Ryan Horton

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Introducing the 2019 Supercross Season

The 2019 Monster Energy Supercross season is only 21 days away. The stacked 250SX and 450SX classes hit the starting gate on January 5th at Angel Stadium; the series of 17 races in 18 weeks ends May 4 at Sam Boyd Stadium. Supercross Live has the full schedule.

Let’s start with the 250SX class. It will be broken up into two different series: east coast and west coast. There will be eight west coast races, seven east coast races and two east/west showdowns. The first of the east/west showdowns will be held in Atlanta on March 2nd, and the second is in Las Vegas on May 4th. Each series features a different set of riders competing for the 250SX championship. The east/west showdowns give the riders a chance to compete against riders from the other series. Be on the lookout for Adam Cianciarulo, Jeremy Martin, Dylan Ferrandis, Austin Forkner, Shane McElrath and Jordon Smith to all be title contenders in this class. As I said, this division is stacked.

On to the big boys. The 450SX class is loaded as well. These riders will race all 17 stops in the series then continue with three Triple Crown races. The Triple Crown format is different from a normal Supercross race. The normal race format is two heat races, with the top four riders advancing to the main event, then two semifinal races, with the top five from each race going on to the main event. There is also a last chance qualifier with the top four making it to the main. The top 22 then compete for the win.

The Triple Crown is three main events, with each getting longer as the night goes on. The riders in the main events will have qualified before the night show begins. The overall win for the night is based on the lowest combined score from the three main events. For example, if a rider finishes first three times, he scores three points and would win the overall. The three Triple Crown events will be in Anaheim on January 19th, in Detroit on February 23rd, and then in our great city of Houston, at NRG Stadium, on March 30th.

Let’s talk about the 450SX riders completing for the title. Jason Anderson is the defending champion. Last season, Anderson took the points lead at round two in Houston and never looked back. He was consistently in the top 10 and is one of the best-trained riders in the series. Marvin Musquin, the French-born rider, won the opening round last year in Anaheim, but he crashed hard in Houston and was forced to miss the following race. Even with this setback, Musquin ended up finishing second in points last year. Without the fall in Houston, he might be the defending champion. Eli Tomac is routinely the fastest guy on the track; I consider him the favorite to win it all. Ken Roczen is a series wildcard and had some of the worst luck with injuries in 2017. Roczen suffered a nasty broken arm that required multiple surgeries. He came back last season and rode well before suffering another broken bone when his hand got caught between another rider’s swingarm and rear tire. And a final contender to watch is Justin Barcia. Last season Barcia was brought to Yamaha as a fill-in rider, but he rode so well that he earned a multi-year contract. He’s always one of the most aggressive riders on the track and can be a consistent top five or ten finisher.

I’m really looking forward to this season. Both classes should come down to the final races of the season due to each field being so deep. I’ll be doing weekly write ups on the races as well as weekly podcasts to recap the races on Saturdays.

If you have questions about Supercross, reach out to @ryanhorton209 on Twitter.

A Post-Marwin World for the Astros

Have we seen the last of Marwin Gonzalez in an Astros uniform?

We may soon know the answer. I hope the Astros find a way to bring back the super utility guy that can play any position on the diamond. In the past seven seasons, we’ve watched Marwin grow into the player he is today. The first move Jeff Luhnow made after becoming the GM was to trade for Gonzalez from the Boston Red Sox.

I think after the trade for Aledmys Diaz that the writing is on the wall that Gonzalez is gone. Diaz can play 3rd, shortstop and the outfield. He’ll be a huge asset during the season as last season he batted .263 with 18 home runs and 55 RBI in 130 games, via Baseball-Reference. Compare that to Gonzalez, who batted .247 with 16 homers in 145 games. I think he could play a big part this season and maybe even start the season as the Astros’ everyday left-fielder.

Another option to make up for the absences of Gonzalez’s bat would be trading for Paul Goldschmidt from the Arizona Diamondbacks. If the Astros do this, Goldschmidt is now the everyday first baseman, and AJ Hinch could move Yuli Gurriel to DH. This option would bring more power to the lineup and make it even deeper than it was in 2017. Moving Yuli Gurriel to DH would take some stress off his body and keep him fresh for the postseason.

If Gonzalez is truly gone, I don’t think only one player can fill the void he leaves behind. It will take multiple guys, but I think it’s possible. The combination of Diaz, Goldschmidt (if they’re able to work out the trade for him) and Gurriel is a great place to start.

The market for Gonzalez is heating up right now, meaning the price for him is going up. If Houston could bring him back for four years and $70 million, I think they should do it. He was a big reason they won the World Series in 2017. His game-tying two home run might be the biggest home run in Astros history. He was a spark off the bench when they needed a clutch at-bat late in the game. He was a plus defender at every position he was asked to field. A.J. Hinch said if he had a problem, Gonzalez was the answer.

In closing, I feel the Astros should do what it takes to re-sign Gonzalez. He’s the best utility player in the game and has come up big in multiple big-time games. He’s a class act on and off the diamond. If they’re not able to re-sign him, then they should move on with one of the options I’ve presented. The Goldschmidt option is what I prefer and from what I’m hearing is a real possibility. With all this said, a post-Marwin world is a real possibility, but I don’t see it as an end to the dominance of the Astros. I see it as a way to get other guys involved in the run.

​Astros: Who should the team re-sign this offseason?

Let’s start with who are the guys on the team that will become free agents for the Astros.
Dallas Keuchel, Charlie Morton, Tony Sipp, Marwin Gonzalez, and Martin Maldonado.
Let’s look at the pitchers first. Dallas Keuchel, the 2015 Cy Young winner, can test the free agency waters for the first time in his career. My guess is he’s gone. The Astros have Verlander and Cole as their 1A and 1B in the starting rotation. The Astros have already extended a qualifying offer to him. If he accepts, great. If not the team gets a pick in the draft. Next, Charlie Morton, or as I affectionately call him CFM. (I’ll let you decide what it stands for.)

If he wants to keep pitching, then I would really like to see him brought back. I think two years for $28 million would be a reasonable offer. I really can’t see the Astros bringing back Tony Sipp. They have Framber Valdez they can use as a lefty in the bullpen to fill the void that Sipp would leave.

Marwin Gonzalez, the super utility player. AJ Hinch, the Astros manager, has said in the past if he has a problem, Marwin is the answer. Gonzalez is going to command a lot on the open market. If I’m the Astros, I match the offer. He is too valuable to the club to let go.

Martin Maldonado is a fascinating player. He’s one of the best defensive catchers in the game, regardless of his struggles in the ALCS. When you have a catcher who can eliminate guys on the bases, it makes it difficult to let him walk away. I think the Astros should re-sign him if you let McCann walk

Evan Gattis is an interesting guy for me. The Astros can fill the DH hole with a better player. Currently, they have Tyler White who can fill the hole and did so for the second half of the season. Alternatively, maybe trade for Paul Goldschmidt. (One can dream, right?) The Diamondbacks are willing to listen to offers and Goldschmidt would be a great fit in his hometown of Houston. I would prefer Goldschmidt and bringing him back to the Lone Star State where he played college ball would be ideal.

In conclusion, the Astros should bring back Morton, Gonzalez, and Maldonado. Marwin will cost the most, but he’s equally as valuable to the team. If they’re not able to re-sign Morton, they have guys in the system ready to go. I’d look for Josh James to get the early nod and expect to see Forrest Whitley called up at some point next season.