Let's go back and check on those predictions from Spring Training:
ESPN's Steve Berthiaume:
The Houston Astros will win the NL Central in 2011. I'm calling it right now -- Astros '11 division champs.
Larry Carney (ABC):
Brett Myers, J.A. Happ & Wandy Rodriguez are three great starters. The Houston bullpen looks strong. Brandon Lyon settled into the closer role late last year. Houston's offense is weak, but so was the Padres lineup last year when you take out Adrian Gonzalez. Houston's offense will be good enough to win some games, like they did over the last two months of 2010. The Padres didn't make the playoffs. And Houston doesn't have enough to beat Cincinnati, but the Astros will be relevant in September.
Big League Stew:
Am I nuts for thinking I'd rather have the Pirates' roster than the Astros' right now? Houston probably has it over Pittsburgh in starting pitching.
Scott Miller (CBS):
5th: If Biggio, Bagwell, Berkman and Oswalt can ... wait a sec. Who the hell ARE these Astros?
This season brings 90 losses for the first time since 2000 and a close-shave fifth place finish over the sixth-place Pirates at the bottom of the National League Central.
The best-case scenario has Houston finishing fourth in the division, as they did in 2010. If the Astros hit some bad luck, there is a good chance they finish last in the division and maybe the league.
FanGraphs' FAN projections:
Alex Remington (Yahoo):
The Astros don't have a single player as good as Pirate center fielder Andrew McCutchen, and they might not have anyone as good as third baseman Pedro Alvarez, either. After years of Pirate dominance of the NL Central cellar, the race for the bottom might finally be competitive in 2011. I'm predicting a 64-98 record.
The Constable, on Berkman:
I said that Berkman was going to have a great year, for three reasons:
1. He's healthy for the first time in a while.
2. He'll be playing on a team that will contend for the postseason.
3. He's going to want to stick it to the Astros...
...Get ready, because I think Berkman is going to go off this year.
The Constable, on 2011:
They should be better offensively with Hall and Barmes over what the Astros were working with in Tommy Manzella, and even with a career year from Jeff Keppinger, and while Carlos Lee isn’t likely to get any MVP votes in 2011, he’s simply not a .250 hitter…yet. So I think they can put up a fight, and I don’t buy into the 100-loss predictions....77-85, 4th place