How The Hell Can You Be Optimistic About The Astros?

I was listening to sports talk radio yesterday -- the past couple of days actually -- and it appears that there are people out there who think the Astros still have a chance to make the playoffs. As far as I could tell, these people weren't on the Astros payroll. And I just don't understand where this thinking comes from.

After last night's 4-3, 11-inning loss to the Kansas City Royals, the Astros record is 32-37. Sure, they're no longer in last place in the NL Central, but they are only one game out of last place. The pitching is middle of the road for the NL, but the team's vaunted offensive machine is one of the league's worst -- only the San Francisco Giants and San Diego Padres have scored fewer runs.

The team has a couple of big problems that need to be solved before any hope of the playoffs can even begin being discussed. The team needs to start winning at home. After last night, the Astros are 16-20 at Minute Maid Park, and teams that don't have winning records at home don't make the playoffs. Their 16-17 record on the road is actually pretty damn good, but if they don't figure out how to win at home, forget about the playoffs.

Then there's the fact that dead weight like Kazuo Matsui and Jason Michaels are getting consistent playing time. Edwin Maysonet may be nothing more than a career minor-leaguer who will ultimately prove to be nothing, but Maysonet is currently hitting better than Matsui, and he plays a better defense, all without the fear that the guy's going to sneeze and go back on the disabled list for the next month.

And damn it. Let's bring up Bud Norris from Round Rock already. Let's see if this guy is ready for the majors. If he's not, it's some good experience, and it's not like he can do any worse than Brandon Backe or Mike Hampton or Brian Moehler.

I think this team is old. I think this team is boring to watch. And while there's not a lot of talent in the farm system, I think this team would be more to fun watch with the likes of Brian Bogusevic in the outfield instead of the Carlos Lee -- who knows, maybe Bogusevic might make an actual effort to catch a ball hit to left field.  I'm also tired of the Geoff Blum experiment. Let's give Chris Johnson his shot at third, while Maysonet starts at second.  

The team still probably won't make the playoffs, but the Astros would be more interesting to watch, and the team can start getting the youngsters some much needed major league experience. Or the Astros can just keep with what they're throwing out there and Drayton McLane can keep watching his attendance numbers drop.

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John Royal is a native Houstonian who graduated from the University of Houston and South Texas College of Law. In his day job he is a complex litigation attorney. In his night job he writes about Houston sports for the Houston Press.
Contact: John Royal