User ID
Password
  Forgot User ID
or Register Today!
VegasInsider.com
Follow Us on Facebook Follow Us on Twitter Follow Us on Google+ VI Mobile Scores and Betting Odds
Home
NFL
NBA
NHL
MLB
NCAA FB
NCAA BK
Soccer
Auto Racing
Horses
More
Betting Tools

 
Could Astros be facing another 100-loss season?

New Sportsbook.ag customers: Make your 1st bet, get your 2nd bet free, 100%, winnings paid in cash.
Join Now

Already have an account? Click here to view new Exclusive Rewards!

HOUSTON (AP) - The Houston Astros have a grand total of five players with more than two years of major league experience on the 40-man roster, a first-year manager and a move to the American League to deal with, too.

Advertisement
They also have a payroll projected to be the lowest in baseball since the Florida Marlins spent just under $22 million in 2008.

So why are they so optimistic they can avoid becoming the first team in a half-century to lose 106 games in three consecutive seasons?

General manager Jeff Luhnow doesn't see youth as a detriment and believes he's assembled a talented group of players.

``For me youth is a good thing,'' he said. ``I'm optimistic. I think we're going to have a much better year than people think, and I don't think it has anything to do with payroll. I think it has to do with the coaching staff that we have and the young players that have a tremendous amount of upside.''

Houston hired Nationals third base coach Bo Porter to lead the rebuilding effort. He's heard the predictions that his new team could be historically bad, but won't let that change his approach.

``We will stress to our players (not to) get caught up in the end result, be more concerned about the process which is what we do every day to prepare ourselves and put us in position to win every ball game,'' he said.

Several players already have spent time with Porter during the offseason and are looking forward to working with him this year.

``You can see that he's passionate and all in, and I think we're all feeding of that and we're excited to be the team that turns this around,'' first baseman Brett Wallace said.

It certainly won't be easy for a team which could join the 1962-65 New York Mets as the only teams with 106 or more losses in three consecutive seasons, according to STATS. Houston lost 106 games in 2011 and a franchise-worst 107 last year.

Another dreadful season would put them in line to be the first franchise to have the No. 1 overall draft pick for three straight years.

The Astros are expected to have just five players on their roster who will make more than $500,000 this season. Only one of them, newly acquired veteran slugger Carlos Pena, is a position player.

Pena, a 34-year-old first baseman signed as a free agent for $2.9 million, is among three players on Houston's 40-man roster who is 30 or older. The Astros are counting on him to immediately step in as a leader.

``We were very adamant about getting some of the right veterans in here,'' Porter said. ``I think they're going to speed up the learning curve for a lot of our young players.''

Twenty-seven-year-old starting pitcher Bud Norris projects be to the highest-paid Houston player after agreeing to a $3 million contract that avoided arbitration but he also could be dealt. Following Norris and Pena on the payroll are relievers Jose Veras ($1.85 million) and Wesley Wright ($1,025,000), and pitcher Phil Humber ($800,000), claimed off waivers from the Chicago White Sox less than a year after he pitched a perfect game against Seattle.

Houston's payroll would increase slightly if veterans such as Erik Bedard and Rick Ankiel, who signed minor league contracts, are put on the big league roster.

Trading away most of the veterans and slashing the payroll has helped replenish a farm system that was ranked among the worst in baseball as recently as last spring. But the moves have done little so far to improve the product on the big league team.

Luhnow countered questions about Houston's low payroll by discussing other areas where the team is spending money.

``We're making a huge investment in our pipeline,'' he said. ``We're going to spend close to $20 million acquiring prospects through the draft and through the international process. We're investing in teachers at the minor league level, we're investing in our capabilities to develop talent and we're staying consistent with our strategy, which is to develop the best young talent in baseball and be as consistent and competitive as soon as possible.''

Houston continued shedding veterans on Monday when it traded one of its most proven position players in shortstop Jed Lowrie and his $2.4 million salary to Oakland for three young players. Luhnow said he's open to making more moves before opening day but won't change course from the team's plan.

Porter is encouraged by the talent and potential of many of his new players. Still, he knows that those playing in the majors for the first time will experience setbacks no matter how talented they are.

``With young players come growing pains,'' he said. ``Some of these guys may be dealing with failure for the first time. I think one of the biggest challenges for us as a staff is to be able to give them the confidence that's needed to go out and continue to fight even though there may be some adversity that comes their way because they're playing at the highest level.''

Luhnow was encouraged the Astros went 15-15 at the end of last season, beating some clubs still in the postseason hunt. He hopes players who made their big league debuts last year will use that experience to help make this year's squad better.

``The way we ended last season was a step in the right direction, and I'd like to pick up where we left off and begin the year surprising people, winning some series that we're not supposed to win and being competitive,'' he said. ``I'd also like to see some players take a step forward.''

AP NEWS
The Associated Press News Service

Copyright 2014
The Associated Press
All Rights Reserved

  
HEADLINES
Akins: Diamond Trends - Tuesday
News: Win Total Update
Lawrence: September Pitchers Report
Nats beat Braves, near NL East crown
O's top Jays 5-2, close to AL East title
Zobrist leads Rays over Yanks in 9th
Tigers power past Twins, 'over' hits
Royals come back to top ChiSox in 9th
Marlins strike late to stun Mets, 6-5
MORE HEADLINES
 
Why Buy Picks From VegasInsider.com
MLB Pro Baseball Handicapper Sports Picks Records
MLB Hot Streaks
32-16 Last 6 Days, +9,057 TY
7-2 +569 L9, 28-14 +1,711 L42
13-6 L19, 21-8 MLB Win Streak
+4,371 Overall This Year
+4,336 Net Profits This Year
8-3 L11, 11-4 +825 L15 Guarantees
15-7 Last 22 Guarantees
30-15 Last 45 MLB Selections
6-3 L5 Days, 33-17 L50 G-Plays
7-2 L9, 29-11 L40 Guarantees
12-7, +653 Last 19 Plays
5-2 Last 7, 10-5 Last 15 Picks
MLB Pro Baseball Expert Sports Picks - New York Yankees at Tampa Bay Rays
2014 MLB SEASON PICK RECORDS
Money Leaders
Handicapper Money
Antony Dinero + 9057
Doc's Sports + 4371
Kevin Rogers + 4336
Underdog Leaders
Handicapper Money
James Manos + 2592
Kevin Rogers + 2392
Dave Cokin + 2195
Over-Under Leaders
Handicapper Money
Antony Dinero + 2381
Tony Stoffo + 1398
Joe Williams + 818
Guaranteed Leaders
Handicapper Money
Doc's Sports + 2398
Dave Cokin + 1931
Kyle Hunter + 1790
Favorite Leaders
Handicapper Money
Antony Dinero + 3213
Kevin Rogers + 1954
Doc's Sports + 1148
Member Leaders
Handicapper Money
Mike Rose + 3031
Kevin Rogers + 2350
Doc's Sports + 1795
MORE PICK RECORDS
  
corner graphic
With a VI Gold Membership, you can SAVE 10% off a Live Odds subscription, SAVE 20% off Daily Pick packages, and receive access to up to 1,000 Member Plays each month!
VI Daily Fantasy NFL Perfect Lineup Contest