It is a pretty normal circumstance in the “real world” to be working on a project and have an open items or action items list. It is just a way of tracking items that need to happen, status, who is responsible, etc.
At this point, the Astros’ open items list is pretty darned short for a team in the off-season. That is a byproduct of a team that …..won the World Series and….brought back almost all the components that produced that 2022 title. But let’s give it a shot.
2023 Astros’ Open Item List
- The first one is the open General Manager’s spot, which for a few short moments after this World Series victory, belonged to now ex-GM James Click. Do they have to fill in this spot? Well, no, they don’t. They could toddle along with some combination of Jim Crane and assistant GMs Bill Firkus, (wasn’t he in Christmas Story – the kid with yellow eyes and teeth to match) Charles Cook, Andrew Ball, and Hall of Fame kibitzers Jeff Bagwell and Reggie Jackson. But at some point they need to say how the day-to-day running of the team will be handled during the 2023 season. This could include bringing in a long-term person to take the overall job (GM/VP of Baseball Ops), bringing in someone to take the GM spot (or promoting from within) while waiting for David Stearns to get loose from the Milwaukee Brewers after the 2023 season.
Observation – Do we even know if Mssrs. Firkus, Cook and Ball actually exist? Have we ever seen a picture of them or an interview with them? Maybe Jim Crane is having fun with us all and is doing it all himself….
- What is the Astros rotation, and how do they intend to use it in 2023? Sure, we think the rotation will be some kind of five-man with Framber Valdez, Cristian Javier, Lance McCullers Jr., Jose Urquidy, and Luis Garcia, with Hunter Brown as the Javier-esque swingman. But what if they decide they want to give Brown a shot at the rotation with his big arm and use Urquidy or Garcia in that swing spot? Or might they like to go to a 6 man rotation to give the young arms lots of rest? They certainly could consider that when the team has entered one of those 20 days without a game-off stretches to the season. And there is the question of whether they would bring someone up from the minors if there is an injury or might Bryan Abreu be that next man up.
- About that catching situation….are they really going to war with Martin Maldonado and either/or Yanier Diaz or Korey Lee behind the plate? They certainly have time to add a veteran catcher, who might not be better than 2022 Jason Castro or 2020 Dustin Garneau. Will they stay with what they have, and if it doesn’t work out, trade mid-season for a veteran as they’ve done before in picking up Christian Vasquez or Maldonado (twice)?
- The outfield rotation will be of interest. Will they finally pull the bandaid off and give Chas McCormick the full-time centerfield spot? Chas and his .245 BA/ .332 OBP / .738 OPS slash in 359 ABs is not Mickey Mantle out there. But he makes Mauricio Dubon (.208/.254/.584 in 197 ABs), Jake Meyers (.227/.269/.582 in 150 ABs), and Jose Siri (.178/.238/.542 in 135 ABs) look like a trio of Mickey Mouses in comparison. Hopefully, Meyers and Siri and some of Dubon’s ABs will be absorbed by the return of Michael Brantley and a bit of a boost to Chas. It will also be interesting to see what the LF/DH split is between Brantley and Yordan Alvarez.
- The bench is the other major question here. Who will be on it, and most importantly, who will take up most of what Aledmys Diaz did over the last few seasons in flexibility? The gut feeling is that David Hensley, in a small sample, put himself forward as a potential solid component off the bench with his flexibility in the infield and a very good batting eye, which shined brightly in the Astros’ huge comeback against the M’s in Game 1 of the ALDS. Does Yuli Gurriel get brought back as a veteran bat and glove off the bench? Perhaps only if he cannot find a full-time gig elsewhere. Who else gets a shot here? Looks like they love Dubon and his “invisibat” (kind of the reverse of Javier’s invisiball). They have to have a backup catcher – is it Lee or Diaz, or both? Does Meyers get another shot a year farther away from his injury? J.J. Matijevic? Joe Perez? Pedro Leon? Justin Dirden? We will see.
Are there any other open spots on your dance card for the Astros?