Brisbee: The Astros are in a perfect spot for 2019

From SABR member Grant Brisbee at SB Nation on December 18, 2018:

The Houston Astros agreed to sign outfielder Michael Brantley to a two-year, $32 million contract on Monday, giving them yet another potent bat in an already stacked lineup. Brantley hits for average, runs well, controls the strike zone, and can be an absolute doubles machine. He unquestionably makes his new team better, which is why he’ll be making $16 million a year, a salary that seems like an old-market wage. This is what the talented veterans used to get, by gum. Maybe there won’t be a strike after all.

It shouldn’t be surprising that it’s the Astros handing out a spendy win-now contract like this. They shouldn’t be worried about their window closing just yet, but every team that’s good now should definitely have some urgency. The future of baseball is pain. It’s always pain. Winning now is always a great idea, because you never know when you’ll be unable to win later. This is why everyone hates the Yankees so much; they don’t follow the rules.

What the Astros are, then, is a team that is firmly in the third stage of baseball utopia. We talked about how everyone wants to be the Atlanta Braves, but I’m not sure if they’re entirely in the third stage. They’re transitioning to the third stage now that they’re spending money on win-now players like Josh Donaldson, surely, but they’re still new to this whole contending thing. They still have one foot firmly planted in their young-team incarnation, in which they’re almost still more focused on good they can be, not how good they actually are.

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Originally published: December 21, 2018. Last Updated: December 21, 2018.