Ready. Set. Go.
It’s not 2017 and the Astros may not be headed to the World Series in 2015, but it’s an off season when hope should surpass skepticism. Now, with the 2014 version of baseball’s Super Bowl behind us, let the player movement festivities begin.
Jim Crane and his still-fledgling baseball organization has apparently put behind its next-to-worst nightmare and will have television in the entire market region next season. (The “worst”, you’re wondering? The move to the AL.). So, with fresh cash close to being in hand, GM Jeff Luhnow should have plenty of room to maneuver between now and opening day.
Several managers and general managers have changed uniforms. The first trades have already been consummated. Many players have already been jettisoned through release or options not picked up.
Ready. Set. Go. There are few formalities in the way of the beginning of the player merry-go-round.
The GM meetings are only days away. By that time, qualifying offers will have been extended (or not) and accepted or rejected. When Luhnow arrives in Phoenix for those meetings, teams will have begun to pare down their rosters, leaving exposed some players who were either too expensive or under performed or have some injury history.
The question today is not necessarily where or how the Astros will upgrade this winter. That horse has already been beaten, dissected and examined in full. Luhnow and every not-so-fair-weather fan in Houston knows the team needs a middle-of-the-order bat, an end-of-the-bullpen arm or two or three and a corner piece for the infield.
The question today is how successful will Luhnow be at taking the next step to success in the reconstruction project that is the Houston Astros? Or will he?
Ready. Set. Go. It will be the most important off-season to date for Luhnow as this next step has been deemed more difficult than the previous two or three.
The general manager will have an additional $20 million to spend this winter, apparently allowing for an increase in payroll to the $65-$70 million range.
If Luhnow gets creative and trades Fowler, though, he would theoretically have $30 million to put toward those aforementioned upgrades. No one would complain if George Springer started the season in center field book-ended by by Jake Marisnick and an middle-of-the-order bat to be named later.
Ready. Set. Go. Many of the cards are on the table. With new front office leadership in places like Tampa Bay, Arizona, Los Angeles, Atlanta Colorado and San Diego (not to mention the manager shuffle), player movement could be significant this winter.
So, you can discuss specific players and speculate movement if you wish. But today’s questions are simple:
- How many trades will Luhnow make before opening day?
- What will be the biggest surprise in player movement for the Astros?
- On a scale of 1-10 (10 being hugely successful), where will Luhnow land ultimately this winter?
- On a scale of 1-10 (10 being highest of hope), where are you on the hope scale regarding the Astros at this moment in time?
- With the TV deal in tow, is it possible Houston surpasses the $65-$70 million payroll for opening day?
- Many fans are cynical. All fans have some level of skepticism. What would it take this winter to win you over to Luhnow’s team this winter?