You might not realize this, but the Astros are still playing baseball. So before diverting all your attention to the Texans and whether J.J. Watt is going to get some snaps at tight end this season, here are a few reasons for you to continue watching or listening or reading about the Astros.
THE RACE FOR CARLOS RODON
The Astros are once again in a battle for the number one draft choice. It's rare for a major league team to get the number one pick three years in a row, but the Astros are trying to pull it off. But believe it or not, for as bad as the Astros have been, they have yet to sew this spot up and are battling the Miami Marlins and Chicago White Sox for the pick.
The prize of the draft, so far, is a stud left-handed pitcher from South Carolina named Carlos Rodon. Rodon's the total package for a pitcher. He's big with a fastball that hit the mid-90s, a wicked slider, and he can locate his pitches. So while the team suffers now, by the end of the decade, the pitching staff could be anchored by Rodon and Mark Appel and could be competing for the best rotation in baseball.
WILL THE ASTROS ONCE AGAIN LOSE 100 GAMES?
Hand in hand with the quest for Rodon comes the Astros' quest to once again lose 100 games. Until three seasons ago, the Astros had never lost 100 games in a season. They are now on the verge of losing 100-plus games for the third straight season. With the coming of each season, fans think that there's no way this season could be worse than the last, but then the season starts and things are worse.
The Astros have lost with veterans. They've lost with rookies. Studs, duds and rejects. Bad pitching. Poor hitting. Inexplicable base running. Inept defense. If there's a way to lose a game, then the Astros have found a way to do it.
WILL THE CHRONICLE HAVE ANYONE COVERING THE TEAM
The Chronicle beat writer, Brian T. Smith, just moved to the Texans beat, making him the third writer to leave the Astros beat in three years. Jesus Ortiz is the back-up Chron beat writer, but he's still juggling the Astros and the Dynamo, so neither fan base wins. The Astros are a bad team, but the Chronicle's inability to keep a writer permanently on this beat is puzzling because, bad team or not, the Astros are still a major league team and covering the best of a major league team is still one of the coveted jobs in journalism. CSN HOUSTON OR NOT CSN HOUSTON, THAT IS THE QUESTION
Will CSN Houston make it through an entire broadcast year without televising any Rockets or Astros game to a majority of the Houston television public? It's looking like that is what's actually going to happen. But then again, maybe it's all a plot to make sure that fans actually show up to Minute Maid Park to watch the games in person. And if the team continues losing night after night, coupled with the lack of television carriage, do Astros ratings meet an epic low, lower than the low the team hit last September?
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THE QUEST FOR MULTIPLE STRIKEOUT RECORDS
As a team, the Astros are on pace to set the major league record for strikeouts in one season -- the current record is 1,529, set by the Diamondbacks in 2010, and the Astros are already over 1,120 for the season. But there is more than just a team quest at stake. Chris Carter is rapidly closing in on Mark Reynolds's single-season strikeout record of 223 -- Carter's 156 Ks as of Wednesday is already the team record.
It's possible the Astros could sit Carter as he closes in on the record because they don't want to destroy his confidence. But it doesn't appear to be an issue of confidence, but rather of Carter not recognizing the strike zone, an ailment the entire team suffers from.
So for those of you who say there's no reason to keep paying attention, you're probably right. But for those of you who thrill at the sight of train wrecks, then come on down to Minute Maid Park because the Astros are a class one disaster.