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 2010 fantasy baseball questions regarding their team. We feel this approach will be fresher, more sustainable, and require less energy consumption (for us anyway). The 2010 Astros Fantasy Baseball Preview comes courtesy of Crawfish Boxes.
1) Brandon Lyon, Matt Lindstrom or Door Number 3?Â Who’s going to be the closer for the majority of 2010 and what kind of numbers do you see them putting up?
Despite the gaudy contract he just signed (3 yr/$15 million) I don’t think that Brandon Lyon will end up closing that many games for the Astros. He is, as much as I and fellow Astro fans may want to deny, a slightly above average relief pitcher. He if plenty good enough to be a solid set up man, but ill suited in my estimation to be our regular closer.
Matt Lindstrom entered 2009 as the gas tossing Marlin closer. After injuring himself at the World Baseball Classic, Lindstrom never achieved the sort of success in South Florida that the Fish would have liked. A year later, Lindstrom isn’t penciled in as the Astros’ closer, but he is in the running. A 100 mph fastball and a decent slider are what Lindstrom offers.
Bottom line though, Lindstrom has never finished a ML season as a closer, and Lyon has had mixed results in the role. Doors 3 (Alberto Arias), 4 (Jeff Fulchino), or 5 (Samuel Gervacio) may have to be opened by season’s end. This might not be a bad thing, however, as all five have their strong points and offer the Astros an enviable amount of depth at the back end of the bullpen.
2) In the last two weeks of 2009, J.R. Towles hit 2 homers and batted over .400.Â Before that, he was a Morganna-sized bust.Â Can he finally breakout in 2010?
Wow! A Morganna reference! I’m 24, so you’re lucky I caught the reference. Anyways, J.R. Towles has amassed a grand total of 234 major league at bats in his entire career. So, it’s pretty unfair to call him a bust. That being said, J.R. is an athletic catcher who is very capable of being a 10 HR/10 SB guy if given the necessary at bats. He’s shown the willingness to walk in the minors, and hopefully that skill translates if given the opportunity in Houston. Sadly (for Towles), scouts believe 2008 first round draft pick Jason Castro is almost ready for full time action, so Towles may have to show his stuff early in 2010 for either a back up slot with the Astros once Castro is called up or possibly for a job with another club.
3) Hunter Pence turns 27 this year and looks on the verge of a breakout that even Ed Wade can’t stop.Â What kind of year can he put up?Â 35 homers, 15 steals?Â 30/10?Â Hopefully something better than Pedro Feliz?
I’m going to hold off on the 35 HR prediction, but 25 HR, 15 steals and a better BB:K ratio than in 2009 could certainly be in order. Couple his offense with his stellar defense in right field, and Pence is a slightly below All Star level talent who the Astros are happy to have in the lineup.
4) Last year, Carlos Lee and Lance Berkman seemed to begin their descent over the hill.Â Can they slam on the brakes and be top tier hitters again in 2010?
While both players are in their mid-30s, and both hit for a good bit of power, their games are fairly distinct from one another. Lance is a more patient hitter who is more helpful than a bag of sand on defense. Carlos is an unmotivated, high contact, low K, professional hitter in the Matt Stairs mold. Lance should be able to be a productive hitter for as long as he wants to play (and if you read between the lines with Lance, that may not be past his current contract). Carlos’ skills don’t translate well into old age, so Astros fans should hope Lee is able to hold on for as long as possible…at least until an AL club in need of a DH gets greedy and takes on his contract.
5) Tommy Manzella sounds like he should be in culinary school and Jeff Keppinger is the answer to the question, “Who is Brett Myers giving a wedgie to?”Â So what becomes of shortstop?Â Can Manzella offer anything besides a delicious Chicken Parm?
Chef Manzella is set to prepare a feast for the city of Houston this summer:
As an appetizer, Manzella will offer up quick hands and feet paired with an accurate throwing arm.
For the main course, Chef has been working hard on honing his batting stroke and toughening up for the long haul of a 162 game season.
And for dessert (everybody’s favorite), Tommy accents a slightly older vintage of player at third base (Pedro Feliz), giving the Astros the sort of defense that will save runs left and right.
All for an affordable price of….league minimum.
Jeff Keppinger was a pleasant surprise in 2009, and should get plenty of at bats in 2010 at 2B, SS and 3B. If not striking out was a game….he..um…would be good at it.