Houston Astros Making Fresh Start Under Tough Circumstances
The Astros have been in free fall since winning the NL pennant in 2005. Since then, they have suffered through five losing seasons. In the last four years they have won 74, 76, 56 and 55 games respectively. After back to back seasons of fewer than 60 wins it is safe to say that Houston is in the process of rebuilding. This may have taken less time in the NL Central. It could take 10 years in the AL West.
Houston has gone to a division in which three of its four teams won 89 games or more last season. The Oakland Athletics won the West with 94 wins after defeating the 93 win Texas Rangers on the final day of the season. Texas won the AL pennant in 2010 and 2011. The Los Angeles Angels finished with 89 wins last season which was enough for fifth overall in the AL. They missed the playoffs despite having a better record than the AL Central champion and eventual pennant winning Detroit Tigers.
The Astros have won a total of 111 games the last two years. If they had been in the AL West both seasons, Houston would have finished 40 games behind Texas in 2011 and 42 behind Oakland in 2012. As it was, Houston finished 40 games behind the Milwaukee Brewers and 42 behind the Cincinnati Reds.
New Astros manager Bo Porter has been in this situation before. As a coach for the Washington Nationals he watched as they went from a 69 win team the year before he arrived in 2010 to an NL East title in 2012. However, Porter is going to need some luck turning Houston around. The Astros talent cupboard is almost bare and the organization needs to be rebuilt from top to bottom. Last season, Houston drafted shortstop Carlos Correa with the number one overall draft pick. He is a product of the Puerto Rican Baseball Academy and the Astros hope Correa develops into a player that they can build around.
For now, Porter and Houston will have to be content with taking their lumps while getting acclimated to the AL. There is a very good chance that the Astros could remain a below 60 win team. Even the last place Seattle Mariners won 75 games in the AL West, 20 better than Houston.
Just as they did when joining the NL as the Houston Colt 45′s back in 1962, the Astros are starting out from scratch with a long way to go.