Taking a cue from Richard Justice and insomnia, I'm going to try and construct my rosiest outlook within reason.
Before I can delve down that road, I need to shoot from the brain and not the heart. When I think of the 2009 Astros, I think of a franchise trying to claw it's way out of the very deep hole it's dug itself. I see Carlos Lee with a bloated contract and waistline in LF as eating up payroll that could really be better allocated; a rotation that is cobbled together with has beens and never will bes; a few key arms waiting in the wings that might provide us with value, but a franchise that has an obvious predilection to veteran presence than potential upside; an over paid second baseman who I don't trust do deliever more than 450 ABs; a few position players that have potential in our system, but are blocked by declining veterans and will probably have to wait until 2010 or 2011 to get a real crack at the big leagues. I do a see a bullpen with potential but two quesiton marks in Sampson and Geary. 2009 probably seems so morose to me because when Ed Wade was wealing dealing in November and December of 2007, I didn't think it was to have a legitmate shot a 2008, but rather 2009. With all the freely available pitching on the market, I though the Astros would solidify the rotation this off season, and give themselves a chance.
Alas, that has not happened. I think that some things could break our way, and we might be a legitimately good team. I think all of these things are possible, but I think that a majority of them occurring to truly boost the team not that great. If I miss anything, or think I'm way off, just let me know.
- Mike Hampton could throw 150 IP at a 4.30 ERA.
- Brian Moehler could throw 180 IP at below a 4.50 ERA.
- Brandon Backe could reach 200 IP and limit his ERA to below a 4.75.
- Alberto Arias could deliver 150 IP of 4.25 ERA.
- Sampson could be a dominate set-up man coming back from surgery.
- Geary retains his effectiveness from 2008.
- Tejada could boost his OBP and SLG from 2008.
- Kaz Matsui could stay healthy all year and provide great value for his money in the lead-off spot.
- Hunter Pence could have a .350+ OBP.
- Coop is smart enough to go with clack's proposed Bourn/Abercrombie platoon.
- Towles could be a force in Florida and starts in the show to deliever that .800 OPS we all hoped he would last year.
- Wandy finds consistency and is that legitimate number two starter we have been waiting for.
- Roy stays healthy all year, missing no more than 1-2 starts and is his dominate self.
- Blum and Boone don't crap out.
- Bogusevic, Johnson, and Sutton get legitimate looks if Bourn/Abercrombie can't pull their weight or numbers 8 or 14 don't hold.
I think that if we're to be a legitimate contender of any sort in 2009, at least half of that list has to come true. Maybe it doesn't; maybe just a few things need to break our way. It's certainly possible to look at this team and see potential, but it's also easy to see that half empty glass. I think that for myself, at least, it's even easier to be in the latter given how dismal this off season has been. The WAR project sees at 83-84 win team given our talent. As we all know from the great Pythag record debates of 2008, this team is capable of out performing those baselines...so we'll see. In baseball, you really never know.