Top 7 concerns for the Astros heading into 2022

This is a presumptive post today. We are presuming that the lockout will end and that the biggest concern isn’t losing a chunk of the season.

Looking beyond that, here are the Top Seven concerns for the Astros heading into 2022, and some may well be taken care of before the season begins.

  1. Replacing or Re-signing Carlos Correa. Carlos could still end up in Houston. This scribe is not betting any of his retirement money on that. Still, there are fewer landing places at this point, and Correa may decide to go for a higher annual average salary tied to fewer years and more opt-outs if he does not hear what he wants in the open market. So, let’s say he does leave. What do the Astros do?
    1. Pick up a cheaper short term free-agent shortstop like Andrelton Simmons
    1. Pick up a cheaper than Correa but still expensive free agent like Trevor Story
    1. Move Alex Bregman (who says he’s prepping for it) to SS and pick up a more affordable free agent 3B (warning there’s not much out there) or put Aledmys Diaz in that spot
    1. Rip the band-aid off and go young with Jeremy Pena and hope the lineup around him lifts him up
  2. Is JV still JV (or close). Another presumption is that the actual re-signing of Justin Verlander is just a formality. If it is, the Astros may have picked up a vital piece to their rotation or a luxury tax boat anchor. It was very comforting to have him throwing in the mid to high 90’s months ahead of Spring Training, but he is getting to be so old, 39 in February. Raise your hands if you are laughing at someone being old at 39. Still, having a Verlander in the mix with the returning pitchers is a positive thought.
  3. Lance McCullers’ health. Last season was McCuller’s healthiest season yet with the team in the regular season until it wasn’t in the playoffs. Do they need to give him a couple two-week vacations during the season to get him through to the end of the playoffs? Was he undone by throwing 172 innings (regular plus postseason) after missing all of 2019 and throwing only 70 innings in the plague shortened 2020? Or will he always be on the verge of an arm injury?
  4. Replacing Strommie. The assumption here is that the Astros will promote from within, that they helped facilitate this move so they would not lose a young coach blocked by an older one. But the Astros have not made that move, and they are allowed to make it during the lockout since it does not involve players.  So, maybe they are still looking. We know that the younger coaches on staff have had more hands-on with the pitchers, but wasn’t Brent Strom directing them? Wasn’t he the one out at the mound giving the pitchers instant wisdom and feedback? This can be a critical move that could significantly affect this team going forward.
  5. Completing the bullpen (or not). Wrote about this recently ….

https://chipalatta.com/2021/12/02/does-hector-neris-complete-the-astros-bullpen/                        Sometimes teams pick up bullpen help, and it just does not work out like planned. They get hurt (Pedro Baez). What they do in a small sample does not repeat (Andre Stubbs, Enoli Paredes). What they do for a non-contender does not translate to the pressure pot of a contender (Yimi Garcia). It would not be surprising to see the Astros add a lefty to the bullpen after losing Brooks Raley, but it might not happen until the trade deadline.

  • Alex Bregman’s health. One of the reasons most folks are not seeing Bregman moving to shortstop is because he has appeared to play injured the last couple of seasons after being one of the two best players in the league during 2018 and 2019. After the end of the season, his wrist surgery confirmed at least some of the problem. If Carlos Correa does leave, one of the ways to replace him is by getting the full-blown Bregman for 140-150 games, rather than the wimpier version for 90.
  • Who Will be Out in Centerfield (the most). Before getting injured, Chas McCormick and Jake Meyers did a solid job in centerfield after the trade of Myles Straw. It would be good if they both cut back on their strikeouts and boosted their walk rates. But they were quite productive last season as rookies. Jose Siri is the most talented and probably the least repeatable of the three of them. Of course, they might be the only place holding for someone else, like young Pedro Leon. But it will be fascinating to see how this position is covered in 2022.
  • Centerfield fact that probably means nothing. In 11 at bats as a centerfielder, Kyle Tucker mashed with a .545 BA/ .667 OBP/ 2.030 OPS with 3 doubles, 2 homers and 5 RBIs

Now it is your turn – what do you think of this list of concerns? What other concerns do you have?

37 comments on “Top 7 concerns for the Astros heading into 2022

  1. So, they said that the deal was submitted before the deadline, but took almost two weeks for MLB to approved due to some language in the contract.
    What happened did they say damn or hell too often in it?

    Liked by 2 people

    • Per one of the comments that is probably very accurate on the language.

      “I hear it referred to the commissioner as, “that a-hole, Manfred”. They went back and forth with various descriptors (e.g. bafoon, jamoke) but had to settle for “tool”

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    • Yeah that play was one of those things that I learned about as a kid – probably read about in the paper as a retrospective. What a game Maegle had that day but overshadowed by “the play”.
      Not a good time for Texas Football as the dean of football writers – Dave Campbell just passed away also.

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  2. I don’t know those centerfield stats mean nothing – I would love to see Springer’s stats in CF versus Springer in RF. Sometimes when you are given the keys to the middle of the diamond that is a bit of a spurt of confidence. I personally think he is the right combination of age and athleticism to learn to play the position serviceably but I am not a guy who gets a say in that :).

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  3. 1. I’m for signing Story to replace Correa. It just makes sense if the Astros are to contend for the WS. You don’t worry about if Bregman can handle SS and you get Pena the chance to show what he can do at the AAA level. Story completes the team and sets you up for Pena to be your super utility guy to replace Diaz when he graduates to free agency at the end of the season.
    2. I guess JV being JV is a concern, but with Javier and Odorizzi still ready to go, why worry about it right now?
    3. People who worry a lot should worry about LMJ. I don’t worry a lot. Like to look at the bright side and let Crane and Click do the worrying and fixing.
    4. Replacing Strom. They may want to let Baker pick his guy. Who knows. Just don’t want them to lose their younger coaches to another team, which might happen anyway.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Story would annoy us by striking out too much. And we don’t know how he’ll hit away from Colorado. But historically, he shows up to play everyday. He’ll hit some home runs, probably more than Correa. He’s no slouch defensively. And he’ll do it for quite a bit less money than Correa for less years. I think the best point above is in not going out on a limb and expecting a minor league shortstop to get you back in the WS. Let’s not put so much pressure on Pena.

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    • Two things from the Straily chat that stood out
      – When asked which organization he played for was the best for supplying advanced data to help the pitchers – it was the Astros
      – He said Mike Trout was the toughest hitter he faced – when asked what his approach was to getting Trout out he said – hope the ump calls a ball, a strike

      Liked by 3 people

  4. When I look at our “worries” or “concerns”, we need to remember last year. Look at all the injuries the team suffered and yet made it to the WS. Our ACE won only 13 games. 11 was the next top winner. Straw and our current CFers “worried” no team. Yet this crippled team could have won the entire chalupa. Sign some papers – Union and Owners. Let’s get ready for ST.

    Liked by 1 person

      • Well AC I am not sure I could limit that to 47 concerns….
        The Rockets and Texans were both headed for bad seasons this year, but at least with the Rockets they are showing sparks of hope with their youth and with what looks like competent coaching. The Texans are like a dumpster fire that got swept away by a flood and is heading over Niagara Falls.

        Liked by 1 person

    • I feel like one of the interview questions will be, “Do you promise to let the players do whatever they want and then take the blame yourself for any of their failures?” I’m not sure you can succeed with that Mets roster otherwise.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I seem to remember that prior to the Dusty Baker extension that there was a concern that we might lose Espada thinking he was the heir apparent. If he goes to the Mets then it’s not sure who we’ll get. I for one gate to lose him but that’s the way it is. Thoughts?

        Liked by 2 people

      • Z –
        The cynical part of me could say that the way the Mets do their business, that even if they hire Espada, they might fire him before Baker leaves and he would still be available.
        I am not sure what the Astros are thinking as an organization going forward. Espada is in his 40’s and I assume (which might be dangerous) that he is bilingual, which is a great thing with our International roster. But if he was THE guy they could have pressured Baker out and kept Espada from being out there interviewing. On the other hand why would you push out a guy who took a totally decimated roster to the ALCS one season and the WS the next.
        I get the feeling that when the time comes they will bring in a crowd of candidates and probably pick a surprise winner again….

        Liked by 2 people

  5. My day is turning so dark because of concern #6, Alex Bregman’s health.
    Fear not!
    6. Alex Bregman admits that his wrist injury occurred sometime in late May or early June. He had two good months and then crashed in June and got a shot to ease the pain and then had leg problems.
    Bregman had gotten a new workout regimen before the lockout from the Astros staff and had implemented it since the end of the season. He says that he can run full out without fear of injury for the first time in a while. He says that he will be ready to go at SS if the Astros need him there but is excited to be back in the shape he was when he had his best years, 2018 and 2019.
    The wrist surgery has alleviated the lump he had on his wrist and I expect Bregman to be back in All-Star form in 2022.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. This is kind of like when the cops are out there waving you past a wreck “nothing to see here”
    https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2021/12/carlos-correa-rumors-tigers-10-years-275-million-astros-6-years.html
    The only new news was the Tigers’ reported offer of 10 years / $275 MM
    Didn’t we hear the Astros were like at 5 years $160MM not 6 yrs/160? Or is my feeble mind giving out?
    I keep thinking Correa is not going to surpass Seager’s contract, but….if the luxury tax threshold gets boosted during the union negotiations, there could be more teams all of a sudden able to spend significantly more and not reach the threshold.

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  7. https://www.mlb.com/astros/roster

    Roster at 39 and you need to add JV. So at 40. If the Astros sign a shortstop, relief pitcher, or any other FA, I wonder who comes off this list? There are a few that it would not bother me to lose, but somebody obviously would have to go if anyone besides Pena is to be assigned SS or 3B. I don’t think Perez is an option for 2022 yet.

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    • I agree on you with Perez staying in AAA for 2022. He has tools, but needs a lot of work on those tools. Abreu, with 0 options remaining, could be a candidate for a move. Dubin’s addition to the roster might eventually push Abreu out.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Interesting comment he made about “Which Pitcher Leaving” would tip the scales on the Astros. My guess is it will NOT be Greinke. But he did win 11 games last year. But so did every starter except Odorizzi and an injured Urquidy. Losing Carlos will hurt, but so did Springer. As long as the minors produce 2-4 real major leaguers each year, the Astros will continue to contend.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Where we would miss George Springer the most would have been the leadoff spot on offense. Jose Altuve did a wonderful job of filling that part of Springer’s game by bouncing back from a down season in 2020 and Straw, McCormick and Meyers completely filled the defensive hole Springer’s departure created.
        Bregman’s return to All-Star offense would make up for Correa’s loss on offense, but the Astros would be hard pressed to fill in defensively for him.
        Where the Astros could make up for that loss of Correa’s defense would be for:
        1. Verlander to come back strong, and
        2. Bregman does come back big-time and
        3. Add another big bat to the lineup, such as a good hitting, good fielding free agent SS who won’t require $340 million to sign.

        Liked by 1 person

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