Projecting the 25-man roster
As I write this blog, Opening Day is three weeks away, so we’re getting down to crunch time. The Astros will begin cutting players from camp this week as they get the roster closer to 25 players than the 57 who are in camp now.
Trying to predict which 25 players will be uniform when the Astros face the Giants on April 5 is getting more difficult by the day because of injuries and some struggles in the bullpen. Still, I’m going to give it a shot and then you guys can discuss it for a few days while I take a quick break in Houston before returning to Florida.
So, here’s my guess of the 25-man roster on Opening Day:
J.R. Towles — Both Towles and Castro are swinging good bats this spring, but this won’t be an offensive position. They want someone to catch and handle the pitchers, etc. Eventually, that guy is going to be Castro, but considering he hasn’t played above Double-A I think he’ll start the season in Round Rock but will be starting at some point.
Humberto Quintero — LOCK
Geoff Blum — LOCK
Kaz Matsui — LOCK
Tommy Manzella — LOCK
Pedro Feliz — LOCK
Jeff Keppinger — LOCK
Edwin Maysonet — I putting the versatile Maysonet in this spot over Lance Berkman, who could begin the season on the disabled list after undergoing minor knee surgery. Berkman’s goal is to be back, but the Astros are not going to rush him. If he needs a few extra days at the beginning of the season, he’ll get them. Thus, Maysonet makes the club out of spring.
Carlos Lee — LOCK
Michael Bourn — LOCK
Hunter Pence — LOCK
Jason Michaels — He’s all but a lock. He’s got experience and has had a very nice spring after coming off a strong second half.
Cory Sullivan — I see Sullivan winning this job over Jason Bourgeois, Yordany Ramirez, Brian Bogusevic and Alex Romero. Sullivan has more experience in the Majors, he can run (not as well as Bourgeois, but he’s not slow) and he hits left-handed, which is desperately needed off the bench.
Roy Oswalt — LOCK
Wandy Rodriguez — LOCK
Brett Myers — LOCK
Bud Norris — I’m putting him down as a lock. I don’t see any reason to believe otherwise.
Felipe Paulino — I could have just as easily put Brian Moehler here, but Paulino is coming off a good outing and, man, does he have a great arm. At the end of the day, the Astros want him in the rotation, and Moehler can pitch out of the bullpen.
RELIEF PITCHERS (7)
Matt Lindstrom — LOCK
Brandon Lyon — Assuming he’s healthy, he’s a lock
Jeff Fulchino — LOCK
Brian Moehler — LOCK
Chris Sampson — I think he’s close to a lock, as long as he finishes strong. He’s done nothing so far to indicate he won’t win a spot on the club.
Tim Byrdak — Had a bad outing Sunday against Braves, but he’s a lefty with experience and he has time to get it ironed out. I still believe fellow lefty Wesley Wright begins the season starting in Round Rock. And Byrdak is out of options.
Alberto Arias — The final spot in the bullpen is very much wide open. Arias has shoulder inflammation, so who knows how that will unfold? Sammy Gervacio is pitching pretty well and could just as easily be in this spot as well, but remember that Arias is out of options. They like his arm when healthy.