Houston Astros 2010 Season Preview

Leading up to the start of the 2010 Regular Season, Diamond Hoggers will preview each of MLB’s 30 teams. Today’s team is the Houston Astros. Stay tuned as Diamond Hoggers will preview every team division by division until the start of the regular season.
This is my most hated team in big league baseball. It’s my most hated team in sports. Nobody through the years has been less fun to see come to town for me then the Houston Astros. They’ve really never had anyone I enjoyed.
From the days of guys like Eric Yelding and Eric Anthony, to the days of Derek Bell, Mike Hampton, Biggio, Bagwell, and Berkman. To even the days of present with well, Berkman, Roy Oswalt, and Hunter Pence.
They always seem to have the Reds number. They’re good enough always be relevant or in the mix. They always avoid a total collapse.
This won’t be the year they finish in the cellar. It just won’t. They’ll trot out their headliner Lance Berkman for at least one more year in 2010. He’s got an option after the season for $11.5 million dollars so it’s not known if he’ll be back after. But expect him to leave with a bang. Around him in the lineup will be outfielders Michael Bourn, Pence, and Carlos Lee.
From there the infield will be comprised of a less than intimidating group. Not counting Berkman, you’ve got Kazuo Matsui (second base), Tommy Manzella (shortstop), and Pedro Feliz (third base). The catcher will be J.R. Towles.
The bench isn’t spectacular but isn’t bad. The most notable reserves are Jeff Keppinger, Geoff Blum, and Jason Michaels.
The starting rotation is where we learn if this team can sink or swim. Roy Oswalt is aging fast, but on any given night he can still be one of the best pitchers in baseball. If the Astros fall out things big time by July, don’t be surprised if he’s dangled in trade talks. He returns as the ace and as an automatic win facing the Cincinnati Reds about 5-6 times a year.
The #2 guy in the rotation is the ace of the future, Wandy Rodriguez. Rodriguez is a left-handed pitcher with nasty stuff; if he gets the run support he could easily put up an 18-10 type of season and emerge as the new ace of the staff as early as this year.
The #3 is going to be newly-acquired Brett Myers. Myers is only 29, but he’s been in the big leagues since 2002 and he’s coming off a hip injury that ended his run with the Phillies. The thing that’s important to remember here is that at his age he could still have a season that’s Cy Young in numbers. We believe that he’s still got one of those type seasons left in him. We’ll see how he recovers from injury and adjusts to Houston this season.
The rotation is rounded out by two youngsters in Bud Norris and Felipe Paulino.
In the bullpen you’ve got names like Brandon Lyon, Matt Lindstrom, Tim Byrdak, Brian Moehler, Chris Sampson, Alberto Arias, and Jeff Fulchino.
One would look at this group and say the Astros should be happy to win 75 games and not finish in last place in the NL Central. But we’re telling you right now, it won’t happen. Every team in the NL Central except for St. Louis has a greater chance of finishing last (and possibly finishing first). What you’re going to get is a team who wins 78-80 ballgames and is generally pretty pesky and streaky at different points in the season. It won’t be a season to remember, unless it’s in terms of Lance Berkman and Roy Oswalt being dealt.
And I’ll still hate them just as much as always.