The Houston Astros are just five years removed from their lone World Series berth.
From their inception in 1962 as the Houston Colt .45’s, the Astros have achieved little in terms of establishing an identity as a storied franchise. Whether to due with lack of superstar power or rare postseason success, the Astros have at times been a team on the cusp of success only to falter the following year.
After clinching the National League Wild Card with an 89-73 record in the 2005 season, they defeated two of Major League Baseball’s winningest franchises in recent memory, the Atlanta Braves and the St. Louis Cardinals, to complete their improbable trip to their first-ever World Series.
Although they were swept by the World Series Champion Chicago White Sox, many expected the Astros to possibly become a contender in the National League.
However, after four years of alternating winning and losing seasons, the Astros proved to be inconsistent and missing one or two key players that could change the complexion of the franchise.
Flash forward to this season, the Astros boast a National League worst 15-27 record and already 9 ½ games behind the division-leading Cardinals.
So what is wrong with the Houston Astros?
With the retirement of Jeff Bagwell in 2005 and of Craig Biggio in 2007, the Astros definitely lost two of the best pure players in team history.
But that is where the problems only begin.
During the first 40 games of this season, the Astros have been unable to produce on the offensive end, averaging less than three runs per game. The Astros are also ranked either last or second-to-last in every major offensive category. Due to lack of run support, the pitching is also of tremendous importance.
Houston’s rotation of Roy Oswalt, Brett Myers, Wandy Rodriguez, Felipe Paulino, and Bud Norris are having to limit opposing teams’ offensive output as much as possible, to help keep them in games.
SP Roy Oswalt, despite having a 2.66 ERA, only has a 2-6 record to show for it, in large part to lack of offense. This may be the biggest reason as to why Houston’s starting ace wants a trade.
If the Astros could perhaps get some young talent, they may begin building for the future. However, if an Oswalt trade is in the works, this essentially eliminates any chance of Houston contending for the playoffs.
Their offensive woes could be in large part to the inconsistent play of LF Carlos Lee and 3B Pedro Feliz. Even though they have showed flashes of their offensive prowess, it has been only on occasion.
They were brought to Houston, in 2007 and 2010 respectively, to help boost the hitting and scoring of the Astros, something that has not worked in Houston’s favor.
If Houston does want to build for the future, now is the time, as they have key players that would generate interest, as well as provide value, from other teams. Lee, Roy Oswalt, and perhaps, even, Lance Berkman could all be on the move during this season.
The team could start rebuilding around Hunter Pence and Michael Bourn, and start to develop young players. Prospects, as well as trading for young role players, could form a strong nucleus that could bring the Astros back into contention as soon as next season.