For the Astros, a Loss and Uncertainty About Carlos Correa's Future

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Houston’s acquisition couldn’t prevention it successful the World Series. With Carlos Correa hinting helium mightiness leave, determination is nary telling what the squad mightiness look similar adjacent season.

Carlos Correa had his champion  all-around play   successful  2021, but his adjacent  declaration  whitethorn  beryllium  acold   larger than Houston would beryllium  consenting  to entertain.
Credit...Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

Scott Miller

By Scott Miller

Nov. 3, 2021Updated 5:18 a.m. ET

HOUSTON — Dusty Baker talked eloquently implicit the play astir however this peculiar radical of Houston Astros was gritty and battle-tested. After a triumph successful Atlanta pulled the squad to wrong 3 games to 2 successful this World Series, helium and prima shortstop Carlos Correa some spoke of this team’s knack for melodramatic comebacks.

The harsh world is, Houston besides has plentifulness of unwanted acquisition the different way. The Astros present person played successful 3 World Series successful the past 5 years, but successful getting trounced, 7-0, successful Game 6 connected Tuesday night, the Astros person mislaid 2 of those three. Making it sting adjacent more, Washington clinched the 2019 rubric astatine Houston’s Minute Maid Park, and Atlanta danced connected their tract this week.

“It’s tough, large time,” Baker said aft watching Atlanta pitchers clasp his Astros to a .224 batting mean and .298 on-base percent during the bid and seeing Atlanta out-homer Houston by 11-2. “They played great. We couldn’t support them successful the ballpark. We walked somebody, past that led to the crooked-number innings. The pitching unopen america down.”

Baker congratulated his counterpart, Brian Snitker, the squad and the metropolis of Atlanta. He talked astir however “you’ve got to support connected trucking, and that gives you adjacent much inducement adjacent year.” Winters are ne'er easy, but this 1 comes with peculiar complications successful Houston.

The Astros this twelvemonth were booed relentlessly and could not outrun the cheating scandal that ever volition hover implicit their 1 World Series title, successful 2017. Some contended they needed to triumph different rubric truthful that their halfway radical of Correa, Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman and Yuli Gurriel would gain backmost immoderate semblance of legitimacy for their achievements. Correa said helium did not spot it that way, eschewing the “outside noise.” Instead, helium offered different defence of his squad arsenic Tuesday nighttime turned into Wednesday morning.

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“Second spot is not bully capable for us,” Correa said. “I cognize it’s not bully capable for you guys. But it speaks volumes of however bully our organization, our endowment successful the clubhouse is. Five A.L.C.S.’s successful a row, 3 World Series successful 5 years. I mean, I don’t cognize what other you privation to inquire from a large shot club.”

Immediate questions situation the aboriginal of some Correa and Baker. Neither the prima shortstop nor the manager are signed for adjacent year. When helium stepped to the sheet successful the ninth inning against Atlanta’s closer, Will Smith, Correa acknowledged that helium was focused connected what helium knew could beryllium his farewell.

“It was the lone happening going done my mind, to beryllium honest,” said Correa, who took 2 strikes, past a ball, past lined retired to close fielder Adam Duvall. “A batch of feelings, mixed emotions. I spent 7 years with this club. Yeah, it was going done my caput for sure.”

Correa is 1 ceremonial filing distant from escaped agency. He thanked the Astros proprietor Jim Crane and the beforehand bureau for respecting his wishes not to negociate during the season, but realistically, the likelihood of him returning are slim. The largest declaration the Astros person executed since Crane purchased the squad successful 2011 was the five-year, $151 cardinal hold signed by Altuve successful 2018. With Francisco Lindor banking $341 cardinal implicit 10 years with the Mets, the terms for Correa is apt to agelong good beyond Houston’s comfortableness zone.

In immoderate ways, Correa, a two-time All Star and 2015 A.L. Rookie of the Year, sounded arsenic if helium was offering a valedictory address.

“To the fans, I privation to accidental convey you for your support,” Correa said. “My clip present was amazing, the 7 top years of my life. I got present arsenic a boy, turned into a man, grew successful this metropolis and the fans embraced me.”

For Baker, 72, this was different bitter loss. Though helium is simply a three-time manager of the twelvemonth and has led his teams to 1,987 victories — 12th connected the vocation database — this is the 2nd clip helium has guided a squad to the World Series and mislaid it. In 2002, his San Francisco Giants led the then-Anaheim Angels 3 games to 2 earlier losing.

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“I deliberation you get implicit it,” Baker said. “Other radical don’t fto you get implicit it. And different radical don’t get implicit it. To me, we did each we could to get to this point.”

He added: “Quite frankly, this 1 doesn’t wounded rather arsenic overmuch arsenic the archetypal 1 did due to the fact that the archetypal one, I thought we had that won, you cognize what I mean? More than this one.”

Baker besides has had a tally of atrocious luck to autumn conscionable abbreviated of the World Series. His 2003 Chicago Cubs were wrong 5 outs of the N.L. pennant erstwhile a foul shot successful the stands, the infamous Steve Bartman play, derailed their season. In his 2 seasons managing the Washington Nationals, his teams won 95 and 97 games, each earning the N.L. East title. Yet helium was fired.

In Houston, helium maneuvered the Astros to wrong 1 triumph of the A.L. pennant during the pandemic-shortened 2020 play earlier losing Game 7 to Tampa Bay. Then this.

“I consciousness bad. I consciousness unspeakable due to the fact that I’m not truly acceptable to spell home,” Baker said. “I haven’t been location since I near successful February, truthful you cognize I indispensable emotion these guys and emotion what I’m doing. I mean, when’s the past clip you weren’t home? It’s dang near, I looked connected the calendar contiguous and it’s astir Thanksgiving.”

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Baker made it wide helium hopes helium is backmost because, aft this loss, helium said, he’s “still got immoderate unfinished business.”

If helium is back, it volition beryllium with a squad that astir apt volition beryllium importantly altered. Correa’s instrumentality is successful doubt. The ace Justin Verlander, who missed each play aft having Tommy John surgery, is simply a escaped agent. So, too, are the starter Zack Greinke and the cardinal relievers Kendall Graveman, Brooks Raley and Yimi Garcia.

“I’d beryllium sad, but similar I said, he’s not a escaped cause yet,” Jose Altuve said of Correa’s imaginable departure, adding, “I haven’t mislaid my hopes.”

Bregman, too, lobbied for the Astros to bash what it takes to support Correa.

“He’s 1 of the smartest shot players successful the world,” said Bregman, who severely struggled successful this World Series, batting conscionable .095 (2 for 21) with 2 R.B.I. and nary location runs. “And he’s 1 of the hardest working. He eats, sleeps and breathes the game. It’s been honestly astonishing to play with him.”

The seasons are agelong and the endings, for the 9 teams who play successful the postseason and permission it disconnected a loss, are harsh. Summers travel with nary guarantees, and aft playing successful the A.L.C.S. successful 5 consecutive seasons and winning lone 1 World Series, it was hard capable for the Astros to judge that they wouldn’t beryllium forcing Atlanta into a Game 7 connected Wednesday.

“I mean, it truly hurts,” Baker said. “But it’s over.”

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