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.
|C Jason Castro||.205||.286||.287||26||2||8||0||195||in 2010|
|1B Carlos Lee||.275||.342||.446||66||18||94||4||585|
|2B Jose Altuve||.276||.297||.357||26||2||12||7||221|
|SS Jed Lowrie||.252||.303||.382||40||6||36||1||309||w/BOS|
|3B Jimmy Paredes||.286||.320||.393||16||2||18||5||168|
|LF J.D. Martinez||.274||.319||.423||29||6||35||0||208|
|CF Jordan Schafer||.242||.309||.315||46||2||13||22||302||w/2TM|
|RF Brian Bogusevic||.287||.348||.457||22||4||15||4||164|
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.
|Wandy Rodriguez (L)||11-11||3.49||1.31||166||69||191.0|
|Brett Myers (R)||7-14||4.46||1.31||160||57||216.0|
|Bud Norris (R)||6-11||3.77||1.33||176||70||186.0|
|J.A. Happ (L)||6-15||5.35||1.54||134||83||156.1|
|Jordan Lyles (R)||2-8||5.36||1.42||67||26||94.0|
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 MLB.com 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)||4||11.48||2.40||6||5||13.1|
|David Carpenter (R)||1||2.93||1.48||29||13||27.2|
|Wilton Lopez (R)||0||2.79||1.27||56||18||71.0|
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.
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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