Jeff Luhnow joined "The Proper Gentlemen Of Sports" on 790 AM KBME Wednesday morning to discuss all things Astros baseball. You should really listen to the segment on their website in its entirety, but here's an embed as well:
In the interview, Luhnow covered several topics, including:
- The prospect of a winning home stand, which the Astros achieved later that evening in a sixteen inning marathon.
- The starting rotation, the return of Lance McCullers, and the different thought processes that go into deciding who leaves the rotation upon Lance's activation. The hosts mentioned a concern over bad feelings for whomever is forced out of the rotation, and Mr. Luhnow essentially said that that's the nature of the business and someone is going to have to make an adjustment. Luhnow also said McCullers will basically have no restrictions upon his return.
- The catching situation once Jason Castro returns, and Jeff Luhnow basically said that Max Stassi was short on at bats after missing much of Spring Training with his injury, so he was definitely only up with the club for the extent of Castro's paternity leave and he'd be headed back to Fresno once Castro came back. This has already come to fruition, as the Astros announced last night that Stassi and reliever Josh Fields were sent to Triple-A Fresno to make room for Lance McCullers and Jason Castro.
- The 5-9 spots in the lineup, and how much input Luhnow has with manager AJ Hinch over lineup construction. Luhnow made a point of downplaying the importance of the batting order and then said he doesn't spend much time with Hinch on the lineup and such, preferring to leave that to the manager. Then, Luhnow focused on what he feels the main issue is: good baseball players that just aren't performing to the level they should be. When it came to Carlos Gomez, Luhnow had this to say:
"...and we have just got to get Carlos Gomez going. He's a good baseball player who's not producing offensively right now the way that he should be, or the way that we need him to even stay on this team. So, I do believe he's going to come around, he's physically fine...[discusses Gomez's stats from his last three seasons in Milwaukee]...I know this guy can do it, it's in there. There is nothing about him that suggests he has declined by age, he just needs to get it going. And I think he will."
Right after that, the host followed up with a question that basically said "That's the guy you traded for, right?" Jeff Luhnow responded:
"I mean, it is. It's a three to four win player that was in his late twenties and seemed to be right in his prime. Defensively he's outstanding, we all know that, but he just hasn't gotten his act together at the plate, and once he does, he's going to be very valuable. But it's certainly taking some time this year."
After that scintillating segment, a regular listener and caller who refers to himself as "Cujo" was afforded the opportunity to make an impassioned rant to Luhnow against manager AJ Hinch for "sticking with guys too long", basically. Jeff rightly took exception to the line of thought, but deflected professionally. In Luhnow's response to the diatribe, though, was a fairly significant snippet: a seeming clarification on the team's stance regarding third base prospect Colin Moran (who homered last night for Fresno in a loss and is slowly improving in areas of concern like isolated power, wRC+, and K%) and the potential of a call up. Luhnow said that the team has discussed Moran but "aren't ready to make that decision [to call Moran up] yet." He does note that he thinks that will happen this season, but he praised Luis Valbuena's glove work and pointed out that Valbuena has indeed been showing signs of improvement with the bat in the last week or so.
Hopefully, you will be saved the awkwardness of listening to Cujo by reading the above summary. But the rest of the Luhnow interview is very, very legitimate and extremely well worth your time to listen to.