The worst team in the MLB last season is the first to be previewed for TSHQ. Over the next two months I will cover every team’s strengths and weaknesses, look at some potential impact prospects, and project how each team should fare during the 2012 season.
For the Houston Astros, they can only go up. The worst team in the league (record wise) is preparing to play their last season in the National League before they join the American League West in 2013. To put it nicely, if they plan on making the playoffs anytime soon they better move quickly.
Projected Position Players
C – Jason Castro (Backup: Humberto Quintero, Chris Snyder)
1B – Carlos Lee (Backup: Brett Wallace)
2B – Jose Altuve (Backup: Matt Downs)
3B – Jimmy Paredes (Backup: Chris Johnson)
SS – Jed Lowrie (Backup: Marwin Gonzalez)
LF – J.D. Martinez (Backup: Jack Cust)
CF – Jordan Schafer (Backup: Fernando Martinez)
RF – Brian Bogusevic (Backup: Jason Bourgeios)
This roster is young and is a bit of a hodgepodge of other organizations former top prospects. Jordan Schafer was acquired from the Braves at the deadline in exchange for Michael Bourn. While he was unable to break into Atlanta’s lineup he will have multiple opportunities (possibly years) to establish himself in Houston. Much like Schafer, Jed Lowrie joins the Astros after coming over from the Red Sox in exchange for reliever Mark Melancon. Lowire has showed plenty of potential in the past but to say he is injury prone would be putting it lightly. If Lowrie could stay healthy he could give the Astros a middle of the order hitter to stabilize their lineup. When Chris Johnson first broke into the Astros lineup two years ago, it seemed as though Houston had found a building block for years to come. Instead, Johnson wasted his 2011 campaign and now has to win a job at third base or else he will become nothing more than a utility bat at most.
This lineup’s inexperience will likely be their downfall. To put it nicely, the Astros are a AAA team playing at the major league level. J.D. Martinez is projected to be this team’s big bat but at age 24 and with only 208 plate appearances under his belt, this season will be more or less a learning experience. There’s not much more to say other than this roster just needs to stack up against other major league teams in order to judge where they are truly at before they make any major decisions.
Projected Pitching Rotation & Bullpen
SP -Wandy Rodriguez, Brett Meyers, J.A. Happ, Bud Norris, Henry Sosa, Kyle Weiland, Livan Hernandez
RP – Wilton Lopez, Fernando Rodriguez, David Carpenter, Wesley Wright
CL – Brandon Lyon
J.A. Happ has shown flashes solid pitching during his time in Philadelphia, which was enough for the Astros to send them Hunter Pence for his services. Prior to last season, Happ went down with an injury and was unable to establish himself in their rotation. This season he could well develop into their number one depending on whether or not Wandy Rodriguez is on payroll come August. The bullpen is young, and there are teams with much worse options at closer than Brandon Lyon (who is also coming off of injury).
Out of every starting pitcher on the roster, none finished with a record above .500 last season. Rodriguez was the only one at .500 with an 11-11 record. While the bullpen is decent, they will be overworked as this is one of the worst rotations in the majors. In addition to Lowrie, Kyle Weiland came over from Boston in the Melancon deal. The half year he spent in the AL East should prove helpful as he faces less dominant lineups in the NL Central. Still, during his time spent on the Sox, he looked like a shaky number five at best.
Anything better than last place in the NL Central will be a moral victory for this young club. Luckily for the Astros, they have two players many clubs are interested in trading for: Carlos Lee and Wandy Rodriguez. Since this team is rebuilding, they can holdout as long as they would like before trading either of these players in hopes of getting the best package back in return Based on their prior trades (Lance Berkman for Mark Melancon; Pence for Happ; Bourn for Schafer; Melancon for Lowrie/Weiland) they seem to get underwhelming value for some of their better players. For Lee, they will likely have to eat a large portion of his contract in any deal involving El Caballo. Rodriguez, though, should bring in at least one potential major league ready player. Needless to say, this team has a long way to go.