Houston Astros 2009 Season Preview

on 03 26, 2009

Houston Astros 2008 Review:

The 2008 Houston Astros finished the regular season 86-75, eleven games back of the eventual NL Central Champion Chicago Cubs. The Astros got healthy offensive contributions from Hunter Pence, Lance Berkman, Carlos Lee, Ty Wigginton and 35 year-old (if that is his real age) Miguel Tejada. Berkman was outstanding, hitting .312 to go along with 29 home runs and 106 RBI. What Berkman was to the offense, pitcher Roy Oswalt was to the starting rotation. Oswalt went 17-10 with a 3.54 ERA in 32 games started. Oswalt led the team in innings pitched with 208 2/3 and also led the team in strikeouts with 165 He also only walked 47 hitters. When the Astros needed to stop a losing streak, Oswalt always managed to come through. Oswalt had three complete games, two of them being shut-outs. Jose Valverde, Doug Brocail and LaTroy Hawkins led an efficient bull-pen that combined with the starting pitchers to walk the third fewest batters in the league. Playing in a solid and balanced NL Central (with the exception of the Pittsburgh Pirates), a severe lack of starting pitching outside of Roy Oswalt led to a third place finish and no postseason birth.

Houston Astros 2009 Preview:

Thanks in large part to approximately $62 million dollars being tied up in the contracts of the aging Tejada, Berkman, Oswalt and Lee, and a depleted farm system (one of the worst in all of baseball), the Astros struggled to improve their roster heading into the 2009 season. With an offense that features only one great hitter in Berkman, and a couple good hitters in Lee, Pence and Tejada, the Astros could potentially struggle in that regard. Houston only featured one hitter with more than 40 walks last season (Berkman), and with an aging power core, that could prove devastating. The pitching staff features a solid 1-2 punch of Oswalt and Wandy Rodriguez (9-7, 3.54 ERA in 25 starts in 2008), but really lacks a back end of that starting five. Much like last year the Astros will have an average bull-pen, nothing to get excited about. Ultimately their lack of depth both offensively and defensively will lead to yet another finish towards the bottom of the division. A few injuries to key players and this club could be really hurting. Don’t expect to see the Astros contending for anything in 2009, much less finishing anywhere near .500.

Houston Astros Surprise Player of 2009:

Houston fans are hoping 24 year-old third baseman Chris Johnson will make an impact in 2009, but don’t expect it. Johnson struggled offensively after being promoted to AAA, and although Houston will most likely struggle to find production from their third base position, don’t expect to see much of Johnson in 2009. Instead, look for a surprising impact to be made by Reggie Abercrombie. Abercrombie played in 34 games for Houston in 2008 after being acquired from Florida, hitting .309 and stealing 5 bases. If the speedy right handed hitting Abercrombie can improve in his strikeout totals (23 in 55 at bats in 2008), he should be able to provide speed to an offense that lacks tremendously in that area. Getting on base is the key to his production and success in 2009.

Houston Astros Projected 2009 record:

5th place in the NL Central with a record of 72-90.

[In other news, sorry Chris Johnson for having to share the same name with this guy]