MLB Network’s Jim Thome on Astros’ next steps, plus Yankees and Mets
Q: What is the message inside the Astros’ clubhouse if they are to overcome the situation they put themselves in?
A: They brought in Dusty Baker, and that is obviously the first step with his reputation for getting players to come together. They have to preach honesty and integrity to the game and treating it with respect. … Players [on other teams] care. Once they hit spring training and go through this long grind, they want a fair shake. I am competing against you, you’re competing against me. It’s hard to say if they’ll continue to be upset as the season goes on.
Q: What are the challenges Luis Rojas faces with this quick turnaround?
A: Any time first-year managers come aboard, there’s a lot of things you have to get adjusted to. It’s just being who you are. They thought very highly of him. He’s an organizational guy who has now stepped into this situation. But he also is a guy that knows the system very well and knows the nooks and crannies of each player. That can be a big positive. He’s a great baseball man and has great energy
Q: Where do you put the Mets in the NL East?
A: With the firepower these teams have in a division like this, how you start the season is huge. Sometimes in April-May, it can set the tone of where you are going to go. I like the Mets. This is going to be a dogfight. They have an MVP-type first baseman [Pete Alonso], speed, some veterans on that club. It’s an exciting team because offensively they can swing it and their bullpen is really, really good. When you have that rotation and adding [Rick] Porcello and [Michael] Wacha, that’s a rotation a lot of teams in baseball would love to have.
Q: How has Cole become one of the best pitchers in baseball?
A: Let’s start with his velocity. When you throw 96-99 mph and can maintain that with the breaking ball that he has, he just controls the game. He controls the outer-half, the middle and the inside. That’s why right now he is the one guy people look to and say, “If we have to win a game, it’s going to be him.” When you add that to a great franchise, I think as a player that raises the bar very high. I am sure he has a lot of emotion coming to spring training
Q: Is it jarring to see a team with the financial clout of the Red Sox trade away a player like Mookie Betts?
A: It’s hard to speculate on that without knowing what their thought process was. They could be setting themselves up for something else, we truly don’t now at this point. … If you were a Red Sox fan and they just eliminated Mookie Betts, that’s hard. I love the kid. He’s not only a fabulous player, but a good person. So, you do get attached. That can be tough for the fans and the organization.