The Astros hit a second half skid that cost Manager Cecil Cooper his job in 2009. Now the Astros enter 2010 with ex Boston Red Sox Bench Coach Brad Mills at the helm. They won 74 games a year ago, but face big questions. They picked up Brandon Lyon in free agency to be their closer, but he is recovering from shoulder surgery. One has to wonder about Roy Oswalt, is there enough offense, and if this is Lance Berkman’s final year in Houston?
Is Oswalt still an Ace? For the first time in his career he failed to post double digit wins in 2009, and he had a career worst 4.12 ERA. For teh sixth straight year he made 30 plus appearances, but Oswalt is battling back troubles. Since 2003 he has pitched more than 200 innings, and some are whispering that he is breaking down.
The final remaining Killer B, Berkman, is under contract till 2011, but the Astros hold a 15 million dollar option for next year. He is coming off the worst season of his career, and he would like the team to pick up the option since he is unlikely to get that kind of money on the free agent market. In 2009 he battled biceps and calf injuries but still but ok numbers, if not compared to his usual production.
Do the Astros have enough offense? They finished 27th in the Major Leagues in runs scored last year. They lost their second best RBI man in Miguel Tejada, Berkman struggled with injuries, and Carlos Lee’s production dropped off. The Astros have replaced Tejada at short with defense first Tommy Manzella. They do have leadoff man Michael Bourn who is very capable of getting on base, but if the sluggers fail to knock him home that is meaningless.