Astros Sunday Roundup: How Low Can This Team Go?

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - JULY 14: Manager Brad Mills (L) and Head Trainer Nate Lucero (R) of the Houston Astros help shortstop Jed Lowrie #4 to his feet after Lowrie got injured on a play at second base in the third inning against the San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park on July 14, 2012 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

Right now it isn't even about winning, just about salvaging some modicum of pride.

Since June 27 the Astros have won only once, a 6-3 win against the Brewers. And they only won that because Zach Greinke got himself ejected. True, some of that time saw the Astros out of action with the All-Star Break, but May 25 seems an awful long time ago when the team was 22-23. Since then, almost everything has gone wrong for the team.

The most ridiculous thing about 2012 is the Astros are still over .500 at home, and have scraped just nine wins away from Minute Maid Park. You would need a real stat-head to tell you what team has the worst away record over an entire season, but we might just be pushing it.

Jason Castro just went on the DL to join Jed Lowrie, out for at least six weeks. Carlos Corporan, welcome back. All we need is the recall of Angel Sanchez to make this season even more of a mess.

Carlos Lee is gone, bringing back a haul, even if the Astros did have to pay the rest of his salary . To get anything for a guy who has not hit a home run away from Minute Maid Park in 2012 is good (apart from when he re-habbed at Corpus Christi). In Rob Rassmussen they picked up a piece that could be a Mark Melancon or David Carpenter, or something in-between.

Like the Mets with Fernando Rodriguez the Marlins have bailed with a former top prospect, whose bat never looked like materialising. As flyers go Matt Dominguez is a good one at a position the Astros system is paper thin at - third base.

Miami have picked up two former Astros this month, signing Humberto Quintero on Saturday after he was cut from the Royals after 144 rather ineffectual plate appearances. Quintero not hitting? Dun-dun-dun.

Jim Crane and Jeff Luhnow's mood might have soured with all of this going on, and seeing Jonathan Villar break his hand cannot have helped. As far as crumbs of comfort go they and Astros fans have to settle on the 2012 draftees currently romping their way through the competiiton, from Nolan Fontana at Lexington, .575 OBP-machine in his first eight games, Andrew Aplin, Tyler Heineman and Brad Rodgers down at Tri-City and Daniel Minor at Greeneville. That does not even mention Lance McCullers Jr, who threw three scoreless in his debut last night for the Gulf Coast League Astros, Rio Ruiz's debut last night for the very same team, or the success Adrian Houser and Vincent Velasquez are having.

So, in the next unanswered question of July 2012, who is going to grab Wandy Rodriguez at the deadline? Since he is not going to bring the haul Astros fans would like, and with teams seemingly turned off by the price-tag on pitchers such as Cole Hamels and Zach Greinke, someone like the Blue Jays or Orioles may offer Luhnow a package of sell-low prospects, blocked players or people due for a rebound.

This season is set to flounder on. In 2010 the Astros brought up Chris Johnson, Jason Castro and Brian Bogusevic, getting rid of wasted space in Pedro Feliz. Last year they called up Jordan Lyles, J.D. Martinez and Jose Altuve. No such reinforcements this season. Dominguez and Brett Wallace seem likely to get called up, as will Jimmy Paredes and some other pitchers at AAA. Jonathan Singleton might get a taste of the big leagues, but at 20 there really is no need to rush.

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