* It was a very disappointing year for the Astros who dropped their 100th game in listless fashion, a 9-0 loss to St. Louis on the final game of the season. It was the worst finish in the short history of the expansion club. Joe Morgan, Jimmy Wynn, and Rusty Staub all did commendable jobs for the year, and it appears to be three positions on the team that GM Paul Richards won’t have to worry about for a few years to come. At first base, Jim Gentile and Walt Bond are a duplication of values. Both are lefthanded sluggers who didn’t do has much slugging as had been expected. Chuck Harrison, a righthander, will undoubtedly get a shot at first base next year. Sonny Jackson is going to get a crack at shortstop next year.
The management again was not satisfied with the catching, which has been a problem from the beginning. John Bateman remains the No. 1 hope behind the plate, but he hasn’t proved he can hit major league pitching sufficiently to keep a job. 21-year-old John Hoffman was proved not ready as traffic controller in the finale as the Cardinals ran wild on the rookie with Lou Brock and Curt Flood stealing three bases apiece.
* Pitching is also an issue as Houston went through the 1965 season without the pitching staff ever getting settled into a pattern. Only Bob Bruce and Dick Farrell had regular starting jobs for the whole season. At that, Farrell was out at times with injuries or illness and bot were sidetracked at the end of the year when Manager Luman Harris tested rookies. The veteran pitchers, like Bruce, Farrell and Don Nottebart, fell that if there is some dealing done, they are the likely candidates. While Houston has a long list of pitching possibilities, the only pitcher whose ’66 future appears virtually certain is 19-year-old Larry Dierker. “He has a good chance of being close to the top pitcher we’ll have,” said Harris.
Claude Raymond, after years as a reliever, came on at midseason and, in a series of seven starts, showed he can do the starting job. That is, he can do it if his arm is strong enough. Claude came up with a sore shoulder. When he returned to duty, he was put in the bull pen. Harris considered him his No. 1 reliever at the end of the season. Robin Roberts, who picked up six wins in another strong comeback, figures to be back as a starter unless the chip in his elbow, discovered at the end of the season, should become troublesome.