Mar 21, 2013, 1:00 PM EDT
Between now and Opening Day, HardballTalk will take a look at each of baseball’s 30 teams, asking the key questions, the not-so-key questions, and generally breaking down their chances for the 2013 season. Up next: The Houston Astros.
The Big Question: Will the Astros be historically bad?
Maybe this isn’t the biggest question facing the Astros this year, but it’s one that’s sort of been sticking with me for a couple of weeks as I’ve made the rounds on various radio shows previewing the 2013 season. Almost all of the hosts ask me how bad the Astros will be and almost all of them are assuming this is going to be some sort of 1962 Mets situation or something. I actually had one guy take the under on an over/under of 45 wins for them. Which seems kind of nuts.
Look, the Astros aren’t going to be good, I’ll agree with that. But we have to be realistic here and note that in the 162-game era, only two teams have failed to win 45 games: the 1962 Mets and the 2003 Tigers. Indeed, unless I’m overlooking someone, I do not believe any team has won fewer than 50 games in a full 162 game season apart from those two teams. Every season brings us some bad teams, but teams that putrid are few and far between. And really, there is no reason to think that these Astros, as thin as they are, will be historically bad.
Part of this is a gut feeling, based on the usual composition of awful teams. They tend to be teams who have not yet begun the full rebuilding process yet — or expansion teams — which feature a lot of old guys and castoffs on the roster. The sorts of players who can fool a GM into thinking, “well, maybe we’ll be OK because I’ve heard of that guy,” and thus causes them to forego real substantive fixes. That was the 2012 Astros, right? Home of Carlos Lee, Wandy Rodriguez and Brett Myers. A team which gave Armando Galarraga a shot because, hell, he almost had a perfect game once, right? A team which went on a 7-43 stretch at one point because, eh, just because?
The 2013 team is not a talented one, but the moves to make them better have begun. The Jed Lowrie trade, which brought back Chris Carter, Max Stassi and Brad Peacock is the sort of move I like: boring ones to most fans, but moves which constitute the dirty work of a rebuilding process. Getting depth and incremental improvement. That, along with a pretty substantial overhaul of the minor leagues, represents an all-in approach which is admirable and rare in rebuilding. Let’s just forget for a moment that Carlos Pena, currently slated to be the Astros’ DH, was on that 2003 Tigers team, OK?
Little upside at the moment, but fewer gaping holes and a lot of hungry young players who are happy to be anywhere make for a much better vibe than last year’s 107 loss team possessed and, I have a feeling, will help stave off some sort of historically bad showing. Perhaps that doesn’t make Astros fans feel better at the moment, but merely believing that this team will not set records for futility is a compliment. One that, for some reason, a lot of people are unwilling to offer. I think that’s both ahistorical and kinda sad. Think positively, Houston!
What else is going on?
- Positive thoughts and the avoidance of ignominy are one thing, but this lineup isn’t gonna scare anyone:
Jose Altuve is legit and will likely be the last dude left from this bunch when the Astros next win 90 games, but I don’t know where the runs are gonna come from. Maybe Carlos Pena has one last good year in him. Maybe he can check the pockets of the pants he wore back in 2009.
- How’s about that rotation?
Hmm. Phil Humber. Let’s forget that comment I made about Armando Galarraga and signing someone just because they once did something interesting above too.
- The Astros may play poorly, but they’ll look awesome doing it. They will be sporting what are easily the nicest new uniforms any team has switched to in years if not decades.
- That’s pretty, but you know what’s ugly? Moving to the American League West. With the Angels and Rangers being two of the most talented teams around, the defending champ Oakland A’s always being solid and with an improved Mariners team, the Astros are gonna have way tougher competition this year than they’ve seen in the past.
So, how are they gonna do? Not good! I will refrain from predicting loss totals, but I’ll give a range of somewhere between 100 and 110. And if things break awesome in six different ways and they lose only, like, 97, well then they should be allowed to crack champagne. Because it’s not 2013 that matters for this franchise. It’s the future. And no matter how dark the present may be, they’re finally doing the heavy lifting they’ve long needed to do in order to make that future bright, so bully for them.
That said: Fifth Place, AL West.
Jul 2, 2015, 5:30 PM EDT
No, that’s not how the law works.
Jul 2, 2015, 5:02 PM EDT
Cahill was designated for assignment by the Braves earlier this month after allowing 23 runs in 26 innings.
Jul 2, 2015, 4:29 PM EDT
The director, Chris Correa, has admitted to hacking into the Astros system.
Jul 2, 2015, 4:16 PM EDT
He still has to serve a 50-game suspension for a “drug of abuse.”
Jul 2, 2015, 3:49 PM EDT
Shawn Tolleson has grabbed hold of ninth-inning duties.
Jul 2, 2015, 3:24 PM EDT
He fractured his wrist last night as a result of an Edinson Volquez fastball.
Jul 2, 2015, 2:30 PM EDT
Not a bad return following Tommy John surgery.
Jul 2, 2015, 2:14 PM EDT
Chris Taylor replaces him on the roster.
Jul 2, 2015, 1:27 PM EDT
The dreaded plantar fasciitis.
Jul 2, 2015, 1:12 PM EDT
It was for sale before he even resigned.
Jul 2, 2015, 11:29 AM EDT
Basically you just need to follow Jesse Sanchez and Ben Badler, so here are the links you need to do that.
Jul 2, 2015, 11:02 AM EDT
I hear his [pitch] is nasty.
Jul 2, 2015, 10:47 AM EDT
And place Tim Lincecum on the disabled list.
Jul 2, 2015, 10:30 AM EDT
How YOU doin’?
Jul 2, 2015, 10:15 AM EDT
Even after missing more than a year Fernandez returns to the Marlins’ rotation one month before his 23rd birthday.
Jul 2, 2015, 10:01 AM EDT
A possible win-win-win involving A-Rod and the Yankees? What on Earth is this world coming to?
Jul 2, 2015, 9:45 AM EDT
Spring is hitting .264/.365/.457 with 13 homers and 14 stolen bases on the year.
Jul 2, 2015, 9:20 AM EDT
He was likely not smiling when he discovered the theft.
Jul 2, 2015, 8:56 AM EDT
And the ump was in perfect position to make the right call.
- Breaking: Cardinals fire their scouting director, likely due to the Astros hacking scandal 15
- Bryce Harper is naked in ESPN’s “Body Issue” 43
- Today is the day: Marlins ace Jose Fernandez returns from Tommy John surgery 4
- A-Rod, the Yankees and the union in talks to direct his $6 million home run bonus to charity 22
- And That Happened: Wednesday’s scores and highlights 50
- Video: Joey Butler breaks up Carlos Carrasco’s no-hitter with two outs in the ninth inning 12
- Bill Stoneman taking over as Angels’ interim GM 15
- Jerry Dipoto loses power struggle with Mike Scioscia, steps down as Angels general manager 39
- With the same-sex marriage decision, the San Francisco Giants get another big win (276)
- Joe Maddon is the latest manager to rip instant replay. He’s got a point. (110)
- Settling the Scores: Sunday’s results (99)
- Report: Jerry Dipoto “definitely out” as Angels GM (77)
- What Yasiel Puig being a pain in the butt means. And what it doesn’t mean. (77)