Friday, April 24, 2009

NL South Tour: Houston Hope

At a Glance
owner: victorzhao - 16 seasons, .537 win%, 13 playoffs, 0 WS titles
team history:: victorzhao's 2nd season, 0 division titles, 0 playoff appearances
last season:: 73-89, 3rd place
top hitter: Juan Contreras (.276, ,337, .652, .957)
top starting pitcherMike Pierre (8-14, 4.88 ERA, 1.32 WHIP)

Notable Departures
Vic Andujar: The fleet-footed center-fielder was blocked in Houston by its all-everything CF Juan Contreras, so Andujar found a new home in Montgomery. Andujar had an OBP of over .400 at AAA last season and has, for his career in the minors, a whopping 24 plus plays to 1 minus play. The defensive wiz is slated to take over the duties in center for Montgomery and has already impressed his new bosses with two web gems in the opening week.
Brian Dye: Contreras' presence in center also allowed the team brass to move its top pick in last season's amateur draft for Pierre and Davey Espinosa, who are slated to the team's ace and closer, respectively. Given what the Hope received in return, Dye's promise is readily apparent. The five-tool outfielder can do everything on the field - though he may be somewhat miscast as a centerfielder. Nevertheless, the Hope's minor league system took a hit with the loss of Dye.

Notable Newcomers
Pierre: A traditional 4 pitch power pitcher, Pierre is reaching the prime of his career and is looking for a fresh start in Houston after some struggles with the bandbox in Philly. The brass is confident that Pierre can handle the pressure placed upon the probable opening day starter, as the Hope looks for its first playoff appearance in franchise history.
Espinosa: Seldom does a guy go from a AAA set-up guy to a ML closer, but that's the task facing Espinosa, who was also acquired in the Dye trade. Espinosa, a ground-ball machine, certainly has the stuff to get it done - but whether he will remains to be seen.
Darrel Young: Acquired in the trade for Andujar, Young arrives in Houston to help patch up rotation that was held together with duct tape and glue last season. Another traditional four-pitch power pitcher, Young's success may hinge on his ability to deal with the Crawford Boxes in left field.
Henry Anderson: The veteran righthander drew lukewarm interest on the FA market despite being classified as a Type A FA by Elias Sports Bureau. Perhaps peeved by the lack of attention from teams, the 36 year-old righty inked with Houston after the expiration of the compensation period - the 4th SP to do in the offseason. Anderson should provide a stabilizing force for what is now, a very veteran starting rotation.
Oswaldo Ferrer The biggest financial move made by Houston brass was the signing of Ferrer, who was sought after by several clubs. Perhaps liking what the Hope were doing in the offseason, Ferrer disappointed several clubs when he signed a monster 4 year contract with Houston that should take him through his playing career. Although his exact role on the pitching staff is yet to be determined, Ferrer can be very effective in any role, and he has already told the Chronicle, "starting, relieving, closing, I'm here to do whatever the skipper says. For the amount of money they paid me in this economy - that's obviously what I should do."
Garry Browne: Houston capped off its off-season by selecting Browne in the Rule V Draft. Browne, who slugged 61 homers and drove in a ridiculous 179 runs in AA last season, should take a liking to the Crawford Boxes.
Prospects to Watch
Benji Marquez: Rumored to be slated for a call-up by May at the latest, Marquez is Houston's shortstop of the future. The switch hitter should be able to get on base given his discerning batting eye and field his position with his peers. If all the right cards are played, Marquez could see himself in the middle of a pennant race come September
The new additions have brought plenty of buzz to Houston. With the threats of possible secession in the air, the locals will flock to the ballpark in droves, seeking a distraction from talks of Governor Perry's plans for an insurrection. This summer, unlike in summers past, the local nine may keep the fretting fans happy with some winning baseball, and potentially, a playoff game.  Look for this team to finish with between 82 and 90 wins, though they may need their passports to play the road games in the playoffs.

1 comment:

Stephen Watts said...

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