Houston Astros: The surprising underdogs of 2020

HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 05: A detail shot of the Houston Astros logo on the tarp on the field during batting practice prior to Game 2 of the ALDS between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park on Saturday, October 5, 2019 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Cooper Neill/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 05: A detail shot of the Houston Astros logo on the tarp on the field during batting practice prior to Game 2 of the ALDS between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park on Saturday, October 5, 2019 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Cooper Neill/MLB Photos via Getty Images) /
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The Houston Astros offseason has been one of scrutiny for allegedly stealing signs and cheating. This could make them a surprising underdog for 2020.

Although the Houston Astros have not done much, it has been an active offseason for the franchise. Their recent run of success has been called into question, as they have been accused of stealing signs and relaying pitches to their batters. It has gotten to the point where a metal trash can could be considered the team MVP during that stretch.

Meanwhile, there has been an exodus of talent from the roster. Gerrit Cole has signed with the Yankees, leaving a major hole in the rotation. Wade Miley, a serviceable back of the rotation arm, has gone to the Reds. Valued reliever Will Harris went to their opposition in the 2019 World Series, signing with the Nationals.

That is not to say that the Astros have been entirely silent. They have made a couple of moves, retaining a portion of their bullpen by bringing back Joe Smith. The catcher position is completely different, as they finally committed to Martin Maldonado, and signed Dustin Garneau as his backup. Nothing exciting there.

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In our quick reaction and instant gratification society, it is easy to understand why people would want to write the Astros off for this year. The Angels added to the back of their rotation and signed Anthony Rendon. The Rangers drastically upgraded their rotation. Even though the A’s have been quiet, they always seem to find a way to contend.

What is lost in this reaction is that the core is still there. Justin Verlander and Zack Greinke still front the Astros rotation. The lineup still has Jose Altuve, Geroge Springer, Yordan Alvarez, Carlos Correa, and Alex Bregman. This is not a weak team by any stretch of the imagination.

Are the Astros the same team that won 107 games last year? No, they are not. But they are a better team than people seem to want to believe at this point. Also, do not forget that the front office and ownership have displayed a willingness to make deals to bring in the pieces needed to contend. The Astros window of contention has not closed.

Next. Astros make commitment to Maldonado. dark

The Houston Astros may well be an underdog heading into 2020. Write them off at your own risk.