Hey boys and girls in offseason-world. How’re you doing? It’s been pretty darn quiet on the Astros front of late, so I thought I’d take this chance to tell you what I think about what you’re wondering on our boys from H-town. These questions were sent to me via text, twitter and Facebook:
1. If the Astros move to the AL West, who do you see as their toughest match-up? Seriously? You think there’s a matchup that won’t be tough for THIS Astros team? I kid, I kid…well, sort of. I think a switch to the AL represents one of the toughest challenges this club would face. Not only will they have to strategically change how they play the game, but they’ll be playing against significantly higher payrolls. There are only 10 MLB teams with payrolls lower than Houston’s. With that said, within the AL West? The Rangers. It’s the team they’re likely to see the most and will never have the “unknown” as an advantage.
2. What are your thoughts on the staff staying as is after last season’s results? Here’s the deal, I’m not a Brad Mills hater. I don’t love him with my whole heart, but I don’t think he’s been given much to work with in his tenure. He’s made some bizarre decisions (bunting and benching come to mind) but he’s at least using his head whether you agree with how or not. Keep in mind he did do some pretty good come-back coaching in 2010. As for the rest of the staff? Frankly, I don’t think the staff’s the problem. I think the lingering ownership change and the GM’s office are the biggest problems. I say what do we have to lose by giving this staff another go?
3. What is your favorite Halloween candy? I’m a full-fledged choco-holic, and what I’m finding myself stealing from the weeone’s trick-0r-treat stash at the moment is Tootsie Rolls. Love. Them. Lots.
4. Heard a rumor that the Bosox are considering Brad Mills. Anything up with that? I’ve got nothing on that. We all know that Mills came to Houston from the Red Sox after spending six seasons as the bench coach under Terry Francona, but I’ve heard nothing even close to official on interest by Boston to bring him back. If I hear anything, I’ll pass it along.
5. Do you think the prices will change if the Astros switch to the American League? And I’m assuming we will have later games? Here in Houston at MM park? Or will they still be at 7 pm our central time when we play at minute maid park? That’s four questions. ;D Prices, oh, prices. Seeing as there were no changes in Season Ticket prices for the 2012 season, all bets are off. I expected a drop in my tickets for next season, but that was not the case. I think an ownership change will determine ticket price more than a switch to AL. Jim Crane will want to fill seats, so I expect to see lots of ticket specials this next year. Then if we do go to the AL, there’s no reason to lower prices as big-name teams will attract fans who don’t currently come to MMP. So I wouldn’t expect a cheaper ticket, that’s for sure.
As for late game starts, if the Astros move the AL West and my calculations are correct, they’ll play about 20 -25 more late games (some Mountain, some Pacific time). Games at Minute Maid Park will still have their 7:05pm-ish start times.
6. With the new ownership will we see many coaching changes? And, why does it appear as if the Astros are being “bullied” into moving to the AL? All of the coaching staff from this past season have already been given one year contracts for the 2012 season, so unless Crane comes in and starts firing people, we should see the same faces leading the team on the field. But I think the reasoning for the one year contracts is in part due to the possibility of an ownership change and leaving the door open for Crane to make any changes he sees fit for the 2013 season.
As for being bullied, well, they sort of are. The Astros are in a vulnerable position right now. If they’d gone for 106 wins rather than losses this season, we’d be having very different conversations about moving a team to the AL. The fact of the matter is that if they’re going to move a team (and Selig has wanted this for a LONG time) the Astros are the logical and most vulnerable pick right now. It means only moving one team and it’s a team whose fan base is at a major low point both in numbers and morale. If you stuck with the Astros this season, they’re counting on you sticking with them in an AL move as well.
7. Are we making any moves to acquire some help in the bullpen & what do our “prospects” look like? Well, today is the start of Free Agency and although I don’t anticipate the Astros doing much playing in the FA game this offseason, you never know. As for prospects? The trades made this past season did a LOT to bolster our minor league system and give us a nice list of prospects that are working their way through the ranks.
Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus just took a look at the Houston system and gave 4 stars to three players in the Astros’ system: Jarred Cosart (RHP), George Springer (OF), Jonathon Singleton (1B). Beyond those three, we have Brett Oberholtzer (LHP), Jonathon Villar (SS), and several others who look really promising. I would say that the minor system the Astros have today is infinitely better than what we saw this time last year. This minors system was in ruins before the 2011 season. There’s hope on the horizon, that’s for sure and it’s with thanks to the trades that were made in 2011, popular or not.
So there you have it. You Asked. I Answered. If you have a question you’d like me to give my 2 cents on next time, feel free to email, tweet or Facebook me. In the meantime, today we start watching Free Agents negotiate their way to possible new teams and we have only 12 more days until the next MLB owners meeting where we hope they’ll give Jim Crane a rose and approve his bid to buy the Astros.
Terri Schlather (AGirlintheSouth) is the tortured Senior Houston Astros Writer for Aerys Sports. You can read her Astros blog at www.talesfromthejuicebox.com, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow her ridiculous ramblings on sports, vodka and the weeone on twitter @agirlinthesouth.