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Totally Not Fake News: All Going to Plan

The Astros are neither off to a good or bad start. They are exactly where they want to be...wait, did we just write that?

Toronto Blue Jays v Houston Astros Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images

Arlington, TX – For those that follow the 2022 Houston Astros, you could be forgiven for thinking that things are not quite going to plan. It is early in the season (the calendar hasn’t turned to May), but the defending AL champions find themselves stumbling. Coming into the second game of the Rangers’ series, the team stood at 7-9. That in and of it itself could be off-putting for fans used to seeing Houston dominate. Yet, it is how the Astros are on the field in addition to their record that is unusual. They rank in the bottom half of the AL in just about any and all offensive categories, from hitting to runs scored to…well, it might be useful to say what they aren’t bottom feeders in (home runs: 3rd in the AL). Their pitching has seen some moments (welcome back Justin Verlander), but overall, they don’t rate much higher than fair to middling. Their run differential is in negative numbers and they currently sit 4th in the division.

When asked about this, most Astros players had this to say:

  • “Who are you again?”
  • “How did you get this number?”
  • “Who let you into the locker room...and while I am showering?”

Others didn’t bother trying to answer the questions, as they either hung up, called security, or tried to bash our reporters in with baseball bats, old gloves and a couple of extra trash cans.

We did get a chance to talk with a few Astros staffers, who indicated the usual cliches in April:

  • “They’ll wake up.”
  • “It’s early. A lot of baseball to be played”
  • “We kinda struggled early last season, and look what happened. God willing and the creek don’t rise, we can’t do it without our teammates.”
  • “So, you really are an exotic dancer and you have connections to a Nigerian prince who will bequeath me $1 Million?” (This was in response to one targeted email message).

Eventually, after extensive persistence, the promise of significant financial compensation, and the promise to buy a metric ****ton of Dusty Baker’s latest vineyard offerings, we did get to speak to a few leading Astros figures.

“Yeah, we haven’t quite gotten off to the start that most expected. What do I care about April? Do you know how many World Series I won in April as a manager? None! You don’t win the World Series in April!!! It is all about fall baseball! October! The Fall Classic! That is when you win!” exclaimed a slightly annoyed Dusty Baker.

“How many World Series have you won in October as a manager?” our intrepid reporter asked.

Baker did not immediately answer. We hoped for a follow-up, but when he rounded on our people with a broken wine bottle with the sharper edges facing us and a maniacal look in his eyes, wwwweeee figured it was best to just move along.

New Washington Nationals manager Dusty Baker
Dusty Baker’s creations...when he is in a better mood.
Photo by John McDonnell / The Washington Post via Getty Images

We found the conversation with James Click a little more civil:

“What you fail to see here is that we are looking at 2022 as the chance to learn from our past short-comings. In particular, our last two World Series ended in very, very disappointing fashion. So, like any other organization, we took stock of what happened, and is often the case, we looked at who bested us, and how they did it. Which means we would have to adjust our thinking and models to try to change our future performance.”

“In particular, you had to look at the actions of the 2019 Washington Nationals and the 2021 Atlanta Braves. Well, having done that, we think that we are already off to a good start.”

Los Angeles Angels v Houston Astros
Trust us. We know exactly what we are doing...honestly...definitely...maybe.
Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

“How so?” we inquired, especially as we were looking over the latest box scores. To which Click replied:

“Well, as you may recall, both Washington and Atlanta got off to rather slow starts. At one point in 2019, Washington was 19-31. Coming into August last season, Atlanta was three games under .500. Based on our current projections, we are on pace to meet those marks.”

“Additionally, you’ll note that those teams had suffered the loss of major stars either the season prior or due to season-ending injury. For Washington, who honestly thought they were going to do anything when they let Bryce Harper walk? Did anyone think that Atlanta had a chance to be even decent when they lost Ronald Acuna Jr.? Well, look at us? We up and let Correa walk for nothing. While we haven’t lost anyone for the season yet, we figured that it would be best for McCullers to just go ahead and miss the 1st half of the season. Atlanta played over half a season with Acuna’s loss, so we are matching action for action.”

“Just to make sure, Dusty and I talked some over his latest Riesling, which is quite good, by the way. You still plan to buy those 6 cases, with me getting that 75% cutback, right? Anyway, we chatted in mid-November. So, I told him to just up and treat the first month or so like extended Spring Training. Give guys the random days off where they don’t make a ton of sense. Also, I wanted him to put our-not-quite-best-foot-forward for pitching. So, we are getting Odorizzi and Baez on the mound as much as possible early on.”

“Admittedly, Dusty is getting a little nervous about completely following this plan. He is now gonna let Javier pitch like a starter…but we still have Odorizzi, so that will be ok. He is actually going with rookie relievers more. Told him we would be ok sticking with Baez, but after some wicked Merlot, Dusty convinced me otherwise. Even went ahead and told Altuve and Pressly to get their injuries out of the way now, early on in the season. Wanted to talk to Bregman about that, saying that he should also think about that, but I think he was a bit frustrated after the past season and the World Series. Didn’t think it was wise to get in his way.”

Houston Astros v Arizona Diamondbacks
Click and Dusty want me to do what? I don’t think so...
Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Admittedly, we weren’t sure about where this master plan would lead, but we only got Click to say “Oh ye of little faith. Trust the process....oh, wait, that’s someone else’s line. Eh, you know what? I’m the GM, you’re not, and we will be just fine.

So, to sum up for the Astros plan for 2022:

Step 1: Have a losing record deep into the season

Step 2:

Step 3: Win the World Series

Step 4: Profit

Wait, what about step tw...

And that is all the time we have for this article. Good Night and Good Luck.