One of the hallmarks of a bad team in sports is that players are asked to do too much. To put the Astros in perspective, I’ve decided to go up and down most of the 25-man roster, and figure out where the players on this team would fit on an actual contender.

Michael Bourn – No. 6/7 hitter, starting CF. I just don’t think that Bourn gets on base enough to be a leadoff hitter on a quality team. His OBP this year is only .340. When he’s on base, Bourn is a difference maker, but I’ve always thought he needed to find a draw more walks.

Hunter Pence – No. 6 hitter, starting RF. You have to give him a lot of credit for his run production so far in 2011. Still, I don’t think that Pence would be hitting 3rd if he played with the Phillies, Yankees, Red Sox, or Indians. If you want to contend, hope that Pence is your 3rd or 4th best hitter, not the definite #1.

Brett Wallace – No. 2 hitter, possible starting 1B. Wallace’s position obviously depends on the team he’s on, and his track record doesn’t include a huge sample size. He gets on-base at a pretty good rate, and sprays line drives all over the place, which is why I think he’d be solid in the two hole on a contender. The question around baseball on Wallace is simple: does he have enough power as a corner infielder?

Chris Johnson – reserve infielder. His lack of production this season is alarming, if you’re an Astros fan. The line right now is .185, .224, .353. At this point, that’s just not major-league caliber. The team is at a point where you can keep Johnson out there for the entire season, but you need to pray he starts improving.

Carlos Lee – pinch-hitter, reserve outfielder, DH. At this point in his career, Lee reminds me of the Cecil Fielder, Ruben Sierra types that the Yankees trotted out as bats off the bench and DH guys during the Joe Torre era. Carlos still has ability and power at the plate, but right now it’s not consistent enough.

Bill Hall – reserve infielder. There’a a reason he’s playing in Houston right now, and not on a good team. I like the idea of Hall as a veteran leader, and he seems like a good guy, but his OPS  is .594, which is rough, at best.

Brett Myers – No. 3 starter. He’s an innings eater who always guts it out for your time. I’m just not sure that Myers is a front-line guy if you’re competing for a division title or a wild card bid. He is a career 4.23 ERA pitcher, but does have value with his overall consistency.

Wandy Rodriguez – No. 3/4 starter. Wandy is less consistent than Myers, although I think he has a higher upside. The lefty will toss in some terrible starts with his awesome ones. On his good days, Wandy can be a top-of-the-rotation starter, at least in terms of talent.

Bud Norris – No. 4 starter. This is a tough one, because Norris has a hell of a lot of ability. Barry Warner said at the start of the season that he feels Bud may be out of the rotation by the end of the season. So far this season, he’s been the best pitcher on the Astros. He’s put together some big-time starts over the last month. If that continues, the sky is the limit.

J.A. Happ – No. 4/5 starter. I go back and forth on Happ, because’s he’s a young lefty who at one point was carrying the Phillies rotation during the 2009 season. He’ll show flashes of being a younger Jamie Moyer, and then maximize at 5-6 innings for a stretch of three weeks. I like Happ’s stuff, but I’m not sure if his upside is that high.

Brandon Lyon – not a closer. I don’t think we even need an explanation here. Useful bullpen guy, though.

Mike Meltser can be heard on Vandermeer and Lopez 6-10am and from 10-11am

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