Astros: Looking Onwards to the Offseason
The 2016 season for Jeff Luhnow and the Houston Astros was a roller-coaster ride of a season. And I think we learned something about the team.
The Houston Astros are a good team, but they are few off-season moves away from being a great one.
The positions that need the most improvement are as follow: Starting Pitcher, Catcher, and First base. Outfield is another spot the team could use improvements. But with Yulieski Gurriel showing what he can do and guys like Derek Fisher and Teoscar Hernandez rising, its just not a big priority in my eyes.
There are some options for the Astros, whether its free agency or making a trade. I believe that if Houston wants to succeed and improve in 2017, they are going to have to make moves.
The Astros struggled to get consistency from their starting pitching in 2016, and it didn’t help that Lance McCullers, who had been the Astros best pitcher through the first half of the season had to be shut down due to elbow discomfort. The Astros need to get an arm this off-season, and there are some options, but my favorite comes from Florida.
Chris Archer has been the ace of the Tampa Bay Rays staff since the departure of David Price and he has solidified himself as a solid front of the rotation starter. His 2016 season was not his greatest, losing 19 games with an ERA at 4.02, but he threw over 200 innings.
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One thing that the Astros struggled to get this year was innings out of their starters. Too many times the pitchers struggled to get through the fifth inning. Archer is a reliable arm who can give the Astros the boost they need to reach the next level. He has an above average fastball that sits at 92-95 mph and a nasty slider and is also known for being a character and a good club house presence.
Catcher is a tricky position. The production from catcher was not horrible, but it needs to improve. Evan Gattis has the bat and the arm to stay at catcher. But he needs to eliminate small errors and needs to improve at blocking the ball behind the plate. Jason Castro is the better defensive catcher and hits well enough against righties, hitting ten home runs facing right-handed pitching compared to one against lefties. The best trade commodity was Jonathan Lucroy, who went to the Rangers. Some possibilities for the Astros would be Matt Wieters or Wilson Ramos, but I believe the best bet is keeping Castro an Astro.
He and Gattis make a solid one-two punch and you can do a lot worse at back-up catcher. If you combine the home runs the pair hit last year, albeit Gattis played games at Designated Hitter, the Astros got 43 home runs from the catcher position. Castro is an above average defender and has shown in the past that he can hit at an All-Star level.
The production at first base was awful. As much as I love having a guy on the team who is a red head and has my name as his last, the position is a glaring issue. Whether its acquiring an outfielder and making Gurriel the first basemen, or making a move, the Astros need to upgrade the corner spot. I like the idea of going out and acquiring a veteran player to fill up this spot and know just the guy.
Joey Votto is an experienced, quality major league first basemen who has spent his entire career in Cincinatti. The Reds have shown the willingness to give up players when they traded Jay Bruce at the deadline.
Votto hit .326 with 29 home runs and an on-base percentage of .434. Sticking him in the 5 or 6 spot in the Astros line-up would create a whole new beast of a line up. Not to mention he played in 158 of the 162 games last season. He can stay healthy and produce in the middle of the line up. He is a 4 time all-star and at 32 is producing at a high-level.
Next: Astros: A Buyer's Mentality is Needed
Acquiring him would require a relatively steep price, but if this team wants to play in future October’s, then Votto could be a big piece of making that happen.
**Statistics courtesy of Baseball Reference**