 with a 5.01 ERA, allowing 129 hits in 125 2/3 innings. In his nine-year Major League career, he’s 63-64 with a 3.85 ERA with the Orioles, Mariners, Pirates and Red Sox.
Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow said Bedard is likely to take a spot in the Houston rotation this year behind right-handers Bud Norris, Lucas Harrell and Jordan Lyles. He started on Opening Day for the Pirates last year.
“When you have a lot of right-handers in the mix and to have a left-hander with his type of Major League experience and success and track record, it can only help us,” Luhnow said. “He’s got a strong chance to be in our rotation all year long, and we’re hoping that’s the Erik Bedard that’s had tremendous success already in his big league career.”
Bedard was one of the most effective left-handed starters in the American League from 2006-09, ranking third in winning percentage with a 39-23 (.629) record and second in ERA (3.40) among lefties in that span before being slowed by injuries. He was 13-5 for Baltimore in 2007.
“It doesn’t take a lot of imagination to see him as a very, very effective Major League starter,” Luhnow said. “He’s been very, very effective throughout most of his career and has had challenges with injuries, but he’s still young and has a lot of ambition left in the game.”
Among those also battling for rotation spots this spring are right-handers Philip Humber, Alex White, John Ely and Jarred Cosart and left-handers Dallas Keuchel. Lefties Brett Oberholtzer and Rudy Owens will also be in camp, but they’re likely to start in the Minor Leagues.
“We’re going to take the best five starters, regardless of handedness,” Luhnow said.
Jeff Luhnow’s statement on suspension of prospect Jonathan Singleton for 50 games:
“We learned today that Jonathan Singleton has tested positive for a drug of abuse and has been suspended 50 games as a result. We are disappointed in the decisions that Jonathan made leading up to this positive test. Jonathan has expressed regret for his decision and we expect will take the necessary steps to ensure this doesn’t happen again. He has owned up to his actions and that is a necessary first step. The Astros will support Jonathan through this difficult time and we hope this example will prevent other athletes from making similar decisions.”
Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow said the club plans to tender contracts to their four remaining arbitration-eligible players – pitchers Bud Norris, Wilton Lopez, Wesley Wright and shortstop Jed Lowrie. Lopez, of course, has been subject of trade speculation, but for now he remains with Houston.
The deadline to tender a contract is 10:59 p.m. CT Friday.
Norris, Lopez and Wright are all eligible for arbitration for the first time, and Lowrie is going through the process a second time. Each player will submit a desired salary for 2013, and the Astros will also submit their offer. That serves as the starting point for the negotiations, and both sides typically meet in the middle
If the sides can’t find common ground, they will take their case before an arbitration panel in February that will determine the players’ salary. In this scenario, this is no middle ground. The panel will side with either the player or the team, but negotiations can continue right up to the hearing.
Astros assistant general manager David Stearns is going to be spearheading the team’s arbitration process.
“He has some experience in that area, both from the labor relations side of Major League baseball, as well as the team side,” Luhnow said. “Our cases are nothing too complex at this point. They’re all first-year guys, with the exception of Jed, who’s a second-year guy. We went through preparing for a cast last year. We’re in pretty good shape, and I feel good about we’re going to get all our guys done.”
Here’s a closer look at each player:
– Jed Lowrie made $1.15 million in his first season in Houston in 2012 and was putting up All-Star numbers before a sprained right ankle suffered in mid July put him on the shelf for 52 games. He wound up hitting .244 with a career-high 16 homers and 42 RBIs. Lowrie could as much as double his salary from a year ago.
– Bud Norris had a strange year statistically, going 7-13 with a 4.65 ERA in 29 starts. He had 165 strikeouts in 168 1/3 innings, but went nearly three months without a win while battling various injuries and some inconsistencies. He was 4-1 with a 1.71 ERA at home and 3-12 with a 6.94 ERA on the road. He started strong, but was 0-12 with a 6.17 ERA in 18 starts from May 26-Sept. 20. He finished the season having not allowed a run in his final two starts, 13 1/3 innings.
Norris made $511,000 last season and should see a substantial bump based on his body of work, perhaps in the $2 million range
– Wesley Wright, who made $512,000 last season, is one of the longest-tenured Astros, having pitched parts of five seasons with the club from 2008-12. He made a career-high 77 appearances as lefty specialist last year and went 2-2 with a 3.27 ERA, including a 19-game scoreless streak. Lefties have hit just .170 off of him the last two years combined and he’ll remain a key cog in the bullpen.
The Astros got Wright in the Rule 5 Draft in 2007, and he’s had an unusual tenure in Houston. He’s been tried as a starter, had his arm slot temporarily changed and bounced between Triple-A and Houston so many times he could start his own shuttle service. But he appears to have entrenched himself in the bullpen and will be paid accordingly.
– Wilton Lopez, claimed off waivers in 2009 by Ed Wade, has been a workhorse member of the Astros’ bullpen the past three years, going 6-3 with a 2.17 ERA last year in 64 games. He also had a career-high 10 saves after assuming the club’s closer role following the trade of Brett Myers and ineffectiveness of Francisco Cordero. He posted the lowest walks-per-innings ratio among all NL relievers (1.09) last season after setting the franchise record in 2010 by issuing only five walks in 67 innings pitched. He began last season by facing 78 batters without issuing a walk.
Lopez made $515,500 last season and could wind up around $1 million next season based on his workload and track record. That’s if the Astros don’t trade him.
Astros manager Bo Porter, who has officially taken control of the club following the elimination of the Nationals from the playoffs on Friday night, was at Minute Maid Park on Monday for a meeting with general manager Jeff Luhnow.
The top priority for Porter and Luhnow is finalizing the Major League coaching staff, something Luhnow said they would like have done in the next 10-14 days.
“We have a lot of work to do,” Luhnow said.
The Astros’ current coaching staff consists of bench coach Joe Pettini, hitting coach Ty Van Burkleo, pitching coach Doug Brocail, third-base coach Dave Clark, first-base coach Dan Radison and bullpen coach Craig Bjornson. Van Burkleo and Radison took over in August when manager Brad Mills, hitting coach Mike Barnett and first-base coach Bobby Meacham were let go.
Pettini, who came to the Astros after 10 years as the Cardinals bench coach, and Brocail both said last month they would like to return next year, but their fate remains up in the air. Tony DeFrancesco, who served as interim manager for the final 41 games, could also return to the field staff in some capacity.
“It was fun with this young club,” Pettini said last month. “It wasn’t so much fun losing so many as we have, but it’s always fun working with younger guys and seeing guys develop. Some guys turn into everyday players and some guys might not make it or stay here. That’s the growing pains in the organization.
“Yeah, I would [like to stay]. I’m 57 years old and have 11 years as a coach at the big league level and a few as a player, and I’m not quite ready to retire yet. I’d like to do it a few more years.”
Brocail, 45, put in a full season as pitching coach in 2012 after taking over midway through the 2011 seasons when Brad Arnsberg was let go.
“Of course, I’d love to be back,” he said last month. “I love this job, but we have a lot of work to do. I’d like to see it through. I don’t know what their thoughts are. Nobody’s talked about it, but if they want to sit down and talk, I’d love to be back. We all know we have a ton of work to do, we all know there’s a plan in place, and that plan needs to be followed to a T, and I hope I’m the guy and they have confidence in me.”
Porter, 40, spent the previous two seasons as third-base coach for the Nationals and is inheriting an Astros team that has lost 213 games in the past two seasons. Luhnow said Porter will meet with the media at Minute Maid Park on Thursday.