On another ugly rain-dotted day, Dan P is searching for a good subject to cover for the blog.
Today it will be an interview with myself…
So how is that Dusty Baker hiring working out now?
This is a tough one. Dusty led a team decimated by injuries last year to within one game of the World Series. Dusty led them to a below .500 record during the last regular season. Dusty led them to a good start to the 2021 season. Dusty led them to a 5 game and, counting, fall into the pits of hell losing streak. Dusty made some bad decisions on the lineup, pitching replacement substitutions, etc. All managers who make decisions (which is all managers) make bad decisions that might not have been bad decisions if the players had played better.
While Dusty was a good choice to lead the guys in the aftermath of “IT”, I’m not sure he is on top of the modern game. Myles Straw should not be leading off and getting more ABs than anyone else. Jason Castro should have gotten more ABs with Martin Maldonado struggling, but against right-handers. Chas McCormick hits a big 3 run homer and then gets 1 AB over the next 6 games. Cristian Javier throws 5 scoreless innings and then heads to the alternate training site instead of taking a starting turn and allowing the other pitchers to get extra rest. And, of course, if the players were playing up to snuff, none of this would matter. But it does.
The Astros, if they have not done it to date, should be thinking hard about the next manager for their team because even if they have no intention of removing the manager, he has indicated he might choose to move on himself.
How is your pulse on the team so far?
The best teams have ups and downs, so what has happened so far with the 6-1 start and the fall afterwards is not a shock. But it is bothersome that the whole team hit and pitched well together and then all collapsed together. The fact that no part of the team stepped up to lead during the losing streak is problematic.
I had high expectations of the pitching staff based on how they played down the stretch in 2020, but the loss of Framber Valdez, who was the leader in getting deep into games, has had an effect. They certainly could turn it around, but they need to be a strong base for the team.
The starting lineup has the capability to be a strong lineup, but not when half of them are sitting in quarantine. They will not be a strong lineup if they continue to depend on the long ball for too much of their offense and not hit better with runners in scoring positions, especially with two outs.
The team has nothing wrong with it that a winning streak would not help. My gut feeling is they have enough talent to turn the ship around. But does the ship include enough internal leadership?
What are your thoughts about James Click?
This is hard to judge yet because I don’t believe we will really know where the team is headed until we see more of the long view, which should be revealed after the 2021 season. That is when decisions on whether to attempt to re-sign Carlos Correa, Zack Greinke and Justin Verlander can lead to a total re-shaping of the roster going forward. To date, he’s done OK. I liked the re-signing of Michael Brantley. I liked the signing of Jake Odorizzi despite the disaster of his first start. I liked how he filled from within the pitching injury holes in 2020. I wish he would have signed another high-end reliever and a veteran OF to fill the Springer vacancy. But again, the long view may be what is important in both cases.
With Click and Baker, a lot will be revealed by how they help guide this team through the tougher times.
What are your thoughts about the future of baseball?
Maybe it is a sign that I am in that grandparent’s age group, but I am concerned about the future of baseball. Grandparents keep thinking that the world is headed to hell in a handbasket, and I can be guilty of that. But I’ve worried about baseball for a long time. It has always been the slower, more cerebral sport in a world that seems to be spinning faster and where thinking does not seem to be at a premium.
And the moves baseball has taken since the pandemic and since the BLM movement took hold to seem to be turning off the core of their support. The older generation is not interested in tricking up the game to speed things up or shorten extra-inning games. They are not interested in getting politics shoved down their throats. They just want the simplicity of the sport of their childhood. But like the world, the sport of their childhood has moved to a spot that they no longer recognize.
Sure, baseball can survive, but when the money bubble pops, which seems inevitable, it may have to change what it is. And perhaps it will have to move back to a simpler time to complete that change.
That’s what Dan P wanted to know from Dan P today. What would you like to have answered?