Carlos Correa has not quite become a superstar yet. Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images
The baseball season lasts a long, long time. It’s not one big season, but rather, many smaller seasons with different narratives develop during those many seasons. Early in the season there were questions about what was wrong with the Astros offense. Then the narrative turned to the bullpen issues or non-issues depending on your vantage point. There was a time that we were talking about the Astros rotation being one of the most dominant in MLB history, but that has cooled off a little.
We focus and then re-focus on a variety of topics because the baseball season lasts forever and we need different things to yap about to make it more interesting during the grind of summer. One of the most fluid topics you can debate with someone is what the Astros rotation would be in the playoffs “if the season ended today.” We have all done it. We have all argued about who the top four starters would be and what the bullpen set-up would look like.
We are now at that stage of the season before the trade deadline where all of the talk is about to revolve around which arms to target off of other rosters to become the next closer for the Astros. I’ve got Brad Hand from the Padres, but that’s not what I’m writing about today. I’m writing about Carlos Correa.
The best of the Astros
Jose Altuve is the Astros G.O.A.T and that isn’t up for debate. I’m not doing the Biggio vs. Altuve thing either. Not here and not now. In his relatively short Astros career, Alex Bregman has made a strong case for being the second best position player on this roster. We all know that Bregman’s legend as a clutch player continues to grow, but the first-time All-Star is also becoming very consistent. Take a look at his numbers over his last 162 games:
OK, Alex Bregman is good. REALLY GOOD. But this isn’t what my article is about or I would just drop the mic after that table I just put on you. And are you even arguing against Bregman being the second best position player on this team? George Springer is a good player who can carry you when he gets hot, but I don’t know that he’s THAT guy for an entire season. Which brings us to Carlos Correa.
Expectations for Correa
I brought up Carlos Correa on the radio and the fact that he hasn’t been able to ride a long-term hot streak this season and that I was a little surprised that Correa hasn’t made the move into superstar territory just yet. All of a sudden, the discussion turned to whether or not our expectations for Correa are too high.
I say no. Carlos Correa has superstar ability and a superstar future. I’m right, right? I mean, he looks the part….he’s got to be a future MVP candidate and best shortstop in the game, right?
Maybe not. For the record, I’m sticking with my assumptions that I’m right. He is a big guy with a sweet swing and the ability to drive the ball with power and his .941 OPS gave us some insight into what he’s capable of. Defensively, Correa is rangy with a cannon for a right arm. But are my expectations too high for him? Are yours? I’ve just always assumed he would become a 35-40 homer hitter and approach the 1.000 OPS mark.
I love Carlos Correa and that won’t change if he doesn’t become the MVP-caliber superstar that I’ve always expected him to be. But I’m going on record that my expectations aren’t changing for him. I still expect Carlos Correa to become the next, great shortstop and you should too.
“Another one!”- DJ Khaled
That's the first thing that came to mind when I heard the news of Tytus Howard being shut down for the season because of a knee injury. They've had more injuries on the offensive line this season than Nick Cannon has Father's Day cards. Almost every member of the offensive line has spent time on the injury report. Howard went down in the same game in which Juice Scruggs was finally on the active roster. He missed the first 10 games due to a hamstring injury. The irony of next man up has never been so in your face.
The other thing that came to mind was the soap opera As the World Turns.
Howard had just signed an extension this offseason. So did Laremy Tunsil and Shaq Mason. They drafted Juice Scruggs, and signed a few guys too. Those moves, along with other holdovers, were expected to fill out the depth chart. Then a rash of injuries struck. At one point, only one of the original five guys expected to start was playing! In fact, they beat the Steelers 30-6 with that backup offensive line!
One can't have the expectation of backups to perform as good as the starters. They're professionals and are on an NFL roster for a reason. However, the talent gap is evident. One thing coaching, technique, and preparation can't cover is lack of ability or talent. The Texans have done a good job of navigating the injury minefield this season. While the Howard injury will hurt, I have faith in the guys there still.
As of this writing, the Texans are in the eighth spot in the AFC playoff picture. The Steelers, Browns, and Colts are all in front of them at the fifth through seventh spots respectfully. They've beaten the Steelers already. They play the Browns on Christmas Eve and their starting quarterback is out for the season. The Colts are relying on the ghost of Gardner Minshew to steer their ship into the last game of the season vs. the Texans with a possible playoff trip on the line. The Broncos and Bills are the two teams immediately behind them. They play the Broncos this weekend. Even though they're on a hot streak, this is the same team that got 70 put on them by the Dolphins. The Bills are the old veteran boxer who still has some skill, but is now a stepping stone for up & comers.
To say this team should still make the playoffs would be an understatement in my opinion. I believe in them and what they have going on more than I believe in the teams I listed above. That includes teams around them in the playoff race that aren't on their schedule. The one thing that scares me a little moving forward is the sustainability of this line. When guys get up in age as athletes, it becomes harder to come back from injuries. The injuries also tend to occur more frequently when it's a knee, foot, ankle, shoulder, elbow, or another body part critical to blocking for C.J. Stroud.
I know they just re-signed three of those guys and drafted one they believe can be a starter, but depth and contingency plans are a way of life in the NFL. We see how important depth was this season. Why not plan ahead? Don't be surprised if the Texans spend valuable draft capital on the offensive line. By valuable, I'm talking about first through third or fourth rounders. Those are prime spots to draft quality offensive lineman. Whether day one starters or quality depth, those are the sweet spots. The only guy on the two deep depth chart for this offensive line that wasn't drafted in one of those rounds was George Fant, who was an undrafted rookie free agent. While I highly doubt they spend any significant free agency dollars on the group, I'm not totally ruling it out.
The bottom line is, this team will be okay on the line for the remainder of this season. The only way that doesn't happen, more injuries. Stroud is clearly the franchise guy. Protecting that investment is a top priority. I don't care about a number one receiver, or a stud stable or singular running back if the quarterback won't have time to get them the ball. If the pilot can't fly the plane, you know what happens. So making sure he's happy, healthy, and has a great crew is of the utmost importance.