Jason Castro & Brett Oberholtzer (Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports)

An Early (Very Early) Look at the 2014 Astros


We still have a long ways until the opening of 2014 Spring Training. However, the Hot Stove League is open for business. Every day could potentially be Christmas for the Astros and their fans.

But before we go shopping for an influx of talent, there should be an awareness of the current composition of the Astros.

This is not a review of the 2013 season, nor is it a preview of 2014. Both of those items will be handled in greater detail in the coming weeks and months. Instead it is a quick look at the positions Houston has “filled” for next season, as well as the positions that are “vacant”.

I have compiled this list and roster breakdown based solely on who is currently on the 40-man roster and what I think the future holds for them. It is important to remember that  a lot can, and will, change.

However, this will serve as a tool to highlight the areas of need. As the offseason progresses, this will be the base as to what we can expect for next season. Plus it is a lot more fun to look forward as opposed to looking at the past.

Catcher:

This might be Houston’s deepest position. There is proven depth both at the major and minor league level. Perhaps the Astros add a veteran on a minor league contract for organizational depth, but that is about it.

  • Jason Castro- Starter. Castro will likely see starts both at DH and first base to keep him fresh and to monitor his workload.
  • Carlos Corporan- Backup. Because of Castro’s injury history, Corporan will likely see more time than a traditional backup.
  • Max Stassi- AAA Starter. I would expect to see Stassi in Houston at some point in 2014.

Infield:

At this point I would say that three of the four starting positions are filled. The backups and first base are unsettled, but I think they are further down on Jeff Luhnow’s to do list as there are options. Chris Carter could come into play at first base, but ultimately the plan was for Jonathan Singleton to be the 2014 starter. That will likely dictate how Luhnow moves forward here.

  • Jose Altuve- 2B. Altuve got the big contract last season, but seemed to have taken a small step backwards. This year will be critical for him.
  • Jonathan Villar- SS. The speedster did enough to go into Spring Training as the starter, but there is work to be done. For as much talent that there is, there is also a lot that needs to be improved and fine tuned. But the potential is there. Also, there is no one on the roster that poses an immediate threat.
  • Matt Dominguez- 3B. Even though the errors were a problem, Dominguez showed that he could make a positive impact on defense. The third baseman also showed some power and the ability to be a run producer, but we still need to see more before declaring that he is the long term solution here.
  • Marwin Gonzalez & Jake Elmore- Both are still around as utility/backup types, but an upgrade could be made.
  • Brett Wallace- He has had multiple chances, and last year could have been the end of them. He is a possible non-tender candidate.

Outfield:

Right now there are a lot of platoon/backup types returning from last season. This is where I see the Astros making the biggest offseason splash.

  • George Springer- Starter. Yes I said it. I think the time is finally upon us, and Springer is currently the only sure thing in the outfield.
  • Robbie Grossman/Brandon Barnes- Platoon Option/Bench. Both likely played more than they should have/were expected to last season. Each had success, but also had their share of struggles. Defense and speed are assets for both Grossman and Barnes, and that will serve them well.
  • L.J. Hoes- Bench/AAA. Hoes is what he is. A solid player who will hit for a decent average and not much power. Ultimately his 2014 outlook will depend on the other moves Luhnow makes.
  • J.D. Martinez- Martinez is in the same boat as Wallace. He might have reached the end of his rope, and could be non-tendered. If not, I don’t see him having a large role with the Astros next season.

Starting Pitching:

The Astros are currently very young here. There will be some upgrades made to the rotation in the offseason, but based on how 2013 ended, I think three pitchers are secure. However, to some degree, this will be dependent on Spring Training performance.

  • Jarred Cosart- SP. What more can we say about Cosart and what he did last season.
  • Brett Oberholtzer- SP. Oberholtzer came out of nowhere last season to have success in the second half of the season. I think one of these spots is his to lose.
  • Brad Peacock- SP. Peacock started the year off struggling and then rebounded in his second stint with the Astros. His late season success gives him a leg up on a spot for 2014.
  • Jordan Lyles. Lyles has been up and down throughout his whole career with Houston and his role for next season is dependent on who Luhnow brings in this offseason.

Bullpen:

An upgrade here is needed, that much cannot be disputed. The players listed here are in their roles from last season, and this will likely look totally different by Opening Day. Quite frankly it needs to.

  • Josh Fields- Closer. This is where he ended last season, and even though he didn’t have many chances, Fields pitched well in September.
  • Kevin Chapman, Chia-Jen Lo, Josh Zeid- All three showed potential last season, and will likely have a chance at roles for next season.
  • Raul Valdes, Darin Downs- Both are lefties and on the 40-man roster, so until proven otherwise I would slot them into the bullpen. I’m not sure they are the best options, but for now, they are the options.
  • Dallas Keuchel- He is likely a swing pitcher bouncing between AAA and Houston, the bullpen and the rotation.
  • Lucas Harrell- Harrell is another non-tender candidate who might have worn out his welcome.

Tags: Houston Astros

  • Larry

    Hello Ray, I got another report on which teams need the most & on the Astros it said on what to Astros need. And we all know that. But it all said the Astros should make a trade with Arizona Diamondbacks. They should go after Gerardo Parra I look at his stats & I don’t like what I see. But I did some studing on some other players. But when u read this on what players I been looking at the stats in the Minor Leagues. So here is what I found.
    Colorado Rockies: Player: Kyle Parker: Outfielder:
    2011 Ashville: 23 Doubles; 21 HRs; 95 RBIs; B.A.285
    2012 Modesto: 18 Doubles; 23 HRs; 73 RBIs; B.A.308
    2013 Tulsa: 23 Doubles; HRs 23; 74 RBIs; B.A. 288
    _____________________________________________
    Los Angeles Dodgers: Player: Nick Buss: Outfielder:
    2011 Rancho Cucamonga: 30 Doubles; 14 HRs; 55 RBIs; B.A.272
    2012 Chattanooga: 24 Doubles; 10 HRs; 57 RBIs; B.A.272
    2013: Albuquerque: 29 Doubles; 17 HRs; B.A. 303
    ____________________________________________
    Cody Decker: San Diego Padres: Outfielder:
    2009 Padres (AZ): 21 Doubles; 15 HRs; 63 RBIs; B.A.354
    2010 Lake Elsinore: 35 Doubles; 28 HRs; 90 RBIs; B.A. 270
    2011 San Antonio: 10 Doubles; 13 HRs; 38 RBIs; B.A. 237
    (2) Teams:
    2012 San Antonio: 19 Doubles; 25 HRs; 68 RBIs; B.A. 263
    2012 Tucson: 7 Doubles; 4 HRs; 13 RBIs; B.A.215
    2013: Tucson: 24 Doubles; 17 HRs; 64 RBIs; B.A. 272.
    _____________________________________________
    So Ray, maybe one of these guys could be the next Right Fielder for the Astros. There was not too many ones that has some power.
    I have a question for u what u think of getting Max Scherzer as a starter.

    • Ray_Kuhn_28

      yeah, Parra is more like a platoon/4th OF type, not sure it would be much of an upgrade from what the Astros already have.

      These guys are more mid to fringe prospects I would say. I’m not sure I would be incredibly comfortable handing the starting RF job to any of them.