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Houston Astros Predictions | 2011 Season Betting Preview

2011 MLB Team Preview: Houston Astros

Hard to believe, as many of us watch the snow fall outside, that the Boys of Summer are almost back. But it’s true; teams have started reporting to 2011 Major League Baseball training camps and it’s time to start our team-by-team baseball gambling previews for the year.

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Astros Calender

FEB. 1-18, 2011 – Salary arbitration hearings
FEB. 14, 2011 – Voluntary Spring Training reporting date for pitchers, catchers and injured players
FEB. 19, 2011 – Voluntary Spring Training reporting date for non-pitchers and catchers
FEB. 26, 2011 – Mandatory Spring Training reporting date for all players

The days of Biggio, Bagwell, Berkman, Oswalt and Wagner are long gone in Houston. It appears that that the Astros had their shot over the last two decades at various points but blew it. Now, it almost feels like Houston is closer to perennial basement dweller Pittsburgh than to anyone else in the National League Central. Is there any way the Astros surprise in 2011?

HOUSTON ASTROS
World Series odds: +10000

When I took a look at the Houston Astros’ depth chart for 2011, I almost vomited all over my keyboard. Arguably, the Astros will have more bench players than true starters in their Opening Day lineup. The Astros will deliberately let Clint Barmes, Bill Hall and Humberto Quintero play baseball for them this season. But, hey, if that doesn’t work out, they still have Jeff Keppinger to save the day. Or the unproven, converted pitcher Brian Bogusevic. Or “leadoff” man Michael Bourne and his .331 career on-base percentage.

OK, so I’m being overly pessimistic there. Houston has a few bright spots. Hunter Pence is really quite good and also very consistent year to year. Carlos Lee could draw inspiration from Vlad Guerrero’s 2010 season and prove this year that he’s far from finished. Chris Johnson impressed in a half season last year and Brett Wallace is a Rookie of the Year contender if he can find his way into Houston’s lineup.

Still, it looks to me like the Astros will field one of baseball’s weakest offenses. Because of that, I was ready to slot them behind Pittsburgh. Good thing I reviewed each team’s pitching staff first.

In reality, Houston’s rotation ain’t half bad. Brett Myers matured and really delivered on his former promise as a starter last year. Wandy Rodriguez is a stalwart on my all-underrated team. J.A. Happ, lost in the shuffle among the Phillies’ star-studded rotation before arriving in the Roy Oswalt trade, is a sneaky-good lefty. Bud Norris hasn’t become a household name yet but he really knows how to strike guys out and could break through this season.

Led by Brandon Lyon, Houston’s bullpen looks like somewhat of a mess to me, but does it really matter? Not only will the ’Stros rarely take leads into the ninth, it’s not like they’ll be part of any crucial playoff chase.

2011 OUTLOOK

Houston’s starting rotation should keep it from being an embarrassment. For that reason, I like the Astros to win at least 70 games this season. That should float them above the lowly Pirates. But I can’t possibly see them contending in the Central with an offense this bad. Even if they manage to hang with the Cubs and the shorthanded Cardinals, there’s just no way the Astros rub shoulders with the Reds or Brewers this year.

Prediction: 5th, National League Central

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About Shea Matthews

Shea Matthews the Senior Writer at CP. Lives and breathes sports. He made the transition from athlete to sports journalist at a young age, writing in TV & national papers. Shea applies his knowledge to sports betting + handicapping daily, and shares winning picks with the world.


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