Originally Posted by Astrobuddy
M2, the Astros are prepared for life without Clemens. I for one think he is returning in May. The biggest reason.. he hasnt cleaned out his locker at MMP. That may seem small, but Pettitte isnt worried either. Remember, I live here. We hear things that dont get reported on AP or by the hacks on ESPN.
You don't "prepare for life without" a pitcher that tossed 211 innings at a sub 2.00 ERA. There's simply nobody you can throw into a rotation to match that kind of production.
By definition -- you get worse.
Here's what I else troubles me about Houston this year...
* Andy Pettitte started 33 games (highest since '97), threw 222 innings (highest since '97) and set career marks in ERA (2.39), and OPSA (.613). Basically, he did a full run better than his career average in ERA, and almost a full .100 better than his career average in OPSA. He also avoided a trip to the DL, something he hadn't managed to do in 2 of the previous 3 years. I'm not confident he'll put up the same lofty numbers this season.
* Backe is penciled in as the 3rd starter, but he's going to have to get better from last year if he's going to be an effective rotation member. He averaged just under 6 IP per game, and only around 90 pitches per start. That tells me they were going to get him early in ballgames, which is never a good thing when you're going to be pitching in front of two unknown commodities in the rotation. Good news on him, though, was that it was first full season of starting, so hopefully there's some room for improvement.
* Willy Taveras 103k/25bb -- that's hideous for a leadoff man no matter how many bases you steal or how fast you are. Kid needs to learn to take a walk at the plate. If you can't lay off the crap, pitchers eventually figure you out.
* Morgan Ensberg has a breakout year, but will he fall off to 2004 levels the way he did after a great season in 2003? If he isn't carrying the mail, that puts a ton of pressure on Berkman and Preston Wilson. With no Clemens, there's going to be a greater need to score runs.