FanPost

The 2014 Astros: A Realistic Approach to What We Might Expect: Part 2: The OF, DH and C.

Since the dialog created by Part 1 on the infield has generated interest here goes my thoughts on the outfield, DH and catcher positions. For those who are new to this Fan Post series let me restate that the objective is to provide discussions on reasonably realistic scenarios. This is not the place for "Wouldn't it be nice if" or "Why doesn't the Front Office come up with big bucks so we can get" types of discussions. Here, we want to stay anchored to the reality of what might happen.

Although there have been some comments by the Front Office that our budget could grow significantly in 2014, I have assumed that most of that is positioning and that the real budget for 2014 is going to be about $30M which would leave about $10M for the acquisition of free agents. In Part 1 the general consensus was that not much would be spent on FA for the infield, with the most likely position to get attention being SS/Utility MI.

Let's deal with the DH position quickly. I see it already covered in the discussion that took place on 1B. Between Carter, Wallace and Singleton most of the DH options seem to be in place. Sure, there will be games where other players will fill the DH spot in order to take advantage of a match up or rest someone. Where I come out is that there seems to be no reason to go looking for another bat that would be the DH. We have better use of that roster spot.

We currently have 3 catchers on our 40MR-Castro, Corporan and Stassi. Although there has been some suggestion that Castro might be traded or that he might move to 1B at some point, IMO he will be the starting catcher in 2014. So the question here is really who is best to fill the backup spot? Should we start the season with 30 year old Corporan and bring up Stassi if he shows solid numbers at AAA? Let's remember that Stassi was called up for a cup of coffee from AA. Now if Stassi has a great spring I could see that changing, but for now I would opt to have Stassi start at AAA. Looking just a bit deeper at the catcher position I really like Heineman. He had a very good year at Lancaster.

Is there a backup catcher on the FA market that could be a better fit for us than Corporan? FA catchers that made less than $2M last year are plentiful. The group includes Jose Molina, Navarro, Nieves, Olivo, Quiroz, Shoppach, Teagarden and Torrealba. IMO I would stay with Corporan as the back up, waiting for Stassi.

The OF is not an easy discussion. We have 6 outfielders (not including Carter) on the 40MR: Barnes, Grossman, Hoes, Krauss, Martinez and Thames. Springer is in the wings. I don't see Thames as being a serious part of a discussion on the starting 2014 team. I expect he could be a DFA candidate as soon as a roster spot is needed. If Springer starts 2014 in AAA, where he spent half of the 2013 season, there is room for the other five. However, if Springer makes the opening day roster or gets the call mid-year, one of the five would have to go.

My problem is that I am just not impressed with any of the five. Sure, you can look at all the stats and pick one out for this player or another for that player but bottom line, this group is just not what is needed in a major league outfield! There has to be more. I see that starting to come together when Springer takes over center. He has the pop of a major league outfielder. With Carter spending some time in left, there is a real possibility that the power production of our OF will at last be able to hold its own.

So what is needed is a right fielder that can round out the group. Is that Krauss? I don't think so. Is that Hoes? I like him but I doubt it. The same is true for J. Mart and Barnes. Grossman doesn't seem to have the arm. So who is available on the FA market?

There aren't that many RF available that are realistic. Roger Bernadina (30 years old-2013 $1.2M), Brennan Boesch (29-1.5M) and Tyler Colvin (28-2.275) are interesting. Bernadina and Boesch don't strike me as big improvements over what we already have. Colvin would be much cheaper than last year as he had a really bad year. He would be risky but he does have pop, even though it showed mostly in Colorado.

I'll throw in two other names-Jeff Baker and Mike Morse. Baker is 33 and a Boras client. He made 1.75M last year with Texas. he has played RF during his career but not recently. He is also a utility infielder that plays 2B and 3B. He has some pop. The other guy is a bit of a stretch. Mike Morse (32) made $7M but had a terrible year. Could he be gotten for around 4-5M? Since there is talk about Chris Young let's also look at him. He made over $8M last year but hopefully he might be signed for a lot less.

Down on the farm we have lots of talent in waiting. Guys like Santana, Tucker, Vasquez, Hernandez, Ovando and others will be part of the future for sure.

What's your take.

UPDATE: David Murphy has signed with Cleveland. 2 years: $10-12M with an option for 2016.

UPDATE 2: 11/20: JD Martinez is outrighted to AAA and off the 40MR. So the die is cast. The opening for another OF is available.

UPDATE 3: 11/20: Santana is added to the 40MR. Will likely start at AAA.

UPDATE 4: 11/20: Carlos Perez not protected from R5. Is the log jam clearing?

UPDATE 5: 11/22: Mets to sign Chris Young, 1 year deal.

UPDATE 6: 11/20: Jeff Decker DFA by SD.

UPDATE 7: 11/25: Decker traded to Pirates for Alex Dickerson

UPDATE 8: 11/25: Garrett Jones DFA'd by Pirates

UPDATE 9: 11/24: Rays sign J. Molina, 12/2: D. Navarro to sign with Toronto: 2yr, $8M, C. Stewart traded from Yankees to Pirates for PTBNL, M. McKenry DFA'd by Pirates.

UPDATE 10: 12/3: Fowler comes to Houston

UPDATE 11: 12/4: Ellsbury signs mega deal with Yanks

UPDATE 12: 12/5: Aoki to KC from Milwaukee in trade for W. Smith

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