In the midst of a pretty upbeat story by Brain McTaggart on some of the questions the Astros face this spring, he bummed me out. Not because of Castro starting at catcher or Lindstrom being the closer, it was when he brought up the lineup. Here is what we know so far and where there are openings:
4) Carlos Lee
5) Hunter Pence
That leaves Kaz Matsui, Pedro Feliz, Jason Castro and Tommy Manzella all yet to find a slot. Assuming Manzella hits seventh or eighth, where do you hit Matsui? Or Castro? Or even Feliz?
Of course, I wrote yesterday about how Feliz normally hits in the seventh spot, but he's got some experience hitting sixth. If he can put the ball in play, maybe his batting average will make up for his low OBP and SLG. It's also tempting to slot someone like Jason Castro into that No. 2 spot, but without a proven track record in the majors, I see him batting seventh or eighth with Manzella.
Yes, that means Matsui is pretty much your two-hitter. This lineup reminds me a lot of the 2005 group that went to the World Series. Both had as many question marks and offensive black holes. The difference was the Astros had excellent pitching in 2005. If Myers is healthy and one of the bottom three starters steps up, the Astros could have a decent pitching staff. Asking them to be dominant may be a bit much.
What do you think? Will Brad Mills change things up? Is there any way to avoid having a sub-.310 OBP guy hitting second?