On the podcast (which dropped earlier today), Sean and I came off very negative about the chances of this current 2103 Astros roster to compete in anything. Maybe foosball? I don't know how good Brandon Barnes is at foosball.

The point is that this roster is fairly barren and full of players who are more than replacement level but less than impact/All-Star caliber. The pitching staff has the potential to be as brutal as any we've seen since 2000. That's the realistic outlook for this squad, based on past performance.

However, there are so many surprises inherent in baseball. Guys come out of nowhere, like Lucas Harrell did and have great seasons. Heading into spring training, every team has hope that they can compete and be decent. That's true of the Astros just as it's true of the Detroit Tigers or San Francisco Giants.

The problem with Houston is that to become a sports movie cliche, this team will have to answer a lot of ifs about current players. Guys who have flaws need to fix them in order to become more than they were last year. There needs to be improvement in a lot of areas.