Well – it just figures. They run this article on mlb.com on Friday.
And in that article, they point out that the most indispensable Astro is … Justin Verlander. They might as well have jabbed JV’s right arm with a dagger right through his tricep muscle – the one that bothered him in his second inning of work on Sunday shutting him down for what is hoped to be a precautionary test or two.
Let’s face facts. Justin Verlander has been tremendous for the Astros, possibly the best multi-year addition they have ever made to their club outside of the Jeff Bagwell pickup. But he is 37. And though, if most of us were given a ticket back to our age 37 years, we would be at the top of our game, engineers and other desk sitters do not put the stress and strain on our bodies that a Cy Young winner does. This could be a minor setback or it could be the beginning of a series of later (baseball) life injuries.
From this point, we will go forward with what was planned for this post before we were interrupted so rudely by JV’s right triceps. This is one person’s view of the 10 most indispensable Astros in order.
1. Justin Verlander. It is pretty clear that in a season where the Astros are trying to compensate for losing Gerrit Cole, Wade Miley, Collin McHugh and Aaron Sanchez, that the one thing they don’t need is for their best pitcher and one of the best pitchers in baseball to go belly up.
2. Zack Greinke. This is almost a ditto of the item above as Greinke is only slightly less valuable than Verlander and is a pitcher who would be a #1 on 75% of the teams in baseball.
3. Jose Altuve. Altuve may not lead the team in the sexy power categories, but he is the senior player on the team as far as Astros service and he is at times their most complete player – hitting for average, getting on base, stealing bases, hitting for power when needed and strong in the field.
4. George Springer. Springer would be higher if he could get beyond his habit of missing time. He doesn’t miss as much time as Correa, but he has consistently missed time that keeps him from being the best player on the team. But he is surely the heart of the team and losing him is always a tough hole to fill.
5. Alex Bregman. Bregman will likely be the most indispensable Astro in a year or two. He strained under carrying the team with his friends on the IL last season and was not very good with runners in scoring position. But there is no one with as much overall up side as Bregman on the team as he can do it all.
6. Lance McCullers Jr. His performance this season is critical to the team, especially if JV starts the season in dry dock. He will need to be a dependable starter or things could spiral out of control for the rotation in a hurry.
7. Yordan Alvarez. Yordan is on here because he represents the first player in Astros AL history who was a good DH (in his case an exemplary DH). If he is not there, the team will go back to being a lineup with multiple holes at the end of the lineup.
8. Roberto Osuna. Nothing can sink a team faster than a closer, who cannot close. Losing leads late not only shows up in the loss column, but becomes a psychological weight on the team and puts the manager in a guessing game he won’t win.
9. Carlos Correa. This guy has the talent to be in the top 4 of this list and has performed that good in the past. But playing 75 games with head scratching injuries does not get it done. The Astros won 107 regular season games with Carlos missing more than 1/2 of the season in 2019, so it is hard to put him higher on this list. But if he wants a Harper contract in a couple seasons, he better get his butt out on the field and keep it there.
10. Jose Urquidy. There is a lot riding on this young man’s shoulders this season based on some quality work at the end of 2019. It is unlikely that anyone else the Astros bring up from the minors will be as poised as this player was in high leverage situations.
This is a very subjective list and is just begging for others (you) to chime in and set this writer straight.
So, what do you think? Who are the 10 most indispensable Astros, what order are they in, and why?