This Astros wish list comes with a twist
The Astros head into the All-Star break with a 3.5 game lead in the AL West and in a tie for the AL's 2nd best record with the Red Sox. They also have MLB's best run differential at +136. To say this season has been a success so far would be an understatement. Not many saw this team being this good. I certainly wasn't expecting it. Anyone who said they saw this coming is most likely lying. In order to carry this momentum moving forward, there are a few things the team could use going into the proverbial second half of the season.
1) Health: A healthy roster would be ideal. Yes, I know this can be said for any team in the playoff race, but it's especially true for this team. As of this writing, too many key guys are dealing with some kind of ailment. Alex Bregman and Carlos Correa are currently out. Michael Brantley, Yordan Alvarez, and several others have missed time this season. Pitching staff ace Justin Verlander has been out all season after Tommy John surgery. If the team can stay healthy, look for them to make another run.
2) Bullpen arm: One area that has caused the team much grief this season is the bullpen. Closer Ryan Pressly was selected to the All-Star team. Outside of that, the bullpen has been shaky at best. Recently, general manager James Click made a statement about the team's activity going into the trade deadline. In his statement, Click said the team is willing to go above and way beyond the luxury tax threshold. That revelation goes against what most thought. Owner Jim Crane was thought to have given an order not to go over the threshold. Apparently, Mr. Crane has done an about-face, and it's come at the right time. Cubs bullpen ace Craig Kimbrel is on the market. Rumor has it that the Astros are one of the teams he's expected to land with. This would be ideal, considering the A's are another team rumored to be after Kimbrel. Plugging that hole would stop some bleeding and help this team immensely moving forward.
A wish list twist?
3) Outfielder: Brantley has been the most consistent outfielder. Kyle Tucker has proven himself to be worthy with his power numbers and improved batting average. Myles Straw and Chas McCormick are getting better with more playing time. However, in order for this team to make a good run, they could use another solid veteran outfielder. While Brantley and Tucker are pretty entrenched as the left and right fielders respectively, center field has been a revolving door. Straw brings speed, while McCormick has some impressive power numbers considering the amount of at-bats he's had. I listed this one last on purpose because it could be the smallest need of the three if Straw and McCormick continue to improve.
While news that the team is ready to be buyers at the trade deadline and not being afraid of the tax threshold is a welcomed idea, I'm waiting to see what they'll realistically be able to do. There are areas in which they need to be looking, but hoping for the guys currently on the roster to stay healthy is the most important. Considering the trades they've made in recent years and the sanctions from the sign-stealing scandal have dwindled the minor league system, it'll be interesting to see what they'll give up in a trade. When your window to win another title is still open, you go all out. It's time for Click and Crane to push all their chips to the middle of the table and call everyone else's bluff.
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