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Houston Astros Roster Report 2009-02-27


Houston Astros Roster Report 2009-02-27
The Astros remained in postseason contention until Sept. 26 despite playing in the NL Central with the league-leading Cubs and wild-card-winning Brewers. They feel they are only a few players away from serious contention.

ARRIVALS: LHP Mike Hampton (free agent from Braves), RHP Jeff Fulchino (waiver claim from Royals), C Lou Palmisano (Rule 5 selection from Brewers, via Orioles), LHP Gilbert De La Vara (Rule 5 selection from Royals), OF Jason Michaels (free agent from Pirates), INF Aaron Boone (free agent from Nationals), C Toby Hall (minor league free agent from White Sox), RHP Jose Capellan (minor league free agent from Royals).

DEPARTURES: INF Mark Loretta (free agent, signed with Dodgers), C Brad Ausmus (free agent, signed with Dodgers), LHP Randy Wolf (free agent, signed with Dodgers), INF/OF Ty Wigginton (non-tendered, signed with Orioles).

SPRING FOCUS: RHP Bud Norris and 3B Chris Johnson are two young players who will be given a chance to compete for jobs in the rotation and starting lineup, respectively. Their ascent this spring and season would go a long way toward determining the team's fate.

PROJECTED ROTATION:

RHP Roy Oswalt

LHP Wandy Rodriguez

RHP Brian Moehler

LHP Mike Hampton

RHP Brandon Backe

The rotation takes a tremendous drop after Oswalt and Rodriguez. The Astros hope Hampton can stay healthy and find some of his former brilliance. Backe must prove himself again. Look for RHPs Bud Norris and Felipe Paulino to push for starting spots.

PROJECTED BULLPEN:

RHP Jose Valverde (closer)

RHP LaTroy Hawkins

RHP Doug Brocail

RHP Geoff Geary

RHP Chris Sampson

LHP Tim Byrdak

LHP Wesley Wright

This part of the club has tremendous depth, and it won't be surprising to see some of the returning relievers other than Brocail, Hawkins and Valverde be challenged for jobs by LHP Gilbert De La Vara, RHP Bud Norris, RHP Fernando Nieve or RHP Felipe Paulino. This area should provide the toughest battles of spring training.

PROJECTED LINEUP:

1. 2B Kaz Matsui

2. SS Miguel Tejada

3. 1B Lance Berkman

4. LF Carlos Lee

5. RF Hunter Pence

6. 3B Geoff Blum

7. CF Michael Bourn

8. C Humberto Quintero

The lineup is anchored by two of the best sluggers in baseball, Berkman and Lee. But Tejada has faded, and there will be more days off for him this year even though the club knows he'll be upset about it. Blum will hold the starter's job only until Chris Johnson is ready to come up from Class AAA Round Rock.

The club hopes Bourn will prove himself and work his way back to the leadoff spot. Quintero has a chance to prove he's a major league starting catcher.

PROJECTED RESERVES:

OF Darin Erstad

OF Jason Michaels

INF Aaron Boone

C J.R. Towles

INF Tommy Manzella

Erstad proved his worth last year and earned far more starts than the club expected. He also served as a tremendous example for Hunter Pence.

GM Ed Wade wanted to build his bench with veterans who can set examples for the younger players, and Michaels and Boone fit that mold. Towles lost the starting job last year, but he has a chance to at least make the club this year.

TOP ROOKIES: RHP Bud Norris turned a ton of heads in the Arizona Fall League after going 3-8 with a 4.05 ERA at Class AA Corpus Christi. 3B Chris Johnson, who hit .324 at Corpus Christi and .218 at Class AAA Round Rock, will be given a solid a chance to earn the starting third base job.

MEDICAL WATCH:

RHP Chris Sampson (right elbow tendon surgery in October 2008) is ready for spring training.

RHP Geoff Geary (groin surgery in October 2008) is healthy for spring training.

LF Carlos Lee (left pinkie surgery in August 2008) began hitting off a tee in January. He is cleared for spring training.

C Toby Hall (sore right shoulder) will have surgery and is expected to be out for four months.


Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: February 27, 2009

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