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
Golf
Auto Racing
Horses
Boxing/MMA
More
Betting Tools

 
Astros starting fresh in more ways than one

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!

KISSIMMEE, Fla. (AP) - Bo Porter is taking over a team that lost 213 games the last two years.

Advertisement
The payroll has been slashed and expectations are low for the Houston Astros, but don't expect their new manager to rule with an iron fist. Porter wants his players to be themselves.

``We have standards of what it is to be a Houston Astro,'' Porter said. ``At the same time, this is a major league clubhouse. It's a bunch of different guys. You want it to be loose. You want it to be fun. You want them to be able to be who they are.''

The Astros are starting fresh, and this season will certainly be unique for them. Houston is moving from the National League Central to the American League West, and although the short term includes some daunting challenges, this franchise is eager to face them.

``I think as part of this whole kind of rebranding and rebuilding process that we're going through right now, we're able to kind of wipe the slate clean and really just kind of forget the past,'' catcher Jason Castro said.

The past may be easier to forget now that there are so few links to it left. Houston's payroll cuts have been ongoing - the Astros traded shortstop Jed Lowrie to Oakland earlier this month. Porter was hired after serving as Washington's third base coach.

The last team to lose 106 games for at least three straight seasons was the New York Mets from 1962-65. The Astros lost 107 last year and 106 in 2011. Now they'll have to contend with a division that includes three teams - Oakland, Texas and the Los Angeles Angels - that won at least 89 games last season.

Houston's move balanced out baseball's divisions. Each now has five teams, and all things being equal, it should be easier to win a five-team division than one with six teams. But the Astros aren't in much of a position to expect that at this point. Last year was spent trying to restock the farm system. Houston took shortstop Carlos Correa with the top pick in the draft - and traded Carlos Lee, J.A. Happ, Brett Myers and Wandy Rodriguez, among others.

The Astros' payroll was at a paltry $21.3 million by early August.

Switching leagues will create some logistical issues. When a team plays an interleague series against an unfamiliar opponent, it's often a challenge to prepare. Now the Astros will play a season's worth of teams they don't know much about.

``Dealing with interleague stuff last year was basically starting from scratch,'' Castro said. ``We had to put that work in and try to build on what little we had as quickly as possible. From the time the series started to the end of the series, hopefully we had a lot better idea from when we started.''

Players will need to become familiar with different ballparks, too.

``Oakland is known for its foul ground, so it's something that we'll have to take into account,'' Castro said. ``There are adjustments to be made in all facets of the game.''

Needing a designated hitter, the Astros signed Carlos Pena, who can also play first base. Porter's lineup remains uncertain in many respects - no surprise for a team evaluating young players. He'd like second baseman Jose Altuve to hit second, meaning somebody else would have to handle the leadoff spot.

Even that role is a bit different because of the league switch. In the AL, the leadoff man doesn't have to bat after the pitcher.

``It's definitely a chance for him to come up more often with men on base,'' Porter said. ``If you have that guy in the one hole that can hit extra-base hits, that can do some damage, it changes the dynamic of your ballclub.''

Eventually, the Astros will be used to the differences between the AL and NL. Starting pitchers won't have to worry about being pinch-hit for, for example.

For fans, the benefits and drawbacks of the switch are obvious. Houston will play more games against the Rangers, creating the potential for a spirited in-state rivalry. But there will also be plenty of West Coast games, with later start times on TV.

Before beginning their new schedule, the Astros will have a few weeks during spring training to size up the competition. And yes, they'll want to focus a little more than usual on the AL teams.

``In spring training, you'd pay attention a lot more to the National League games,'' right-hander Bud Norris said. ``It's going to be a different mindset. We're going to have to make some adjustments.''

AP NEWS
The Associated Press News Service

Copyright 2014
The Associated Press
All Rights Reserved

  
HEADLINES
Rogers: Tuesday's Tip Sheet
Akins: Diamond Trends - Tuesday
News: MVP and Cy Young Odds
Iskoe: Daily Pitchers Report
Road woes continue for Rockies
Stacked farm system offers Cubs hope
Archer: 'Never saw Aaron flip his bat'
MORE HEADLINES
 
Why Buy Picks From VegasInsider.com
MLB Pro Baseball Handicapper Sports Picks Records
MLB Hot Streaks
18-8 L26 Guarantees, +7,887 TY
12-3 L5 Days, 14-6 L20 Totals
15-5 L20 Totals, +2,757 This Year
4-1 L5 G-Plays, +2,223 This Year
5-1 L6 Guarantees, 7-1 L8 Totals
6-3 L9 Over/Unders, +2,219 TY
7-3 +433 L10, +2,088 This Year
17-6 L23 G-Plays, +1,675 TY
7-2 L3 Days, 23-10 L33 Streak
5-1 L6 G-Plays, 14-8 +629 L7 Days
2-0 Y'day, 23-12 +1,402 L35 Run
6-2, +449 L8 Guaranteed Plays
MLB Pro Baseball Expert Sports Picks - Oakland Athletics at Houston Astros
2014 MLB SEASON PICK RECORDS
Money Leaders
Handicapper Money
Antony Dinero + 7887
Bruce Marshall + 2757
The Gold Sheet + 2242
Underdog Leaders
Handicapper Money
Bruce Marshall + 3417
James Manos + 2587
Dave Cokin + 1531
Over-Under Leaders
Handicapper Money
Antony Dinero + 2289
Matt Zylbert + 1774
Tony Stoffo + 1574
Guaranteed Leaders
Handicapper Money
Dave Cokin + 1348
Doc's Sports + 1037
Kyle Hunter + 776
Favorite Leaders
Handicapper Money
Antony Dinero + 3489
Kevin Rogers + 1504
Mike Rose + 1443
Member Leaders
Handicapper Money
Mike Rose + 2422
Bruce Marshall + 1146
The Gold Sheet + 1024
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!