Three games. That is all that is left to the 2013 season for our Houston Astros. To say that it has been a challenging season for all involved would be an understatement.
Jim Crane (Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports)
And now it is just about over. There are only three more games left.
Only three more games for the Astros to lose.
Just one last series where Houston will be over matched.
There are only 27 more innings left for the Astros make mental mistakes and to commit base running blunders.
One last Sunday game where we have to deal with the fact that according to Nielsen nobody watches the Astros and everyone will be watching the Texans.
From before the season even started, the Astros were a constant source of negative PR. Whether it was related to Comcast, the national media and the lack of talent, or a myriad of other issues, our local nine simply did not do well in the court of public opinion. And in most cases, it was warranted.
Simply put, this was a difficult season for fans.
But all of this is very near sighted. If you look past all of the short term struggles and controversies, there is optimism here. Believe it or not, there are reasons to be excited about this team.
However at the same time, you are allowed to feel relief that the season is drawing to a close. At this point, there is no more progress that can be made this season. Lessons have been learned, and plans have been created to work towards success for next season.
Bo Porter now has a year under his belt as a major league manager. While at times this season was challenging for Porter, he did the best he could with what he had to work with. Now Porter has the entire winter to work on a plan for next season after having a front row seat for this season.
Next season can and should be different. It will be better. But it will not just happen on its own. If certain things do not happen this offseason, then 2014 will just be an extension of 2013 instead of being the season where the Astros turn the corner and begin their ascension.
And not all of that has to do with the product on the field.
Jim Crane’s organization needs to repair their relationship with the fans. It will not be an easy process, and will not simply be solved by another caravan or a photo op.
Comcast needs to be available in all homes. Fans are not going to get excited for a second season of a team they cannot watch.
Fans are going to need a reason to buy tickets, and the pricing plan needs to be revised greatly to reflect the current market value of tickets. The two things here are that people need to be able to watch the game, and there should be incentives to go to the game.
I’m not saying the Astros need to go out and sign a big free agent like Robinson Cano, but they do need to bring in some veteran players. Obviously Cano would not be in play with the Astros anyway, as a player of his ilk does not fit into Jeff Luhnow’s plan. And I’m fine with that and I think the fans understand that as well.
But there is nothing stopping the Astros from spending maybe $15 million this offseason. Bring in two veteran relievers to help out the bullpen. Maybe sign a veteran starting pitcher (a few tiers up from Erik Bedard and Philip Humber). Import a solid veteran position player.
There is a difference between spending money to make the team better, and spending money to appease the fans. The Astros need to do the former, as the latter will just set them back again.
I don’t think it can get any worse than 2013, and I do think 2014 will be a better year. I think ultimately the power to determine how good it will be, rests with Jim Crane.