One thing has always remained throughout the adversity and the Jim Crane/Jeff Luhnow administration, and that’s the tremendous sense of competition within the Houston Astros clubhouse.
Dexter Fowler is traditionally a center fielder. So is George Springer. The fact that a guy like Springer, who is being heralded as all but the messiah in Houston, is not being handed the job of patrolling Tals’ Hill, is a testament to the dedication that the Astros have continued to enact as far as progressing the team goes.
Nothing is a guarantee, and that is the only guarantee. Each position is contested for, from the flimsy bullpen to the all-but-set outfield. Each player continues to have to put 100 percent effort into his daily routine to ensure that his spot is not jeopardized by someone further down in the system that is performing that much better and putting that much more effort into their play.
It’s a simple scheme, but one that continues to remain effective. And why wouldn’t it? When players get complacent, they no longer feel the need to continuously push themselves to the limit to get better. They get lulled into a sense of safety.
This sort of problem will never plague the Astros. On a team that’s fresh off three straight 100-loss seasons, that should sound incredibly refreshing. No matter what, each player that goes out onto the diamond is putting everything he has into his game — and if not, he’ll be replaced.