Opening Day is only two days away and I am counting down the minutes before Michael Bourn is standing at the plate in Citizens Bank Park and the games start to matter. Even though the Astros have been hit with the injury bug before the season starts and some bad luck, I feel this team can surprise some teams this year and no better way to start than against a World Series favorite in Philadelphia. Well in the mean time the staff of CTH has another round table discussion for you to kill time until Friday. If you see a topic we haven’t discussed yet, please post a comment and we will answer it next week.
How many wins do you expect from the Astros this season?
Brandon: If the Astros were entering the season at full strength, I would say the Astros might expect around 88 wins and competing for a playoff spot in September but eventually falling short of the playoffs. However, with Castro out for the majority of the season, and Barmes and Keppinger out for the first month and half, the Astros are going to struggle in the beginning and probably finish the year with something like 80 wins.
Trevor: Between 75-80 wins. This team is not a cellar dwelling team, especially in this division. With the pitching injuries suffered by the rest of the NL Central, there is some uncertainty as to how strong these rotations will be. This will help us out in divisional play, and I think that the consistency of the Astro’s rotation this year will leave the team in the thick of most games. Do I think we are going to contend? Not in September, but I think come August, we will be at least in the talk if Wallace continues his strong spring and Wandy puts together a solid start to the season. The NL Central is a tough division to judge, and our record will greatly depend on the other NL Central clubs.
Jesse:Being optimistic I would wish for 88 wins this year, with the possibility of the Astros competing for a playoff spot. I know that this is an extremely optimistic viewpoint given the current state of the team, but not one that is completely outside of the realm of possibilities. For this to happen everything has to go right. This includes minimizing injuries, Hunter Pence and Carlos Lee improving upon last year, Brett Wallace to perform like he did in the minors, and Chris Johnson to prove that last year was not a fluke. On the pitching end of this Norris has to finally put it all together, Happ outperforming his peripheral statistics, Myers proving last year was not a fluke, and Wandy finally joining elite status with the other national league greats. While all this is possible it is also highly unlikely. A more realistic goal may be .500.
Greg:I’m going to predict 75 wins for the Astros this season. It’s hard to know what will happen over a long season, but 75 seems like a reasonable prediction.
How much does Clint Barmes injury effect the Astros?
Brandon: It is tough to lose your starting shortstop, especially one who hasn’t played a game yet as an Astro. However, I was not impressed with Barmes through the spring and am actually happy Angel Sanchez will most likely get another shot as the starting shortstop. Sanchez provides adequate defense at the position or basically the same defense Barmes would have but he provides some pretty good offense, hitting .280 for the Astros last season. I don’t expect there to be much talent drop off from Barmes to Sanchez and there is even a possibility that Sanchez could be better for this team.
Trevor:Barmes was a non factor prior to this season even starting. Not to bash CB, but there isn’t anything he could do that the current Astro reserves can’t handle, and I though Jeff Keppinger was going to replace him regardless when Kepp came back from his injury. I think Sanchez and Downs will platoon SS for the beginning of the year, but Keppinger will take over once he returns. I do think that Jeff will be traded at some point this season, so a healthy Barmes will most likely take over the starting job if that situation were to occur. Opening day: Downs.
Jesse: How much Clint Barmes’ injury affects the Astros this year to me depends on who replaces him. I know my opinion probably differs from the majority, but I would like to see Tommy Manzella replace Barmes for a couple of reasons. One, shortstop is a premium position and out of the remaining candidates Manzella is the best shortstop hands down. Yes Sanchez may have a better bat, but his defensive ability is severely stretched at this position. Two, is that Manzella has a track record of not settling in at the plate at each level he was moved up to until around 200 at-bats. Maybe this happens at the major league level this year. My final reason for choosing Manzella is that he still possesses the most upside. With a decent showing from Manzella, he may be able to bridge the gap at short until our younger prospects are ready. If the rest of the team, and this is a big if, reaches their potential offensively then the Astros can sacrifice a little offense for defense at shortstop.
Greg:It has been well documented that I was not happy about the Barmes acquisition to begin with. I am a big fan of Angel Sanchez and was disappointed that he was being replaced by Barmes. I feel that Sanchez is a better player than Barmes. People are quick to say that Sanchez doesn’t have a shortstop arm. Sanchez was coming off a shoulder injury last season and I am not sure we have seen him at his best. Barmes is no more a shortstop than Sanchez. He has played mostly second base for the past four seasons. Sanchez is more of a contact hitter and did well while batting second in the lineup last season. Barmes is not really a two hole hitter anyway. The Barmes injury really has no ill effect on the team, in my opinion. It gives the team a chance to take a longer look at one more infielder to start the season. Keppinger will probably return from the DL before Barmes and replace Hall if he is slumping. I didn’t like the Hall signing either but that’s another subject.