Preseason Prediction: 5th in NL Central
Regular Season Outcome: 76-86 4th in NL Central (15.0 GB)
Rookie Manager Brad Mills knew it was going to be a long season when the dust had cleared and his Astros started the year 0-8. Then they traded away long time ace, SP Roy Oswalt on July 29th, which pretty much marked the end of their chances at salvaging what was left of their 2010 season. The Astros had high hopes when they saddled up this season after acquiring SP Brett Myers, RP Brandon Lyon and 3B Pedro Feliz in the offseason. However, they couldn’t rustle up any momentum until late in the season (40-33 after all-star break) and even then they had little chance of catching the Reds and Cardinals.
OF Carlos “El Caballo” Lee had a sub-par year and set career lows with .246 AVG, .291 OBP and .417 SLG. Hitting was a problem team wide and as a whole, Astros hitters ranked in the bottom five in all of baseball with only 611 R, 1348 H, 108 HR and .247 AVG. Starting pitching, led by their lone star Myers (14-8, 3.14 ERA), held their own throughout the season but the revolving door in the bullpen was a big problem. RP Matt Lindstrom lost his closer job to Lyon midway through the season and the rest of the bullpen struggled to the tune of a combined 4.49 ERA and .280 BAA. All in all it was another disappointing season for Houston who hasn’t been to the playoffs since 2005 when they lost the World Series to the White Sox.
Rookie 3B Chris Johnson was given a shot to play after off season signee Feliz failed to live up to expectations (.221 AVG). When Johnson began playing every day after being called up in June he made the most of his opportunity. In 94 games, he finished the year with 11 HR, 52 RBI, 40 R, .308 AVG, .481 SLG and 31 multi-hit games. While he was overlooked in the Rookie-of-the Year voting, the Astros can expect to see him manning third base for years to come.
On June 1st, the Astros were 17-34 and already 12.5 GB in the NL Central and had given up 12+ runs in three of their previous 4 games. That pretty much epitomized the season for the Astros who were bipolar all year. When they were bad they were really bad. Carlos Lee’s production looks to be dropping off and going into 2011, the Astros have a lot of questions to answer.
Lance Berkman is gone, Roy Oswalt is gone, Lee isn’t what he used to be and they have some major bullpen issues to address. While the second half of the season for the Astros went a lot better than the first half, the rodeo was over early in Houston. They are a team with a lot of young guys who are mediocre at best. OF Hunter Pence and OF Michael Bourn had success in 2010 but the rest of the team’s hitting was subpar. While their starting pitching was good at times, they will be without Oswalt and their bullpen needs a lot of help. We all know that things are bigger in Texas, but 2011 could be another big letdown unless the Astros can fill some big holes they have on their team.
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