The Houston Astros' 2012 season was mathematically concluded on August 31. Let us eulogize the season that was.
What went right
Jose Altuve showed he's a legitimate All-Star-caliber second baseman at the age of 22. Jed Lowrie, before his injury, was very good at shortstop. The front office was also able to offload some aging veterans and attempt to restock the barren farm system.
What went wrong
Pretty much everything else. I mean, how much would have possibly gone well if a team is eliminated from playoff contention before September with an additional wild card now in place?
MVP: Altuve. Teams need to be strong up the middle to win. Houston has one of its pieces to build around.
LVP: Tie between Drayton McLane and Ed Wade. Look, I'm not a fan of blaming previous administrations for woes if it's, I don't know, almost four years later. But this has been less than one since the Astros got a new owner and general manager. And they inherited a mess. So this season is blamed on the past.
MLB Free agents to be: RP Francisco Cordero, C Chris Snyder ($4 million mutual option)
Gameplan heading into the offseason
It will continue to be a rebuilding project, but there's basically nothing left to tear down. Assuming Snyder's option is not picked up, the Astros have zero players on their roster not either in pre-arbitration or arbitration years. It's uncanny. That doesn't mean they'll go on a spending spree, though. Far from it. With the move to the AL and the farm system finally starting to take shape, the Astros will stay the course with a slow rebuilding plan. Thus, with few veteran trading chips, the Astros figure to be relatively quiet.
Ridiculously premature prediction for 2013
Moving to the tougher league and to a stronger division doesn't bode well. The Astros will likely lose well over 100 games again, along with more and more of their fan base. But they do get new uniforms and general manager Jeff Luhnow hires a few more sportswriters. Oh, and Roger Clemens comes back in September again, just because he likes to torture baseball fans.