Astros: What I Would Do In the Next Week
Updated: May 4
Sometimes, I am asked (usually in a condescending tone) what would I do if I REALLY was the General Manager of the Astros.
I am in Houston visiting for a couple of games, so I am doing this on my phone. No charts or spreadsheets today.
First, I would have had an understanding with Jim Crane that as his GM I own the roster and that as a franchise we may HAVE to do what is best for the team and not what what the manager wants. If Crane did not accept that, I would have never taken the job.
Two, this week is when I start cashing in on that expectation. I would go to Crane and say we have a few players that are not being played optimally and this is hurting our offense. We are 20th on OPS and wRC+. It is time that things must change.
Three, here are the specific moves.
Catcher- Diaz either plays 50 percent of the next 30 games or Maldonado gets traded/ released/ ILed in June. If Maldonado cannot get to a reasonable OPS/ wRC+ (60-70) by the end of next 30 games he will be traded/ released/ ILed then. I would prefer to put Maldy on the 60-day IL. If Diaz and/or Lee cannot handle it, then Maldy comes back for the postseason.
The opportunity to have Diaz and Lee playing EVERY DAY is too important. This team NEEDS to know what they have in both to determine what they need to do in the off-season if anything at catcher.
In response to this article, I have been asked is even getting Maldonado off the team this year even possible? I put the current odds at 5% which is up from zero percent. I will keep this link updated. If you see some of these steps happening, then you will know the odds are increasing.
First Base- I did not initially have Abreu on my list of players to sign as a FA because of his age. I had hope when they did sign him because of hi durability.
I think this team needs to call up Matijevic and send down Hensley. Yes that mean there is no true SS/2B backup. Bregman CAN play either to complete a game and Julks can play 3B.
With JJ Matijevic here, Dusty would be directed to start JJ against non-fastball dominant RHP. Abreu would start against LHP and fastball dominant RHP. This matches with what Abreu has done and is doing best this year.
Abreu needs to make the swing adjustments the hitting coaches suggest or his playing time will be reduced even further.
I know the Astros have a lot on money invested in Abreu. That investment was not made by me nor Dana Brown. If he can't hit, he can't start all of the time.
Center Field- when McCormick is ready he starts vs. LHSP and fastball dominant RHSP. Meyers starts against non-fastball dominant RHSP. Occasionally, Meyers starts vs. LHSP and McCormick starts in LF or RF.
Left Field- when Brantley returns Brantley and Alvarez time share DH and LF. Alvarez playa everyday unless he needs a day off. Brantley starts vs all RHSP and only rarely vs. LHSP (managing his PT load). When playing against a LHSP, Julks (for now) and McCormick start in LF.
Maldonado (until June- likely Lee after Maldy to IL)
When Altuve returns, a tough decision has to be made probably a trade of one of the OF. Edited because idiots thought I meant trade Altuve when clearly from below I didn't.
Pitching- I am going to make a bold assumption that Urquidy and Garcia are done for the season. It is worst case scenario.
This is a mess folks. Please don't get lost in what I am about to say because challenges like this may require complex plans to address.
I think Bielak becomes a fourth SP. I promote France and deploy as a bulk guy/SP in cycle I will describe.
I use Gage/ Muchinski (if he gets healthy)/ Taylor as an opener every sixth day. They are a regular RP in days 3/4 of their six day routine. Blanco or France are the most likely bulk guys. Sometimes one of them would slot in as SP.
These players are on load / rest cycle where 2 of these 5-6 are active - Blanco, France, Martinez, Muchinski, Taylor, and possibly Whitley (if he starts pitching well) and Dubin (ditto). I keep Gage active for now at least.
This is what it would look like
Spot Starters/Bulk Guys cycle with AAA - one is on 26 man at a time
Gage (Opener ever sixth day)
Relief Cycle Group - cycling with AAA, one is on roster to keep a fresh arm on roster
Muchinski (if he gets healthy)(opener every sixth day)
Taylor (opener every sixth day)
When/IF McCullers can pitch this year it would lead to another round of moves.
Roster management- the Astros have several players that are on the 40-man that are very close to losing that spot. some of those are pitchers that were already listed. We can cover this later.
Trade- this sucks to say but after Brantley and McCormick are back there is no real role for Corey Julks. You may be shocked to see that and think Larry he is doing great and is a prospect. Julks is 27 and older than Meyers. There is a reason it took so long to get here.
I would make this trade as soon as Alex Wood pitches one game well after returning from the IL but AFTER Altuve returns.
The Giants are not going to the postseason this year. They have no need for Wood and his $12.6M salary. The Astros NEED starting pitching. Wood and possibly prospect Winn can eat innings. If the Giants demand more in prospect capital, they have to pay part of Woods remaining salary. Julks would slot in perfectly for the Giants as a fourth OF. The Astros have a glut of OFs. They probably will trade one or two.
So if you ask what I would do I am going to send you a link. The answer is far more complicated than you expect.