The "Ifs" for the Astros are getting smaller.
"If the Astros improve their starting rotation….."
The rotation has been improved. The arrival of Bret Meyers should signal the departure of Moehler from the rotation. What bothers me is the fact that we the fans made it known that we were fed up with Lidge and he was sent away. I believe we have made it well known that we have no use for Moehler but the organization keeps him around. Does pictures of Wade hugging Shawn Chacon?? Unless he’s goes to the bullpen; I’m afraid we may have another guy who the Astros pay to NOT pitch this year. A rotation of Roy O, Wandy, Norris, Meyers and Paulino has a great chance to be a vast improvement over the last two years. Realistically…could it be worse??
"If Roy and Lance have comeback years……."
I have nothing to say that absolutely they will have better years except for one thing; pride. Lance is not going to sit idly by and watch a potential hall of fame career go down the "Johnny flusher". I believe we will see a player who gets to spring training in shape and ready to play. Let’s face it, if the guy hit .250 in April he’ll be the leading candidate for comeback player of the year. And that IS the award I expect to see Lance get in 2010. As for Roy; his numbers have been declining but not just falling off a cliff. Other than win/loss record he wasn’t a long way off his career numbers. What hurt Roy the most was 16 "No-decisions" (The Astros were 8-8 in those starts). The only month he receive more than 3 decisions was June (3-2 with a 3.14 ERA). But look at him months by month:
September: 0-1/8.10/3 (Astros shut him down after his Sept 15th start)
So two losing months, 16 "ND" and pitching hurt most of the year. I believe that the back injury has hurt Roy more than he wants to admit. With the higher level of physical fitness that Ed Wade is asking of Roy we have reason to believe that Roy could return to his usual 15+ wins in 2010.
"If the Astros defense is better in 2010….."
We have every reason to believe that it will be. I have always wondered if anyone has kept up with a stat that doesn’t, but should exist. Plays not made. How many times did we see the Astros get into a tight spot and the pitcher would get the ground ball needed to get out of the inning only to see the ball thrown away or missed completely? That’s a stat that needs to be tracked. Manzella is touted as Everett’s equal defensively (Unfortunately the comparisons don’t end there) and if this is true our defense should be greatly improved. We know that Feliz is a superior defensive player to Blum and we expect Manzella to be a better defensive player that Tejada. With this said our defense up the middle just got a lot better. Now, the plays that have not been made should be made. This will take pressure off of the pitchers allowing them to pitch to contact a little more and getting out of more of the tough innings. Unfortunately; "plays not made" are not always counted as errors. This hurts a pitchers ERA and WHiP even though the pitcher did his job.
"If the young players prove their worth…."
"Is Norris the real deal?"
"Is Manzella good enough defensively to make an impact?"
"Can Paulino finally live up to his talent?"
"Will Castro make an impact on the Astros major league club in 2010?"
All of these are great questions. The answers are simple. If they do….the Central division is there for the taking. If not; the Astros will have some real nice draft picks in 2010. I don’t think it’s an "if" for these players making a positive impact on the Astros; it’s a "when".
Ed Wade has taken a lot of heat from the fans over moves made but what has he really done so poorly? Yes, we have a lot of young players that we don’t know anything about and he hasn’t gone out a signed the big name players. But so what? He’s trying to build a team that can win soon and win often.
I’ll end this with a question for all of you; If it takes another year for the Astros to win, and they become a perennial playoff contender for the next 10 years…..wasn’t all this worth it? It could happen.