Astros fans, football may be over, but baseball is coming soon

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Mar 22, 2016; Kissimmee, FL, USA; Houston Astros pitcher Dallas Keuchel (60) signs autographs before the start of the spring training game against the Atlanta Braves at Osceola County Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 22, 2016; Kissimmee, FL, USA; Houston Astros pitcher Dallas Keuchel (60) signs autographs before the start of the spring training game against the Atlanta Braves at Osceola County Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports /
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The Astros equipment truck is loading up and pitchers report on the 15th, baseball is around the corner.

As the Patriots receive the Vince Lombardi trophy for winning the 51st Super Bowl, it marks the end of football. As I watched the game last night, I couldn’t help but wonder why the Texans could not have a good quarterback. Matt Ryan and Tom Brady played their hearts out last night. The best quarterback in Texans history is Matt Shaub, great! Then someone reminded me, we have the Houston Astros.

It seems like the Texans have some issues that need to be dealt with, but the Astros should fun to watch. Since Jim Crane has purchased the team, the Astros were dismantled and shipped to the American League West. All our household names were traded away for the future. Fans endured years of losing baseball to help rebuild the farm system. We went through a manager or two, but it has led up to 2017.

2017 the year?

We all know that Sports Illustrated designated us the 2017 World Series Champs. Last year, they retracted and said that Houston would win in 2016 instead, but a bad start derailed those plans. Now they are reverting back to 2017 being the year for the Astros. The Astros have been to the World Series once, this was versus the White Sox in 2005.

All the expectations are due to the young talent they have in Jose Altuve, George Springer, Carlos Correa, and Alex Bregman. These players are all 27-years-old or younger, so the Astros added some gray to the lineup. Carlos Beltran makes his return to Houston after 13 seasons of getting booed by fans. Brian McCann was acquired to be the primary catcher, with Evan Gattis becoming the backup. Josh Reddick and Nori Aoki were also brought in to fortify the lineup.

The rotation has some question marks following last season, but the upside could be enough. Dallas Keuchel struggled with health and performance but should revert back into form. When healthy, Lance McCullers could be one of the better pitchers in the game. Collin McHugh can be brilliant when his stuff is good like he was at the end of 2016. Mike Fiers has the potential to return to his 2015 form or serve as the Scott Feldman guy in the bullpen.

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The bullpen may be frustrating at times, but it was one of the best in baseball. If Ken Giles can regain his confidence, he could be the lockdown closer we have looked for. Chris Devenski, Will Harris, and Michael Feliz will help cover the late innings. Former closer Luke Gregerson could have a reduced role this year with the youth.

Today, the Astros loaded up the equipment trucks to head out to Florida to the new Ballpark at Palm Beaches. They will now share the facility with the Nationals. The pitchers will report on February 15 with the hitters reporting two days later. It’s always fun to see who reports early, last year it was Colby Rasmus.

Next: Astros rotation: Alyson Footer questions the depth of rotation

Let’s play ball will be heard at a ballpark within a month. The Astros hope to build on their momentum this offseason to become a powerhouse in 2017. Go Stros!

***Stats from Baseball-Reference***

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