Here's the definitive case for Astros doubling down on this specific need


We learned a fair amount from the GM meetings with Dana Brown speaking to the media about the club's outlook for 2024.

Brown made it seem like the team isn't looking to spend much money in free agency, with a backup catcher and possibly some pitching being on the top of their priority list.

Super agent Scott Boras also had some interesting comments about how the pitch clock led to a rash of injuries to pitchers in 2023. And as we look at the Astros rotation moving forward, there's a lot of uncertainty to factor in. Justin Verlander is another year older, and missed time due to injury early in the 2023 season. We're also back to not knowing which Framber Valdez will show up from start to start. Hunter Brown and Cristian Javier regressed significantly, and who knows what can be expected from Jose Urquidy after more injuries and an ERA over 5.

Martin Maldonado could fill the need for a backup catcher, according to The Athletic's Chandler Rome. So that leaves pitching as the team's top priority in our opinion.

The bullpen could use some attention, with Phil Maton, Ryne Stanek, and Hector Neris heading to free agency, but the starting rotation is where we're focused. For the reasons mentioned above, and because Dana Brown said we shouldn't expect Lance McCullers and Luis Garcia to return from injury until July.

And let's be honest, it's hard to count on Lance McCullers moving forward with his injury history. Plus, Luis Garcia's pitch count will be limited coming off Tommy John surgery. If injuries continue to pile up due to the pitch clock and other factors, the Astros may very well need another middle of the rotation pitcher to eat up innings this season.

Many fans would like to see an upgrade in the outfield, but it doesn't appear to be a priority for the 'Stros with their salary restrictions. They still have Kyle Tucker, Mauricio Dubon, Chas McCormick, Jake Meyers, and Yordan Alvarez as options in the outfield.

So it's no surprise that Brown views pitching and backup catcher as the team's main focus.

Don't miss the video above as we discuss how the Astros can best deploy their limited payroll for the 2024 season, and much more.

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Have we arrived in the Golden Age of Houston sports? Composite Getty Image.

Houston has been blessed to see some good sports teams over the years. Luv Ya Blue Oilers, ketchup & mustard Rockets, Astros dynasty, even the Texans had a period in which they were playoff contenders every season for a few years. While there has been a lot of heartbreak, there's also been some satisfying moments. Despite what some may think, it hasn't been all doom and gloom.

The Rockets ('94 & '95) and Astros ('17 & '22) have both won titles. While the other teams haven't, they've provided enough moments and memories. The one thing I noticed that puzzled me: I don't think all these teams have been competitive and contenders at the same time. Not just that, but have they all been good moving forward? I don't think so.

The Astros could be towards the end of their run. The window can stay open if general manager Dana Brown makes the right moves. As seen in the tweet above, Joe Espada is over the moon about becoming the manager. The players and organization both wanted the move. It was a natural fit to promote him from bench coach to manager. He's been there since 2018 and in MLB coaching since 2006 (a year after he retired from AAA ball). At 48 years old, Espada is young enough to still be able to relate to his players, but experienced enough to teach and lead them.

The same can be said for the Rockets' Ime Udoka (46) and Texans' DeMeco Ryans (39). Both guys are former player who reached the highest professional level in their respective sports. Both were a coach's dream when they played because they were smart and played hard. Both took over teams that were terrible for a while and have been rebuilding. Now they're expected to start working towards contention.

When the Rockets were winning their titles, the Oilers were on their way out of town and the Astros were playoff contenders. When the Astros won their titles, the Rockets were trying to win one of their own in '17, but were the butt of jokes in '22. Meanwhile, the Texans were below .500 in each of those seasons. The 2018–19 seasons were the last time all three made the playoffs at the same time.

I believe we will be seeing a lot more seasons like that coming in the future. Each of these coaches have a presence about themselves. Their players love them and they're smart guys. They know how to get the best out of the teams they're on. They're all former players who can identify with the players of today because of their age and proximity from the game after their playing days were over.

Each team's fan base is excited about the potential. The Astros are the easiest ones to see succeed soon, since they just won a title last year and still have some major pieces coming back. The Texans are enjoying a resurgence under rookie quarterback C.J. Stroud. The Rockets have a little further to go, but the building blocks are in place. I wouldn't be surprised if we see all three teams in the playoffs as early as this current season, or the season coming in the Astros' case. Odds on who wins the next title will get very interesting over the next few years. Who do you think wins the next one? My money is on the team that has white in its colors.

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