"Only if you have been in the deepest valley, can you ever know how magnificent it is to be on the highest mountain." - Richard Nixon
Pat yourself on the back Astros fans. This has been the worst season in franchise history and you are still here. Savor the pain and remember how bad it feels to be at the bottom of the pile, seen as beneath contempt. Last night's limp performance was pretty indicative of the entire season. While firecrackers were going off all over the majors, we lost 8-0, scoring two hits off Chris Carpenter. I think at some time in the season we all got a bit pissy, but Astros County has taken exception to the manner of last night's loss. I can understand that as it was a pitiful display.
Hey, at least we knew the season was over after game 1. Don't you feel sorry for those poor people whose season ended on game 162. Well, probably not. Brett Myers pitched an absolute gem against the mighty Phillies and Brandon Lyon ruined it. Forget the fact that he could not close a screen door and probably should have started the season on the DL, I'm still confused as to why Ed Wade traded away bullpen depth in Matt Lindstrom. If he needed to shed the $2.5m Lindstrom was going to earn why did he sign Bill Hall to a one-year contract to about $3.5m?
A dismal bullpen, a constantly overturning lineup and the majors worst rotation was a pretty neat recipe for 100 losses. Of the opening day starters only Humberto Quintero remained at his position by the end of the season. Carlos Lee was moved to first base, Bill Hall was designated for assignment, Angel Sanchez made way for Clint Barmes, Chris Johnson and Brett Wallace lost their starting jobs and were demoted, Hunter Pence and Michael Bourn were both traded at the deadline.
Their season record of 56-106 smashes the franchise's previous worst. And it could disintegrate even further. In two seasons they have lost their four remaining 5 WAR players (Roy Oswalt, Lance Berkman, Pence and Bourn), and expecting a sudden rotational turnaround might be too much to expect. If the Astros lose Wandy Rodriguez and Clint Barmes in the offseason they will be even more bereft of competent major league talent.
Some of the best performances this season have come from bit-part players like Matt Downs and Jason Bourgeois. Almost everyone else's development has gone backwards.
To avoid becoming even more of a laughing stock Jason Castro, Jose Altuve and J.D. Martinez will have to collectively break out on the major league stage. J.A. Happ and Jordan Lyles will have to show significant improvement (Happ has done so since his September recall). Wade will have to find numerous internal options to plug leaks in the bullpen.
It is sad that, looking back, some of the best Astros moments were not the games themselves, but what happened on twitter, now the center of the universe for baseball. Hashtags such as #freebrettwallace, #millslogic and #astrosteammeeting were a hoot. Bud Norris has encouraged this season and could be a superb #2 pitcher in the near future. His gem against the Brewers, where he struckout 10 in 7 2/3 scoreless innings on May 1 was my moment of the year. That was when we were only playing awfully, upgrading to abysmally a few weeks later.
Jose Altuve's minor league rampage was exciting, getting the haul we did for Hunter Pence was exciting, even if it lost us a significant chunk of the fanbase. I can't begrudge the 'pink caps' in rooting for the Phillies now that he's gone (a phrase I dislike using), and many people have talked about apathy existing within the Houston fanbase. Andy from the Houston Counterplot has been very vocal the last few days against Houston fans for allowing everyone else to dump on us.
I like to think we've whittled away the dead wood and are ready to fight and claw our way back up to the top and give a big f*** you to all those who disrespect and badmouth the franchise for no reason. Onwards and upwards I say, unless we are forced into the AL, find ourselves without an owner, or god forbid re-sign Jason Michaels.