/Taking a break from my usual 'load-of-crap' style today.
Well Houston. Here we are. It's 2012 and we are in the process of putting mere 100-loss seasons to shame for the second straight year. How depressing.
I'm not gonna lie, back in my more naive days, '08 to be exact, I saw a mediocre team slowly sinking, as I'm sure most of y'all did too. But for some strange reason (in retrospect I can't even remember what it was), I thought that we were going to turn it around. All throughout my high school career, I'd tell people, "Just wait 'til 2012, we'll be back!!"
Once again, here we are in 2012; on the right track, but so far away from contention and playoffs and all that is good that we've nothing left but the promise of the future and another #1 pick...
So what are we doing? What should we be doing? Personally, I think the answer to one is the answer to the other, and that, my friends, is a good place to be. We are rebuilding. Not retooling, as the Spurs and Rockets seem to do every year (with varying levels of success), not reloading, like an elite college football team (pick one, any one) does to replace NFL talent. No, we are rebuilding, which unfortunately is the most painful and time-intensive way to the promised land.
But more important than what we are doing is HOW we are doing it. As we've seen with the Pirates until recently, you can't just trade off all of your assets constantly, or else you're always rebuilding.
So with that in mind and knowing our current position as a franchise, how should we continue our rebuilding process? What buttons need to be pressed in order to start a sustainable run of excellence? Here's my take:
By and large, we've gotten the hardest part out of the way. No, not all the losing, believe it or not. Committing to the rebuilding process to start with. But either way, we've successfully torn down the major league club, exchanging current value for potential value. And we've waited. And now, it's finally time to start reconstructing.
This off-season, we need to evaluate potential (and viable) in-house options at SP. What we can't cover ourselves, gun for relentlessly in free agency. Front-loaded contracts out the wazoo. I would hope to end up with two solid #2-3's, plus a couple of cheap relief pitchers to help out in the pen... And that's it. Maybe one mid-level bat if there's money left over, but we are getting to the point where our up-and-coming talent is coming up, and we don't need to block their development any more than necessary.
From there, you're ready to head into 2013. Fast-forwarding to the draft, take everyone on a roller-coaster ride and pick upside, upside, upside. Our depth is tremendous right now, but we don't have a Trout or a Harper to build around. I love having what is it, 6? prospects in the Top 100, but man, what I would give for a stud in the Top 10... I know you have to have something of a balance with the new CBA, but you can get creative, as our FO showed last year.
Onward to the trade deadline, another defining point for the club. Here is where you have to make some tough choices. For me, I trade anyone who is 'oldish' or a 'tweener.' Guys like Maxwell, Norris possibly our free agents, even Lowrie or Harrell if the price is right. Everyone else stays.
And finally, to next September, when the fruits of our labor finally begin to show. Guys like Singleton, Cosart, and Grossman get the call. Our solid AA bullpen head to Houston. Whoa.
I know it sounds like rinse and repeat for most of the year, but September is when it all clicks. Realize the difference in caliber our call-ups are going to bring over this year's crop, and smile, TCBers. Just smile.