TMS MLB Preview 2009: Houston Astros

All through March, Thunder Matt's Saloon will be previewing each Major League team. We'll give you the ins and outs of the upcoming 2009 season, how each team will do, and some other useless crap you'll wish you had never read.

HOUSTON ASTROS

2008 Season:
86-75 (3rd in NL Central)

SO LONG:
C Brad Ausmus, 2B Mark Loretta, 3B Ty Wigginton, P Randy Wolf

WELCOME: 3B Aaron fucking Boone, P Mike Hampton, P Clay Hensley, OF Jason Michaels, SS Jason Smith

PROJECTED LINEUP
1. Michael Bourn CF
2. Kazuo Matsui 2B
3. Miguel Tejada SS
4. Lance Berkman 1B
5. Carlos Lee LF
6. Hunter Pence RF
7. Geoff Blum 3B
8. J.R. Towles C

Starting Rotation: Roy Oswalt, Wandy Rodriguez, Mike Hampton, Brandon Backe, Brian Moehler
Setup: Doug Brocail, Geoff Geary
Closer: Jose Valverde

We at TMS have nothing substantive to say about the Houston Astros. Well, nothing kind anyway. However, we do feel obligated to bring you something that resembles a preview, rather than tossing up a "Gone Huntin'" photo, or simply the link to Cabela's.

Drayton McLane and Ed Wade have done an admirable if not tardy job of bringing the Astros roster up to date in our post-Jackie Robinson society. Their opening day lineup will include one African American, two Latinos, and one Japanese (!) player. Compared to their 2005 World Series roster, that's change you can believe in! Despite this recent blending of cultures, it's shaping up to be a miserable season in Minute Maid Park. Most prognosticators are placing them 5th or even 6th in the NL Central. They should still finish above the anonymous Pirates squad and the Dusty Baker-infected Reds, but it won't be by much.

PRESEASON AWARDS
Mr. Sexy Time: Please don't let this tagline confuse you. In reality, there is no sexiness on this roster. One might make a case for Roy Oswalt, but he'll be gone by July 31, so he doesn't figure into the club's longterm plans. Lance Berkman? Well, sure, he'll put up his usual numbers, getting off to a hot start in April and May, cooling down as the summer wears on. Carlos Lee? Thug. I'm giving this award to Hunter Pence. He is one of the few bright pieces the Astros have to build around, but he really needs to step it up this year. Twenty-five homers and eighty RBI are well and good, but that batting average needs to jump by thirty points. If he can accomplish that, he could approach 30/100 and be a staple for the next seven years. If not, hurricane season won't come soon enough.

The Jan-Michael Vincent "I'm Still Alive?" Award: The Astros brought back Mike Hampton in an effort to recapture the glory of 1999. Word on the street is that they also inquired on Ken Caminiti (deceased) and Carl Everett (on the anti-dinosaur lecture circuit). Fortunately, they had the wisdom to refuse Jose Lima's overtures.

The Merriam-Webster "Spell Your Goddamn Name Right" Award: This goes to Michael Bourn. Pretentious asshole! Michael, add an 'e' to the end of your name. It will look more anonymous and allow fantasy baseball players to gloss over your .229 batting average.

For More Reading:
The Crawfish Boxes
The Astros Dugout

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