Hope for the Hopeless: Houston Astros

This is the first edition of Hope for the Hopeless, where we will take a look at the first ten teams in the league eliminated from playoff contention, and examine what their fans can be optimistic about after a disappointing 2013 season. First up: the Houston Astros.

It's OK Astros fans: it'll all be over season. The "it" I'm referring to here isn't the 2013 season (which does end soon), but instead Houston's run of futility over the last three seasons. After losing 106 games in 2011, 107 games in 2012, and probably somewhere around that many once 2013 is over, I can definitely understand the apathy and rage that Astros fans are feeling.

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But as I outlined in this morning's Post-Mortem, there's hope for the Astros. Up the middle talent is typically the best core of a winning team, and Houston's got three good players in those positions: Jason Castro, Jonathan Villar, and Jose Altuve (2013 struggles not withstanding). When you add AAA center fielder George Springer (who may not stay in center field once he gets to the majors) to the mix, Houston's got everything they need to form a winning combination of up the middle talent in the future.

Houston also has a trio of pitchers with stud potential that could reach the majors in 2014: 2013 first overall pick Mark Appel, Asher Wojciechowski, and Mike Foltynewicz. When you also throw in their probable first overall pick in 2014 (largely expected to be NC State lefty Carlos Rodon, though a lot can change in nine months), Houston is absolutely loaded with young talent that is going to start making an impact in 2014 and 2015.

There's plenty of hope for the Astros going forward, with corner players Jonathan Singleton and Domingo Santana joining all of the above players in the 2014/15 impact camp and younger players Rio Ruiz, Carlos Correa, and Lance McCullers Jr further off, but still laden with potential. 

If you're a Houston fan, you've already been through the storm. The sun is going to be rising sooner rather than later, and it's going to be glorious. Would you rather be a fan of the Astros, who are horrible *right now* but have a detailed plan for the future and are going to get great soon, or a fan of say, the White Sox, who are not good right now and don't have much of a plan for the future with an awful farm system to boot? That's a pretty easy decision in my mind.

Joe Lucia

About Joe Lucia

Joe is the managing editor of The Outside Corner and an associate editor at Awful Announcing. He lives in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and is smack dab in the middle of some of the best (and worst) sports fans in the country.

Hope for the Hopeless: Houston Astros

This is the first edition of Hope for the Hopeless, where we will take a look at all of the teams in the league that finished under .500, and examine what their fans can be optimistic about after a disappointing 2012 season. FIrst up: the Houston Astros.

It's been a bad year for the Astros. No one will argue that. As I talked about in the post-mortem feature yesterday, this team was horrific this year…maybe even historically so at the end of the day. However, there is some hope in Houston…maybe not for the 2013 season, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

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Jeff Luhnow and the Astros front office can do whatever the hell they want with payroll for the 2013 season. They started 2012 with a $60.8 million payroll, and were at $77 million to begin 2011. Their payroll for 2013 could be as low as $25 million if they don't bother to sign a free agent, but Luhnow and his staff can pick and choose who they want to sign to fill roles, because they clearly have the payroll.

Houston's farm system is also on the upswing after looking like a disaster zone over the last few years. Charlie wrote up some of the prospects this morning, and there is some good talent there. Sure, a lot of the talent is very young, but there are guys like Jarred Cosart, Jonathan Singleton, Brett Oberholtzer, and Robbie Grossman who could sniff the majors in 2013.

The major league roster has a little bit of a dearth of quality players, but the Astros have a solid enough core up the middle with catcher Jason Castro, the tenth overall pick in 2008 that has taken major strides forward this year, shortstop Jed Lowrie, and second baseman Jose Altuve. Lowrie is older than both Castro and Altuve, but will at least give Houston a solid option at a critical position on the diamond for the next two years…unless the team wants to potentially sell high for even more prospects, which could be a wise move given Lowrie's injury history.

There isn't a huge variety of topics to hopeful about for the Astros, and the main point is "the farm system". However, most rebuilding clubs face the same situation. Luhnow completely blew everything up in Houston, and that's the wisest move in a situation like this as opposed to going with a half in, half out approach and perpetually winning 70-75 games with no hope of improvement.

Joe Lucia

About Joe Lucia

Joe is the managing editor of The Outside Corner and an associate editor at Awful Announcing. He lives in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and is smack dab in the middle of some of the best (and worst) sports fans in the country.

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