MLB MLB Team News NL Central — 23 February 2011

There are no two ways about it; the Astros are currently in the middle of a major rebuilding process. The trades of franchise players Lance Berkman and Roy Oswalt last season jumpstarted this process, but there is still a ways to go. The Astros do, however, have a number of promising young players on their roster that should prove valuable down the road. The signing of Brett Myers during last years’ offseason is looking like a genius move by GM Ed Wade as he bounced back from injury and had arguably the best year of his career. The rotation should be serviceable with Myers, Wandy Rodriguez, and J.A. Happ holding down the top half.

While the bottom half of the rotation is less than impressive, look for highly touted prospect Jordan Lyles to make his debut at some point this season, as he could add much needed depth to the rotation. In the outfield Hunter Pence is steadily becoming an elite outfielder and has turned in steady production for the last several years now. Michael Bourn turned in an All-Star caliber season last year and while Carlos Lee is definitely regressing, there is still a good amount of pop left in his bat. Brett Wallace and Jason Castro will be handed their first opening day starting jobs and the Astros are hoping they can improve their numbers from last year and live up to their potential at the plate. The Astros aren’t expecting anything extraordinary from their 2011 season, but with a little luck and the emergence of their young talent, they could surprise some people.

Key Additions: Clint Barmes, Bill Hall

Key Losses: Matt Lindstrom

Lineup:

C: Jason Castro
1B: Brett Wallace
2B: Bill Hall
3B: Chris Johnson
SS: Clint Barmes
LF: Carlos Lee
CF: Michael Bourn
RF: Hunter Pence

Rotation:

1: Wandy Rodriguez
2: Brett Myers
3: J.A. Happ
4: Bud Norris
5: Nelson Figueroa
CL: Brandon Lyon

Critical Players to Success:

Hunter Pence: Pence has slowly become the de facto leader of this team. His production is essential for any kind of success the Astros can hope to have.

J.A. Happ: Happ was the centerpiece of the Roy Oswalt trade, and had an average year after coming over from Philadelphia. The Astros need him to avoid further regression and be a solid number three starter for them.

Brett Wallace: Wallace was a highly touted prospect, mostly for his hitting ability, but has yet to show the kind of bat worthy of that kind of hype. The Astros front office will probably feel a lot better about the Lance Berkman trade if Wallace can improve on his hitting from last year.

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