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Houston Astros Opening Day Primer

2011 Record: 56-106 Manager: Brad Mills

The Astros have a new owner, new front office people, and next year, a new league as the Astros will move to the American League next year. As a National League fan living in Texas, that stinks, as the closest NL team to Texas is either St. Louis or Denver. Billings, Montana and Fargo, North Dakota are closer to National League baseball than most people in Texas. Think about that.

Player in the spotlight: Carlos Lee 1B

Lee is quite simply, the only recognizable name in the everyday lineup for the Astros on opening day. Lee is now famous for his albatross contract that has essentially anchored him in Houston with very little chance of being traded. Lee is due $19M this season and only near the trade deadline might a market develop to acquire Lee’s bat. If the Astros are to avoid another 100 loss season, Lee will have to hit like he did near the beginning of his contract from 2007-2009.

Biggest question mark in the lineup: Jed Lowrie SS

Lowrie would be another “name” in the Astros lineup if he wasn’t, surprise, injured again. Lowrie comes over from the Red Sox DL where he occasionally came off and played for weeks at a time. When healthy Lowrie is a good defender and a decent bat for a shortstop, but those days are few and far between. The likely outcome here is that the Astros try to rehabilitate Lowrie’s image durability-wise and move him for some more prospects. He certainly won’t be the cornerstone of a playoff team.

Pitcher in the spotlight: Wandy Rodriguez

Wandy represents, possibly, the only tradable commodity that Astros haven’t moved in the past two seasons. It would be shocking if he were to be in Houston when August 1st arrives. But until then, he’ll be the cornerstone of a young, developing pitching staff as they try to avoid 100 losses again.

Biggest pitching question mark: Brett Myers   Closer

Wait, there’s another pitcher who could be moved. Myers moves back to the bullpen for reasons unknown. It’s hard to believe that Myers will be more tradable as a reliever than a starter. For a team that should treasure each opportunity to win games and will need to finish those games strong, Myers will have to be good in those rare opportunities.

Prospect with a chance to make an impact this year: Jonathan Singleton 1B

This is a little bit of a stretch to expect Singleton to impact this year, but he should get a chance in September if he continues to progress as expected. Singleton came over in the Hunter Pence deal with the Phillies last summer and gives the Astros fans some hope for the future.

Prediction: 6th in NL Central

The goal for the worst team in baseball is avoiding 100 losses for the second consecutive season and for only the second time in club history. Unlike 1991, there aren’t any Craig Biggio’s already on the roster and it’s doubtful that they have Jeff Bagwell ready to burst upon the scene. This rebuilding job is going to be a long, hard slog. They acquired a boatload of prospects over the past two seasons, many from the Phillies, and they will need to have a solid success rate to get this team back into contention by 2014, at the earliest. The goal here is to find optimism with a team, and the Astros look like a winner by 2015. Other good news, this will be their last 6th place finish until MLB expands again.

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MLB Daily Balk Morning Rundown 5/4

Last Night’s Games  
American  
Toronto 2 Tampa Bay 3
New York 2 Detroit 4
Los Angeles 3 Boston 7
Minnesota 1 Chicago 0
Baltimore 5 Kansas City 6
Cleveland 4 Oakland 1
Texas 3 Seattle 4
National  
Washington 1 Philadelphia 4
Milwaukee Atlanta (Post)
Houston 10 Cincinnati 4
San Francisco 7 New York 6
Florida 5 St. Louis 7
Colorado 3 Arizona 4
Pittsburgh 5 San Diego 6
Chicago 4 Los Angeles 1

 

Liriano got the season's first no-no

Best of Yesterday May 3

Francisco Liriano put aside his season-long struggles as he no-hit the White Sox and broke the Twins into double digits for wins this season. Liriano benefitted from a phantom tag at first base on a double play to end the 8th inning and then walked Juan Pierre in the 9th before getting Adam Dunn to line to short to end the game. Liriano walked 6 batters and only struck out 2, but completed his first start of his career and gave the Twins their first no-hitter since Eric Milton on September 11, 1999 against the Angels. Jason Kubel provided the only run of the game with a homer in the 4th inning.

BJ Upton hit a 2-run walkoff homer for the Rays off the Blue JaysJon Rauch. Evan Longoria returned to the Rays lineup and went 1 for 4 with 2 strikeouts.

Brad Penny scattered 6 hits and gave up an unearned run to the Yankees in 6 innings to earn his 2nd win of the season for the Tigers, who ended their 7-game losing streak. Scott Sizemore was called up to replace Will Rhymes and went 3 for 4 with a double. Mark Teixeira hit his 8th homer in the 8th inning of the loss.

Cole Hamels gave up a homer to Michael Morse in the 7th inning and that’s all he gave up in his complete game win for the Phillies. Hamels is now 4-1 with a 2.66 ERA and went 2 for 4 at the plate with a triple. Raul Ibanez ended his epic 0 for 35 skid with a 2 for 4 performance.

Jon Lester was dominating as he struck out 11 in 7 innings, giving up only a solo homer to Mike Trumbo to get his 4th win of the season for the Red Sox. The Sox hit 3 homers (Adrian Gonzalez, David Ortiz, and Marco Scutaro) in the 8th inning to seal the win.

Aubrey Huff hit a 10th inning homer for the Giants and Brian Wilson shut the door for his 9th save of the season against the Mets. Jose Reyes reached safely in all 6 plate appearances for the Mets with a 3 for 3 performance and he walked 3 more times. Carlos Beltran added a 3-run homer and Ike Davis hit his 6th homer in the loss.  

Jeff Francoeur homered to tie the game in the 6th inning and drove in the winning run in the bottom of the 10th with a sacrifice fly as the Royals win and go to 13-5 at home on the season. Luke Scott had a 3-run homer for the Orioles in the loss.

Daniel Descalso hit a 3-run homer in the 7th inning to give the Cardinals the lead and eventual win over the Marlins. Eduardo Sanchez appears to be Tony LaRussa‘s closer of choice as the 22-year old rookie saved his 2nd game of the season. Matt Holliday hit a 2-run homer in the 1st inning for the Cards and Gaby Sanchez went 4 for 5 in the loss for the Marlins.

Justin Upton countered his brother BJ’s walk off homer with a solo homer in the 8th inning to cap a 3 for 4 night and give the Diamondbacks the win over the Rockies. Xavier Nady drove in two runs and JJ Putz is now 7 for 7 in save opportunities for the D’backs. Carlos Gonzalez hit his 2nd homer for the Rockies in the loss.

Fausto Carmona shutdown the Athletics for 8 innings, giving up one run, and the Cabrera’s knocked in 3 runs in the 9th to give the Indians the win. The Tribe is the first team to reach 20 wins in the majors this season and have won 7 straight, again.

Justin Smoak tied the game in the 8th and Jack Cust drove in the go-ahead run as the Mariners won their 6th out of 7 to pull to 2 games back of the Rangers. Smoak went 3 for 4 with 2 RBI and Brandon League saved his 8th game in as many opportunities.

Carlos Pena tied the game at 1 for the Cubs in the 7th inning with his first homer and Jonathan Broxton threw only 3 strikes in 11 pitches as he only retired one batter and walked two before the Dodgers pulled him in the 9th inning. After Broxton departed, Geovany Soto doubled home two runs to give the Cubs the lead and eventual win. The good news for the Dodgers is that Andre Ethier extended his hitting streak to 29 games.

 

What Happened (!!)Yesterday?

Mike Leake got hit hard again in the 10-4 loss to the Astros. Leake gave up 7 runs in only 3 2/3 innings and his ERA has risen to 5.77 on the season. With Leake’s much publicized legal issues and Homer Bailey‘s return to the Reds rotation on Thursday, it doesn’t take an active imagination to speculate that Leake could be headed to the minors for the first time in his career if he has some more bad starts. The Reds probably wouldn’t consider it until Johnny Cueto returns from the DL.

 

AL News/Notes

The Rays have designated Felipe Lopez for assignment to make room for Evan Longoria on the roster. Manager Joe Maddon has also rearranged the starting rotation to setup David Price to start on Thursday.

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire has shifted shortstop Alexi Casilla to second base and would like to see prospect Trevor Plouffe come up to play shortstop. After Tuesday night’s game, the Twins placed Jim Thome on the DL and called up Plouffe.

JJ Hardy is expected to begin his rehab assignment on Friday and could be back with the Orioles early next week.

Magglio Ordonez is having problems with his right leg and it’s causing him to hit off of his front leg, eliminating his power. The Tigers can’t really afford to have Ordonez’ production, or lack of, in the lineup much longer.

 

NL News/Notes

Phillies manager Charlie Manuel thinks that Chase Utley should go to Florida to continue his rehab for his knee.

Tony LaRussa has no plans to move shortstop Ryan Theriot to second base despite Theriot’s early season struggles in the field. Allen Craig started at third base for the injured David Freese and was hitting second on Tuesday night.

The Nationals Ryan Zimmerman had successful surgery on his abdomen and will be out until June.

The Giants have discussed recalling first baseman Brandon Belt from AAA amidst their anemic offensive production. Andres Torres and Mark DeRosa are progressing in their recovery from injuries and Torres could be back on Friday.

The AstrosCarlos Lee was unable to play against the Reds on Tuesday night due to bruised ribs suffered in a collision on Sunday with teammate Angel Sanchez. With Lee’s diminishing production, sitting him for a few days might not be that bad, especially if Jason Bourgeois continues to hit in Lee’s absence.

The Diamondbacks are continuing their revolving door at first base as Juan Miranda, Russell Branyan, Xavier Nady have all gotten time at first. Manager Kirk Gibson is obviously not convinced that any of them are a potential long term solution. Branyan and Nady have to be potential trade pieces in the coming months if teams, especially American League teams, experience injuries or need platoon production at DH.

 

 

Streaks of the Day

  • Dodgers Andre Ethier extended his hitting streak to 29 games

 

Top Wednesday Matchups

3:10 EDT Cubs (Zambrano 3-1, 4.91) at Dodgers (Lilly 2-2, 4.45)

7:05 EDT Yankees (Garcia 1-1, 2.00) at Tigers (Scherzer 4-0, 3.82)

Game 2 (DH) Brewers (Greinke 0-0, 0.00) at Braves (Hudson 3-2, 3.48)

10:05 EDT Indians (Tomlin 4-0, 2.45) at Athletics (Cahill 4-0, 1.88)

10:10 EDT Rangers (Wilson 3-1, 3.35) at Mariners (Pineda 4-1, 2.01)

 

Yesterday’s Balks: 0

MLB Daily Balk Morning Rundown 4/29

 

Zobrist had a day for the ages!

Best of Yesterday April 28

The Giants beat the Pirates 5-2 and Ryan Vogelsong won his first game since 2005 for the Giants. Vogelsong earned his first career win with the Giants, who drafted him in 1997 and then traded him to the Pirates.

The Mariners broke out the brooms in Detroit as they beat the Tigers 7-2 in the finale of their 3-game series. Rookie Michael Pineda won his 4th game as he struck out 9 in 6 innings. With 24 runs in 3 games against the Tigers, maybe the M’s offense isn’t THAT bad after all?

The Rays swept a day-night doubleheader against the Twins on Thursday, 15-3 and 6-1. Ben Zobrist was enormous as he knocked in a Rays record 8 runs in the opener and then drove in 2 more in the nightcap. Zobrist was 7 for 10 with 2 homers, 3 doubles, 5 runs, and 10 RBI. AL Player of the Week, anyone? He also did something that hasn’t been done in the AL since Reggie Jackson in 1969.

The Blue Jays took 3 out of 4 against the defending AL champs by beating the Rangers 5-2 on Thursday afternoon. The Jays received a scare when Jose Bautista was hit by a pitch on his hands in the 7th inning, but he never left the game. Brandon Morrow pitched fairly well in his second start and Adam Lind hit his 4th homer for the Jays.

Jon Lester and the Red Sox salvaged the third game of the series with the Orioles by winning 6-2. Lester won his third game with 8 solid innings, giving up 2 runs and Adrian Gonzalez got his 10th multi-hit game of the season for the Sox. Vladimir Guerrero hit his 4th homer for the O’s.  

Fausto Carmona won his 2nd game and Grady Sizemore continued his impressive comeback by hitting his 4th homer in under two weeks as the Indians completed the 3-game sweep of the Royals 8-2 on Thursday night. Shin-Soo Choo, Carlos Santana, and Shelley Duncan all homered as well for the Tribe.

CC Sabathia easily won his 2nd game of the season as the Yankees beat the White Sox 12-3 on Thursday night. The struggling Nick Swisher broke out with his first homer and went 3 for 4 with 4 RBI and 3 runs scored.

Livan Hernandez helped the Nationals snap the Mets winning streak by throwing 8 strong innings with only 2 earned runs allowed in the Nats 4-3 win. New father Ian Desmond came off the Paternity Leave list to go 2 for 4 with a triple, homer, and 2 runs scored for the Nats.

Welcome home, Lance! Well, Lance Berkman might not have been welcome, but he made himself at home as he slugged two homers in the Cardinals win over the Astros 11-7. Berkman went 4 for 5 with 3 runs scored and 5 RBI to go with the homers. He’s now alone in second place in the NL with 8 homers. Kyle McClellan did struggle, but he still won his 4th game of the season.

The Diamondbacks knocked out Cubs starter Ryan Dempster with a 7-run first inning on their way to an 11-2 win. Stephen Drew went 2 for 5 with a grand slam and 5 RBI and Miguel Montero continued his campaign for an all star selection with a 2 for 5 night, including a homer and double with 3 RBI.

 

What Happened (!!)Yesterday?

The Twins gave up 21 runs in their doubleheader loss to the Rays on Thursday and 29 runs in the 3-game sweep. The Twins now have the worst ERA in the AL at 4.95 on the season. The Twins are 4-0 when Brian Duensing starts and 5-15 when he doesn’t. But that’s not the only problem. They are 13th in the AL with a .236 team batting average and their slugging is an AL worst .323, thanks in large part to a MLB low 10 homers. Joe Mauer is still not ready to return and Delmon Young just joined him on the DL. The Twins are now 7 games behind the first place Indians and are in jeopardy of falling out the AL Central race before Memorial Day.

Ryan Dempster of the Cubs gave up 7 runs and didn’t escape the 1st inning against the Diamondbacks on Thursday night. He’s given up at least 4 runs in ALL 6 of his starts this season and his ERA is now 9.58 on the season. Dempster has given up 9 homers, walked 16, and 33 earned runs in only 31 innings for the Cubs. Dempster had pitched well over the past 3 seasons as a starter for the Cubs, but the time has probably come to move him back into the bullpen. The problem for the Cubs is that Dempster is making $13.5M this season and holds a PLAYER option for 2012 at $14M. Gee, I wonder if Dempster will exercise that. He’s as sure to receive that from the Cubs as Carlos Silva is to receive over $7M this season and another $2M next year.  

 

AL News/Notes

The Twins finally acknowledged that Joe Mauer wasn’t ready to start the season. He’s still a week or two away from returning as well.

Peter Bourjos is coming into his own as a hitter for the Angels. The second year player is batting .318 on the season, but despite possessing great speed, is still at the bottom of the order. Manager Mike Scioscia doesn’t have any plans to change that either.

The Indians top pitching prospect, Alex White, is being called up to make his big league debut on Saturday against the Tigers. White is filling in for the injured Carlos Carrasco, who was placed on the DL on Thursday with a right elbow problem.

The RaysSean Rodriguez dislocated his pinkie finger in the second game of the doubleheader on Thursday.

 

NL News/Notes

The Mets are thinking about starting Dillon Gee instead of Mike Pelfrey on Friday due to Pelfrey’s illness.

Pirates 2010 first round pick, Jameson Taillon, struggled in his pro debut on Wednesday. Bad weather and nerves played a role in his struggles.

The Phillies problems are beginning to mount now. Joining Brad Lidge, Chase Utley, and Jose Contreras on the DL is 5th starter Joe Blanton. Blanton is suffering from an elbow impingement. The Phils called up Vance Worley to take Blanton’s start on Friday. Roy Oswalt left the team on Tuesday due to the bad weather going through his home state of Mississippi.

The Cardinals offense has been very good this season, but they’ve hit into an inexplicable 34 double plays so far this season. That’s 11 more than any other team in the majors.

Ty Wigginton could land on the DL because of a sore oblique and that would require the Rockies to make a move. It looks like Alfredo Amezaga could get called up due to his versatility.

Former Padres GM and current Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers comes clean about the deceiving radar gun at Petco Park in San Diego. It turns out that the RedsAroldis Chapman might not have been having velocity problems after all last week.

Carlos Lee has been struggling so far this season, but Astros manager Brad Mills has no plans to move him in the batting order.

Ryan Zimmerman is throwing now, but is still at least a week away from rejoining the Nationals. He’s currently on the DL with an abdominal strain.

 

Streaks of the Day

  • Royals Jeff Francouer extended his hitting streak to 17 games

 

Top Friday Matchups

7:05 EDT Blue Jays (Romero 1-3, 3.00) at Yankees (Garcia 1-0, 0.69)

7:35 EDT Cardinals (Carpenter 0-2, 3.90) at Braves (Hudson 3-2, 3.57)

8:05 EDT Brewers (Marcum 2-1, 2.73) at Astros (Myers 1-0, 3.31)

8:40 EDT Pirates (Correia 3-2, 3.48) at Rockies (Chacin 3-1, 2.67)

10:05 EDT Rangers (Wilson 3-0, 3.51) at Athletics (Cahill 3-0, 2.30)

 

Yesterday’s Balks: 1

  • CC Sabathia of the Yankees against the White Sox

Houston Astros Opening Day Overview

Houston Astros Opening Day Overview

Manager: Brad Mills        GM: Ed Wade

  Lineup:
1 CF Michael Bourn
2 SS Clint Barmes(DL)/Angel Sanchez
3 RF Hunter Pence
4 LF Carlos Lee
5 1B Brett Wallace
6 2B Bill Hall
7 3B Chris Johnson
8 C Humberto Quintero
9 Pitcher

 

Bourn leads off and had another solid season last year. He cut down on his strikeouts and led the league in steals again. The Astros can make a major improvement in the standings if Bourn can increase his OBP from about .340 to .380. That would result in over 70 steals and 100 runs.

Barmes suffered a broken hand last week and will miss the first month or so. Sanchez played in 65 games last year and hit .280. But that’s hollow since he doesn’t have any power or ability to draw walks. He’ll end up hitting 8th, hopefully sooner than later for Astros fans.

Pence is as steady as they come hitting 3rd. He’s hit 25 HRs each of the past three seasons and has hit .282 the past two seasons. His walks dropped last year and he going to need to do better than the .325 OBP that he put up. If he’s under a .800 OPS again this season, they’re going to have to either move him to the #2 hole or drop him down to #6 or so. With his arbitration years upon him, he could become trade bait to help Ed Wade’s rebuilding plans.

Lee was a consistent 30+ HR guy for awhile there but now continues to decrease closer to 20. What was alarming about last season was that he went from hitting .300 to .247. He’ll be 35 in June and has 2 years and $37M left on his contract. For obvious reasons, as quick start with him hitting for power and average might convince a righty hitting deprived team in need of a bat to take a chance on him if he’s willing to waive his no-trade clause. He’ll get to showcase his talent in front of one on opening day at Citizens Bank Park.

Wallace came over last year for Anthony Gose who had been acquired for Roy Oswalt. He struggled in his two months with the Astros but has hit well enough in spring training to win the first base job and hit in the #5 hole. Wallace had a solid year at AAA for Toronto but he’s now on his fourth organization after being a first round pick in 2008. Pretty soon his uniform is going to look like Gaylord Perry’s.

Hall is a decent pickup who can play all over the field which gives him more opportunities to play every day. If he can turn back the clock to 3-4 years ago in Milwaukee and hit like he was then, he will be a huge bargain. Otherwise he’s an average contributor who can fill-in in a pinch.

Johnson hit well last season after taking over in June and could be a candidate to move up into the #2 spot in the order if he hits like last season. With 19 HRs between AAA and the majors, Johnson could be developing some decent power as well. The key this season will be to get a better command of the strike zone and get his walk total up.

Quintero is a very good defensive catcher, but he’s highly mediocre at the plate. If the Astros actually want some offense out of this position, they might consider calling the Yankees and prying away one of their many top catching prospects. I’m sure they would accept Brett Myers in return. Wade will need to hold out and make sure that Lee is in the deal as well.

  Starting Pitching
1 RHP Brett Myers
2 LHP Wandy Rodriguez
3 LHP JA Happ
4 RHP Bud Norris
5 RHP Nelson Figueroa

 

Myers stepped up last season with his best season of his career. Maybe he just couldn’t pitch in Philly? One note of caution is that Myers hasn’t pitched back-to-back 190+ inning seasons since 2006. With a new two year contract, the Astros will be reluctant to trade Myers. But they might be able to fleece a desperate team like the Yankees who could provide them with a top catching prospect and a major league ready pitcher.

Rodriguez pitched really well in the second half of last season when the Astros were over .500. He’s a solid pitcher who the fantasy types like a lot because of his strikeouts. Wade liked him enough to sign him up for three more years and an option. If Myers and Rodriguez can pitch like last season and win 30-35 games, then the Astros could be a surprise team this season.

Happ came over for Oswalt and pitched well immediately. He’s not a top of the rotation type but could really be solid as a #4 starter. If he’s to be anything better than that, then he’s going to need to increase his K-BB ratio as it’s less than 2-1 right now. Oh, and keep the ball on the ground too.

Norris brings the heat but has problems with his control and keeping the ball out of the air. Those last two are major issues for a pitcher in a home run park like Minute Maid. Norris had similar numbers in the minors in 2009. If he can harness his control and lower his ERA to the low 4.00 region, Norris might be able to win 12-14 games and help the Astros get over .500.  

Figueroa is an Ed Wade favorite. Once traded to the Phillies for Curt Schilling, he’s now hanging on in the majors at 37. He’s actually pitched pretty well over the past two seasons and if he can pitch like that in 30 starts, he could win 12-14 games for the Astros. If he struggles, however, there are a few young pitchers in the bullpen who are ready to pounce on his spot.

  Bullpen
CL RHP Brandon Lyon
SET RHP Jeff Fulchino
  RHP Wilton Lopez
  RHP Mark Melancon
  RHP Enerio del Rosario
  LHP Fernando Abad
  RHP Aneury Rodriguez

 

Lyon took over after Lindstrom went on the DL last summer and pitched well. He saved 20 of 22 save opportunities and really helped the Astros during their winning stretch run. Despite the success, the Astros have to be searching for other potential closers due to Lyon’s relatively poor strikeout rate and high walk total. If he pitches well during the first half of the season, the Astros might be able to convince a contender to take the final year of his contract off of their hands.

Fulchino throws hard but his inclusion at the back of the bullpen is an indictment of the lack of quality arms. He’s much better suited to pitching in the 6th and 7th innings when the team is behind than as a setup man.

Lopez is a very good relief pitcher who has great command and keeps the ball on the ground, giving the defense a chance to make a play. He doesn’t throw hard but it doesn’t keep him from getting the opposition out. It’s not very trendy to make somebody without a mid-90’s fastball a closer, but Lopez could get a look later this season if he pitches like he did in 2010.

Melancon came over for Lance Berkman last year and pitched fairly well in his short time in Houston. He throws hard and could get a look at closer as well if Lyon gets traded or becomes ineffective.

Del Rosario, Abad, and Rodriguez are all young prospects with solid potential. Rodriguez was a Rule 5 draft pick from the Rays and will most likely spend the season on the roster since he’d have to be offered back if they wanted to send him to AAA.

  Farm Prospects who could help in 2011
1 RHP Jordan Lyles
2 OF JD Martinez
3 OF JB Shuck

 

Lyles could be up with the big club by the end of the season if all goes well in AAA. Martinez is a talented hitter who could end up in left field if somebody (please) can take Carlos Lee off the Astros hands. Shuck is a utility outfielder who could find his way in the majors if they need an injury replacement before Martinez is ready.

Three Questions:

1. Can the Astros starting pitching outperform last season?

  • Myers and Rodriguez both pitched really well, especially in the second half. Happ was solid after coming over at the end of July and Figueroa keeps fooling hitters. Norris is probably the biggest key since he’s got a great arm and if he’s able to decrease his walks and home runs, he could have a big season.

2. Can Carlos Lee stop the downward spiral of his career?

  • At two years and $37M remaining on his contract with a no-trade clause, Lee has to hit better for the Astros to have a chance at reaching .500 this season. As the most dangerous hitter in the lineup, he needs to get his average back to at least .280 and start slugging close to .500 again. Anything less than that and the Astros will struggle offensively again.  

3. How is the young bullpen going to work out?

  • Brandon Lyon took the reins last season but he’s at best a short term solution to their late inning success. The best case scenario would be for Melancon to take over the closers role and have somebody like Lopez set him up in the 8th. As the Diamondbacks proved last season, a bad bullpen can turn a potential .500 team into a 90 loss team.

 

Projection

The Astros are realistically shooting for a .500 record. If they finish at 81-81 then they have to be pleased in Houston. Trying to get put together a productive lineup and getting solid production from their veterans will be the key to this. If Lee can hit like 2009 or earlier and if Hall can add about .020 points to his average, the lineup should be palatable. Then it will be up to the bullpen to provide stability at the end of games. There’s still a lot more that needs to be done and it will be interesting to see how bold Wade gets and who he’s able to trade to make this team better.