Monday, April 21, 2014

The Disastros

The first Major League Baseball game I saw in person was an Astros game in the Astrodome. Despite this, I was still a proponent of blowing up both the team, and the Dome itself when both were still an open question.

While I still think bringing down both the Astrodome and the Astros remain good ideas, I remain concerned that the rebuilding plans in the aftermath of both implosions are lacking. John Royal, of the Houston Press, stated much the same in a stream-of-consciousness post this morning bemoaning the lack of Major League talent in Houston's Major League ball team. From the on-field talent to the coaching the Astros are not yet ready for prime time. While there are glimmers of hope, the starting pitching for one, being an Astros fan these days remains remarkably frustrating as many players seemingly ready for promotion are brought along slowly, if at all.

Add in factors such as the ComcastSportsNet Houston mess and customer unfriendly policies like dynamic pricing (which price tickets to games people might want to see [The Yankees] higher than games people don't care much about [The Athletics]) and you have a recipe for fan apathy.

Fortunately, for the Astros, the city's one playoff team is off the local sports radar as well. The Rockets are in the same boat as the Astros TV-wise. Even worse for them, when they did debut, last night in the playoffs, they threw a stinker out for all to see. For many Houstonians who don't pay attention to the Association before playoff time last night's debacle was their first real glimpse of Rocket-ball.

At least they watched. The Astros have famously drawn a 0.0 television rating (twice) which places them below even KGOW in terms of fans. By any metric, the Astros have lost the City in which they play. They've also probably chosen to lose a generation of baseball fans, which makes their rebuilding job all that more difficult.

The situation becomes even more frustrating when you realize that there is real talent in the Minor League system that many observers say is ready, or close to ready, right now.

Carlos Correa - Many baseball observers feel he's close to ready NOW. Not in 2015 or 16 but right now. The Astros seem content to have him bang away in A League, but there's ample evidence that they should fast track him to see what he can do.

Mark Appel and Vince Velasquez - Two starting pitchers that aren't too far away and definitely should be fast-tracked to the big club. The Astros again seem to be content to let them stagnate in Class A ball.

Jonathan Singleton - Singleton is batting .326/.453/.698 in AAA while the Astros Major League 1st baseman, Chris Carter is hitting .123/250./.461 and has 26 strikeouts in 19 games. That's stunningly bad.

These are just a few of the prospects that are languishing in the Minor Leagues with no good baseball logic holding them back. Before last week, George Springer was languishing in AAA as well. All he's done since joining the big team is bat .273/.304/.673. Yes, Springer's strikeouts (7 in 5 games) are high but this can be explained away by his newness to the Majors. Chris Carter has been around long enough that there's no expectation he's ever going to not be a strikeout machine.

I might be different than some Astros fans, but I'm OK watching the team lose provided there's hope that they can win at some point in the future. As long as the Astros keep burying their best prospects behind AAA players who just happen to be on a Major League team that optimism is not there.

They'll continue to be the Disastros, a laughing stock and Mattress Mack can laugh all the way to the bank.

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