It’s spring training, so get the full perspective from the chipalatta team.
- Dan Peschong: Spring training really matters, except when it doesn’t.
- Brian Todd: A trip to the voodoo priestess, or welcome to Kissimee.
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by Chip Bailey
As spring training begins, the checklist for the Astros is long and could bring plenty of disappointment mixed with some moments of anticipation and excitement.
There is reason for hope, but fans recognize that the spring training they’ve been waiting for is still one or two years — and a few more high draft picks — away.
So, here’s a short list of things that this onlooker will be keeping an eye on over the coming days and weeks
1. Who will break through this spring? With perhaps the youngest roster in baseball, there are few guaranteed spots for the Astros. But watch these guys closely to see if they have breakout springs to push their way onto the opening day roster. George Springer, Jonathan Singleton, Asher Wojciechowski. You could argue that Springer and Singleton should be in Houston on April 1 regardless, but a solid spring could remove any doubt.
2. Yes, the dang TV deal. How can you not keep an eye on the courts and Comcast? Apparently, Comcast will broadcast 10 spring training games, but many of us won’t be able to see them anyway. Jim Crane needs to get this thing done and out of the way. Whatever it takes.
3. The rotation. Specifically, Jarred Cosart, Brett Oberholtzer and Brad Peacock. Frankly, these three could be the difference between a 20 game improvement and another 100+ loss season. More than first base, more than George Springer, the rotation may hold the key to the season. If those three can pick up where they left off in 2013, they could provide the stability for the strongest rotation since 2010.
4. Jeff Luhnow. Call it a hunch, but here’s wondering if the Astros’ GM is finished with his off season shopping. There are some free agents remaining on the horizon and roster movement over the next 4-5 weeks is likely to provide some options. Prediction: Expect 2 trades and one more significant acquisition before opening day.
5. First base. There are many options, but this could create a domino effect for the Astros. Believe it or not, Max Stassi could be the determining factor if he has a good spring. The depth chart says it’s Jesus Guzman, Jonathan Singleton and Chris Carter and the Astros say “no” (for now) to Jason Castro. NRI Japhet Amador is in the wings though Luhnow has hinted he would like to add another bat in this spot. It’s Singleton’s to lose, but don’t count out Castro if Stassi plays well enough to become the everyday catcher. Regardless, the final decision could force a roster juggle.
That’s some of what I’ll be watching starting next week. How ’bout you?