R.I.P., 2013 Astros
The 2013 Astros -- to the surprise of exactly no one -- have been eliminated from contention. Let us now mourn them.
It's been a few days since the Astros were mathematically eliminated from playoff contention, so let's get around to eulogizing their 2013 season ...
What went right
On the field? Very little. In terms of the larger picture, the Astros drafted and signed Mark Appel and will in the coming days secure the top overall pick of the 2014 draft. GM Jeff Luhnow was able to pawn off a couple more vets in exchange for youngsters, and down on the rapidly improving farm, top prospects George Springer and Carlos Correa each enjoyed an excellent season. While the big-league club is positively dismal right now, the organization as a whole is headed in the right direction.
What went wrong
At this writing, the Astros are on pace for 109 losses. That's what went wrong. They rank 14th in the AL in runs scored and 15th in runs allowed. Their current run differential is a foul-smelling -193. Since we're not writing a novel here, we'll stick to those broad observations.
MVP: Jason Castro. The 26-year-old catcher is enjoying a breakout season, as he's batting .282/.357/.495 (134 OPS+) with 18 homers and 35 doubles, and he's also spent more than 800 innings behind the plate. Consider him a candidate for a long-term contract extension. A Ribbon of Participation goes to Brett Oberholtzer, who pitched the team's only complete game this season.
LVP: An embarrassment of riches is what we have here. Although it's difficult to home in on only one disappointment, we'll go with Lucas Harrell, who leads the Houston staff in innings despite his lugging around an ERA of 5.81 (plus nine more unearned runs!).
Free agents to be: LHP Erik Bedard
Gameplan heading into the offseason
The Astros have almost nothing in the way of payroll commitments for next season and, by extension, almost nothing in the way of tradeable veterans. So the sell-off is largely done. Now the focus becomes on continued development of what's become one of the game's best farm systems and the gradual promotion of the talents therein. There's also a roster to flesh out. Maybe the Astros, with all that room in the budget, will seekout some sign-and-trade opportunities over the winter.
Ridiculously premature prediction for 2014
They'll avoid 100 losses, and Correa will be acknowledged as the top prospect in baseball by the end of the 2014 season.
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