ARLINGTON -- Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow, assistant general manager David Stearns and manager Bo Porter have been meeting frequently the past few days to talk about roster composition for next year. Those conversations will ramp up as the team gets deeper into the offseason and free agency gets closer.
The Astros face numerous key decisions this winter regarding the 40-man roster, and will be trying to acquire bullpen help, an outfield bat and a veteran starting pitcher to blend with their youngsters.
"There's a lot of directions we can go," Luhnow said. "We've got a lot of decisions to make and a lot of players this year put themselves in a good spot for next year. We're also talking about where we want to add. We're definitely going to add from the outside. We know the bullpen is a priority, we know that another bat in the lineup is a priority. How does it fit in with the guys we have? That's the big puzzle of the offseason."
Luhnow consults Porter about every roster decision.
"We have to have it that way," Porter said. "At the end of the day, he has a job to do as a general manager and I have a job to do as the manager, but at the same time we have to work as one unit to put a team together we believe is going to give us the best opportunity to win ballgames."
Villar shows promise in first big league stint
ARLINGTON -- It's been an up-and-down rookie debut for shortstop Jonathan Villar, who's shown flashes of excellence with his speed while experiencing the kinds of growing pains on the field the Astros can only hope disappear next year.
Villar entered Wednesday hitting .254 with a .330 on-base percentage and 17 stolen bases in only 54 games, but he had also made a whopping 14 errors and ran into several outs on the bases because of some over-aggressiveness. He then committed his 15th error -- tied with third baseman Matt Dominguez for the team lead -- in the third inning against the Rangers.
"This guy has a chance to be an elite player," manager Bo Porter said. "The mistakes, the overall aggression, I think all of that stuff will basically work itself out as he gets more and more comfortable being in the big leagues and playing every day and understands the value of an out, the value of what it is he brings to the ballclub. I don't worry about Jonathan Villar. He's going to be fine."
Villar will likely be the Opening Day starter at shortstop next year while the Astros await the arrival of 2012 No. 1 overall Draft pick Carlos Correa, who is probably at least two years away from breaking through at the Major League level.
For now, the Astros are going to give the switch-hitting Villar a long look.
"I think when you fast-forward to three years from now, there's probably going to be another young player that comes along, and Jonathan Villar is going to be able to help that young player because of the progression of which he's went through," Porter said.
Villar didn't join the Astros until July 22, so the Astros really haven't had a good look at him yet in a Major League uniform. He will play winter ball this year.
"I wish we could have gotten him here a little bit earlier," he said. "I think it was valuable for him to get the amount of time in which he was able to get, so he can go into next year and knows what it is to play in the big leagues every day and he can prove himself."
Success against division must come first
ARLINGTON -- The Rangers have pretty much bolted the Silver Boot down inside their offices at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington because of their domination over the Astros.
In sweeping the Astros this week, capped by Wednesday's 7-3 win, the Rangers finished the season having won 17 of the last 18 games between the teams, including 11 in a row.
The Rangers' 17-2 record against Houston this year marks their most wins over one team in one season. What's more, the Rangers have won 36 of the last 43 games over the Astros, including 14 consecutive series against their Lone Star State rivals.
"You don't want anybody to own you, but to say they've had our number is pretty fair," Astros manager Bo Porter said.
In their first year in the American League West, the Astros went 25-51 against divisional foes, including 10-9 against the Angels, 9-10 against the Mariners and 4-15 against the A's.
"I'm a firm believer that before you can't talk about winning a championship, you have to win your division," Porter said. "For us to win a championship, we're going to have to put a roster together that can consistently beat the Oakland A's, Texas Rangers, Anaheim Angels and Seattle Mariners. You have to win your division first and then you move on from there.
"We have to figure out a way to play better against the Texas Rangers and figure out a way to have our roster match up better against their ballclub."
Porter to study, learn from 2013 season
ARLINGTON -- After he was hired to manage the Astros nearly a year ago, Bo Porter watched each of the team's 162 games from the previous season to get a better read on the team and the players he would have at his disposal.
Porter said Wednesday he plans to watch every game from the current season on his computer throughout the offseason, taking a closer look at some of the decisions he made and trying to learn more about the players.
"There's a lot of learning materials about the players," he said. "A lot of times in baseball, because it's day to day, the next game pops up each day. You may see it, but then as you sit and watch over the course of the year, you start to see certain things. I'm a firm believer you get better at the things that cause you to lose games, it increases your chances of winning."
Porter will even compartmentalize the highlights, making clips of particular aspects of the games, such as infield errors.
"Unlike last year, I watched the games and obviously, I didn't have the notes I have now," Porter said. "So I'm not only watching the games this offseason, I'm watching the games and I have the notes and the break points, so when I look at the particular games I also know what I'm looking for."