FanIQ AL West Preview

Three Teams Battle for AL West Supremacy [FanIQ AL West Preview]

3/26/13 in MLB   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

Houston AstrosBlog Photo - FanIQ AL West Preview
 
Projected Lineup
 
2B Jose Altuve
1B Brett Wallace
DH Carlos Pena
LF Chris Carter
RF Fernando Martinez
CF Justin Maxwell
C Jason Castro
SS Ronny Cedeno
3B Matt Dominguez
 
Projected Rotation
 
RHP Bud Norris
RHP Lucas Harrell
RHP Phi Humber
LHP Erik Bedard
RHP Brad Peacock
 
Closer: RHP Jose Veras

Key Losses: 3B Jed Lowrie, C Chris Snyder
 
In 2012, the Astros lost 107 games. In 2011, they lost 106. Unfortunately for the Astros as they move to a new league and division, the bottoming out isn’t quite finished. Houston is overtly in a full rebuilding mode, and thus the major league cupboard remains mostly bare. The lineup is currently filled out primarily with ex-prospects from other teams. Chris Carter, for example, has spent the last few years teasing Oakland with hot streaks followed by not being able to hit the broad sign of a barn. Fernando Martinez used to be a top prospect for the Mets. Jason Maxwell teased the Nationals but couldn’t stay healthy. Most of these guys are Quad-A players at this point, but for Houston, they’re lottery tickets. If they can show some of that old potential, great. If not, well, they probably won’t be on the next good Astros team. Carlos Pena is another lottery ticket for Houston. He was awful last year in Tampa, and thus the Astros signed him on the cheap. If he rebounds, expect Houston trade him at the deadline. Overall, with the exception of Jose Altuve and Matt Dominguez’s glove, there’s not much to look at here.
 
Norris and Harrell are average starting pitchers. That’s probably Harrell’s ceiling, while Norris has the ability to show more, but hasn’t turned into results. In a perfect world, these two would be solid three and four starters. Instead they carry the Astros’ pitching staff. This tells you what you need to know. Humber had the perfect game last year and then was terrible the rest of the way. Erik Bedard was a non-roster invitee that everyone knew was making the roster. He can still pitch effectively when healthy, which is a rare occurrence. Peacock was supposed to be the ready for the bigs prospect traded to Oakland in the Gio Gonzalez trade. It never happened after he was torched in AAA, and thus he was traded with Carter to Houston for Jed Lowrie. These are warm bodies put in to take the ball every fifth day because someone has to. Nothing more, nothing less.
 
This Astros team is probably a little better than the last two, but it isn’t by much, and the change to the stronger AL, in particular a strong AL West, will mask any talent gains made. Jeff Luhnow has completely remade the front office, but their work is going to take a few more years to truly come to fruition. As such, it’s going to be another ugly season at Minute Maid Park.
 
Projected Record: 58-104
 
Down on the Farm: All the rebuilding is starting to result in a top farm system. 1B Jonathan Singleton is the most ready for the bigs, although he’ll miss the first 50 games of the season due to a positive test for marijuana (yet DUIs get no punishment, go figure). Last year’s first overall pick, SS Carlos Correa, ranks as Houston’s top prospect for now, but at just 18 is still quite a ways away. OF George Springer and 2B Delino DeShields Jr. still need polish, but area also worth watching. On the pitching side, many are starting to think RHP Jarrod Cosart’s future is in the bullpen, but the Astros are desperate enough for starters that he’ll probably get a few shots there.
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3/26/13   |   ML31   |   3671 respect

Wards_Page wrote:
Very comprehensive. I don't see the Mariners winning one game fewer than they did last year though. In fact, I think (I mean I hope) they improve based on the Astros and my belief that the Rangers won't be near as good as they have been.

I would think that the the returning 4 AL West teams will all be better based solely on the presence of the Astros in the division.  Unless the Astros suddenly surprise everyone.  By that reckoning I'd guess the M's get at least 8 more wins this year than last.

3/26/13   |   Wards_Page   |   248 respect

Very comprehensive. I don't see the Mariners winning one game fewer than they did last year though. In fact, I think (I mean I hope) they improve based on the Astros and my belief that the Rangers won't be near as good as they have been.