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Astros: Dana Brown is Right About Additional Pitching

Executive Summary: Discover why Astros' Dana Brown is right about additional pitching. Uncover the smart strategy behind the Astros' pursuit of pitching talent.


Astros fans have been eager to spend Jim Crane's money. This week, I described the financial ramifications of the various extension options.


https://www.larrythegm.com/post/astros-fans-are-eager-to-spend-jim-crane-s-money

I then described how I would spend the Astros payroll funding.


https://www.larrythegm.com/post/astros-how-i-would-spend-jim-crane-s-money

As I wrote these articles Dana Brown clarified something Tuesday.


You can see the highlights of that here:



You can also see what Chandler Rome wrote directly to those with a subscription to the Athletic here.



Here is the key thing that Dana Brown said in these remarks, and I will attempt to show you why he is correct about the Astros and additional pitching.


It’s a different guy. If we have a bunch of guys that are similar to the other guys that are available, why go after them? Why pay more money for the same production? We feel like if we get Snell, that’s a huge piece, so you have to be on the market for a guy that’s a huge piece like that,” Brown said. “But the other guys that are available, they compare to all of our guys that we have depth with. I wouldn’t want to pay more money and we (already) got a guy right around the minimum or a little bit more. That wouldn’t be smart.


Let me pause to remind you of the LarryTheGM guiding Sports Principle #1:


Do not pay attention to what people/ teams SAY; pay attention to what people/teams do.


Dana Brown very well may be trying to drive down the asking price for Jordan Montgomery. To be fair, in his time as Astros GM Dana Brown has been extremely transparent and honest and generally has done what he said he would do. He has been almost the rare exception to the rule above. This is sports, however, and the rule holds.


Let's break down what Dana Brown said and prove him to be correct:

  • We have a bunch of guys that are similar to the other guys that are available

  • Why pay more money for the same production

  • You have to be on the market for a guy that’s a huge piece like that

  • They compare to all of our guys that we have depth with.

  • I wouldn’t want to pay more money and we (already) got a guy right around the minimum

  • That wouldn’t be smart


Multiple times Dana is differentiating between:

  • Snell- huge piece

  • Every other Free Agent- Compare to what the Astros have.


Multiple times I have tried to communicate that teams do NOT pay for past performance. They do NOT evaluate based on solely on past performance.


Teams plan based on projected performance. Teams base actions on how the expected stats line up. Social media rails against my use of projected stats and expected stats. I am sorry you don't like it. You know who does like these stats? THE TEAMS. Dana Brown just told you that.


Here are the projected stats for the 2024 season for the Astros pitching staff and their 2024 projected LarryTheGM grades (based on the projected FIP). On the far right, I have added the pitching xwOBA for these pitchers and the LarryTheGM grades for them in 2023 (based on their 2023 FIPs).


Astros 2024 Projected Stats Pitching

Overall, this pitching staff projects to a B- grade. The key pitchers grade out form C- to B+.

  • Valdez leads the staff - 3.61 FIP

  • Brown projects far better than this fan base seems to expect- 3.90 FIP

  • Will McCullers get back in late-July? The projections still like him

  • Garcia and Verlander are above average.

  • The projections still do not like Javier- 4.62 FIP. They were right last year.

  • There are 11 potential starting pitchers in this group including Bielak and Blanco. ELEVEN.

  • The Astros had only 10 Starting Pitchers last year with Dubin starting one game.

    • They had 8 in 2022.

    • They had 9 in 2021.

    • Overall, the Astros have been very lucky with pitchers.

    • The Average team had 13-14 starting pitchers in 2023.

    • If the Astros HAVE to use 14 SP in 2024, they MIGHT win the division. Maybe.

  • The Astros have several pitchers they are hoping for return from serious injuries- McCullers, Garcia, Urquidy.

    • If they all pitch in July, the Astros do not need more pitching.

    • The Astros KNOW the medical status far better than we do.


Notice many of the projected 2024 grades are better than the 2023 grades.

Folks, for a pitcher to be considered a difference maker for the Astros pitching staff, they would need to grade out at least a B- or better.


How do the pitchers everyone seems to want for the Astros compare?


2024 SP FA Options

As Dana Brown indicated, Blake Snell projects to be a REAL difference maker. Was he a 30-million-dollar difference maker? Well, check out the articles at the top of this article to see my thoughts on that.


Montgomery projects to be a B- pitcher. His 4.04 FIP is a better B- than the Astros projected 4.20 FIP. Given the Astros financial situation and the fact that the Astros MAY think they have 11 probable starting pitchers, Montgomery very well may be "similar." He is probably not worth $20-30M AAV.


Lorenzen is just a guy. Could the Astros use a JAG for 120 IP at $4.5M AAV guaranteed with bonuses? Maybe. Would the Astros rather see if Blanco, Arrighetti, or France give them those 120 IP at the league minimum? Probably? Am I upset the Rangers signed a SP with a projected 4.70 FIP? Hell No!


Clevinger is probably an even worse case. He projects to pitch only 79 IP and 15 GS. He projects to deliver a 4.76 FIP. This is a D+ grade. I HOPE the Astros do not sign Clevinger, and if they do let it be for less than $2M for one year.


So, now do you see what Dana Brown meant?


It’s a different guy. If we have a bunch of guys that are similar to the other guys that are available, why go after them? Why pay more money for the same production? We feel like if we get Snell, that’s a huge piece, so you have to be on the market for a guy that’s a huge piece like that,” Brown said. “But the other guys that are available, they compare to all of our guys that we have depth with. I wouldn’t want to pay more money and we (already) got a guy right around the minimum or a little bit more. That wouldn’t be smart.



It truly would NOT be a good use of the Astros payroll resources to sign any of these pitchers besides Snell. It would not be smart. As I said they MIGHT still decide to do it because they will know how the pitchers are healing from their injuries. As fans, we may think they need more pitching and they might. There are no smart FA starting pitchers to sign.


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