Oh, So Close: After years of playoff heartache, the Astros won the NL title in 2005, but they were overwhelmed by the White Sox in a sweep from which the franchise has yet to fully recover.
2011 Outlook: A strong stretch of play from early August to mid-September offered hope that the Astros could be next season’s version of the Padres.
But anyone believing that is delusional at best; Houston lacks anyone with the game-changing presence of Adrian Gonzalez, as the lineup features just one player (RF Hunter Pence) with above-average offensive upside, while the pitching staff is filled with question marks, let alone anyone who could rival the likes of San Diego’s Mat Latos.
Since they reside in the NL Central, the chance for a Padre-like leap to playing meaningful games in September is slightly higher, but general manager Ed Wade and owner Drayton McLane would have to reverse their recent skid of foolish transactions and strike gold with a hitter (preferably a catcher) that can improve an offense that was almost as putrid as Seattle’s.
If Not Now, When? Houston is in the opening stages of retooling one of the game’s worst minor league systems, so it will take time before the likes of SS Jiovanni Mier, OF Jay Austin and P Jordan Lyles will make a reasonable impact. At best, 2013 appears to be the time when the Astros can make fans remember the club is more than just a bridge between the end of the Rockets’ season and the start of the Texans' training camp.