Today we are facing the depths of winter here in the Houston area. It is a frigid 75 degrees this morning and warming up to a brisk 82 this afternoon. OK, so it is not exactly Christmasy around here, but from a baseball news standpoint, we are definitely in the depths of winter.
Every day, the big news includes mostly washed-up players who used to play in the majors but are not currently on a 40 man roster, either signing a minor league deal with an MLB club or signing overseas in the Korean or other leagues. Coaching hires are being covered and speculative pieces on where some of the remaining free agents could possibly, maybe, sign. That is about as firm as it gets.
Note: I like what MLBTraderumors is doing in trying to get current or former players to come in for a live Q&A with the readers. The recent one with Chad Cordero was especially good.
So, the baseball news buffet is a lot like the buffets in this pandemic world – few and very far between.
But here at Chipalatta, we soldier on somehow, writing about whatever we darned well feel like writing about. Like today we will cover random thoughts and questions….
If Joe Espada leaves, how will it affect the organization down the way and right now?
Beyond possibly losing the heir to the septuagenarian Dusty Baker as Astros’ manager, there have to be concerns about how much Espada would be missed day to day as Baker’s righthand man. He has been described as a critical conduit between the statistical wonks and the players – someone who knows how to communicate what is involved and why it works to both youngsters and veterans.
How much would Baker miss Espada? Who would take his place? Is the players’ talent a lot more important than who is coaching them?
Where does Cristian Javier fit in the teams’ 2022 plans?
James Click had indicated earlier that Javier is expected to be in the rotation in the longer term. For his career (which includes the last two seasons), Javier is also better as a starter, but not quite as much as he was last season. In 2021, he was 3-1 with a 3.14 ERA and 1.027 WHIP as a starter of nine games. In 27 appearances as a reliever, he was 1-0 with a 3.93 ERA and a 1.329 WHIP.
Javier is young. He will only turn 25 right before opening day this season. They could definitely keep him in his swingman, long relief role and use him in the rotation as needed. Or would they be better off putting him into the rotation and sliding someone else (Jose Urquidy? Luis Garcia?) into that swing role?
Who will play the most centerfield for the Astros in 2022?
The gut feeling for this is that Jake Meyers might have been the answer if he was healthy. But right now, he will not be ready for opening day after undergoing surgery for a torn labrum. There has been no news about his recovery, but the best guess is he may miss the first month or so of the season. With him out, Chas McCormick has to be considered the leading man in center field, backed up by Jose Siri or Kyle Tucker. When Meyers returns, they will likely repeat the shared CF roles they filled in 2022. It would be nice if they both do a better job of making contact in the coming season. It is assumed that young Cuban Pedro Leon needs more seasoning after not hitting well in a short stint at AAA.
Who is the high leverage set-up man to Ryan Pressly?
Does Ryne Stanek return to the role he held until Kendall Graveman came over in a trade from the Mariners? Does Hector Neris slide into that spot after doing a great job filling in the second half of 2021 for the Phillies? Does Phil Maton continue with the magic he showed in the playoffs in 2021 and earn this high leverage spot? Does Pedro Baez bounce back from injury and turn back into the high leverage ace he was with the Dodgers from 2015 to 2020?
At least it appears there are multiple options for the Astros to pick from in 2022.
Anyways, just some thoughts and questions as we battle the elements here in the frigid Gulf Coast. What are you thinking about today?