Strengths: Front Office. I really like what the Houston Astros are doing. They have had the past two first overall picks and will have the top pick again this year. Carlos Correia projects as a solid shortstop in the future, maybe not a perennial All-Star, but he will make a few, Mark Appel is a top of the rotation starter, and likely top pick this year will be NC State star, Carlos Rodon, who might already be able to get big league hitters out at a decent rate. They also have a potential middle of the order bat in Jonathan Singleton, and have George Springer, who came just three long balls shy of a record setting 40/40 minor league season. Add to that plethora of talent coming up through the minor leagues, and take in to account they already have a solid DH in Chris Carter, and a mini star at second in Jose Altuve, and they have a great future.
Weaknesses: Big league talent. The roster this year is better than last year, but still not great. Matt Dominguez is an ok third baseman, but is not a starter on a contending level team. I like the addition of Fowler, especially since the expected future center fielder, Delino DeShields Jr., looks absolutely lost when running down fly balls in the outfield. There might be some solid arms in the farm system, but both the starting rotation and bullpen need a significant amount of help if they are to be competitive.
Off-Season Needs: The biggest need is a quality marketing pitch. The Astros have made no excuses or hidden the fact they don’t expect to compete until 2015 or 2016, and I think they are on pace to do just that. They will likely be a .500 club if they have a good off-season in 2014, and could compete for the division if they do the same after 2015, but this year, they are gonna struggle.
2014 Projection: Bad, but not the worst team in the league anymore. They will finish fifth in the division, but I don’t see them getting the top overall pick in 2015. They will probably lose somewhere between low-to-mid 90’s in terms of games, and be a top five pick, but they will break the streak of three consecutive years with the worst record in baseball.