Blog Entry

Ok, Let's Talk About the Astros...

Posted on: December 13, 2008 5:56 pm

Last night the Astros, once again, proved their commitment to slashing payroll; when they non-tendered Ty Wigginton, one of Houston's top batters in 2008, especially after Carlos Lee went down for the year. Wigginton was set to make between 7 and 9 million in arbitration, and the Astros were unsuccessful in trading him away so, they cut him from the team. Also non-tendered was fifth outfielder candidate Reggie Abercrombie.

What I am going to do in this blog post is: analyze each position for the Astros, and the contenders to take over certain positions. Then in the comments section I think we should all hash out some ideas, discuss who the best options are, and what is most likely to happen. Sound good? Good.


The Astros are going to carry 12 pitchers (they always do). So, first we'll look at the rotation, and then the bullpen


1. Roy Oswalt
2. Wandy Rodriguez
3. Brian Moehler
These three are almost assured spots in the rotation. They were Houston's three most consistent starters, throughout the year.

The contenders for the fourth, and fifth spots:

-Mike Hampton
Certainly the favorite for the fourth spot. He just signed a 1-year 2 million deal, and his best years were in Houston (granted with the Astrodome). But, as long as he is healthy I do not mind giving Hampton a rotation spot.

-Brandon Backe
The non-tender nominee, was given a second chance by the Astros. Now they will give him about a million dollars to prove his worth in Spring Training. Backe is definitely the favorite for the firth rotation spot... assuming Hampton's healthy (you never know.

-Felipe Paulino
If he's ready by Spring Training, he'll be in the conversation but, since he was injured all last season I do not see how he could have improved upon last spring training. I take him more seriously as a bullpen candidate. Likely headed to Round Rock to start.

-Brad James
-Bud Norris
-Polin Trinidad
-Sergio Perez

All four are AA starters who I expect to be in Spring Training. It is highly unlikely any of them win one of the two available spots. Maybe later in the year though.

-Alberto Arias
I am not high on him but, he will be in Spring Training to compete for the fifth spot with Backe.

-Jack Cassel
Highly unlikely to be the fifth starter, maybe long reliever.

-Fernando Nieve
At this point he's a bullpen candidate only

-Shawn Chacon... just kidding

Likely Rotation to start the season:


Guaranteed a spot:
LaTroy Hawkins
Geoff Geary

Remaining three spots:

-Chris Sampson

You would think a spot would be his but, surgery, and the abundance of right-handers already in the pen may hurt his chances of making the team

-Brandon Backe

If he misses the rotation yet, has a productive spring (a couple of big ifs) I think he would end up here, or be cut.

-Albert Arias

I do not like his chances, but he will be in Spring Training, so he has a shot.

-Tim Byrdak
-Wesley Wright
-Tyler Lumsden
-Gilbert de la Vera
I expect two of these four to make the team. It would take a lot from de la Vera or Lumsden to overthrow one of the two incumbents. If de la Vera doesn’t make the team Houston will have to offer him back to… [Insert the team Houston took him from in the Rule V draft here].

-Fernando Nieve

A perennial contender for a bullpen spot, I really do not like his chances since there are other more veteran options, and the abundance of right-handers.

-Felipe Paulino

I am not entirely sure how his health is right now but, I am going to assume he is healthy by Spring Training. Paulino still has excellent stuff, and should contend for a rotation spot but, he’ll be rusty after missing last season. I expect him to start in Round Rock, and then get called up in May, or June as a late inning reliever. If Valverde is traded or not signed long term, Paulino is probably the best closing option they have.

Bullpen looks like:








Batting Lineup:


Quintero seems to have it looked up. He will be backed up by either J.R. Towles or Lou Palmisano – a recent Rule 5 pickup. I really cannot see Towles losing out to Palmisano in Spring Training, and I even think he will take the starting job before the start of the season. Towles was rushed into the starting position last season and failed to perform in the majors but, he was terrific when he was sent back down. Jason Castro may be in the mix at the end of the season.

Starter: J.R. Towles

Bench: Humberto Quintero


First Base: Berkman

Second Base: Matsui

Shortstop: Tejada

Things get tricky at third, after Wigginton’s dismissal. I am going to list all of the contenders, and evaluate each of them.

-Geoff Blum

The obvious favorite, Blum was very successful as both a defensive replacement and a pinch hitter last season. However, he has started in the past, and I think he would a mediocre everyday player, at best.

Tommy Manzella SS – In this scenario Manzella would be the everyday SS, and Tejada would shift to third. Manzella is an Adam Everett like player, great defense, meh bat.

Edwin Maysonet SS – See Tommy Manzella.

Drew Sutton – A very intriguing player. Sutton has never played above AA but, absolutely crushed Arizona Fall League pitching. However, Sutton does not have great upside, and does not profile as a third basemen because he has limited power. Still, I think he has a real shot, since the Astros need someone to fill in, even if he does not have the greatest power potential.

Chris Johnson – Possibly the joint favorite along with Blum. I think Ed Wade believes Johnson is ready to step in, and be the Astros’ third basemen but, I do not believe he is ready. If he was ready, then Johnson would be my favorite of the bunch. I just do not want to see him turn into J.R. Towles. I want Johnson to start in AAA, and get called up in May, or June when we are sure he is ready. Johnson will be the starter in 2010.

Third Base: Geoff Blum – ultimately you have to go with the sure thing in Blum.

Bench: Drew Sutton, Edwin Maysonet


Carlos Lee

Hunter Pence

Michael Bourn

I will say that the job is not Bourn’s just yet. He is having a good Domican league season but, I believe Brian Bogusevic will make the centerfield battle interesting. The Astros want to sign Reggie Abercrombie to a minor league deal, and invite him to spring training to compete for a bench spot.

Bench: Darin Erstad, Reggie Abercrombie/Yordany Ramirez

If Michael Bourn struggles Wade will not hesitate to bring in Bogusevic from AAA.

25-man Roster

SP Roy Oswalt

SP Wandy Rodriguez

SP Brian Moehler

SP Mike Hampton

SP Brandon Backe

CL Jose Valverde

RHP Doug Brocail

RHP LaTroy Hawkins

RHP Geoff Geary

RHP Chris Sampson

LHP Tim Byrdak

LHP Wesley Wright

C J.R. Towles

C Humberto Quintero

1B Lance Berkman

2B Kaz Matsui

2B Drew Sutton

SS Miguel Tejada

SS Edwin Maysonet

3B Geoff Blum

LF Carlos Lee

CF Michael Bourn

RF Hunter Pence

OF/1B Darin Erstad

OF Yordany Ramirez/Reggie Abercrombie

So, what do you guys think? Tell me what differs in your opinion, let’s generate some discussion. I will say I do not believe major trades or signings will take place at this point, so try to only use the roster we currently have.


Category: MLB

Since: Aug 16, 2006
Posted on: December 15, 2008 11:01 am

Ok, Let's Talk About the Astros...

Not in the playoff discussion?  They finished 3.5 GB in the wildcard, and there were times down the stretch when that gap had closed to one game.  They were definitely in the conversation. 

Not muched has changed this season.  The pitching staff will be about the same, and the lineup is practically the same - minus Ty Wigginton.  However, the lose of his bat could be made up for if Hunter Pence goes back to hitting .300 like he did his rookie season, and if Michael Bourn improves and become a productive leadoff hitter.  Houston looks like a .500 team. 

Houston will keep Valverde for now, they chose him (and Mike Hampton) over Wigginton, and Randy Wolf.  But, if they look out of it by the trade deadline, and they do not think they can wrap him up long term for an acceptable price they will deal him, and he will be the best closer on the market at that time. 

Since: Nov 23, 2006
Posted on: December 14, 2008 10:15 pm

Ok, Let's Talk About the Astros...

I'd have to say the Astros chances this coming year will be pretty poor. They weren't really in the playoff discussion last season and they only got worse. They might even be trading Valverde? Not looking good.

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