So the Astros couldn’t dominate the NL Central, so they moved to the AL West…go figure.
There’s no question that Houston is in transition mode once again, but at least they have a sense of direction.
Bo Porter is the latest to attempt to lead this challenge, coming over from the Nationals.This is his first managerial gig, after being looked at by the Marlins and Pirates in 2010.
The Astros were a surprising team early on in 2012, but always seemed to do what they do best…crash and burn in the second half of the season.
Houston had a handful of interesting prospects to step up in the the post-Hunter Pence era, but no one finished strong. Outfield J.D. Martinez and Second baseman Jose Altuve were the most consistent options for fantasy owners, with Altuve’s value lasting the longest.
Coming into this offseason, it was a matter of shedding the roster of the overrated players and building for the future. They did add some bandaids here and there in former Rays first baseman Carlos Pena and White Sox pitcher Phillip Humber, but Houston was able to capitalize on some smart trading.
The best trade had to be their five player trade that sent SS Jed Lowrie and RP Fernando Rodriguez for 1B Chris Carter, C Max Stassi, and SP Brad Peacock.
Chris Carter will be able to make an immediate impact for the team, challenging Pena for the spot at first base, but Brad Peacock will prove to be the best part of this trade. He was involved in Oakland’s trade with Washington last offseason for Gio Gonzalez and will look to earn a rotation spot in spring camp.
The Astros also acquired SP Alex White from Colorado, in exchange for closer Wilton Lopez. He was a former first round draft pick by the Indians in 2009 that just never got enough of an opportunity to prove himself.
Houston has essentially had a good mix of trades that will hopefully benefit them in the future and a series of bandaid free agents.
You didn’t really think that they were going to trot out their minor league All-Star team did you? They have to sell some tickets.
There is only a handful of Astros that you would want to invest in on draft day, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t have some of them on your watchlist.
You’ll get a good idea of what kind of ball club this will be on Opening Day, as they take on the depleted Texas Rangers.
In the meantime, let’s take a look at what you can expect from the AL West version of the Houston Astros…
ASTROS PROJECTED LINEUP
1. Jose Altuve 2B Finished as the no.9 ranked 2B overall in ’12, was a .290 hitter and stole 33 bags in his first full season, not a lot of power, but makes up for it with OBP and stolen bases, he’s a top 10 2B option on draft day.
2. Fernando Martinez RF Not exactly someone that you need to learn his name for now, might be delayed as an Opening Day starter after playing in the World Baseball Classic
3. Carlos Pena DH You know what you’re getting Carlos Pena by now, a .230 hitter with a swing for the fences or nothing mindset, you shouldn’t be desperate enough to draft him.
4. Chris Carter LF Came over in the OAK trade, naturally plays 1st, but trying the outfield, hit 16 homers in 67 with OAK in ’12, was considered one of the A’s top prospects, watchlist candidate on draft day
5. Brett Wallace 1B Hasn’t given an fantasy owners to consider knowing his name, and you shouldn’t either, has never been better than a .250 hitter for HOU, over-hyped
6. Justin Maxwell CF He’s an interesting option, because if he only hit 2 more HRs, you’d look at his ’12 season as decent, he’s a .230 go big or go home hitter, but no longer a “let’s see what he can do” player in his 7th MLB season
7. Jason Castro C He’s a .250 hitter that is injury prone and doesn’t offer any upside, luckily the catcher position is a little deeper nowadays on draft day.
8. Tyler Greene SS Had his first double digit HR season in 2012, but isn’t in a position to turn his career around, especially with the Astros and in the AL.
9. Matt Dominguez 3B Former top 3B prospect for the Marlins that came over in the Carlos Lee trade during the 2012 season, has a ton of upside, hit .284 in 31 games after coming over, and could eventually hit third as the season progresses
1. Bud Norris He was actually a hot pickup for a quick stretch of the ’12 season, if you can deal with his high ERA, he’s a great source of strikeouts, but he’ll be more of a batting practice pitcher for AL West hitters this season, late round pick if needed. The Orioles, Padres, and Cardinals have already tried to acquire him this season, which would change his value.
2. Lucas Harrell He was a .500 pitcher in his first full season, after coming over from the White Sox, but he still has to show that he can be a reliable option
3. Jordan Lyles He was once thought of as a top 50 prospect, but just hasn’t found his rhythm in the majors. He could very well find it in his second full season of action, but he’s nothing more than a watchlist candidate
4. Phillip Humber He threw a perfect game in 2012, and that’s all she wrote. The guy had an ERA over 6 during the season and once again finished in the single digit .500 mark. You could always remember his name if he starts to show some improvement.
5. Erik Bedard Remember that time when teams actually wanted to trade for this guy? Me neither. He’s played against AL West competition before,but that doesn’t mean he was efficient. Don’t bother even flirting with the idea of having him on your team, no matter how desperate you get.
RP-Jose Veras This is his 5th different team in 5 years, and will have to battle Jarred Cosart for the starting job in spring camp. The only reason that he wins this job is because of his veteran experience vs Cosart.
Matt Dominguez came over from the Marlins in the Carlos Lee trade last season. He was highly regarded as one of the top prospects in Miami’s system. The one thing about their organization is that they can produce stud prospects, they just don’t want to keep them. Dominguez could be the next great infamous Marlins prospect to tear it up somewhere else. He only played in 31 games for Houston last season, but was able to hit .284 with 5 homers. The most interesting stat on Dominguez is that he average one hit per game. He’s slated at the bottom of the order, for the moment, but has the potential to his third in this subpar offense. By season’s end, Matt Dominguez could be this year’s Jose Altuve.
Chris Carter is another top prospect from someone else’s organization that Houston brought over in hopes of building for the future. He’s slated to only play at first base, in standard league formats, but could acquire OF eligibility once he gets going. Carter was brought over from Oakland as one of the centerpieces in the Jed Lowrie trade. He hit 16 homers in 67 days and can only get better with a full season under his belt. Like most rookies, Carter liked to swing for the fences in his brief major league stint last season. You shouldn’t judge him by his mere .239 average, but just recognize his upside. Put it this way…When you play for the Astros, you can’t help but stand out if you’re a decent player.