Three games into the 2011 MLB season and the Houston Astros are 0-3. Correction, the Astros are 0-2 and Brandon Lyon is 0-1. Needless to say, it is shaping up to be a long year for Houston fans. It's not like I was expecting a postseason run in 2011, but I was hoping to see some promising optimism for the future. What I got were the same problems that have plagued us for the last several years. Mediocre pitching and inconsistent hitting. It's making me wonder how closely I should follow the team this year. I mean I've always loved them but I can't see them like this. The poor play, the mismanagement of the front office, it is all so disheartening.
We've gone from being the dependable veteran team led by Biggio and Bagwell who were always in the mix, to fifth in the Central Division. In any other division that would be known as last, but lucky for us, the NL Central has six teams and one of them happens to be the Pirates. Maybe I was spoiled during the Houston's consistency from the late 90's to the mid 2000's. I thought the team would forever be in the playoff hunt and ready to make a late season charge. Like a pending divorcee trying to make a case for a higher monthly alimony, I had grown accustomed to a certain standard of living as a fan and for last year or two I've been struggling to make it on my own.
But I wasn't as naive as that may sound. I knew at some point there was going to come a time when the Killer B's weren't going to be around and the team would have to rebuild. Sure there were going to be some rough seasons but we wouldn't be bottom dwellers, and at least there would be young prospects to build the team around. Sadly the hiring of General Manager Ed Wade crushed any possibility of a successful rebuilding transition. Or any rebuilding at all.
The man took over an aging team with a depleted minor league system and traded away prospects for veterans Miguel Tejada and Jose Valverde. Even more egregious is that the trade for Tejada came one day after he was named in the Mitchell Report. He overpaid for veterans Kaz Matsui and the aforementioned Brandon Lyon. None of whom, with the exception of Lyon (and we can see how great that is working out) are still on the team. In fact none of these players were consequently traded for prospects. After their lackluster careers in Houston came to an end, they were simply let go.
The only prospects that have been gained in Ed Wade's tenure came last year when we traded the two biggest names in the franchise since Biggio and Bagwell's departure, Roy Oswalt and Lance Berkman. Even then the GM only managed to get good, not great, prospects. Aside from J.A. Happ who was already established as a fine starting lefty, the biggest prospect to come out of the deals was first baseman Brett Wallace. At some point Wallace might turn into a decent player, but in his first 155 career at bats, he hasn't shown the average, .213, or the power, 2 HRs, that a top first baseman prospect should have.
I think what I am most disappointed about is now I don't plan on purchasing the MLB App for the Playstation 3. It lets you watch any game and has a great interface that shows stats, replays and lets you jump around quickly to any live game. Considering I won't have cable because I'm poor, and cable companies are the root of all evil, this would have a perfect way to keep up with baseball for the 2011 season. Now, unfortunately, I don't have the urge to spend $130 just to watch my team get their head kicked in all year.
I know its early, and I have been known to be a little doom and gloom. Plus we were playing one of the best pitching staffs ever assembled, but I needed a reason to believe and this first weekend didn't give me much. Now instead of being able to show off the MLB.tv app during viewing parties, I'll be stuck watching low quality, illegal streams on the Internet. Instead of being able to switch between the home and away radio broadcast, or turning the announcers off all together and just listening to the cracks of the bat, I'll have to go to seedy bars on a weekday and try to avoid the other drunks and malcontents. Screw it I'm going to get the app. Perhaps the sexy features and the joy of playing with a new toy can help wash away the taste of another garbage season for the Houston Astros.