There is the old baseball idiom the season is a marathon, not at sprint. But for the 2010 Houston Astros, it's going to be a marathon of losing. The punch-less Houston Astros are the only MLB team without a win and haven't shown an indication the losing streak will end any time soon. Their anemic offensive and lackluster pitching has them playing terrible baseball and with upcoming series against the St. Louis Cardinals, Chicago Cubs and Florida Marlins, there is no sun on the horizon. The Astros organization are the victims are idiotic management, aging stars, horrible contracts and no minor league talent. (This can also be found at Unplucked Sports)
Things used to be different in Houston. The Astros were one of the perennial threats in the NL Central. From 1994-2006, they won the division four times and made six trips to the playoffs, including a trip to the World Series in 2005. The teams were built on solid starting pitching and players brought up through the organization. But since then, the team management has gone away from the player development that brought them so much success. Instead, the front office has brought in aging former stars to plug the holes in the roster. This short-term solution has bitten the team as their roster in full of fading once talented players.
Some signings are questionable, others can be debatable and a few are downright embarrassing. The latter would be the case for the Brandon Lyon deal. During the 2009 Winter Meetings, Astros GM Ed Wade gave the relief pitcher a 3 year, $15 million dollars contract. General managers at the meetings were scratching their heads and amazing such a hefty contract was given to a unproven pitcher with a lifetime 24-35 record and 4.35 ERA. Lyon joins what could be the highest paid middle relief squad in baseball. Lyon, $5 million per year, Brian Moehler, $3 million and Tim Byrdak, $1.6 million. All this money hasn't resulted in a single win in 2010
Houston's problems don't end there. The minor league systems is one of the worst in baseball. Draft after draft, team management has refused to spend on bringing premium young players from the early rounds and the minor league affiliates have suffered. Last season, the Astros affiliates went a combined 189-287, no team finishing better than 4th in their division. A recent ranking has the Astros ranked 29th, finishing above only the San Diego Padres. The team has recently begun to spend on the draft but it's going to take a long time before they can bring up relevant talent from the minors
But back to the 2010 season. Some of the offensive stats are baffling. In the first 7 games of the season, the Astros have scored 13 runs, worst in the league, hit 2 home runs, worst in the league and, perhaps the most telling, drawn 5 walks, worst by a far margin in the league. The Astros have drawn 5 walks in 207 bats, that's an average of 1 BB every 41 ABs. A knee injury to star 1B Lance Berkman can shoulder some of the blame, but the team cannot blame their entire pathetic offensive showing on the absence of a single player. It's going to be a long season in Houston, could be one of the worst in franchise history. Maybe this season is the wake up call the front office needs to start changing their game plan