Hardball Talk's Drew Silva ran down the Astros in 2011:
If the Astros want to get better, they need to start mimicking the ways of smaller market teams. Don’t give long-term contracts to aging players. Commit money to scouting and development. Draft well. Get busy on the international market. Build a top-level presence in Latin America.
It would seem to me that the Astros, for the past two seasons, have done all of these things.
This season brings 90 losses for the first time since 2000 and a close-shave fifth place finish over the sixth-place Pirates at the bottom of the National League Central.