The Houston Astros were finally in a position to add some veteran leadership this offseason, for the first time in their recent rebuilding phase.
It starts with the addition of catcher Hank Conger, who along with Jason Castro serves as one of the best pitch-framers in the game. To help out the b
ullpen, Astros signed free agents Luke Gregerson and Pat Neshek and also gained a starting pitcher in Dan Straily who came to Houston along with third-baseman Luis Valbuena in the deal with the Chicago Cubs for CF Dexter Fowler.
Other key additions include DH Evan Gattis, SS Jed Lowrie and Valbuena who are all upgrades over the guys they are replacing (Robbie Grossman, Jonathan Villar and Matt Dominguez) and will increase the power in the lineup. The big difference maker will be if they can get a full healthy season from George Springer, their budding right fielder.
The 2015 squad is a team on the rise and Astros ticket holders should be hopeful for this franchise moving forward. This Houston team should be exciting to watch in 2015 as they attempt the balance of powerful hitting and consistent, solid pitching.
The Houston Astros started playing baseball back in 1962, debuting as the Colt .45s. The club changed its name just about the time they moved indoors and cultivated the very first Astro turf. This change did not alter the team’s quality of play. The franchise still needed time to collect and develop some young players.
Eventually Houston did, and by the beginning of the 1980s the Astros were a force in the National League West. They had Jose Cruz and Cesar Cedeno in the outfield and Joe Morgan in the infield. Joe Niekro, Nolan Ryan, J.R. Richard, and Don Sutton anchored the starting rotation. These early 1980s clubs could not quite make the turn though, even after an impressive 1986 season nearly ended in 100 wins.
The golden age for the Astros came when Craig Biggio and Jeff Bagwell began playing together. The Killer Bs (which always seemed to have a third B, whether it was Derek Bell or Lance Berkman) were the catalyst for an offense that took first place in the NL Central four times and second place in the division seven time from 1994 to 2005. That last season Houston finished in second place in the division, went to the playoffs as a wild card. They had an incredible run through the National League side of the playoffs.
The Astros beat the Braves in a four game series to avenge the four times the Braves took them out in the NLDS during that same golden age. From there, Houston went on to surprise the Cardinals by beating them in six games. The Astros next met the White Sox. Unfortunately the Sox had momentum on their side and they swept the ‘Stros in the World Series. The team has been rebuilding ever since, and sometime soon the team will be in the postseason, only as an American League club.