Houston, at this moment, we do not have a problem.
The Astros’ roster is taking shape.
A.J. Hinch seems to have settled into a groove already. There’s peace in the clubhouse and order on the field.
The batting order and rotation are coming into focus, and they appear stronger than a year ago.
Though television is still a work in progress, more fans will see Astros’ baseball this year than last.
Playoffs? No one seems concerned at this moment. Winning record? Hasn’t been among the topics of conversation lately.
Why? Things are good. It is evident that the team and organization are moving in the right direction. The fodder for detractors and naysayers is less today than at anytime in the last several years.
So, yes, fans — yes, me too — are happy right now. Enthusiastic. Anticipating. Eager. What would make me absolutely giddy? Glad you asked!
The cavalry arrives early.
Yes, prospects are prospects, but it’s quite clear Houston has some of the best in the game. If Carlos Correa, Mark Appel and/or Domingo Santana were to join Asher Wojciechowski in Houston this season, you could possibly see videos of me dancing on Facebook. Okay, so let’s not get carried away.
Still, if Jeff Luhnow had to sell off Marwin Gonzalez, Robbie Grossman or Roberto Hernandez and shift Jed Lowrie to super sub around July or even August to make room for the cavalry, fans would be flocking into Minute Maid.
Luhnow has banked on the Astros scoring a lot of runs. Potentially — yes, potentially — Houston is lining up one of its most potent batting lineups in the organization’s history. It starts with Jose Altuve and George Springer and follows up with Evan Gattis, Chris Carter, Jason Castro and Luis Valbuena. The Astros were 21-29 in blowout games (5+ runs) in 2014, but Houston could enjoy a turnaround in that department in 2015.
Forget the Ks. How many 30 home run hitters can a team have? How many players could hit the 100 RBI plateau?
A big mid-season trade for an ace.
Cole Hamels is still available and others will be as the season progresses. One of the missing pieces for a contender is a true ace to plug in ahead of Dallas Keuchel and Collin McHugh. Whether it’s Hamels or someone else, if Luhnow were able to acquire an ace at the break, it would send a message to fans, media and other teams as well. It would energize a team and perhaps catapult it into immediate contention. Frankly, it’s not likely Houston will ever enter that $175 million to $200 million free agent sweepstakes, so the deal would have to be shrewd and it would likely cost prime prospects too.
Any one of these could turn Houston on its collective ear. Let two of them occur and there could be dancing in the streets. What would absolutely make you giddy for the Astros in 2015?