Well, we're four games in, and still nary a win to our name. Actually, we've never had the lead. Okay, so we've only even had one tie which wasn't zero-to-zero. But let's forget about all of that! There are still positives to be had, and darn it, I'm going to find them, even if I have to look all night! Enough with the doom and gloom, already!
1. Tommy Manzella. He may not quite be Adam Everett, but he sure looks like him after two seasons of watching Miguel Tejada. We're only four games in, and he's already made a number of very good plays at shortstop. His instincts are great, his arm appears strong and accurate, and I still haven't seen him bobble a ball. What's more, he's hitting. He's batting .300 (3-for-10) and has shown as true line drive power; it's clear he at least has the potential to be more than a no-power slap hitter. It remains to be seen whether he will meet that potential, but at this point my thinking is that we will see him hitting his fair share of doubles and even a few homers over the rest of the season.
2. Michael Bourn. After a poor spring and a slow first couple of games, Bourn showed the first strong signs of waking up from his slump tonight, going 2-for-5 with a couple of well-struck balls, and keeping the ball on the ground when he wasn't hitting it hard (inevitable result if he keeps doing that: high BABIP driven by speedy infield hits and seeing eye balls). Perhaps more importantly, he's already made a number of spectacular catches in center field to save runs, demonstrating again why he deserved that Gold Glove trophy he was awarded just before the game. The great thing about guys like Bourn and Manzella is that they're still providing value with their glove even during poor offensive stretches.
3. Jeff Keppinger. I would be remiss if I did not mention our resident lefty-killer. Keppinger has been mashing to start the season, as he is 6-for-11 with three of the team's eight extra base hits (all doubles, though one should have been called a home run). He's also drawn a pair of walks and has only struck out once in thirteen plate appearances. Furthermore, just about every one of his six hits was well-struck. He's on a tear; it's just too bad the rest of the offense hasn't been able to drive him in but for once. He's also made a couple of nifty plays at second base, where his range is still iffy, but much less so than at shortstop.
4. The Corpus Christi Hooks. Unlike the Astros, the Class AA Hooks are off to a hot start, with blowout wins in both of their first two games. Jordan Lyles had a 5.2 IP/3 K/0 BB/1 ER start in an exhibition game against the Round Rock Express to start his season, limited to only 70 pitches. Jon Gaston is 3-for-6 with a double, a homer, and two walks. Koby Clemens is 4-for-9 with two doubles and a homer. Most of the pitching staff hasn't given up an earned run yet, with only one pitcher above 1.69 ERA (Matt Nevarez, who had a poor outing resulting in 2 ER in 1 IP). The present may be distasteful for the Astros, but the future could be bright.
5. The 2010 Draft Class. In what we already must worry will be the most exciting part of 2010 for the Astros, the team has three of the first thirty-three picks in the MLB amateur draft. Scouting director Bobby Heck is already 2-for-2 on finding top prospects in the first round, with Jason Castro and Jiovanni Mier both impressing scouts and prospect writers around the country. He also found top prospect Jordan Lyles with a supplemental ("sandwich") first round pick, 38th overall. Can he remain perfect with three more great first round/supplemental picks? It's hard to say, but I'm confident in his abilities, and I believe that the next couple years will be an exciting time to follow the team's minor league system.