Time to re-visit my 5 bold predictions for the Astros 2012 baseball season. Its not pretty…
1. The Astros will have a new “Face of the Franchise” by the end of the year.
Halfway through this dismal season, the frontrunner for the Astros “Face of the Franchise” is… [drumroll]… Jose Altuve!
Although it may just be temporary, Altuve is no doubt deserving — he has the classic underdog story, has arguably been the best offensive second baseman in the NL, and was named an all-star.
In my prediction, I said that the Astros’ “Face of the Franchise” was not on the Opening Day roster and I still believe that. Altuve has made a strong case but he may just be riding the fortunes of being the best player on a bad team. Plus, did anyone happen to catch that 3-for-4 performance by our #1 prospect, Jonathan Singleton, in the Futures Game? The kid can rake.
Not to mention, the Astros did just draft teenage, Puerto Rican shortstop phenom, Carlos Correa. As a hitter, he’s drawing comparisons to A-Rod and Miguel Cabrera, now that’s star power.
Honorable Mentions: Jed Lowrie
2. The Astros will have a DESERVING all-star in the All-Star Game.
Believe it or not, the Astros had a couple of deserving all-stars this season with both Jose Altuve and Jed Lowrie having strong first halves. It would’ve been 3 if it weren’t for some shaky appearances by my early pick, Brett Myers — who started strong but has faded with the team.
Lowrie didn’t get the call, leaving Altuve as the Astros’ lone all-star. He is currently leading all NL second baseman with a .303 batting average despite tailing off towards the break due to a hamstring injury. Altuve has also racked up 96 hits, scored 48 runs, and stolen 15 bases so far.
Altuve deserved the all-star nod.
3. The best addition to the Astros this year will be GM Jeff Luhnow.
Jeff Luhnow’s performance as the Astros’ new general manager can’t really be gauged until a few seasons down the road but the new front office has already made some good personnel moves already. They had a successful draft in July, picking and signing several highly touted prospects including the aforementioned Correa. Luhnow was also able to do what many considered impossible by finding not one but TWO trade partners for Carlos Lee — Lee was eventually sent to the Marlins for more prospects.
On the player front, Lucas Harrell has been solid as a starting pitcher so far this season. The young right-hander has a solid repertoire of plus pitches and has already won 7 games.
4. The Astros will FINALLY find takers for Brett Myers, Wandy Rodriguez and Carlos Lee
One down. Two to go.
With the July trade deadline looming and the Astros in last place, its time to SELL. Conversations for deals that include Wandy Rodriguez, Brett Myers, Brandon Lyons and even Jed Lowrie should be at the top of Luhnow’s to-do list.
If Luhnow can pull off swapping the Astros’ veterans for more talented prospects, it would only further prove my previous point.
5. The Astros will NOT be the worst team in the National League this season.
Damn. So this is where I missed the most with my predictions thus far. The Astros ended the first half of the season not only last in the National League but in all of Major League Baseball. I still think the Astros will bounce back with a strong second half though. We’re a winning team at home but are horrible on the road. Win a couple series on the road and the Astros are on their way out of the cellar.
As for the rest of my picks to finish worst than the Astros, the Pirates are in first place in the NL Central (it won’t last). The Mets are in contention in the NL East (thanks to a knuckleballer no less). But hey, the Cubs still suck.
I know Astros fans, its tough. There’s a lot of baseball left to play and I think things will get better but then again, they could also get worse. Personally, I’m excited to see some of our prospects get called up to the majors in the coming months so I’ll keep tuning in and going out to the ballpark. Go Astros!