Blackie Sherrod of the Dallas Morning News used to share his scattershots in his weekend column years ago. When I was in radio, there was something called Open Mike Friday.
Then, several years ago, while at the Chronicle (don’t spit, please), I introduced the Free Blog Weekend. It was designed to start a conversation, which is all that Dan and I have sought to do for…yes, the past 12 years! Has it been that long? Really? Yep.
And the Free Blog Weekend lives on. Today, I’ll start the conversation, then you can run off on any tangent, down any baseball alley, out on any ledge and deep dive into the left field stands.
So let’s get started. Earlier this week, I submitted a subject that isn’t so easy to think about. Can the Astros hang onto to their core over the next few years while salaries skyrocket into arbitration and free agency?
Today, though — with four starters, including the league ace, on the disabled list — Jeff Luhnow is now wringing his hands over which of his young, potential, up-and-coming stars he may have to part with to bring in another starter for the second half.
The Astros still have a strong farm system, but it’s clear the years of high first round choices is in the past. The situation is reversed from previous years. Instead of selling off the major league talent to add to the minor league mix, Luhnow is now faced with the likelihood of selling off some of the top minor league talent to fill holes on the major league roster.
It’s an excruciatingly painful, yet probably necessary, process that many contenders go through. How Luhnow navigates that road, though, may determine how the organization heads into the next decade.
Francis Martes, Kyle Tucker, David Paulino, Derek Fisher, not to mention Alex Bregman and others have been, and will be, part of any discussions with teams potentially giving up top-of-the-rotation starters.
And, a few other thoughts…
- The Astros will have 100 games left after tonight. If I would have told you 61 games ago that, on June 9, Marwin Gonzalez would lead the team in OBP (.409) and OPS (1.044), that George Springer would be far-and-away the HR leader (16), that three starters would have 4+ ERAs, that Dallas Keuchel had been on the DL twice, and that Dayan Diaz, Brad Peacock and David Paulino had each started games, what conclusion would you have reached?
- This team clearly has some bright spots in its pitching department. But, make no mistake, this is a hitters’ club. Much like Thursday, the hitters can carry the club when pitchers have bad games or end up on the DL. A 4-0 record in extra innings and 9-4 mark in one-run games, plus 13-3 in blowout games (games decided by 5+ runs) point to a strong hitting team. On any given night, from any point in the order, and perhaps from the end of the bench, Houston can win a game in the last at bat. Frankly, it’s hard for A.J. Hinch to do wrong with this lineup.
So, a few questions to light the fire and whet your whistle.
- Which of the leading prospects, including Bregman, should be off-limits for Luhnow in trade discussions?
- The Astros have already seen issues this season. Keuchel to the DL twice, Correa and others not starting off gangbusters and unexpected players stepping up. What one or two things might sink the ship or might be difficult to overcome?
- Who should get the most credit for the start to the season: Jim Crane, Jeff Luhnow, A.J. Hinch?
- And, a fun question: Assuming they are healthy, how many Astros — and which ones — will be on the All Star team?