Last summer, the blog (OK, it was me…) took on the impossible task of a three year look ahead at the Astros future (at least I made it look impossible).
Now that the first year has been torn apart by all the in-season and off-season decisions of the Astros (Picking up Roberto Osuna, Ryan Pressly, Robinson Chirinos, Michael Brantley, Wade Miley, giving a shot to Josh James and Framber Valdez and letting go of Ken Giles, Marwin Gonzalez, Evan Gattis, Dallas Keuchel and Brian McCann, having Charlie Morton say goodbye and having Joe Smith and Lance McCullers go belly up….) we will try to look at what the recent extensions of Pressly, Alex Bregman and Justin Verlander have done to what we will call the “core” of the team.
For this effort, we will call the “core” as being the top 5 position players, the top 3 starting pitchers and the top 2 relievers. If you think the “core” is something different – take your own shot at this list……
|POSITION #1||ALEX BREGMAN||BREGMAN||BREGMAN||BREGMAN|
|POSITION #2||JOSE ALTUVE||ALTUVE||ALTUVE||ALTUVE|
|POSITION #3||CARLOS CORREA||CORREA||CORREA||TUCKER|
|POSITION #4||GEORGE SPRINGER||SPRINGER||TUCKER||ALVAREZ|
|POSITION #5||MICHAEL BRANTLEY||BRANTLEY||ALVAREZ||STUBBS|
|SP #1||JUSTIN VERLANDER||VERLANDER||VERLANDER||WHITLEY|
|SP #2||GERRIT COLE||MCCULLERS||MCCULLERS||CORBIN MARTIN|
|SP #3||BRAD PEACOCK||PEACOCK||WHITLEY||JB BUKAUSKAS|
|RP #1||ROBERTO OSUNA||OSUNA||OSUNA||JOSH JAMES|
|RP #2||RYAN PRESSLY||PRESSLY||PRESSLY||???|
One of the biggest things the extensions last week brought to the table is stability in what we are calling the “core”. The thought process here is that if you have 5 position players, 3 Starting Pitchers and 2 Relievers who are above average to elite, you have a contending team no matter what you have in the other spots on the team. How does this play out over the foreseeable future?
5 “Core” Position Players
The five best players in the lineup (Bregman, Altuve, Correa, Springer and Brantley) are controlled for both 2019 and 2020. If you lose Brantley and Springer heading into 2021 the assumption would be that they would be replaced in the “core” by two newbies (OFs Kyle Tucker and Yordan Alvarez) or possibly someone out from the outside or someone like C Garrett Stubbs. Then heading into 2022, Carlos Correa might be gone and some other newbie or new hire would have to roll into the list. Would it be Miller time for Seth Beer or would a Miles Straw move from a support spot to a prime time “core” spot occur?
3 “Core” Starting Pitchers
This is the diciest area heading into the future and the reason the Verlander extension is so critical. Without him, 2020’s staff would be headed by either a guy who is a swing man (though an excellent one) in reliever/starter Brad Peacock and a pitcher coming off TJ surgery in Lance McCullers. This extension allows the front office the flexibility to fill in behind these three with some up and coming youngsters like Forrest Whitley and Josh James with a Nolan Ryan type mentor in JV. He would then lead the staff in 2021 as more youngsters would climb the rotation ladder with the hopes that the 2022 staff would be led by in-house arms.
2 “Core” Relievers
If Roberto Osuna and Ryan Pressly repeat what they did after their 2018 trades to Houston, the area of the closer and main set-up man would be nicely manned through 2021. The 2022 back end of the bullpen is a crap shoot at this time, but depending on how a potential starting pitcher like Josh James shakes out, these spots might have at least one big in-house arm filling a spot. Beyond that, the front office has not shied away from chasing bullpen help along the way (Ken Giles, Hector Rondon, Joe Smith, Osuna, Pressly).
The key thing here is that the recent extensions have solidified the team moving forward with as many stars or near stars as any team in baseball signed up for the next few seasons.
- Do you think the “core” as defined has merit or is a bit of BS?
- If the Astros cannot extend anyone beyond who they have to date ….will they be OK?
- Which “core” areas have you most concerned?
- How much outside and how much inside filler can the Astros toss at the holes in the “core” as they appear?