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Kaz's Korner

Will Astros be better or worse for 2022 Season?

 

Last updated 11/9/2021 at 8:13pm



The Houston Astros attained nearly all of the goals they set for the team before spring training began last February EXCEPT winning the 2021 World Series.

They were the preseason favorites to whip through the American League West Division which they did. They were picked by most to win the American League Championship Series which they did.

However, they were picked to win the World Series over the Atlanta Braves, which they didn’t accomplish mainly because they Braves had a very solid pitching staff and a great bullpen just like the Astros and hit more home runs than Houston. These two factors were the undoing of the Astros when the chips were down.

Both Atlanta and Houston strengthened their weaknesses before the July 31 trading deadline. The Astros went after relief pitching and added four good arms to their tired bullpen while the Braves restructured their entire outfield with new faces that really beefed up those three positions.

Despite the fact the Atlanta Braves are the world champions, “the Astros already have been declared favorites to win the 2022 Fall Classic, joining the Los Angeles Dodgers, Atlanta Braves and New York Yankees at the top of the way-too-early list” according to an article in Sunday’s edition of the Houston Chronicle.

“Manager Dusty Baker is confident his team will be back with five consecutive American League Championship Series appearances highlighting the greatest run in the history of Houston sports,” the article pointed out.

Baker was managing all season without any guarantee about his future or any idea if he would be re-signed for 2022. That predicament was solved last week when he signed a one-year deal to manage the Astros next season.

The San Francisco Giants didn’t renew Baker’s contract after his team captured the 2002 National League pennant. The Washington Nationals dismissed him in 2017 after seasons of 95 and 97 wins forcing him into a retirement he didn’t want. “I didn’t retire,” Baker revealed. “I didn’t have a job.”

When the Astros won the American League last month, it made Baker the ninth manager to win pennants in both leagues. He was hired in 2020 to stabilize a shaken franchise and then agreed last Friday before owner Jim Crane made the announcement alongside Baker and general manager James Click during a news conference at Minute Maid Park.

Baker needs only 13 more wins to reach 2,000, a milestone accomplished by only 11 other men, ten of whom are enshrined in the Hall of Fame. The other—Bruce Bochy—is not yet eligible.

Shortstop Carlos Correa, who received his first American League Gold Glove last weekend along with American League batting champion Yuli Gurriel, is major league baseball’s top free agent.

He is seeking a long-term contract and has turned down Houston’s offers of around $120 million for six years and later a five-year $125 million before the season began and just recently a five-year, $160 million that he hasn’t responded to yet. He wants to hear what the other 29 teams have to say.

Other free agents include pitcher Zack Greinke, an Astro since July 2019, who’s a free agent after his six-year, $206.5 million deal expired and former ace Justin Verlander, who’s a free agent for the first time in his 16-year career and is still recovering from Tommy John surgery performed last September.

The Astros extended Correa and Verlander one-year, $18.4 million qualifying offers Sunday, which isn’t much more than a formality for free agency. Both players have until Nov.17 to accept or reject the Astros’ offers.

When Correa declines, Houston will receive a compensatory pick following the second round of the 2022 draft if he signs elsewhere.

The Astros will miss Correa—if he doesn’t have a change of heart and stays with his team and best friend second baseman Jose Altuve. He will be harder to replace than Verlander or Greinke.

Baker is happy with the players who will return for the 2022 season calling the team “his family”. And I believe the Astros will have another great team next season, especially with Dusty Baker in command of the talent!!

KWICKIES…Last weekend was a hum-dinger for upsets in the college and NFL ranks. Two undefeated teams in the Associated Press College Football Poll’s Top 10 fell by the wayside as No. 3 Michigan State was whipped by Purdue 40-29 and No. 10 Wake Forest was nipped by North Carolina in a 58-55 shootout. Other Top 25 teams losing were Baylor, Auburn, Mississippi State, Minnesota and Fresno State. Six out of the 13 NFL teams that played last week also were favored and got smoked including Dallas, New Orleans, Cincinnati, Buffalo, Las Vegas and the LA Rams.

And while on the subject of the AP College Poll, once again the top four teams remained intact—Georgia, Cincinnati, Alabama and Oklahoma—Oregon moved up two spaces to No. 5, Ohio State remained No. 6, Notre Dame came up one to No. 7, Michigan State slipped down three spots to No. 8, Michigan stayed at No. 9 and Oklahoma State jumped up one to No. 10. The Texas Aggies rose two spots to No. 11 and UTSA came up one to No. 15, Houston came up three places to No. 17 while Baylor dropped four spots to No. 18.

Several NFL analysts commented about Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ play on words pertaining to him being “immunized” but not vaccinated against COVID-19 and still managed to test positive last week and missed Sunday’s game at Kansas City. His back-up Jordan Love looked like a lost goose at Arrowhead Stadium when he was blitzed from every direction. If Rodgers cared about his team, he would have taken the vaccine and probably won the game for the Packers. Kansas City was a ½-point favorite last Wednesday until Rodgers tested positive when the Chiefs suddenly were a 7 ½-point favorite. Incidentally, Kansas City did not cover the point spread, winning 13-7.

With the New England Patriots’ 24-6 victory over the Carolina Panthers Sunday, it marked the first time since Game 3 of last season that Head Coach bill Belichick’s team was above the .500 mark. The were 2-1 after three games last year.

JUST BETWEEN US…The Houston Texans had an actual chance to win Sunday’s game against the Dolphins in Miami if quarterback Tyrod Taylor had sat on the bench for another week. He moved the team as if his tie rod was broken and he had four flat tires. He should have gotten the game ball from the Dolphins because his many mistakes enabled Miami to win the game. His back-handed flip out of bounds ended up in bounds and intercepted by the Dolphins, who scored a touchdown a couple of plays later, which meant the difference in the 17-9 final score. Miami gave Taylor five turnovers with which to work and he flubbed every one. If Tyrod Taylor is the future of the franchise, there will be many No. 1 draft choices headed Houston’s way.

 

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