This morning someone asked me, “Can the Astros be fixed?” It’s a good question. The club is going on a handful of years of less than stellar performance, so it stands to reason that some repairs and renovations are needed and I don’t think that’s a surprise to anyone. But can it be done? I think it can. Will it happen soon? I don’t think so.
Why do I think the Astros can be fixed? There are several reasons.
#1 -The farm system has been struggling in recent years and although it’s not in tip-top shape as of right now, there are indicators that things are moving in the right direction. If you look just at AAA OKC, you’ll find a few pretty decent players. Jordon Lyles is the guy that’s gotten the most press and he definitely has big league potential. There’s one heck of an arm on the RHP and he’s been performing rather well in OKC (with the exception of yesterday’s rather rocky start). As April ended he was 1-2 with a 3.76 ERA with 19 Ks and 6 BBs in five starts. He threw 13 consecutive scoreless in innings in just two of those starts and he leads the club in innings pitched. Then there’s Koby Clemens. Koby’s .284 BA, 5 2B, 5 HR, 18 RBI in 20 games in April are nothing to sneeze at. He leads the Redhawks in homeruns and RBIs while playing mostly at 1B this season. Then there’s Carlos Corporan who has managed to throw out 7 of 12 attempted basestealers and has only had 1 error in 17 games that he’s caught this year. So there’s some talent up the road in Oklahoma. And if you know anything about minor league ball it’s that talent in the farm system is imperative if you want your big league club to improve. So although there needs to be more money siphoned into the draft budget and it still needs building, the farm system is improving. This is a great indicator that the Astros can and will improve with time.
#2 – Brad Mills and Ed Wade are not afraid of making changes and making them quickly. We’ve seen it all season as he keeps tweaking the lineup, the starting rotation and the bullpen. For example, Angel Sanchez is still getting playing time even with the return of Clint Barmes because Sanchez earned it while Barmes was on the DL. Also, despite Mills’ hopes that Nelson Figueroa would improve on last year’s reliever stats when moved to the starting rotation, he didn’t and Mills didn’t hesitate to move him back to the bullpen. After a couple of poor showings as relief, the team designated Figgy for assignment yesterday and is bringing up Sergio Escalona to fill his void. Escalona will join Abad as the only other lefty in the bullpen. The bullpen will, I’m certain, see more changes in the near future as it’s been a major downfall in recent weeks. At least 8 games have been lost specifically because of the failed efforts of relief and closing pitchers. This is an area that needs major renovation and fortunately is an area that is relatively easy to change on the fly during the regular season, so there’s potential improvement that can come from the bullpen.
#3 – Completion of the sale of the team is reportedly imminent. According to KTRK, the ABC Houston affiliate, all that’s left for Drayton McLane and Jim Crane to do in order to finalize a deal that will result in the Astros selling for an estimated $680 million is to dot the i’s and cross the t’s. Bear in mind that even when that part’s over, the MLB owners will have to approve Crane, and the word on the street is that it won’t necessarily be smooth sailing. We can anticipate a couple more months with McLane at the helm. But, a sale is still on the horizon. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – with a new owner will probably come big changes. Will we see those this season? It’s not likely as I expect he’ll get some input from Ed Wade as far as any acquisitions Wade’s wanted but hasn’t had budget approval for, so we’ll likely see a small amount of movement in the 2011 season, but I think if Crane’s in place before the draft we could see aggressive spends in that department. It won’t result in overnight wins, but will effect the longterm health of the club.
So be patient Astros fans. The team will get there. It won’t be this season and it may not be next season either, but there’s change a-coming. The Astros can, and hopefully will be fixed.
Terri Schlather (AGirlintheSouth) is the Senior Houston Astros Reporter for Aerys Sports. You can read her Astros blog atÂ www.talesfromthejuicebox.com, email her at email@example.com, or follow her on twitterÂ @agirlinthesouth.