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To the Moon, Alice!

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Sorry for the late post, my internet has not been happy today. All the infrastructure in Central Texas has been utterly destroyed by a third of an inch of ice.

Today, I am going to do a roster matrix on the Houston Astros, and do a bit of a season preview on them:

2007 ROSTER MATRIX
HOUSTON ASTROS

STARTING 8 BENCH ROTATION PEN
Ausmus c
$3.8M
Palmiero of
$950K
Oswalt rhp
$11M
Lidge rhp
$4M
Berkman 1b
$14.5M
Everett ut
$1.9m
Jennings rhp
$4.5M
Wheeler rhp
$930K
Biggio 2b
$4M
Bruntlett ut
$365K
Woody rhp
$5m
Qualls lhp
$376K
Ensberg 3b
$3.8m
House of
$327K
T. Miller rhp
$1.3M
F. Nieve lhp
$327K
Loretta ss
$3.3m
Conrad if
$327K
Backe rhp
DL
Sampson rhp
$327K
Lee lf
$8.5M
Scott of
$325K
W. Rodriguez rhp
$327K

Lamb cf
$1.7m



Burke rf
$362K



TOTAL
$40.0M
TOTAL
~$4M
TOTAL
$21.2M
TOTAL
$6.9M
OVERALL PAYROLL: $92.1

Note: There appears to be a discrepancy between the total of the individual players salaries' (~$70M), and the listed overall payroll $92.5M. Is this deferred money to Clemens and Bagwell?

This team really looks kind of similar to the Cardinals. The cardinals have invested $55.5M in their five highest paid players, while the Astros have invested $47.5M in their top five earners. The main difference is that the Cardinals have invested more cash, proportionally, in their lineup and bullpen, but they also appear to have a better lineup and bullpen.

Here's the thing with the Astros. After looking through their actual roster, they don't look anywhere near as weak as I thought that they would. Adding Lee should make a pretty big difference as far as their overall team performance--it allows them to permanently move Lance Berkman over to first base, and, if Morgan Ensberg rebounds at all, it also gives them a pretty damn solid 3-4-5, or 2-3-4, depending on whether they choose to bat Lee second or fourth. Who knows whether or not Biggio will be able to perform at all, but the addition of Loretta allows them to take Adam Everett out of the lineup. Their regular eight should be a big improvement over the disaster that it was last year.

The rotation also looks pretty solid, with Oswalt-Williams-Jennings looking like a decent 1,2,3 at the top of their rotation. It doesn't look like the monster that it has been in past seasons (barring a Clemens signing), but it still looks like a relative strength.

The problem with this roster is the bullpen and the bench. There are a few decent prospects in AAA Round Rock that they could be calling up (if anyone wants to go check them out sometime this summer, they should send me an email), particularly Hirsh ([editor's note, by Valatan]: Hirsh, of course, was given up in the Jennings trade) and Samson, who may or may not be starting for the Express in April until a spot opens for them. If they call up these guys, and maybe, J.R. House can post 85% of the 1.125 OPS he hit against the PCL last year, this team could end up being pretty dangerous.

Then again, it could be a house of cards waiting for a single injury to come crumbling down.

I guess that's why they play the games.

Regardless, if Berkman, Lee, or Oswalt get hurt, this team will either be relying on very subpar talent or on rookies to earn their way into the postseason.