The season is underway but the Stros have one more day til their challenge begins. Spring training was up and down for the Astros and they say it doesn't mean much. Just to tune up and get ready. This year it was a bit costly for the brick red team as potential breakout candidate Jason Castro and veteran starter Clint Barmes didn't make it out unscathed. The already thin roster has now been remade and as the games start tomorrow the cards are laid and the roster is set.
Here is your optimism:
This is the strong point of the 2011 Astros. It is a very respectable group with the potential to break well into the top half of pitching in the NL. The starters have three guys that are going to keep the team in every game while eating innings. Bud strikes batters out. If he also doesn't walk many batters, you have a very good pitcher. I think Nelson did a great job for the club last year for the 5th starter. The bullpen should be serviceable and there are plenty of live arms for work. I was leaning toward Villar instead of A. Rodriguez. I think the skipper likes long-guy more than Villar to mop up for a bad start. All in all I like this group and it is by far the best thing the Stros have going.
What do we get here?
This is the group that will have the ability to make the Stros a break-even team or a cellar-dweller. Both Bourn and Pence are in their historically career-age year. Bourn needs to get on base and Pence needs to raise his OPS for them to take the lead of the Astros. Let's see if Lee has any self-respect and gives it his all this year. That is all anyone can ask of the guy. I am fine with Michaels as the 4th OFer and he earned it with his spring. I thought maybe Bogey would break with the club since he has some LH pop. I rated him even with JB all around except for stealing speed otherwise. If it all works out they are a fine group but on the average it is a sub par outfield.
Catchers: Towles, Q
There are so many questions with this group the only thing that is certain is that at least 5 of them will play on Friday. It will not be a very good fielding team. I liked the Hall and Barmes signings because they have some RH pop and it plays to the park's strengths. The corners are very uncertain. Let's see if they can make their print on the league. The reserves are replacement level journeymen but experience is valuable. I hope Towles can finally stick in the bigs this year. I see all the tools to be a bigleague backstop. Let's see him put it together. Q has a great arm.... yeah. This group is at the bottom of the NL for IFers. They simply lack in talent and projection.
My heart is excited for the year even though in my mind I know the team is below average. Can Lyles come up and solidify the rotation? Will the young guys become big league hitters? Will Pence and Bourn become stars? Does Lee have anything left? All the answers will unfold starting tomorrow. Let's Play Ball.