The Houston Astros are poised to have a pretty horrible season. I have no reason to believe that the team, as it sits now, will win more than 60 games this year. Is that me being pretty negative? Maybe, but I think it’s me being pretty realistic. I’d love to say that the rebuild efforts were further along than that, but they’re not.
The good news is that the minor leagues look good. They’ve jumped in the rankings from the very bottom of the pack (30) to being a top 10 minor league system in a very short time. And we all know that to have a successful ball club, a minor league system jam-packed with talent is essential. So Jeff Luhnow’s plan seems to be moving forward and, dare I say, working.
In the meantime, those of us who mainly follow the big league team suffer a bit. So how will the Houston Astros keep our attention this year? Is a new Manager in Bo Porter enough? Is watching Jose Altuve enough? Is Carlos Pena enough? Nope. None of those things will get fans to put their butts in seats.
I’ve wondered if the dismal failure that is the spread of Comcast Sports Net would encourage attendance to games. “You can’t see it on tv, so see it live!” But at a dinner this weekend 2 out of 4 fans said they’d change cable providers to insure their ability to watch Houston baseball. For the record, I have AT&T Uverse and will not be switching. I”ll find another way and there’s always radio.
But if you’ve been following the announcements coming out of Minute Maid Park recently, you know that everything old is new again…and I don’t just mean the logo. The team’s recruiting former players for roles in the organization. Is this an attempt to draw us back? If a favorite of mine is working for the team, will I come to more games?
Who’s on the menu so far, you ask. We all know that Craig Biggio already has a role as a special assistant to the GM and I can only see his role increasing over time. Roger Clemens will be working with the pitching staff. He’ll be hands on starting at Spring Training and will likely spend the majority of his time working with minor leaguers.
Alan Ashby, who played with the Astros throughout the 1980′s as a catcher is back as a tv* guy. And Geoff Blum will join the television broadcast team and is expected to cover about 60 or so games to fill in when Bill Brown isn’t on air.
Morgan Ensberg and Adam Everett will return to the club in roles in the minor leagues. Ensberg will be a development specialist assigned to Class A Lancaster and Everett will be an infield instructor and will work with both the minor league teams and the major league club. Both of these guys were on the 2005 Astros World Series team.
So, is this a gimicky parade of boys from the past to get our attention, or are these legit hires? I’d argue that they are both. Every one of these guys is definitely qualified to do the job they’ve been hired to do and in some cases, Clemens in particular, I don’t think there’s anyone who could do it better. Adam Everett was a fantastic defensive player and we all know that the Astros could use some serious help in that regard – if you don’t know what I’m talking about – go watch THIS VIDEO. (By the way, Bo Porter gets a shoutout in that video as the Nats 3B coach).
I salute the Astros for reaching out to former players who have the talent to help coach the young staff. I think it’s a good move. And in a year where good moves are needed to appease fans who are angry about all the bad moves (Jim DeShaies, Dave Raymond, Brett Dolan – good talent lost needlessly). Will this be enough to get former fans to come back and buy tickets? Nah. It’s not enough. But it’s an interesting move and one I’ll be following to see how these new coaches pan out.
None of these guys will be in high profile positions and fans aren’t going to see them, hear about them, etc throughout the season, but there is a little flicker of something – dare I say “hope” – that players who played in Houston’s glory days are coming home to play a role in returning the team to the days of old.
Terri Schlather (AGirlintheSouth) is the tortured Senior Houston Astros Writer for Aerys Sports. You can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow her ridiculous ramblings on sports, vodka and the weeone on twitter @agirlinthesouth.
*Edited – my first draft went out before I had caffeine and I stated that Alan Ashby would be joining the radio team. That was incorrect. He will be joining the television team.