Houston exhales: Astros make easiest offseason move yet

They're back! Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

In a move that brought a collective sigh of relief among Astros fans, the World Series champs announced they are bringing back their entire broadcasting team for the 2023 season.

On the TV side, Todd Kalas will return for play-by-play on AT&T SportsNet, along with color analyst Geoff Blum and, according to the team's press release, "sideline reporter" Julia Morales. We’ll discuss that baseball doesn’t have sidelines later. Blum and Morales will be entering their 11th season with the Astros, Kalas his seventh.

“Thrilled and honored to be back for another season of Astros baseball with my good friends Blummer and Julia along with the rest of our incredible Astros fan base. Crazy to think about how much success this team has had during our previous six years together, and looking forward to calling many more special moments in the future,” said Kalas.

Robert Ford and Steve Sparks will enter their 11th season calling games for the Astros Radio Network. During their time with the Astros, Ford and Sparks have broadcast six American League Championship Series and four World Series, 86 postseason games in all.

Of course Kalas, Blum and Morales don’t get to call postseason games because the national networks pay big bucks to inflict their announcers on Astros fans. It’s a great injustice.

Spanish language announcers Francisco Romero and Alex Trevino are entering their 16th season together on Univision, one of the longest-running radio duos in the big leagues.

“We are incredibly fortunate that our broadcast teams love this city and love our fans and that comes across. They’re genuine and authentic people. They don’t just broadcast our games, they are an important part of the Astros,” said Anita Sehgal, Senior Vice President, Marketing and Communications for the Astros.

They’re an important part of Astros fans’ lives, too. I watch or listen to a hundred Astros games every year and I never get tired of our broadcasters. That’s the thing about the Astros. From early spring to later and later each fall, when there’s nothing else on, there’s usually an Astros game. All told, the Astros play more than half the days of the year. Add ‘em up.

"What’s fun about watching TK, Blummer and Julia is they’re almost like a little family unto themselves. Geoff is like a big kid. TK has a good sense of humor, too, but he’s just an old soul. They complement each other very well. Julia, too. They’re good friends. They care about each other. Their banter is very natural. So you’re entertained when you hang out with them,” Sehgal said.

Sehgal added that the Astros haven’t finalized a slate of guest announcers for 2023 but she anticipates that Jeff Bagwell will be making visits to the TV broadcast booth.

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Nick Caserio's history of drafting injury prone players has become a problem. Composite Getty Image.

Nick Caserio was hired to serve as the general manager (GM) of the Texans on January 7, 2021. Some saw it as another nod to the organization's obsession with the Patriots. Others saw it as the team finally getting their guy after pursuing him previously. They were even hit with a tampering charge while trying to talk to him about the job. Since he's been on the job, there have been highs and lows.

Recently, the news about Kenyon Green and Derek Stingley Jr put a stain on his tenure. Green was placed on season-ending injured reserve (IR) and Stingley Jr is expected to be placed on IR, likely missing six to eight weeks, per Aaron Wilson. Both guys were Caserio's 2022 first rounders. Both guys are starting to look like busts and have fans a little more than just upset.

Green's case was curious because he was said to have needed surgery before he tore his labrum during the Saints preseason game. He had knee surgery this past offseason. There were knee injury concerns when he was coming out of A&M. Adding to his injuries, Green has played poorly. To make matters worse, the Chargers drafted fellow guard Zion Johnson two picks later. Johnson played all 17 games last season as a rookie at right guard and has moved to left guard this season. The pick used to draft Green was part of a trade back with the Eagles. They used the 13th overall pick to take Georgia defensive tackle Jordan Davis, a guy at a position this team could desperately use.

Stingley Jr was a highly touted recruit coming into LSU as a freshman. He played as well as any corner in the country that year. Oh, and they won a national title with arguably one of the best teams in college football history. His net two years in Baton Rouge were marred with injuries. Some believed his junior year was more him holding back to stay healthy for the draft. It worked because he was taken third overall, one spot ahead of Sauce Gardner. Gardner went on to be an All Pro as a rookie. While he's surrounded by more talent on the Jets' defense, people will forever link them because Stingley Jr hasn't lived up to expectations. He missed six games last season and is set to miss at least that many this season. When he has played, he's looked okay. “Okay” isn't what you want from a guy drafted third overall ahead of the other guy who was widely considered better than him.

For the 2021 draft, Caserio was handcuffed. He had no first or second rounders, and made a few trades that lessened his draft pool from eight to five picks. Of the five guys drafted that year, only Nico Collins seems to be a player. The 2022 draft was more productive. Although Green and Stingley Jr were the headliners and haven't played up to the hype, the others are carrying the load. Jalen Pitre and Dameon PIerce alone make that draft class dope. This past draft was seen as the one to save the franchise so to speak. Getting C.J. Stroud and Will Anderson Jr got the team a franchise quarterback and edge rusher with picks two and three overall. The price paid to move back up to three was hefty and puts more scrutiny on Anderson Jr. They appear, so far, to have also found a couple other nice players. Tank Dell being the hidden gem of this class.

While people can't, and shouldn't, base Caserio's performance strictly off of the guys he's drafted, one must call it into question. The '21 draft was a wash. The '22 draft looks suspect, but has some redeeming qualities. The '23 draft will most likely be his saving grace. But should it? Former Texans GM Rick Smith nailed almost every first rounder he drafted. Even he was almost run out of town because folks didn't like what he did. Why should Caserio be any different? So what if he cleaned up the mess by the previous regime! That's what he was hired to do!

“Keep that same energy!” That phrase is used when people try to hold others to different standards. Where's that energy everyone had for Bill O'Brien, Jack Easterby, Rick Smith, Gary Kubiak, David Culley, and Lovie Smith? When others weren't performing well, their heads were called for. I see some people holding Caserio accountable. For the most part, it appears as if he's getting a bit of a pass. I'll be interested to see if this continues should the team has another subpar season. If that pick they traded to the Cardinals is another top 10 pick and the Browns pick the Texans own isn't...if Green can't come back and/or Stingley Jr doesn't show any signs of being a lockdown corner...then what? Let's hope none of this comes to fruition. If it does, we'll have to revisit this conversation.

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