(The above lyrics are written to be sung to the tune of ….
…. “The Happy Gang of Buster Brown is on the Air.”)
Most of us Astros fans can’t wait for things to start on the “games-count” schedule. Manager A.J. Hinch has to be salivating over the lineup possibilities he actually sees developing on the field down in West Palm Beach. With all of the righty vs lefty and lefty vs right sets that simply weren’t there as do-able options in 2016 – and without a lot of game-worn concern (at least, not yet) about the bottom third of the order being the hole in the bats boat that so often showed up to sink hope in the past. There’s not a guy on our bench now that’s ever been tagged with some kind of “auto-out” hitting identity. Why would any of them start to do so now, unless some kind of aging time bomb went off inside them this year that no really expected.
This one representational lineup just steamed through my mind tonight as I wrote it. Maybe its passage was aided by the vaporizer I’ve been using during this viral plague recovery period I’ve been riding this week, but I don’t think so. It’s got be the talent upgrade that’s hoisting the flag of hope – even for those of cannot yet even see the talent working in early spring. We my not be experts, but some of us have played enough baseball and see enough great baseball to recognize the difference between doggie deposits on the lawn and brown shoe polish.
With this much talent holding up for the Astros over the course of the season, Mr. Hinch may even have a chance to reach the genius level plane for his managerial success in 2017. Even a great manager like Casey Stengel couldn’t get it done pushing buttons for the old Boston Braves and Brooklyn Dodgers, but once he got those same fingers on the same kinds of choices for the 1949 Yankees forward, he got results that made baseball history.
Now, if only this holds up to be true for what our offense promises to be and the pitching can come around to what it needs to be to keep the other clubs off the board, the 2017 American League season we’ve all been waiting for in Houston may be one we shall remember forever – and this time, for all the happy reasons it brings us.
At any rate, here’s one that we will put out there for starters that we think works best in the long run most of the time:
ONE POSSIBLE 2017 HOUSTON ASTROS LINEUP
1 GEORGE SPRINGER, CF
2 CARLOS CORREA, SS
3 JOSE ALTUVE, 2B
4 CARLOS BELTRAN, DH
5 YULI GURRIEL, 1B
6 ALEX BREGMAN, 3B
7 JOSH REDDICK, LF
8 BRIAN McCANN, C
9 NORI AOKI, RF
We like it because (1) it leaves the lineup filled with a hitting threat at all nine spots – with no more dead zone at the bottom third of the order. (2) It leaves Hinch with the options of making defensive substitutions in late inning Astros-lead games. Marisnick can come in to play center as Springer moves to right, as Hinch opts to leave either Aoki or Reddick in the game to play left. (3) The lineup stays buck-strong in top 2/3rds – even with Gonzalez and/or a better-hitting Reed also coming in late sometimes to provide late inning rest for Bregman, Correa, or, even Altuve, in Astros-lead or blowout games and better defense and rest at first, if the aging Gurriel needs help.
And let’s hear it from the rest of you home-bound Astros fan “geniuses”. The Pecan Park Eagle would love to gain your own lineup choices as commentaries on this column. And who knows? Maybe the lineup you suggest will turn out to be the same that Asros Manager Hinch uses on the autumn 2017 day that the Astros clinch the World Series.