Originally posted on Fox Sports Houston  |  Last updated 8/3/12
Once Brett Wallace got off to a good start while playing for Oklahoma City and the Astros as a team started to fall after their 22-23 high water mark in late May many of the fans have been clamoring for Brett's return. That demand grew louder after the Astros traded Carlos Lee leaving first base to be attended by players who did not likely fit into the club's often stated long range building plan. General manager Jeff Luhnow resisted the call of the crowd until the trading deadline had passed and he had made a number of roster changes. Once the trade of Chris Johnson to Arizona was finished it was time. Brett Wallace rejoined the Astros for the current road trip. While the club has yet to win a game it is not understated to say that Wally's presence has been noticed. He had only one hit in his first eight at bats and had struck out four of those eight. But in the series finale on Wednesday he showed what he can do. He had three hits including a single and two home runs. One of the homers traveled an estimated 428 feet. He drove in three runs. Brett has only played 14 games for the Astros this season--including his eleven game stint while Lee was on the DL in June. During those games he has hit four home runs, driven in seven runs and batted .333. If Wallace can provide the long ball at anything near that pace he won't be leaving the Astros for a long time. More importantly another of the regular positions for the club will be filled. At this point only Jose Altuve appears to be set for the ride back to contention for Houston. But even with Jose who really knows a year or two down the line. That brings up some of the other players who are holding down regular positions for the Astros right now. Based on track records, age and the laws of probability some may only be holding spots until younger and brighter prospects in the Astro system are ready to take over. However, that does not have to be the case. The fact that some players are in the lineup now on daily basis gives them an opportunity to claim the position permanently. They simply have to do their jobs well. In some cases they have to do them better than they ever have in their career. Nothing is impossible. Scott Moore has power. He has shown he is a very good hitter on the AAA level. While his defense is only fair at third base if he can hit in the major leagues near the level he was showing at Oklahoma City this season he could claim third base and keep Matt Dominguez waiting. That is not a bad thing for anyone but Dominguez. And he is still very young. The Astros need power and if Moore can show enough of it while still mixing in enough other hits and improved defense he could hold on. His problem is one of perception by scouts and club management. He is older. He has been around for awhile. Is he already what he is? This sort of analysis applies to the other players as well, but more significantly with the pitching staff. Which pitchers have what it takes to win? Which pitchers can make the next step? Which pitchers are already what they are? There is no secret why the Astros acquired so many pitchers in the trades they made recently. There is no secret why they drafted so many. Pitchers are fragile physically. Pitchers are also fragile developmentally. Many never are able to make the jump from prospect to successful minor leaguer to the major leagues. And of the number that make the leap to the majors even fewer become top of the line starters and relievers. A lot has rightfully been said about the success of the Astro minor league teams this season. The improvement has been impressive and a great joy to the fans who support those teams. However, strong pitching has not been at the forefront. The Oklahoma City club which has been dominating the PCL is doing it with hitting. The team ERA is headed to being the worst in franchise history no matter who the parent club was. Corpus Christi's pitching is better, but not dominating either. The bulk of the top prospects are still in the lower levels. Pitching is what keeps clubs in games. Pitching is what keeps fans from having to watch or listen to 13-4 and 10-1 wipe outs as were two of the three games in Milwaukee. It is great to have a hot Brett Wallace back in the lineup. But for the rebuilding of the Astros it will take some hot pitching as well. Help is on the way in the farm system. How good that help will be is an unanswerable question right now.
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