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Astros are on the rise

Updated: September 4, 2010, 11:07 AM ET
By Buster Olney

It was about this time a year ago that the general manager of the hottest team in the National League recognized the promise of his club. The Padres had traded their most prominent player, Jake Peavy, and then had reeled off a bunch of wins, and Kevin Towers -- then the GM of San Diego -- spoke about the promise of the Padres, about how their pitching was coming together and how the team's strengths really seemed to fit its park.

Towers was fired a couple of weeks after that, but the Padres turned out to be as good as he thought they might be; despite their recent losing streak, they lead the NL West by three games.

And meanwhile, the Houston Astros are the 2010 version of what the Padres were last year. They traded their two signature stars, Roy Oswalt and Lance Berkman, brought in Jeff Bagwell to be their hitting coach, installed a bunch of young players into their every-day lineup and have been playing exceptionally well.

And meanwhile, the Houston Astros are the 2010 version of what the Padres were last year. They traded their two signature stars, Roy Oswalt and Lance Berkman, brought in Jeff Bagwell to be their hitting coach, installed a bunch of young players into their every-day lineup and have been playing exceptionally well. Since July 24, Houston is 23-14, and the Astros have moved into a tie for third in the NL Central, leaving GM Ed Wade and his staff to assess whether this is real and sustained growth as they look ahead to 2011.

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