Recipe for Success: Make the Astros Great Again!
By Clint Irle
As we prepare for the 2017 season, we continue to ask ourselves: what will make the Astros great again?
I’ve thought a lot about the offseason moves that need to take place for the Astros to realize playoff success. We all agree a left-handed bat, a power hitter and a quality starting pitcher are necessary additions. Now, many of my co-writers would disagree with my philosophy of baseball. However, it is important to remember that baseball is a game won in many different ways. You can run away with a game by scoring an abundance of runs or you can play small-ball and grind out a win. The beauty of this game is how much a team’s belief and identity can affect their success.
What We Know
The Astros cannot be successful in the playoffs trying to overpower opponents. As we learned in the 2016 playoffs, pitching is so vital to the success of any team. The Cubs used a strong rotation complemented by a quality bullpen. The Indians also used these same strengths. However, the Cubs provided an offensive assault that proved too much for the Indians.
Hitting is Equally Important
I am entirely understanding of the need of a power hitter and consistency at the plate. The most important thing to keep in mind is what the coaching staff can do to help our current hitters develop. The acquisition of Nori Aoki is a great move to bring in a capable hitter to fill an outfield void. The next step is to find power, someone to protect the hitters now in the line up.
A Different Type of Baseball
The playoffs brew a different approach to hitting. Contact hitting, driving the ball hard and making the opponent work to get outs is very important to succeeding. Don’t an easy out. I believe in the ability to wear teams down and win the mental battle. If you win with the mind, you win on the field. Hustle, grind and finish the fight.
Talent + Hustle=Greatness
The Astros are so talented, that winning with power and finesse is within their reach. The power of the lineup is present, and with better at-bats and a better approach to hitting would yield huge returns for this ball club. Unfortunately, the pitching staff must be better. We need a quality starting pitcher to lead this rotation that does show great potential.
What I’m Thinking
I may lose you here, but here is my list of moves I would love to see the Astros make heading into 2017:
1. Find an Ace –
Make a trade to acquire a Chris Archer or Chris Sale. Pitching is vitally important to have a pitcher that the entire staff can rally behind.
2. Close games –
I’m sorry Ken, but you’re the closer. The Astros either need to find an arm that can shut down teams in the ninth inning, or orchestrate the pitching to close games. This would require collaborative effort, and allow the situation dictate the person to close the game. Call it the “Next Man Up” approach, but it is about being humble and understanding this is for the team.
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Be the best at whatever the team needs from you. As dynamic as Lance McCullers is, he belongs in the bullpen. His delivery and arm action is more suited to short, intense outings. I don’t believe it is ideal to let him be a starting pitcher. I know McCullers will be a force in the late innings.
3. Find the power hitter you need –
If you’re going to sign Edwin Encarnacion, please do so with the team’s discretion. The guy is extremely talented and would be a great hitter in MMP, but I want him jiving with the team. I want him to understand the culture of the Astros, and be all in.
4. Either give Stassi his chance or find a catcher –
Much like the Yankees did to David Justice in 2002, they are willing to pay a chunk of Brian McCann‘s remaining contract to move him. This comes at a great risk and a high price. I would not give up too much talent for him, but to acquire a left-handed hitter with power is very enticing. This situation will be monitored closely. Gattis should not be the everyday catcher, I don’t believe this is the best path for him and the team.
Next: Astros: Contingency Plan for the Outfield
All in all, I’m excited about the Astros. I wake up and look for their latest move and hope for them to give the core group the other pieces necessary to win a championship. My biggest fear is for this team to lose their find by acquiring the wrong players. I love the way the team plays. The chemistry is prolific and the guys play he’s for one another. We are on the cusp of a great era in Astros baseball.