“This could be the worst disaster NASA’s ever faced.” ~~NASA Director.
“With all due respect, sir, I believe this is gonna be our finest hour.” ~~Gene Kranz, Apollo 13 Mission Flight Director.
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That classic exchange from the movie Apollo 13 puts the Houston Astros’ season into perspective.
It’s crunch time for the Astros. Time for America to find out if the 2015 version can handle the pressure, stand up to the challenges and reach its finest hour. Yes, it would be disappointing if the Astros failed to make the playoffs, but it would not be the “worst disaster” for the organization, especially given that most of the so-called experts figured the team for fourth or even fifth in the division.
Yes, Houston is involved in perhaps its most critical series of the season and after losing Game 1, you could even suggest the collective backs are against the wall.
A.J. Hinch‘s rotation is aligned perfectly with some of the hottest and best starters in the American League this season. If Texas can beat Collin McHugh, Dallas Keuchel and Lance McCullers Jr., they may well deserve to win the division. The unfortunate part, however, could be that McHugh, Keuchel and McCullers all pitch well enough to win a game that the offense sputters in.
If Houston doesn’t make a success of the stretch run, the focus will turn back to Hinch’s boss, Jeff Luhnow. The assembly of an all-or-nothing offense last offseason and not really addressing/fixing that during the season will move back into focus. Adding hitters like Evan Gattis, Luis Valbuena, Colby Rasmus and even Carlos Gomez mid-season will likely cause the front office to adjust its thinking this winter.
How many prospects have the Astros given up to acquire Gomez and Hank Conger, not to mention Gattis? Would the Astros have been better to keep Dexter Fowler, who has a personal record number of plate appearances this season, rather than take on Dan Straily and Valbuena? And what of the decision to keep Chris Carter. A reasonable decision based on his second half, but certainly a huge gamble, one that Luhnow appears to have lost at this point.
At this point, the Astros have played the cards. But they aren’t the cards someone has dealt them, as they could have argued a few years ago when they were trying to clean up the mess of the 2000s. These are the cards they have dealt themselves and they will play them over the next few weeks.
Either way, despite the dramatically improved season, this winter will be another remodel. They’ll post another sign in the middle of October that will read: “Pardon our mess as we renovate. We know you will enjoy the new product much better. Thank you for your patience.”
The names will be changed to protect the innocent. But, rest assured, the names will be changed.
Couple of questions for you:
- If the Astros were somehow to make it to the AL Championship Series and lose, where would this team rank with the great ones in your mind?
- This question has been asked and answered many times over the season, but.
- What or who is your greatest surprise on this team?
- What or who is your greatest disappointment?
- What are Luhnow’s best and worst moves since last season ended?