Your editor is about to vacate CSBT HQ for the afternoon to take in an exhibition game between Houston’s PCL and Texas League affiliates, Round Rock and Corpus Christi. At at mere $5, I can probably look past the hosts being without the star power of Humberto Quintero, but for those planning to sell out real money to see the parent club this season, the Houston Chronicle’s Richard Justice warns, “the people that are picking the Astros to finish behind the Cubs, Cardinals, Brewers and Reds have logical reasons.”
At 33.6 years per man, it’s the oldest rotation in baseball. The Astros don’t have a single twentysomething in the rotation. They’ve probably noticed that Russ Ortiz (above) and Mike Hampton have won a grand total of five games the last three years. They’ve made just 32 starts between them in that time. To count on them to make, oh, 50 this season is a gigantic leap of faith. That doesn’t mean it can’t happen. It just means it’s not the safest bet.
Just as troubling is that not a single young player made a serious run at a roster spot this spring. That’s important for organizational depth, and because the rest of the roster is old, too.
The 25-man roster averages 32.6 years per man, which is ancient. Only Humberto Quintero, Jeff Keppinger, Michael Bourn, Hunter Pence and Wesley Wright have yet to celebrate their 30th birthday.
It’s a patchwork roster. Only five players were originally drafted and/or signed by the Astros: Lance Berkman, Roy Oswalt, Hunter Pence, Wandy Rodriguez and Chris Sampson.
There are lineup questions at 3B, SS, 2B, C and CF. The manager has been forced to work in the final year of his contract, which is rare and a slap in the face.
None of these negatives says the Astros can’t win. It just says hell will freeze over before they win. (I threw that one in to see if you were paying attention.)