The horror that is the future of the Houston Astros gets worse by the day. Sure, they hired an astute General Manager who says All the Right Things in interviews and seems like he was plucked from a Fangraphs comment section. That’s all well and good, even if it might be five years behind the curve.
The Astros are moving to the American League West next season – a division now home to Yu Darvish and Albert Pujols. The Angels and Rangers are spending hundreds of millions of dollars improve their team while the Mariners struggle to stay relevant and the A’s wait for a new ballpark. The Astros are really up against it.
The Astros would be up against it if there were a decent, middle of the road baseball team. That is not what the Astros are. They’re terrible. Very, very terrible.
The great ZiPS projection for the 2012 Astros are out and boy, are they depressing. They are the first 10 chapters of Angela’s Ashes depressing. This is simply, as David Coleman at Crawfish Boxes said today, a team without a core. There isn’t a single above-average player on the roster. Not a one.
According to ZiPS, two Astros position players project as better than average offensively. At that, ZiPS has them down for OPS+ of 106 and 104, barely above the league-average threshold of 100. And, because these are the Astros, they both play the same position.
One of them, Carlos Lee, is in the final year of his contract and would be moved if anyone on Earth had interest in acquiring Carlos Lee. His projected slash line of .273/.323/.441 with 19 home runs doesn’t exactly send GMs racing to the phone.
Outfielder J.D. Martinez is an interesting study. Young enough that playing in Houston is yet to break his spirit, Martinez posted an almost hopeful 101 wRC+ last season. Bill James has him at .297/.353/.458 with 16 home runs in 2012. Sadly, ZiPS is less than bullish. ZiPS does project Martinez to lead the Astros in on base percentage but the middling .281/.335/.414 slash takes any zip out of that thought, amirite?
The pitching staff is a little better with both Wandy Rodriguez and Bud Norris looking like better than average starters. The Astros have a few interesting relievers but…they`re relievers! Rodriguez could follow Michael Bourn and Hunter Pence right out of town in trades.
That, as Dave Szymborski notes, is the scary part of the 2012 Astros. They won’t get any contribution from legit big leaguers like Pence and Bourn. They are all alone. They might win 50 games total. They’re doomed.
The potential glimmer of light that is J.D. Martinez? His number two best comparable player, according to the ZiPS system? CARLOS LEE. They’re doomed now and doomed in the future. Doomed.