I know, what a question, right? How can a team that excited its fan base by improving to a 70-92 record last year all of a sudden have too many good players? Let’s take a look.
For one thing, having a little extra cash in your pocket is never a bad thing, is it? Houston has purchased a few years of honest to goodness real major league relief pitchers to combine with the young arms that survived the trial-by-fire audition of the last couple of seasons. Luke Gregerson and Pat Neshek arrived via free agency to accompany Tony Sipp, Chad Qualls, and others to give the Astros the makings of genuine relief. Side note: with all the other improvements Houston has made thus far, I would still like to see Jose Veras back in Orange and Blue.
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Position players Evan Gattis, Jed Lowrie, Luis Valbuena, and Jon Singleton replace Jesus Guzman, Marc Krauss, and likely Jonathan Villar on the Opening Day roster; and their outfield will consist of A.J. Hinch’s choice of George Springer, Colby Rasmus, Gattis, Jake Marisnick, Robbie Grossman or Alex Presley over last Opening Day’s group of Grossman, Presley, Dexter Fowler, L.J. Hoes and Chris Carter. (Catching to me is nearly a wash, as I don’t see or maybe can’t appreciate the difference Hank Conger brings over Carlos Corporan.)
Starting pitching? Also improved from a year ago, with Scott Feldman, Brett Oberholtzer, Dallas Keuchel, Collin McHugh, and your pick for #5 a step up from last year’s collection that included Jarred Cosart and Lucas Harrell, with a Jerome Williams thrown in.
But what about the future? Who among the most recent influx of good talent do you see as players that will eventually have to be replaced by better talent for Houston to make a postseason run? What area do you see as the most likely for a further upgrade? And where do you predict those players coming from – outside the organization or from within? Should the 2015 season provide the improvements that the fan base expects, start looking at Jeff Luhnow to be on the prowl for not just good players, but great ones – difference makers that will further propel the franchise toward postseason success.