Castro coming, and not a moment too soon
If you follow me on Twitter — and I don’t know why you wouldn’t if you want the latest Astros news — you may remember during Sunday’s game I threw out the stats of catcher Jason Castro and third baseman Chris Johnson. Castro was having a solid season and getting better, and Johnson was simply smoking the ball.
While I was looking at Round Rock’s stats and watching the Astros lose their eighth game in a nine-game span, I couldn’t help but think. Why not? Why not bring Castro and Johnson up and see what they can do? So when the Astros announced after the game they had called up Castro, Johnson and outfielder Jason Bourgeois, it was met with much anticipation in the press box.
“I think we have to see what some of these guys can do,” manager Brad Mills said. “If they are the ones to go further to go beyond this year then we need to find those answers and we need to find out about it.”
Castro, the first Draft pick of the Ed Wade-Bobby Heck regime to reach the Majors, will get the “lion’s share” of the time behind the plate, according to Mills. In other words, he’s the starter. He’s not coming up here to sit the bench. There are 92 games left in the season, and the Astros need to find out if he can play at the Major League level. Scouts like his defense, the club raves about his game-calling ability, but can he hit? We’ll find out.
Pedro Feliz has been a disappointment at third base, both offensively and defensively. So why not give Johnson a shot? The signing of Feliz in the offseason was a sign the club wasn’t exactly sold on Johnson, especially when you consider they were committed to giving Tommy Manzella the job at shortstop.
Mills said Johnson would get a lot of playing time at third, so it will be interesting how much Feliz plays the rest of the way. Here’s hoping Johnson, unlike last year when he was called up and didn’t play, gets a bulk of the starts so the Astros know what they have going into 2011.
I’d keep Manzella in the lineup, too. He’s making strides on offense and has settled down defensively. Perhaps he winds up starting against left-handers more, but what’s to lose by getting him another 300 at-bats this season?
Bourgeois was tearing it up at Triple-A and may be a late-bloomer. We know he can fly and he gives Mills a different kind of weapon off the bench. Keep in mind Cory Sullivan, who was designated for assignment, was a left-handed hitter and Bourgeois hits right-handed. But Bourgeois can do things Sullivan can’t.
Simply put, this youth movement is exciting. The Astros will never admit to rebuilding, but the arrival of Castro could be a watershed moment in the franchise’s future. And that future is now.