As I was driving into work a few weeks back, yes I haven’t left my day job as of yet, I was listening to a certain sports talk show in Houston which will remain nameless. They were babbling on about the Astros, making fun of them and simply treating them like garbage. Mind you these are the same folks who will be scrambling to interview Jose Altuve and J.D. Martinez very soon. Point is, they had trouble naming players on the team, which I’d understand if you were living under a rock or baseball just wasn’t you’re thing. During their embarrassing segment a thought hit me like a bolt of electricity; the ‘Stros have a a heck of a chance to make names for themselves, especially offensively. The names won’t be known to most right away but they have the talent to change that very quickly, as Altuve and Martinez have begun to do. A few entries ago, I noted that most people, including myself, thought their offense would be below average and I still think it will probably be no better than average as the season wears on but the potential is obvious. The thing about that is with a little luck and some potential actually shining through, the Houston Astros might just be okay.
The experts will tell you this team is going to stink and they’re probably right, however, even they’ll acknowledge a sudden turn for the better is very possible. Carlos Lee will hit, not sure how much but I can’t imagine it would be any worse than 2011 and that wasn’t bad at all. So far, Jose Altuve and Jed Lowrie sure seem like an improvement over Jeff Keppinger and Clint Barmes and Jose has a chance to go far beyond Keppinger. The catching situation has improved dramatically with the return of Jason Castro and the acquisition of Chris Snyder. We all loved Humberto Quintero but difference has been noticeable from day one and Castro is starting to hit like we all expected. The infield should show some major pop for once, haven’t been able to say that for quite some time.
The outfield will be where the luck might need to take place. Hunter Pence and Michael Bourn were pretty important to the offense but even with them the everyday lineup was below average. J.D. Martinez has shined and will continue to shine brightly if his track record means anything. Given he came straight from double-A ball, an adjustment time was expected but the curve might not be so steep. He looks the part and talks the part, acting the part will be the biggest question mark and avoiding any prolonged slumps. He might hold the key to the offense and could become the new face of the franchise very soon with a strong campaign. Now, Jordan Schafer and Brian Bogesvic have tons to prove, they need to show up this season. Schafer has the tools to be a Bourn clone and so far has lived up to those comparisons but maturity and health will be issues to look at. Bogasevic is a converted pitcher, enough said, the guy has a lot of doubters out there waiting for him to fail. He has struggled pretty badly so far, so a nice turn around needs to happen soon or Fernando Martinez might get to see Houston sooner than later. Neither has to replace their predecessor but do need to come into their own right now.
Am I going to predict this group to be the 1998 Astros, heck no, not even I can be that optimistic. Thing is, no one is asking them to be. Knowledgable minds understand this club is rebuilding and most of these guys won’t be here long-term. That said, if fans took a moment to get to know these guys and look at the clubs’ potential in a very a logical way, they may be very surprised to see what they find. Hopefully, this club will make people remember their name, instead of degrading it.