These thought-provoking answers could kick-start Astros rally
Here’s the good news for the Astros so far this 2023 season.
Things can’t get any worse.
Has there ever been a defending World Series champion so beleaguered with injuries to important players?
But let’s keep calm and carry on. The Astros, despite injuries and roster shakeup from last year, still have their heads above water at 16-15. And while fans are wringing their hands, Las Vegas doesn’t seem worried. The Astros still are 11-2 betting favorites to win the 2023 World Series. The Braves are second at 13-2 odds, followed by the Yankees (15-2) and Dodgers (17-2).
Next time you’re singing the Astros blues, think of the Seattle Mariners. They were picked to challenge the Astros for the American League West title. The Mariners are sucking at 13-16 with most of their team intact – at least not as devastated as the Astros.
Yes, things sure have changed from last season. In 2022 the Astros’ starting pitchers were best in the American League with a 2.95 earned run average. That was then.
Framber Valdez was the 2022 Opening Day starter. Yuli Gurriel was the first baseman. La Pina is gone. Chas McCormick played center field and got two hits. He’s on the injured list (back pain).
Jake Odorizzi started Game 2 of the 2022 season. Odorizzi is gone. Jose Altuve led off the game with a home run. He’s currently on the injured list (fractured thumb during the World Baseball Classic) and hasn’t played a single game this season. Aledmys Diaz homered in the 4th inning. He’s gone. Michael Brantley hit a double in the 7th driving in Jose Siri. Uncle Mike is on the injured list (shoulder surgery), rehabbing in Sugar Land. Hey, Siri is gone.
Justin Verlander pitched Game 3. JV is gone.
Jose Urquidy started the Astros fourth game of 2022. He’s on the injured list (shoulder inflammation).
Luis Garcia started Game 5 of the 2022 season. He’s on the injured list (elbow discomfort).
Let’s go to the tote board. Eighty percent of the pitchers who started the first week of Astros games last year are either gone or currently on the injured list.
Lance McCullers began the 2022 season sidelined with a flexor tendon strain. He rejoined the team in August and went 4-2 the rest of the way. He’s currently on the injured list (right arm muscle strain). It’s pretty incredible that the Astros have a winning record – though barely.
What to do? Oh what to do?
The Astros will dip into their minor league system for Band-Aid pitchers until Garcia, Urquidy and McCullers are ready to return. The Astros may consider signing a free agent veteran. Madison Bumgarner recently was released by the Diamondbacks and is available.
Fans on talk radio were fretting so much about the Astros dilemma that some raised the thought of signing notorious MLB exile Trevor Bauer, who is pitching for the Yokohama DeNa BayStars in Japan.
Bauer was accused of allegedly assaulting a woman in 2021. MLB placed him on administrative leave. The Dodgers removed all his merchandise from the team store and 86’d his bobblehead night. During MLB’s investigation, other women came forward accusing Bauer of violent behavior. MLB announced that Bauer would be suspended for 324 games, which was later reduced to 194 games. Although no criminal charges were filed, publicity about the case was so lurid and sordid that the Dodgers released him last January.
Bauer is considered the most talented available free agent. He is allowed back in MLB but it appears that no team is willing to go near him. Earlier this week, the former National League Cy Young winner (2020) made his pitching debut for the BayStars and beat the Hiroshima Toyo Carp, 4-1. Japanese teams have amazing names.
Given his salacious reputation it is doubtful that the Astros would have any interest, but perhaps not for the reasons some fans suggested on talk radio. Fans said, “Oh, the Astros are like a family of good guys, outstanding citizens and fine family men. They wouldn’t stand for someone like Bauer with his horrible reputation.”
A more likely reason would be the torrent of bad blood that’s existed for years between Bauer and the Astros. After details of the Astros sign stealing scandal broke, Bauer, more than any other MLB player (except maybe Cody Bellinger) shot his mouth off with comments like, “I’m not going to let them forget the fact that they are hypocrites, they are cheaters, they’ve stolen from a lot of people and the game itself.”
He said that the Astros scandal was equal to the 1919 Chicago Black Sox who threw the World Series in exchange for money.
Bauer added “You can be contrite about it, speak honestly about it, but even now we don’t have a freakin’ apology that means anything from any of them.”