The slumping Astros skidded into the All-Star break with a .500 record, having lost 7 out of their last ten games. This triggered the replacement of Jimy Williams, whose tenure as manager of the Astros can best be described as mediocre. Phil Garner takes over as the team's skipper, and the hope is that this change in management will cause the underperforming team, which as of July 18th is in 5th place in the NL Central Division and 12 games behind division-leading St. Louis, to turn things around and claw its way back into title contention.
Yeah, right. The Astros have about as much chance of contending for the NL Central title as Ralph Nader has of winning the presidency. Even if the Astros could somehow right their sinking ship, they're no way they'll be able to catch up to the red-hot Cardinals. Their best hope for the postseason, should they actually start winning again, is to get into a position to compete for the NL wild card spot. And at this point, the chances of that happening appear to be very slim. Especially since something like eight or nine teams are ahead of them in the wild-card race. The Astros, quite frankly, will do well to avoid a losing season.
In a word, they suck.
2004 was supposed to be "the" year for the Astros. With the much-hyped offseason signing of Andy Pettite and Roger Clemens, the 'Stros were supposed to not only contend for the division crown but be in the World Series picture. And indeed, the team started the season well and at one point enjoyed sitting at the top of the NL Central with a 21-11 record. However, by mid-May the downhill slide began; between May 12th and the start of the All-Star Break the Astros went 23-33 and quickly found their way into the division cellar. Even the trade for Carlos Beltran, intended to augment the team's anemic performance at the plate, had little effect.
As disappointing as it is to watch, I am not surprised by the team's descent into oblivion. These are the Astros, after all: the biggest underachievers in a city full of underachieving sports teams (hey, even the freakin' Oilers managed to get past the first round of the playoffs now and then). This team has broken my heart so many times that I've come to expect this type of performance from them. In fact, the only thing that surprises me at all about this year's slump is that it's occurring so early. Usually, the Astros wait until the end of the season to begin sucking and fall out of playoff contention. Or, they make it to the playoffs and lose in the first round (as they did in 1997, 1998, 1999 and 2001). That's why I chuckled at all the offseason hype surrounding Pettite and Clemens: I knew it wouldn't do any good.
New manager? Please. What this team needs is an exorcist...
(Retroblogged on August 23, 2015. The Astros, of course, would make an impressive rally over the second half of the season and get into the playoffs.)