How They Were Built: 2015 Houston Astros
A Look At The 2015 Houston Astros
Scott Feldman – The big Hawaiian was drafted by the Texas Rangers in 2003. In his 10-year career he has played for four different franchises including three different the last three years. That won’t be the case now because he signed a 3-year deal with the Astros last offseason. All things considered, Feldman was decent last season going 8-12 with a 3.74 ERA. Houston has been very busy this winter and will be much better this season, so you can assume that Feldman’s numbers will only get better.
Dallas Keuchel – The Astros drafted Keuchel (KYK-ill) in the 7th round in 2009. He had his best season in the big leagues in 2014 when he went 12-9 with an ERA of 2.93 in 29 starts. He also reached the 200 inning mark which is great for any team to have in their rotation. As of right now Houston can have Keuchel in the #2 spot unless they make another deal for a starter which is very likely.
Collin McHugh – Houston made McHugh and everyday starter and he re-paid them by going 11-9 with an ERA of 2.73. Originally drafted by the New York Mets in the 18th round of 2008, McHugh made his way to the Astros after being placed on waivers by the Colorado Rockies. He is clearly pitching with a chip on his shoulder due to the teams that gave up and him, and the Astros are the benefactors. McHugh will need to do the same or better in 2015 which is possible providing the offense improves.
Brett Oberholtzer – Drafted by the Atlanta Braves in the eighth round in 2008, he was acquired by the Astros in the Michael Bourn trade in 2011. After a decent showing in his first year in the major leauges, Oberholtzer took a step back statistically in 2014. He finished the season 5-13 with an ERA of 4.39 in 24 starts. One thing that should be encouraging to Oberholtzer and Astros fans is the fact the team has gotten better over the last two seasons, and they have improved at least on paper for this season.
Dan Straily – A member of the Astros for only a couple days after begin acquired from the Cubs in the Dexter Fowler trade, Straily is an option as the fifth starter on this team in 2015. Straily has made some starts in his career including 27 in 2013 as a member of the Oakland A’s, and could be an end of the rotation guy unless another starter is acquired before spring training.
Brad Peacock (DL) – Peacock was acquired by the Astros in a trade with the Oakland A’s in 2013 when they shipped Jed Lowrie out west. He appeared in 28 games in 2014 making 24 starts. Hip surgery in October will most likely delay his start in 2015 but it has been reported that he is making positive progress.
Chad Qualls (CL) – Drafted in the second round of the 2000 draft, Qualls returned to the organization that drafted him after playing for seven different teams in between. Qualls signed a two-year $6 million deal in 2014 with a club option in 2016. In 58 appearances last season, He made 19 saves and had a record of 1-5. With a re-vamped bullpen, Qualls should be handed the ball in the ninth and should have more opportunities to close out games for the Astros.
Luke Gregerson – The Astros’ job this offseason was to beef up the bullpen. They did that pretty early in the offseason by signing Gregerson to a three-year deal. He has made a name for himself as a very good relief pitcher since debuting in the majors back in 2009 as a member of the San Diego Padres. He has appeared in 435 games and has a career ERA of 2.75. For a young team potentially on the rise, this was a great signing.
Pat Neshek – Another great addition to the bullpen by the Astros is the signing of Pat Neshek. Owner of another strange pitching delivery, Neshek has been real good throughout his career. He was drafted by the Minnesota Twins in the sixth round in 2002 and has played for four different teams prior to Houston. He made the All-Star team last season as a member of the St. Louis Cardinals and posted season numbers of a 7-2 record and an ERA of 1.87.
Josh Fields – Drafted in the first round of the 2008 draft by the Seattle Mariners, Fields was selected by the Astros in the Rule 5 draft off of the Boston Red Sox roster back in 2012. He hasn’t had a ton of success, but I guess if you make the major leagues that is a success within itself. Fields appeared in 54 games last season and recorded a record of 4-6 with an ERA of 4.45.
Tony Sipp – Sipp was signed by Houston in May of 2014 after he was released by the San Diego Padres. He is a decent left-handed option out of the pen for the Astros who posted a 11.2 K/9 last season in his second straight year with 56 appearances. He avoided arbitration this offseason by agreeing to a one-year $2.4 million contract.
Jason Castro (C) – The Astros drafted Castro in the first round of the 2008 draft. After being selected to the All-Star team in 2013, Castro saw a dip his offensive production in 2014. He average fell from .276 to .222, even though his power numbers remained fairly close. Castro’s name has come up several times this winter as a player that could possibly be moved. With Gattis and Conger on the roster, Castro could possibly be expendable if the right deal comes along.
Jon Singleton (1B) – A former top prospect of the Philadelphia Phillies after they drafted him in 2009, the Astros acquired Singleton in 2011 when they traded Hunter Pence to the city of brotherly love. He made his major league debut in 2014 and hit 13 home runs 95 but hit just .168. Houston must have seen something in him as they signed him to a contract extension just two days after his debut. The deal was a five-year $10 million deal with club options from 2019-2021. One of the things that teams are doing that I feel is great, is locking up their prospects long-term before their play prices them out of town.
Jose Altuve (2B) – Small in stature, enormous in talent. Altuve was signed by the Astros as an amateur free agent back in 2007. What has he done to repay them for taking a chance on him? How about improve every single year including adding All-Star appearances and several other trophies. One of the biggest problems with the 5’6 Altuve is that he plays in Houston. What I mean by that is he doesn’t quite get the exposure he deserves. In 2014, Altuve lead the league in hits (225), stolen bases (56), and batting average (.341). He has made the All-Star team two out of the last three years and was the Silver Slugger recipient last season. He is a prototypical lead-off hitter and is key to any success the Astros will have moving forward. I know I am looking forward to seeing what he is going to do as an encore.
Luis Valbuena (3B) – The Astros acquired Valbuena in the Dexter Fowler trade just the other day. His offense is improving but his defense still needs some work but is decent. He had nine errors in 289 chances for a fielding percentage of .969. He could be slotted in the number two spot in the starting lineup.
Jed Lowrie (SS) – This is the second stint with the Astros for Lowrie. He was first in Houston after being traded in 2011 from the Red Sox. After playing one season in Houston, the Astros shipped him off to Oakland when they acquired Chris Carter. Lowrie signed a free agent deal to return to the Astros this offseason on a three-year $23 million with an option in 2018. Lowrie has been all over the board during his career in regards to batting average. If he returns to his 2013 form, the Astros are going to be thrilled.
Evan Gattis (LF) – Another new player for the Astros this season. Gattis was acquired from the Atlanta Braves for three prospects and will make an instant impact in the lineup. Gattis can catch but is slotted to be the Astros left fielder. He has plenty of power and can send plenty over the left field flower box at Minute Maid Park. He has over 20 home runs in his first two seasons in the major leagues and could possibly reach 30 if he stays healthy. This was a tremendous acquisition for Houston as they continue to make a name for themselves this offseason.
Colby Rasmus (CF) – The ink isn’t even dry on his contract, but Rasmus will play in center for Houston in 2015. Another guy that can hit for power, Rasmus will also be a nice addition to Houston who has at least put themselves in the conversation for at least a .500 record this year after four consecutive seasons with 90 or more losses. Rasmus had a lower average last season but is capable of hitting over .275. His defense will be key as he tries to tackle Tal’s hill in cener.
George Springer (RF) – The future face of the Astros, Springer was Houston’s first round pick in 2011. He debuted in 2014 and hit 20 home runs in just 78 games with an on base percentage of .336. He is going to be an exciting player to watch as his career advances and should eventually find himself playing in center field. It wouldn’t be a surprise if the Astros tried to lock him up long-term at some point this season.
Chris Carter (DH) – Carter was a former draft pick of the Chicago White Sox. He made his major league debut in 2010 as a member of the Oakland Athletics. The Astros acquired him in 2013 in the Jed Lowrie trade and found their perfect designated hitter as they switched to the American League. Carter blasted 37 home runs last season and 21 doubles. One of the obvious problems with his game has to be the strikeouts but at the rate he hits the long ball, and the roster that will be around him it won’t be a problem. Look for Carter to put up similar numbers as he now has more protection surrounding him.
Hank Conger (C) – Conger was acquired this offseason by the Astros and is the perfect player to back up Jason Castro at the catcher position. He spent his entire career up to this point as a member of the Los Angeles Angels.
Matt Dominguez (3B/1B) – Prior to the offseason, the third base spot looked to be Dominguez’s, but free agent signings and trades later it looks like he will be coming off the bench this season. He was acquired by the Astros in 2012 in the Carlos Lee trade.
Marwin Gonzalez (IF) – Gonzalez was signed as an amateur free agent by the Chicago Cubs in 2005. The Astros acquired him from the Red Sox in 2011 after he was selected by Boston off the Cubs roster in the Rule 5 draft. Marwin hit .277 last season in over 100 games, with six home runs. At this point it doesn’t look possible that he will play in that many games, but A.J. Hinch will have to find a way to get him some at-bats.
Alex Presley (OF) – Presley can play any position in the outfield and should be another asset for Houston this season. He could be a good late-inning defensive replacement and can also pinch hit on occasion. Presley was originally drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2006 and was selected off waivers from the Minnesota Twins by the Astros.