Skip to content

Restoring the rosters: No. 19 – Houston

Aug 20, 2009, 5:08 PM EDT

This is part of a series of articles examining what every team’s roster would look like if given only the players it originally signed. I’m compiling the rosters, ranking them and presenting them in a countdown from Nos. 30 to 1.
No. 30 – Cincinnati
No. 29 – Kansas City
No. 28 – San Diego
No. 27 – Milwaukee
No. 26 – Baltimore
No. 25 – Chicago (AL)
No. 24 – Chicago (NL)
No. 23 – Pittsburgh
No. 22 – Detroit
No. 21 – Tampa Bay
No. 20 – New York (NL)
Over the last decade, the Astros have done as poor of a job as any team in baseball in bringing in talent both in the draft and internationally. That they rank above 11 teams here is largely due to the treasure trove of prospects they signed out of Venezuela in the 1990s.
Rotation
Johan Santana
Roy Oswalt
Wandy Rodriguez
Bud Norris
Tim Redding
Bullpen
Brad Lidge
Chad Qualls
Billy Wagner
Juan Gutierrez
Fernando Nieve
Chris Sampson
Jamie Walker
Santana, of course, was plucked by the Twins in the Rule 5 draft in Dec. 1999.
The Astros lack depth because so few youngsters have come through the minor league system of late, but they do have a great front three in the rotation and a solid enough bullpen, even if Lidge and Wagner aren’t the properties they were.
Noris was an easy choice as the fourth starter, though I still think there’s a good chance he’ll prove to be a long-term reliever. Considered along with Redding for the fifth spot in the rotation were Freddy Garcia, Felipe Paulino and Matt Albers.
Lineup
2B Ben Zobrist
RF Bobby Abreu
1B Lance Berkman
CF Hunter Pence
LF Carlos Guillen
C Ramon Castro
3B Melvin Mora
SS Julio Lugo
Bench
OF Josh Anderson
OF Jason Lane
INF-OF Eric Bruntlett
INF Aaron Miles
C John Buck
J.R. Towles was also considered for a bench spot, more as a third catcher/pinch-hitter than as a true backup for Castro. Lane was in the greatest danger of being bumped.
It’s an old lineup, but still a pretty good one, particularly if you want to believe that Zobrist is for real and Lugo has something left. There’s an awful lot of OBP at the top and no real liabilities besides maybe Mora at third base. Defense is a problem, and it does take a toll on the team’s ranking, as does the lack of depth. Pence is stretched in center, so Anderson will push him to left with a late lead. It might be that the team would be better off with Zobrist at shortstop and Lugo at second, but I’ve left the two where they’re playing now.
Summary
Santana, Abreu, Guillen, Mora, Garcia and Richard Hidalgo were all signed by the Astros out of Venezuela in the 1990s. Rodriguez was signed out of the Dominican Republic in 1999. The only key players here brought in this decade were Pence and Zobrist, both of whom were drafted in 2004. The Astros come in 19th for now, but with even guys like Oswalt and Berkman having seen their best years, they could rank in the bottom five in two years time. In five years, they might be dead last. At least the Astros seem to be valuing their draft picks higher now than they used to. They didn’t have any in 2003, 2004 or 2007. The team’s only first-round pick over the last 10 years to reach the majors was Chris Burke.

  1. BB - Aug 26, 2009 at 12:19 AM

    Santana was taken by the Marlins, not the Twins, in the Rule 5 draft.

  2. Tim Levine - Aug 30, 2009 at 1:06 PM

    Santana was taken by the Marlins, but was immediately flipped to the Twins, as the two teams made a deal prior to the draft.

  3. doug - Dec 3, 2009 at 9:04 PM

    this article was dated august 2009 , did i fall asleep? miss something? does this article include prior players?,,,Johan Santana in aug 2009 played for the mets, lugo played for st loius, melvin more for the orioles , in fact not sure mora ever played for the astros
    some one e-mail me at rdsx58@yahoo.com

  4. Horace Lebel - Feb 19, 2010 at 9:08 PM

    Very interesting read. Thanks.

Leave Comment

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!

Featured video

Managers get easier path to Cooperstown
Top 10 MLB Player Searches
  1. H. Street (3473)
  2. T. Tulowitzki (3135)
  3. C. Headley (2796)
  4. H. Ramirez (2684)
  5. Y. Puig (2676)
  1. R. Howard (2539)
  2. C. Lee (2476)
  3. B. Belt (2468)
  4. M. Trout (2225)
  5. A. Rios (2153)