You say you need a reason for optimism? CBS Sports' Larry Dobrow came up with an Optimism Index for all 30 MLB teams. And if you're good at context clues, you already know the Astros are 9th:
See, this is what happens when you hire a manager who can fill out a lineup card without incident and communicate intelligibly with his charges. The team still sucks, sure, but the vibe is righteous. ... The catcher candidates have impressed. ... For all his sneaky-good baserunning, it's not like speed is a big part of Lance Berkman's game. He'll be as sluggy and giggly as ever when he returns from the minor knee surgery.
Oh. Well...that's not very nice.