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4 Houston Astros
Melissa Segura
March 31, 2008
"BOURN, PENCE AND TOWLES AT LEAST BRING A FRESH IDENTITY TO A THIN, AGING ROSTER."
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March 31, 2008

4 Houston Astros

"BOURN, PENCE AND TOWLES AT LEAST BRING A FRESH IDENTITY TO A THIN, AGING ROSTER."

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[This article contains a table. Please see hardcopy of magazine or PDF.]

[This article contains a table. Please see hardcopy of magazine or PDF.]

New acquisition (R) Rookie B-T: Bats-throws
WHIP: Walks plus hits per inning pitched
PVR: Player Value Ranking (explanation on page 62)

CONSIDER THIS

a modest proposal ...

The Astros went into spring training with a set lineup and roster, in part because they made one of the more questionable signings of the off-season. While Kazuo Matsui's .342 on-base percentage and 32 steals in 2007 looked attractive, his season was largely a Coors Field mirage. Down from the mountain, the 32-year-old Matsui (left) hit .249 with a .304 OBP and a .333 slugging percentage, even worse than his .266/.318/.379 marks during his three previous seasons with the Rockies and the Mets. Paying Matsui $16.5 million over three seasons is a mistake. Mark Loretta, the veteran infielder who will make $2.75 million this year, is the better player at the plate (career .362 OBP) and comparable in the field, and should be given a big chunk of the playing time at second.

THE NUMBERS

DON'T LIE

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Runs batted in by rookie catcher J.R. Towles on Sept. 20 against the Cardinals. Towles, who was playing in just his sixth major league game, has a reputation as a run producer: During his minor league career he averaged one RBI every 6.1 at bats; by contrast, incumbent catcher Brad Ausmus, 39 in April, failed to average one RBI per 10 at bats in three of the last four seasons.

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