Astros 2020: What we are looking for

There are a lot of things that will happen in the 2020 baseball season that none of us has seen before and even four months ago could not have imagined ever happening:

  • A regular season consisting of only 60 games.
  • A regular season where your American League team will play more National League teams (5) than American League teams (4).
  • A regular season where your favorite team has a 30 man roster to start….and then cut to 28 two weeks later….and then cut to 26 two weeks after that.
  • A regular season where there will not be a whole set of minor league teams playing every day developing the youngsters at multiple levels.
  • A regular season where there will be two separate ILs – one for normal injuries and one for folks that have the COVID virus.
  • A regular season and subsequent playoff series where all 30 teams will utilize a Designated Hitter.
  • A regular season where it is unclear despite what the Astros owner Jim Crane wants (https://ftw.usatoday.com/2020/06/astros-owner-jim-crane-fans-stands-pandemic-coronavirus-mlb-season) whether there will be any fans in the stand.
  • A regular season where MLB takes an ancient term from the NFL and each team has a 20 man taxi squad on top of the 40 man roster.
  • A regular season where if teams go to extra innings, that they will start each inning with a runner on 2nd base…..say what?

But beyond all this absolute weirdness, there are things we can and should look forward to as Astro fans:

  • First of all the Astros have an opportunity to be the first team to ever win 100 games in four consecutive seasons. What? Huh? Oh, skip that one…..
  • It will be interesting to see how new manager Dusty Baker handles this situation. Folks biggest concerns about Baker revolve around a history of burning out young arms. Well, that hopefully will not happen in a 60 game season. The key thing here is that Baker is a player’s type of manager and carries a lot of weight in the game. He may be the perfect person to help his team navigate the media storm that will follow them throughout this season after the “it” scandal.
  • It will also be interesting to see how Baker’s new work buddy, GM Jim Click navigates this not so brave new world of sand shifting lineups and taxi squads and number morphing active rosters. He will be getting to know what he has on this club, especially youngsters who may have to take the place of future free agent outfielders and starting pitchers. He may have to make trades, releases, signings or whatever the team may need to win a very short sprint to the playoffs.
  • The Astros had the most explosive rookie in the history of the franchise appear on the scene in 2019, Yordan Alvarez. Fans want to see if his knee is doing better and if he is truly who he appeared to be in 2019….a hitter for the ages.
  • The fans really want to see Lance McCullers Jr. on the mound again. The last time he appeared in a game he was giving up the last run to the Red Sox in Game 4 of the 2018 ALCS. He was also pitching through an injury that would result in Tommy John surgery a few weeks later. Can he be the bulldog pitcher in the 3rd spot in the rotation?
  • It seems like forever ago, but only one month of regular season games have passed since Justin Verlander put up the 3rd no-hitter of his career. Fans can’t wait to see him leading the pitching staff again in 2020. Is a 4th no-hitter possible?
  • Lost in the seventh game meltdown against the Nats was a brilliant start by Zack Greinke, entering the 7th inning having given up one hit. Yes, he gave up a home run and a walk-in that inning before being fatefully pulled, but along with the “What if they brought in Gerrit Cole instead of Will Harris” is the other question, “What if they had let Greinke work out of the inning”?
  • Fans want to see who the 4th and 5th starters are for the team, assuming Verlander, Greinke and McCullers are up top. Will it be Jose Urquidy, who showed well in a short time up in 2020? Will it be Brad Peacock, who has swung into the starting rotation before? Will Josh James, Bryan Abreu, Forrest Whitley, Cristian Javier, Framber Valdez, Cy Sneed and Cionel Perez have shots at those spots? Will they go with a 6 man rotation as other teams are doing? Will they do some tandem pitching? Yes they will have more players on the roster to start the season, but that number will go down in a hurry.
  • Fans want to see if Kyle Tucker is a prospect, who will earn the hype that has been heaped on him since his drafting.
  • What about all the familiar things we have missed? A George Springer Dinger to lead off a game? Jose Altuve squaring up a high pitch? Alex Bregman preening for the cameras after a home run(OK – I don’t really miss that)? Ryan Pressly tossing an unhittable breaking pitch? Yuli Guriel slashing one off the left field wall? Michael Brantley and his oh-so solid swing, sending the ball to all fields? Myles Straw streaking around the bases like a human blur? Josh Reddick stealing a home run souvenir from a waiting fan?

Those are some of the things this fan has been waiting for, how about you?

24 comments on “Astros 2020: What we are looking for

  1. I’m going to re-post this comment that old pro just posted around 11 on the previous post – so folks won’t miss it.

    For some who might not know, the Astros will submit a list of 60 players from their system that they will want to have available to play and evaluate for the remainder of the season. The list is to be given to the league by Sunday.
    New players can be added to the list by trades or signings, but the team would have to subtract players from the list to make room for the new player or players.
    When the new season begins the Astros will have 30 players on the roster and the 30 other players will continue working out at the University of Houston baseball facility on the U of H campus. That arrangement was worked out yesterday.
    Expect a number of players who are in the Astros Top 30 prospects to be among the extra 30 players, including pitchers like Whitley and Bielak who aren’t on the ctual 40-man roster, but who the Astros might want to be available if needed.
    This arrangement also gives the Astros a chance to further develop and coach those players at a facility no more than 15 minutes away from MMP.
    One further note: there is no limit as to how many pitchers can be carried by a club on the season opening roster. They could carry 16 pitchers and 14 position players, if they care to, or any combination of 30 players in total.

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  2. What am I looking for? I think it’s more a matter of what I’m hoping for. I’m hoping the players are able to quickly adjust to a July start of season rather than working their way into it from April onward. I used to complain all the time that Hinch didn’t have the players ready to compete in April. You can’t afford a slow start here. I’m hoping that Bregman can replicate his 2017-2019 performances. I’m hoping Springer doesn’t set a new K record (in only 60 games) trying to get himself in position for an offseason windfall.

    Also, I’ve decided for all national broadcasts I’ll be pressing the SAP button. I absolutely cannot stomach the thought of listening to commentary from Joe Buck 0r the ESPN crews at this time.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you rj. For the past month, our little twin island federation of 53,000 or so souls actually has had zero reported active cases of this covid business . Our borders remain closed to outside forces! These days, we’re all talking about how long our little economy can survive without opening up again. The short answer is not long. About 80% of our visitors come from the US. So we all wonder what might happen if American starts flying in again next month, especially the Miami flights.

      If we start playing some kind of baseball in a month or so, I’ll have my expectations set low. I’m going to try and simply enjoy it. I kind of hope Dusty changes up the order a bit. I’d sure like to see Whitney pitch in a major league game. I want to see several young guys get a chance to pitch. But if we don’t play especially well and go home early, I won’t be surprised, nor terribly disappointed. I’m kind of looking at 2020 as a time to figure out what to do when real baseball starts in 2021.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. First of all, I’m looking for the Astros to battle. The off season has left us and them with wounds that continue to this day and I’m hoping the Astros are able to pay back major league baseball and other teams for the beating they have taken in the media.
    Secondly, I know people want to see baseball, but I am hoping that they watch baseball on their televisions in record numbers and stay away from crowds of people who might not care about the welfare of others.
    I would like to see the Astros stay healthy and use a lot of players and beat a lot of teams and win a huge percentage of games.
    I want to see Josh Reddick bounce back and Yuli Gurriel to use both eyes at the plate and continue the torrid hitting he had the second half of 2019.
    I would like for Jose Altuve to win a batting title.
    I would like to see Peacock to be recovered from his neck injury and throwing pitches in the strike zone.
    I would love to see somebody step up and win that #5 starter job and let Josh James be available to be awesome in the bullpen.
    I would like Yordan to have a full year of what he showed in a partial year last season and be in the MVP talk.
    I would like Carlos Correa to be healthy and force people to begrudgingly put him on the All-Star team, if there is one.
    I ain’t askin’ for much.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I meant to mention Carlos Correa. I want that human Ferrari to be available to play everyday and not even nudge close to the IL during the season.

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  5. I’m looking for a new body😭. I had the second vertebrae operated a week and a half ago, and now I’ve broken a *3rd* one this last Wednesday. I can’t have anymore surgery so the only suggestion my surgeon can offer is MAYBE it will heal on its own in 3 months. So I get to stay on pain med and having EXCRUCIATING pain spasms and hope for the best. Talk later. Becky ⚾
    My orthopedic surgeon was actually FREAKED OUT on Wednesday.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Although the Astros will not become the first team to have four consecutive 100 win seasons, they will become the first team to have four consecutive seasons of less than 62 losses.

    It will be interesting to see how Dusty handles our pitchers. I think his reputation for burning out pitchers is undeserved. He has a good record of winning one-run games (which may indicate a manager that is a good strategist). The Astros were 24-19 in one-run games last year (.558%). Let’s see if he can improve that:

    https://www.nydailynews.com/sports/baseball/ny-sports-modiano-baker-genius-20181004-story.html

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well it is a little bit of a math dealie, Astro Nut, but because the teams used to play 154 game, prior to the 1962 expansion – it was easier to lose less than 62 games – the 1948 – 1957 Yankees lost less than 62 games 10 seasons in a row (though they only won 100 games once in that span)….

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  7. I’m hoping the angst and chaos of the COVID “It”, which is not Astros-centric, will totally overwhelm the angst and chaos of the sign-stealing “It”, which most definitely would be Astros-centric.

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  8. I think today’s 60 man Astros roster will be interesting. Right now, anything about the Astros players would be interesting.
    Looking forward to finding out more about Click’s evaluation of our players.

    Liked by 1 person

      • Dan, I’m not sure what you are insinuating. Leaving four spaces open is clearly identified in the article as a means to leave flexibility to make waiver claims or swing a trade (if necessary). I don’t really see a lot of position players who clearly can be brought up and perform at an adequate level (yet) in our system. I imagine the front office wants as many arms available as possible at the facility in UH to continue coaching/evaluating through the season. Also, this lineup is stacked. I was watching the 2004 NLCS game 7 yesterday and saying to myself, wow, Houston had 2 HOFers and three players deserving serious consideration in the starting lineup while STL had 1 HOFer (Walker) with two others likely being elected someday (Rolen, Pujols), a CF who would have garnered serious consideration in another era (Edmonds), and two middle infielders who were involved in some of the most memorable world series victories of my lifetime (Renteria, Womack). You look at our lineup and a number of those guys couldn’t replace the people we’ve got for 2020.

        TL;DR: let’s hope the hitters stay healthy.

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  9. Interesting note is that these 56 players are the only ones eligible to be traded.
    Jairo Solis and Peter Solomon are not on the list, as both are returning from TJ Surgery.
    The fact that the Astros only included 56 spots on the player pool allows them to add four more players from outside the organization.

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  10. The glaring missing name is Tyler Ivey.

    He’s further advanced than Nivaldo, Scrubb, Dubin, Bailey, Conine if not a few others. Have to wonder again about the Grade 1 tear that was hinted at in the off season, in which The Runner Sports article didn’t really mention much of either.

    Solis and Solomon were going to be on the cusp of pitching competitively this season, so maybe Ivey Whitley Bielak and these fold into being added to the 40-man this December. I would think bubble guys at that point would be Biagini, Sneed and Armenteros — all would need filler innings to gain some trade value, a la, Kemp and Fisher.

    As for position players, Devin, there are actually quite a few blocked; Toro, Stubbs, Jones, Tanielu, McCormick, Straw are all looking to test waters. If they all stick, I could see moving on from Gurriel, Brantley, Reddick, and Diaz. The inclusion of Shaver and Papierski are indicative of internal grading the public isn’t as well aware of yet.

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    • All those infielders are on the taxi squad already. I’m probably stuck in this mindset thanks to watching The Last Dance, but for budgetary reasons the Astros will have to move on from a few players this offseason, so you’re right that a few opportunities for next year will be available. It’s to those guy’s detriment that they won’t be playing MiLB games this year. There may be a large leap of faith this December. Looking at the names on your list, Jones will be 27 this December (4 years of Gonzaga) and Tanielu will be 28 this September (another college guy) and neither really possesses an elite skill. A lot may depend on whether Alvarez can reliably take the field this year.

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      • Taylor Jones had some of the top exit velos in AAA. Gets the hole in his swing fixed, and sees more MLB stuff — the makings are there. He’s also added 3B and OF to secondaries. With he and Toro in the fold, if Yuli doesn’t take a bit of a cut 2/$15M (aging and market suppressed), he’s gone.

        Reddick and especially with Brantley price tag, they’re gone.

        One would think we’d be in the market for Haniger, or Rosario if George gives early signs he’s *taking* the highest offer; and if we don’t have confidence Chas, Ronnie or Drew can’t be a 4th OF in MLB. I could go either way here, and prefer to put all that OF money into bonafide SP2.

        That person in my mind for the next 4 yrs is LMJ, so his bounceback & re-signing will be interesting to watch.

        All those non-“prospect” guys are getting up in age (Mayfield, Lu and others), so it’s quickly becoming now or never. No doubt.

        Astros believe that specialized training through centralizated development precludes having to get as many MLB reps. All eyes on whether that’s true, considering these guys aren’t tooled up, like other bonus babies. If Stros make it work, they will hush the crowd which criticised these philosophies.

        Referring here to the writers conclusions: “Houston promotes an artificially high number of their prospects to fill spots unoccupied by the minor league free agents they don’t sign, so this can be more noise than signal at times.”
        https://blogs.fangraphs.com/top-40-prospects-houston-astros/

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