Astros’ Top 5 questions entering spring training

OK, we will first assume that the questions of who will be the Astros’ GM and Manager will be answered before Spring Training. We will ignore the “question” about who will be the Astros cheating apologizer. So, besides those two areas, what will be the major questions as the team heads into this spring training.

#1 What will their rotation look like? We know that Justin Verlander and Zack Greinke will be at the top. We assume that Lance McCullers Jr. will be the third guy. We think that Jose Urquidy has a foot up on the fourth spot. We know that there will be a boatload of guys competing for the 4th and 5th spots, including (possibly) Brad Peacock, Austin Pruitt, Framber Valdez, Forrest Whitley, Josh James, Bryan Abreu, Rogelio Armenteros and others. But even if the rotation does not make it all the way through the season…..what will it look like heading home from Florida?

#2 Will Kyle Tucker absorb some or all of Josh Reddick ABs? Tucker was bad in his 2018 debut. Reddick was bad (though apparently injured) in 2019. Tucker was solid in his second shot at the majors.  Tucker will make about 1/20th of Reddick’s salary in 2020, if he makes the 26 man roster.  They don’t have to get rid of Reddick and they probably won’t at this point. But how will this likely transition play out?

#3 How will the back end of the bullpen work out? The front end of the bullpen will be Roberto Osuna, Ryan Pressly and likely Joe Smith and Josh James. Chris Devenski pitched a bunch of mediocre innings last season. Will Harris, Hector Rondon and (likely) Collin McHugh have all moved or will move elsewhere. Who picks up those extra innings? Likely folks like Brad Peacock and Austin Pruitt if they don’t grab starting spots. Bryan Abreu looked good in a cameo with the big club. Could someone (Whitley? Rogelio Armenteros?) grab a bullpen spot while auditioning for a bigger role?

#4 How will the catching tandem work out? Right now it looks like Martin Maldonado backed up by Dustin Garneau with young Garrett Stubbs hoping for a spot. Of course, whoever starts the season as number one and number two may not end the season that way as the last two seasons have shown. And Stubbs spot may be tied to…

#5 How will the Astros handle the 26th spot on the roster? With some questions with the pitching staff, will they add an extra youngster to work his way towards a higher leverage spot? Will they put Stubbs (who played some OF in his last call-up) in the third catcher spot? Will this allow an Abraham Toro or Myles Straw to break camp with the team?

Anyways, those are 5 questions to be answered this spring. Do you have others?

77 comments on “Astros’ Top 5 questions entering spring training

  1. Assuming good health, I think the first four guys are pretty well set unless Urquidy has a bad spring. But in an effort to keep inning counts down for 3 and 4 and gradually build up the 5th starter, we might see six guys involved as least early in the season. Got to figure they are looking at Pruitt to get back to the volume he threw from 2014 to 2016.

    I still think the goal is to move Reddick. But it might not happen until someone loses an outfielder to injury sometime in the spring, or even early in the season.

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  2. Not sure about which 8 or so guys will make up the pen, but rather than Abreu and James being mentioned as possible starters, they likely will be needed in relief, at least on the Opening Day roster. Maybe Biagini or Devenski keeps a job, but I don’t see both guys making the cut.

    We might have 5 or more guys catch games for us this season. I’m definitely dubious of Garneau.

    For right now, I envision Miles Straw as the new Jake.

    On my mind tonight is a wife losing her husband of 20 years and her 13 year old daughter. Hard to imagine that pain.

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  3. I posted earlier about Ausmus interviewing for the manager. I don’t really think he is interested in the job. We need to say prayers for this next manager, he’s going to be walking into unwelcoming ball parks all summer. He needs EXTRA thick skin. Other teams are starting to speak out about this, and it’s getting louder and louder.

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  4. Dan…after Verlander, Greinke and McCullers it’s a real crap shoot, but stating out the year with Peacock might be a good move. I agree with Straw being the new Marisnick, but with a better bat.

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  5. I would like to announce that I have NOT been interviewed for the job of Astros Manager. It appears that in Texas, there are only 8 of us that have NOT been interviewed. I also have NOT been interviewed for the GM job either. But right now it seems that maybe a double dozen of us in Texas also have not been interviewed. I will keep you posted.

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  6. I think the most pressing question for the Astros is: Can they manage to trade Josh Reddick and save a bunch of money in payroll doing it?
    The second most pressing question is whether or not they really need to do this. Has Crane resigned himself to go ahead and blow past the Luxury Tax line and pay the price and just go for it with the players he has. WAR projections by Fangraphs still show the Astros to be the overall best team on paper in the majors right now.

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  7. What will their rotation look like?
    My best guess is JV, Greinke, LMJ, Peacock and Urquidy. Not knowing who the manager will be does make this more difficult.

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  8. Alex Bregman got engaged to a cute little blonde recently. Her name is Reagan Howard, she’s a model. There…..that’s some news while we wait on Crane to tell us who his manager will be.
    I think it will be Hinch’S bench coach, Joe Espada. He knows these guys, and they evidently like him. I REALLY hope it’s not Baker or Bannister, or Showalter.

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    • Hiring one of those names would be a way to show Manfred they’re moving as far way from Luhnow/Hinch on the end of the spectrum as possible. I’m surprised no one has been hired yet. I wonder if they’ve called Tony DeFrancesco yet.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Man, when you go down the list on each team, look at #4 or #5, click their link, there are so very high WHIPs. Looks like we have as good as anyone except maybe Red Sox (if healthy) and Mets (if healthy). Tampa Bay appears on paper to best in American League.

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      • Great Baker quote… “ walks are overrated unless you can run”. 😤 Even better , he is against analytics.

        It was a nice run while it lasted. Welcome back to the Stone Age.

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    • The Astros finally did something right? I don’t particularly like Bob Nightengale. I had hoped his information was a bit presumptuous. But it seems everyone but Chandler Rome are reporting the same thing. And if Baker becomes our manager, Strom can likely keep management of the pitching staff under control. I pretty much expected Crane going the “well respected veteran manager” route for now. I suppose there will be someone else in the dugout to handle all the technology. The Astros won’t let Dusty take us back 10 years.

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    • I hope that’s the case. The last thing the Astros need is a dinosaur, unless Crane is ok with making the playoffs and getting bounced quickly

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  9. Perhaps he really is a “placeholder” manager for only year. And that is because he needs 2 more quarters to qualify for Social Security.

    On a serious note, one has to wonder if MLB is involved in “the selection.”

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    • He probably is a placeholder; losing one the first round of the playoffs would probably guarantee it.

      I think you’re right on the latter.

      At least it’s not Showalter or Bannister, I guess.

      I hate the Red Sox, but if they hire Raúl Ibañez or Will Venable then I’ll have to give them respect

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  10. “In his first day on the job, new Astros GM Peter Woodfork completed a series of trades, sending Justin Verlander to the Red Sox, Zack Greinke to the Dodgers, Alex Bregman to the Yankees, George Springer to the Angels, and Jose Altuve to the Mets. In each case the Astros agreed to pay the rest of each player’s salary for the remainder of their contracts and in each case received a player to be named later (in some cases a player to be born later) in exchange. Woodfork then resigned at the end of the day and accepted his old job back in the commissioner’s office saying that his work was complete.”

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  11. My sympathy’s to the pitching staff. Maybe Baker was the only one who would take this job. Something to think about. I have a doctor’s appointment this afternoon, with my gastrointerologist, just my 6mos check up. He saves me for his last appointment because he likes to talk Astros baseball, it will be an interesting conversation. Dodger fans are planning to attend our first series with the Angels…..so they can help the Angels fans boo the Astros.❤perfect❤.

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  12. Oh well, we’ll be moving into a new error, oops, era. Seems more and more that Luhnow poisoned much of the operation, although that might not be fair to say. That is purely my speculation. MLB might well have really stuck it to Crane too, way beyond what we’ll ever hear about. But just maybe Crane wants to try a more traditional route, after giving Luhnow the freedom to literally run the show his way.

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  13. These aren’t my picks or my favorites. But I’ve read enough snarky comments all over baseball blogs the last two months and I’m pretty sick of it.
    So, whoever Crane chooses is fine with me because it’s his money he is spending for my entertainment. Why the heck should I complain? It’s my favorite team, but he owns it and he can do what he thinks is best. I didn’t interview any of them, so why would I consider myself more qualified to know who is the right guy.

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      • Sounds like it Zanuda. If just one national outlet reports some of the other comments he’s made in the past (not just in what I posted) it’ll be yet another sh*t storm. If I found this stuff by accident while looking up info on Mark Prior, you know the media will find it. Seems like he’s a backwards thinker in more ways than just how he manages.

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      • is it just my memory playing tricks on me, or didnt someone in here out dan p for causing this scandel with the goal of becoming the new gm?? ps. i would still like to be assistant gm.

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  14. Everyone has been waiting for the Kris Bryant decision and it was announced this morning. Now we will see what the Cubs are planning to do, which could include doing nothing.

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  15. So does our new GM get a one year deal too? It really makes sense for Dusty. Our guys will score runs regardless of who makes out the line up card. Strom will manage the pitching end of the operation. And Baker will be a calming influence in the dugout who will stand up for his team when things get rough. I’ll take it.

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  16. Haven’t booed a manager while cheering the team since Jimy Williams. I still had hair and my health back then. Sorry…I can’t support someone with his backwards thinking views on race and domestic violence, never mind baseball. Throw on the cheating scandal , and, well… I managed to suffer through the lean years and never wavered. This may be it. At least we lost with our heads held high. I don’t care how many years of (outdated) experience the man has . I know this is for show, as getting an old-timey baseball guy in there is to attempt to shut up the nay-sayers , but it’s still aggravating. Maybe after the year when we finish at 95 wins and lose the divisional series we can hire a better manager for us.

    Note…age isn’t the issue with me. If he was available I’d take Bud Black (around same age) or Bruce Bochy in a heartbeat. Mike Matheny is on the younger side but he’s a complete a-hole and also a similar type of manager to Baker. Just wanted to throw that out, as I got into it with someone on Twitter who though I was being agist

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    • Oops… I forgot about Brad Mills and how terrible he was. Wasn’t entirely the players, as they played well right after they fired him and had Tony D as interim.

      Was Cooper->Mills->Porter the worst series of managers in team history?

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      • Williams was awful. For someone who had been around since Abner Doubleday hit puberty, you’d think he’d know baseball better.

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      • It’s been so long since I heard the term “ageist” I had to go back and look it up. It’s amazing the things you can learn on this blog on a daily basis so we will all soon be lexicographers. Thanks Billy!

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      • An astute observation, Zanuda! I am no mere intellectual plebeian but rather quite perspicacious 🤣. I keed, I keed

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  17. .Well it was fun while it lasted.
    .Hope we don’t lose a chance to keep George because of this.
    .Baker would be a decent manager for a 1970s team.
    .Can’t understand why we have to revert back to old school baseball just to prove honestly.

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  18. Dusty Baker is from Houston, he grew up here and he still as a lot of family here. “Maybe” he was the only guy who agreed to manage this team right now.
    As long as he keeps his grubby hands off the pitching staff, he can mess with the rest of these guys all he wants. My husband has sleep apnea, and I sleep with ear plugs everynight…….maybe this team needs to get some ear plugs so they can cancel out the noise this season. I’ll even buy them some!
    These guys have a couple of options:
    They can pick up their gloves and bats and play their best, and show everyone how good they really are. *OR*
    They can fold up and let this beat them. It’s up to them. Becky⚾n

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    • At first I was upset when they were reporting that Baker was a candidate. After considering further, I’m actually optimistic. He’s a good candidate to help hitters like Correa grow and is unlikely to put up with any of Bregman’s antics and nonsense. Keeping the players focused on the game between the white lines will be important as visiting reporters are generally not very creative and will have worked up their scandal related agendas before the season starts.

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    • If you click the link and go position by position, there is not a lot to argue about in their conclusions. If the Astros fail to win the division, it would be a monumental drop off in expected/projected performance. Now once any team gets into the playoffs, as we are well aware, it becomes a crap shoot.

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