The All-Time Ultimate Astros Roster
The Astros are celebrating their 50th season in major league baseball this year. The team's going to be rolling out the throwback uniforms on Friday nights, and they'll probably find other ways to celebrate their history before making a new start of it in the American League next season.
I thought I would use this space, before the season gets going, to name my all-time Astros roster. These players would be the ones I would select for my ultimate Astros fantasy roster. My one criterion is that the player has to have been more than just a rental (i.e., Randy Johnson, Carlos Beltran), and he has to have spent more than just a couple of seasons with the club between stops elsewhere (i.e, Jeff Kent, Roger Clemens, Andy Pettitte).
I'm sure most of you will disagree with my picks, but so be it. You're free to use the comments to leave your roster or complain about a player I left off.
First Base: Jeff Bagwell.
Second Base: Craig Biggio.
Shortstop: Dickie Thon.
Catcher: Brad Ausmus.
Heavy on players from the glory days of the mid-`90s through the World Series. Jeff Bagwell's the best player to ever suit up for the Astros, as good defensively as he was offensively. Craig Biggio's a legend, and Ken Caminiti was a human vacuum cleaner at the hot corner. Brad Ausmus didn't hit as well as the others, but he knew how to control a pitching staff, and he was the best the team's ever seen at handling opposing baserunners.
The real tragedy is Dickie Thon, who was Derek Jeter, A-Rod, Barry Larkin, etc. before they were even playing. He was hit in the head by a pitch early in the 1984 season, and though he came back to play several more seasons, he was never the same player.
Right Field: Jimmy Wynn.
Center Field: Cesar Cedeno.
Left Field: Lance Berkman.
Jimmy Wynn hit for power, had good range in the outfield and an excellent arm. Did I mention he could hit for power, even in the Astrodome? Cesar Cedeno was compared to Willie Mays when he was just hitting the big leagues. He never lived up to that comparison, but he's still the best center fielder the team ever had, winning five straight Gold Glove awards from 1972 to 76. Lance Berkman should probably be at first base, but the team needs his bat in the lineup and he's not as good as Bagwell, so he goes to left field, one of his many positions.
1. J.R. Richard.
2. Larry Dierker.
3. Nolan Ryan.
4. Joe Niekro.
5. Roy Oswalt.
J.R. Richard is the greatest pitcher in team history. The team needs to honor him at some point. Larry Dierker's a team icon, excelling as a pitcher, broadcaster and manager. Nolan Ryan pitched his fifth no-hitter and bypassed Walter Johnson as the all-time strikeout king while wearing the Astros uniform. Joe Niekro was that dependable veteran who holds the club record for most wins, and Roy Oswalt just shuts down everybody as well as being second to Niekro in all-time wins by an Astros pitcher.
First Base: Bob Watson.
Second Base: Joe Morgan.
Third Base: Doug Rader.
Outfield: Terry Puhl.
Utility: Craig Reynolds.
Catcher: Alan Ashby.
Bob Watson can also play in the outfield when needed, and his power numbers would've been much better were it not for playing at the Dome before the fences were pulled in. He also makes the team for scoring MLB's one-millionth run and for being MLB's first African-American general manager.
Joe Morgan's in the Hall of Fame. Doug Rader was one of the mainstays of the team before it got good. He was the first Astro to homer into the gold seats, and he was also the first to win a Gold Glove. Terry Puhl's the ultimate fourth outfielder. He was good enough to make the All-Star team, and he excelled in all three outfield positions. He didn't hit for power, but he was on base a lot, and he found lots of ways to score. Craig Reynolds can play everywhere, including the outfield, and if not for Brad Ausmus, Alan Ashby would be the starting catcher (he also caught the no-hitters of Ken Forsch, Nolan Ryan and Mike Scott).
Start/Long Relief: Ken Forsch.
Start/Long Relief: Don Wilson.
Start/Long Relief: Mike Scott.
Relief: Joe Sambito.
Relief: Billy Wagner.
Closer: Dave Smith.
There were four no-hitters pitched by these "long relievers," and Billy Wagner took part in another. Ken Forsch was a good closer before he moved into the starting rotation. Mike Scott burned out fast, but he's on this list for his 1986-1988 seasons and for pitching perhaps the greatest game in Astros history. Don Wilson pitched two no-hitters before his untimely death. Joe Sambito and Billy Wagner would have been the best closers on other teams, but Dave Smith was without a doubt the best closer the Astros have ever had.
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