No. 15 ASTROS

March 31, 2014

Enemy Lines

A rival scout sizes up the ASTROS

Their own people don't know what they've got, because you don't know how young kids will respond.... I don't know why they signed SCOTT FELDMAN. I guess they want some experience on the mound. It's not like they've got an ace, so on this staff he'll pitch on top.... BRETT OBERHOLTZER is a No. 4 or 5 starter. He has to hit his spots because his fastball is only 88 to 91.... I didn't sleep in a Holiday Inn Express last night or anything, but if you're writing about Houston, it's more of a prospect report than a major league report.... They have some really good young arms in the minors. MICHAEL FOLTYNEWICZ is a strong kid, works up at 99.... CARLOS CORREA, the shortstop and No. 1 pick in 2012, is a special player. Physically he looks like Alex Rodriguez, and he has a plus arm and good range for a big kid. He'll hit with power.... And the kid from Connecticut, GEORGE SPRINGER, is a toolsy guy, but he doesn't know the strike zone yet.... This team is so young that everyone we're talking about is gonna be based on a comp. None of them are ready now except DEXTER FOWLER and JOSE ALTUVE.... JONATHAN VILLAR will probably be their starting shortstop, but he's inconsistent. He'll make a great play, then kick the one hit right at him.... They brought in veterans for the bullpen to give the kids a break. They're not going to blow 29 games in the ninth inning again this year.... They're going to lose more than 95 games. It's probably a minimum of three years—this year and two more—till they're competitive.

The Lineup

2014 Projected Statistics and Run Totals by ROTOWIRE.COM

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PROJECTED RUNS SCORED

500

ASTROS 680

AL AVERAGE 694

PROJECTED RUNS ALLOWED

500

ASTROS 801

AL AVERAGE 707

Modest Proposal

The Astros experimented with tandem starters in the minors last season, pairing up pitchers who each threw about half a game. It's a developmental concept designed to give as many pitchers as possible starterlike workloads while managing pitch counts. It's something this team should consider. The Astros have just one starter in camp who has averaged more than seven innings per start in his career, Brett Oberholtzer—and he has 10 starts. But they have a lot of guys like that. Why not pair up eight of them—JEROME WILLIAMS and DALLAS KEUCHEL backing up Oberholtzer and JARRED COSART, for example—so not too much is asked of any pitcher? There's still room for three or four pure relievers, and veteran righthander SCOTT FELDMAN, who averaged a tick over six innings per start last season, can be a regular starter. It's a patch to get through one more season before prospects MARK APPEL, MIKE FOLTYNEWICZ and LANCE MCCULLERS arrive.

PHOTOALEX BRANDON/AP (FOWLER)Dexter Fowler PHOTOMARK CUNNINGHAM/MLB PHOTOS/GETTY IMAGES (FELDMAN)Scott Feldman PHOTOPhotograph by BILL FRAKES/SPORTS ILLUSTRATEDHOPE ON THE WAY He's still in the low minors, but the eventual big league arrival of Mark Appel, the No. 1 pick in last year's draft, is one more reason for Astros fans to feel good about the future. TWO CHARTS PHOTO

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)