The Worst Team in Baseball?
I realize that MLB 13: The Show is only a video game. But it's a really fun video game. As always, I began playing with the Franchise mode, which they improve every single year. They removed a lot of the side things that you used to have to do (billboard contracts, concession prices, etc.) that were simply annoying. Now you focus on scouting and training up your players' attributes - which is awesome since that's kind of the whole point of building a franchise!
I commend the guys at San Diego Studio for giving the Houston Astros some hope. Most of their players have a B potential, with a number of minor leagues with A potential. So there is hope for the future, but looking at the major league roster, there really are some holes, but if things break right, they have potential.
Fernando Martinez hit two home runs in my first spring training game. Not that spring training home runs mean much, but it showed me that he still has some talent in there. Martinez was a failed prospect in the Mets system, but he's still only like 24. He has a chance to still develop into a slightly above average outfielder if he has a good season this year.
Brett Wallace is a good player, and I'll be getting back to him in a moment. Carlos Pena still has solid pop. Matt Dominguez, the former top third base prospect, is our third baseman. He still has some holes in his game, but the glove just needs a little work and the power potential is real. Scott Rolen is looming in free agency, but with a B potential according to MLB 13, it can't hurt to give Dominguez a chance. Left field is manned by Chris Carter, who the Astros "stole" from the A's. He's got great power potential and shouldn't kill us in left field. J.D. Martinez is solid, and in fact, the game sees him as an A potential. I moved him from left field to center field, and we'll see how that goes.
Jose Altuve is probably the best position player on the team right now besides J.D. He's a very underrated second baseman with All-Star potential, in real life and in the game. Shortstop is sort of thin, so I signed Tsuyoshi Nishioka. In real life, he was an absolute disaster for the Twins, and in fact, walked away from a guaranteed $3.25 million to return to Japan, where was a good player before. Well, considering the short money I gave him, and his B potential, it can't hurt to give him a shot rather than platoon two C players like Marwin Gonzalez and Tyler Greene. I'll let Marwin develop at Triple-A and if he does well and Nishioka stumbles, I'll be okay at the position.
Jason Castro is the starting catcher, and this is his make or break year. He had a spring training home run, too, and he seems to put together good at-bats. There's not a lot out there for catchers right now, but he's got an A potential catcher in Triple-A behind him, so Castro has to make an impressive before the minor leaguer does.
The pitching staff looks solid. Bud Norris is still the ace. Lucas Harrell is getting a shot at the number two position. He's followed by veteran lefty Erik Bedard and righty Philip Humber. Jordan Lyles would be the fifth starter, but I got Carl Pavano on short money to see if he can anchor the back end of the rotation. I have a feeling Lyles will still get quite a few starts this season if Bedard's and Humber's durability issues become a problem. The bullpen beyond closer Jose Veras looked like a disaster, but I signed Guillermo Mota (a guy who is always seemingly there in free agency) to be my set-up man. I also received Jamey Wright and Juan Oviedo from the Tampa Bay Rays for two of my D potential relievers. Not sure what happened there, but I only took on a couple hundred thousand dollars in payroll and solidified one of our team's greatest weaknesses.
Overall, it's far from the best roster in the game. It's got currently below-average position players, but all of them have potential to be at least league-average players. The pitching is decent, so we just have to play good fundamental baseball and hope the power potentials of some of these players turn into actual production.
To get myself into the swing of things, I played one game of Spring Training. That was plenty. Bud Norris started, and after some control issues, he got through three innings with nothing scoring. But the Phillies really never had a chance, as Carlos Pena cracked a two-run homer off of Cliff Lee in the first inning.
We hit tons of home runs. Fernando Martinez hit a home run in his first at-bat, and a grand slam in his second. Even shortstop Tyler Greene joined the party with a home run, as did Jason Castro, and J.D. Martinez. Brett Wallace added one, as well. It was a blowout: 13-5.
That convinced me to simply go ahead and start the regular season, the season opener being at home against the Texas Rangers and Yu Darvish.
The Rangers got an early 2-0 lead due to some very poor defense. Fernando Martinez misplayed an otherwise easy catch into a double for Elvis Andrus. Matt Dominguez booted a ball, and shortstop Marwin Gonzalez (who started game one before I signed Nishioka and sent him down) drew Wallace off of first base in the same inning.
We came right back with a vengeance, though, taking the lead on a three-run homer by Brett Wallace (pictured above). The very next inning, Dominguez booted another ball that should've been a double play. That led to the game being tied again. But then he made up for it, cracking a home run that next inning to the short porch in left field at Minute Maid Park, taking the lead at 4-3.
At this point, Bud Norris fell apart and after a boot by Chris Carter in left field (yeah, our defense was awful) and another bad throw by the shortstop, we were down 5-4. We tied it up in the bottom of the sixth, though, on a home-run by Chris Carter. At least the guys who were making mistakes were getting runs back!
I turned it over to the bullpen and Jamey Wright was solid for an inning and two thirds. He got into a jam as Dominguez was slow to turn a double play and we couldn't get two. Mota came in and got a strikeout on a nasty sinker on the corner. He would pitch another two-thirds of an inning after we failed to score in the bottom of the eighth. Jose Veras came in with two outs in the top of the ninth as Mota got into a tough situation. Veras gave up a hit and a walk, loading the bases. But he got a ground ball to Dominguez to end the inning.
In the bottom of the ninth, with one out, Texas relieves Joakim Soria threw a fastball down the heart of the plate to Carlos Pena. It was promptly deposited in the right center field stands and he had a walk-off home run. Final score: 6-5, Astros.
It was an exciting game, really, but the poor defense on our part made it a far closer game than it should've been. The whole line-up had good at-bats for the most part, although Jose Altuve went 0-4. Jason Castro also took an 0-4 but he ground out some tough at-bats and hit two balls that just didn't drop for him.
Looking Forward to Game Two
Bud Norris was solid in game one, and had nasty strikeout stuff. The problem was that the umpire was inconsistent for both sides, and a walk that resulted from a pitch that should have been called for strike three went against him in the end. His command was a bit off here and there, but his control was decent. Not sure what to expect from Lucas Harrell, but we'll see.
Nishioka should help defensively. The main question is his bat. I do have Tyler Greene who can be adequate at the position, but considering the Astros current position as a rebuilding team, it's worth a gamble to see if he can regain the former glory he had in Japan.
I really like Dominguez. His misplays were bad, and one of them should've been charged as an error instead of a hit. But the home run was very important He made a couple of nice plays later, as well. I see his development as very important to our season.
Chris Carter showed why he's here. His power is certainly not in doubt. J.D. Martinez is solid. Fernando Martinez had a double in the gap. So I think we're set to have a good outfield offensively, if quite iffy on the corners as far as defense. Jason Castro looked okay.
While I doubt my Astros will be a playoff contender this year, it goes to show that this team has potential. There's a bright future for this team and as long as our pitching keeps us in the game, almost anyone on that team can give us the big hit to win it. I'm excited for the rest of my MLB 13 experience and the upcoming baseball season as well.