Houston Astros and Turning Corners


Mar 17, 2014; Kissimmee, FL, USA; Houston Astros first baseman

Jesus Guzman

(14) throws the ball to first base during the game against the Atlanta Braves at Osceola County Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rob Foldy-USA TODAY Sports

A tweet from Jayson Stark of ESPN.com:

This, if true, is very telling of the direction the Astros are expecting to go this season. Thus far, the current front office has held the belief that spending money to make the team marginally better, is damaging long-term. In a general year, one Win Above Replacement is worth somewhere between $5-7 million. In order to improve the Houston Astros 2012 team to playoff level would have required and extra 33 wins, meaning that, hypothetically speaking, the Astros would have needed to spend an extra $165 million. All of this is hypothetically assuming that the players needed to provide those wins were even available or would sign with the Astros.

By that line of logic, spending “like a bunch of drunken sailors” (way to kick that rivalry off right, Jeff) isn’t an efficient use of that money, especially because by the time that the Astros farm system catches up to the majors, these expensive contracts could possibly prevent the Astros from retaining some of our home-grown talent.

That was then.

This year’s Astros are searching for help at 1b. They went into Spring Training with Chris Carter, Jesus Guzman, Marc Krauss, Brett Wallace, Japhet Amador, and top prospect Jonathan Singleton in the mix for the starting 1b job. Singleton probably needs more time in the minors after missing much of last season due to a drug suspension and addiction.

Mar 16, 2014: Rob Foldy-USA TODAY Sports

Former top prospect Brett Wallace was released this spring, believing they had seen all there was to see in his 1,077 major league plate appearances, wherein he slashed .242/.313/.391. The Mexican League signee, Japhet Amador showed up late and more out of shape than usual after tending to his sick, pregnant wife. Chris Carter is the penciled-in DH and a liability at first, especially with error-prone Jonathan Villar slated to get most of the innings at SS.

That leaves Jesus Guzman and Marc Krauss for 1B and some appearances in LF; but Krauss is unproven, having only appeared in 52 Major League games, only two of which were at first, and Guzman has performed poorly this spring. Jason Castro is expected to get some looks at 1B, but having never logged a professional appearance there, he can hardly be counted on either.

Question marks were OK for the 2013 Astros, but they clearly are aiming higher this year. That doesn’t mean that any of the suggested in-house names won’t work out this season or that the possible trade candidates will work, but the fact that they are looking for help speaks to the fact that another 100-loss season isn’t acceptable. Optimism isn’t something that most Astros fans remember much of, but in this case, it is awfully refreshing.

What are your thoughts? Are the Astros going to continue their 100-loss ways, or is this the year we go from truly awful to merely bad? We can’t keep being this unlucky forever, right?

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