So, you’re frustrated, out of patience, probably depressed and virtually hopeless as it concerns the Astros. Yes, I know. You may recall that Dan and Brian talked me off the ledge last week and I all but called for the firing of Bo Porter if the team isn’t improved by July.
But before you throw in the final towel, let’s take a step back and look a little closer.
- Jim Crane isn’t moving the club and he isn’t going to sell.
- Unless Jeff Luhnow commits a felony, he’ll be the general manager next spring and probably into 2016 and 2017.
- Bo Porter will remain the Astros’ manager the rest of 2014. And probably 2015.
- The organization — including the MLB team — is in better shape than it was in 2012 and 2013. It’s baby steps in the crawl, walk, run theology, to be sure, and it’s time for the baby to start walking a little, but that’s just the facts.
- Whether you’ll admit it or not, there are bright spots. Perhaps not as many as you’d like, but they are there nonetheless.
- It’s a slow grind, sort of like watching grass grow (see below). No overnight sensation, no worst-to-first story, no big splash. Unfortunately, the reality is that it’s still a work-in-progress. And, that’s just a fact.
- Because there have been so many holes to fill, there are going to be hits and misses. Yes, there have been plenty of misses and there will be more. But the hits should also increase — even in 2014.
Where we are today.
- May has been better to the Astros. Seventh in AL in OPS (.733), 9th in BA (.258), 8th in OBP (.319), 1st in SBs (12).
- Pitching is looking up too, at least the rotation. Starters have a 4.14 ERA for the season, seventh in the league. In May, Houston pitchers have fewer walks than any other team in the league. Only the Orioles have a better GO/AO rate in May.
- Also in May, Jose Altuve is hitting .325 with a .391 OBP. Matt Dominguez (.300), George Springer (.303 before an o-for-5 Sunday), Dexter Fowler (.370 OBP) and Jonathan Villar (5 SBs) appear to be putting things together.
- Collin McHugh is still in probation period, but Scott Feldman, Jarred Cosart and Dallas Keuchel already make the rotation better than 2013. Or are you going to tell me that Bud Norris, Lucas Harrell and Philip Humber were better?
- Bullpen stinks, but can you really blame the injuries on Luhnow? Sure, he might have had other options last winter, but take a look around the majors and count all the injuries. Most every team is scrambling. TJ surgeries are up, DFAs are up and roster shuffles abound. For example, Houston has used 19 pitchers, but Texas (21), LA (18), Seattle (17) and Oakland (15) haven’t been totally immune to pitching woes.
The reality of the future.
- You can stack it up however you like: The Astros will get better sooner than later. For the first time in years (how many years?), there is legitimate talent in Oklahoma City. These guys (Jon Singleton, Michael Foltynewicz, Domingo Santana, Max Stassi, Nick Tropeano et al) may not be kicking the door down just yet, but they’re certainly knocking.
- If — as some have speculated — Pat Listach is having a positive impact on Villar and Altuve, they will continue to improve. That attitude and work ethic will carry over to other players as well.
- One month into the season, the Astros have added a rookie and one of the faces of the future (Springer) as well as found a possible rotation figure (McHugh) they didn’t know they had a month ago. If Luhnow can add one of those a month the rest of the season, Houston will have something.
The bottom line is expectation. Unfortunately, our generation expects instant gratification, but, as I recall, the tortoise beat the hare, no?
As a fan, you have a choice. You can pull up a chair, get a glass of tea — or your favorite beverage — and watch the grass grow. Yes, not a lot of fun at times.
Or, you can adopt the Negative Nellie route and no one enjoys a thing.
Do you see silver linings or a dark cloud approaching?