I bought, at an actual bookstore, a copy of The Fielding Bible Volume II by John Dewan. Here’s what it had to say about the Astros:
1B Lance Berkman (+13 runs defensively in 2008): “A quality first baseman. Athleticism shows in his instincts on pop-ups and his ability to range to his right. Soft hands for fielding ground balls and handling throws from his infielders. Quick feet and sound fundamentals around the bag.”
2B Kaz Matsui (-8): “Balls hit up the middle gave him problems in 2008, but he has done well with them in the past. Even when he reaches the ball, he doesn’t always field it cleanly and looks uncomfortable using his backhand. It’s hard to point to one specific skill Matsui possesses.” I wonder whether Matsui ever fully recovered from his various injuries last year.
3B Geoff Blum (+5): “A solid defender, displaying decent range to both sides.” Jeff Keppinger rates as a “solid but not spectacular” (-11) shortstop.
SS Miguel Tejada (+7): “Has aged better than most shortstops” — yes, they said this — “still possesses superior range and a rocket arm. Has made a name for himself as one of the top defensive shortstops in the game, but the data suggest this reputation might now be a bit overblown.”
LF Carlos Lee (-2): “Appears to be a designated hitter masquerading as a left fielder. His speed has declined, which does not bode well for his defensive future. He has a habit of throwing the ball around, allowing runners to take extra bases.” Under contract through 2013, the Bible does not say.
CF Michael Bourn (+4): “Speed is Bourn’s identity. His range allows him to close in on shots in the gap or over his head.”
RF Hunter Pence (+11): “An all-out, all-the-time guy. He isn’t afraid to be aggressive and will sacrifice his body to make a play. His arm can victimize runners who try to advance without the proper caution. He had 11 baserunner kills, the highest total in the National League. Never looks particularly graceful, but he gets the job done.”