For a full transcript of the chat check out Alyson Footer's blog.
This is the third or fourth chat Jeff Luhnow has done with fans, and while there's never anything news breaking it's a great initiative by Luhnow and this new front office to be more interactive with the fan base. Drayton McLane was like this, but in a more traditional way, so it's not like the initiative has never been there it's just been updated to the current era of social media.
1) jermster Q: JD Martinez and Brian Bogusevic are struggling at the plate. At what point do you see sending a player down to the minor to work things out?
Jeff Luhnow's response:
That’s a tough question to answer. I believe both of them can work through any issues and turn the corner without being sent down. Let’s hope I’m right. If our team is suffering significantly due to any player, we will take steps to mitigate that, but one of the things I’ve enjoyed about this team is the fact that when one guy struggles, others tend to step up. I hope that continues.
This is something that has begun cropping up more and more. What to do with the struggling Brian Bogusevic and J.D. Martinez? Luhnow essentially responds with the same thing we've been preaching for the past several weeks now, patience. This team, despite players struggling, is still exceeding expectations and playing well despite Bogusevic and Martinez struggles.
Yes, Fernando Martinez, Justin Ruggiano, Scott Moore, Mike Hessman, Brad Snyder, Brian Bixler, Landon Powell and Jimmy Paredes are all playing well, but that doesn't mean you make a move for the sake of making a move. There's still 75% left to go and as the Player Performance Rankings have shown players can jump from the bottom of the team in hitting to the top in just one week. Seeing how these players respond to to their own struggles is an important in the evaluation process.
There are also other things to consider such as 40 man roster spots, options or the lack there of, handness, etc. Luhnow says as much in response to another question later in the chat. It's not as simple as plug this guy in for this guy. Brian Bogusevic even with his struggles has a very good chance of being claimed by another team as a reserve outfielder, because he's young, he's inexpensive and he's shown some potential. And it's not even a guarantee that the player that gets called up has success that the other player did not.
The Astros are in the evaluation phase of the rebuilding process and I'm happy to see Luhnow taking a patient approach with these players and as he pointed out when he ended the chat:
Bogie with a walk. For all JD and Bogie’s struggles, they both get on base. CJ up with ducks on the pond.
2) karlinlj: Q: Have you been putting in long nights getting prepared for the draft?
Jeff Luhnow's response:
The heavy lifting has been done by Bobby Heck and his staff…the area scouts are the unsung heroes of any organization. Those guys drive thousands of miles and work non-stop for many months leading up to the draft. Oh, oh, two men on.
The MLB draft June 4 will mark about seven months for Luhnow as General Manager of the Astros. Since Luhnow has come on the job he's created a lot of excitement both on and off the field. Whoever the Astros select with the first pick in the draft will forever be associated with Jeff Luhnow, however, this year more than any in the future Luhnow will be relying on Bobby Heck and his staff and that's not necessarily a bad thing.
Yes, Heck's drafts haven't produced any superstars, yet, but it has breathed life into a system that was pretty much dead. Four players have debuted in the Major Leagues from the 2008-2009 draft, and top to bottom we've seen improvements across all levels of the farm system. At this point three of the four Astros affiliates are above .500 and yes trades have helped, but they're not the entire reason those three teams are playing above or near .500. Heck's drafts have played a role in the revitalization of the farm system.
I think Ed Wade had something to do with the pace of the past drafts in regards to producing talent. Hopefully Luhnow can accelerate that process.
I'm happy to see Luhnow give credit to the often forgotten heavy lifters of the drafting process.
3) brian6980: Q: With the new logo color scheme coming next season, are there plans for any changes to Minute Maid Park?
Jeff Luhnow's response:
I don’t know. I wonder about the hill out there. Just saying. And just my opinion, so don’t start any rumors. (Levine/Campbell/McTaggart I know you guys read this stuff so stand down)
I actually tweeted this out on the Crawfish Boxes twitter account as the best response so far by Jeff. I got an entirely different response than I intended. I was referencing the dig at Zachary Levine, Stave Campbell and Brian McTaggart, which I found humorous. What I got instead were responses that were either for or against the hill.
I've always been a proponent for getting rid of the hill, but as we rarely see balls reach the hill I'm fine with the hill staying where it is. The flag pole is another story, I don't know of any other sporting venue where there's an actual flag pole or construct in the field of play. But again the same thing applies to the pole as it does to the hill and even more so, as it is even a rarer occurrence for the pole to come into play.
Once some of the other issues with the Astros gets resolved I wonder if the hill will become another hot button issue in Houston.