Tuesday Discussion: Is Houston A Problem?
July 5, 2022
This week we asked our writers:
Are you concerned that the Astros just might be better than the Yankees assuming they meet in the ALCS?
Here are their responses...
Ed Botti - No, I am not concerned that the Asterisks are a better team, especially when the Yankees finally remove Gallo’s pathetic bat from the line up, and add a solid contact hitter (Benintendi, please!). My concern now, is the same concern I have had for the last 4 plus seasons, and we just saw it on full display last week. The Astro offensive approach is more effective in the post season, than the Yankees approach.
I firmly believe that if the same “3 true outcome” ridiculous approach is employed against a team like the Astros in the post season, they will fall flat on their faces. If, they decide to, and they may very well do so with the type of hitters they now have on this roster, play smart ball, use the whole field, move runners, and approach their at bats with the objective of hitting it hard, not far, they can beat anyone.
More Paul O’Neill less Joey Gallo, to put it bluntly.
By doing so, the home runs will still come, and they will K less and make productive outs. If they do not shift their approach, I hate to say it, but we will see another depressed post season press conference from Cashman and Boone.
Additionally, the Yankees have a significant advantage in the Bullpen. In last week’s series the Yankees bullpen gave up 2 runs. The Astros bullpen gave up 9. That should be a factor in the post season, even with Lance McCullers on the way back, which will deepen their pitching staff.
They also now play excellent defense and do not give runs away. That is huge in October.
Removing Sanchez made an enormous difference in pitch selection, especially with runners on base. I’d go with Trevino on most nights. He has earned it.
Cashman and his scouts deserve credit for bringing in Carpenter. I believe he can be an October factor.
Cashman has to be shrewd and make the right late season acquisition(s). I trust he will in the bullpen. He has a knack for finding bullpen pieces, and with Matt Blake, they can effect another miracle evolution as they did with Cortez, Luetge, Castro and Holmes.
Make no mistake about it, those guys owe their career changes to Blake. Cashman, can give him another player or two to mold over the last 2 months of this season and strengthen a strength!
I am more confident this year than I have been in the prior 4 years that they will adjust their approach. If they do so, I believe they will handle any team in MLB. This can be a special year. But, it all lies at the feet of their offensive approach!
Lincoln Mitchell - I am not concerned that the Astros are better than the Yankees because I am confident the Yankees are the better team, but that question is not relevant. The relevant question is in a hypothetical ALCS matchup between the two teams would the Astros have a chance of winning. The answer to that question is clearly yes. The Yankees would probably be favorites in that matchup but mild upsets happen all the time in the post-season. I would be shocked if the Yankees do now win the AL East, but it is entirely possible that when October begins they are not as dominant as they are now.
Paul Semendinger - Yes. Just as the Yankees seem to always find ways to defeat the Twins, the Astros seem to always be able to beat the Yankees. Jose Altuve seems to become super human and gets huge hits. The Yankees' offense seems to wilt against Astros pitching.
I'm not saying the Yankees can't defeat them... they certainly can, but I would prefer the Astros to get knocked out before the Yankees have to face them. Player-for-player, in a short series, the Astros are every bit as good as the Yankees.
Cary Greene - The Yankees path to the World Series likely involves beating the Red Sox, the Astros and then the Dodgers. There's half a season of baseball left to play. Yankee GM Brian Cashman will need to make any tweaks between now and the August Second 6pm MLB Trade Deadline.
As constructed, I think the Yankees have a chance at winning it all but I think that Cashman still has work to do. I have two articles submitted on this topic related to exactly what moves the Yankees should make, so I won't reveal any specifics here, but suffice it to say that I do think the Astros are a dangerous team in a seven-game series, but so are the Yankees.
Fangraphs thinks the Astros are a bit better. I think the truth of the matter rests in what both teams do prior to the Deadline so the real answer to this question is to be determined.
Boston has a superb offense and their pitching, without even factoring in Chris Sale, is good enough to win it all. They have the fourth fifth best pitching in all of baseball. Meanwhile the Astros now have the second best pitching and of the course the Dodgers are the best, with the Yankees third.
Meanwhile, the Yankee offense remains the best in baseball. Unfortunately, good pitching usually beats good offense. Therefore, Cashman should look to reinforce the bullpen and make some very calculated positional moves, while not parting with top prospects or adding significant payroll. It is actually possible to accomplish both things and my upcoming articles will reveal how so.
Tim Kabel - No. At this point, there are still two games left in the season series. The Yankees could easily win both of them, which would calm people down a great deal. Besides the regular season often has very little correlation to what happens in the postseason. Last year, as I recall, the Yankees did well against Houston. They didn’t even make it far enough to play Houston in the playoffs. I think the approach will be a lot different in the postseason and the Yankees could significantly upgrade the team by then.