General Sherman? General Sherman! Brutal. Though it's true the Astros are in a tough spot when it comes to prospects, all is not lost. There are benefits to a strong farm system beyond the potential they bring the big league club. A pipeline of prospects ensures that you don't have to pay El Caballo $100 million. Free agency isn't your only chance of getting better. Mainly this off-season, having a plethora of prospects (which, no, we don't have many plethoras) works as trade bait. Jake Peavy wanted to come to Houston - but the Astros didn't, and don't, have the pieces necessary to get the other best pitcher in the National League (I'm counting Roy here).
But let's take a look at our roster, as it stands. Because the farm system is only as effective as the positions that are open for them to advance. And one disclaimer: you can never have enough pitching and live arms to bring up to the Big Leagues. A few good pitching prospects and we're at least rebuilding, not patching (I'm talking to you, Mike Hampton. But I hope you tear it up. And by "tear it up" I don't mean "tendons" or "ligaments.")
True, it would have been nice for Towles to step right in and be Joe Mauer. Instead, he was Brad Ausmus. However, Quintero is 29. Palmisano is 26. Towles is 24. And Castro is one year away from contributing (ideally).
No one is taking Lance's spot at first. Kaz Matsui has two years left. Tejada has one more year. So the Astros really could have used a top prospect at third base this year, and someone to step up in the Minors this year to produce at short in 2010.
Lee is owed too much money to lose his job in left. Bourn is in center for the time being and is 26. Hunter Pence is 25.
The team has a lot of younger guys (except in the starting rotation) who are considered prospects, and there are a lot of positions locked in by high-priced veterans and untouchables like Lance and Roy. No, the Astros don't have a strong farm system. But the way the team is set up now, we don't need one for a little while. (Lemons = lemonade).