Brett Wallace (Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports)
When the calendar turns to a new year, it often signifies a clean slate. In some cases that is applicable, but in the case of the Houston Astros, I’m not sure they can be granted complete absolution for the past.
The last few years have been difficult to say the least for Astros fans, and the organization should not get a free pass for them. Rightfully so, those missteps frame how the team is viewed moving forward. However, there also comes a time when we need to move past them and looked towards the future. I’m not sure that time is here yet, but it is getting closer.
As we look forward to 2014, I thought it would be a good idea to look at some things that need to happen:
- I don’t want to hear about this Comcast debacle any longer. We follow sports as an escape from the real world, not to be immersed in legal briefs. I also don’t want to hear the rhetoric from both sides any longer. The bottom line is this, in one way or another, Astros fans need to be able to watch all 162 games their team plays in 2014. I don’t care how this happens. Enough said.
- If George Springer proves in Spring Training that he deserves to start the year in Houston, then he needs to. You very easily could have made the argument he deserved a promotion at the end of last season, but I could deal with holding him back. That cannot apply anymore. If Springer shows he is ready this spring, then I want to see him out there on Opening Day.
- Prior to the lost season of 2013, I think the plan was for Jonathan Singleton to appear in Houston at some point last season. I would understand holding Singleton back for the first two months of the season in AAA to give him further seasoning and to protect his arbitration status, but if he is clearly the best option, then let him open the year in Houston.
- Brett Wallace should only make the Astros if he makes it essentially impossible for Bo Porter to keep him off the 25-man roster.
- The same should go for Lucas Harrell if he even makes it to and through Spring Training.
- Jeff Luhnow should be monitoring the markets for Grant Balfour and Fernando Rodney as both would solidify the back end of the Astros’ bullpen. Jesse Crain was another nice addition, but a standout reliever would make a difference.
- The same could be said for the starting rotation. I’m sure this is the case, but the Astros should be monitoring the situations of Matt Garza and Bronson Arroyo. Ervin Santana and Ubaldo Jimenez fall into a different category because they would cost Houston a draft choice. However, if a bargain can be had on one of these hurlers, they would be a nice upgrade to the rotation.
- Do not merely hand Jonathan Villar the starting shortstop job and let him run with it. He needs to earn it, and show a focus and discipline that was lacking at times last season. But for that to happen, at least one middle infielder must be brought into camp, and currently Marwin Gonzalez is the only middle infield depth — which is not enough.
- Jason Castro needs to play in 140 games, but he also needs to be kept healthy. Porter must utilize both the DH spot and first base to keep Castro’s bat in the lineup. The main concern though, is his health, but for the Astros to have any kind of success, Castro needs to make it through a full season.