Tuesday, March 20, 2012
Over/under: Wins for Astros
By David Schoenfield
OK, we had to do the Houston Astros at some point.
The Astros went 56-106 in 2011 -- and that was with Michael Bourn playing 105 games and Hunter Pence playing 100. Those two are gone and the Astros outfield regulars appear to be J.D. Martinez, Jordan Schafer and Brian Bogusevic.
Wandy Rodriguez and Bud Norris headline the rotation, with guys like J.A. Happ, Jordan Lyles, Henry Sosa and Kyle Weiland competing for the other three spots. Veteran innings eater Brett Myers was moved from the rotation to the closer role, presumably to make him a more attractive trade chip come July. The Astros allowed the most runs in the National League in 2011 so there's nowhere to go but up. Moving Myers to the pen won't help that.
Bright spots? Jose Altuve is a young second baseman, a little guy with potential at the plate. Martinez will get the chance to prove to skeptics that he's more than a fourth outfielder. Schafer, once a top prospect with the Braves, is still only 25. Maybe this is the year he learns to make better contact.
But that may be optimistic dreaming; realistically, this team is staring at 100 losses again. The new regime in Houston knew a complete overhaul of the franchise was in order, so they'll jump at the first opportunity to trade Myers or Rodriguez or Carlos Lee, in the slim chance that a team will take on a portion of their remaining contracts. The over/under is 62.5. I'll take the under.