Friday, January 1, 2010

Ten questions from McTaggart

Brian McTaggart has a new article up with ten key questions for the Astros in 2010. What can we learn?

What about Brad Mills?
What's for certain is Mills' new, fresh approach can't be any worse than the toxic clubhouse atmosphere that was created for former Astros manager Cecil Cooper.

Can Roy stay healthy?
When Oswalt is healthy and throwing as he's capable, he's still one of the best pitchers in the game. The Astros' rotation isn't deep, and they can't afford to lose Oswalt. Considering Oswalt hasn't had surgery to repair the problem, the Astros can only hope his back problems don't return.

Can Berkman rebound?
How valuable is Berkman? Consider this: The Astros were one game out of first place when Berkman went on the disabled on July 23. When Berkman came back nearly three weeks later, the team was 7 1/2 games behind the Cardinals.

Who will close?
Both Lindstrom and Lyon have experience closing, but Lyon is the more experienced of the two. He saved 26 games for Arizona in 2008 and even allowed one hit in six innings in the playoffs that year. That could give him the nod over Lindstrom, whose stuff can be erratic at times.

Is Manzella ready?
No one wants to prove he's ready to hit at the Major League level more than Manzella, who has great character and makeup. He's not going to approach the 199 hits Miguel Tejada gave the Astros last year at the position, but his defense could make up for plenty of his offensive shortcomings.

Can Wandy keep it up?
Because Rodriguez, who will be 31 on Opening Day, is a little bit older and has more mediocrity under his belt than success, he's not as much of a given to improve. But he has slowly matured into what he did last season, going 14-12 with a 3.02 ERA. He finally learned to keep his emotions in check and trusted his pitches, which made him the Astros' best pitcher.

Is Bud Norris for real?
Norris appears to have the stuff and mental makeup to stick around for a while.

Who's SP4/SP5?
While it looks like Moehler is SP5...After Oswalt, Rodriguez and Norris, the fourth spot in the rotation is up for grabs from a handful of candidates: Felipe Paulino, Wesley Wright, Wilton Lopez and Yorman Bazardo...

...The Astros have also invited Gustavo Chacin and Ryan Sadowski to Spring Training and could add another name to the mix before pitchers and catchers report to Kissimmee, Fla.

(Note: Of course we know Sadowski is on his way to Korea.

When will Castro be C1?
There are some in the organization that believe the former first-round pick will be ready on Opening Day, and others who believe it may be a few months later. No matter who you talk to, everyone believes Castro will be a franchise catcher for the Astros sooner rather than later.

What will Carlos Lee provide?
He's entering the fourth year of a six-year, $100 million deal and makes more money than Albert Pujols. And he is a defensive liability in left field. Lee remains a good run-producer and solid clutch hitter, but when you consider his contract and his inability to cover ground in left field, his impact on the club is diminished.