Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow spent Tuesday afternoon talking with fans online during an exhibition game against the White Sox.
eddie_vistro: How close are we to the final roster?
Jeff Luhnow: Very close. Rosters are due at 4 pm CST? stay tuned!
denisehunter.43: What makes a good player a great player?
Jeff Luhnow: Most of the players at this level have the skills to be great players? the separator for me is those that can do it day in and day out? consistency.
71_thompson: Will Johnson be our standout slugger this year? What has he done differently this season have you noticed?
Jeff Luhnow: I sure hope so. I wasn't around the past few years but my sense is that he is confident right now and knows he belongs and can be a productive everyday hitter. That is key for him.
s.connors: What can we expect from Wandy on opening day?
Jeff Luhnow: Wandy is ready. I expet him to give us a quality start and get the win!
Ashitaka: It looks like Kody Hinze is penciled in to start the year in AA Corpus Christi. How will he be getting playing time with Singleton as that club's first baseman?
Jeff Luhnow: We were just discussing this. He will get at bats? as a DH and also as a first baseman when Singleton plays the outfield, which he will at times.
I know we said 2 pm but with so many good questions, I figured we could chat a bit longer.
Ashitaka: Ariel Ovando, Jack Armstrong, Chase Davidson and Adrian Houser are not listed on any of our MiLB club's rosters. Will they be playing in the GCL, and is it possible that we'll see any of them moved up to Lexington or Lancaster in 2012?
Jeff Luhnow:Players that are not listed on the roster are either at extended spring training or not ready to join a full season team due to an injury. I do think you will see some of these guys at the A clubs this season.
Ashitaka: If the Rule 4 draft were today, who do you think you'd take 1st overall? Appel? Zunino? Plenty of time left for things to change, so feel free to be candid :)
Jeff Luhnow: The first pick would be...
Did you get that? Keep it to yourself though. :)
Ashitaka: Can you tell us briefly what you like in our Rule 5 guys Rhiner Cruz and Marwin Gonzalez? What will you need to see from them respectively to make keeping them rostered all season possible?
Jeff Luhnow:Cruz has terrific stuff. He has closer stuff. He worked on some mechanical things and became more confident as the spring progressed, so he is worth keeping around. Marwin has been very good defensively. Typically making all the routine plays plus several outstanding plays that other middle infielders might not make. He's shown enough with the bat to make us believers that he will be able to compete at this level. Keeping two Rule 5 guys is not easy, but it gives us a chance to bolster our organizational depth - and that is a key goal for this year.
Ashitaka:Bud Norris throws a very high percentage of breaking balls (sliders), and history has shown that this tends to lead to more arm injuries (Brett Anderson and Scott Kazmir being examples). Is this something that should be cause for concern?
Jeff Luhnow:It's hard to pinpoint any one thing that leads to injuries. Bud has a good mix and uses it effectively. I don't believe he overuses any one pitch nor am I convinced that if he did so, that would lead to a higher risk of injury.
Ashitaka: Who are a couple of guys from the 2012 draft class who might be under-the-radar? We all know Springer and the other high-round guys, anyone else who might rise quickly that isn't getting a lot of hype?
Jeff Luhnow:Davidson. It's too bad he's banged up right now because he can flat out hit. I watched him while scouting with the Cardinals last summer and was impressed. I was blown away when I found out how late he was drafted.
bananapudin: Update the staatus of Jed Lowrie? ...Milt Fredericksburg, tx
Jeff Luhnow:We are taking it day by day with Jed. He's feeling better every day but we can't predict at this point when he will be able to play in games. He shouldn't be out too much longer.
Did you guys see Altuve took ANOTHER walk earlier?
Ashitaka: Any decision on Jed Lowrie and his thumb yet? If not, what do you imagine would be the worst-case scenario in his situation?
Jeff Luhnow:Worst case scenario is that he has to go on the DL and will be ready to play soon after he is eligible to be activated, which would be after the first homestand. 0-0 after 4 innings.
Ashitaka: Can you tell us anything at all about the PTBNL from the Quintero/Bourgeois trade, or when we might expect to find out his identity? And do you see Kevin Chapman as a potential closer in the future?
Jeff Luhnow:The PTBNL is? Did you get that? Ok, don't tell anybody! Chapman has good enough stuff to be a very good lefty specialist or possibly a set up man or closer. Time will tell because there is more to those roles than stuff, as we all know.
wgr56: I didn't see Ariel Ovando's name on any minor league rosters that I've seen so far. What's up with him, and do you know where he'll land?
Jeff Luhnow:He is at extended spring training with many other players? which means at this point he is not ready for a full season club.
costrosfan: In a year where it seems there is no can't-miss prospect in a draft, how do you settle in on one particular guy? Do you see it going down to the wire with this year's crop?
Jeff Luhnow: We watch every guy at the top of our list every time they play, if we are able to do so. We have very good scouts and they are doing a great job getting to know the top players. We will likely not make a decision until very close to draft time.
wgr56: A lot of fans were surprised when "innings-eater" Livan was cut. Are you concerned about all the innings on these young arms in the rotation?
Jeff Luhnow:Yes, it is a concern, but not enough to prevent them from getting an opportunity to pitch regularly at this level. I believe our bullpen will be able to handle the extra workload, at least early in the season, and we will re-evaluate frequently.
madpave: Jeff, can I sit with you at a game this season? I have to drive up from Austin.
Jeff Luhnow: I'd say yes, but then I'd have to say yes to everyone. How about this? we will have a drawing on twitter and the winner will get to sit in the GM box for a game. Details to follow, but you must follow me @jluhnow on twitter.
bill3707: JD swears that in one day, clubs will go back to less defined roles for their relivers. You know, using the best reliever in any high-leverage situation, regardless of inning; multiple inning saves like Gossage, etc.
Jeff Luhnow: Using the best relievers in high-leverage situations makes sense, and many clubs do that more than the casual observer can notice. Brad and Brocail both believe in this, but it needs to be balanced with all the other factors that matter. Beckham just drilled one through the gap? White Sox 1-0. Ditto DeAza. 2-0.
arct1c: How well will the team do this year? What's your best estimate of how many games the team will win?
Jeff Luhnow: I've been asked that question a million times. There is no way I can or should answer that, because I would be wrong. All I can say is we will compete and give 100% effort, and I believe we will suprise people.
saberrook: Who will be in charge of designing the Astros new logo for next season? Could a fan submit an idea?
Jeff Luhnow: As Jim Crane has said, we are looking at the possibility, and we will seek fan input into any decision. Some fans have already posted some ideas online.
bobbyd2112_2: The team's chemistry seemed very good in Spring training...I watched the Tigers and Braves games last week. On a scale of 1 to 10...How would you rate this Spring Training?
Jeff Luhnow: 8. Losing Escalona hurts, but no other serious injuries, always a big factor. Team spirit was excellent. We played well most of the time.
Ghick: I love the addition of modern metrics into the FO, that said do you think this will translate to changing how the game is played? For example, creating a lineup with the best bat at the top and descending in order of talent level.
Jeff Luhnow: Lineup optimization is more complicated than just putting your best players up top. Brad uses many different metrics in crafting his lineup and he is open to input.
tdogg310: With Happ underperforming since we aquired him, is it safe to say that he has a "leash" on this season. where if he keeps underperforming until, say the all-star break, he will no longer have the rotation spot be given to him.
Jeff Luhnow:Two hits for Castro so far. Happ is still young and developing, so he will be given time. I have confidence he will be a key member of our rotation this year.
Ashitaka: I was about to ask about Altuve. It's not really that easy, is it?
Jeff Luhnow: Learning how to be more selective? No, it's not as easy as just wanting to do it. A big part of it is retraining yourself on the right swing decision. Laying off of marginal pitches even though they might be called strikes is hard to do, but he's doing it!
Ghick: Given your experience with drafts and scouting, has the new CBA changed how you approach the drafts and team building?
Jeff Luhnow:The rules have changed and everyone needs to adapt their approach. If anything, the value of properly evaluating and valuing players is going up, not down, since there are more limited opportunities to spend on amateurs.
wgr56: One thing about the Astros that's better than you thought it would be before you took over.
Jeff Luhnow: Several. Coaching staff. Ballpark. City. Better than expected players in the minors and already here. ALTUVE with a RBI double to the gap in right center. Hit that one hard.
Ghick: What is the gold standard for GMs in today's game? young arms, established power bats, blue-chip prospects, ect.
Jeff Luhnow: Yes, Yes, Yes. There are many great GMs. JD MARTINEZ JUST WENT YARD! 3-2 Stros.
bananapudin: As teams get down to their 25 man limit, are there any players you are watching closely and w/o names what position?
Jeff Luhnow:We scour the transactions every day and see if we can upgrade. So far we haven't seen anyone that we like better than our own guys, but we are always looking.
Ok, looks like I wore you guys out! Thanks for participating, and as always, thanks to Alyson Footer for setting all this up! Talk to you guys next time. In the meantime? GO STROS!
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.