Tomahawk Talk recently had the opportunity to run a series of Braves, Astros, and MLB-related questions by Lisa Gray, who writes the great Houston Astros blog Astrosholic Synonymous at TheAstrosDugout.com, and with the Braves and Astros all set to play a three-game series this weekend in Atlanta, the timing couldn’t be better!
Here’s a look at what Lisa had to say in response to our questions:
Tomahawk Talk: The Astros had a tough year last year and many of the “experts” are predicting/projecting that 2010 will be a tough year for the team as well. How do you think the Astros will do this season?
Lisa Gray: The “experts” have been sneering at the Astros ever since I can remember. Even when we win, it’s all “luck” and we aren’t any good.
2010 will be tough because if we are at or above .500, the owner will be more than tempted to trade away good young players/prospects for some Old Veteran Presence who he thinks will be The Key To A Championship.
And 2010 will be tough because if we are below .500, the owner will be more than tempted to trade away any player who isn’t an All-Star for some Old Veteran Presence who he thinks will be The Key To A Championship.
Tomahawk Talk: What do you like best about the 2010 edition of the Astros?
Lisa Gray: I like that the players are playing hard for the new manager. That’s a welcome change. And I like seeing young players like Tommy Manzella, J.R. Towles, Bud Norris, Felipe Paulino, Sammy Gervacio, and Wilton Lopez get a REAL chance. For once, the young guys are getting more than two weeks to prove themselves. And I never EVER get tired of watching Michael Bourn hit, run, and field.
Tomahawk Talk: What are your primary concerns about this year’s Astros team?
Lisa Gray: Besides worrying that Drayton will revert to being Drayton and trade our good young players and prospects for, say, Miguel Tejada, Hunter Pence’s sudden inability to hit for either average or power and the lack of power from anyone on the roster not named Berkman or Lee are both concerns.
And I am not expecting above-average performance from the 3, 4, and 5 starters either. The latter two because they are just learning to pitch in the majors, and the number 3 starter because he just isn’t an above-average starting pitcher.
Tomahawk Talk: There are a lot of rumors floating around that the Astros may make some major changes if the team doesn’t start playing well. Do you see the Astros making any major player moves at (or before) the trade deadline?
Lisa Gray: I know that some Astros fans have been demanding that Ed Wade trade Oswalt, Berkman, and Lee for top prospects. Those fans, unfortunately, are thinking of the Mark Teixiera type trades and are forgetting that the three Astros’ stars are now old, expensive, on the downside of their careers, and have full no-trade clauses. Lee has refused to be traded on more than one occasion and Lance is now in the last year of his contract and wouldn’t bring that much in return. Roy-O would probably approve trades to the Cards and Braves, but at his age and price, we wouldn’t get top prospects/players in return.
Tomahawk Talk: If the Astros do make any moves, what would you like to see them do to improve the team?
Lisa Gray: I would like to see them play their young players more and trade away some of the older players like Kaz Matsui, Cory Sullivan, and Pedro Feliz, to name a few. I would like to see them trade Feliz and play Chris Johnson at third, but I doubt it will happen.
Tomahawk Talk: Drayton McLane as owner, Ed Wade as GM, and Brad Mills as manager – How long do you see each of them remaining in those roles?
Lisa Gray: Well, Drayton is doing his best to sell the team right now and as soon as he finds a buyer, he’s gone. As for Ed Wade, he’s not highly regarded as a GM and I doubt he will last very long – maybe until the end of the year if a new owner buys the team – and I would bet that Tal Smith is quickly shown the door as well. As for Brad Mills, it is really hard to say. I would guess that if the players like him and play hard for him and the team is not viewed as an underachieving team, that he has a much better chance of retaining his job than Wade does.
Tomahawk Talk: What do you like best about this year’s Braves team?
Lisa Gray: Their pitching. And Bobby Cox – you can’t ever count him out.
Tomahawk Talk: It’s not the Astros’ division, of course, but how do you see the NL East race playing out? What’s your projected order-of-finish for the NL East?
Tomahawk Talk: Returning to the Astros and their division, how do you see the NL Central shaping up? What’s your projected order-of-finish for the Central?
Tomahawk Talk: And what about the rest of MLB? What teams do you see as division champions and wild-card winners this year?
AL East – Rays
AL Central – Twins
AL West – Angels
AL Wild Card – A’s
NL East – Phillies
NL Central – Cardinals
NL West – Giants
NL Wild Card – Rockies
Tomahawk Talk: Great stuff, Lisa. Thanks for doing the Q and A!