Despite my optimism about Bogusevic and...sigh...Schafer, there is a slight chance that the Astros outfield may not produce too many runs with their bats. Next season we will still be missing Hunter Pence. Pence may not have been a Hall of Famer or the center piece of an offense, but would any of you bet against Pence hitting .280/.340/.490 with 25 home runs for the next three seasons? He looked better with the Phillies. At least he was walking more. He had 30 walks with the Astros in 399 at-bats and 26 with the Phillies in 207 at-bats. Maybe it was coaching, or maybe he felt that he didn't have to carry the offense, or maybe it was just a small sample size, but he started to do what I had always wished he would do with the Astros, not swing at everything. Good bye, Hunter, you leave a pothole in the crater that is our offense. The best chance I see for the Astros to pave over that pothole is J.D. Martinez.
We all know the legend of J.D. Martinez: Born in a log cabin in the American mid-west; his mother named him after one Jim Deshaies; Martinez learned to hit on the streets of Moscow using a broken hockey stick as a bat; then disaster struck; Roy Oswalt's old truck electrocuted the young Martinez when the CIA used a Regan-era trebuchet to fling it into the USSR, ruining his knees; the KGB replaced his knees with top-of-the-line Soviet cyber-joints, so now he can't play the infield. The jolt from Oswalt's truck did one good thing, it bequeathed Martinez with a super hitting ability. His robotic knees and his Oswalt-truck-enhanced bat make him the true "hitting machine." When the MLB draft rolled around, most MLB teams, shying away from Soviet technology, did not believe in him, and so the Astros were able to take him the 1634th round.
Jim Deshaies Martinez hit, hit, and hit ever since the Astros got him into the system. It has started to look like Martinez might be able to put up similar numbers to Pence's. It is not unreasonable to hope that J.D. can go .280/.350/.460 with 20+ home runs, a walk rate around 8%, and a K rate around 18% with average to above average defense in left. I have hope that he can actually do better than that when he peaks. And just like Pence, he won't be a center piece of a lineup. As anyone can see, the Astros are more than a super slugger away from competing in the next few seasons, so J.D. doesn't have to be Albert Pujols. Hopefully, J.D. will be in his prime and capable of putting up All-star caliber seasons when the Astros start to look respectable again and will fit in nicely as a solid veteran in the middle of the line-up with the likes Singleton and Springer. If the Astros are still too far away from being good at that point, and the fans haven't forgiven them for moving to the AL, the Astros can deal him to the Phillies...or hopefully to the Rays because I assume Friedman (hint, hint, Mr. Crane, that's where you can stick your $50 million) will want to trade with his old team.