Well the draft provided a welcome panacea for what was a truly dreadful two and a half weeks on the field itself (3-11, outscored 65 to 109). You are not going to win many games if you hold opponents to three runs just twice in 14 games.
Now we move onto trading season in the run-up to the non-waiver trade deadline of July 31.
Jeff Luhnow has made it clear that Wandy Rodriguez and Brett Myers are very likely out of the door, and Brandon Lyon is probably gone too, considering he is not looking at an extension this winter. Carlos Lee's DL trip has made it harder for the Astros to shop him, but you figure they will.
But does the front office stop there? Or does it continue to cash in on any commodity it can? I do not want to put this deal too far into this category because the Mark Melancon deal was a great piece of business whatever situation you are in, but is Luhnow willing to trade anything and everything if the right trade comes around?
I have seen some people float up hypothetical deals for Jose Altuve, and while I feel Pocket Jesus is here to stay for quite a while, you wonder if other teams are eyeing shortstop Jed Lowrie, he of .903 OPS and .396 wOBA. Not only is his BB% at 11.1, but he's got an ISO of .250. You are looking at a player over a full season worth 6-7 WAR, and you could make an argument for him being the best shortstop in the National League at the moment, nay all the majors.
Categories Lowrie leads major league shortstop qualifiers: home runs, second in BB%, ISO, third in OBP, SLG%, wOBA and wRC+. He's already started 51 games and the only question mark now is whether his health holds up. And we have this guy for another 2 1/2 years guaranteed. We're paying him a ridiculous $1.15m in 2012. Perhaps Luhnow plays out his last two arbitration seasons, or maybe he signs him to a four year deal in the $25m range, figuring if he is going to flip him, then having $6m a year should not put teams off too much.
Would Lowrie take that deal? $25m is a lot of guaranteed money, unless he is eyeing a massive $50m deal in two years as a free agent. The other side of the coin is: why even contemplate trading him? Well his stock is very high right now. Whether there is merit in ever trading a 5/6 WAR shortstop is debatable without knowing what returns you could bag for him. Right now I think Luhnow will field all calls, even if he is coy with other teams looking for shortstop help.
Meanwhile John Sickels posted his thoughts on the NL Central teams drafts:
Overall, I think the Astros managed both the talent and monetary aspects of the draft very well.
He praises getting McCullers and Ruiz, and the polished college players Nolan Fontana, Preston Tucker and Brady Rodgers. Although he said C.J. Hinojosa would not sign at 27, if the Astros have some slot money left over from their 1-10 bonus pool and Hunter Virant is not biting they can throw some of it at Hinojosa (remember any 11+ that signs for over $100,000 comes out of that $11m+ bonus pool).
Baseball America's Jim Callis in a recent chat said that he thought it likely the Astros would sign one of Virant, Hinojosa and Mitchell Traver (picked in the 39th round).
Is Justin Maxwell going to start taking significant amounts of playing time from Jordan Schafer, a guy three years younger than him? Even with a .322 BABIP since May 1, in that time Schafer has a .585, and as Astros County noted the other day, his strikeout totals are starting to grind everyone down. In other newbie related news, Jason Castro has nudged his numbers up significantly to where he is batting around the level of a major league average catcher. Kudos Jason, kudos.