Astros lose 100 again in last NL season
The Houston Astros’ last season in the National League was a
The Astros said goodbye to the senior circuit with a whimper,
posting their second straight 100-loss season before moving to the
American League West for 2013.
Houston finished with the worst record in the majors for the
second year and its 55-107 mark is the worst in franchise history,
one game below last year’s finish, in Jim Crane’s first season as
This group of Astros never really had a chance after the few
remaining veterans were jettisoned before the trade deadline and
they were forced to play with a roster comprised of just one player
who made more than $1 million. Their payroll at the end of the year
was down to $61.7 million, higher than only Pittsburgh and
”We’ve done a lot of work this year,” Crane said. ”It doesn’t
look like it on the field because the results aren’t there yet, but
I think it’s been fun. We’ve made a lot of changes. I think that’s
going to pay off as we move forward.”
The Astros fired manager Brad Mills on Aug. 18 and Houston’s
former Triple-A manager Tony DeFrancesco finished the season on an
Last week they named Washington third base coach Bo Porter
manager and he’ll take over once the Nationals are eliminated from
That means Houston will enter a different league with a
first-time manager and new uniforms, which are to be unveiled next
month, for next season.
The question is if all these changes will equate to more success
on the diamond.
By trading away virtually all their veterans over the last three
seasons, the Astros slashed their payroll and restocked a farm
system which had been left barren under previous management.
They acquired 15 players, most of whom were prospects, in the
trades they made this year alone. That infusion of talent helped
transform Houston’s minor league teams from among the worst in
baseball into some of the best.
”We’ll continue to stay with the plan which is build from
within,” Crane said. ”Once we get a nucleus of players we feel
can play at the major league level we’ll start filling it in.
Certainly there’s a nucleus here. We like a lot of things we’ve
seen, but we do have a lot of holes.”
Houston picked up high school shortstop Carlos Correa with the
No. 1 pick in the draft and believe he can be the face of the
franchise in a few years. They’ll add another top prospect in this
year’s draft as they’ll again pick first.
Among the positives in Houston’s dreadful season was the
development of several young players. Second baseman Jose Altuve
was named to the All-Star game and led the team with a .290 batting
average and 167 hits. The Astros were also impressed with his
improved defensive performance.
Houston claimed outfielder Justin Maxwell off waivers from New
York in April and the 28-year-old had a breakout season. Maxwell
flourished after injuries and inconsistent play left opening day
center fielder Jordan Schafer out for a good chunk of the
Maxwell displayed versatility in playing all three outfield
positions and showed power at the plate, leading the team with a
career-high 18 homers and finishing second with 53 RBIs. It was his
first chance to be an everyday player after he combined to play 122
games in parts of three seasons with the Nationals before landing
He hopes to remain with the Astros as they continue to rebuild
”This is a great opportunity,” he said. ”We’ve got an
exciting owner, going to a new league, getting new uniforms. I like
all the pieces we have. It looks like they’re trying to build a
winning organization from within.”
The Astros saw some good signs from Brett Wallace at first base.
He spent half of the season in Triple-A before taking over at the
position when Houston sent high-priced veteran Carlos Lee to Miami.
The left-handed Wallace had nine homers in 66 games and finished
with a .253 average.
”There have been ups and downs, but I feel confident about the
adjustments that I’ve made and the progress that I’ve made as far
as driving the ball and driving in runs,” he said. ”It’s not a
finished product, but I definitely feel like I put myself in a lot
better position at the plate right now to damage more
He was encouraged by the progress the team made in the last
month of the season when they won two series against teams that
were still in contention.
”We’ve been playing a lot better and I think as we gain more
experience and come together as a team, we’re going to be able to
win more and more games,” Wallace said.
More encouraging signs came from Houston’s pitching where
reliever and sometimes closer Wilton Lopez posted a 2.17 ERA in 64
Rookie Lucas Harrell had the best season among Houston’s
starters and went 11-11 with a 3.76 ERA in 32 starts.
”Hopefully everyone can build on their individual successes
from this year and hopefully have a better team year next season,”
he said. ”These young guys should see that this is a big
opportunity for all of us and we have to make the most of it.”
AP Sports Writer Ron Blum contributed to this report from New