The Ministry Of Truth Is Here To Help You Figure Out The Astros

I feel bad for beat writers covering sad teams. It's a hard thing to do on a day-to-day basis, and calls for "signs of optimism" articles by their employers are hard-pressed to be easy to come up with. That doesn't mean that I'm going to let this piece off the hook though, because I felt dirty just reading it.

Astros transitioning to promising future

Oh lord. Okay, reluctantly I accept your premise while I ready the fisking machine.

With new ownership on the horizon and Jordan Lyles, the club's top prospect, getting his feet wet in his Major League debut, the Astros are transitioning into a new era on the field and off that's full of promise.

There may be a way to find promise in a 20-year-old starter who is projected by most to top out as a No.2 or 3 starter at best and an owner who has spent the better part of the last week being outed for war profiteering and (at best) ignorance to racism in his company, but "full of" it? Did the other four starters morph into Jordan Lyles as well? Did our five Lyles' find a pot of gold that will allow Mr. Crane to spend enough in free agency to make the Astros a winner right away?

The Astros began their rebuilding mode nearly a year ago when they traded away Roy Oswalt and Lance Berkman, and the young kids carried Houston to a strong finish in 2010.

Young kids like who? The .205 hitting Jason Castro? The fluking-out-of-his-gorge Chris Johnson? Bud Norris' 4.92 ERA? Because those were the only regulars on the 2010 Astros under 26.

The youth pipeline hasn't dried up, with Lyles creating a buzz at Minute Maid Park after making his Major League debut in May.

At this pace, Jordan Lyles will only be 44 by the time the Astros can cobble together a whole roster of hims!

Lyles has already survived the first roster move that involved taking a starting pitcher out of the rotation, and he figures to have a good chance to stick in the rotation for the rest of the year. At 20 years old, he's the youngest player in the Major Leagues, and has a world of potential.

Or as much potential as a kid with good-but-not-great stuff and good command can have. Which is, apparently, a No. 2 starter on a good team.

Then, there's Hunter Pence, who's blossoming into a star. On the heels of a 23-game hitting streak that ended on Tuesday, Pence was leading the team in batting average (.320), home runs (nine) and RBIs (50) -- and appears poised for a huge second half.

Funny thing about Hunter Pence: if you just remove the batting average from the equation, and look at the pure rates, he's on pace for about the same number of walks and the same power he's always had. It's almost like when a .280 hitter hits .320, it's just a sign that he's having a good year and not the sign that (at 27, of all times) he's finally learned what it takes to become a star.

Brett Wallace, who was one of four rookies who was thrown into the fire last year after he was acquired in the Oswalt trade, has been among the league's leaders in batting average all season, sitting at .313 entering play on Wednesday. The Astros are still waiting for his power numbers to arrive, and if they do in the second half, look out.

Brett Wallace has two minor league seasons where he hit more than ten homers, and both of them were with the aid of the Pacific Coast League's thin atmosphere and small parks. Spoiler alert: his power isn't arriving. Spoiler alert two: he is the second coming of Carlos Lee in the field and on the bases. Spoiler alert three: Brett Wallace is never going to be a really good player.

Sure, the Astros have spent most of the season in last place, but recent history has proven that Houston has been a solid second-half club. The Astros, with four rookies in the lineup on most nights, had the fourth-best winning percentage in the National League (.548) last year, which perhaps provides an indication that the immediate future is, indeed, bright.

This is the motherload. It includes two separate suppositions (that last year matters now, that the four rookies--two of which aren't on the team now and one of which is Johnson--matter) just to reach an end point of "perhaps" the immediate future is bright.

"Sure, my 1989 Toyota Tercel has no air conditioning and has been in the shop three times this year, but not all 1989 Toyota Tercels have been scrapheaped. My 1989 Toyota Tercel, with a pair of fuzzy dice in the mirror and two new wheels, was able to drive me all the way to Clear Lake and back one night last year, which perhaps provides an indication that I shouldn't buy a new car."

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