Yesterday, I looked at the infield for the Houston Astros and handed grades out for players to this point, which can be found here. Today, I will be taking a look at the rest of the team and giving out grades for their performance over the past 60 games.
Left Field: The 100 million dollar man Carlos Lee is still the Astros starting left field and will most likely be for 2012 as well because of his price tag. April was a rough month for Lee, only hitting .196 with two home runs and 15 RBI. However he has hit much better once May and June rolled around, batting .316 but his power numbers are still lacking as he only has hit two home runs since May 1st. These are not numbers you would expect from your highest paid player and not to mention his fielding abilities have taken a dramatic dip.
Center Field: Michael Bourn is putting together one of his best seasons as a Houston Astro. The leadoff man is hitting .274 with 20 RBI and already has 25 steals. Another good stat is that he already has 25 walks and he is becoming more disciplined at the plate. He has really been a find for Ed Wade and looks like he could be a fixture at the top of the Astros lineup for years to come. Not to mention he plays above average defense in center field which has to be a challenge with the hill out there. I would like to see him add another 10 points on his batting average and get it up to .285.
Right Field: The best player on the Astros and one of the best in the National League is Hunter Pence. This guy has been a machine since day one of the 2011 season. He is hitting .310 and his eight home runs and 44 RBI leads the Astros. Not to mention his .310 batting average is 10th in the National League, and his 44 RBI ranks him fifth in the National League. He will most likely be the Astros’ representative at the All-Star game and is a fan favorite because he plays all out every day. At only 28 years of age, he is just starting to enter his prime and if I am owner Jim Crane, one of my first moves is locking this guy up long term.
Starting Pitching: What was a strength in 2010, has become a weakness in 2011. As much as the Astros’ offense has improved, the pitching staff has regressed. The Astros have a team ERA of 4.55, which is second worst in the National League. Brett Myers has lost that ace magic he had in 2010 as his ERA has gone up from 3.10 to 4.82 and has already given up 15 home runs in 12 starts. He only gave up 20 home runs all of last year. Wandy Rodriguez was off to a good start but landed himself on the DL with an elbow issue, which sounds scary but looks like it wasn’t anything too serious.
Bud Norris has developed into a strikeout machine and has one of the top K/9 strikeout ratio. J.A. Happ has hit a bit of a wall and struggled in 2011. Three different pitchers has claimed that fifth spot in the rotation as Nelson Figueroa started with it, Aneury Rodriguez went a couple of starts and top prospect Jordan Lyles is now in there. Lyles had one good and one rough start but he looked like a major league pitcher and hopefully will stay with the Astros for the rest of the season.
Brett Myers’ Grade: C-
Wandy Rodriguez Grade: B-
Bud Norris Grade: C+
J.A. Happ Grade: C-
Aneury Rodriguez Grade: C-
Jordan Lyles Grade: Incomplete
Bullpen: Bad. Just bad. I really don’t want to discuss this area any further but I will give it a shot. Brandon Lyon started the year as the closer and that lasted about two weeks before he landed on the DL, where he currently stays. Mark Melancon took over the closer job and started strong, then hit a rough patch but seems to have bounced back and looks like he may stay the closer for the rest of the season. Wilton Lopez is a good young arm and a good set up man.
Other than that, the bullpen has been down right awful. Fernando Abad was an awful experiment, John Fulchino and Enerio Del Rosario have been decent. It is a young bullpen and sometimes it takes time to learn how to win games. Time will tell for this group.