Giving us a helping hand with the 2014 Astros Team Preview is Mike Hllywa. You might recognize Mike’s name from his work at Gammons Daily, Halo Hangout, or Off Base Percentage. He’s also been a guest host on The Baseball Show Podcast. You can follow him on twitter here.
I know what you are thinking, this post is about the Astros, so let’s get to the jokes already, right? Sadly, there will not be that many jokes at the expense of the Astros here thanks to a contract that my buddy MJ made me sign this past winter. Yes, the contract was written out on a cocktail napkin. Yes, I did sign said contract in mustard. No, I will not tell you how much alcohol was consumed. Yes, I should have a lawyer on standby so I stop doing stupid stuff like that. Don’t worry, MJ, if your buddy, Kevin Goldstein, gets upset, it won’t be because of this article.
Interestingly enough, however, the joke may be on all of us in a couple of years. Why is that, you say? That is because the future is bright in south-eastern Texas. Now, pipe down, no questions until the very end.
Last month, John Sickles started rolling out his annual Top-20 prospect lists for each team. How did the Astros fare? Well, let’s just say that they have quite a bright farm system. Baseball Prospectus ranked their farm system fifth in all of baseball. Come 2017 or maybe even 2016, this could be the kind of team that comes out of nowhere and surprises everyone. Well, everyone who wasn’t paying attention.
But we haven’t reached that point yet. Mark Appel and Carlos Correa aren’t ready yet, and Jose Altuve’s fun-size charm isn’t going to push the Astros out of the cellar in the AL West. Sorry, Houston.
This is still, basically, the same team that lost 105, 106 and 111 games in 2011, 2012 and 2013, respectively. It is still the same team who’s biggest headline grab last year came after they traded Bud Norris for L.J. Hoes, leading to a flurry of “Astros trade Bud for Hoes” articles. This is a team whose projected ace (and part-time bigot), Jarred Cosart, is projected by ZiPS to finish the season with an ERA+ of 93 across 132 innings. ZiPS also projects that they will have only one pitcher perform above league-average in 2014. That pitcher is reliever, Jesse Crain.
And if it seems like I am picking on the pitching too much, don’t worry, the offense is almost just as uninspiring. Almost.
Jason Castro is projected to be worth 3.3 WAR according to Szymborski, as is George Springer. But it is likely that Springer will start the year in AAA, even though it wouldn’t hurt the team to let him cut his teeth on Opening Day. After that, the win values feature a few two’s and a slew of one’s. Sounds kind of like my freshman year in college. *spins bow tie. Dances off stage.*
It really is too bad that this team can’t evoke much optimism from, well, anybody. And with Fangraphs projecting another 111-loss season (and, let’s be honest, 120 isn’t too much of a stretch), it would be hard to fault fans from staying away. You want to cheer for this team. But, at the same time, you don’t want your friends to know that you are cheering for this team. In a couple of seasons, it won’t be as embarrassing to root for the Astros. Hell, it might even be the cool thing to do by then. But this year? Yeah, its already hopeless. Sorry again, Houston. Now, who has any questions?