The Astros are facing another tough season, but it certainly feels to me that there is still some amount of hope coming for the club (though I'm admittedly not emotionally tied to them staying in the National League).
Brian McTaggart of MLB.com says that new GM Jeff Luhnow actually has some pieces to work with, at least in the minors. And we continue to see Wandy trade speculation, of course, but The Crawfish Boxes has a nice analysis on why he may not see as much trade interest as fans would expect (sabermetricky):
Astros embark on final season in National League.. - Brian McTaggart
"While the Major League team appears to be a few years away from making noise in the playoff chase, Luhnow's cupboard isn't empty. The Astros' ever-improving Minor League system began to produce some fruit last year when players like J.D. Martinez, Jose Altuve, Jimmy Paredes, Jordan Lyles and David Carpenter made their big league debuts and showed some promise."
Fresh off the nightmare, spring training begins next month - Ultimate Astros
"For now, though, some of the biggest changes are those that haven’t happened yet. Wandy and Brett are still Astros and Houston is still in the NL Central…for one more season. Brad Mills apparently got a reprieve for now, but Bobby Heck and others in the front office may start the new year on pins and needles."
- Is Wandy Worth Jacob Turner? More Astros Trade Realities - The Crawfish Boxes
"Of course, we also have the question of his option year for 2014. If the team decides to decline that option, Wandy would get an extra $2.5 million, which means his value drops even further. If he doesn't get compensation at that point, his value would swing about $5 million and would be negative. That explains the slow market for Wandy somewhat, as the lefty is coming off a so-so season and doesn't have a lot of extra value for a team."
- Houston Astros Interview Keith Law Of ESPN - MLB Daily Dish
"According to FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi, the Houston Astros have interviewed ESPN's Keith Law for several positions with the organization, including the organization's scouting director role."