ARLINGTON, Texas - If they had not signed on for this, and the team executives deliberately not gone this route, it would be easy to feel sorry for the Houston Astros. This is a Triple-A club on the big league level.
The Astros improved to 41-83 after losing against the Texas Rangers on Monday night in a glorified batting practice night for the first-place team.
Every player on the Astros knew this season was going to be bad. But saying it's going to be bad and then playing through six months of bad is different. Coming to the park day after day and losing eventually can kill any enthusiasm.
"It has been a progression," Astros catcher Jason Castro told me. "Being so young we are pretty resilient. It's been tough. We had an idea of how the team would look. But we are excited for what the future holds for us."
What else is he going to say?
The more I see of these Astros I see of the 2003 Detroit Tigers. In 2003, the Tigers lost 119 games. In 2002, they had lost 106.
In 2004, they slowly began the climb and reached the World Series in 2006. They reached the ALCS in 2011, and the World Series again in 2012. They're in first place now in the AL Central.
By the looks of the Astros' success in the minor leagues and the number of quality prospects, the big league club should not be awful for too much longer.
"The talent is there," Castro said.
The Astros are a question of when not if. Getting there, however, is a beating.
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