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Houston Astros Futures Bet
by ASA - 03/20/2007
Weâ€™ll gladly take this solid franchise to win over 78 games this season. The last time Houston finished with less than 80 wins was back in 2000. That gives them six straight seasons with 80+ wins. Look back even further, the Astros have had more than 80 wins in 10 of the last 11 seasons. History is on our side. So it their line up which should be among the best in the National League. They have solid veterans across the infield with Lance Berkman (1B), Craig Biggio (2B), Morgan Ensberg (3B), Adam Everett (SS) & Brad Ausmus (catcher). ALL but Berkman had off seasons a year ago and Houston still won 82 games. The other four listed above combined to hit a full 52 points below their career averages which is 13 points per player. You can expect each to perform much better this season after all had sub par years. The Stroâ€™s also added basher Carlos Lee who had 37 homers and 116 RBI last year split between Milwaukee and Texas. Expect him to have a phenomenal year with the very short left field porch at Minute Maid Park. We look for the offense to be very good in Houston this year.
Now we move to the mound. Phil Garnerâ€™s troops should be solid on the hill with a chance to pick up a huge boost at some point this season. What do we mean by this? Well, Roger Clemens is trying to make a decision as to whether to return at some point this season or not. Our bet is he does. If that is the case, he will more than likely choose between Houston and the Yankees. While it may seem like New York would be the easy choice, we say â€œnot so fast my friendâ€쳌. He lives in Texas and loves the Houston area. The Astros have also given him â€œfree reignâ€쳌 over his schedule so to speak. Clemens is allowed to pitch on his turn in the rotation and then go back home to his family until his next outing. As of now, NY is not OK with that set up. Thus, if he comes back, Houston is a very viable option. We are basing this OVER 78 prediction with the assumption that Clemens will not pitch this year. If he does itâ€™s a huge bonus. Now onto the pitchers who will definitely take the field this year. Roy Oswalt is one the best starters in baseball. His ERA in 2006 was a paltry 2.98 which ranked him second in the Majors behind Johan Santana from Minnesota. Jason Jennings was a very solid #1 in Colorado. He put up an ERA of just 3.78 with the Rockies last year which is fantastic when you look at the home park he had to pitch in. He is now a great #2 starter for Houston. Third starter Woody Williams is a grizzled veteran who had 12 wins and a 3.65 ERA for the Padres last season. The bullpen should also be solid. Closer Brad Lidge had 32 saves last year but basically had a terrible season for him. His ERA was above 5.00. The two previous seasons he stood at 2.29 and 1.90. As with many of the other Houston players, look for Lidge to have a normal season for him in 2007.
Finally, the Astros are in a weak division. The winner of NL Central (St. Louis) had just 83 wins last year. Four of the teams in the division had 80 wins or less last year. Pitt, Cincy, Milwaukee and the Cubs will all again fight to try and get to .500 for the season. St. Louis lost a few key players and may not top the 83 wins they had a year ago. Houston has a solid shot to win this division which easily puts them above 78 wins. ASAâ€™s projects Houston to win 85 plus games in 2007.