Can we stop with the rumors, please?
So, as I write this, the top story on the Astros’ website is “3 Big Tasks Remaining for Houston.” Those tasks: Find a starting pitcher, get another catcher, find a DH.
Over at MLB Trade Rumors, the “three things” the Astros need includes a left-handed reliever. Oh, and a catcher and a starter in the rotation.
Honestly, if I have to read another story about how Seth Lugo or Robbie Ray or J.T. Realmuto is the answer to all the Astros’ problems, I’m going to scream. (And, even though the Astros aren’t involved in talks about Bryce Harper or Manny Machado, can someone sign those guys so we all stop getting breathless updates about who they added to their Twitter accounts. “Bryce Harper wore a new shirt and watched a movie featuring actor Michael York. ‘New’ shirt! Michael ‘York’! OMG, folks, the writing is on the wall …”)
Here’s my radical idea: Let’s go into the season with what we have.
Last week I wrote that Collin McHugh is like a really good No. 2 starter sitting at No. 3. And despite some of your objections, I still believe that. So, let’s say I’m right. That means the Astros starters, right now, are two Cy Young candidates and Collin McHugh followed by Brad Peacock, Chris Devenski (remember, in the minors he was a starter), Josh James, Framber Valdez and a bunch of hungry guys from the minors including B.J. Bukauskas, Forest Whitley, Ryan Hartman and Corbin Martin.
Some of these guys pitch well, but not well enough to make the rotation right away, put them in the bullpen. Hartman is a great example. Here’s a guy, turns 25 in April, drafted 2016 in the ninth round, across two and a half minor league seasons he’s stuck out more than a batter per inning (281 K in 275 IP) while being used primarily as a starter. A 6’3” lefty, he won the pitching triple crown (ERA, Ks and Wins) in the Texas League last year. He’s got a low- to mid-90s fastball, changeup, curve.
There’s not a place for THAT GUY on the Astros’ roster as either a starter or reliever?
What about catcher? Well, I’d love to have J.T. Realmuto as much as anyone else wants him, but let’s be honest. The Fish are going to ask for the moon to get him at this point. I’m sure they started out asking for Whitley AND Kyle Tucker, plus someone like Tony Kemp or maybe Jake Marisnick.
Uh, no. At this point, I have to look at Tucker and Whitley vs. Realmuto and say who gives me more WAR over the time they are an Astro? Well, I doubt it’s Realmuto.
In the interim, Robinson Chirinos, Max Stassi and Garrett Stubbs and whatever comes across the waiver wire in late March or early April will fill the bill. I’m more interested in a catcher who will work well with our pitchers than one who can hit. Still, Chirinos is a quality backstop who, if he starts behind the plate four days a week will give us plenty of offense.
Last, but not least, is the DH spot. As Dan wrote the other day, we can either go out and spend on a DH or see if we can cobble the position together until the trade deadline and see where we’re at.
And, again, I’ll mention our wealth of talent in position players. Right now, our outfield is Josh Reddick, George Springer and Michael Brantley. Wow. Even if Reddick doesn’t fully bounce back, that’s a WOW.
Bring up Tucker, start Kemp, whatever, and we can put Reddick in the DH spot to concentrate on his hitting. Let Tucker DH. Make it a rotating position with Tyler White getting the bulk of the starts.
These aren’t bad internal options. They are good internal options.
In the end, I’m not saying Luhnow shouldn’t make a move for a piece. I’m just saying, that move doesn’t have to be a blockbuster for a huge piece. I think the Astros are in very good shape right now. So, unless a good deal comes along, why force anything.
So, here are my questions:
1. Sportswriters seem to think the Astros need – NEED – four things: A starting pitcher who is a solid No. 3 or better, another MLB-quality catcher, a lefty reliever and a designated hitter.
- Can you make a case for the NEED of one or more of these?
- If you had to pick just one of these, which one is the most pressing?
- Should they look for a free agent or be willing to spend prospects?
2. I think the Astros have the best rotation, right now, in the AL West.
- Can you name a better rotation than Houston’s?
- What does Houston NEED in its rotation, a No. 3, a No. 5, MLB-experienced depth?
3. I see the DH and the catching problem as part of a bigger issue: Does Houston have a deep enough lineup at this point to be competitive?
- In other words, most lineups have that hole or two, the guy who bats .230 and strikes out about 29 percent of the time but hits 15 homers a year and drives in 58 runs. But too many of those, and your lineup is weak. Catcher, DH and, possibly right field (Reddick) are those spots for Houston.
- How many lineup holes does Houston have? Is it too many?