It is coming! The start of spring training is nigh as the Astros’ pitchers and catchers report on Tuesday and celebrate Valentine’s Day with their first workout. So here are some random thoughts as the excitement builds.
Why Trading Collin McHugh would be a good and bad idea….
- Good idea. With Justin Verlander, Dallas Keuchel, Gerrit Cole, Lance McCullers Jr., Charlie Morton, Brad Peacock, Francis Martes, David Paulino and Rogelio Armenteros there are plenty of solid major leaguers plus prospects to fill his spot. His approximately $5 million salary (depending on arbitration) could be applied elsewhere – like two-thirds or three-fourths of Tony Watson‘s salary. Just sayin’. And he would bring some decent prospects in return to help make up for the Verlander / Cole trades.
- Bad idea. He did miss significant time last season, but he came back and pitched very well down the stretch as a starter. There is no doubt with, Morton, LMJ and Keuchel’s histories that you can never have enough starting pitching and you would be giving up a pitcher who has a 48-28 record and 3.70 ERA since coming to Houston.
Why the Astros are not likely signing a free agent left fielder…..
Though there has been sporadic discussion about chasing a Carlos Gonzalez or other free agent LF, the Astros certainly could fill that spot (at least until the trade deadline) with some combo of Derek Fisher (a young gun who showed flashes last season – 21 runs scored, 5 HRs, 17 RBIs – but 54 Ks in 146 ABs), Jake Marisnick (who enjoyed his best season to date – 50 runs, 16 HRs, .815 OPS in only 230 ABs), and Marwin Gonzalez (who was their playoff go to guy). It would make sense to go with a lefty right platoon with Fisher and Marisnick to at least see how it works out.
Are there some playoff hangovers coming?
Beyond just folks having problems with getting behind “Never Settle” heading into 2018, there were a number of Astros, who really struggled in the playoffs. Will that be reflected in problems starting 2018? Josh Reddick (who went 5 for 49 – .102 BA w/ 1 XBH and 0 RBIs in the ALCS and WS), Marwin Gonzalez (who went 11 for 61 – .180 BA, w/ 1 huge HR and 4 RBIs in the whole playoffs), Chris Devenski (9.00 ERA in 10 games and 8 IP) and Ken Giles (2 losses, 11.74 ERA and lost his closer spot) all struggled mightily. Does that hang on or was that wiped away by the first spray of champagne after the last win?
The Riches of Leadership
This team has more leaders than you can shake a stick at – boy is that a bad cliché….. Brian McCann and Justin Verlander are the obvious veteran leaders, but by this time Dallas Keuchel, Jose Altuve, George Springer and Carlos Correa have been around long enough to be considered leaders too. With Luke Gregerson gone, who is the veteran leader in the bullpen? Will Harris? Newly acquired Hector Rondon and/or Joe Smith? Swiss army knife Brad Peacock? The Astros have a lot of players who can lead by their actions and their performance. It should be fun to watch.
So what do you think about Collin McHugh and left field and playoff hangovers and leadership?