The Blue Jays start a four game series with the Houston Astros tonight. Houston is one of the few teams that have a record that's even worse than the Jays (whoops, better go look that up, yep they are still doing worse than us). They are 34-66, last in the AL West. They are a team of young guys, so Astro fans can at least hope for a brighter future.
I sent off some questions to David Coleman, from The Crawfish Boxes, SB Nation's Houston Astros blog and he was kind enough to answer them for us.
With the Astros' first season in the AL, what do you think of the change? Do you like the AL style of baseball?
It took a bit to get used to the AL. Early in the season, I still caught myself expecting double switches or the pitcher to be pulled because his spot in the batting order was coming up. Now, though, that's fallen away and the games are fairly routine. Except for when Houston would use Ronny Cedeno as a DH and drive fans crazy.
How is our once first baseman of the future, Brett Wallace, doing? How about the prospects we sent you for Happ. What are Joe Musgrove, Asher Wojciechowski, David Rollins and Carlos Perez doing? Do you expect to see any of them in the majors soon?
Wallace was terrible at the beginning of the year, but has hit better after being called back up. With Carlos Pena getting DFAed Sunday, Wallace figures to get the bulk of playing time at first, with Chris Carter splitting time in left and at DH.
As for the prospects, Asher Wojciechowski is the one making the most noise. He's at Triple-A and figures to be the first pitcher called up if/when Bud Norris gets traded. Rollins has has moments in High-A Lancaster's tandem starting rotation. Carlos Perez is also at Triple-A, showing good walk and strikeout rates, but his average is down and his power is non-existent. Plus, he's got Max Stassi on his heels for the title of best catching prospect in the system. Musgrove was a casualty of Houston's built-up depth and was sent to extended spring training before going back to rookie ball this year.
The Astros aren't great right now but seem to be putting together a team for the future, what's your ETA for contention?
The year everyone throws out there is 2015. By that point, prospects like centerfielder George Springer, first baseman Jonathan Singleton and shortstop Carlos Correa should all be in the majors leagues, joining the growing core of players who have been called up in the past few years. That's also tentatively when Houston should dip its toe back in free agent waters.
Who is your favourite Astro to watch?
For me, it's easily Chris Carter. I've gotten to watch Houston's batting practice a few times this year and he's a monster there. Plus, we inherited Carter's nickname from Athletics Nation of Trogdor, which is awesome to yell anytime he hits a home run.
With the deadline coming up, are you expecting any trades?
Bud Norris and Jose Veras should get traded for sure, but the thing with this front office is that anyone could be had for the right price. I don't expect anyone else to get traded, but if someone blows GM Jeff Luhnow away in an offer for Carter or even catcher Jason Castro, he might bite.
I have to ask about the Canadian, Eric Bedard. How is he doing?
If you'd asked me back in April, the answer would have been entirely different. Back then, it looked like Bedard was not long for the roster, after he had a horrible month and was demoted to the bullpen. Now? He just had his best start of the season, in the most Astro-ian way possible. Bedard took a no-hitter into the seventh inning, but couldn't keep going. He left without allowing a hit, but ended up losing a game that the Mariners only had one hit total in. It was embarrassing.
Is there anything else us Blue Jay fans should know about the Astros?
Houston is bad. There's no secret there. They've got some fun players and they've got some youthful exuberance. Shortstop Jonathan Villar just got called up and has had a good three game run as has rookie starting pitcher Jarred Cosart, who should start Sunday's game. The rotation is actually decent most of the time, but it's undermined by a terrible bullpen, which is typically how you get a terrible team overall.
Update, I sent David the question Steve02 asked about Alan Ashby, here is the answer:
Most of the feedback on Ashby this year has been positive. Fans were very happy to have him back, as he was a favorite here when he was on the radio. But, I've also heard some complaints that he doesn't seem to fit in well with the broadcasts and that he's not as up on the system. That should all fix itself in time.
However, I can't really give my personal opinions on it, because I don't get to watch Ashby. Houston is going through a carriage dispute with most of the major cable distributors on their new Regional Sport Network CSN Houston. Sixty percent of Houstonians cannot see the games and I fit right into that number. I wish I was able to give a better scouting report on Ashby, though. I loved him when he was the color guy on radio broadcasts.