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.
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.
Yes, that AARP.