Houston AstrosManager: A.J. Hinch
Stadium: Minute Maid Park
2008 Record: 86-75 (4th in AL West)
Team Page | Roster | Schedule
-- Tim Kurkjian
HITTER TO WATCH:
Chris Johnson could end up with time at third base if Jeff Keppinger doesn't work out, but there's no impact at all among high-level bats in Houston's organization.
PITCHER TO WATCH:
Bud Norris sits in the mid-90s, touching 98, with a slider up to 90 mph, so while he doesn't have great command he will strike some hitters out just on raw stuff.
-- Keith Law, Scouts Inc.
How will Ivan Rodriguez do in Houston? Can Miguel Tejada be one of the top shortstops in the National League? Has Lance Berkman joined Albert Pujols as one of the league's best first baseman? Register your vote.
Wandy Rodriguez has been a dominant-at-home, stink-on-the-road pitcher for much of his early career. He balanced his performance in 2008, to the point where he's more trustworthy on an every-start basis. All he needs to do to break out is stay healthy.
Miguel Tejada had 13 home runs and a .729 OPS in 2008, his worst numbers in either category since 1998. Tejada will turn 35 in May, there are steroid questions surrounding him and all his numbers are trending downward. Don't pay for past accolades.
--Tristan H. Cockcroft
INJURY TO WATCH
Lance Berkman. The Astros' first baseman began experiencing soreness in his left (throwing) shoulder in February. As recently as last week he was having trouble lifting his hand above his shoulder. The team is calling it biceps tendinitis and Berkman is brushing it off as no big deal. They had better hope it is just a little spring training aggravation and not a sign of something that continues to flare up during the season. After all, those chronic, nagging injuries generally start out as small annoyances. Only time will tell, but there is reason to keep a close watch on Berkman's status; it may become more of an issue if he cannot get back to the field before the season starts.
-- Stephania Bell
PRESEASON POWER RANKINGS
No. 25 overall
No. 20 overall
No. 28 overall
No. 29 overall
No. 25 overall