2010 Houston Astros Preview

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houston logo.png.gifHouston Astros

 

2009 Record: 74-88, 5th NL Central

2009 Prediction: 74-88, 5th NL Central

2010 Prediction: 5th NL central

 

Impact Player: Carlos Lee

Impact Pitcher: Roy Oswalt

Top Prospect Player:
C Jason Castro

Top Prospect Pitcher:
RHP Jordan Lyles

 

Manager: Brad Mills, 1st Season

 

Significant
Acquisitions
: 3B Pedro Feliz, RHP
Brett Myers, RHP Matt Lindstrom, RHP Brandon Lyon

Significant Losses: SS Miguel Tejada, UTIL Darin Erstad,
RHP Russ Ortiz, RHP Jose Valverde, RHP LaTroy Hawkins

 

Not to toot my own horn, but beep, beep.  Notice the 2009 prediction and 2009 record at
the top of this page.  Dead on.  Wins and
division standing.  Athlon Sports; I’m waiting
for my job offer.  Many people had the
Astros finishing with a winning record last season, but not this guy, I knew
their team was too old and lacked depth, and guess what; this year won’t be any
better.  The Astros are slightly younger
than last year, but not much, and their rotation still lacks depth, as does
their lineup.  It won’t be a fun year in
Houston.

 

Pitching

RoyOswalt_2006_006.jpg

Is Roy Oswalt‘s
small stature finally catching up with him? 
Back problems led to the perennial All-Star’s worst season in the majors
in 2009.  He still started 30 games, but
his health prevented him from going deep into them and he was left with only 14
decisions.  His 4.12 ERA was by far the highest
of his career and it was the very first time he finished with less than 10 wins
in a season (8).  He’ll look to prove the
critics wrong in 2010 (something he’s very good at) and reassert himself atop
of this rotation.  Wandy Rodriguez finally had his long-awaited breakout season in
2009; the lefty posted a 14-12 record with a 3.02 ERA.  A word of caution: he’s 31; not exactly the
age most pitchers have breakout years, don’t expect it to last.  The ‘Stros signed former Phillie Brett Myers to a contract in the
offseason and he hopes to remain healthy; something he hasn’t been able to do
very well the last few years.  The last
two spots in the rotation will likely go to youngsters Bud Norris (25) and Felipe
Paulino
(26).  Norris was 6-3 in 55.2
innings last year, while Paulino struggled going 3-11 and has a career ERA of
6.40.  Young lefthander Wesley Wright could also have a shot at
making the rotation, but his ability to get lefties out might be needed more in
the bullpen, while veteran Brian Moehler
is still around and will be given a chance to make the team.

 

All-Star closer Jose
Valverde
signed with the Tigers so the Astros acquired two pitchers to
anchor the back end of the ‘pen for 2010. 
Matt Lindstrom is likely to
have the best shot at the closer job with his electric arm; he struggled in
that role last season in Florida and if he struggles again, veteran setup man Brandon Lyon could step in.  Lyon had a 2.86 ERA last season in Detroit
and has experience closing.  Righthanders
Jeff Fulchino, Alberto Arias, and Chris
Sampson
are expected to pitch the middle innings while veteran Tim Byrdak will be the team’s main
lefthanded option.  Moehler could be the
long-man if he’s not starting and Wright could also be in the mix as well.

 

ROTATION

Age

B/T

Roy Oswalt

32/3

R/R

Wandy Rodriguez

31

R/L

Brett Myers*

29/0

R/R

Bud Norris

25

R/R

Felipe Paulino

26

R/R

 

 

 

BULLPEN

 

 

Matt Lindstrom*

30

R/R

Brandon Lyon*

30/1

R/R

Jeff Fulchino

30

R/R

Alberto Arias

26

R/R

Tim Byrdak

36

L/L

Chris Sampson

31/2

R/R

Wesley Wright

25

L/L

 

 

 

POSSIBILITIES

 

 

Brian Moehler

38

R/R

Samuel Gervacio

25

R/R

Gary Majewski

30

R/R

Casey Daigle

29

R/R

Gustavo Chacin

29

L/L

Josh Banks

27/8

R/R

Shane Loux

30/1

R/R

*=newly acquired

 

 

Lineup

carlos-lee.jpg

The Astros were 3rd last in the NL in runs scored
last year and only 12th in homeruns in sprite of being in one of the
best homeruns hitter’s parks in baseball. 
They didn’t do much in the offseason to remedy the situation by gaining
only Pedro Feliz who had just a .386
slugging percentage last year in Philadelphia, while losing Miguel Tejada.

 

The outfield features the team’s three best players.  In leftfield, Carlos Lee continues to battle weight and conditioning problems
which will eventually force him to DH on an AL team, but is coming off a
.300/26/102 season, while rightfielder Hunter
Pence
is the team’s present and
future.  Pence was an All-Star last
season and finished hitting .282 with 25 homeruns.  Michael
Bourn
is one of the fastest players in baseball, proving it with an NL
leading 61 stolen bases and also winning a Gold Glove in centerfield.  He also broke out with the bat, hitting .285.

 

First baseman Lance
Berkman
is very slowly starting to show his age, but is still one of the
most powerful switch hitters in the league. 
His .399 OBP doesn’t hurt either. 
Feliz is one of the best defensive third basemen in baseball, but his
bat continues to be his weakness.  Don’t
let his 12 HR and 82 RBI from 2009 fool you. 
He did that in a stacked Phillies lineup (which Houston’s is not) and he
had only a .692 OPS, simply not good enough for a corner infielder.  Kazuo
Matsui
is back at second base, but at 34, is well past his best days while
the shortstop job will likely end up in the hands of rookie Tommy Manzella who’s 27.  Manzella is only ranked 11th on
the organization’s prospect list (according to Baseball America) which isn’t great considering the Astros rank
dead last in the majors in minor-league talent. 
The catcher’s job will be a Spring battle between J.R. Towles and Humberto
Quintero
.  Towles has been handed the
job a few times before and has failed miserably every time; this may be his
last chance.

 

On the bench will be the backup catcher along with
outfielder Jason Michaels who can
play all three outfield positions. 
Veteran infielders Jeff Keppinger
(who might start at short if Manzella struggles) and Geoff Blum are back and so is infielder Edwin Maysonet and all are expected to make the team.  Cory
Sullivan
could be the fifth outfielder if the Astros decide they need one.

 

 

CF

Michael Bourn

27

L/R

2B

Kazuo Matsui

34

S/R

LF

Carlos Lee

33/4

R/R

1B

Lance Berkman

34

S/L

RF

Hunter Pence

27

R/R

3B

Pedro Feliz*

35

R/R

C

J.R. Towles

26

R/R

SS

Tommy Manzella

27

R/R

 

 

 

 

 

BENCH

 

 

C

Humberto Quintero

30/1

R/R

INF

Geoff Blum (3B, 1B)

37

S/R

INF

Jeff Keppinger (SS, 2B, 3B)

30

R/R

OF

Jason Michaels (LF, RF, CF)

33/4

R/R

INF

Edwin Maysonet (2B, SS, 3B)

28

R/R

 

 

 

 

 

POSSIBILITIES

 

 

3B

Chris Johnson

25

R/R

INF

Chris Shelton

29/0

R/R

OF

Cory Sullivan

30/1

L/L

C

Kevin Cash

32

R/R

*=newly
acquired

 

I doubt I’ll be exactly right on the Astros two years
running, but bet on them being as bad or worse than they were last season.  Their rotation is thin and injury-prone (even
if Oswalt returns to form) and the lineup is filled with aging vets well beyond
their most productive years.  The bench
is also thin and if you think a youth movement will save the franchise; think
again.  The ‘Stros have the least
talented farm system in all of baseball and will likely have to trade away veterans
like Berkman, Lee, Oswalt, and others to replenish it to the point of
respectability.

Final Prediction:
68-94, 5th NL Central

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