Houston Astros hold season preview news conference
HOUSTON – Houston Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow spoke to the media on Tuesday, summarizing last season and previewing the upcoming season.
Luhnow acknowledged that the team got off to a rough start last year, battled to get back into contention and then "ran out of gas" toward the end of the season.
The strong efforts by the Astros in June, July and August weren't enough to get them into the playoffs.
Luhnow pointed out some bright spots on the team, including Jose Altuve's season, in which he finished third in MVP voting.
He also noted the contributions from rookies Alex Bregman, Joe Musgrove, Chris Devenski and Michael Feliz.
Luhnow said the bullpen was strong for the second straight season but ultimately, the team fell short of its goals last season.
The general manager said that management went into the offseason with some work to do, especially after trading and letting go of players such as Carlos Gomez, Pat Neshek, Scott Feldman, Colby Rasmus, Jason Castro and Luis Valbuena.
Luhnow said the team's two main objectives were to add more balance to the lineup and also add pitching depth.
The Astros offseason started with the signing of Yuleski Gurriel during last season. Luhnow noted that the team isn't exactly sure what they're getting with Gurriel, but knows he has a lot of upside.
Houston also claimed Nori Aoki, who he said will bring a different syle of play to the team and hopefully help eliminate weak spots in the batting order.
Charlie Morton was targeted and signed early in the free agent process. Luhnow believes he will be a contributor as long as he remains healthy.
Brian McCann was brought in to help with catching depth and provide a veteran presence in the locker room. Luhnow said McCann was the best fit for the team.
Josh Reddick was identified by Houston as a good fit as a left-handed batter. Luhnow said the team inquired about him at the trade deadline, but ended up signing him early in free agency.
The last big move for the Astros was the signing of Carlos Beltran. Luhnow said Beltran could have picked any team in the league, but chose Houston.
Luhnow thanked ownership for allowing the team to spend money and improve the roster.
He also noted the medium- and long-term health of the organization, which can be seen by retaining the team's first-round pick, keeping most top 10-20 prospects intact, having one of the top farm systems in baseball and acquiring two additional draft picks, which provides Houston with five top 100 picks in the next draft.
Luhnow noted the team's health entering the beginning of spring training and also that the team has at least six pitchers competing for five rotation spots.
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