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TCB staff: "Colby Rasmus is a star. The Astros can always use another star."

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Some more reaction to the Astros latest signing.

Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

Hey! We've gone a few days without having a TCB writer reaction to something. Let's get this going for the Colby Rasmus trade.

Despite happening so late in the offseason, the Colby Rasmus signing has piqued plenty of interest. Here's what our writers had to say about the Astros newest outfield acquisition.

Brian

For the Fowler trade, I seemed to be a little more in love with it than the majority of the other writers. This time, I seem to be the one who isn't so hot about it. That isn't to say I disagree with the move, only that I'm not overly excited about it. Rasmus is an inconsistent hitter, to say the least, and his strike out rate has been trending in the wrong direction, and like Fowler, he's had his share of injury issues in the past few years.

My only concern is his defense. Assuming he'll be the everyday center fielder (why not Springer in center and Rasmus in right?), is he a real upgrade in that regard? If so, he'll play good defense, pop 20+ homers and be worth the money (and provide as much value as Fowler would have, it should be noted). That kind of package in center field is hard to find. Even if he does decline, Marisnick will be waiting in the wings, and it's only a one year pact, even if it is for a hefty eight million in guaranteed money, so it won't damage the future. It's a solid move, just not an exciting one.

TidewaterAstros

My initial reaction was some version of 'Huh??' Then I remembered that old baseball cliche: You can never have too many centerfielders.

Seriously, who is our CF? It could be Marisnick, Springer or Rasmus. Will Marisnick be the 4th OF or sent down or move to center? Will Gattis be in left or could Singleton and his team-friendly contract be traded?

Other than those questions, Rasmus adds value to the team and is one more signal that The Rebuild is over.

Clack

I would have predicted prior to the off-season that the Astros would try to sign Rasmus. But the timing now surprised me. We didn't have any hints or warnings that this would happen. Just goes to show that the front office really keeps a lid on what it's doing. I think this is a good price for taking a decent risk that Rasmus rebounds from a disappointing 2014. As I recall, at the end of last season, Rasmus said that he was hurt by the defensive shifts in 2014, and that he actually hit the ball harder in 2014 than 2013. I don't know if his perception is accurate, but the Astros' analytics group probably knows. It will be interesting to find out if there are adjustments in his approach which will counter the shifts.

Idrees

As I was not the biggest fan of the Fowler deal, I have to say that this Colby Rasmus signing makes me feel much better. Ultimately, I think Rasmus and Fowler can provide similar, solid value as everyday centerfielders/outfielders. I think Rasmus comes with a little more risk, but that risk is accompanied with nice reward potential as well, so the value proposition for him is perfectly fine with me. A potential defensive outfield of Marisnick, Rasmus, and Springer is tantalizing, and I am sure our pitchers' will appreciate it.

The front office essentially turned Dexter Fowler into Luis Valbuena, Dan Straily, and Colby Rasmus. The newly acquired trio hopefully represents an upgrade at 3B, another potential solid arm to add to the mix, and a lateral move in the OF. Additionally, we added depth across the board, which is always nice. There should also be a healthy amount of competition (i.e. Matty D vs. Valbuena, Lowrie vs. MarGo, Singleton vs. Carter/Gattis, the entire OF situation sans Springer) in spring training, which cannot come soon enough.

TRosser92

I'm pretty excited by this addition. I think a change of scenery and a healthy hamstring will allow Rasmus to get back to his 2013 form or at least close to it. He and Luhnow appear to have a very good relationship, and I imagine they will allow him to work on his swing with this father which he seems to prefer. The Astros are going to hit tons of homeruns, strikeout a lot, and have some really good defense in the outfield. Especially if Marisnick is playing out there as well.

The Astros are trending up, and if we do add a BOR starter I fully expect to reach .500 ball and be in contention for the wild card at some point this season.

Erniebreakfast

Most of how I feel about this has been said by others. I was not excited by the Fowler deal, but I understood. Now that the Rasmus deal is done, I feel better about it. All in all it looks like an even swap between Rasmus and Fowler, plus we added a starting 3B and a BOR pitcher. Now we just need to see if Rasmus can get over his injury from the 2014 season. If he can bounce back, then an outfield with Rasmus, Springer and Marisnick will be fun to watch. Let's take all these guys to Florida and see how everything shakes out.

Chris

I've thought Rasmus would be a great fit for the Astros for a while. I've read some snarky observations (Hi, Greg Lucas) that people who are always positive about the Astros are not objective. So I'll throw in some negative to give the appearance of objectivity. There is no chance of the Astros acquiring an ideal player. There never was. There hasn't been that chance for a decade. With flawed assets and a small budget, they can only acquire other flawed assets. But what the Astros have done over the past few years is acquire flawed assets that have clear skills that add to the overall value of the team. That's what they've done by signing Rasmus. They've upgraded their outfield defense at no additional monetary cost by swapping Fowler for Rasmus, and if there is a downgrade on offense, it will be slight. Yes, Rasmus will strike out a lot, but the net effect is positive for the team, and so this is clearly a good move. Additionally, Rasmus is still young enough to rebound from what was one of the more disappointing seasons in his career, and he has shown the ability to post an offensive value 30% higher than league average as recently as 2013. His apparent desire to play for Jeff Luhnow and the Astros can only help his drive to perform well, and I cautiously predict that Rasmus will have a big rebound year and put up some of the best offensive numbers of his career.

Illinibob

Apparently the new market inefficiency is low BA, high SLG/ISO power guys. I suspect the Astros will lead all of baseball in both strikeouts and Homers. While my gut tells me contact and putting the ball in play is still the way to go, this seems to be where the bargains are right now. So, we will be a TTO team at the plate (OK, maybe 2 1/2 true options, we won't walk THAT much), with a LOT of solo homers and outstanding outfield defense. If we do nothing else of significance, this will be a much more fun team to watch, and .500 certainly is within reach. I have always been a Rasmus fan, and look forward to watching Rasmus, Marisnick and Springer run down EVERYTHING in sight at MMP.

Chris

FWIW, the Cubs led the majors in K% last season, and project to have more this season. The Astros were 2nd and project to have fewer, especially if Gattis plays 1B instead of Singleton. So it's pretty unlikely that the Astros lead the leagues in K's. They may not even be top 3.

Anthony

Chris, maybe you haven't looked at the internet recently, but the Cubs are OMGWORLDSERIES and the Astros are lolstrikeoutz.

Idrees

Rec.

Tim

I am a little worried with the strikeouts. I'd prefer this lineup have a little more balance overall, but I guess you take what you can get and all the additions the Astros have made this offseason do make this team better overall.

TRosser92

#nararatives

David

Worried about strikeouts?

Read Chris' story from this morning.

Still worried?

Read Jeff Sullivan on FanGraphs.

You will no longer be worried about the strikeouts.

TRosser92

"If he's bad, well, lots of Astros have been bad, and Rasmus alone won't stop the Astros from getting where they're trying to go. "

That quote made the article for me less than a paragraph in.

Tim

Too much of one things is never a good thing. I won't have time to look into this, but if you look at teams with the highest K% last year, they're mostly teams at the bottom of the rankings. Astros, Twins, Braves, Mets, Mariners make up teams with the highest K% the Pirates who made the playoffs is sixth.

Teams with the lowest K% last year were: Tigers, Royals, Rangers, Giants, and Cardinals. Four of the five teams made the playoffs. Yes, this is one year and yes K% isn't the only factor and yes this needs more investigation, but I'm not entirely sold that I should ignore a lineup with a high K%.

Illinibob

Well, here is what I took away from Sullivan's piece:

"High-strikeout teams have under-performed; high-strikeout teams have over-performed. Low-strikeout teams have under-performed; low-strikeout teams have over-performed. There is no observable relationship."

Which is interesting. I still think, putting the ball n play is better than striking out. My equation is: Benefit of moving runners plus increased chance of errors on balls in play minus double plays is a positive effect. But I can be convinced otherwise. Never too old to learn I guess.

David

Right. Just because the team will strike out more than the average guarantees nothing.

For all the problems it might cause, having more balance to the lineup, with a couple lefty bats added to the mix, could help most of all.

Illinibob

I certainly wholeheartedly agree with this. Rasmus being a lefty is a real bonus.

Anthony

My reaction. You want my reaction to Colby Rasmus.

It's positive. I'm often the wet blanket on these moves, but simply put, I'm ecstatic. Where does he fit? Don't know, don't care. What does this mean for the rest of the players on the Astros? Don't know, don't care.

Colby Rasmus is a star. Oh sure, he hasn't always played like a star. But if he had, he wouldn't be a Houston Astro. Three just aren't many skills this guy doesn't possess. He's shown an ability to get on base, hit for power, run, throw, play center field.

There's a maddening lack of consistency. Yes. But he's capable of putting it all together, and no one has seen that more clearly than the man who drafted and developed him: Jeff Luhnow. Everything about Rasmus and the Astros makes sense. Nothing about Rasmus and the Astros makes sense.

But he's a star. And the Astros can always use another star.

Tim

The one thing I don't like about Sullivan's piece is that he reaches back to 2005. 2014 and 2005 are two very different offense environments. I would be curious to see the results on the last 3-5 years, in regards to K%.

Clack

Timothy, Sullivan divides team K rates into league K rates for each year, which should address changes in run environment to some extent.

IrishPete

So to go back to what David and I talked about a week ago...

Astros who will produce over 100 wRC+
Jose Altuve
Chris Carter
Evan Gattis
George Springer

Astros who should/can produce over 100 wRC+
Jon Singleton
Colby Rasmus
Jed Lowrie
Luis Valbuena

I think it's a safe projection to say we should have no less than 6 guys with greater than a 100 wRC+... We could have 8?!

And if Castro finds 2013 again... that's 9!

David

Seth, I looked this up earlier today. The Astros have four position players currently projected for 2 or more fWAR. They have three others within spitting distance of 2.0 fWAR. Let's say some things break in the Astros favor and those three guys hit their 75 percent projections instead of their 50 percent ones.

The last Astros team to have at least seven position players with 2 or more fWAR? The 1998 Astros.

Clack

A lot of TCB commenters probably view me as an apologists for strike outs. But I probably worry the least about the issue. The way I look at is that K% and HR% usually come in "packages" or "profiles." If you want power at an affordable cost, you will have strike outs. High HR hitters with good K rates are rare (Pujols is a good example), and as a result they are very expensive. Most high contact hitters have low K rates, less power, and below average BB rates; so the net effect is that they are not very good hitters. If you can get HR hitters with high BB rates, regardless of K rate, I believe that is a fairly reasonably priced path toward team construction.

The concerns about moving runners, etc. will be revealed in the RE24 stat, which nets out all the effects on run expectancy for given base-run states. Valbuena and Gattis had RE24 higher than their RAA (runs above average), which means that they were better than average expectations for producing runs in given situations. Rasmus' RE24 was worse than his WAA. So there may be some offsetting effects in the acquisitions. It's an open question as to how repeatable RE24 will be. But if it's a volatile stat, then that could account for why there is no correlation between wOBA and K rate---meaning that other context factors, ranging from sequencing luck to lineup position, are more important than contact vs. non-contact.