2010 Houston Astros Baseball Preview
The Houston Astros (74-88) had the oldest roster in the majors in 2009. Despite that fact, last July 25, they were just 1.5 games out of first. But then the bottom fell out and over the next month, the Astros fell 10 games out of first. The team has made some moves towards signing younger players. But in the process, they dismissed Migeul Tejada and LaTroy Hawkins, and they saw Jose Valverde go the free agent route. Will the loss of those veterans have a negative effect on this team?
By September 16, aging ace Roy Oswalt (806, 4.12 ERA, 138 SO) was out for the season with back and hip pain. The aggressive Oswalt is a premium pitcher but he does have health issues. Lefty Wandy Rodriguez (14-12, 3.02 ERA, 193 SO) commands three quality pitches—fastball, change and curve. He’s a sound contributor. Both Bud Norris (6-3, 4.53 ERA, 54 SO) and Felipe Paulino (3-11, 6.27 ERA, 93 SO) are young talents. Norris is a flyball hurler who has to cut down on delivering so many meatballs. Paulino needs to find consistency and stop falling behind in the count.
In the area of relief, the Astros are shaky. A true closer is yet to be found. Brandon Lyon (6-5, 2.86 ERA, 3 SV, 57 SO) is more of a setup pitcher than closer and Matt Lindstrom (2-1, 5.89 ERA, 15 SV, 39 SO) has had a tough time coming through in clutch situations. Lefty Tim Byrdak (1-2, 3.23 ERA, 58 SO) gives up too many homers.
Center fielder Michael Bourn (.285 BA, 3 HR, 35 RBI) stole 61 bases last season. He’s fast enough to change the complexion of a game quickly. Bourn is also turning into a solid fielder. Kazuo Matsui (.250 BA, 9 HR, 46 RBI) is a switch-hitter who needs to lay off the high heat. He’s a fine second baseman.
The primary generators of offense are first baseman Lance Berkman (.274 BA, 25 HR, 80 RBI) and left fielder Carlos Lee (.300 BA, 26 HR, 102 RBI). Berkman is a fine all-around ballplayer and a productive switch-hitter. Lee’s strength is at the plate, where he generates fine bat speed and power, using the entire field. Catcher Humberto Quintero (.236 BA, 4 HR, 14 RBI) is a true asset behind the plate, ably calling the game and gunning down runners.
This is the first season for manager Brad Mills, who has a solid reputation of being an organized coach and a good communicator. Mills possesses a lot of post-game experience as the bench coach for the Boston Red Sox. He could be the right guy to guide this team to a new place. GM Ed Wade is in a tough spot as he deals with various veteran players that have no trade clauses and an owner who wants to keep the budget lean. There’s not a lot of wiggle room here.
The Astros have to rebuild and continue to develop the talent they have while they hope that their aging vets can still produce. A lot hinges on Mills’ ability to get peak performances out of his aging players while he brings along the young guys. There is talent and these guys could contend if a few things go their way.
For more info on Houston check out the MLB website for the Astros.