With an 8-24 record so far this season, the Astros have played down to the incredibly low expectations of most preseason prognosticators, matching the 120-loss pace of the 1962 Mets. They made a series of moves yesterday, designating outfielders Rick Ankiel and Fernando Martinez for assignment and calling up Trevor Crowe and Jimmy Paredes. The latest on the team:
- "The reality is the team is not where we wanted to be at this point and we feel like outfield is one of our weakest positions, and we wanted to give some guys who are having some success at Triple-A a chance to continue that up here," GM Jeff Luhnow told reporters including MLB.com's Brian McTaggart yesterday.
- The 2010 Diamondbacks own the team strikeout record with 1,529, but the Astros are on pace for 1,635 this year. Curbing whiffs is one reason for the team's recent moves, as Luhnow explained, "The profile of our team being a feast-or-famine type team, we felt we needed different types of players, and with Robbie Grossman there now and Paredes coming, hopefully the numbers in Triple-A are a reflection of the success [Paredes] can have up here. It will change the mix a little bit."
- Ankiel would probably be released if he refuses a minor league assignment, notes McTaggart.
- "We believe Humber is a Major League pitcher and can add value to our team. For now, no decision has been made about any different roles on the pitching side at this point," Luhnow said in regard to righty Philip Humber. The 30-year-old has a 7.03 ERA in 135 2/3 innings for the White Sox and Astros since the start of the 2012 season.
- With a collective 6.53 ERA, the Astros' rotation is the worst in baseball by almost a full run. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports wonders if the Astros could possibly make that rotation even worse by trading Bud Norris or Lucas Harrell. "Trading them in the middle of the season would only lead to further chaos," writes Rosenthal. So far Luhnow has been fearless in his teardown efforts; we'll see if the possibility of a 40-win type season would compel him to hang on to Norris or Harrell.