Some things to talk about while we talk more about relievers...
1) Justice likes Robertson to the Astros
Ohh, Richie. Jumping on the bandwagon I started pulling weeks ago. I like it!
Robertson fits. The Astros may have to overpay to get him, but that's OK. After getting zero dollars from local television last season -- you read that correctly -- their new deal will pay around $57 million a season.
In Houston, Robertson's demeanor, work ethic and professionalism would be critical to a club starting anew. The Astros already have a lot of that X factor in Altuve, Feldman, catcher Jason Castro and others, but winning isn't just about talent. It's about attitude and resilience and competitive fire.
Well said, Richie. As Justice points out, an underrated part of the Scott Feldman signing was to give Houston a leader on the young pitching staff. Multiple guys cited him as having a big role with that group throughout the season. It wasn't just pitching shortly after his father passed away, either. He meant something to how that staff functioned.
You may be seeing the input of guys like Craig Biggio on that deal, too. When Houston started this teardown, the veterans in the clubhouse complained that there wasn't enough veteran leadership. Guys like Bud Norris, Lucas Harrell and, to an extent, Jarred Cosart, all developed contentious attitudes toward the direction of the team.
All three of those guys are gone, and now Houston has brought in Feldman and is trying to lure another clubhouse presence in Robertson.
We've talked in the past about how important it is for the Astros to learn from past mistakes. Stripping the roster down created a vacuum in club leadership that hasn't been adequately filled with younger guys. But, by picking up free agents who add to the character, Houston can build that from within. Seems that's a lesson Houston's taking to heart.
Or, you know, they could be going after Robertson because he's the best reliever on the market and they had a bad bullpen.
2) Andrew Miller on the Astros
Building on that point, one of the reasons Houston's FO has a "bad reputation" is because of comments by guys like Norris, Cosart and Harrell. Compare that to this quote from Andrew Miller from an interview with Ken Rosenthal:
"They made a heck of a pitch. I know they got thrown out there in the rumor mill. But top to bottom, they were really impressive. They've got some really smart people. They're going in the right direction. This was a decision that was not made lightly. And it was not only two teams. I was very - not surprised - but excited to see who was interested. I felt I pitched well enough to put myself in this position. But it was hard to even dream about it turning out the way it did."
There are lots of reasons that Andrew Miller could have picked the Yankees over the Astros. Some of them could have even included the ugliness that has followed the club at times in the past year or two.
But, at the end of the day, it's the freakin' Yankees. Babe Ruth's team. Yogi Berra's team. Mickey Mantle's team. If the Astros lost out to the Royals or the Twins or the Rockies, I'd put a finger on something bigger going on.
Miller, though, shows how the industry could see the Astros. Did we hear this two years ago? Back then, Luhnow felt like he needed to introduce himself to the market. Now, top free agents are noticing how the Astros are run.
Another Houston team went through this recently. Darryl Morey is as sharp a GM as they come and has shown his skill at building a roster with the Rockets. Yet, he struck out in free agency multiple times before landing James Harden via trade and Dwight Howard via FA. Heck, he struck out again this year with Chris Bosh.
Maybe that's what is happening with the Astros. We'll have to hear a couple more times about what a good pitch the Astros made before they land a big fish.
3) Gregerson a target?
Evan Drellich weighs in on Houston's free agent relief targets with this post from Sunday, where he pegs Luke Gregerson as a possible target. Here's more on his thinking:
There's a free-agent reliever that new Astros manager A.J. Hinch has had plenty of time to evaluate up close, righty Luke Gregerson. The 30-year-old never been a full-time closer, but he might stand as the Astros' most logical remaining free-agent option - no matter the role.
Three years seems to be the going rate for relievers. If we're talking about the second- or third-tier guys, though, I'd feel more comfortable with a two-year pact. Still, Gregerson has been good in his career.
But, he also pitched in two of the most friendly pitcher's parks in the league. If Houston is interested in him, you can bet their system shows how he'd adapt to Minute Maid Park and that they have few compunctions about a possible move.
Now, Houston has been linked to Sergio Romo and Luke Gregerson, who seem to be the backup options if they don't land David Robertson. We'll see how the week plays out.