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Astros ZIPS Paint A Sad, Sad, Picture

The good news is that Houston was recently named one of the best places to live if you're a young adult (20-29) by none other than Forbes Magazine.

The bad news is that most of the best-projected players on the Houston Astros are too old for that. ZIPS, a baseball projection system created by Dan Szymborski, sees the Astros having a grand total of four above average players next year: Hunter Pence, Carlos Lee, Wandy Rodriguez, and Brett Myers. That's before factoring in Carlos Lee's defense, too, which should probably sink him to below average at best.

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2011, however, will be ugly in Houston. Just some of the names that are high on the list should be enough to tell you how the season's likely to go - J.D. Martinez is a decent prospect and Jason Bourgeois and Andrew Locke have (very) limited uses in the majors, but they are way too high in the rankings for any organization that can seriously be called a divisional contender.

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And as ugly as it will be, Astros fans should generally be happy about a bad season. Houston is kind of stuck in the same death spiral that the Orioles were in during the first half of the aughts - an unimaginative GM and frequently winning just enough that the team can convince themselves that they are only a few players and some good luck from competing. The Astros, like the Orioles before them, are not. And like the Orioles, Houston may have to have a true bottoming out to really have the lesson hit home. While the team did trade Oswalt and Berkman, I'm still not convinced the organization truly thinks a foundation-to-roof total makeover is what is necessary. The Astros 2010 season was the lucky year - they had 20 Oswalt starts and Berkman still better than anyone is projected for 2011 and exceeded their pythagorean wins by 8.

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On the uh, bright side, there's the Texans Rockets Cougars Owls Dynamo? 

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/weeps openly

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Images by eflon used in background images under a Creative Commons license. Thank you.