One month in, Luhnow busy, 'open for business'
While not making big splash, Astros GM diligently preparing
HOUSTON -- With the start of Spring Training a little more than six weeks away, it's growing increasingly clear the Major League club the Astros have assembled at this point in the offseason is likely to be the same team that hits the field next month in Kissimmee, Fla.
Things could change, of course, and Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow still might have a trick or two up his sleeve. Luhnow has been on the job for a month and has already made a trade and added two to the baseball operations staff, so he's certainly been busy while getting accustomed to his new surroundings.
The Astros on Tuesday announced the hiring of Sig Mejdal to be the club's director of decision sciences, a role created by Luhnow to assist in data analysis, and Stephanie Wilka, named the coordinator of amateur scouting. The Astros also finalized their Minor League field staff.
Luhnow remains "open for business" on the trade front, but it appears pitchers Wandy Rodriguez and Brett Myers and outfielder Carlos Lee -- the three high-priced veterans who were dangled at the Winter Meetings -- will head into Spring Training wearing Houston uniforms.
"We're still trying to figure out what we can do to try and improve this club for the long haul, and possibly this year right out of the gate," Luhnow said. "We're not going to be players in free agency, and everybody knows that. A lot of our activity might happen closer to Spring Training, and maybe during Spring Training. In terms of moves we might make, it won't be anything major."
Luhnow, who said the club will bring in a few more non-roster invitees prior to camp, is still very much in the getting-to-know phase of his new position. The entire scouting department will be in town later this month, giving Luhnow a chance to meet one-on-one with each member, and he's still trying to get to know the field staff as much as possible.
Luhnow and manager Brad Mills, who lives in California in the offseason, spent a day together in Los Angeles last month and pored over every aspect of the Major League club.
"We spent basically an entire today together locked up in a conference room in Brentwood," Luhnow said. "It was the first time I had spent with him in person, and we talked through every player on the roster, a lot of players in the Minor Leagues and the coaching staff and Minor League staff. I really enjoyed it quite a bit. I got to know him very well, and from that experience I have a great idea of respect for what he's done in his career and what he's going to do going forward."
And then there are the players who are currently on the roster. With a new year under way, more and more are filtering into Minute Maid Park to take advantage of the team's workout facility, and Luhnow hopes to be able to say hello to as many of them as possible before the club hits Kissimmee.
"It will be much easier meeting them in that environment," he said.
The Astros have a full 40-man roster, so they would have to take someone off in order to make any moves. Luhnow said the club isn't close to making any moves to reshape the roster at this point, but things could change in six weeks.
"If an opportunity presents itself in terms of doing something in the trade market, we'll look at it," he said. "It hasn't been an active environment."