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.
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.