This week even the national press have caught up on the sheer awfulness that is the 2012 Houston Astros. Even the 1962 Mets did not manage that shrieks ESPN's Jayson Stark. The Astros are so good at being bad, harks a writer at SB Nation.
Yet they squeaked to a 3-2 win over the Braves last night, their fourth win since June 28, and Lucas Harrell is actually leading the rotation and Justin Maxwell, a waiver claim, single-handedly provided the offense yesterday. Martin Prado, lollygagging in Turner Field's outfield didn't move for the second and only twitched for the first. Both home runs were long gone. Maxwell now has 12 home runs, one ahead of J.D. Martinez and two behind Jed Lowrie, still on the DL.
We should not give too much credit for waiver claims, since having first choice and far more 40-man roster flexibility than other teams mean the Astros can roll the dice more. It is nice to see Maxwell doing well, and at the same time frustrating to see Justin Ruggiano banzaing in Miami. He is 30 and has 149 major league games under his belt, so we can hope it is an abberation after Jeff Luhnow traded him to the Marlins for minor league catching depth.
We were expecting Wandy Rodriguez, Brett Myers and Carlos Lee to go, but Chris Johnson, while a spare-boot piece that many would not mind seeing the back of, did get moved to Arizona. The bigger shock is not that we moved him, but that we got something of value in return.
Bobby Borchering and Marc Krauss, acquired from the D-backs profile to be the sort of fringe pieces that make good teams, and occasionally you may get a few good seasons from them as starters. Borchering is still playing third base for the Hooks, with scouting reports suggesting he will not stick it out there. Last night the two contributed to a phenomenal ninth inning for Corpus Christi, where, tied 6-6, they scored 11 runs. Jason Castro, currently re-habbing, was involved in the blood-bath. Krauss, already 25 has five bombs in his first five games in the Astros organisation.
Even with all the moves we have made, we are still thin on high ceiling prospects, barring our top three (Singleton, Cosart and Springer) and two of our draftees from 2012 Lance McCullers Jr and Carlos Correa. Exceptions to this would be Vincent Velasquez (currently tearing apart the Penn League, but come back to me in a season), Jonathan Villar and Delino DeShields Jr (they have the pieces, but have not clicked all of it together), Ariel Ovando (too far away from majors to judge), and Domingo Santana (far too streaky).
Still, it is fun to see guys like Adrian Houser, Aaron West or Daniel Minor trotting out every fifth day and having some success.
The other trade to be completed this week is the White Sox deal for Brett Myers, as the player to be named later was announced as Chris Devinski, a 27th round pick from 2011. You can tell from the footnote over at South Side Sox that fans in Chicago see this as no loss. Perhaps you should view him as a guy with an arm, that can throw the baseball hard, and sometimes with break. Not yet a pitcher anyway.
John Sickels reviews his top 20 Astros prospect list from the start of the season.Obviously this list next year will be much changed, but the encouraging thing is most players that we were relying on to take steps forward have done so. Tropeano and DeShields have bumped up to B- and B. The pieces acquired in the Bourn deal have frustrated, but apart from that, all good.
This week watch out for the Appalachian League debut of McCullers, as he gets the bump up to Greeneville after 11 innings and four outings in the Gulf Coast League. Meanwhile we speculated over the first round pick for 2013 if the Astros were to get it. No guarantees over that one, but would they sign someone like Mark Appel knowing they could sign him way under slot. Could they? Would that be a risk too far? Is it even worth wasting a 1-1 pick on him?
Lastly, will see see any callups before September? Perhaps the odd one or two, but I think Brad Mills and the front office will hold off before calling up Dominguez, Jimmy Paredes and others.