First of, let's start with individual projections and rankings.
#1 - Lance Berkman - Even though Berkman will be 33 for the 2009 season, he is still one of the most reliable and dependable players out there. His usual .300 batting average, to go along with 30 homeruns, 100 rbi and 100 runs scored is nearly money in the bank for the 2009 season.
#2 - Carlos Lee - Lee has been one of the most steady fantasy baseball outfielders for the past ten years. Now entering the summit of his career in 2009 at age 33, Lee should once again be good for 30 homeruns, 100 rbi, 90 runs scored, 5-10 stolen bases, and a solid .300 batting average. Although I don't like his defensive play much, I do like him greatly as a fantasy player.
#3 - Hunter Pence - Even though Pence regressed a bit in 2008 after his outstanding major league debut in 2007, expectations will remain high for him as he will be just 26 years old during the 2009 season. Pence has the potential to be a 20 homerun and 20 steals guy, and 2009 could be his year to finally hit that plateau. Expecting numbers in the range of 25 homeruns, 15-20 steals, 90 rbi, 80-90 runs scored, and a batting average around .290 is reasonable for Pence in 2009. Plus he has a hot girlfriend.
#4 - Roy Oswalt -As the Astros pitching ace for the past seven years, Oswalt should once again be a top 20 overall pitcher in 2009. Expecting 15+ wins, 170 strikeouts, an ERA between 3.00-3.50, and a WHIP no higher than 1.20 seem likely for Oswalt in 2009.
#5 - Jose Valverde - Valverde reaffirmed last year in Houston that he can be a top 10 overall relief pitcher and closer in 2009, and best of all, Valverde offers excellent strikeout totals for a closer. Numbers in the range of 35-40 saves, 80 strikeouts, an ERA around 3.50.
Now, as a team I project the Astros to finish WAY, WAY higher than PECOTA. 67-95, REALLY? c'mon fellas, there is no way in hell that the Astros finish 2 games above the a** pirates! granted, every team in the central except the butt pirates have improved in the offseason. The Red's have bolstered their starting pitching significantly, however, they have lost most of the pop in the lineup. The cubs haven't improved significantly, unless they get Peavy. By the way check out Astros County blog about if the cubbies do get Peavy. The Cubbies are still a better team than the Astros but, the cubbies still have "the curse" going in the Astros favor. The Carinals couldn't close a game to save their life. In addition they are all lefties these days it seems like. The Brew Crew lost CC, although they do have a leaner Prince and Gallardo who is coming off a injury year as their ace. In reality (my world) the Astros do have a chance IF all the IF's work in their favor. The Astros need Hampton, Wandy and whoever fills out the rest of the rotation to perform PERIOD. The lineup is much improved although it is not new players. Bourn has spent time working on his dismal season at the plate and shows vast improvement. Miguel "I don't do steriods anymore"Tejada will do what he did last year and hopefully Kaz "anal fissures" Matzui can play at least 100 games this season. With that being said, C'mon STROS!!!
Once again, Hunter Pence's Girlfriend.