April 02, 2006

NL Central - Astros

This team suffers from residual greatness. They are a team that relies heavily on starting pitching, and hence unless Clemens comes back, they are a much worse team than they were last year. In fact, they're pretty similar to the Cubs. Their only top-tier bats are their corner infielders (Ensberg and Berkman), they have a rising star and a mediocre veteran in the corner OF spots (Lane and Wilson), a light-hitting defensive shortstop (Everett). The Cubs do have an edge at 1b, 3b, CF (Taveras is also a decent leadoff man, but Pierre is top-shelf if he's on his game), C (Ausmus is only there for his defense) and 2b (Biggio is ancient and the cubs have 2 quality guys). Still, they should probably score as many runs as the Cubs.

On the pitching side, they have 2 top-notch guys in Oswalt and Pettite. I think Backe is incredibly overrated with his 1.46 WHIP and 4.50+ ERA. He's only even mentioned because he had that great stretch as a rookie in the postseason two years ago. Wandy Rodriguez and Buchholz are both fringe 5th starters - so you can see why this team desperately needs Clemens to get back. Again like the Cubs, their bullpen is quite good (though they have a better closer).

I think this team will finish behind the Cubs - both teams will probably reload on pitching in May, assuming Clemens comes back, though the Cubs will recieve a bigger impact by getting 3 aces.