With Christmas now just a few days away, A.J. Hinch must like his early gifts.
Jeff Luhnow has added three pieces recently — Joe Smith, Hector Rondon and the intriguing Anthony Gose — but has given indications the Astros may expect more activity by the end of the year (that’s next week folks!).
All of that said — and with Chris Archer and others possibly on the Astros’ wish list — things could change before opening day, much less the beginning of spring training in a couple of months.
Can the Astros be better in 2018 than they were in 2017? Are they already a better team than at the beginning of the 2017 season? With Justin Verlander in the fold, the rotation is stronger. The bullpen is arguably better on paper than at the beginning of last season.
Add in full seasons from George Springer, Dallas Keuchel, Carlos Correa and even Jake Marisnick and Will Harris and Hinch is likely salivating about opening day. Take a look at the comparison between the 2017 opening day roster and what it looks like currently.
|SP||Dallas Keuchel||Dallas Keuchel|
|SP||Lance McCullers Jr||Lance McCullers Jr.|
|SP||Mike Fiers||Justin Verlander|
|SP||Joe Musgrove||Collin McHugh|
|SP||Charlie Morton||Charlie Morton|
|Bullpen||Ken Giles||Ken Giles|
|Bullpen||Will Harris||Will Harris|
|Bullpen||Chris Devenski||Chris Devenski|
|Bullpen||Luke Gregerson||Joe Smith|
|Bullpen||Brad Peacock||Brad Peacock|
|Bullpen||Tony Sipp||Hector Rondon|
|Bullpen||Jandel Gustave||Joe Musgrove|
|Bullpen||Michael Feliz||Francis Martes|
|Catcher||Brian McCann||Brian McCann|
|Catcher||Evan Gattis||Max Stassi|
|First Base||Yuli Gurriel||Yuli Gurriel|
|Second Base||Jose Altuve||Jose Altuve|
|Third Base||Alex Bregman||Alex Bregman|
|Shortstop||Carlos Correa||Carlos Correa|
|Outfield||George Springer||George Springer|
|Outfield||Josh Reddick||Jose Reddick|
|Outfield||Nori Aoki||Marwin Gonzalez|
|Outfield||Jake Marisnick||Jake Marisnick|
|DH||Carlos Beltran||Evan Gattis|
|Reserve||Marwin Gonzalez||Anthony Gose|
Yes, yes, yes, there are probably a few names who won’t be among the names on the roster once it’s set it March, 2018. But, play the game. Remember, though, for some players (such as Beltran), hopes were much higher back in April than the performance he ultimately turned in.
- Are the Astros better — at least on paper — now than they were at the beginning of the season?
- Which players are most likely not to be on the roster coming opening day next spring?
- If the season started today, how would you stack up the back of the bullpen?
- Do the Astros need to upgrade at catcher (especially backup) and in left field?
- How much of a difference will it make to get full seasons from Keuchel, Springer, Correa and Marisnick?