This has been a hectic week with a ton of articles. Frankly, I'm running out of ideas on what to write about, so let's fall back on a staple from Bill Simmons' wheelhouse, the Friday mailbag. All questions come from Twitter, but feel free to email us at SBNcrawfishboxes@gmail.com or find us on Twitter at @CrawfishBoxes.
Without further ado, here's our readers:
Aside from Astros County being snarky about this one, I had to think about the answer. Before we say the obvious names, let's establish what it means to be an "All-Star." What we're looking for is a player who can be an above-average regular at his position. That means it's much easier for a shortstop to get there than it is for a left fielder, given how deep those positions can be in future years.
Plus, there's always a chance that random relievers can have big years and be all-star eligible or a starting pitcher can run of 12 straight wins to start the season and get to the game, without being the best pitcher on a staff.
Lots of guys could have a flukey season and end up as an All-Star, but let's not go there. No, these are the players who have the best chance to sustain success in the majors and grab at least one All-Star appearance in their careers.
Matt Dominguez, 3B - Though not in the minors, Dominguez is still prospect age, so I'm including him here. He's maybe the surest bet to make that team out of all the young Houston players, simply because we know how he can perform in the majors. He can hit home runs and play excellent defense. If he has a Crash Davis-like season with his contact in the next few seasons, he can absolutely nab an All-Star spot at a weak third base position.
Carlos Correa, SS - The number one prospect in Houston's deep system is here because he has a chance to be special. If I had to pick just one player who would definitely turn into an above-average big league regular, it's Correa. His combination of offense and defense will make him a star at either shortstop or third base. I think he sticks at the most valuable defensive position on the field with 20 homer power, which means he has a chance to make a LOT of All-Star teams.
George Springer, CF - If George Springer doesn't make 10 All-Star teams and win five MVPs, we'll all be disappointed. If he doesn't wrestle a bear after hitting his 40th home run next season, we'll all be disappointed. If he doesn't develop cold fusion after stealing a home run at the top of Tal's Hill, we'll all be disappointed.
Mark Appel, RHP - If you've been reading TCB for the past two years, you know I wasn't the biggest fan of this pick. But, Appel is clearly a very talented pitcher and has the best combination of floor and ceiling in Houston's system right now. I don't personally think he'll be a true "ace," but he can be a very good pitcher who should have at least one 20-win season in him with a low ERA. That's enough to get an All-Star nod, no?
Carlos Rodon, LHP - He's that good, people. He's that good.
I'll lump this in with a question we got about Jeff Niemann. The main reason why I think Houston shies away from both of those guys is health. Niemann wasn't throwing off the mound a month ago and I'm not sure his arm is ever going to be healthy again, judging by the Rays writers I follow.
Same goes for Halladay. I'm just not sure he's completely healthy. I'd love for Houston to go get him, because if he can get back to 75 percent of where he was, he'd be a huge find. Plus, Halladay could bring his toughness and work ethic to the Houston clubhouse, which should fit Bo Porter's atmosphere nicely.
It's just so hard to tell with injuries to pitchers, though.
@CrawfishBoxes does this delay Springer call up?— Ray Guilfoyle (@faketeams) December 3, 2013
This came right after the Fowler trade. As Jeff Luhnow pointed out in an interview with Evan Drellich, most of the questions he's received about the Fowler trade have to do with how it affected uber-prospect Springer.
The answer? Nope, it won't matter at all.
Springer will have to earn his spot on the team. If he hits like he has last year in Spring Training, he'll be an Astro on Opening Day. If he struggles and needs more time, he'll be in Oklahoma City, but finding a place for him won't be the problem. Houston won't do anything to compromise their carefully crafted plans for both players and the long-term outlook of this team.
@CrawfishBoxes what are the odd's that Houston will pick up a big name player?— Frank Shifflet (@chicklet100) December 6, 2013
At this point, not great. They'll add a few pieces and they will be guys you've heard of before. John Axford might be the biggest name out there, though. Bronson Arroyo might also be a possibility, too, or whichever starting pitcher they end up signing.
But, the most impactful move they might make is to sign a guy like former Yankees reliever Boone Logan. He's not a big name, but he could have a big impact on the bullpen next year. He's really good and could probably be had on a cheap deal. If Houston could get him for two years, he'll be a steal. That's not a "splash," but adding big league talent to this roster will make a difference.
@CrawfishBoxes how many starts does RHP Bobby Doran have in the Bigs this year? Over/under is 10.. He IS ready....— Millennium Sports (@MSMsports) December 6, 2013
Depending on how many starters Houston is able to sign, I see Doran as maybe the ninth guy in line for starts. You've got Cosart, Oberholtzer, Keuchel, Alex White, Brad Peacock, Rudy Owens and Asher Wojciechowski firmly ahead of Doran right now. Add in that free agent starter and Doran is suddenly competing with David Martinez, Jose Cisnero and Paul Clemens for that ninth spot.
If Doran starts 10 games next year, it'll mean something went really wrong with Houston's pitching staff injury-wise. So, I'm going under. That's not an indictment of how good Doran can be, but just his odds right now in actually getting a shot being pretty low.
@CrawfishBoxes As other teams add players, who are the mystery bull pen guys and the veteran starter that the Astros will announce next week— Sandy Silvers (@SanMan1946) December 6, 2013
Considering two under-the-radar guys got snapped up in Ryan Webb and Ronald Belisario, I'm a little bummed out about the bullpen right now. I'll take Boone Logan, though, as his combination of control and strikeout numbers mean he fits the ideal model for Houston's bullpen.
Other than him, though, your guess is as good as mine. John Axford? Maybe, since he's got a few years of team control left. Jesse Crain? He certainly makes a ton of sense, but there hasn't been much movement on him at all. Jose Veras? He's a popular suggestion among Astros fans to come back.
As for starters, there are some options out there. There's been plenty of smoke around Bronson Arroyo, but no one has made an offer to him yet. That suggests the Astros are not targeting him as their mystery starter. Could they be going after Joba Chamberlain as a starter?
If I had to guess, it'd be that the Astros were going after a starting pitcher via trade. But, since this front office keeps things so close to the vest, it's hard to gauge what exactly they're doing.
@CrawfishBoxes would you like to see or expect the Astros move Stassi in a package to land a closer (storen or west) or add a veteran bat?— Kyle Pierce (@one4myhomies) December 6, 2013
This may sound crazy, but it's much more likely the Astros trade Jason Castro this winter than they trade Max Stassi. We joke about it a bunch, but Kevin Goldstein loved Stassi back in the day. In his first season with the team, Stassi then jumps over a couple other catchers on the depth chart and makes it to the majors.
That tells me Houston is very high on him. They thought enough of him to add him to the 40-man roster and keep him there. They won't use him as a trade chip any time soon, as I could see them going with a Castro-Stassi battery for the next few seasons.
That leaves Corporan as the one left out and I could envision a deal like the Rays did for Jose Loboton in Corp's future.