Houston…You Have A Multitude Of Problems


The last two days of Tigers baseball were a massacre. They scored 26 runs on 34 hits, while allowing only two runs to the lowly Houston Astros this past weekend. I would like nothing more than to boast about the Tigers’ prowess on the baseball diamond after completing a four game sweep this past weekend, but that just doesn’t seem right. After all, boasting about sweeping the Astros is akin to the Detroit Lions boasting about a win against Birmingham Brother Rice. {Insert Lions jokes here}

Anyway, we haven’t seen baseball that bad around these parts since 2003 when our own Detroit Tigers lost 119 games. After 32 games, the Houston Astros record stands at 8-24. If I were to extrapolate that over a course of 162 games, the current pace puts the Astros on track to win 40 or 41 games, meaning they are on pace to lose 121 or 122. Not good Houston.

May 4, 2013; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Astros shortstop Ronny Cedeno (13) loses control of a ground ball during the eighth inning against the Detroit Tigers at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

I’m sure you are wondering at this point, why should we care about Houston? Simply put, this kind of business is bad for baseball. The stench of teams like Houston and Miami reaches beyond their own divisions. Why? Because the American League West and National League East have an advantage playing these teams more often than the rest of the league, raising the chances that a wild card will come out of those divisions. That’s not a particularly level playing field for teams that don’t win their division.

In Detroit, we aren’t thinking wild card. We are thinking about winning a division and winning a World Series. But this past weekend in Houston, brought my thoughts back to the Tigers roots of their present situation. If not for hitting rock bottom in 2003, the Tigers likely wouldn’t be as good as they are today. After all, it was after 2003 when owner Mike Ilitch said no more and opened up his pocketbook.

Houston’s ownership doesn’t seem eager to all of a sudden become a member of the 150M dollar club, but like the Tigers, they do have a plan. Houston’s plan revolves around developing young players from within, and while it looks ugly at the big league level now, a few years down the road, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Astros competing like the Tigers were by 2006. That’s in large part due to Astros’ GM Jeff Lunhow, who was part of the architectural team in St. Louis that has made the Cardinals an annual contender. Already Lunhow has turned a talent bereft organization into one of the best farm systems in baseball, but it’s been largely at the expense of the major league ball club, trading away guys like Lance Berkman, Wandy Rodriguez, Roy Oswalt and Hunter Pence to name a few.

Lunhow has his work cut out for him. Houston hadn’t drafted well in quite some time before he got there, and it’s best players a decade ago were aging right before everyone’s eyes. They had good players on the way out, and nobody to replace them with, so this season isn’t a surprise. Everyone knew the Astros were going to be bad. But this is REALLY bad. The Astros can’t pitch, and they can’t hit. The Astros are 12th in the American League in runs scored per game, and are way “ahead” of the pack in allowing runs.

I feel for the Houston fans. We here in Detroit know us some misery when it comes to our professional sports. Our Detroit Pistons are one of the NBA’s worst franchises right now. Our Detroit Lions are unbelievably familiar with futility, not ever making an appearance in a Super Bowl. And just ten short years ago, our Detroit Tigers shared so many of the “qualities” that the current Astros’ team has.

The encouraging thing for Houston is that it gets better. A couple of their young players will show they can play in the major leagues. A couple will show they can’t. The Astros will likely discard some of the veterans as the season goes on in favor of even more youth. And they should. The Astros have to give their fans a reason to show up to the park. Bring up prospects like George Springer, Jarred Cosart, and Jonathan Villar. Let them take their lumps on the way to losing over 100 games. At the very least, some of these young guys could give the Astros fans some hope for the future.

By the looks of it, right now, that’s all they got.