NL Central Preview: Houston Astros

Ryan GaydosSenior Analyst IMarch 24, 2009

KISSIMMEE, FL - FEBRUARY 21:  Infielder Lance Berkman #17 of the Houston Astros poses during photo day at Atros spring training complex on February 21, 2009 in Kissimmee, Florida.  (Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images)

The Houston Astros, I predict, will finish fifth in the NL Central. I don't think that they will have enough steam to finish in the top and they will be beaten out by the Cincinnati Reds. The Astros need help in the rotation because Roy Oswalt cannot carry this team on his arm.

Lance Berkman and Carlos Lee will need to provide as much power and driving force as they can. Berkman cannot get injured while in a playoff hunt either.

Keep an eye on: Wandy Rodriguez, sp

Wandy will need a magic wand this year to transform is arm into a cannon. Rodriguez will probably be third in the rotation behind Hampton. Wandy was 9-7 last year with a 3.54 ERA in 25 games. Wandy needs to prove himself this year if he wants to stay in the Majors.

Projected Lineup
1. Kaz Matsuim 2b
2. Michael Bourn, cf
3. Miguel Tejada, ss
4. Lance Berkman, 1b
5. Carlos Lee, lf
6. Hunter Pence, rf
7. Geoff Blum, 3b
8. Humberto Quintero, c

Projected Pitching Staff
1. Roy Oswalt, rhp
2. Mike Hampton, lhp
3. Wandy Rodriguez, lhp
4. Brandon Backe, rhp
5. Brian Moehler, rhp

Projected Bullpen
Jose Valverde
Latroy Hawkins
Doug Brocail
Geoff Geary
Chris Sampson
Wesley Wright

Top Prospects
1. Jason Castro, c
2. Brian Bogusevic, of
3. Bud Norris, rhp
4. Ross Seaton, rhp
5. Felipe Paulino, rhp