Houston joins a division that includes the Texas Rangers and Los Angeles Angels, two perennial powers with high payrolls. Oakland won the AL West last season. Seattle has some highly ranked young talent.
“The A's are a young team that learned on the fly. No one expected them to do anything and they ended up winning the division,” Maxwell said. “On paper, our division is pretty tough. But it's the same for everyone on opening day.”
The young, rebuilding Astros are coming off back-to-back 100-loss seasons, including a franchise-worst 107 losses last season. But there is some highly rated talent in the organization, including some players that will start the season with the Oklahoma City RedHawks, Houston's Triple-A affiliate.
“It's going to be tough,” Lyles said. “It's arguably the best division in baseball. We're young but have another year under our belts. We know the challenges in front of us. We're looking forward to the new start, new manager, new uniforms and will hit the ground running.”
Many of the Astros' changes are actually retro. New uniforms feature orange and blue, the primary colors for three decades after the franchise was founded in 1962.
One uniform will feature the famous rainbow print worn from 1975-1993. A redesigned green space creature named “Orbit” was the team's mascot in the 1990s.
“This season is exciting for a lot of reasons,” Norris said. “With the new group, the new logo and new manager, we're taking strides in the right direction. On the field, there's a youth movement that hopefully can come up and help the club sooner rather than later. Everyone is excited about the future.”