In the movie Apollo 13 there is a special moment when things are looking grim for the three astronauts and the crippled spaceship that the crew and the support staff on the ground are all trying to baby back to Earth. The director of NASA says, “This could be the worst disaster NASA’s ever experienced.” At this Flight Director Gene Kranz replies, “With all due respect sir, I believe this will be our finest hour.” And it was.
Sometimes all an organization or a team needs is that type of attitude from someone in a lead position when things are looking their worst.
And let’s face facts. Though the Astros are dealing with a tough offseason of disappointment, loss on the field, loss in the locker room and potential loss of respect throughout baseball, the team is not in the type of shape that crippled spaceship was in back in 1970.
Still, this team could enjoy its finest hour if it can overcome the losses or potential losses of Gerrit Cole, Wade Miley, Collin McHugh, Will Harris, Joe Smith, Hector Rondon, Jake Marisnick, Robinson Chirinos and Martin Maldonado, the salary restrictions of bumping up and over the luxury tax level and whatever findings and punishment potentially appears out of the cheating scandal.
So what should the Astro fans hang their hats on in expecting this team to experience their finest hour?
- This lineup. The Astros, even if they don’t improve the catcher spot (which I fully believe they will), they are loaded. Look at these names – Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman, George Springer, Michael Brantley, Carlos Correa, Yordan Alvarez, and Yuli Gurriel. Each one has the ability to be an All Star, to be a Player of the week or month and most have the ability to at least be talked about in the MVP race.
- Space for offensive improvement. while the catcher spot might regress a bit there is certainly potential for upward improvement with this team. ROY Yordan Alvarez will play a whole year this time not half a season. Carlos Correa could easily play a lot more games this time around. Kyle Tucker may get a lot more chances to show he is an offensive force with his bat and his feet. Aledmys Diaz also could play more – he was just coming into his own when he got hurt. And of course there is some addition by subtraction with no Tyler White or Jake Marisnick at bats.
- The rotation is not chopped liver. A rotation of Justin Verlander, Zack Greinke, Lance McCullers, Jose Urquidy and the Charlie Morton / Wade Miley flavor of the year would be quite a solid five when compared to what most teams toss out there. And then if Forrest Whitley or Bryan Abreu or one of the other youngsters forces their way into the picture…they could easily be a top 5 rotation.
- More space for offensive improvement. The Astros were not an especially good team with runners in scoring position or RISP with 2 outs. They were insanely bad when trailing headed into the 9th for a team with 107 wins. If they just improve these a little bit it could make a huge difference in their performance.
- Been there done that. This team knows how to win. They’ve won more than 100 games three years in a row. In the last five seasons, they’ve given themselves four good chances to go all the way (Winning it all in 2017, losing to eventual champs in 2015, 2018 and 2019).
- The top supports the bottom. Jim Crane and Jeff Luhnow have shown the ability and the will to do what it takes to make big moves for this team
- This seems to be a solid coaching staff with AJ Hinch holding a solid but not too tight rein on his team
The bottom line is that this team has the type of talent and pedigree to win it all in 2020, which could represent this team’s finest hour.