HOUSTON – The Astros must re-sign Carlos Correa.
If they don’t, it’s hard to see that as a Get Out of (No World Series) Jail Free card for their competitors in The Bronx.
On nights like Wednesday at Minute Maid Park, where the Astros tied in this World Series with a 7-2 win over the Braves in Game 2, illustrates the hilarious roster depth left by their ousted chief of baseball operations, Jeff Luhnow. That his successor, General Manager James Click, had consolidated and increased his manager, Dusty Baker.
“I’ve had some talented teams, but something is always going to happen along the way,” Becker said. “The difference between this group and some of the other groups I have is the fact that they are always looking for something good to happen.”
Correa contributed a single in the sixth inning that helped drive the lockout round (and pushed Atlanta player and loser Max Fried out of the game), going 1 for 4 (he’s also made a sprint with a seventh-round go) and playing his usual stellar defense in the shortstop, scoring A pair of passes while playing is to the right of the second base (thank God for the transitions). All in all, a quiet albeit productive night for one of the faces of the franchise, who now carries a 273/.373/.409 slash for this postseason.
Meanwhile, the Braves made a pair of devastating fouls, the first by left-footed Eddie Rosario in the second half and the second by second baseman Ozzy Albis in the sixth. The other Astros took care of the rest.
Pitcher Jose Urquidi, who lasted 1²/ of innings in the Astros’ 12-3 loss to the Red Sox in the MLS Championship Series 3, started a five-round hiatus this time, limiting Atlanta to two and six hits and no walks while hitting seven . A quartet of attenuators (Christian Jaffer, Phil Matton, Ryan Presley, and Kendall Grafman) combined for four closing frames.
And in the line-up, Jose Altuve, nowhere to go fast in a good way (signed until 2024), attended and doubled, former Yankees icon Bernie Williams finished second all-time with 22 according to the post-season, and last starts the night on the right-footed for the home team, As he advanced to third on Michael Brantley’s pop-up trip to the center field’s warning track and came home on the sacrifice fly from Alex Bregman (man, this team puts in a clinic to make good contact) in the first half, a 1-0 advantage. In the second half, back-to-back singles from sixth and ninth hitters—Kyle Tucker, Yuli Gouriel, Jose Seri and Martin Maldonado—laid the foundation for a four-stroke race, and Brantley was starring with an RBI single (Clinic!) and Rosario’s mistake adding an unearned run.
There’s no reason why the Astros, encouraged by this science award-winning campaign, shouldn’t make serious bids for Korea, which could exceed the $341 million that Francisco Lindor received from the Mets as a non-free agent. He’s loved by this fan base and has been hung there in the wake of the cue theft revelations, providing a mix of accountability and challenge that has enabled him to acknowledge the team’s mistake and turn it into fuel for future conquests like this.
However, if the Astros really want to be cold-blooded about Korea, or if bids from the likes of the Tigers or Rangers reach a level that makes them uncomfortable, they will likely continue to do well. They can turn the third baseman Bergman into a shortstop, where he played before. They can enroll in one of the least expensive free agent such as Trevor Story, a Texas native, or Marcus Semien.
Remember, for nearly two years now, the Astros have lost teammate Gerrit Cole to the Yankees, of all teams. The Astros went on to stay longer in October than the Yankees in the following two seasons. The same goes for columnist George Springer, who left last winter for the Blue Jays family.
These examples should not motivate Stros to separate from Correa. However, they can serve as reassurances – and warnings to their enemies – that their long-term future looks bright no matter what happens over the next few months.