We Knew They’d Be Bad, But This Bad?

With the Major League Baseball All-Star Game behind us, and about two and a half months of season ahead of us, this is the time that most prognosticators roll out their list of surprises and predictions for the rest of the season.

This allows them to pat themselves on the back on the things they got right, and remind us how fluid the game is and make new predictions for the ones that they got wrong.

Over the past few days I have read many such articles of predictions gone well and predictions that didn’t quite pan out at the midpoint of the season. While I made predictions at the start of the season I do not believe in a mid course correction. Instead we will see how they hold up at the end of the year.

As part of this yearly ritual of assessing the season at the halfway point the subject of which teams will be trading away players and which teams will be getting players also comes up.

Lance Berkman was traded to the Yankees in the first phase of the Astros epic rebuilding process. He has been on winning teams ever since. The Astros have yet to post a winning record since the trade. Photo R. Anderson

Lance Berkman was traded to the Yankees right at the trading deadline four years ago in the first phase of the Astros epic rebuilding process. He has been on winning teams ever since. The Astros have yet to post a winning record since the trade.
Photo R. Anderson

July 31, is considered the main trade deadline and a flurry of activity usually occurs with teams far from contending dumping players and payroll to teams that still have a chance at playoff glory but may be missing a piece or two in that winning formula.

For the past few years the question of how many games over 100 will the Astros lose and how many players will they trade en route to that inevitably gets discussed in the local Houston media and with a third straight year of futility in progress the national media has been weighing in on the matter as well.

So everyone agrees that the Houston Astros and their lowest in baseball by a long shot payroll are not going to the playoffs in any way, shape, or form. In fact, by most estimates, it will be several years before the Astros can even think about such lofty goals.

But the baseball season is a long season and the Astros want to put fans in their ballpark since fans equal money and money keeps the lights on.  But fans have been staying away in large numbers this season since most people enjoy spending their hard earned money on entertainment where the outcome is not assumed ahead of time. And with very few exceptions it is assumed that when the Astros take the field it will result in a loss.

I will give the Astros credit though over the past month their losses have become more creative and usually involve at least one instance where an error of tee ball magnitude occurs.

The Astros should embrace these errors and perhaps by making such huge errors the other ballplayers will have to leave the game from laughing so hard and pulling some rib cartilage.

I know there have been games that I have watched at home that have left me sore from a combination of cringing and laughing at the ineptitude on display.

So with it understood that the Astros are bad, really bad, the only question is who is in their same league of badness?

For that we can look to Miami where the Marlins are giving the Astros a run for their money in the battle for who can win less. And I think this battle for the worst record in baseball should be embraced by both teams and a World Series of Futility should be created for them.

But Ryan you say isn’t it wrong to root for a team to be so bad that they are dead last? To that I say no, because the team was set up as way to replenish the farm system. And everyone knows the best way to replenish the farm system is through the hit and miss way of drafting prospects who may or may not ever make it to the Major Leagues.

Personally if I were running a team I would want a roster comprised of proven players with a few prospects sprinkled in but I am not running a team and no one asked my opinion.

So the Astros are looking at things from a strictly pasta throwing kind of way.  When cooking pasta one can hurl it at the wall and if it sticks then the pasta is cooked. If the pasta falls to the floor than it is not cooked.

Jimmy Paredes is one pasta, err player, that just has not stuck no matter how many times the Astros throw him at the wall. Photo R. Anderson

Jimmy Paredes is one pasta, err player, that just has not stuck no matter how many times the Astros throw him at the wall.
Photo R. Anderson

So think of the Astros as a big pot of pasta.  Every so often upper management will take one of the players from their Triple-A club and throw them out on the field and hope that they stick, or at least slide slowly enough down the wall that they can buy some time until the pasta in Double-A gets cooked.

To date, most of the players brought up have not stuck to the wall. This can be caused by them not being seasoned enough in the Minor Leagues or it could be that they just aren’t Major League quality regardless of how long they stay in the pot.

So the Astros need more pasta, err players, in order to field a competitive team. So a battle for last place gives them something to shoot for. And in a season that was declared lost at the start I think the majority of the fans may enjoy seeing a little competition with the Marlins for that coveted first pick.

Plus, if the Astros do end up with the first overall pick next year it would be the third year in a row that they did that. And that boys and girls is called a winning streak which is certainly in short supply when it comes to the Astros.

While waiting for the Astros to be competitive again fans at Minute Maid Park can enjoy plenty of elbow room and of course an obstructed view of downtown. Photo R. Anderson

While waiting for the Astros to be competitive again fans at Minute Maid Park can enjoy plenty of elbow room and of course an obstructed view of downtown.
Photo R. Anderson

So embrace the rebuilding and the futility that comes from it. Watch some players make the kind of errors that just should not be seen at the Major League level and attend a game or two if you are in town. Just don’t expect to see a consistent winner for a few more years.

Of course hopefully by then those annoying billboards in center field will be gone restoring the view of downtown. Because when the action on the field is too unbearable to watch it is certainly nice to be able to watch a nice sunset or watch the cars go by.

Now if you’ll excuse me I need to get ready to watch some baseball and hope that I don’t end up hurting myself.

Copyright 2013 R. Anderson