StrategyFebruary 14, 2011

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30 Teams in 30 Days: Houston Astros

By rangerfan28

The Houston Astros roster is like the Sahara Desert from the standpoint of fantasy baseball assets as we enter the 2011 season.  Their dismal 2010 campaign exposed the roster as old and fragile and so another year of struggles looks to be in the offing.  Be that as it may, there are still some useful fantasy commodities that deserve attention, so don’t glance over the roster based on their overall team strength.

In “30 Teams in 30 Days,” the Fantasy Baseball Cafe will preview each team in Major League Baseball on a daily basis. In addition to projecting starting lineups, rotations and closing situations, the Cafe will identify potential targets for 2011 fantasy baseball drafts.
Offensive Starters

C Jason Castro.205.286.28726280195 
1B Brett Wallace.222.296.319142130144 
2B Jeff Keppinger.288.351.393626594514 
SS Clint Barmes.235.305.351438503387w/COL
3B Chris Johnson.308.337.4814011523341 
LF Carlos Lee.246.291.4176724893605 
CF Michael Bourn.265.341.3468423852535 
RF Hunter Pence.282.325.46193259118614 

Unsettled:  Brett Wallace will be given the first crack at the first base job but if he struggles early, Carlos Lee will shift over there from left field with Jason Bourgeois or Jason Michaels taking over for Lee.  Bill Hall was brought in from Boston where he contributed some surprising pop and he could push Jeff Keppinger, who is pretty much an empty batting average, at second base.
Target:  There are slim pickings here, but Hunter Pence is quietly one of the better all around fantasy baseball players at his position.  Pence is still young enough where he could raise his game another level, and at bare minimum he should be good for 25 homers with 15 steals and a .285 average.  Sounds good to me.  Michael Bourn is strictly good for just runs and steals, but he does both exceptionally well. Lee figures to rebound some due to the fact he had a very low BABIP last season, which hurt his average.  Chris Johnson is also a person of interest since 3B is so shallow, but he has major holes in his swing and benefited from a very high BABIP. He should have a much lower average this season.
The Rotation
Wandy Rodriguez (L)11-123.601.2917868195 
Brett Myers (R)14-83.141.2418066223.2 
Bud Norris (R)9-104.921.4815877153.2 
J.A. Happ (L)6-43.401.37704772w/2T
Nelson Figueroa (R)2-13.291.27733493w/2T
Ryan Rowland-Smith (L)1-106.751.694944109.1w/SEA

Unsettled:The back end of the rotation will have a battle between Figueroa and Rowland-Smith for the No. 5 spot.  Neither guy is worth pursuing in fantasy baseball for this season.
Target: Despite the team’s overall poor play, every one of the top four starters has fantasy baseball value.  Wandy Rodriguez has the highest value due to a very good K-rate along with a good ERA.  Norris, Myers, and Happ all have fourth or fifth starter appeal for leagues as well.
The 8th and 9th Innings
Brandon Lyon (R)203.121.27543178 
Wilton Lopez (R)12.961.0650567 

Chasing Saves: Lyon did a nice job after inheriting the closer’s role from the struggling Matt Lindstrom last season, and he will be given every chance to run with it this season.  We all know that Lyon’s stuff is not the classic closer’s arsenal, as he lacks upside in the strikeout department.  If anything derails Lyon, Wilton Lopez figures to step in, as the youngster had a very nice campaign last season.
Final Thoughts
The Astros have one of the worst offenses in the game and that will likely overshadow what is a decent starting pitching staff.  This team won’t be in the playoff hunt and could decide to move players at the trade deadline.  All in all, it won’t be good.
Check back tomorrow for our look at the Milwaukee Brewers.

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