Everyone important seems to have a mailbag. I should have a mailbag. I solicited questions, I will provide answers. I will do this every Friday throughout the offseason, so email questions to astroscounty at gmail dot com.
Pete Incaviglia, probably the real one: What is the Astros outfield going to look like in 2021?
I'm going to say it's Kyle Tucker, Jackie Bradley Jr., and...someone else. The Astros won't bring back Josh Reddick, everything I'm hearing says George Springer wants to play closer to his Connecticut home (read: Red Sox, Mets). I'm really intrigued by Chas McCormick, seeing as how he was added to the roster in the playoffs. The farm system isn't as bad as everyone ranking it says.
Sam in Sharpstown: How much money does Luhnow walk away with after his lawsuit?
As much as we would like to see this play out with John Grisham writing the script, it's not going to happen. They'll do it in private, the same way that plenty of teams cheat. He sued for something like $22m, he might get half of that just to go away.
Tyler in The Woodlands: Where do I.....I mean.....Trevor Bauer end up?
You, Trevler, will end up...I don't know. A ton of teams need a good starting pitcher. And, regrettably, Trevor Bauer is a good pitcher. He's a jackass, a troll, a no-good-nik, a ne'er-do-well. But he pitches well, and that's valuable. The most troll thing ever would be to go to Houston, but we don't know how Click operates, and we don't know how much money is available.
Nolan in Alvin: What does the future hold for Forrest Whitley?
Whitley needs to prove that he can keep his head on straight and his arm healthy for more than two months at a time. We need to remember that Forrest Whitley just turned 23 years old. He's less than a year older than Justin Verlander was when he made his MLB debut. We've just been hearing about Whitley for a long time that it feels like a Mark Appel situation - and Whitley is the same age Appel was when the Astros drafted him. I haven't given up on Forrest Whitley, because 2021 might just be the year the Astros need him more than ever, and I hope that his "career" so far has proven that he needs the Astros just as much.
Bobby in Katy: Will fans be in the stands on opening day?
If you wear your damn mask now, and social distance, and limit your close contact with other people for the next six weeks, yes. Flu season is going to be a bitch combined with the eye-popping-yet-totally-unsurprising-rise of COVID cases in Texas and the rest of the United States over the last two weeks. If Halloween is the jumping-off point for this current wave, just imaging Thanksgiving and Christmas. Wearing a mask is not a violation of your civil rights, it's concern for your neighbor. Quit being A Dick, and things will be okay.
Jared C: Does US history offer any examples of how our current two-party system could evolve in the next 20 years?
I love this question because it means I get to talk about third-party candidates. There have been a few "successful" third-party candidates in US history. Notably: Theodore Roosevelt in 1912, Ross Perot in 2000. They're considered "successful" because they drew enough votes to seriously screw things up for one of the major candidates. But the Republicans and Democrats run the show. Why? Because it's extremely difficult for anyone else to make it to a debate. In 1985 the RNC and DNC agreed to run the Commission on Presidential Debates together - ensuring that they would be the only ones to make the stage for a presidential debate. When every election is cast as a choice between life-and-death, there will be a diminishing interest in welcoming a third option.
Craig in Spring: What music should I be listening to?
My favorite bands of all-time: U2, Pernice Brothers, Spoon, Centro-Matic, Old 97s, Wilco (such a DadList). But I've really enjoyed new stuff from Tame Impala (whose music I would appreciate much more if I took Substances), Ritt Momney, The Whigs, Deer Tick, Alfie Templeman, Sports Team.
Check out my new Lima Time Time-adjacent podcast The Michael Bourn Identity featuring Houston Legend Roosh Williams.