The 60-game schedule is most important to…

For some of the Astros, the 60-game regular season in 2020 is not that important to their career arc. Main players like Justin Verlander, Jose Altuve, Zack Greinke, Alex Bregman, Ryan Pressly are established major leaguers who are signed beyond 2020 and really have nothing to prove. Yes, they want to continue to perform well, but if they have a hiccup in 2020s shortened season it won’t affect how much money they make in 2021 (and for some beyond that) and will be looked on as an anomaly of a small sample.

But for other Astros, this 60 games can mean a lot to them in future earnings, a future secured spot on a team and even can affect whether their career continues. Let’s look at some of the folks who may be most affected by these 60 games.

Free Agents After 2020 – Note these are the potential FAs with the most to gain or lose

George Springer. In these days of high unemployment and general financial angst, it is tough to feel sorry financially for someone who has earned about $29 million in his career entering 2020. But the way the Astros delayed Springer coming up when they stunk, meant he is hitting free agency at the worst possible time with the teams dealing with the financial hit of COVID and with Springer hitting 31 y.o. this fall. After a tremendous (but shortened) 2019 for George, it feels like 2020 can only work to lessen his eventual contract. He will still make more money per game than most people do in a year, but he needs to stay healthy and produce to get close to what the market would have given him as a FA heading into 2020.

Michael Brantley. Just a guess here, but chances are that of all the folks mentioned here, Brantley’s 2020 may not have much effect on his FA value. He is a fairly well-known commodity as a top-flight professional hitter. His game does not rely as much on athleticism as someone like George Springer. And the most important number for him is that he turns 34 in May of 2021. His key is to stay healthy and not let former injury woes become current ones in the minds of potential suitors.

Josh Reddick. Reddick has given the Astros excellent production in 2017, poor production in 2018 and below average (possibly due to injury) in 2019. He hustles and plays above-average defense in right and left field. And he turns 34 next February. At this point, he knows he will likely not play in Houston next season and that he won’t be making $13MM a year anymore. If he continues to struggle offensively in the next 60 games he will likely be offered a 4th OF type spot somewhere or possibly nowhere.

Yuli Gurriel. The Gurriel situation is just so odd. The Astros reworked his contract so he would not be eligible for arbitration for 2021 and 2022 and becomes an FA after 2020. He then put up his very best offensive season after a slow start with a .298 BA/ .884 OPS/ 31 HRs/ 104 RBIs in 2019. Yes, he is going to be a 33 y.o. 1B when 2021 comes around and the free agent market has not been kind to aging corner IFs, but unless he suddenly falls off a cliff, he is a very good hitter and due to the years spent in Cuba playing short seasons, he has a lot less mileage on his body than younger men. If he continues to rake in 2020 as he did the last 4 months of 2019, someone (including the Astros) will offer him decent two-year or three-year contract.

Brad Peacock. The last three seasons Peacock has been the pitching equivalent of Marwin Gonzalez. He started 37 times. He pitched in relief 81 times. Heck, he even saved 3 games. He has been a good soldier normally pitching well until shoulder problems slowed him down in 2019. He is likely only going to be used out of the bullpen in 2020 and if he pitches like he did in 2017 and 2018, he will be on a number of teams dance card heading to 2021. If he has injury problems, his choices may be limited next off-season.

Something to Prove or to Gain

These are players, who are not going to be FAs after 2020 but have a lot to prove or gain in these 60 games.

Carlos Correa. It would be ironic if Correa proves his durability by staying healthy during the shortest MLB season ever, but for him, it is a critical factor. By almost any standards, Correa was an offensive juggernaut in 2019……when healthy. Ah, there’s the rub. He only played 75 games. If you project his totals to a very reasonable 150 games he would have been at 42 HRs and 118 RBIs in 2019. Correa will be making approx. $3 MM in 2020 with his prorated salary for 60 games. Playing well and fully could earn him a lot of money in arbitration and in a potential extension. Missing time – again – could keep him limping along financially far below what his talent should be pulling in.

Lance McCullers Jr. If you were going to map out a return to action after Tommy John surgery for Mr. McCullers, the current plan would seem to be almost ideal for him. It will be more than a year and eight months since his surgery. It is likely that he, like all the other pitchers, will not go too deep into games starting out. And he is only going to have in the area of 10 to 12 regular season starts. For someone who has pitched well for the Astros but never more than 128 IP in any one season, this may be an ideal way to return.  And it is critical that he has a positive season because when he gets done with 2020 he will be only one season shy of free agency.

Roberto Osuna. Even though he has a clean slate with the Astros, his presence (and the way the Astros front office mismanaged it) is a PR disaster waiting to get worse. He has one more arbitration session ahead of him and a pro-rated salary of his $10MM arbitration figure this season (a little under $4MM) is coming to him. He has to show he is a good closer when things get a little twitchy and tight in the pennant race and the playoffs or the team might look elsewhere (Ryan Pressly? Josh James? Bryan Abreu?) for its closer.

Jose Urquidy, Josh James, Austin Pruitt, Bryan Abreu, Framber Valdez, Forrest Whitley and a cast of thousands. This 60 game season is a live audition for any pitcher who wants to be a big part of the Astros future. By the end of 2021, barring extensions, Justin Verlander, Zack Greinke, Lance McCullers Jr. Roberto Osuna, Ryan Pressly, Chris Devenski, and Joe Smith could all be gone, along with Brad Peacock, who could be gone after 2020. Young, cheap, good arms could easily snag starting spots and high leverage bullpen slots with a good performance in this short season. This may be the most intriguing part of this highly unique (and we hope) one of a kind season.

There you have it. One person’s opinion on the Astro players with the most to gain or lose in 2020. What do you think?

35 comments on “The 60-game schedule is most important to…

  1. My comments:
    Springer – if he has a tremendous year it’s “what’s your Price?” If not then it’s more like $2o MM per year depending on the duration. Love to keep him as an Astro.
    Brantley – If we need him I suspect it’ll be 8 -12. Otherwise he be shopping for a better deal.
    Reddick – As much as I like him his days as an Astro are probably over. He could go elsewhere for 10MM. I suspect he’ll be looking for a long term deal at 14- 18MM per year.
    The others – I suspect Devo and Joe Smith will be gone after next year. I don’t see them getting any kind of Big money with Houston but maybe a bargain is in store. I wouldn’t count on it. Devo is not bad for the money but…. The big quesion is what will the “up and comings ” do. Tie for Whitley to fish or cut bait. I look forward to seeing what Urquidy, James, Abreu, Valdez, and Pruitt can do given the opportunity. I think we’ve got some potential there.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. My post omitted CC, LMJ, Peacock, and Osuna. Who knows what happened? Anyway:
    Peaccock is a lot like Will Harris. I suspect someone will make him a nice offer next year. I’m not sure if we van do it considering. He certainly deserves it in my mind but as they say, “it’s a business”.
    CC needs to have a big year and also next year for him to reach super elite status. Love to keep him but I suspect he’s got his sights on those “big market teams”, (the ones we love to hate).
    LMJ is in a strange area. If he has a solid year he’ll do well in arbitration next year and will be looking for a big payday. Kind of the same situation as CC.
    Osuna is one that I think we should shop around either this year or next. I just don’t think he’s worth a big contract of 14 – 18 MM. I think we have other potentials who could do it for a lot less.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I’m not smart enough to get into the financial side of the game but I’m so dang thrilled to just have the opportunity.
    Seems like it’s been years since the 2019 WS.
    If it happens it will be a weird season. But I’m so ready for any form of baseball.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I don’t think guys like Springer, Yuli, Brantley or Reddick will be overly impacted by the upcoming 60 game exhibition season. Their values for 2021 are pretty much established already. Reddick probably has the most to gain by having a good sprint this summer. There will be a bidding war for George unless he falls on his face.

    On the other hand, pitchers might be far more affected going into 2021, and not necessarily financially. Guys including Lance, Pressly, Urquidy, James, Abreu, Smith and others come to mind. By design, 2020 is a perfect opportunity for LMJ to get reacclimated. Is Pressly fully healthy? What about the guys that might be affected by this Covid business? How long will recovery take? And if some guys are out, who gets a chance to step up?

    I remain most intrigued by Whitley. McTaggart reported yesterday that he looked very good over 25 pitches. I’d love to see him get his first ML action this summer. On the flipside, I’m still leery. What 22 year old kid goes from 236 in February to 203 in July? Seems his path remains an erratic one. Is anyone providing the obvious direction he needs?

    Liked by 1 person

    • The Whitley saga year to year has bugged the heck out of me. He seems like a bird who goes off and does his own thing (or something his “buddies” want him to do).
      Remember when he showed up at Spring Training he straight away stated that he had worked out less in the off season and put on pounds to build up his stamina or some crap like that. Now he comes back in slimmed down like some super model where Baker wants him to go eat something. I mean I would think that an organization like the Astros gives each of these players physical goals and plans for the off-season. You need to put on upper body strength, you need to come in at 220#, you need to work on your agility or whatever. I really doubt that anyone told Whitley to do what he has done here.
      Now if he really is throwing well, I guess that is all that matters. But he worries me.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. So the Astros play an intrasquad game today at 1:45 with the following lineups….

    Visitors team
    CF George Springer
    2B José Altuve
    LF Michael Brantley
    3B Alex Bregman
    1B Yuli Gurriel
    SS Carlos Correa
    RF Josh Reddick
    C Martín Maldonado
    DH Garrett Stubbs
    RHP Lance McCullers Jr.

    Home team
    CF Myles Straw
    LF Drew Ferguson
    RF Kyle Tucker
    1B Taylor Jones
    3B Abraham Toro
    2B Nick Tanielu
    C Dustin Garneau
    SS Jack Mayfield
    DH Ronnie Dawson
    RHP Justin Verlander

    So do you like the Visitors with Lance McCullers and practically the whole expected regular season starting lineup (minus Yordan Alvarez) or the Verlander led lineup of newbies?

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I think the 60 day schedule is most important to the future of Lance McCullers, Jr. He is young enough to be considered a Plus Pitcher for the next 7-8 years if he can start a pattern of being able to pitch every five days and be good at it.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. So, I am ready to talk strategy.
    If I am the Astros, I want to throw my #1 starter against the Mariners on opening day. Have you looked at their lineup?
    I want to follow up my Ace with a finesse pitcher to start game 2.
    I want LMJ to be a power pitcher to follow Greinke against the Mariners #3 in game 3. He’s ready to start his comeback.
    For game 4, after sitting and watching from the bench for 3 days, I want Whitley to make his major league debut against the Mariners #4 in game 4. This game will have the least pressure he will ever have on him and he will have the comfort of home field, no crowd and pitching against a dwindled Mariners lineup. Whitley has to be added to the 40-man at the end of the season anyway, so let’s use him in the best possible position to make his debut and get rid of the butterflies.
    Game 5 against the Dodgers start Urquidy. He’s the guy who cooled off the Champion Nationals in the WS and this is a game where we will need a cool head.
    That leaves JV to start the last game of the homestand against everyone’s pick to win the NL pennant. What a perfect time for him to make a Cy Young statement.

    Liked by 3 people

    • I’m all for that strategy. Especially giving Whitley a clean start on his own.

      We’ll have ample longmen in Pruitt James Valdez Abreu or Peacock to take over if running into trouble in the 4th. It would be an excellent vote of confidence, and will rest on the idea that by that time, he’s earned the spot by coming in blazing anyway.

      Otherwise, I’m still not counting out Cristian Javier as neck-and-neck.

      Not that we’d do it, but imagine thrusting Whitley into the Dodger game, and he shines? The poor poor LA news wouldn’t know what to write! HaHa I’m excited

      I’m going to update prospect list coming soon, and I’ll like to get your opinions before finished. -Best

      Like

  8. Hell, I’d love to see Whitley get the game 4 start. The way it’s looking right now, we might not see James or Urquidy ready to go in 18 days. I hope Whitley put himself in such a position of consideration over the next couple of weeks.

    Like

    • Thanks for the update sarge – I hate to confess that I am not on Facebook so I am not able to follow there. If you are watching you can let us know anything of significance

      Like

  9. The run was a Straw walk, and Tucker RBI single.

    lance got thru 2nd inning pretty easily.

    JV forced a GB and I think Mayfiled threw a skidder that Jones couldn’t handle. then Mayfield followed it up with a nice play Reddick hit in SS/3B cluster (had him played perfectly). JV looks very sharp, striking out Bregs Correa.

    Aaand Straw starts off the 3rd with a base hit..
    Tanielu then makes a slick-fielding play down 3B line to throw out Straw at 2B.
    Jones up 2-out man on 1st, LMJ gets hom to 2-1, then HBP on elbow. Jones took it like a man (to use an old phrase). Toro up

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sorry for typos.
      Toro has looked poorly in 2 ab’s, he struck out again

      McCullers is getting swings over the top of his misses, and inducing grounders. Looks pretty good!
      JV is lights out.

      Bottom of the 3rd, they’re only completing 4 innings.
      Maldonado K’s on 3 pitches.
      One thing looking really good is JV hasn’t shaked off Garneau!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Bregman hits one to the right center wall that Straw runs down,
      and prospects win, 1-0.

      A correction, the really nice defensive play was Bregman – camera was far away angle. Tanielu did have a few nice put aways though.

      Straw and Tucker are going to be fun to watch, I tell ya. Like Bagwell, Tucker’s got great instincts on the bases.

      At least we can say the Astros played in 2020, albeit an intrasquad game!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Verlander (Team Biggio) wins 1 – 0. They picked up two hits against NO hits for McCullers (Team Bagwell). Team Bagwell was full of starters.

    Like

  11. To all my friends – thank you for your prayers. Just got back from a special scan of my retina and I am totally fine! Thank you God for your goodness!
    The doctor was afraid of a possible lesion but this special scan showed that everything is good – I’m just losing pigment near my macular.To quote James Brown – I feel good!

    Liked by 2 people

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