Richard Justice's new post this morning talks about the approach the Astros will take with their young'uns come February. Some highlights, before we get into excerpts:
-The defense is pretty much set at 1B, LF, CF, and RF. Manzella figures to be SS1 and Matsui 2B1.
-But if the Astros Jovenes struggle in Spring Training (Johnson, Manzella, Castro), then alternate plans could be made.
(Note: Ed Wade gave Quintero and Towles all spring to fight it out for C1 before neither did anything and Wade signed Pudge.)
-Castro is "a tougher call." While it's exciting to get jazzed up about his promise, he still hasn't played in Triple-A, and this time last year he was finishing up a stint in Tri-City. There's talk that he could open the season at Round Rock, regardless of his Spring, to give him at least a look between Corpus and Houston.
-The Astros feel they can contend in 2010. They played in 75 games decided by two runs (Justice notes that the record was 24-23 in 1-run games and 15-13 in 2-run games).
I think fans simply want to see a plan that makes sense. If that plans calls on taking some chances, they'll buy in. The Rockets will be hard-pressed just to make the playoffs this season, but fans are still showing up for games because they know the people in charge and very competent and sticking to a plan.
It could be a painful 2010 for the Astros, but by the end of the season, there should be a light at the end of the tunnel.
I think the Rockets are a fair benchmark by which to judge the Astros. Same fan base, same situation (except Berkman doesn't miss 90% of every season. Yeah, McGrady, that's at you). I feel that we offer a fair representation of Astros fans (maybe a little bit more obsessed/nit-picky), and I'm okay with giving the young guys time to develop and time to get seasoned. I certainly don't want to sacrifice 2011-2020 to try to contend in 2010. Whatever free agent decisions are made, as long as they don't affect the long-term plan - provided there is one - let it be. It's not as though the Astros can afford to go out and give $100 million to Roy Halladay, anyway.