Running an MLB team requires vision. Fortunately, Jeffrey Maddox has a great view from the stands.
Yet the Houston-based Director of Investment Banking isn’t looking for a GM job. With more than a decade of experience in finance, Jeffrey Maddox has earned quite a reputation in the SPAC space, specializing in merger and acquisition advice.
Nor is Jeffrey Maddox looking to become baseball’s equivalent of an “armchair quarterback.” Like many other fans, he’s just excited to be back at the park. After 99 days, MLB ended its lockout, which was the second-longest work stoppage in its history. It’s finally time to play ball.
And when the Houston Astros take the field, the team will attempt to build on their recent run of success. In addition to winning the World Series in 2017, the Astros have taken home the AL pennant in both 2019 and 2021. Jeffrey Maddox has witnessed most of this action firsthand as a season ticket holder.
If the Astros hope to hoist the trophy again this season, some key positions still need to be addressed. With his unique perspective as a “fan in the stands,” Jeffrey Maddox pitches out three off-season storylines that will define the team’s 2022 campaign.
Man the middle
Who’s at shortstop? This isn’t a riff on the iconic Abbott and Costello routine. Instead, this is the Astros’ unfortunate reality after Carlos Correa signed with the Minnesota Twins last week. Who will take over the two-time All-Star’s spot at shortstop is one of the biggest question marks surrounding the organization. And those are big cleats to fill. Now that the free agent market has dried up considerably and the top names are off the board, the answer is likely already on the roster. Jeffrey Maddox expects Jeremy Pena to get the first crack at it. Although unproven, the 24-year-old is considered one of the organization’s top prospects. Despite a wrist injury that limited him to only 30 games last season, Pena projects as an elite defender.
Add more arms
You can never have too much firepower. When their ace, Lance McCullers Jr., was ruled out with a forearm strain during last year’s playoffs, the Astros were heavily exposed. That’s why the team quickly re-signed Justin Verlander to a two-year deal. However, the former Cy Young winner has had his own struggles with injury, missing all of 2021. Most of the World Series rotation is returning, but the team could still bolster its roster with another starter or reliever. Jeffrey Maddox anticipates the Astros to bypass the marquee names and build bullpen depth with mid-tier options.
Shore up center
The Astros are backed up all the way against the warning track. Center field has been a revolving door since George Springer walked a season ago. The team deployed a combination of prospects and rookies that yielded mixed results. While above average defensively, none of these options were produced at the plate. Chas McCormick will likely be the Opening Day starter, but watch out for Pedro Leon. Signed out of Cuba, Leon is the organization’s No. 2 overall prospect. Jeffrey Maddox sees the 23-year-old as a likely midseason call up.