KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- What I like, and don't like, about the Astros:
Things I like:
|More on spring training|
|More on Houston Astros|
|More MLB coverage|
• Manager Bo Porter loves what he's doing. We'll see how much he still loves it if the Astros lose as many games as many people expect them to, but Porter's passion and optimism has helped brighten a spring that began with the lowest of expectations.
• Porter spent three seasons in the minor leagues playing for teams managed by Dave Trembley. Even then, Porter knew he wanted to manage, and he told Trembley that if he ever did get a job, "you're coming with me." Fifteen years later, Porter got a job, and one of the first things he did was call Trembley with a job offer. How can you not like that kind of loyalty?
• General manager Jeff Luhnow has assembled a staff full of smart people. We'll see how those smarts translate to baseball, but shouldn't smart be a good place to start?
• Everyone agrees Luhnow and his staff need to add a lot of talent to this organization. And just about everyone agrees drafting Carlos Correa first overall last year was a good start.
Things I don't like:
• The pitching staff (and especially the young bullpen) doesn't seem to stand a chance, especially now that the Astros will be playing in the American League. It could get ugly.
• It's not just that many of the pitchers are young. It's that there aren't enough good arms here. As one scout who has followed the Astros this spring said, "On most teams, you have 12 pitchers going for seven spots in the bullpen. Here, they've got six pitchers vying for seven spots."
• The Astros showed some power this spring, but their lineup doesn't exactly look overwhelming. The most experienced guy is Carlos Pena, who strikes out far too much, doesn't hit as many home runs as he once did, and has hit .206 over the last three seasons.
• For a team trying to rebuild, the Astros aren't flush with top prospects. They're especially thin at the upper levels of the minor leagues, and their young players in the big leagues aren't at the top of anyone's prospect lists.