2012 season preview: Houston Astros

astrosI am going to tell you something that will shock you: the Houston Astros are not a very good team. They weren’t a very good team last year (especially after trading Michael Bourn and Hunter Pence), and they’re especially not good this season. The lineup is mostly made up of prospects from their own weak farm system, failed prospects from other organizations, and Carlos Lee. This is not the path to success.

Astros on TOC
End of Season Postmortem
Top Ten Prospects
You May Say I’m a Dreamer

Depth Chart (3/20)
C: Jason Castro
1B: Carlos Lee 
2B: Jose Altuve
SS: Jed Lowrie
3B: Jimmy Paredes
LF: JD Martinez
CF: Jordan Schafer
RF: Brian Bogusevic
SP: Wandy Rodriguez
SP: Bud Norris
SP: JA Happ
SP: Livan Hernandez
SP: Jordan Lyles
CL: Brett Myers

New Faces
New shortstop Jed Lowrie (and rotation candidate Kyle Wieland) came over from the Red Sox in exchange for Mark Melancon. The team signed journeyman starter Livan Hernandez to eat innings. Chris Snyder was brought in to back up and mentor Jason Castro behind the plate. The Astros also signed former top Mets prospect Fernando Martinez, and strikeout king Jack Cust. There’s also a new general manager in the fold, with Jeff Luhnow replacing Ed Wade.

Melancon was dealt to Boston, and the team got decent value in return. A pair of bench players, Humberto Quintero and Jason Bourgeois, were dealt to the Royals this week. Middle infielder Clint Barmes signed with the Pirates, and bench outfielder Jason Michaels signed with the Nationals.

Impact Rookies
While Houston has a lot of young players in their lineup, none are really rookies after using up their eligibility last season. JB Shuck, currently slated for the bench, could earn some playing time in the outfield. Reliver Juan Abreu could also get called up into the major league bullpen sooner rather than later.

Position Battles
Brett Wallace appears to be in an odd place right now, with Paredes having more talent than him at third base, and Carlos Lee and his massive contract blocking him at first base. Wieland is currently on the outside looking in at the rotation, but should be there before the end of the season. The same situation is befalling Aneury Rodriguez.

Injury Concerns
Everyone is healthy….for now.

Burning Question
How is Brett Myers going to respond for being moved into the closer’s role for the first time since 2007?

Best Case
Everything goes perfectly right for the Astros, and they finish in fourth or fifth place. Any higher than that seems impossible.

Worst Case
All of their young players show why they’re not top prospects, and all of the veterans look over the hill as Houston loses 110 games.

Realistic Prediction
This is probably your last place team in the AL Central, and I don’t think anything will be able to stop that. If the Astros escape the cellar, it will be a miracle.

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Joe Lucia

About Joe Lucia

I'm the managing editor of Awful Announcing and the news editor of The Comeback. I also made The Outside Corner a thing for six seasons.