All Things Astros and a whole lot more
Hey, I love a good trade rumor as much as the next guy. But, honestly, I’m ready for some baseball.
Now that pitchers and catchers are settling into their Florida homes away from home, and position players are starting to trickle into the Sunshine State, I’m looking forward to some Grapefruit League games.
That’s right. I want my meaningless baseball, because anything — ANYTHING — is better than reading one more mindless off-season story about something less meaningless than Dallas Keuchel getting in two innings of work and practicing a new grip on his change up.
What could be more meaningless than that, you ask? Well, here’s a sample:
Frankly, any story that isn’t about how A-Rod went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts is a waste of ink and internet space at this point.
Need another example? What about anything declaring the innovating thinking of Rob Manfred. Whether it’s the pace of the game (gag me!) or his laser focus on youth, I don’t want to hear about Rob Manfred again until he finally studies the Pete Rose issue. Baseball needs young fans? Really? Well stop the presses on that nugget of wisdom. And, honestly, you don’t have your mind made up on Pete Rose? How long have you known you were getting this job?
No, as baseball — even just Grapefruit League games — looms, here are the questions I want answered, and not just by the people at the Chronicle (spit! for Dan) but by the national media. After all, their last big story about the Astros was how a Twitter promotion failed and no one won a Jose Altuve autographed ball. So, stop writing about how low Derek Jeter‘s girlfriend’s bikini bottoms will go (no, I won’t provide a link to that), and cover some of this, national media:
1. How are Houston’s young players doing against major league pitching in these games? Is this stockpile of talent just about ready for the big time? I don’t care of Carlos Correa or Preston Tucker can mash against some AA kid for the Twins. I want to know how they do against MLB pitching in these spring games.
2. Where’s Evan? It’s like those Where’s Waldo things, but I want to be able to spot Evan Gattis on (or off at DH) on the field every day. How did he look at first base? How did he look in left field?
3. Is Jake Marisnick a real hitter? I guess we’ll find out starting March 5 vs. the Phillies. If he’s not able to start hitting line drives, we need to send him to Fresno, which means more room for Robbie Grossman or Alex Presley. (Wait, did I forget to mention L.J. Hoes? … No, I didn’t forget.)
4. OK, this one’s tricky. I am tired of all the farm system rankings, but I’d like to look at something I heard on the MLB Network. Someone was referring to Correa as the future face of the franchise. Um, this is a franchise with George Springer and Jose Altuve. If that’s the case, just how good will the Astros become? What happens this spring when all three — plus maybe Tucker or Colin Moran or Mark Appel — gets into a game together?
5. Who is working on what pitch? As good as Keuchel and Collin McHugh were last year, both need to keep improving. Anyone trying to add a new pitch into their sequence? Anyone got a new grip on their slider? Maybe that’s a story that needs to be written about Jake Buchanan or Brett Oberholtzer. After all, it’ was J.D. Martinez‘s new approach at the plate that turned him into a star in Detroit. This year, we need to be on top of real changes players have made, not the stupid “he lost 10 pounds and really worked this off-season” stories.
6. Maybe it’s just me, but I want to know exactly what George Springer did to his leg last season. Does a pulled muscle really take months to heal? We all need to keep an eye on him.
7. Speaking of injuries, I think we need updates on how the Walking Dead of Arlington are doing. This is a division foe, and that means a lot of games against the stRangers. Are they healthy? Still in recovery? What do they look like out on the field?
Those are some of the storylines I plan to follow. What will you be watching for as the games* begin?
What winter blather do you hope melts into obscurity as we start seeing games in Florida and Arizona?