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Wednesday, February 01, 2006


Misunderestimation: The Astros

It seems like every spring when people are making their predictions that the Astros are pretty consistently left out of the mix in the NL Central. Certainly that was the case as teams headed to spring training in 2004. In 2005, they got a little more attention, but few could look back and point to picking them over the Cubs or the Cardinals (who usually were picked as the division's second place finisher). Maybe, I'm wrong here, so, unless you're a rabid Astro's fan who obviously picked your team, please correct me. They have become the very team that embodies the spirit of misunderestimation when it comes to making preseason picks. For the first month or so of the season, the Astros live up to the analysis. Then, somehow, they turn things around, whether it's hiring Garner or trading for Beltran or lighting a fire under Morgan Ensberg's keister. There have been some changes with their team this year, and those Bee Guys are older. New Astro Preston Wilson hit for power to right field, a nice place to have a power alley if you play half your games in Houston with that Seafood Surprise Deck in right. As of now, they've lost Clemens, management refusing to bite the Farve-esque retirement waffle. Clemens may, however, may merely be stalling for time, signing with the team in May to get an extra month of rest after looking gassed by the time the "-ber" months rolled around. If they win the Bagwell insurance battle, they'll have some money to spend. I don't know what they'd spend it on, besides Clemens, but some extra dinero is hardly a liability in today's game. The Houston Spacemen will be back and competitive next year; you can bet on it. The main reason I make this statement confidently: they haven't made any moves that actually weaken their team and the essential components of the 2005 team are back ready to play. They never seem to be a threat, but they always turn out to sting you right on the Ass-tro (cheesy pun, I apologize).
If clemens comes back and is effective, the Lane/Burke/Tavares three headed beast can produce, and if ensberg can maintain his pace from last year, then they will contend for the division. We'll see if all of that can happen, though.

Every team has just as many quesion marks, though. The central is more wide open this year than it's been in a long time.
even with lane/burke/tavares, ensberg of 05, and a healthy berkman, i dont think they will win the division. if they do win the nl central, it would be because the cardinals are somehow (god forbid) horrible, and the cubs are their usual selves. they can contend for the wild card though.
i agree that the Astro's probably aren't a threat for the division title, given their proclivity to the slow start. However, they've surprised the league for the last two years, so anything's possible. Yes, this is all a lot of question marks and ifs, prognostics is a tricky business and why i don't evn try to make a living in gambling.
Bagwell Insurance $$$ + No Clemens = Jeff Weaver?
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