It has been awhile, but Dan P is ready to address questions from his favorite interviewer….Dan P.
Q: The Astros built their 2015 -2019 team on mostly reasonable costs for everyday players and mostly expensive pitching. What do you see going forward?
A: The long term contracts signed by Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman, plus the Brantley signing and the arbitration number for George Springer had already started swinging the cost back towards the everydays. With both the Justin Verlander and Zack Greinke contracts coming off after 2021 and the sudden influx of young pitching into the major league team, there is certainly a gut feeling that the team will be built on cheaper in-house pitching going forward.
Q: George Springer was often portrayed as the heart of the team. If he does not return, do the Astros have an emotional focus to their team?
A: Verlander will not be back. Greinke could never be that guy with his emotional “situation”. Altuve might be that guy, but not if he repeats his 2020 season. Bregman might be but in some ways he seems like the class clown more than the class president. Carlos Correa is probably that guy right now. But he is only in Houston for one more season unless something changes.
Q: What did you think of the first season under Dusty Baker?
A: I was pleasantly surprised by Dusty. Having pitcher after pitcher go down with injuries could have taken the heart out of the team. The late inning, one run losses and extra inning failures could have killed the team. But it did not. He kept the team together. He was a calm focus as the team kept sending newbies out to the mound. He stuck with his pitchers, especially Framber Valdez and the pitchers in the end were rewarding him for his confidence. There is something about a guy referencing the greats like Henry Aaron from having played with him that has to mean something to the youngsters. Or maybe it just means something to old fans.
Q: What will that OF look like?
A: It is weird to look at a depth chart and see it consists of Kyle Tucker, Myles Straw and Chas McCormick. There are even depth charts on line that show the OF as LF Kyle Tucker, CF Myles Straw and RF Kyle Tucker. That would be quite a trick. The best bet here is that the OF will be Tucker, McCormick plus a mid-level free agent, such as Robbie Grossman. That is not very exciting, but after a terrible economic year, that would seem like the way the team and this new GM is headed.
Q: Will the team bring in a veteran starting pitcher and/or reliever?
Now MLB Traderumors are rarely right on their picks, but the Hand pickup would certainly be a good way to bolster this team in a hurry. As a closer, Ryan Pressly comes across as a good set-up man. Grabbing someone who is used to the role of closer and is coming off a strong 2020 season would seem to be a great use of resources.
Barring injury, it would seem like the Astros would go forward with the folks they have on hand (Lance McCullers Jr., Greinke, Jose Urquidy, Framber Valdez, Cristian Javier) as far as a starting rotation goes, and fill in with youngsters like Luis Garcia when necessary. Or if they could pick up a Charlie Morton or similar cheap…. they might take on someone short term.
Q: Will the Astros be contenders in 2021?
A: Sure, why not?