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Tuesday's Three Astros Things

Talking about early season trades, Jeff Luhnow's disappointment and Jose Cisnero's debut...


Some things to talk about while the Astros get a tax break for staying in Florida...

1) Early season trading

On this week's podcast, I sort of dismissed the notion that Bud Norris would get traded any time soon. My reasoning is that trades rarely happen before June, as teams take a few months to figure out what they have before blowing things up.

Turns out, we can test that theory over at MLB Trade Rumors, since they have a Transaction Tracker where you can search in a time frame for trades to see just how many go down at any time of year.

Yep, I was wrong.

Lots of trades happen early in the season. They're just of the minor variety, like last year's swap between Houston and Miami, sending Justin Ruggiano to the Marlins for Jobduan Morales. Teams also move players who have been designated for assignment in deals.

What's much rarer is for a starting pitcher to be traded before June. In the last six years, there have only been seven deals in April or May for a starting pitcher. None of those have been big prospect-heavy deals, either. They've all been either swaps like the one that sent Felipe Paulino from Colorado to Kansas City for cash, or they've been small deals like Byung-Hyung Kim for Jorge Julio.

That might also explain why Jeff Luhnow said that Norris hasn't been on the trade block for quite some time. It doesn't make sense for him to be there for another month or so, because history shows Houston won't get prospects for him until closer to the trade deadline.

2) Luhnow not mad, just disappointed

Yeah, things have not gone well for Houston's starting pitching this season. For the past six months, we talked about that possibility, that the switch to the AL could affect Houston in the rotation more than anything. Seems that Luhnow is of the same mind. He talked with reporters Monday and said he's never seen a situation quite this dire:

"We’re going through an extremely rough time," Luhnow said. "This is an unusual situation. Never in my career have I seen anything even remotely close to it."

Luhnow later said that things have hit the bullpen especially hard, causing them to make some moves that might not be in the best interests of the players at Triple-A:

"The Minor Leagues know they're here to support the big league team, and when something happens like what happens to us last week -- that is very unusual where we have three starters who don't get out of the first inning, and that wreaks havoc in the entire system, and the repercussions are felt all the way down," Luhnow said. "Fortunately, having eight starters at Triple-A has actually helped us get through this more easily."

Piggyback vindication!

It sounds like Houston is definitely thinking long and hard about how to fix the rotation, but I doubt we see big moves just yet. Wait another three or four weeks and if Phillip Humber fails to get out of the first inning or Erik Bedard still can't throw more than four innings, maybe Jarred Cosart gets his shot.

That's the ultimate fix for this bad rotation. Prospects have to come up and start pitching well, but they have to do it on their own time tables.

3) Cisnero debuts well

Some great notes from the newest Astro to debut this season: Jose Cisnero. First up, Jose Ortiz has a story about how Cisnero's love interest (girlfriend? paramour? confidante?) couldn't watch or listen to the game, so his agent texted her play by play. She must be in that 60 percent part of Houston.

At any rate, let's let Smith take us on a journey through those texts:

For a glimpse into their special moment, here are three text messages she sent him between 9:46-9:47 p.m.

"Love, it’s so good that it has been going well for you. I’ve been asking how you have been pitching."

A few seconds later, she wrote: "I’m happy. I love you, my love."

At 9:47 she texted: "Te amooooo," which translates to "I love youuuuuuu."

I love the dedication Ortiz showed in translating the last one. He even added a couple extra "u's" just for effect.

Besides Cisnero's shutout debut, we also got to see what he threw in front of Pitch F/X guns. While we won't draw conclusions based on pitch effectiveness, we did see that Cisnero threw five pitches in the game: a fastball, a cutter, a slider, a changeup and a curveball. The fastball and cutter both clocked in right at 91.8 MPH and may be the same pitch that sometimes has some more arm-side run.

Cisnero only threw the change 4 percent of the time last night, so expect that one to be used sparingly, as he mainly works off the fastball/cutter. Still, showing four pitches with a fifth mixed in suggests Cisnero could see a big league rotation someday if he stays this effective. If he transitions to a relief role, he probably drops at least one of those pitches from regular usage.

What did you see? How did Cisnero look? Are you looking forward to him pitching more in this tandem starting role? Would you like to see him used more as a reliever in the future?