StrategyFebruary 13, 2012

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30 Teams in 30 Days: Houston Astros - 3 comments

By R.J. White

This team preview comes with a warning. Parents, make sure your kids are out of the room before viewing this Astros team. Women who are pregnant or who could become pregnant may want to skip the Offensive Starters section altogether. The Fantasy Baseball Cafe is not responsible for any health conditions, injuries or deaths that occur from thinking about the Houston Astros projected starters in 2012.

This team has Astros fans longing for the good ol’ days of Hunter Pence and Michael Bourn squads, even if those teams posted losing records with regularity as well. I’d like to say that it’ll get better, but the Astros are slated to join the AL West in 2013, which likely means continued little brother status in the state of Texas, an unfair amount of Albert Pujols in their lives and potentially a 2024 movie about that one time they won like 20 games in a row. Does it get better than that? When’s football season start?

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 2012 fantasy baseball drafts.

Offensive Starters

C Jason Castro.205.286.28726280195in 2010
1B Carlos Lee.275.342.4466618944585 
2B Jose Altuve.276.297.357262127221 
SS Jed Lowrie.252.303.382406361309w/BOS
3B Jimmy Paredes.286.320.393162185168 
LF J.D. Martinez.274.319.423296350208 
CF Jordan Schafer.242.309.3154621322302w/2TM
RF Brian Bogusevic.287.348.457224154164 

Unsettled: Everyone. Seriously, the Astros have about 15 guys gunning for eight spots on offense. Chris Snyder and Humberto Quintero factor in at catcher with Castro still not 100 percent recovered from the litany of injuries that caused him to miss 2011. Brett Wallace is one of the five best hitters on this team, but he’s stuck behind Lee. Chris Johnson could rise from the dead at any time and reclaim third base. Jason Bourgeois is probably the most intriguing fantasy option on the offense, but he’ll have to win a regular job to be draft-worthy. Jack Cust was signed this offseason and could take ABs in right field. Nothing is set in stone in Houston.

Target: Jed Lowrie. And I use the term “target” loosely. It’s highly possible no Astros will be drafted in your fantasy mixed leagues this year (depending on the size and format), but Lowrie likely possesses the best blend of upside and positional impact. Even at his best, Carlos Lee isn’t cracking the top 20 1Bs in the game. Lowrie, however, has shown flashes of brilliance in Boston mixed in with long bouts of injury and mediocrity. He hit .281 with nine HRs in 171 at-bats in 2010; extrapolate that over a 500 at-bat season and he’s one of the better power options at the SS position. Of course, he’ll need to make massive gains against right-handers to do that, or find a way to play in a all-southpaw league. But for this team, this is the best you get.

The Rotation

Wandy Rodriguez (L)11-113.491.3116669191.0 
Brett Myers (R)7-144.461.3116057216.0 
Bud Norris (R)6-113.771.3317670186.0 
J.A. Happ (L)6-155.351.5413483156.1 
Jordan Lyles (R)2-85.361.42672694.0 

Unsettled: Rodriguez, Myers and Norris are locked into rotation spots (pending the trades that the Astros desperately want to make), leaving two starting roles open for competition. Happ and Lyles are the favorites despite pitching terribly in 2011. After a decent showing upon joining the club via trade in 2010, Happ took a huge step back last season. A former top prospect ranked No. 31 by last offseason, Lyles whiffed in his first shot with the big-league team and may need more seasoning. Livan Hernandez and Zach Duke were signed to minor-league deals this winter and could step in to either of these spots, or into spots vacated by trade. Kyle Weiland (shipped from Boston with Lowrie) is a darkhorse rotation candidate.

Target: Wandy Rodriguez and Bud Norris. Astros players generally have a stink about them when it comes to picking fantasy teams (for good reason), and that could cause these two solid pitchers to present great value in your drafts and auctions. Rodriguez has been solid across the board (ERA, WHIP, K/9, etc.) for each of the last four years, and his value would likely climb if traded to a contending club. Norris is a young gun who struck out more than a batter an inning in 2010 and came close to doing so again in 2011. He’s not going anywhere, as the club controls his rights until 2016, but even without high win totals, he’ll deliver plenty of positives in fantasy baseball this year.

The 8th and 9th Innings

Brandon Lyon (R)411.482.406513.1 
David Carpenter (R)12.931.48291327.2 
Wilton Lopez (R)02.791.27561871.0 

Chasing Saves: Surgery shut Brandon Lyon down early last year, which was great for the team, as he had been performing terribly anyway. It allowed Mark Melancon to establish himself as a quality reliever and then allowed the team to deal him for two young, potential starters in Lowrie and Weiland. That doesn’t make Lyon any better, but he is the current favorite to open the season as the closer. Avoid drafting him, as he likely doesn’t have the chops to keep the job long-term. That could go to Carpenter, who was fantastic in the minors before his solid debut season. Lopez was expected to get a shot at the role last year when Lyon went down before Melancon’s emergence, and he could factor in as a candidate as well. Long-term, Henry Sosa (10 starts last year) may be the answer.

Final Thoughts

Perhaps no team screams “Stay away” to fantasy owners quite like the Astros. Those in mixed leagues would be wise to avoid the whole offense and to only target Rodriguez and Norris on the pitching side. Anything short of an amazing spring has me avoiding Lyon, even in the last round of the draft. I could see myself ending up with Lowrie if I wait till the end of my drafts to fill my MI position, and if Bourgeois wins a starting job, I’m intrigued. Could he be Houston’s next Michael Bourn? Astros fans need something to get excited about, and it sure isn’t joining Albert Pujols in the American League West in 2013.

Check back tomorrow as we continue rolling through the league.

R.J. White is the head editor at the Cafe, writes for FanDuel and Razzball and has previously written for FanHouse. Catch up with him in the forums under the name daullaz. Follow him on Twitter; don't follow him in real life.
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3 Responses to “30 Teams in 30 Days: Houston Astros”

  1. IndyPostman says:

    I honestly can’t think of a team more bereft of decent offensive options than this one in recent memory. 60 wins won’t be easy. Having said that, I wonder if Altuve offers anything for the end of a draft, at least in dynasty leagues. Really hit in the minors, and may offer a little speed and power for a 2B.

  2. B-Chad says:

    Really good article R.J. Regarding Brett Wallace, the talk now is that the are going to try him at his college position again, third base. That makes a trio of bad body, bad glove first to third conversions (M-Cab, Trumbo, and Wallace). As IndyPostman alluded to, Altuve might not be a bad MI option in large mixed leagues. He won’t offer more than a handful of home runs, but he makes a lot of hard contact and could offer a high average with stolen bases (Astros let him run… and with their lack of offense would be wise to continue to let him run). His inability to walk and poor OBP won’t really hurt fantasy gamers. David Carpenter is my pick to click in the ninth for the Astros. I’ll probably nab him in the last couple rounds of a few drafts. Lopez doesn’t look terrible, but does it in the unconventional Matt Capps kind of way inducing groundballs and throwing strikes, instead of striking guys out. I’m of the opinion that Lyon gets less than 5 saves this year reading some quotes that the job is up in the air. Another name to add to the ninth inning duties list of candidates is Juan Abreu. Live arm, erratic as hell, but premium velocity and he misses bats.

  3. User avatar daullaz says:

    Great additional info, Josh. Thanks!


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