Astros 2022: Wrapping up the questions

Heading into Spring Training, there were several questions for the Astros to resolve before starting the 2022 season. These included the resolution of the SS situation with Carlos Correa‘s free agency, the manning of the centerfield position with Jake Meyers out, the makeup of the starting rotation with Lance McCullers injured and Justin Verlander coming off his injury, and the makeup of the bullpen with a 28 man roster to start the season.

How close are the Astros to answering these questions?

  1. Shortstop. What looked like the most challenging question to answer seemingly was answered the quickest after the Astros reported to Spring Training on March 13th. By March 22nd, Carlos Correa had signed with the Twins and potential Plan B Trevor Story signed with the Red Sox the the next day. Since then it has been plain that the shortstop job is Jeremy Pena‘s to lose. Through April Fool’s Day he has hit .333 BA and has a .375 OBP with 4 RBIs in admittedly a small sample. This is not to say things won’t change, but it looks like the Astros want to give the young man a shot to prove himself.
  2. Centerfield. Most folks would have thought that with Meyers out, that Chas McCormick would be in center with Kyle Tucker in right field and Michael Brantley / Yordan Alvarez in left field and Jose Siri manning the fourth OF spot. This may be the way it ends up, but this Spring Training, manager Dusty Baker has verbally dissed Chas, while giving thumbs up to Siri and top prospect Pedro Leon. Maybe McCormick did not come into Spring Training in his best shape, maybe he has not been a good teammate in helping the younger OFs in camp. We don’t know. Leon will most certainly start the year in the minors, but he could easily make his way up here soon. Where the Astros are at the beginning of the season and where they may be when Meyers returns, hopefully, in May will remain an area of interest.
  3. Rotation. While the question of Lance McCullers’ health remains, the questions about Justin Verlander’s health seemed to have been answered. He has pitched great and all the other potential starters – Jake Odorizzi, Jose Urquidy, Framber Valdez and Luis Garcia have looked good in their turns on the mound. With three off-days early they may give Verlander some extra rest between starts, but the starting pitching looks good (in small samples) to date.
  4. Bullpen. The Astros are allowed to carry 28 players for the month of April. It is highly likely that there will be 15 pitchers in that set due to the fact that the starters are still building up innings. After the five starters mentioned above, what 10 pitchers would fill up that bullpen?

Where do you fall on these four areas of interest?

 

36 comments on “Astros 2022: Wrapping up the questions

  1. Dan, big effort. I moved today, back up in the hills well above the coast. I noted the rainout, tough when everyone on the cusp needs opportunities. I’m watching NCAA game 2 at the best Indian restaurant in the West Indies. Serious. These guys always get the games we want to watch. And the grilled snapper is tough to beat. I’ll digest your thoughts in the morning. Old rum is impacting my thought process right now.

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    • So the best East Indian food in the West Indies. Sounds fun – I always loved tandoori chicken and some nan bread.
      Yeah give us your thoughts when you are feeling up to it.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I count 33 this morning after Bielak and Seth Martinez were optioned out. That leaves 5. We have been told that Meyers and McCullers start on the injured list. That takes it to 31. So we are down to the final 3 to be cut or optioned. Or I guess “injured.”

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  3. I’m a bit dubious. The outfield concerns me most. Alvarez gave us a -1.2 DWAR in 41 games in left. Brantley a -.05 in 121. That’s not good for a team known for its defense. And we know Brantley does not hit lefties at this point. Then there is center. Do we have a controversy brewing out there? Chas really has never gotten a chance to own the job under Dusty Baker. Maybe there is good reason for it, but he was steady through most of the season, especially after taking over for Straw. Then Jake showed up in August and pretty much was given the job. Both guys ended up having a poor September. And then Siri showed up late and seemed to have favored status. All I know is that Chas put up a 2.3 WAR over half a season of playing time.

    As far as short goes, it’s pretty simple. Pena will get a long look, even if he struggles. And he should get a long look. We’ve pretty much put all our eggs in one basket. The options are limited.

    The depth of our starters will carry us as long as most of the guys stay healthy. And we need a healthy McCullers back. We’re taking a very conservative approach stretching guys out. I’m good with that. Big names are already dropping throughout the league. Are they rushing to be ready on April 7?

    I don’t what to think about the pen. We need a bunch of guys to have good seasons. Baez? I have no expectations. There are gaps. Can Abreu find control. Can James make a difference? Bielak?

    We’re always optimistic as the season approaches. We’ve got a good club. But there are better teams than us right now, at least on paper. So I’m only cautiously optimistic as we enter the 2022 season.

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    • I hadn’t noticed that on Monterey OP.
      I guess I was thinking if they felt that way – they would have let him go instead of going to arbitration. But maybe he’s an IL candidate.

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  4. I’m a little apprehensive.
    1. If they like Pena at SS, why don’t they give him some confidence and name him as the SS.
    2. I don’t believe that Siri is the guy to be starting in CF on opening day. I don’t like Baker’s handling of McCormick.
    3. If Verlander is good to go, why not match him up against Ohtani. He is a rock against other team’s aces.
    $4. If they want the best bullpen, why are they sending down the pitchers who have pitched the best this spring and are already on the 40-man. If I have a ten person bullpen, give me the best 10 pitchers on the major league team.
    I don’t like the way Click and Baker are handling a team that has some of the best talent in the league.

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  5. What’s with Carlos Beltran? The season is getting ready to start and he decides it’s time to talk about the 2017 sign stealing issue? Sounds like he’s willing to blame everyone but himself.

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    • He is employed by the New York Yankees and is a mouthpiece.
      He wasn’t punished by baseball.
      When Manfred revealed who was responsible for initiating the scheme, the Mets decided he should not be their new manager and dropped him.
      He isn’t a victim. His actions put him right in the middle of the scene, but now he is with the Yankees and we might see what else the Yankees and their guy were up to if that letter is ever made public.
      I believe the letter is the reason we are suddenly hearing so much from the Yankees now.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Don’t forget last week Cashman said (with a straight face) that the Astros cost the Yankees a World Series Championship in 2017 because they were cheating. Yes, the Astros sign stealing scheme caused the Yankees to score 3 runs in 4 games during the series at Houston. And of course, the Yankees would have still needed to beat the Dodgers, but Cashman basically said no one could stop them the way they were rolling if not for the Astros cheating.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, no coincidence. Cashman taking new shots at the Astros. Beltran going after the Astros after 5 years. The Yankees are spending a whole lot of money trying to keep that letter sealed. And they might succeed.

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    • I am so old that I don’t condemn Carlos and others, but stand in amazement. What he said was “No one told me NOT to.’ What he meant was “I don’t know right from wrong.” And that seems to be what everyone that gets caught is saying, to include the parents that talk about “he is good boy.” Yes, Luhnow apparently dropped the ball and maybe he didn’t even get the letter/memo/text. But we should all know by our teenage years the difference between right and wrong.

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  6. Siri got the start again. And Chas again took over late. I’m starting to think that our manager really does not like Chas. Hard to imagine Chas starting the opener.

    Two homers by Peña! I’m so happy he’s not hitting .140. His confidence level has got to be sky high right now.

    Montero pitched, but he did not show up.

    Verlander went 5. He’s ready for Friday night.

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    • No one asked me but if Dusty did, I would suggest he play Siri and McCormick alternately until Meyers comes back. They for a month or so, play his choice alternatively with Meyers. Unless one of them gets “red hot,” then I don’t see a clear choice among the three.

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  7. WHEW! I’m one happy lady watching Manea leave Oakland! I have a good friend who lives in the Phoenix area and I told him his Diamond Backs are in for a hard time facing Manea. Our guys usually do ok facing Montas but NOT Sean Manea!
    As far as the Beltran confession…that’s pretty rich coming from the man who STARTED the cheating plan and absolutely KNEW it was illegal and WRONG.
    I hope that precious letter will be opened and expose everything the Yankees did and probably still ARE doing😠

    Liked by 1 person

  8. The unknown about McCullers is a big problem, and I really think Click should move fast to aquire another good starting pitcher. Don’t wait until it’s the last day of the deadline to “try” and get someone….unless they have full faith in Javier to take a spot in the rotation. James Click has not impressed me….not one tiny bit.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jeez Becky. I won’t count 2020 as that was basically Luhnow’s team – but in 2021 Click put together a team that went to the World Series even with Verlander not picking up a ball all year. He did a good job of grabbing bullpen help at the deadline.
      I think they are thinking they are better off keeping some budgetary bullets in their gun for the deadline. There will be more players/pitchers available then and they will know better what their true needs are heading down the stretch. I know it would feel better to grab someone now, but I think they want to let things shake themselves out and figure out how many starting pitchers they really have.
      It’s too bad the A’s are in our division, because I think that made it difficult for them to deal with us on some of the pitching they have sent packing.
      Hey, I don’t blame you for doubting Click – it is a small sample size of his work and a lot of what he has was put together by Luhnow.

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    • I’m not sure how to judge Click’s performance. I love the acquisition of Maton. I’m still unsure why they did the Graveman move since he didn’t want to come to Houston. It seemed clear we need a right handed bat. Imagine if they’d picked up Soler instead of promoting Siri late in the season. Then again, how much was dictated by budget and an unwillingness to go over the CBT?

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    • Don’t forget to factor in we were 11-8 against Oakland. Given the firesale there we might be able to pick up some extra ground in the standings from those head to heads, but I suppose our divisional opponents also get that same, theoretical benefit.

      Liked by 1 person

    • astrocolt45, Bregman put up a 2.1 last year. Fangraphs has him at 5.3 for 2022. So that covers most of your shortfall.

      I’ll say this about Pena. Our new shortstop hit a couple of bombs yesterday without swinging out of his shoes. It means nothing right now, but the guy looks like a ball player, confident, quietly going about his business. We’ll have to see how he handles his first real slump. I’m optimistic and so far do not miss Correa.

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      • It always seems second generation players carry a swagger. Even if the success is “meaningless” it is building confidence. I’m not high on the guy, but he is our guy so I will hope for success. His minor league stats suggest he can barrel a ball – he has never been a top 10 prospect but he has never really hit poorly at any level.

        Not to concerned by WAR, sometimes I think we get to far ahead of these season cumulative stats that we forget the reason we have them. I’m more concerned with black holing 3 spots in the order in a row with below average bats, getting our 5 and 6 hitters pitched around, stopping big innings and giving a breather to opposing pitchers.

        If the Astros have struggles from the bottom of the order there will be a lot less 5-1 leads in the 4th inning, creating stress up and down the roster day to day, forcing more leverage relief appearances, and building more pressure on the bottom of the order. After all the point is to win today not worry about what your WAR will be in September. If they win and take care of business, those cumulative stats will accumulate. If Pena can hit .270 with 15 HR this year he will alleviate a lot of fears about that 7th or 8th spot in the order.

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  9. I just read The Sporting News picks for the coming season. Like most everyone these days, their picks are computer driven, using historical roster stats and then allegedly running each game 20,000 times.

    They have the Astros winning their division easily and going deep into the playoffs. They are in the top 5 as far as the odds of winning it all go. This is more Click’s team than it has been. I don’t think our outfield is stellar. I think our pen has question marks. But I don’t question the shortstop decision at this point. Becky, if this club falls flat on it’s face, due to injuries or otherwise, Click will take a lot of heat. But I’m not ready to pick on him yet. Same goes for Dusty. But I do wish he’d retire.

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  10. Our centerfield candidates – who needed to really show us something in ST beyond good defense – did not. Siri slashed a pathetic .231/.231/.462, with no walks, no extra base hits, no RBIs, and 3 Ks in 13 ABs. Chaz slashed an equally ugly .222/.262/.485, with no walks, no extra base hits, no RBIs and 8 Ks in 18 ABs.

    How’s that shoulder coming along, Jake?

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    • 0 Walks in 31 plate appearances between them. It’s possible CF might end up a black hole. As much talk as SS had in the offseason I always felt CF was a bigger issue.

      My offseason plan would have been Marte, Colin Moran, shifting Bregman over, having a 3B wheel that included Diaz and Moran doing a lefty/righty platoon and mostly a lineup that put 8 not easy outs in the lineup together. Click is obviously smarter than I am though. Besides Moran’s beard fits another need that we haven’t filled since Keuchel and McCann left. Face it, LMJ just can’t get it out there like those 2 did. Admittedly Urquidy is trying though.

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