Results tagged ‘ Jeff Luhnow ’

Astros close to deciding on Freiman, Fields

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.

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Rule 5 pick Nate Freiman

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.

Video: Porter, Luhnow and Norris on Opening Day

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.

Game 22: Astros play long ball to back Norris

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:

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

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Astros wore green hats to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day

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Matt Dominguez

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Bo Porter

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Doug Brocail watches Alex White in bullpen

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Catchers pick up balls after drills (Jason Castro in middle)

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Domingo Ayala with Carlos Pena

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Jeff Luhnow interviewed by Robert Ford

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Jason Castro flips his bat

DeShields, Springer among Astros’ first cuts

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.”

Debating the roster part of daily routine for Luhnow

Greetings from Port St. Lucie, Fla., where the Astros will play the Mets at 12:10 p.m CT today.

Traditions Field

Traditions Field

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.”

Starting lineups

ASTROS

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

METS

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

Luhnow, staff analyze each player on roster

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:

Pitching coach Doug Brocail warms up.

Pitching coach Doug Brocail warms up.

Playing catch.

Playing catch.

Bo Porter and Jeff Luhnow walk and talk

Bo Porter and Jeff Luhnow walk and talk.

Venezuelans Javier Bracamonte, Jose Altuve and Marwin Gonzalez return from cages.

Venezuelans Javier Bracamonte, Marwin Gonzalez and Jose Altuve return from cages.

Philip Humber throws to Doug Brocail.

Philip Humber throws to Doug Brocail.

History of Luhnow’s major trades in Houston.

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.

Astros receive: SS Jed Lowrie, RHP Kyle Weiland.

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.

Astros receive: LHP Kevin Chapman, player to be name named later (OF D’Andre Toney).

Royals receive: C Humberto Quintero, OF Jason Bourgeois.

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.

Astros receive: IF Matt Dominguez, LHP Rob Rasmussen.

Marlins receive: 1B Carlos Lee, cash.

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.

Astros receive: RHP Francisco Cordero, OF Ben Francisco, RHP Asher Wojciechowski, RHP Joe Musgrove, LHP David Rollins, C Carlos Perez, a player to be named later (RHP Kevin Comer).

Blue Jays receive: LHP J.A. Happ, RHP Brandon Lyon, RHP David Carpenter.

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.

Astros receive: RHP Matthew Heidenreich, LHP Blair Walters, a player to be named later (RHP Chris Devenski)

White Sox receive: RHP Brett Myers, cash.

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.

Astros receive: LHP Rudy Owens, OF Robbie Grossman, LHP Colton Cain.

Pirates receive: LHP Wandy Rodriguez, cash.

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.

Astros receive:  IF Bobby Borchering, OF Marc Krauss.

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.

Astros receive: RHP Alex White, RHP Alex Gillingham.

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.

Astros receive: RHP Brad Peacock, OF/1B Chris Carter, C Max Stassi.

A’s receive: SS Jed Lowrie, RHP Fernando Rodriguez.

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.

Photos from Saturday’s FanFest

Here are some photos from Saturday’s FanFest event at Minute Maid Park:

Bud Norris, Jose Altuve and Justin Maxwell sign autographs

Bud Norris, Jose Altuve and Justin Maxwell sign autographs

Jason Castro and J.D. Martinez

Jason Castro and J.D. Martinez

Brett Wallace and former Astros player Carl Warwick.

Brett Wallace and former Astros player Carl Warwick.

Bill Brown, Bo Porter and Art Howe

Bill Brown, Bo Porter and Art Howe

Lucas Harrell, Jordan Lyles and Jeff Luhnow

Lucas Harrell, Jordan Lyles and Jeff Luhnow

Milo and Justin Maxwell

Milo and Justin Maxwell

Jose Altuve

Carlos Correa and Jose Altuve

Carlos Correa

Carlos Correa

Players and Bill Brown answer questions from fans

Players and Bill Brown answer questions from fans

Fans await autographs

Fans await autographs

Carlos Pena

Carlos Pena

Brandon Backe

Brandon Backe

Lucas Harrell

Lucas Harrell

Jeff Luhnow, Bill Brown and Bo Porter talk baseball

Jeff Luhnow, Bill Brown and Bo Porter talk baseball

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Astros add lefty Bedard to rotation mix

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.

Luhnow releases statement

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.”

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