Ruminations on the Astros being .500 at the ASB

Roy Oswalt and Lance Berkman struggle mightily to start the season.

Jose Valverde, Doug Brocail, and Mike Hampton all miss significant time.

Geoff Geary goes Oscar Villareal on us.

Brandon Backe goes all Brandon Backe on us.

Our offense ranks in the bottom of the NL in runs scored, SLG%, HR and just about every other meaningful category.

Brian Moehler, Russ Ortiz and Hampton don't stink up the place, but are what they are: veteran pitchers who rely more on grit than anything else.

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Two waiver wire pick ups solidify the bullpen, and LaTroy Hawkins continues to pitch well in an Astros uniform.

Hunter Pence lays off that pesky slider, en route to becoming the sort of player we all hoped he would be.

Arguably the worst offensive player in MLB last year, Michael Bourn, alters his game and has a remarkably consistent first half of 2009.

Geoff Blum collects three game winning hits, plays better defense than most thirty five year olds, and gets on base at a .350 clip.

Wandy Rodriguez picks up the slack when Roy started poorly, and has seemingly put everything together in order to give the Astros the number two pitcher they've lacked in recent seasons

Chris Sampson, though his innings piled up, induced grounders and added to the bullpen's overall strength

Bobby Heck's forsight in selecting Jason Castro with the tenth overall selection in the 2008 draft. Baseball America ranks Castro as the #19 prospect in all of baseball. Jordan Lyles is ranked in the top fifty.

The Lexington Legends' starting rotation is the best collection of young starters in Low A ball, and most likely the whole of the minor leagues.

Jason Castro smacked a three run home run in the All Star Future Game. Chia Jen Lo impressed the folks at ESPN as well.

Felipe Paulino showed flashes of brilliance, and Bud Norris, Polin Trinidad and Yorman Bazardo are young arms that will help the Astros sooner rather than later.

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The Astros are .500, and are an infinitely more interesting team in July than they were in April. We open up the second half in Los Angeles, and I for one can't wait for this break to be over.

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