In the spirit of the Nationals series with the Houston Astros, I spoke with Evan Hochschild of Crawfish Boxes, one of the top Astros blogs on the net, to ask some questions regarding the transition period the team is going through and what to expect from the young players for the future.
TNB: Brett Myers has had a surprisingly productive season after a rocky tenure in Philadelphia. Do you think he can continue his success for next year and beyond?
Crawfish Boxes: I do. Not to the extent that he will be a top 10 Cy Young candidate like this season, because that would mean he would have to limit the home run ball which has proven difficult for him over the course of his career. I do think he can pitch competently, and in the NL Central that can translate to a good deal of success.
TNB: The departure of Lance Berkman and Roy Oswalt signified the end of the the playoff contending Astros from the mid 2000's. How much longer until the team become competitive again?
Crawfish Boxes: Well, if you believe ESPN's Steve Berthiaume, then next season. For those of you that haven't heard, the Baseball Tonight host went out on a limb and predicted that the Astros will win the NL Central in 2011. I'm not as optimistic as Berthiaume, but I do think that with an upgrade at short stop and improvements from rookies Brett Wallace and Jason Castro, a .500 record isn't absolutely out of the question.
TNB: J.A. Happ came over in the mid-season Roy Oswalt deal and has put up impressive numbers since his arrival. Do you see him evolving into the future ace of the staff?
Crawfish Boxes: J.A. Happ doesn't exactly have "ace stuff", and his biggest strength to this point in his career has been outproducing his sketchy K;BB ratio. Like the Astros pitching staff as a whole, Happ may not be a number one starter, but he is above average and is a cost controlled option for the Astros to utilize for seasons to come. Joining Myers and Happ are Felipe Paulino, Bud Norris and Wandy Rodriguez. Top prospect Jordan Lyles will be the talk of Spring Training, but shouldn't make the team right off the bat. A September call up is not out of the question however for the 20 year old.