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Astros manager says "We should win 90 games, without question


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KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- The Astros have been one of the least impressive teams in Florida this spring. They haven't won (4-16-3, even after three straight wins), and they haven't looked good, either.

You wouldn't know it by talking to manager Cecil Cooper.

"We should win 90 games, without question," Cooper said this morning. "We have a terrific bullpen. We have one of the best closers in the game. We've got the ace in the National League. We've got three of the best offensive players at their position. We've got, if not the best, then one of the top catchers in baseball.

"I mean, c'mon. We've got what it takes. You're telling me we're not going to win that many games?"

The Astros do have a top closer in Jose Valverde. They have Roy Oswalt atop their rotation. They have Lance Berkman and Carlos Lee. The Pudge Rodriguez signing can't hurt.

But 90 wins?

No one outside the Astros clubhouse is predicting 90 wins for this team. More people are predicting 90 losses.

"I've heard," Cooper said. "I don't care what they say. I've been with them everyday. I believe in what we have here. I do believe we'll win 90-plus."

Cooper's players agree with him.

"At least 90 games," first baseman Lance Berkman said. "We know what kind of team we have. I mean, why shouldn't we [win 90]? We won 86 last year, and we have a better team. This is the Houston Astros. We play better than we look on paper."

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