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2013 Houston Astros Season Preview


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by Andy

Westward, Ho!
We gathered around the dock, and Jim Crane gave a speech. A christening. He spoke about his new boat - about its name and how he came up with it. “She’s a tiny little vessel. But she is strong!” Everyone cheered. He spoke a little bit about the boat’s history and how the new coat of paint ties in with that storied past. Everyone hung on each and every word. George Postolos, faithfully standing by, handed Jim a bottle of Dom Perignon, “to the American League and to new beginnings! To the old girl, the National League, may we never speak her name again!” Crash! Jimmy broke the bottle against the hull and each of us, everyone of us, clapped. “Hear! Hear! To the Astros!”

The National League: May we never speak her name again.

Unless, of course, Bud Selig brings it up.

And there we have it: the Houston Astros have set sail into the rough waters of the American League West. The old rusty ship, settled at the bottom of the National League Sea, left to be reclaimed by explorers, historians and treasure hunters. Anew, the SS American League, mighty and small, fearless but surrounded by danger! Yet, we shall sail on. Rough waters! Choppy seas! The Rangers! The Angels! A’s and Mariners! Sharks and giant squid! Icebergs ahead!

I’m not terribly excited about realignment nor do I believe Jim Crane’s semi-truthful account on how the realignment negotiations really transpired, but I understand that I have to accept that the Astros are now an American League franchise and no amount of kicking and screaming will be able to change that.

That being said, I’ll still manage to kick, and I’ll still manage to scream about it.

The National League: I’m sure I’ll speak her name again.

imageI have complete faith in the competent First Mate Jeff Luhnow. I believe he’s building, piece by piece, a vessel that we can all be proud of. But, our Captain, Jim Crane, is not doing his organization any favors by continually speaking with the media and putting his foot in his mouth. He’s not been the savviest public relations representative for the Astros and has appeared to come off as tone deaf on a number of occasions. And each ignorant and arrogant word pours more bucket-fulls of water onto the deck – but at some point, if again we sink, Jim Crane will have to hold himself responsible for charting the course that leads to his demise.

He’s not garnering any goodwill amongst fans that feel burnt by this organization. Each time his name appears in the newspaper, he’s slowly transforming himself from the hero untying this damsel-in-distress organization to the wispy character who is reinforcing Drayton McLane’s knots and tightening us to the railroad tracks.

But there’s a lot to look forward to in 2013.

We’re going to see plenty of new faces, and we’re going to see some exciting baseball. We’re going to be a part of something special. We’re going to witness the rebirth of a franchise. And, quite honestly, I do not think this team is as bad as the experts are making them out to be. Sure, there will be some head scratching and face-palming. They’ll struggle, they’ll look ridiculous at times – but they’ll improve. They’ll make leaps and bounds. They’ll surprise you. They’ll make you proud. And, more importantly, they’ll win some ball games.

And, yes, we should hold the 2013 Astros to a higher standard than what we held the 2012 Astros to. We should expect them to be better –we should expect them to perform at a higher level and expect to see a few more battles won that they would have lost last year. They’re a better team than what they were last year.

There’s hope in Houston. A brighter day awaits us – and maybe it is sooner rather than later.

Our old ship has sunk. We’ve hit rock bottom. We’ve rebuilt. And now we’re back. Now it is time for the Houston Astros to get back to the level of competition that our city is accustomed to, sail ahead, fight those who oppose us and to drop anchor and dump our seaman on Bud Selig and the American League West. 

Attendance
There’s going to be a lot of newness surrounding the Houston Astros in 2013. Obviously this team is going to be a little more exciting and fans may be a little more hopeful about the 2013 team as compared to the 2012 or 2011 teams. They’ll have new opponents, and they’ll make new rivals… maybe Astros fans will grow to hate the Orioles or Tigers the same way they grew to hate the Braves and Mets over the years.

Typically, the American League, as a whole, draws less than the National League. As the pundits say that American League baseball is “much more exciting,” I contend that the proof is in the pudding and National League teams tend to bring in more fans than their junior circuit counterparts. The American League has a couple of teams at the very top of Major League Baseball attendance numbers (New York, Boston, Texas) and the rest are stuck at the bottom, fighting each other to stay out of last place.

But the Astros have a decided advantage in 2013.

They’ll pack the house on dates with the Rangers, Yankees and Red Sox. I also think they’ll see hefty gates against the Angels and Tigers. And, let’s not forget, the Astros will welcome back their old buddies from St. Louis for two games in late June.

The schedule works out nicely for the Astros – this might be a once in a blue moon sort of thing. The home games against the Red Sox and Yankees will come in August and September when fans typically become disinterested and attendance generally lags. The Yankees come in for the last series of the season. Granted, the last few games of the season would do well on their own, regardless of the opponent, but since the Yankees will be in town, this will insure that the season ends with three consecutive sell-outs. Maybe the Astros will give out some bobbleheads to commemorate Mariano Rivera’s final regular season game – or maybe they’ll promote a bobblehead commemorating this event.    

So, I’m predicting that the Astros see a substantial spike in attendance numbers. That being said, in 2014, once the newness wears off and people quit caring about the Angels or Tigers, if the Astros are not fielding a desirable product – they’ll be in a world of trouble and attendance numbers will flounder, fall to the Earth and blow up in our faces like a North Korean nuke.

The final tally - 1,747,888 

Brand Keys “The Sports Fan Loyalty Index” – The Dumpster Fire Within
In a recent article by Maury Brown, he posts about Brand Keys releasing their 21st annual report on The Sports Fan Loyalty Index.

Brown says, “The Sports Fan Loyalty Index, which measures all the teams in the four Major Leagues, provides an apples-to-apples comparison of the intensity with which fans within a team’s SMSA support the home team versus corresponding values for fans of other teams in that market.”

Where do the Astros rank amongst the other 30 baseball teams?

Dead. Last.

So, yeah, I’m going to call shenanigans on this so-called Index.

Look, I get it that life really sucks for Astros fans right now. I understand that all Houstonians big and small are rushing to Academy or Sports Authority or Dick’s Sporting Goods and gobbling up all the Texas Rangers gear they can find. I understand that Jim Crane is wiping his Postolos with everything Houstonians hold dear. But how on Earth could the Astros possibly be rated lower than the Miami Marlins? Give me a break!

Jeffrey Loria is not just a bad owner – he’s a terrible example of a human being.

He tricked all of southern Florida into financing a stadium that they didn’t want and, more importantly, couldn’t afford. Just a few days ago, the mayor of Miami, Tomas Regalado says, “the residents of Miami were raped.” Yes, he really said that.

Loria, baiting before switching, signed a bunch of superstar players and went about as if he wanted the Marlins to… you know, be worth making the trip out to the new, expensive stadium. He sang, he danced, and he said everything Miamians wanted to hear. But, as soon as the Marlins were out of contention, the Marlins traded Hanley Ramirez for a half-eaten ham sandwich and an Orange Crush (which was promptly fed to their sea cow first baseman). Then, this off-season, Loria, giant brass balls drooping to the floor, turned complete heel and traded off everyone but Giancarlo Stanton to the Blue Jays.

And, now, as if he couldn’t get any cooler, he is suing season ticket holders.

Just look at how the Astros and Marlins exported goods to Canada. The Marlins traded Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson and Mark Buerhle, three all-star players, to the Blue Jays and got back a handful of prospects. And what did the Blue Jays get for shipping their prospects to the Astros? Brandon Lyon and JA Happ.

JA Happ.  

Again – I get it! It’s bad in Houston! The Astros are a freaking dumpster fire right now, but, there’s absolutely no comparison – zero. Compared to our dumpster fire, the Miami Marlins are a freaking four alarm fire wrapped in an earthquake at a crippled-children’s orphanage. Yes, the Astros are a beat up 1984 Honda Accord with no air conditioning and a broken side view mirror; the Marlins, however, are shoes. There is no way on God’s green Earth that the Marlins have a fan base more loyal than the Astros. 

The Marlins are shoes.

These Dudes Don’t Look So Tough
We’ve kicked open the door, we’ve crashed the party, we’re drunk and now it is time to hit on some of these guys’ wives.

Angels
Have you ever been to an Angels’ game? I have. It is exactly like a Dodgers’ game except the fans that show up late, which I would characterize as “more than half,” are wearing Tapout shirts instead of neck-tattoos.

No one pays attention, and no one seems to care about what’s going on. “Who is this Mike Trout fellow? Is that Tim Salmon’s son?”

The El Pueblo Nuestra Senora la Reina de los Angeles de Porciuncula Angels of Anaheim (which I assume is their official name) are likely the class of the division in 2013. They have a very solid and capable rotation with CJ Wilson at the top and Tommy Hanson at the bottom. Their offense will be anchored by All-Everything Mike Trout, Josh Hamilton and (fancy seeing you here) SOB Albert Pujols.

By far, the tastiest AL West tidbit of the off-season was this. Josh Hamilton, in a moment of complete sobriety, slurred that Dallas is “not a true baseball town” which, in turn, caused everyone in the Metroplex, or rather the folks who know about the local baseball team, to collectively poop their pants. I’m not saying Hamilton was wrong – he’s not wrong, he’s right. He’s exactly right. But, how can you say something like that and then go out and sign with Anaheim? Anaheim is a “true baseball town?” Really? Hamilton has obviously been huffing too much paint because calling out Dallas for not being a “true baseball town” and hightailing it to Orange County is like changing the channel from Swamp People to Moonshiners because you prefer a program with “a little more class.”

Let’s not forget, Josh, the Angels shamefully tacked on “Los Angeles” to their name because their owner, Arte Moreno, has a very noticeable hard-on for all things LA… even though the ciudad is 40 miles and two hours away.

Lakers. Dodgers. UFC. Beach Volleyball. Angels. That’s the pecking order in Orange County, Josh. You’re drunk, so shut your mouth about “true baseball towns” and go home.

You’d be hard pressed to find another fan base as oblivious as Orange County. The only reason Angels fans exist is because folks there do not want to hop on the 405 and stew in traffic all day to get brutally beaten at a Dodgers game.  

92-70 – Angels win the division

Rangers
It isn’t too hard to hate the Rangers. Throughout my entire life, I viewed the Rangers as nothing more than the baseball equivalent of an ex-convict relative. We were told that while they were indeed part of the family, it is best not to make eye contact and never consume anything they serve at reunions. When we didn’t have to see them, we didn’t care about them and they were, pretty much across the board, a non-factor.

Even within the Metroplex, who really ever cared about the Rangers?

But now we’re sharing a division, and it’ll be like a family reunion umpteen times a year. 

My advice? Don’t make eye contact and stay away from the shady sweet potato casserole.

As we discussed earlier, the Rangers are dealing with a few notable defections – namely Josh Hamilton (and their dignity). But I believe they still have a squad that will vie for a playoff spot. Yu Darvish proved that he can be the ace the Rangers have so desperately wanted, and the rest of their rotation stacks up rather nicely. Even with the loss of Hamilton, the Rangers will trot out a line-up that should produce some pretty robust offensive statistics. Ian Kinsler, Adrian Beltre, Elvis Andrus, the-oft-injured Nelson Cruz and (fancy seeing you here) Lance Berkman will provide plenty of fireworks this summer. But their most intriguing player will be starting the year in Round Rock. SS Jurickson Profar, who is probably as exciting a player as Mike Trout, is geared up to terrorize the Astros for the next decade or so.

Yes, we can hate the Rangers freely.

No, not because these flavors-of-the-month meatheads are scooping up the Snooki Berkmans of the Astros organization, but rather the Rangers consider themselves exclusively as Texas’ team and advertise themselves as such on their uniforms.

Let me preface what I’m about to say by saying that I know a lot. I’m likely the smartest guy you know. And, seeing that I know a lot, I know that Dallas doesn’t represent Texas. Texas isn’t about getting a $35K job and buying a Mercedes on credit or marrying a woman with poorly done fake boobs and a mustache. If it wasn’t for Houston, Dallas wouldn’t be able to ruin their credit or marry ugly women – they’d all be a part of Mexico and ruining their credit and marrying ugly women there.

The only reason you can wear “Texas” across your jersey is because of us.

You’re welcome, Dallas.

But, it is time to take “Texas” off your jerseys, Dallas.

89-73

A’s
I’m not at all happy about having our young impressionable team wandering around in Oakland. In my opinion, this is just another wicked ploy by Bud Selig to destroy the Houston Astros… this time, by putting them in the American League and into the line of fire. Oakland is a dangerous city – after all, the American League is just a collection of city after city in which good law-abiding Astros fans are likely to be stabbed and succumb to the temptation of prostitutes.

Apparently, there’s a baseball team in Oakland.

On June 30th, the A’s were 37-42 after losing to the Rangers. After that game, they won 5 on their way to going 19-5 for the month of July. They finished the last three months of the season by going 57-26 and stealing the division from the Texas Rangers. Can the A’s find lightning in a bottle for 2013?

As Lance Zierlein would say, they’ll more than likely find “fart in a bottle.”

Since Billy Beane took over in 1998, the A’s have traditionally had a no-name roster chockfull of budding stars – once they become stars, they’re traded to the Braves, Cardinals, Orioles, Diamondbacks, Nippon Ham Fighters or whoever. This has been a process that has worked out quite nicely for the A’s as they’ve been in and out of the playoffs over the last fifteen years - but it should be noted that they haven’t had a World Series appearance to show for it.

Yoenis Cepedes will headline the A’s offense in 2013. In his first year stateside, Cepedes flirted with .300 while hitting 23 bombs. He was runner-up in Rookie of the Year votes and got some MVP buzz. I expect him to build on a very successful 2012 campaign as he becomes more comfortable playing in the big leagues.

Cepedes will be flanked by Josh Reddick, Brandon Moss, Coco Crisp and (fancy seeing you here) Jed Lowrie. Reddick is an interesting case as he hit .242 with 32 homeruns in 2012. He’s one of those guys who could repeat this performance or fall off the face of the Earth – who really knows because he doesn’t exactly have a track record for success?

The Oakland A’s are going to live and die by their young, unheralded pitching staff. I’m not quite sure if this is a “The Big Three: Part Two,” but this is a staff that is definitely the best since Hudson, Mulder and Zito.

While I expect Tommy Milone and Jarrod Parker to put together nice seasons, I am very interested to see the numbers Brett Anderson puts forth as Oakland’s ace. Anderson, who has had a run of injuries derailing his young career, looks healthy and primed to bounce back. I’m confident that he’ll be every bit of the player the A’s thought he’d be when they traded Dan Haren for him and Chris Carter.

85-77

Mariners
I don’t even know what to say about the Mariners other than I’m not sure there is a more boring team in baseball right now.

They’ll win a few, and they’ll lose a few and, at the end, no one will really care.

I won’t.

The Mariners can pretty much guarantee a win every fifth day provided their offense finds a way to score a run or two. But other than King Felix, there’s nothing particularly special about the Mariners’ roster this year.

Remember when Kendrys Morales was like, “no, I’m not Kendry, I’m Kendrys. It’s plural, bro, like multiple quintiles of Kendry.” That is confusing! And, it doesn’t even make sense – shouldn’t the plural of “Kendry” be “Kendries?”

Anyway, Kendries Morales will be the middle of the order bat they thought Justin Smoak would be. Michael Morse, via the most boring three-team trade ever, found his way to the Great Northwest and has the capability to hit Maxwellian-esque homeruns. Plus the Mariners have a lot of young talent in their line-up, guys like Dustin Ackley and Michael Saunders could show some improvement in 2013 while Jesus Montero is a legitimate budding star.

We’ve established that Felix Hernandez is the best player on the team and everyone who is anyone has already commented on the fact that he makes more money than the entire Astros roster – whatevs. After King Felix, the Mariners plan to trot out Joe Saunders, Blake Beavan and a Japanese fellow whose name escapes me. Brandon Maurer will man the fifth spot and they have a truckload of pitching in the minors that will likely get a shot at some point in the season.

The Mariners have done a decent job of rebuilding their team, and they’re further along in the process than where the Astros are. I expect they’ll flirt with .500 for a while and then tail off into the L column.

77-85 

…And The Rest of the League?
NL East - Braves
NL Central - Cardinals
NL West - Dodgers
NL Wild Card - Nationals
NL Wild Card - Giants
AL East - Blue Jays
AL Central - Tigers
AL West - Angels
AL Wild Card - Rays
AL Wild Card - Rangers

World Series – Nationals over Tigers 

The “Cool Kids” Table
AL MVP - Evan Longoria
NL MVP - Bryce Harper
AL Cy Young - Justin Verlander
NL Cy Young - Craig Kimbrel
AL Rookie of the Year - Aaron Hicks
NL Rookie of the Year - Shelby Miller 

Astros Break Out Star
Chris Carter.

When the Astros dealt Jed Lowrie to the A’s in February, they had high hopes for the three players they got back in the deal. While Brad Peacock has looked good in Spring Training, most of the buzz around the three centers on Chris Carter. Carter has power for days and showed last year that, at 26, he’s still an intriguing prospect.

…And, in 2013, I expect him to break out and have a strong offensive season.

Likely in LF, I expect Carter to cut down on his strikeouts (although he hasn’t shown signs of doing that so far in Spring Training) and continue to put up power numbers.  

Team MVP
Jason Castro

Castro is going to do a lot of little things that might go unrecognized in 2013. He’ll put up decent offensive numbers and will provide quality defense behind the plate. However, his real value is going to be how he handles the Astros’ hodgepodge pitching staff. Will he be able to help Bedard and Humber revive their careers? Will he help Peacock and White get their heads on straight? Will he keep doing whatever he was doing that had Lucas Harrell playing on ace status? He’s got a lot of responsibility with this pitching staff, and I think he’ll prove to be a vital part of this staff’s success.

At the end of the year, folks will be talking about Jose Altuve or Lucas Harrell or whomever… but if the Astros pitching staff plays well-above expectations, Jason Castro will deserve some of the credit. 

Shocking, But This Guy Stays on the Roster All Year
Brandon Barnes.

Barnes has shown that he can handle centerfield until a better option comes along. This spring, he’s hit, and he’s played outstanding defense. While I expect Maxwell to get the nod on Opening Day, I will not be surprised to see his playing time diminish in lieu of Barnes’ superior play. 

We Hardly Knew Ye
Carlos Pena

I can’t imagine how Pena will manage to stay on the team this year – at least not for the full season. With Wallace and Carter already on the club and Laird and Singleton stewing in Oklahoma City, Pena has a lot of competent competition behind him on the depth chart.

I fully expect Jon Singleton to make his debut this summer and, if the Astros are still trying to figure out what to do with Wallace, Pena will be traded or released. 

Looks who is back!
Nolan Ryan.

No, not really.

Nolan Ryan might quit his job with the Rangers, but I don’t imagine there is a position waiting for him with the Astros. I can’t imagine Jim Crane wanting to cede any power to Ryan and I think that’s what Ryan wants – power.

The Houston Sports Counterplot’s Top 10 Prospects
1.) Jonathan Singleton
2.) Carlos Correa
3.) DeLino DeShields Jr
4.) Mike Foltynewicz
5.) George Springer
6.) Jarred Cosart
7.) Lance McCullers
8.) Robbie Grossman
9.) Domingo Santana
10.) Jonathan Villar

Here’s an article written by Jayne from What The Heck, Bobby? that speaks to some of the guys in the minor league system who have something to prove. And, here’s another that’s about the minor league pitching philosophy that Jeff Luhnow plans to espouse in 2013. 

So, Who Are These Guys?
Change is not always a bad thing. As a matter of fact, considering that this is an organization that has lost 213 games in the last two years, it would be an understatement to suggest that change is preferred. Change is needed! When the Astros trot out on the field on Sunday, we’re going to see a collection of new faces and much newer faces.

The Astros are an assemblage of players at different points in their career. They have prospects looking to show they’re worth the hype, under-the-radar rookies who want to make a name for themselves and older cast offs who are looking to reclaim their careers. The Astros have grizzled old veterans like Jose Altuve, 22, and wet-behind-the-ears rooks like Chris Carter, 26. And even a guy who has pitched a perfect game.  

The Astros youth movement has taken a slight detour at the big league level as guys like Philip Humber, Erik Bedard, Carlos Pena, Rick Ankiel and Ronny Cedeno figure to register a significant amount of playing time. I don’t necessarily have a problem with veterans fending off prospects because 1.) The Astros should field the best team possible and 2.) There is absolutely no need to rush prospects unless they’re ready to contribute.

Either way, the big league roster is going to be significantly different at the end of the season than what we’ll see at the beginning of the season. I’m expecting maybe 12-13 guys who are on the roster now will not be around when we get to September – maybe more. There will be a flurry of trades, demotions and releases.

There are a few core guys who’ll manage to stick around for this year and beyond, but understand that this organization has a lot of talent coming up from the farm and change isn’t always a bad thing. 

Opening Day: The line-up
2B – Jose Altuve
            Prediction: .285/10/59
Altuve, an all-star last year, has emerged as the face of the franchise in 2013. I expect he’ll continue to improve, he’ll take a few more walks and he’ll load up on doubles and triples. In my opinion, he’s the only known quantity the Astros have.

Who plays in September? Jose Altuve

1B – Brett Wallace
            Prediction: .265/18/66
Wallace is the most frustrating guy on the team. There is no debate that he’s a talented player, but whether he’s able to put it all together is a different story. I think batting second will be an ideal spot for Wallace because I think he’ll cut down on strikeouts and get on base. He’s a guy that, if he’s able to put it all together, can flirt with .300 and lead the league in doubles. …that won’t happen. But I expect Wallace to put together a very nice season splitting time between first, third and DH.

Who plays in September? Jonathan Singleton

DH – Carlos Pena
            Prediction: .250/8/30
Pena is what he is. He’s a stopgap until Singleton is ready and insurance in case Wallace can’t hit. The best-case scenario for Pena, would be to put together solid numbers and get dealt to a contender. I’m not convinced he’ll be able to do it – if he starts out sluggish, don’t be shocked if he gets DFA’ed and is replaced by Brandon Laird.

Who plays in September? Brett Wallace

CF – Justin Maxwell
            Prediction: .225/25/74
I’m putting the line at .240 for Maxwell. If he hits anywhere below that, you won’t be seeing his smiling face across Astros billboards next off-season. He might hit the ball 450ft, but if he can’t connect more often and cannot show an ability to get on base, he’ll find himself on the bench or off the team. If given a full season, Justin Maxwell could very easily lead the league in strikeouts. Will his massive power numbers be enough to compensate for his inability to get on base?

Who plays in September? Brandon Barnes

RF – Rick Ankiel
            Prediction: .260/19/45
I’m thrilled that Ankiel is going to make the team this year. Downright giddy! He’s done everything the team has asked him to do and more. He’s going to play solid defense, put up decent numbers and fend off prospects. That being said, Ankiel could play himself out of Houston and onto the bench of a contender. Having a guy like Ankiel will be monumental in establishing a professional culture amongst the greenhorns.

Who plays in September: Fernando Martinez/Robbie Grossman

LF – Chris Carter
            Prediction: .257/31/90
I’m picking Chris Carter to have a very nice year. Carter will hit for power as I predict he’ll take advantage of the short porch in left.

Who plays in September? Chris Carter

C – Jason Castro
            Prediction: .265/21/71
I think this is the year that Jason Castro shows that he’s a legitimate big league ball player. After a strong Spring Training and a solid second half of 2012, I’m predicting that Castro emerges as one of the better catchers in baseball. Castro’s health is going to be a concern, but I’m banking on him registering a healthy 120 games behind the plate in 2013. I believe that Castro will show great improvements offensively while providing defensively reliability. In my opinion, this is Castro’s year to take the reins and assert himself as one of the club’s leaders.

Who plays in September? Jason Castro

3B – Matt Dominguez
            Prediction: .251/19/68
Matty D was traded to Houston for Carlos Lee. It is one thing to find a willing partner to take Carlos Lee off your hands, it is another to get something valuable back in return. Matt Dominguez is a Gold Glove caliber third baseman that the Marlins’ foolishly traded away in July of last year. Dominguez is going to play spectacular defense in 2013, but he will show significant deficiencies at the plate. Dominguez’s glove will keep him in the big leagues, but I imagine if he struggles too much at the plate, Brandon Laird will be close by to pick up the slack. I’m predicting that Dominguez’s bat will be just enough to keep him from demotion. …I expect his offensive numbers to improve as the season moves along.

Who plays in September? Matt Dominguez

SS – Ronny Cedeno
            Prediction .248/5/42
Cedeno arrived in Houston after being let go by the Cardinals because Marwin Gonzalez and Tyler Greene showed that they could not be trusted to handle shortstop. This is not a glowing endorsement for anyone. I really like the Cedeno signing, though – not because I think Cedeno is going to be a valuable piece to the puzzle, but I do think Cedeno provides a better option than the two guys he beat out. Cedeno is a guy who has played with a handful of organizations and he understands his role with the club. In my opinion, he’s not likely to stay with the Astros throughout the season and will likely give way to a Villar/Gonzalez platoon towards the end of the season.

Who plays in September? Jonathan Villar 

The Bench
Carlos Corporon
Fernando Martinez
Brandon Barnes
Marwin Gonzalez 

The Rotation
Bud Norris
            Prediction: 4-7/3.68/105
I think Bud’s a goner. This is a shame because Norris is an absolute treasure on 1560 The Game. The stats I predicted for Bud will be stats he’s accumulated at the time he’s dealt… probably to the Cardinals or Giants. In 2013, Bud is going to be a lot better than what he was in 2012. He’s going to get a lot of tough luck and lose a few games he should win, but, ultimately, he’ll be shipped off to greener pastures before the trade deadline.

Lucas Harrell
            Prediction: 12-10/3.65/132
If Harrell remains on the team, which I think he will, he’ll put up numbers comparable to what he put up last year. The offenses are better in the American League, but I think Harrell is going to be a better pitcher this year than he was last year, and he’ll assert himself as the ace of this staff. My only concern with Harrell is that he might get traded if Jeff Luhnow finds a team that wants him bad enough.

Philip Humber
            Prediction: 3-8/5.30/75
Humber had a very strong Spring Training, but I do not think it will translate into the regular season. I am predicting Humber to struggle significantly and be given a lot of chances before he’s removed from the starting rotation and given the Nelson Figueroa treatment.

Brad Peacock
            Prediction: 10-12/4.11/153
I think Peacock is going to be a very nice pitcher for the Astros this year. He’ll have his ups and downs, he’ll frustrate fans, but he’ll put up decent numbers and remain in the rotation throughout the year. I predict that Peacock will lead the team in strikeouts and rack up double digit wins for the rebuilding Astros.

Erik Bedard
            Prediction: 5-5/4.01/75
Bedard is the third pitcher who I think will start the year with the Astros but finish elsewhere. However, unlike Humber, I think Bedard is going to show a lot of value and get dealt before the deadline.

Rotation in September: Harrell, Peacock, Alex White, Jarred Cosart, John Ely 

The bullpen
Alex White (long relief, spot starter)
Rhiner Cruz (set-up)
Jose Veras (closer)
Wesley Wright (loogy)
Josh Fields
Hector Ambriz
Xavier Cedeno 

25 Astros = Alex Rodriguez
If this were The Oregon Trail, Jim Crane’s wagon would be travelling on “meager” status and Jose Altuve would have already died of Dysentery. The Astros payroll is super light this year – I mean, it is the dollar menu of Major League Baseball. The Astros roster often sits in the passenger side of their best friend’s ride, tryin’ to holler at the New York Yankees.

Jim Crane is a modern-day Cheap Pete ordering a rum lifesaver and a glass of water at the bar.

And, as you’ve already heard from ESPN, CBS, NBC, ABC, AARP, NWA and BBW, Alex Rodriguez will make more money than the entire Astros roster in 2013. Isn’t that an amazing factoid that should embarrass the most proud Astros fan? But, I have to wonder, whom on the Astros would you replace A-Rod with? Should the Astros be jealous of the fact that the Yankees are paying A-Rod a ridiculous $28,000,000 to hit .270 and spend most of the year on the disabled list? 

I get it. We should feel dumb for being Astros fans – whatever. But, don’t throw A-Rod in our faces as if having him on the team would be some kind of badge of honor 

A-Rod sucks.

How will the Astros do in 2013?
This is going to be a tough assignment – to pick how the Astros will do in 2013. There are so many unknowns that it is damn near impossible to predict how things will transpire. Will Justin Maxwell strikeout 300 times? Will he hit 40 homeruns? Will Lucas Harrell show that 2012 wasn’t a fluke and come out pitching like the Astros’ ace? Is Chris Carter who we hope he’ll be? Who the hell is Hector Ambriz? Can the duality of Brett Wallace coexist with itself? Will Wallace figure out a way to wire his head and his ass together before Bo Porter takes a giant sh!# on him?

If the Astros win 100 or lose 100, will anyone even notice or care because they’re not on TV?

I have no idea.

But we’re not hopeless. There is reason for hope in 2013. The Astros aren’t fielding a club full of zeroes in 2013. No! No! My friend, there is reason for hope. There is reason to believe that Chris Carter will have a breakout year and that Jason Castro will stay healthy. There is reason to believe that Jose Altuve can lead the league in doubles and that Brett Wallace can show the world that he’s an everyday player. There’s reason to believe that Brad Peacock and Alex White can hold down the middle of the rotation for years to come. There is reason to believe that Jose Altuve will not be the only Astros all-star in 2013. There’s reason to believe this because there is legitimate potential on the 2013 Houston Astros.

But, still, I’m picking them to finish in last.

My suggestion: don’t get too caught up in the wins and losses. Watch this team grow and get better. Cheer for the little things! The details!

If you have CSN Houston, watch the games.

Read what the newspaper and blogs are saying. Read Astros County, The Crawfish Boxes, Farmstros, What The Heck Bobby?, Climbing Tal’s Hill, Whiskers on a Stache, and Tales From the Juice Box. Follow Trei Bundrett, Lee Street and listen to what Sean Pendergast has to say on 1560. You need to follow Mike Fast.

This team will improve throughout the year. They’ll get better. They’ll play fundament baseball under Bo Porter, and they’re going to hustle. They’re going to fight, and they’re going to make us proud to be Astros fans again.

And they’re going to win a few more games than they did last year.

And they won’t be the worst team in the league.

And, next off-season, they will not be the butt of any jokes.

69-93

 
13 notes

Posted at 10:10am

 


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