We’ve all been there in our lives. Some big deadline or event hovers over us (project completion, wedding, vacation, etc.) and once we get past that we naturally relax a bit and slowly get back into our normal gear. But does that apply to a major league team facing and racing past the trade deadline?
Let’s look at the major accomplishments for the Astros’ front office last week:
- Trade Tyler White, who you have to release anyway for a couple low level prospects
- Trade Tony Kemp, who you have to release anyway for a backup catcher you desperately need, who also knows most of your pitching staff, Martin Maldonado
- Trade Derek Fisher, who has no chance of leap frogging the outfielders in front of him in the organization for starting pitcher Aaron Sanchez, reliever Joe Biagini and an outfield prospect, Cal Stevenson
- And trade four prospects who are all good, but mostly blocked in the organization for the best pitcher to change teams at the trade deadline, Zack Greinke
So, now they can sit back and coast to the playoffs – NOT!
Like the Seven Dwarfs who work, work, work – the front office in conjunction with Manager AJ Hinch and his coaches have a ton of work to do. Let’s look at this list….
- How to handle the returns of Ryan Pressly, Brad Peacock and Josh James to the 25 man active roster? One way to do this that will not result in the team releasing anyone would be ….Pressly comes back soon and Garrett Stubbs gets optioned to AAA. Peacock comes back soon and Chris Devenski who still has options is sent down to AAA until the Sept 1 roster expansion. Josh James does not come back until after the roster expansion.
- How to update the line of succession with the roster changes? They will have a different Plan B, C and D with the new folks involved and with some of the old folks gone. Who comes up when player X gets hurt?
- How to coach up the new folks on the roster from the recent trades? They already have changed the pitch mix on Sanchez. Do they try some Ryan Pressly fairy dust on Biagini? And what do you do with soft tossing ace, Greinke? Do you lessen the number of shifts played behind him? Do you try and change the pitch mix of someone who has been a top line pitcher for a number of years including this one?
- Who to call up September 1st? Starting next season, this will be a tough call as the roster will be 26 instead of 25 before September, but only expand to 28 after the first of September. This season it is under the old rules where anyone on the 40 man can be in the dugout. The Astros will bring some up but the guess is that this number will be about six to eight. This could include Myles Straw, Kyle Tucker, Garrett Stubbs (if he is sent down), Chris Devenski (if he is sent down), Cy Sneed, Jose Urquidy, Rogelio Armenteros and maybe Framber Valdez. Someone like Bryan Abreu or Cionel Perez might get a shot. This may depend more on who Hinch thinks he can really use.
- How hard does the team push it for home field advantage? The Astros have been playing excellent ball and still are only 1/2 game up on the Yanks in the AL and a game behind the Dodgers for the overall best record. Who do they rest? Do they give a couple of their older starters (Justin Verlander, Greinke) a 10 day vacation on the IL?
- How do they line up the rotation for the playoffs? Do they go with their two hammers Gerrit Cole and Verlander in the first two slots or do they get cute and put Wade Miley or Greinke between them to change the hitters viewpoint game to game? What do they do if Sanchez completely outperforms Greinke down the stretch?
- How soon (it might have started already) do they start scouting possible foes in the playoffs? When do they break down the film and put together the videos that show that player X is susceptible to inside breaking balls on 2 strike counts or whatever? When do they start “Beltranning” the opposition? Looking for the tips and tells on a pitcher that a fastball is coming?
- How do they fashion their playoff roster for an ALDS or ALCS matchup with the potentials? How many relievers and who do they keep on the playoff roster? Does a Myles Straw turn into the 2017 version of Derek Fisher and find a specialty pinch running, late defense spot? How do they tweak the roster between series if they are that fortunate?
- And if they make the World Series, what do they do with Yordan Alvarez on the road? It is hard to picture them not finding more than a pinch-hit at bat for him, but they also don’t want to have him giving up runs either with his bum knee in the field.
Basically, the coaches, manager and front office have a ton of work in front of them, but wouldn’t want it any other way.