Astros Sunday Roundup: Coping Strategies For The Rest Of 2011

This season is currently going from bad to worse. As an Astro fan, how can you survive it?

Yeah, I know it is bad. Very bad. 28-50 is 12 games away from the Pirates. And we're not even halfway through the season. If not for a comeback against the Rangers which was capped by a Matt Downs 2-run home run, we might have lost six straight this week. Even the Rangers fans felt that smack talking us was beneath them. 

So I'm here to help and here are some things that might make the rest of the Astros 2011 season in some way bearable. 

1. Waiting for George Springer to sign

Apart from Jack Armstrong, who will likely head to the Cape Cod League to rebuild his value, first round pick George Springer is the last piece to fall for Bobby Heck and Ed Wade. They have signed the rest of their first 13 picks. Springer is recovering from a sore hamstring after the Huskies season ended against South Carolina. 

I see no reason that Springer would play hardball with negotiations, and the sooner we get him into short-season ball the better. What timetable his agent and Bobby Heck have in mind is anyone's guess at this point. Giving the Astros a nice shiny press conference would dispel the misery for a day at least. Jason Castro signed in mid-July in 2008, and I would say that is a reasonable enough marker. 

2. Checking Jose Altuve's stat-line every morning

His batting line has dropped a bit at Corpus Christi to .371, but he's still on course for a Sisler-esque amount of hits in 2011. As much as I love his BA orbiting around .400, I'd still like to see a handful of home runs, a decent amount of walks and more steals. And his defense is good too I hear. 

In fact there are several prospects worth checking in at Corpus Christi to see. Dallas Keuchel, J.D. Martinez, Chris Wallace, Jimmy Paredes and Jonathan Villar all look to be in the Astros' next wave of prospects. By the end of 2013 most if not all should have been given their shot to make the team. 

3. The July international amateur signing period

The Astros went big last year and signed 16-year-old Ariel Ovando to a $2.6m signing bonus. They also spent the third most on International Amateur Signing Bonuses after the Mariners and the Yankees at $5.13m in 2010. Typically it takes quite a while for the international players to come through the system, but you really need the depth in your farm system that international signees give it. 

4. Seeing what trades (if any) that Ed Wade makes before the non-waiver trade deadline

This might well underwhelm you if we end up trading only Jeff Keppinger. I like Keppinger and what he brings to the team, but Matt Downs could do exactly the same job, and probably better, since he has some power to bring to second base. If a team looking for some depth on their bench offers a mid-tier prospect for Keppinger, chances are Wade will take it, as he was trying to shop him during the winter.

However some teams just feel like they have to make a trade, and with even Jon Heyman ranking Wandy Rodriguez as the best available starting pitcher, you have to wonder whether Wade can pull off a small coup. Even Troy Renck of the Denver Post has admitted that Rodriguez would be the best fit for a team looking for left handed starting pitching. And the Rockies do have some pitching prospect depth. Hmmm...

And if Wade does not pull off a blockbusting trade, he will certainly be active before the waiver trade deadline after July 31st. He nabbed Nelson Figueroa and Matt Downs last year, and nabbed both Jason Bourgeois and Wilton Lopez off waivers in the past. 

5. September Callups 

We all expected Jordan Lyles to headline the wave of prospects added when autumn approaches, but he's here already. Martinez should be a lock if his knees don't give way, Koby Clemens could well be another, while any of the names listed at #2 might get a taste of the big leagues. Considering how awful the bullpen has been, guys like David Carpenter and Daniel Meszaros should get a chance to audition for a slot on the 2012 big league roster. 

6. The race for the #1 pick in the 2012 draft

Unless you are the New York Yankees, you have lost 100 games at some point. Dating back to the team's foundation in 1962 (the Astos that is, as the Colt 45s), only the Yankees, Angels, Phillies, Cardinals, Dodgers and Astros have avoided a 100-game losing season. The California Angels formed in 1961, the season that the Phillies lost 107 games (the Rockies have yet to post a 100 loss season in their 18 year history). Alas the Astros will be scrubbed off that list as they limp towards their first 100 loss season ever.

Depressing, yes. All bad, no. Kenny Diekroeger, a third baseman/shortstop from Stanford, is a talked about player for next year's first pick, but that could all change in the next 11 months. Not a bad wooden spoon. 

7. Remember, you will not see Brandon Lyon again this season

The wonder is why he ever started the season as he clearly was not 100%. Trading away Matt Lindstrom to save cash was a brain fart on Wade's part, saving the club about $2.5-3m, but doing irreparable damage to the bullpen. Lindstrom has been solid in the Rockies pen, while Lyon has had an absolute nightmare this season. Never has one man wreaked so much havoc on his own on a major league team, adding a spectacular -1.6 wins above replacement in just 13 1/3 innings of work, good for four saves, a 2.4 WHIP, four blown saves and three loses. So long. 

Very Quickly: Thanks to Rivers McCown for his time as Managing Editor of SBN Houston, and best of luck with his new gig at Football Outsiders

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