The Brewers start their first interleague series of the season against their new GM's old team, the Houston Astros. You'll all remember the blockbuster trade consummated between the two teams last year. Among other things, that means this is the first chance Brewers fans will have to see former fan favorite Carlos Gomez in action since the trade.
Ryan Dunsmore from SB Nation's Astro's blog The Crawfish Boxes was kind enough to sit down and answer a few questions for me. Check out his answers below and check their site for even more excellent Astros content, including my part of the interview on the Brewers!
1. You all as fans survived a pretty extensive and well publicized rebuild. What advice would you give to Brewers fans who are now currently where Astros fans were x number of years ago.
You have to enjoy the small things. At the ballpark, enjoy the extra room, easy parking etc. with the crowds shying away. It may seem like joke but you don't appreciate a parking spot until you can't find because the fanbase has returned.
Moving on to actual baseball, there were many times where TCB could have been easily classified as a minor league baseball blog during those dark times with the Astros. Enjoy getting to know the minor league teams and the prospects that blossom. Go out of your way to watch the minor playoff games down the road. It will pay off in the end when you're invested in the players that come up from the minors.
On the major league level, find other reasons to enjoy the game. Find underdogs to root for. I can't tell you how long I spent hoping Robbie Grossman would pan out.
Enjoy the community you are in. You'll remember the people that stuck around during the hard times.
2. Carlos Gomez and Mike Fiers were both fan favorites in Milwaukee. I know that Gomez struggled with the Astros last year. I know Fiers was pretty okay and had that no-hitters. How have Astros fans received each player and what are your expectations for them this year (and beyond in the case of Fiers)?
Carlos Gomez has fit right [in] with Club Astros (George Springer brought lights and fog machine out in the clubhouse for each of the Astros wins to create ‘Club Astros). I think like most Brewers fans, Astros fans see Carlos Gomez's passion not [as] a slight to the game but a love for the game. Who doesn't love bat flips?
On TCB podcast, I predicted Carlos Gomez would be the Astros MVP this season. It will take an MVP-level step from Gomez or Springer for the Astros take the next step in the playoffs.
Fiers is in a weird place. The Astros have three pitchers if you shuttled their stats together and asked who is who, you wouldn't be able to identify each of them specifically. Those pitchers are Mike Fiers, Scott Feldman, and Doug Fister. All three of these pitchers have had good stretch over their careers and they've also been below averaged.
Fiers always seem to be the guy that people talk about as the first option to the bullpen when Lance McCullers comes back from his sore shoulder. But I don't understand why Fiers is that guy? As a starter, Fister was 2-1 with a 3.32 ERA and 1.059 WHIP including a five inning relief appearance where he gave up six runs.
So I'm happy with both.
3. Now that the rebuild is over, what are your expectations for the next competitive stretch in the Astros franchise? What are your hopes and expectations for this year?
My hopes going forward that the Astros continue to build to have the longest window of competitiveness as possible like the Cardinals. Which I understand will include moves like letting Albert Pujols. I hope to continue to have stacked minor league system and answers for each season's questions coming from the minor leagues.
For this year, I want the Astros to make the playoffs. At the moment, I don't want to make predictions of the World Series yet. There are too many young players on this team to assume an automatic trip back to the postseason. I expect them to reach that goal, but the playoffs are fickle thing.