The 2009 Houston Astros have the rest of the league just where they want them.
At 4-8 and in last place in the six-team NL Central, the Astros are well-prepared for their most epic second-half surge yet.
Armed with a stellar pitching rotation including future-Hall-of-Famers Brian Moehler and Russ Ortiz, Houston finally has the parts necessary to win the franchise's first-ever World Series championship.
Some people would say the Astros have the league's oldest roster.
I say the Astros have the league's most-experienced roster.
Last in the majors in runs scored, the Astros are biding their time, waiting for people to write them off.
It's all part of owner Drayton McLane's ultimate plan.
Before the season, former wrestler/current General Manager Ed Wade made a shrewd move that would've made Billy Beane blush; trading a good prospect in Drew Sutton to Cincy for 28-year-old light hitting, sketchy-fielding infielder Jeff Keppinger, who is platooning around the infield.
In his second season as an Astro, second-baseman Kazuo Matsui is continuing his anti-Astros management strike, which has carried over since last season.
Matsui has missed the past couple of games due to "injury", similar to what happened throughout last season.
Clearly, Kazzy wasn't too pleased that the Astros made public Matsui's anal fissure injury that DL'ed him to start the '08 season.
Matsui has been missing time with a "back injury". Right.
Miguel Tejada is off to a fabulous start, a good sign given his rough offseason laden with legal troubles.
Tejada has no home runs and one run batted in this season.
If that doesn't spell M-V-P, I don't know what does.
Now I see why the Astros dealt away half of their farm system in order to snag Miggy from Baltimore in late 2007.
How many times can a team acquire a 31-year-old (actually 34 at the time) shortstop with little range, presumably coming off of steroids after a career with offensive numbers inflated tenfold due to consistent drug abuse?
It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
How do you reward manager Cecil Cooper for a great start to '09? Why, you pick up his contract option for next season, of course!
The Cubs may have the best overall team, the Brewers may have the best lineup, the Cardinals may have the best coaching staff, the Reds may have the best young prospects, the Pirates may have the best stadium, but who has the all-important underdog factor?
You guessed it.
Your 2009 Houston Astros.
It takes a special blend of talent in the front office to amass a team like this with the eight-largest payroll in the Major Leagues.
How did they let Isiah Thomas get away while he was available?
Sure, he has no baseball experience whatsoever, but isn't Isiah exactly what Drayton would've wanted?
It's all about the Benjamins with McLane, and Isiah is basically a walking stadium sellout waiting to happen.
I'm eagerly awaiting to see what the Astros brass has up their sleeves next.
A 2009 World Series championship, perhaps?
I can already smell the champagne.