It's time to play America's favorite game: How many active Houston Astros can you name? When my friends and I partake in this competition, it is only a matter of minutes before we break the rules and start throwing out names like Nolan Ryan, Jeff Bagwell, and Craig Biggio. "Uhhhhh" is a pretty common answer too. The truth is, the 2013 Astros have a very good shot at losing 100 games. I have the roster pulled up as I type this and it looks about as ugly as my bracket currently does. The Astros play the Texas Rangers to open up the 2013 season to celebrate their move from the NL Central to the AL West. We are all so excited for baseball to start that we might just have to watch these Bad News Bears on Sunday night, so let's meet the ‘stros.
Projected Lineup (with projected ZIPS stats)
Player POS AB/R/HR/RBI/SB/AVG/OBP/SLG
1 Ronny Cedeno SS 343/36/5/38/4/0.239/0.289/0.353
2 Jose Altuve 2B 620/85/9/49/33/0.287/0.330/0.403
3 Carlos Pena DH 435/65/24/65/2/0.214/0.341/0.432
4 Chris Carter OF 498/76/28/77/4/0.237/0.322/0.466
5 Brett Wallace 1B 545/67/17/63/1/0.242/0.311/0.387
6 Justin Maxwell OF 317/47/15/42/13/0.211/0.297/0.407
7 Jason Castro Catcher 340/44/6/35/1/0.238/0.316/0.344
8 Fernando Martinez OF 402/50/14/45/1/0.241/0.297/0.408
9 Matt Dominguez 3B 553/64/14/66/0/0.251/0.296/0.383
Fantasy Worthy: Jose Altuve and Chris Carter
Jose Altuve had a feel good 2012 season. He stands at 5 foot 5 inches tall, making us all feel like he is an ordinary guy out on the baseball field. Altuve is mainly good for his speed and solid average. Last season he swiped 33 bags and batted .290. He also has some pop for a little guy and should hit around 10 homers this season. With second base being a shallow position, Altuve holds more value than a player of his production usually would. Chris Carter might not be drafted in your fantasy league, but keep an eye out for him. Carter, a former Oakland Athletic, is a big dude. I think he has the potential to hit 30 homers with that short porch in Houston's left field. While I think Altuve is going to disappoint fantasy owners in 2013, I view Carter as a possible breakout player.
Besides Altuve and Carter, there are a couple of other players in the Astros lineup that catch my eye. Justin Maxwell hit 18 homers in just 124 games last season for Houston. He may emerge as a 20 plus home run player that can also steal 10 bags. We all know what Carlos Pena is going to do. High power, horrendous average. Brett Wallace is still expected to produce in the big leagues. As of now, he is just another one of those prospects that never worked out, but he is only 26 years young. Tyler Greene was supposed to be the starting shortstop, but it is now rumored that he will not make the big league club and will try to be traded. Ronny Cedeno may take his job and split time with Marwin Gonzalez. I doubt either will lead off, but that is where Tyler Greene was slated to bat so I put Cedeno there as a fill-in.
Projected Rotation (with projected ZIPS stats)
Player POS IP/W/L/ERA/WHIP/K/BB
1 Bud Norris SP 168/8/11/4.54/1.38/167/69
2 Lucas Harrell SP 153/8/11/4.75/1.52/101/67
3 Philip Humber SP 123/5/8/5.27/1.44/88/38
4 Erik Bedard SP 86/5/8/5.13/1.52/77/39
5 Brad Peacock SP 98/6/8/5.23/1.58/75/48
Fantasy Worthy: Bud Norris
Bud Norris probably won't be drafted in your fantasy league either, but I think that he is a decent pitcher. He will not post a low ERA or WHIP, but he will record plenty of strikeouts. Last season, Norris had a K/9 ratio of 8.82, which ranked 16th among starters (Felix Hernandez was 19th).
The other four starters in the rotation are pretty shaky. Jordan Lyles was a projected starter, but he was just optioned to the minor leagues, so Brad Peacock will fill his spot in the rotation. Lucas Harrell had a nice 2012, posting a 3.773 ERA. Also, it's crazy to see how far Philip Humber has fallen after his perfect game.
Bench (with projected ZIPS stats)
Player POS AB/R/HR/RBI/SB/AVG/OBP/SLG
Brandon Laird 3B 574/59/17/68/1/0.239/0.279/0.385
George Springer OF 536/75/13/58/21/0.224/0.292/0.353
Brandon Barnes OF 531/59/12/54/10/0.211/0.264/0.345
J.D. Martinez OF 527/61/11/71/1/0.254/0.313/0.374
Domingo Santana OF 506/61/14/55/6/0.217/0.284/0.366
Che-Hsuan Lin OF 495/61/2/30/20/0.244/0.316/0.303
Jonathan Singleton OF 492/81/19/65/6/0.236/0.338/0.415
Jimmy Paredes OF 399/46/5/31/20/0.236/0.265/0.338
Rick Ankiel OF 268/31/8/24/4/0.216/0.285/0.366
Carlos Corporan Catcher 184/17/4/22/0/0.228/0.282/0.348
Tyler Greene SS 384/52/12/34/18/0.229/0.299/0.380
A bad team will obviously not have the most potent bench. There is not much for me to say here except I hope Rick Ankiel gets another shot at playing time. Also, Brandon Laird used to be a top prospect for the Yankees. He might work his way into the starting lineup at some point.
Bullpen (with projected ZIPS stats)
Player POS IP/W/L/Saves/ERA/WHIP/K/BB
Jose Veras RP 64/3/4/21/4.22/1.47/68/35
Wesley Wright RP 59/3/3/2/3.99/1.33/57/23
Fernando Rodriguez RP 71/5/6/0/4.16/1.40/74/36
Hector Ambriz RP 63/1/2/1/5.68/1.71/49/35
Xavier Cedeno RP 59/1/2/1/4.55/1.47/55/26
Alex White SP 129/6/9/0/5.08/1.55/89/59
Dallas Keuchel SP 157/7/13/0/5.50/1.55/80/53
Rudy Owens SP 126/5/12/0/6.23/1.60/74/43
Jordan Lyles SP 139/6/10/0/4.79/1.45/95/43
Jarred Cosart SP 113/5/11/0/6.19/1.83/71/74
Fantasy Worthy: Jose Veras
Jose Veras is going to close out games for the Astros in 2013. Even though Houston will be terrible, Veras should still see at least 25 save opportunities. He is the last "official closer" drafted in most leagues. Veras isn't a sure thing, but he can get your teams saves without demanding an early draft pick.
The Houston Astros definitely do not have a star studded roster. Maybe this is because their payroll flutters around $20 million, which is less than the individual salaries of twenty players. The names might not catch your eye, but that doesn't mean that you should completely ignore them. Sunday night will be the only Astros game some people watch all season. They have a good chance of being the worst team in the league again, but their move to the American League has an impact on the entire league. Because of the Astros, there will be interleague series galore. Also, NL Central teams will see a decline in the win column, while AL West clubs will see a slight increase. I don't like seeing teams lose 100 games. Pray for the Astros.