Yes, the Astros Are Bad and Not Getting Any Better
It's a lot of the same for the Astros so far this season. Losing.
Photo by Marco Torres
The Astros have only played 19 games, leaving 143 more to go. It's too early to write off the season. But the team's 5-14 and has lost seven straight games, been swept in the past two series, and has just won three of its last ten games. And while it's still early, it does need to be noted that, at this point last season, 19 games and three weeks into the season, the Astros were also 5-14.
Management has assured everybody that this team is better than the atrocity the Astros trotted out last season. The players also say the same thing. The historically bad bullpen from last season was jettisoned. There's a supposedly legit major leaguer playing centerfield. Super-stud George Springer has finally been promoted to the big squad.
All of that said, knowing how early it is in the season, it's painfully obvious that this club is once again in the running to earn the No. 1 draft choice. The team's on pace to once again lose over 100 games. Thankfully the CSN Houston ordeal has not been resolved or the travesty of the Houston Astros would be visible to the entire city.
I advocated blowing up the Astros and starting over from scratch, building up the farm system, setting the team up to be another version of the Tampa Bay Rays, a low-budget team built by very smart guys relying on advanced stats. And this Astros team has been blown up, and it's been blown up real good. The masterminds have supposedly drafted smartly. The minor league system is supposedly the best in baseball. But at some point, there needs to be some sign of progress made on the major league level.
The fans are, after all, still being asked to pay major league prices to see Chris Carter strike out at bat after at bat. Jon Singleton's killing the ball in the minors, while the fans in Houston are stuck watching Jesus Guzman with his .194/.237/.389 slash line flail away at first base. The team's seen fit to bat Jose Altuve cleanup multiple times and wants people to watch Marc Krauss play the outfield. It's a bad product that gives absolutely no reason for anybody to watch and which is even beginning to alienate the hardcore fans.
And while it's still possible to have faith in Jeff Luhnow and the front office -- look at the job they've done with rebuilding the worst farm system in baseball -- having faith in Bo Porter is becoming a bit more difficult to keep. He's supposedly great in working with the kids and holding them accountable for misdeeds. But he generally appears to be a short-tempered tyrant more prone to lashing out at player mistakes while somehow escaping any blame for any problems with the team (and his blow-up at the A's' Jed Lowrie for bunting against the shift on Friday was an outright embarrassment).
There's no way the Astros could ever get Joe Maddon away from the Rays, but there's got to be somebody else out there with managing experience who would be able to handle what the Astros require. Someone who can work with youngsters, help them keep improving, and who not only knows how to work with advanced stats and theories but has a record of implementing such practices. Such a person does exist, has worked with young kids on rebuilding teams and has worked in close collaboration with innovative front offices. And this person lives in Houston and currently works for that little cable network that most of the viewing region doesn't get. The perfect manager for a young, rebuilding Astros exists in the name of Art Howe.
It's doubtful any change in manager will be made this season, though the lack of improvement of the players on the big league roster is worrisome with guys in the minors supposedly easy to move up to the big leagues. But maybe Bo Porter's temper tantrums are just the perfect things to distract attention from the pitiful team that trots out on the field game after game after game.
Maybe the team gets better. There's no reason for it to be this bad, to stay this bad. And maybe more young kids will come up from the majors, and maybe Bo Porter will start acting like a grown-up and maybe Chris Carter will stop striking out every at bat and maybe the bullpen won't implode every game. But until that happens, just forget about the Houston Astros. Out of sight, out of mind, and all of that nonsense.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss Houston Press' biggest stories.