Brian McTaggart says this Spring Training isn't just about getting back into shape. There are jobs to be won and lost here, people. Among those:
The Astros' worst fear would be if neither Towles nor Castro stepped up at the plate this spring. They need someone to win this job in impressive fashion.
Prediction: Castro starts at catcher.
The wild card is Felipe Paulino. Last year it was "high noon" for Paulino and Fernando Nieve to prove they're capable big-league pitchers. Well, it's about 11 p.m. for Paulino, so it's probably now or never. If he builds on his bright spots from last year, he could be a huge boost for the rotation.
Prediction: Norris and Moehler will have the final two slots.
I'll disagree with this. When Paulino had to step up in June 09, he did it - once the coaching staff stopped screwing with his role (1-0, 2.45 ERA/0.82 WHIP, 20K:1BB). And then they started screwing with it again. If Paulino comes in with a defined set of goals, he should be okay. Luckily for us, it seems as though Moehler is the wild card here, so it's Paulino's to win or lose. But I'm guessing he wins.
Lindstrom has electric stuff and could win this job by throwing strikes and keeping the ball down. The truth is either one of these guys can handle the role. The Astros would much rather have Lyon or Lindstrom closing this year than Jose Valverde, considering the financial ramifications.
Prediction: Lyon is the closer.
-#2 hole hitter
If (Pence) hits second Berkman and Lee are third and fourth, the bottom five spots won't scare anyone. That's why Pence should hit fifth behind Berkman and Lee and stretch out the order a little bit.
Prediction: Matsui hits No. 2.
I can't argue with this, either. Both Matsui and Feliz' career OBP are terrible, but Matsui's faster (as McTaggart notes), and why wouldn't opposing pitchers just throw meatballs to Matsui, Feliz, Blum, and Manzella?