Expect the Astros to turn their bad deeds into the world’s largest shoulder chip.
They will be motivated to win in 2020, not just for all the obvious reasons — notably that they will want to demonstrate that their 2017 title, specifically, and their 2017-19 overall excellence were not the result of cheating.
Like Giants fans cheering Barry Bonds or Cardinals fans doing the same for Mark McGwire, expect the Houston loyalists to form a cocoon of protection and positivity around the Astros. This is how it works: The cheaters out there are a scourge, but my cheater is a great guy unfairly castigated. I would expect a lot of “nobody believed in us” coming from the Astros as a rallying cry for themselves and a rebuke against those who questioned their tactics.
For the Astros, though, the need to win in 2020 should be about more than exoneration or chest thumping. The way their roster and farm system are positioned after the best run of on-field success in organization history, this coming season projects as arguably their last, best shot to win it all in this phase.
Lineup core pieces Michael Brantley, Yuli Gurriel and George Springer are entering their walk years, as…