Category Archives: Houston Astros

2018 AL West Predictions

1. Houston Astros

The Astros are the defending world series champions, but they arguably made their team even better this offseason with the addition of star pitcher Gerrit Cole. Either way, it’s very difficult to find a weakness on this roster. The Astros have a terrific lineup led by AL MVP Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa, George Springer, and Alex Bregman. Houston also has other contibutors in their lineup, but those 4 guys are the core that will carry them for several years to come. Houston also has a terrific starting rotation with Dallas Keuchel, Justin Verlander, and Gerrit Cole leading the rotation. They also have Lance McCullers and Charlie Morton who provide even more depth to the rotation. Houston also has a reliable bullpen with closer Ken Giles and quality setup men Will Harris and Chris Devenski. Houston is definitely the favorite to win the AL West this year and they have all of the pieces to make a deep playoff run once again.

2. Los Angeles Angels

The Angels just missed out on the playoffs last season, but they made some offseason additions that could allow them to be a playoff team in 2018. Los Angeles added Ian Kinsler to be their starting 2nd basemen as that has been a major area of weakness for a few years. The Angels also added Zack Cozart this offseason as he will help to fill a void at the 3rd base position. Those two players will just make the Angels lineup even more dangerous especially with the team already having Mike Trout, Justin Upton, and Albert Pujols in their lineup. However, the key for the Angels will be their starting rotation as their starting pitchers failed to stay healthy last season. Garrett Richards is back in 2018 after missing most of last season due to injury and Andrew Heaney is also returning set to return from injury. The Angels also made a big splash in free agency by signing Shohei Ohtani, but it is a mystery as to how he will adjust to the MLB level since he has only played professionally in Japan. If the starting pitchers for the Angels can stay healthy then they should have a decent starting rotation especially if Ohtani is able to live up to the hype. Meanwhile, the Angels bullpen could be a major issue for the team heading into 2018. Blake Parker figures to be the team’s closer in 2018, but he is rather unproven in that role. The Angels also added Jim Johnson this offseason as a setup man, yet Johnson had an awful 2017 season for Atlanta as he had a 5.56 ERA. Los Angeles also has Cam Bedrosian as a late-inning option, but he struggled for the Angels last season with a 4.43 ERA. Los Angeles needs improvement from Johnson and Bedrosian if this bullpen is going to be successful in 2018. Overall, the Angels should be able to score plenty of runs with their deep lineup, although the starting rotation and bullpen are what is holding them back from competing with the Astros.

3. Seattle Mariners

Seattle is a team that has been on the verge of finally making the playoffs, but they just haven’t been able to do so. The Mariners will probably compete for a playoff spot in 2018, although it is unlikely that they will be able to secure a wild-card spot. Seattle has a very good lineup with Nelson Cruz, Robinson Cano, and Kyle Seager providing the power in the middle of the lineup. However, the Mariners also acquired Dee Gordon this offseason who will be their new leadoff hitter with his tremendous speed. Seattle should be able to score runs, but the question will be their pitching staff. Felix Hernandez clearly isn’t the starting pitcher that he once was and he is not the ace of the rotation anymore. James Paxton is the team’s new ace, although the problem for Paxton is that he just can’t seem to stay healthy consistently. Mike Leake and Erasmo Ramirez will provide decent depth in their rotation as the 3rd and 4th starters. However, the Mariners need Paxton to stay healthy and Hernandez to return to form if their starting pitching is to be successful. Meanwhile, the Mariners bullpen should be very good as they have Edwin Diaz as a good closer. However, they also have plenty of depth with Juan Nicasio, Nick Vincent, and David Phelps being good late-inning options. Seattle should be a playoff contender in 2018, but the key to their success will be the starting rotation.

4. Texas Rangers

The Texas Rangers are a team that is definitely trending in the wrong direction as they were a good team a couple of years ago, but now they probably aren’t even a playoff contender. Texas still has a very good lineup and they can hit for some power with Joey Gallo, Rougned Odor, Adrian Beltre, Shin-Soo Choo, and Nomar Mazara leading the way. The team also has Elvis Andrus who can hit for some power as well and he provides tremendous speed as well. The Rangers will hit plenty of home runs this season, but they might still struggle to score some runs as they don’t have many players that hit for a good average. Texas also has a decent bullpen as they have Alex Claudio, Keone Kela, and Jake Diekman as solid late-inning options. However, they need to find which one of those guys will be their closer in 2018, although Claudio seems like the best option out of that group. The one major concern for the Rangers is their starting pitching as they have 5 veteran starters, but those starters all really struggled last season. Cole Hamels is the clear ace for the rotation, yet he needs to be much better than he was last season. Martin Perez, Doug Fister, and Matt Moore have all had success at the MLB level. However, those 3 guys seem to be trending in the wrong direction at this point in their careers. Texas has the lineup to be competitive, but they need more out of their pitching if they want to even be competitive in 2018.

5. Oakland Athletics

Oakland is kind of a mystery team heading into 2018 as they have plenty of young talent, although they aren’t expected to be playoff contenders. Khris Davis is the clear threat in the Athletics lineup as he is one of the best power hitters in the game. However, the Athletics also have young players Matt Olson and Matt Chapman that have proven that they are capable of hitting for power as well. Oakland’s lineup certainly has the potential to hit home runs, but they probably won’t hit for average or score many runs in general. Meanwhile, Oakland’s starting rotation is a complete unknown as it is full of young and uproven starting pitchers. Kendall Graveman and Sean Manaea are probably the team’s best starting pitchers, but neither has proven themselves as the best of the group. Jharel Cotton and Daniel Mengden also have some potential, although they both haven’t been very good early on in their careers. Oakland’s rotation has tremendous potential since they are such a young group and they don’t have much MLB experience. However, somebody needs to step up and pitch well because they don’t really have a leader in their starting rotation. Oakland could have a good starting rotation, but it could also be terrible and we’ll just have to see which young starting pitcher can step up. Oakland’s bullpen has a chance to be good this season as they have Blake Treinen as a decent closer. Also, they have Santiago Casilla and Yusmeiro Petit as experienced late-inning options in their bullpen. However, Oakland’s bullpen has some quality depth overall and it should be the overall strength of the team heading into 2018. The Athletics probably aren’t going to be a playoff contender in 2018. However, don’t count the A’s out since they are an intriguing team with all of their young talent and they could be a sneaky team in 2018.



Astros sign Joe Smith to a 2-year deal

The Houston Astros added some much needed depth to their bullpen as they signed veteran relief pitcher Joe Smith to a 2-year/$15 million contract. Smith has been one of the most consistent relief pitchers throughout his career as he has an impressive 2.97 ERA in 11 MLB seasons. However, Smith somehow flies under the radar and never gets mentioned much as a reliable relief pitcher. Houston did win the world series, but they still needed to find some more bullpen depth this offseason. They certainly accomplished that goal by signing Smith as he provides them with more quality depth as a middle relief pitcher. Smith isn’t an overpowering pitcher, although he has a proven record as a consistent performer and he makes the Astros bullpen even better than before.

Grade: B+

joe smith

Season Outlook: Houston Astros

Projected 2017 Starting Lineup:

  1. George Springer – Center Fielder
  2. Jose Altuve – 2nd baseman
  3. Carlos Correa – Shortstop
  4. Carlos Beltran – Designated Hitter
  5. Brian McCann – Catcher
  6. Alex Bregman – 3rd baseman
  7. Josh Reddick – Right Fielder
  8. Yulieski Gurriel – 1st baseman
  9. Nori Aoki – Left Fielder

Projected 2017 Starting Rotation:

  1. Dallas Keuchel
  2. Lance McCullers
  3. Collin McHugh
  4. Mike Fiers
  5. Charlie Morton

Season Outlook:

The Houston Astros already had a really good lineup with Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa, George Springer, and Alex Bregman. However, the Astros were busy adding to their lineup even more particularly by signing Carlos Beltran, Brian McCann, and Josh Reddick. Those are 3 veteran players that should combine with the extremely talented players that Houston already had. There is no doubt that Altuve and Correa will be the heart of the Astros lineup, but there really is no weakness in their lineup right now. The Astros lineup clearly is good enough now to not only make the playoffs, but possibly be a world series contender. Meanwhile, the Astros starting rotation is good, although it still has room for improvement. Dallas Keuchel is the clear ace of the pitching staff and Lance McCullers is a very good starting pitcher as well. However, after those 2 pitchers then there is a pretty big dropoff with Collin McHugh, Mike Fiers, and Charlie Morton being the rest of the rotation. Houston could add another quality starting pitcher very soon and that is the piece is probably needed to make this team a world series contender. If the pitching staff can become really good to go along with their already dangerous lineup then there is no doubt that this is a top 3 team in the AL.

Prediction: 1st place in the AL West


Biggest need remaining for every AL West team

Houston Astros РBiggest need: 1st baseman

The Houston Astros don’t have a big need, but if there is one position that appears to be a little bit of a concern then it would be 1st base. Yulieski Gurriel will be the team’s starting 1st baseman in 2017, but he has limited MLB experience which makes me wonder how he will fare with the everyday job at 1st base next season. Gurriel hit .262 with 3 home runs for Houston last season, but the Astros should add at least some depth to the 1st base position. It might not work out with Gurriel as the everyday 1st baseman and the Astros should find another 1st baseman that can fill in if Gurriel doesn’t do well. There are many options left in free agency and they would be smart to add some depth to 1st base.

Los Angeles Angels – Biggest need: Catcher

The Los Angeles Angels didn’t get much production out of the catcher position with Geovany Soto and Jett Bandy. Now, both Bandy and Soto have departed this offseason which means there will be a new starting catcher for the Angels in 2017. Carlos Perez will see more playing time as a backup catcher next season. However, Martin Maldonado was acquired from the Brewers this offseason in order to be the new starting catcher. Maldonado has some power as he hit 8 home runs last season, but he needs to be a more consistent hitter as he only had a .202 average. It’s tough to find solid catchers these days, but the Angels could really use one because the combination of Maldonado and Perez doesn’t look too promising.

Oakland Athletics – Biggest need: Centerfielder

Oakland has some big needs to fill before next season, but the biggest need that they have is in center field. Jake Smolinski is projected to be the starting centerfielder for the Athletics in 2017, but he has never been very good even as a backup outfielder. Smolinski can hit some home runs as he hit 7 last season, but a .242 average is a little concerning. I don’t see Oakland going out and signing a quality centerfielder. However, there are still a few out there if they choose to go that route and it would probably improve their lineup.

Seattle Mariners – Biggest need: Left Fielder

The Mariners outfield isn’t looking too good for next season as they have three starting outfielders that aren’t very solid players. However, left field appears to be a major weakness for Seattle heading into next season. Ben Gamel is projected to be the starter in left field for the Mariners in 2017, but the issue is his lack of experience. Gamel only has 48 career at-bats and he only has a .188 average to show for it. There are still some quality left fielders in free agency and the Mariners should sign one to compete with Gamel for the starting job.

Texas Rangers – Biggest need: 1st baseman

Texas lost starting 1st baseman Mitch Moreland in free agency and it has created a major vacancy at the position heading into next season. Right now Ryan Rua would be the starting 1st baseman for Texas and he has only played 44 games at the position in his career. Don’t be shocked if the Rangers make a move to sign a quality 1st baseman and it has been rumored that they will reach a deal with Mike Napoli. Either way, the Rangers should add an everyday 1st baseman soon, although their options are starting to run out.

Astros sign Josh Reddick to a 4-year deal

The Astros continued their really busy day of acquisitions on Wednesday by signing outfielder Josh Reddick to a 4-year/$52 million deal. Reddick came into this offseason as one of the top free agents mostly because of his solid offensive production. He doesn’t have great power as he only had 10 home runs in 110 games last season. His average has improved the past few seasons as he hit .281 in 2016, but the Astros are hoping that his power numbers will return to the type of numbers when he hit 20 home runs in 2015 with Oakland. Either way, Reddick will be a nice addition to the Astros especially since he will be a much better upgrade over Colby Rasmus who appears to officially be leaving via free agency after the Reddick signing. Reddick has played right field most of his career, but in all likelihood he’ll be moved over to left field since George Springer is the everyday player in right field. I actually think it’s not a bad contract at all for the Astros as they’re only paying him about $12 million annually which isn’t much at all for a quality outfielder for Reddick. We’ll see if Reddick can fully return to the all-star caliber player that he was just a few years ago and if he does then this is a great signing for Houston. However, consistency has been an issue for Reddick, although this still is a good signing for the Astros to give themselves a much needed left-handed bat in their lineup.

Grade: B



Astros sign Morton to a 2-year contract

The Houston Astros added to their rotation depth on Wednesday by signing veteran starting pitcher Charlie Morton to a 2-year/$14 million contract. Morton won’t wow anybody especially with the poor 4.54 career ERA that he has. However, the one thing that he can provide is some rotational depth for the Astros as a 5th starter. Dallas Keuchel Collin McHugh, and Mike Fiers all will be in the Astros starting rotation next year. However, Lance McCullers has been battling arm injuries recently and he’s not a guarantee to be healthy. Also, Doug Fister looks to be departing via free agency, so Morton will help fill that spot. Morton is 33 years old and he’s not a great rotation option, but in a weak starting pitcher market then this deal somewhat makes sense as a temporary solution. Morton is a pitcher that relies on his command rather than a hard-throwing arm to strike out batters, but the key for him will be locating his pitches well to be successful. Morton has been basically the same pitcher throughout his career and I don’t expect that to change with the Astros. He will likely be a 5th starter in Houston’s rotation and if that fails then I think he could be a good long-reliever in the bullpen. Morton provides solid depth for Houston, but this is just an average signing at best.

Grade: C


Yankees trade Brian McCann to Houston

Houston is certainly showing that they are serious about being contenders next season as they acquired veteran catcher Brian McCann from the Yankees in exchange for right-handed pitching prospects Albert Abreu and Jorge Guzman.

Yankees evaluation:

This is an outstanding trade for the New York Yankees in a variety of aspects. The first reason is that the Yankees really have no use at all for Brian McCann at the catcher position going forward. McCann has tremendous power as he still hit 20 home runs last season for New York. However, his offensive production has declined in recent years and he struggled mightily against left-handed pitching as he only hit .218 against them. Also, Gary Sanchez burst onto the scene for the Yankees last season as he hit a whopping .299 with 20 home runs in only 53 games played. Sanchez is only going to be 24 years old at the start of next season, so he is clearly the catcher of the future for the Yankees. Sanchez’s outstanding offensive production made McCann expendable as McCann isn’t nearly as talented as Sanchez and McCann has a $17 million salary next season as well. The Yankees will only be paying $5.5 million of that salary which makes it even better of a deal since they won’t have to pay him nearly as much. Meanwhile, the 2 prospects that the Yankees received makes this deal even better. Albert Abreu has a power arm and has a ton of potential, but he needs some better command as he walked too many batters last year in Single-A. Abreu is still a couple of years from the majors and he figures to start out 2017 in High-A for the Yankees. He had a 3-8 record with a 3.72 ERA, but I expect him to put up better numbers than that next season. Meanwhile, Jorge Guzman is only 20 years and he still has a lot of potential. However, he is far away from the major leagues since he only posted a 4.05 ERA in rookie ball in the Gulf Coast league. Guzman projects well as a powerful bullpen arm at the MLB level since he strikes out a lot of hitters because he consistently throws 100 MPH. It’ll take some patience for the Yankees to develop Guzman, but it’s difficult not to like his ability to throw hard. Overall, New York needed to get rid of McCann since Gary Sanchez is going to be the catcher long-term. Also, getting two quality pitching prospects makes the deal even greater for the Yankees

Grade: A+

Astros evaluation:

It is difficult to find catchers that have the type of offensive capabilities that Brian McCann has. McCann provides the Astros with a much needed left-handed hitter in their lineup and he will probably split time with Evan Gattis at catcher. Gattis will likely face left-handed pitching since McCann has struggled a lot against left-handed pitching. However, the one thing that McCannn can really provide is a power bat for Houston as he has hit 20 home runs or more in every season since 2007. His batting average has declined in recent years, but as long as he is driving in runs then I’m sure that the Astros are fine with that. Trading way quality prospects like Guzman and Abreu is never easy to do, but it was probably the right move since the Astros probably don’t have the patience to wait years before those guys can make an impact in the MLB. McCann will replace the inconsistent Jason Castro at catcher who is a free agent himself. McCann is certainly an upgrade at catcher and he’ll provide some more power to the Astros lineup. Overall, this is a pretty good trade for the Astros since they are getting an all-star caliber catcher that can make an immediate impact for the next 2 years at least.

Grade: B