Despite Carlos Pena making more than $7 million, the Houston Astros sport a payroll that fails to equal the salary of Alex Rodriguez, who may miss the bulk of the 2013 season. Without spending money, the Astros are not going to compete in the AL West after changing divisions this offseason. The roster as it is currently constructed is one of the weakest, and cheapest, in baseball. Their struggles this year should surprise no one.
Still, the team could be fun to watch with a few young, exciting names.
Jose Altuve nearly hit .300 at the top of a thin lineup last season. He’s exciting defensively and could be one of the best all-around second basemen in the game. He can’t do it alone, but could emerge as an exciting and dynamic player for the Astros.
The acquisition of Pena could bring some power to the middle of a lineup that failed to generate much offense last season. If Pena can rebound from another sub-.200 season, the combination of Pena and Altuve could be fun to watch. If not, Altuve could generate excitement by himself.
The pitching rotation also has a few exciting players. Bud Norris didn’t have a great season statistically last year, but he could shut down some teams in 2013 with great stuff. The pride of the club will be incumbent ace Lucas Harrell, who finished the 2012 season as hot as any pitcher in baseball. These two arms could be enough to win some games.
Still, the Houston Astros are simply too thin to compete in the AL West this season. It will be a horrible season, but keep your eyes on Harrell, Norris, and Altuve. Houston isn’t exactly building towards anything, but they have three recognizable names with great potential.