The question is who will get out of the sewage first?
The Astros have played in Houston ever since they started as the Colt .45’s in 1962, but their seasons have lately gone far south of that. A record of 15-36 is a pace that only the Cleveland Spiders could aspire to.
Meanwhile, on the coast of west Florida, the 13-38 Marlins have gone bottoms-up, with a fire-sale the only thing that kept them from drowning in their 2012 Opening Day payroll.
But is there any real hope for these teams in the near future? And which team will we stop scoffing at first?
The Marlins have had their fun in the sun over their franchise’s relatively short life. But now they seem dead in the water; a team that hasn’t been to the playoffs since their last of two World Series runs in 2003.
The Astros, who have never won a World Series, are well on to their way to a fifth straight season under .500, and a third consecutive 100-loss campaign.
There was a time where Craig Biggio, Jeff Bagwell, and Lance Berkman ran the show in Houston. Heck, even Carlos Lee was a star for them not too long ago.
But now that those talented pieces have departed from everyday duties at Minute Maid Park, what’s left for Houston? Jose Altuve, modern day’s Eddie Gaedel? Or Carlos Pena, once held high but now washed-up?
What Houston does have going for them is the fact Altuve (hitting .311 as of Sunday), at age 23, can be a cornerstone for the team’s future. But players like Brett Wallace (.042 average in 24 plate appearances) and Matt Dominguez haven’t exactly turned into what they were supposed to.
The Marlins have many of the same problems. The one difference between the clubs may be the fact that the Marlins have a potential superstar in Giancarlo Stanton.
But ever since he went on the disabled list, the Marlins have been lost at the plate and in the NL East standings. They have about as many hits as Vanilla Ice and about as much pop as Redenbacher without a microwave.
In fact, Marcell Ozuna is the only hitter (barely) above a .300 average, and no Marlin has shown much power at all, with Justin Ruggiano leading the club with eight homers.
So through all the woes, the lack of building blocks, and not much production from the veterans either, which team has the edge to build a winner again?
In slightly more than a flip of a coin, the ‘Stros have the better future.
The Marlins can’t buy their way out of this one. They went for the high-risk, high-reward strategy again after it worked twice for World Series runs, but the third time was the charm of destruction for Miami.
They have a brand new stadium they are paying off, and a shopping spree they wish they could forget. They have Ozuna, and Jose’ Fernandez, an ace-to-be. But the Astros can match them with guys that will soon be up with the club, including pitchers Jarred Cosart and Lance McCullers, and a potentially dangerous infield for 2014 or ’15.
The Astros truly do have a dump of a squad on their major league roster right now, but for the Marlins, the deciding factor may be Stanton.
I see him in a different jersey by the trade deadline of 2014, if not before. And the Marlins won’t pick themselves up off the canvas until well after that.
As for Houston, they won’t exactly be the talk of the league any time soon with the Texas Rangers owning the NL West and the Los Angeles Angels beefing up their roster. But the Astros will become relevant again before the Marlins.
Or at least stay far away from the Cleveland Spiders.