The irony was thick as the Astros’ season ended with another well-hit deep fly ball, this time by Tony Kemp, that was once again flagged down by a Red Sox outfielder out of nowhere. While they are investigating the Red Sox pitcher’s for applying pine tar to the ball, maybe they should be investigating the Red Sox outfielders for using Peter Pan’s pixie dust and anti-gravity pills.
There will be a lot of discussions this off-season about the significance of the Astros’ crash and burn in losing three straight at home (four overall) to Boston in the ALCS and ending a very promising season, one that included the most regular season wins (103) in club history. Was it simply meeting a better 108 win team? Was it the injuries finally catching up with the team? Was it karma and good luck landing elsewhere this season? Today, we will touch base with our dear readers and use some of your questions to steer the way.
“What do the Astros need to return to the World Series next year?” ~ Sarge H
The Astros went to and won the World Series in 2017. Even with that they went out and picked up a top-flight starting pitcher in Gerrit Cole, two veteran relievers in Hector Rondon and Joe Smith and then during the season brought up Tony Kemp to solidify the outfield, and went out and picked up two more late-inning relievers in Ryan Pressly and Roberto Osuna and veteran Martin Maldonado to bolster their catching defense. Interestingly, even though their offense fell off this season, they made no deadline moves to address that problem. Is a return to the WS as simple as arthroscopic surgery on Jose Altuve and an offseason of resting Carlos Correa‘s back? What do they need to address?
“Who will stay – and who will go? Who will get qualifying offers – and who will become free agents? Who will avoid arbitration – and who will go through it, at what cost? Who will be traded – and who will be acquired by trade? Who will be courted in free agency – and who, if anyone, will be signed?” ~ Mr. Bill
Back in July the blog took an early look at 2019.
Of the newcomers not covered by that article, Ryan Pressly (who made $1.6 million in 2018) is arb eligible for one year before becoming a free agent in 2020. He will get a big raise in arb or get offered a two or three-year contract. Roberto Osuna is making $5.3 million and has two more seasons of arbitration. It will be interesting if after his long-term suspension whether arb will give him a raise or not this offseason. Both of these pitchers will be back in 2019 at least. Martin Maldonado earned $3.9 million in 2018 and will be a free agent. It says here that the Astros will be looking elsewhere for another catcher in 2019.
Beyond that, starting pitching will be the most interesting area headed into 2019. Will Lance McCullers Jr.be in the mix or will he be sitting out in Tommy John hell? They likely will give Charlie Morton a qualifying offer, but do they need to outbid other teams on a two or three-year contract to keep him? Do they give Dallas Keuchel a qualifying offer and then let him walk in exchange for a high draft pick? How do Josh James and Framber Valdez fit into the equation? Is James going to be the new closer? How do they position themselves for potentially losing Cole and Justin Verlander after 2019? Do they offer one or both an extension or try to trade one of both at the deadline?
There are more questions than that about stay and go – but we turn to the islands (well he actually was in town for a game) for the next questions….
“Does (Marlins catcher) Realmuto come back into the picture? …..I’m wondering if my own nephew (Tyler White) has been figured out. ….. We’re not going to pay Gattis again, are we? Are Smith and Harris and Rondon and Peacock all (non-plussed)? …. Is Reddick aging too quickly? Is Tucker really going to be our Christian Yelich? What will Marwin cost? Is first base a question mark once again?” ~ daveb
Daveb’s comments/questions tie into the fact that:
- Catching is a big question mark as Brian McCann looked washed up, Maldonado was highly inconsistent and Max Stassi went from the answer to the question. Stassi is likely back, but beyond that?
- Gattis is likely gone, White hit well in a mid-size sample and died in the ALCS. Is White the long term DH solution?
- The Astros have lots of relief options, some of which will be gone and some of which may be sent off and few who pitch well in the playoffs
- The outfield, besides George Springer is not a strength and was a startling area of weakness compared against the Red Sox
- Can the Astros replace Marwin Gonzalez if they don’t sign him after the season?
The starting lineup was super in 2017, but was very inconsistent in 2018 and it was more than injuries to Altuve, Springer and Correa. What should they do here?
Not a question, but… “I see dugout changes, too. Unless Espada is a terrible interview, he will probably get one of these managerial jobs. I think Cora has all but guaranteed that after the ALCS.” ~ old pro
Along with bench coach Joe Espada probably getting another spot after the Astros previous bench coach Alex Cora took his team to the World Series, there could be other changes. There has to be someone saying….the team had decent hitting and then in 2017 (with Alex Cora and Carlos Beltran around) they had the best hitting team around. Cora goes to Red Sox and Boston had the best hitting team around and the Astros fell off. Watching the teams play in the ALCS, Boston had a superior approach at the plate as they took what they were given and had a ton of two-out opposite field hits. Is Dave Hudgens going to be held responsible for a big dip in the hitting of this club?
And one question from me…
“Alex Bregman….did you learn your lesson?” ~ Dan P
As Dr. Bill pointed out, Alex was 2 for 12 after posting the video of back-to-back-to-back home runs off of Game 3 starter Nathan Eovaldi. Eovaldi pitched very well in that game and Alex’s last at bat showed him being over-powered by the same pitcher in relief in Game 5. Alex, you don’t poke the sleeping bear.
Or as Jim Croce sang….
You don’t tug on superman’s cape
You don’t spit into the wind
You don’t pull the mask off that old lone ranger
And you don’t mess around with Jim
The one thing to remember about that song is that Jim ended up cut into a hundred pieces at the end. But that was based on action, not words.
We will visit a lot of the questions about this team in more depth during the off-season, but for now..
What do you think?