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We at Razzball realize that exporting our views across the country has damaging consequences on the blogosphere. To help make amends, we are reaching out to leading team blogs and featuring their locally blogged answers to pressing 2009 fantasy baseball questions regarding their team. We feel this approach will be fresher, more sustainable, and require less energy consumption (for us anyway). The 2009 Astros Fantasy Baseball Preview comes courtesy of Crawfish Boxes.

1) I see Wandy Rodriguez for 2009 and I think underrated breakout.  Most people read that and think, “Grey’s drinking again.”  What do you think?

Wandy is the proverbial axis on which the Astros’ 2009 season spins. Fortunately, I agree with you that he’s going to have a breakout-type season. Over the course of his career, Wandy’s ERA has dropped, while his strikeout and walk numbers have improved as well. That’s pretty good indication that the ERA improvements aren’t due to luck, but rather improved skill. Last season, Rodriguez was tremendous in 14 starts at home, compiling an ERA of 2.99, with a K:BB rate of nearly 4.00. Transferring his home success to road starts would be a great way to begin his rise to the upper echelons of starting pitchers. As always, health is issue number one with Wandy. The projectors don’t have much confidence in Rodriguez’ ability to pitch the entire season (none see him making 30 starts). If he is somehow able to defy the experts, his innings should be among the most effective in the NL.

2) A) J.R. Towles will fulfill the promise of 2008 in 2009.  B) No one can fill the void left by Brad Ausmus.  A or B and why?

Humberto Quintero appears to be the front runner to begin the season as the starting catcher, and…

J.R. Towles is in a battle with Lou Palmisano to make the major league roster. It appears that Towles’ future lies somewhere between his 2007 September, and his disastrous 2008 season (obviously).  I think the thing that a lot of people forget is that Towles pretty much skipped AAA when he was anointed the starting catcher prior to 2008.  He had a fairly strong showing at AAA Round Rock (.304/.370/.500) so I think he’s still got in him to fulfill some of that promise.  Whether he gets an opportunity to do that will depend largely on how Palmisano performs, because Assistant GM Bobby Heck drafted him when Heck was with the Brewers and will likely be loath to send him back if he’s not on the 25 man roster.

3) Usually, I throw in a question about prospects, but my depth charts seem to have a missing space where the Astros impact rookies for 2009 is supposed to be.  Is there anyone who is not on people’s radars that has a chance to break camp and make an impact with the club in 2009?

The Astros are in an unenviable position. Our aging roster is matched by a farm system that is nearly barren of impact talent at highest levels of the minor leagues. The minor leaguer who seems to have the best opportunity to break camp as a major leaguer is middle infielder Edwin Maysonet, a 27 year old middle infield prospect (if you can be a prospect at 27?). This article details the competition between Maysonet and another prospect, Tommy Manzella, to be Miguel Tejada’s backup at shortstop. Neither has extremely impressive statistics, but such is the plight of the 2009 Astros. Drew Sutton (2B/SS), Chris Johnson (3B) and Bud Norris (RP) are three more prospects to keep an eye on this season. Johnson smacked a home run in his spring debut, while Norris and Sutton were studly in the Arizona Fall League. Sutton slugged .611 in 108 ABs this past fall, while Norris’ 1.89 ERA in 20 IP (anchored by a 2.74 K:BB and a 9.45 K/9) was the cherry on top of a stellar AA season.

4) Can Tejada show a glimpse of his steroids glory in 2009?

Will Miguel Tejada perform like the perennial MVP candidate that he was in the early 2000s? No. Will Miguel Tejada perform like an above average shortstop, with better defensive range than people give him credit for? Yes. Miggy still swings at too many bad balls, and doesn’t have near the power he once did, but he should improve upon a SLG% of .415 in 2008. I think that this will be especially true if the “Does Miguel Tejada need more rest?” conundrum is ameliorated by giving him a few more off days. We looked into that a little bit this off season, and rest did seem to indicate better SLG. Couple that with a BA of above .280, and Tejada is still a top ten shortstop.

5) For so many years, the Astros had the Killer B’s with Biggio and Bagwell.  Now they have Berkman and Oswalt, which is the Killer B.O. or the Killer O.B.  Neither connotes excitement.  Give me an acronym that best expresses your 2009 Astros.

A
A
R
P

Yes, that AARP.

29 Responses

  1. Grey and Rudy-

    Been reading all spring, love the site, FINALLY just had my 8 years running league draft this morning… what do you think of my team (and if you’re wondering how i took Wright 10th he was a keeper and so was Holliday). Any and all other comments welcome, strengths, weaknesses, Yahoo 12 team H2H league, daily transactions:

    1. (10) David Wright
    2. (15) Matt Holliday
    3. (34) Nick Markakis
    4. (39) Matt Kemp
    5. (58) Joey Votto
    6. (63) Troy Tulowitzki
    7. (82) Josh Beckett
    8. (87) James Shields
    9. (106) Adam Wainwright
    10. (111) Jay Bruce
    11. (130) Andre Ethier
    12. (135) Nelson Cruz
    13. (154) Pablo Sandoval
    14. (159) Robinson Canó
    15. (178) Chad Qualls
    16. (183) Brandon Lyon
    17. (202) Joel Hanrahan
    18. (207) Shin-Soo Choo
    19. (226) Chris Carpenter
    20. (231) Chien-Ming Wang
    21. (250) Colby Rasmus
    22. (255) Jeff Francoeur
    23. (274) Ryan Spilborghs
    24. (279) Kelly Shoppach
    25. (298) Mat Gamel
    26. (303) Jair Jurrjens

    i wanted soria, got sniped, then broxton, got sniped, i did end up with qualls, lyon, and hanarahanahannanan, one guys has Joe Nathan and thats it for closers, he autodrafted, only guy that got locked out due to comp probs, shoot for a deal?

    we have 10 hitting cats, 10 pitching cats, not gonna list all of them! thanks!

    -TY

  2. I think i got some GREAT late round value or mid round value shall i say? 26 rounds in a 12 teamer?

  3. Grey

    Grey says:
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    @Tony Y: Shoppach at 279? Cano at 159? Wang at 231? Jurrjens 303? These are insane. I’m not sure how much competition these other guys in the league are, but I think your team is very solid. Trade away closers if you can get a good deal, sure.

    EDIT: Typo. Word.

  4. thanks man… the league is actually very competitive, some guys just have different “theories”, one guy went pitching crazy and kept going, he took lince, hamels, webb, and haren!

    we have a 32 inning min each week too, so in the past pitching has taken a backseat to hitting, this year we swapped out CG sho’s for QS’s which should make it a little more valuable, but still…. my one buddy made fun of me for taking cano in the 14th! I was like dude you took Kendrick in the 12th or something!? and by the way wandy is on the WW i know you like him LOL

    Overall i feel pretty solid, on paper my team looks a little scary against others, but i know my guys upside is better than looking at other teams 2008 stats….

    thanks man

  5. Nick says:
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    Grey: I tried picking up Wright for A Ramirez from a Cubby fan but it failed as expected. Should I try again by offering him A Ramirez and J Lopez for Wright? He has F Lopez as his BN filler so maybe if I upgrade that with J Lopez he will bite…

    The only reason I’m looking at trading J Lopez is because I have A Gonzalez & Utley at 1B,2B so unless they get injured Lopez won’t get much use out of me. Plus my UT is Pena, Ibanez or T Hunter

    Last question: Target M Corpas as my 4th closer? (Have Jenks, Hanrahan, Devine). I would have to drop a Slowey or J Lopez for him…

  6. Grey

    Grey says:
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    @Nick: Sure, try again, but if you fail drop Slowey for Corpas. Don’t drop Lopez, he’ll be more worthwhile down the road.

  7. James says:
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    @Grey – I totally agree on Wandy (he reminds me of Ervin Santana); however, he is already hurt with one of those non-arm injuries that have plagued him in the past. I wonder if there is something they could tweak with his mechanics that could put less pressure on his core, which seems to always be hurting him. On the other hand, you might not want to mess with him because of the great points you mentioned. I don’t know – maybe some yoga?

  8. Grey

    Grey says:
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    @James: I still like Wandy if healthy, so you might have to discount him a little since he is injury-prone/injured. But if he were to stay healthy, he’d shoot up the rankings, so maybe it’s better he’s not healthy.

  9. I was happy to get Wand-Rod late in my draft as a 6th starter… if nothing else for streaming him in on his home starts when one of my other SPs has a bad matchup.

  10. BigFatHippo says:
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    @Grey: Just bought a laptop so I can keep up with my teams whereeva!!!!!!!!

    Is it safe to say I’ve become obsessed with fantasy baseball to a fault?

  11. Grey

    Grey says:
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    @BigFatHippo: If you bought the laptop for just fantasy baseball, then yeah prolly. But I’m sure you’ll work porn into the rotation.

  12. BigFatHippo says:
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    @Grey: Yes, I have a pornographic memory. You prolly forgot that.

    But now I can take my laptop into the bathroom, where there’s “Razzball, something to do between masturbation sessions”…………*

    *Matthew Berry does not endorse this comment.

  13. Juice says:
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    Grey, so did your Mom get the Soriano’s? My box came with a wrist guard…what did your box have inside? What current closers won’t have their job by end of April?

  14. Juice says:
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    Grey, points (keeper) league, here is my team I just drafted, please tell me if I should buy a trophy case or throw myself threw one…

    C – Iannetta, C – Hernandez, 1B – Votto, 2B – Roberts, 3B – Wright, SS – Drew, MI – Furcal, CI – Longoria, LF – Braun, CF – Sizemore, RF – Kemp, OF – Beltran, U – Encarnacion (who do you like better?)

    SP – Billingsley, SP – Shields, SP – Danks, SP – Slowey, SP – Parra, RP – Valverde, RP – F. Francisco, P – Carmona

    BN – Beltre, Iwamura, K. Johnson, Kouzmanoff, Headley, Lind, Morales, T. Snider, Dukes, S. Baker, Maholm, K. Gregg, Percival

    Minors – McCutchen, Rasmus

  15. Grey

    Grey says:
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    @Juice: No, but she has a sore knee. Street and Lindstrom.

    Buy yourself one.

  16. Juice says:
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    @ Grey: Leo Nunez taking the Marlins closing job then?

  17. Colin says:
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    Grey just to go off topic. I’m freaking out here. Braun’s injury has me majorly concerned. It’s the same side he injured last year that caused him to hit .200 in SEPT with 1 homer. I don’t want to have to worry about it. I can trade him now before our keepers are due in tomorrow night for Fielder. I can deal with Manny’s hamstring, but Braun’s style of hitting leaves him open to pulling that muscle again and again.

    Would you make the deal?

  18. Grey

    Grey says:
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    @Colin: Braun for Fielder? Sure, if you’re really concerned.

  19. Colin says:
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    Obviously when healthy Braun is more valuable, but with the intercostals being an important part of the swing do you think that risk is enough to justify the deal? Would you do it?

  20. Grey

    Grey says:
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    @Colin: I wouldn’t do it, because Braun could be out until May and still beat Fielder’s numbers, but if you’re worried it is your team. I’d hold tight though.

  21. Colin says:
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    My worry is it lingers all year…we saw how he hit with it in September. I appreciate the advice Grey. Thanks.

  22. Travis says:
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    Does Pudge have any value at all this year now that the Astros have signed him?

  23. Travis says:
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    @Grey: So the effect is more that Towles is also worthless in all likelihood?

  24. TEEJ says:
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    Hey, Funny stuff with the AARP. Do you mind if I post a link of this to my site?

  25. Grey

    Grey says:
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    @Travis: Yup, both are worhless.

    @TEEJ: Sure!

  26. DyingQuail from the Crawfish Boxes here…

    I just wanted to update what we said in the preview a little bit since there have been some significant changes made.

    First, with I-Rod as our catcher Towles is pretty much destined for a stint at AAA until 2010 or if Quintero proves an unpalatable option as our back-up catcher. Pudge should see a slight up tick in all his rate stats (especially BA and SLG), so should your league include OPS he’d be worth a late gamble, in my estimation.

    Wandy went down early in this Spring with a strained rib-cage muscle (intercostal on the left side, if memory serves me correctly). Our pitching coach, Dewy Robinson, claims to have figured out what it was mechanically that lead to the strain, and claims the fix will lead to increased command. If Wandy has better command I’d venture a guess at better WHIP and K numbers, and better peripheral rate stats all around; plus it could mean deeper innings and more starts if he’s healthy. It remains to be seen what the adjustments will do for Wandy, but he’d be a great late round sleeper since he probably will be ignored because of the early injury. Just expect the first week or two of the season to keep him on the bench until you can appraise him.

    With Boone out of the picture, it appears that 24, soon to be 25, year old Chris Johnson will get a look at 3B out of the gate and could be worthwhile in deeper NL-only leagues, or a keeper league if you have the bench space. I don’t think he’ll be a great AVG guy because of his K%, but could be a source of power if you play him against RHP because he has a much better platoon split against RHP than LHP. This is weird because he’s a RHB, but he’s definitely someone to keep an eye on should you be in need a 3B a few weeks in and you don’t mind the possible waiver claim.

    Sutton and Bogusevic are still guys to keep an eye on when Kaz Matsui goes down and should Bourn/Abercrombie fall flat on their faces heading into late-May, early-June.

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