Half full / Half empty: Two looks at the Astros
I thought I would steal from the best and present a take on the Glass Half Full Guy as we totter through the last 6 weeks of the season. So, here is a Point/Counterpoint between Glass Half Full and Glass Half Empty Guys or Gals. And to make a classic SNL reference, there will be no “Jane, you ignorant slut” arguments allowed.
- Glass Half Full (GHF) – Hey, the Astros are on pace to beat their 2013 win total by 17 games. And considering they have been winning about 46% of their games since early May – they could easily end up better than that!
- Glass Half Empty (GHE) – Boy, talking about setting the bar low – we are now excited about a potential 68-94 record. After the original expansion team hangover (when the Astros were losing 96-97 games for their first 4 seasons) do you know how many times the Astros lost 94 or more games between 1966 and 2010? Twice – in 1975 and in 1991 they lost 97 games both seasons. We are so numb from the 3 previous seasons of futility that we think this is good.
- GHF – Just look at how improved that starting rotation is. The dip from 4.72 to 4.12 is an almost .60 ERA improvement over 2013. And the current starting 5 of Scott Feldman, Collin McHugh, Brett Oberholtzer, Dallas Keuchel and Brad Peacock have an even better combined ERA of 3.93. This is a good base to build the club.
- GHE – I grant it that the starting pitching is much improved , but still tied for 9th in the AL and nearly a full run behind the 3.16 ERA of the Seattle Mariners amazing starting staff (maybe we need to lower the pitching mounds again – at least for the M’s). What bothers me is that the guy who is building the club as you reference – Jeff Luhnow – went out and concentrated big time on improving the bullpen in the off-season, bringing in Chad Qualls, Matt Albers, Jesse Crain, Jerome Williams and Anthony Bass to shore it up. The result of that was a bullpen ERA that was 4.92 and last in the AL in 2013 and currently stands 4.96 and last in 2014. So far the best bullpen performances (if we ignore Albers meager 10 IP contribution) have been from Qualls and 3 waiver pickups in Tony Sipp, Jose Veras and Darrin Downs. Thank God, Luhnow did not concentrate on improving the starting rotation.
- GHF – Well then you can’t argue that the putrid farm system of 2005 – 2010 has been almost made over. The Astros are consistently rated now in the top 5 of farm systems after being in the bottom 5 for 1/2 a decade. The fruit is ripening quickly and the cream is rising to the top of the minors.
- GHE – Well, I could get snarky and say that your farm system should be better after three 1-1 picks in a row (plus getting the first pick in every subsequent round) plus trading Roy Oswalt, Lance Berkman, Michael Bourn, Jeff Keppinger, Hunter Pence, Carlos Lee, Brett Myers, Bud Norris, Humberto Quintero, Justin Maxwell, Jose Veras, J.A. Happ, Brandon Lyon, Jed Lowrie (and I know I am forgetting some) for tons of prospects. OK that was snarky. But two things – the emperor’s clothing looks a little thin this year after the Aiken affair, Mark Appel‘s struggles, Carlos Correa‘s injury and multiple failures related to the tandem pitching process in the minors. And with the exception of George Springer and the traded Kike Hernandez – most of the call-ups (Jon Singleton, Domingo Santana, Jose Cisnero, Rudy Owens, Mike Foltynewicz, David Martinez, Kevin Chapman, etc) have looked like a crop picked too early.
Anyways – this was just a discussion starter. Are you more a GHF or a GHE kind of person?