It is very constructive to have dialogue, conversation, and to present varying viewpoints. With that in mind, each week I am going to ask a question of our knowledgeable staff and post their responses below. I will also be weighing in with my thoughts. I then ask you, the reader, to offer your opinion and tell us what you think.
Lucas Harrell (Jim Cowsert-USA TODAY Sports)
In light of Hector Ambriz being designated for assignment, who is the one Astro that you do not want to see back in 2014?
I read that Ambriz had cleared waivers and was outrighted to AAA Oklahoma City. Unfortunate! Obviously he would be at the top of almost anyone’s list. But there are also a couple other guys that I think we have all seen enough of. Namely, Philip Humber and Lucas Harrell.
This is a tough choice, but if I can only pick one it has to be Humber. As bad as Harrell has been (and he’s been terrible) Humber has actually been worse. Harrell looks as though he has given up and doesn’t even want to be on the team. His attitude leaves much to be desired. That being said, I still think he has the potential to be more valuable than Humber — even if it is as trade bait.
The burning question is: which is potentially more detrimental to the team — Harrell’s attitude, or Humber’s $3 million salary for 2014? There is still hope that Harrell can turn his attitude around. And, Humber’s contract can be bought out for $500,000.
Realistically, I wouldn’t expect either of these guys to still be in an Astros uniform next April. But Humber is the one guy that has to go.
The fact that there are not many players that immediately come to mind for me is a good thing. Actually it is great.
While on paper, the Astros will finish just as bad as or worse than last season, I consider this season a success. Yes, I know it is crazy. It is obvious that a large portion of the current Astros are not going to be wearing the same uniform when Houston makes the playoffs, but there is potential here. The results do not always show it, but the current Astros have some useful pieces.
At this point, there are many players on the Astros that without question do not have a place on the team. There have been speed bumps at times, but there are not many players that I can’t wait to get rid of. The jury is still out on most of the Astros, and some are positioned better than others for the future, but the potential is there. I know that is a word that we throw around often here, but it is true. It is also all we have.
What we don’t need, is players who have a bad attitude. Lucas Harrell did not handle his demotion to the bullpen well, and he also has not been able to right the ship. There is not much potential associated with Harrell, nor is there any kind of track record aside from last season.
Another pitcher who does not have a place on this team is Philip Humber. Well yes his attitude has been poor and his performance lackluster, but that is not the issue. If the Astros do not buy out his contract this winter, they will be on the hook to Humber for $3 million. First of all, he does not have a place on this team. But more importantly, I do not want Humber’s salary to prevent Jeff Luhnow from acquiring a player who can actually help the Astros in 2014.
At the beginning of the season, Lucas Harrell was poised to build on a very impressive 2012 stint, and was the Astros’ number two starter. However, it would be rather polite to say the wheels on the bus have been punctured, ripped from their hold, and tossed into oblivion.
I was a big supporter of Harrell and my heart still wants to be. But of the current Astros roster, the candidates not to return are pretty limited given the abundance of new faces. Although the W-L record certainly does not show it, the improvement of players like Matt Dominguez, Brett Wallace, and even Jordan Lyles (despite a rocky middle road), have been welcome developments.
Harrell was a waiver claim from the Chicago White Sox for a reason. His place on the roster going into 2014 would contradict what I would like to see from next year’s version of our Houston Astros.
And that is to continue to go young — particularly with the starting rotation. Harrell doesn’t fit into that frame and his time in the bullpen has been pretty bad — or decent in comparison to his fellow bullpen members. I do sincerely hope he can turn it around in a new setting.
I assume Erik Bedard is a given as well.