When Pat said he wanted to do this series I never imagined that I would be volunteering to write the Astros post. Remember when I recommended Jesus Guzman on the podcast? Neither does anyone else! You can only bang out so many Cardinals and Reds posts before you want to do something goofy.
The Houston Astros are a team about to start reaping the benefits of being pathetic. Pathetic baseball means high draft picks and high draft picks mean uber-prospects. The uber-prospects aren’t here yet, but they could be here soon and some of the current placeholders could help fill a slot on a fantasy roster. There’s slightly more than just Jose Altuve and Jason Castro here. Not much, but there might be a few worthwhile fliers and lottery tickets.
5. Who is the Astros closer? Good question. No one knows! Manager Bo Porter wants to go with the dreaded “Closer by Committee.” Chad Qualls figures to get the first look…assuming it’s a favorable matchup. Qualls is better against lefties, but he doesn’t have an extreme platoon split. Matt Albers is a groundball pitcher that struggles a little against lefties. Josh Fields has the most upside, but he also comes with the most risk. If you had to pick an Astros reliever who could have a 9.00+ ERA after April, it’s probably Jorge de Leon. If you have to pick a second Astros reliever who could have a 9.00+ ERA after April, it’s probably fields. The spectre of Jesse Crain will be looming on the DL as well. There’s a lot of names and none of them appear to be obvious. Take any of these guys as lotto ticket and hope you luck into double digit saves.
4. Is there a starting pitcher worth drafting? In a word? No. Not in mixed league smaller than 16 teams. Scott Feldman is the de facto, erm, first starter? Words like “ace” or “number one” are too strong to describe him. Feldman signed a 3-year deal to get clobbered and make $30 million. Jarred Cosart is a lotto ticket and fantasy GMs should be embarrassed to consider anyone else.
3. Is Jonathan Villar better than an end of the draft MI guy? Yes. Absolutely. Yes. Villar will steal bases and pop a couple homers. Think Jean Segura in steals and homers, but Chris Carter in batting average. Villar is also free to post a gross batting average and let balls clang off his glove because his only competition is Marwin “Perfect Game Killer” Gonzalez. When competition is Marwin, that means he doesn’t have any competition and he’ll be a useful guy either at shortstop or middle infield. He could compile his was to a 10 homer, 30 steal season if he can get to 600 PAs.
2. There has to be an outfielder or first baseman worth taking, right? Hrm. That’s not an answer, but what anyone would say when evaluating the crop of first baseman and outfielders that the Astros will break camp with. Dexter Fowler should be drafted in all applicable formats and…that’s about it. Marc Krauss has shown some pop in the minors and he’s only 26 years old. He could be a utility spot guy in an AL-only league. L.J. Hoes is basically a placeholder with a phenomenal name. Sounds like someone in my Freshman year algebra class, but he might steal 20 bases if he gets 500 PAs. Speaking of placeholders…
1. When are the kids coming up? Soon. George Springer will be up sometime in the summer and he looks like top 50 fantasy guy for the next 10 years. He’s absolutely worth a stash in a league with more than a few bench spots. Jon Singleton will likely get a September callup with an eye towards a starting job in 2015. Mark Appel should be up around the same time as Singleton and Mike Foltynewicz should be right behind both. Everyone else is too far away to matter for 2014.