5 Houston Astros

April 01, 2013

Enemy Lines

A RIVAL SCOUT SIZES UP THE ASTROS

They may lose 120 games. The worse news is they may do it again next year. They're in such a tough division, and you have to be a really informed baseball man to recognize some of these names.... Two things I like about Houston: Jose Altuve and Bo Porter. The problem is, there aren't enough Altuves, and Porter doesn't play. Altuve is a quality big league player. He sprays the ball around, he's aggressive at the plate. I like Porter's energy. He's an open-minded manager.... Matt Dominguez can field. His bat is the reason the Marlins traded him—it has always been less than spectacular.... I will say this for Brett Wallace—he came into camp in really good shape.... Chris Carter's swing is long. He's been this way forever. That's why he's bounced around.... I think Fernando Martinez is the most accomplished of the young outfielders, but his problem has been staying healthy. His swing is still good, but he's got the body of a 40-year-old because of all the injuries.... I've always liked Jordan Lyles because he's a young guy with a good delivery, but you look at his numbers last year and you go, Uh-oh, what happened? ... Bud Norris is legit. He has a two- and a four-seam fastball—he's not overpowering, but he mixes in a variety of off-speed pitches.... They've stripped this thing all the way down. What's the difference between losing 110 and 120? I give [G.M.] Jeff Luhnow a lot of credit; it takes a lot of guts to do that.

The Lineup

2013 Projected Statistics

MANAGER BO PORTER

First season with the Astros

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ROTATION W ERA WHIP K/9
RH BUD NORRIS 6 4.60 1.43 8.8
RH LUCAS HARRELL 10 4.18 1.34 6.4
RH PHILIP HUMBER 5 4.95 1.33 6.8
LH ERIK BEDARD 6 4.28 1.38 8.7
RH ALEX WHITE 4 5.30 1.57 6.3
BULLPEN SV ERA WHIP K/9
RH JOSE VERAS 18 3.74 1.39 10.4
LH WESLEY WRIGHT 3 4.17 1.39 7.8

NEW ACQUISITION

LINEUPS AND STAT PROJECTIONS BY ROTOWIRE.COM

The K Meter

Percentage of 2012 plate appearances that ended with a strikeout, and major league rank

BY HITTERS | 22.7% | 30TH

BY PITCHERS | 18.8% | 22ND

Best Case

Porter's young squad is fundamentally sound and middle of the pack in scoring and D—but still a 100-loss team.

Worst Case

Talking '62 Mets here. The year's biggest moment is Sept. 29: Mariano Rivera's last regular-season game, in Houston.

Matt Gagne has more on the Astros at SI.com/mlb

Modest Proposal

The Astros can hand out playing time at the four corner positions and at DH to an assortment of failed prospects: Brett Wallace, Matt Dominguez and Fernando Martinez, to name three. But one guy has to be in the lineup every single day—Chris Carter, who was picked up from the A's in February. Carter's power is the single most impressive tool of any Astro. He slugged .514 with Oakland last year and has a .535 career mark in eight minor league seasons. Contact is a problem: He struck out in 38% of his at bats last year, and that will drag down his average. However, in a full season of aiming at the Crawford Boxes he could hit 40 homers and draw enough walks to produce a respectable OBP (think a younger Adam Dunn). The Astros may be hard to watch, but Carter, who has never played more than 67 big league games in a season, can thrill fans with some monster long balls. Houston traded starting shortstop Jed Lowrie to get Carter, so they've already made an investment in him. Now they have to nurture that investment with untrammeled playing time.

PHOTOCHUCK SOLOMON FOR SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (ALTUVE)Jose Altuve PHOTODAVID J. PHILLIP/AP (CARTER) PHOTOPhotograph by SCOTT AUDETTE/REUTERSRealigned and Relegated Altuve is exciting to watch, but he won't be enough to lift the Astros out of last place in their first year in the AL West.

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)