Six years ago, the Houston Astros reached their apogee, making the 2005 World Series. Despite getting swept by the White Sox, 2005 represented the most successful postseason for the Astros, a team that managed to win its first playoff series the year before. That postseason run turned out to be the last gasp of success for Houston's "Killer B's" (Jeff Bagwell, Craig Biggio and Lance Berkman), and as of this morning, the Astros are on pace for a 54-108 season. The Astros have never lost 100 games before, and to avoid it now, they need to go 27-26 the rest of the year, which looks unlikely, especially with Hunter Pence and Michael Bourn -- their two best position players -- traded just prior to the deadline.
Better times are ahead for Houston, but 2012 is going to be hard and painful. Houston, like Baltimore, delayed the inevitable task of rebuilding for so long that the process will be more difficult, and longer, than it would have been if the team had reacted earlier. So just how bleak will things be in Houston in 2012? To make an estimate, with the aid of the ZiPS projection system, I calculated some preliminary projections for Houston's under-contract players for 2012. It's hard to tell exactly how the roster configuration will end up given that Houston is unlikely to be super active in the free-agent market before the transition to possible new owner Jim Crane, but we can make a decent guess.