Houston, we have a problem. Who here wants to venture a guess at what the Astros starting lineup will be on opening day? Anyone? Ok well neither will I. It can be a very long summer for the Astros, and their fan base. With a 2011 record of 56-106 mark it is quite possible that this Astros team might be close to that number although I am going to say they wont hit the 100 loss mark this season, but will be very close. They do have a few good starting pitchers in Wandy Rodriguez and Bud Norris. Astros general manager Brad Mills has his work cut out for him.
After losing two thirds of their outfield through trades last season seeing Hunter Pence going to the Phillies, and the speedy Michael Bourn going to the Atlanta Braves. The Astros had to fill in a lot of holes. They will now have youth in the outfield in; J.D Martinez, Jordan Shaefer, and Brian Bogusevic patrolling the outfield. You might be asking yourself who are these guys? I found myself asking the same question! J.D Martinez is a rookie and had some playing time with the Astros last year he played in 53 games and had a .274 average with 57 hits and 35 rbi. Jordan Shafer is the player who came in the Michael Bourn deal. He is a raw outfielder with speed and a subpar bat. Shafer swiped 22 bases with Atlanta/Houston last year, but only a short sample size he played in 82 games and only had a .242 average with 73 hits and 13 rbi's. Power has to come up for Shafer to be in the lineup everyday, he only hit 2 homeruns last year, albeit in limited time. Brian Bogusevic is another young talent drafted by the Astros in 2005 in the first round 24th pick overall. Bogusevic saw playing time last year and made the most of it hitting at a .287 average, 4 homeruns but just 15 rbi's. Bogusevic is an average type hitter not known for his power but can get a hold of one every now and again.
The usual suspects are back in the fold in that of; Wandy Rodriguez, Bud Norris, Carlos Lee and Brett Myers. Wandy Rodriguez is considered the ace of the team. He went 11-11 for the Astros last year with a 3.49 era and struck out 166 batters. Bud Norris is the trailer to Wandy Rodriguez, or 1a. Norris has similar splits the only difference is he doesn't get quite the same run support as does Rodriguez. Norris went 6-11 last year for the Astros with a 3.77 era and fanned 176 batters. Carlos Lee is the grandfather of the ball club. He has been through all the high's and lows with the Astros. Lee is entering his 13th season in the MLB and the 6th with the ball club. He had a great season last year with absolutely no protection in front of him once Pence and Bourn left. Lee went on to have a respectable year with a .275 batting average and he drove in 94 rbi's and clubbed 18 homeruns. I look for Lee to have a similar year around .270 average and 15-20 homeruns 85 rbi. The shocker of group has to by Brett Myers. Who as of this week will start the season as the Astros closer. This amazes me because Myers is an innings eater and can give the Astros pitching staff length in the games in which he starts instead of relying on the pen to come into games after 5 innings practically every game not started by Wandy and Bud!
I see the Astros finishing last in the NL Central with some growing pains but no worse then last year.