Another shot at the 25-man roster
We’re one week away from the start of the Astros season and Opening Day in Philadelphia. Astros staffers are already packing up boxes and will put them on the truck, which will leave for Minute Maid Park this weekend. The team has four remaining games in Florida, including tonight’s game against the Yankees in Tampa, before leaving Tuesday morning for an exhibition game in Oklahoma City.
The roster is slowly starting to take shape in the last few days, but there are still 36 healthy players in camp so there are plenty of more cuts to come.
Since the last time I tried to predict the Opening Day roster a couple weeks ago, I’ve already been proven to be wrong. Tommy Manzella was optioned to Minor League camp, and Ryan Rowland-Smith is out of the running for the rotation. Not surprisingly, things changed and I missed the mark with a couple of those.
So let’s try it again:
Comment: Both have had a nice spring at the plate, and unless the Astros find another catcher in the next week, it looks like Quintero and Towles will split the catching duties. What is known is that Quintero is a lock.
Brett Wallace (L)
Comment: I’m swapping Manzella for Sanchez, who’s out of options. The Astros like his bat, but the problem is he doesn’t run very well and he’s not as versatile on defense as Anderson Hernandez, who’s a switch-hitter. Unless J.B. Shuck makes the club in the outfield — see below — or Carlos Corporan gets a catching spot, the Astros won’t have any left-handers on the bench, which could bode well for Hernandez. Still, I’m picking Sanchez.
Michael Bourn (L)
Comment: I’m sticking with Bourgeois, especially now that Brian Bogusevic is out of the picture. I can’t imagine the Astros would go with J.B. Shuck, who barely got his feet wet at Triple-A last year, to have a reserve role in the outfield. Shuck has performed well in Florida, but so has Bourgeois. Sure, he’s right-handed, but he plays great defense and can fly, so he’d get plenty of chances to pinch-run. He also swung the bat well this spring.
STARTING PITCHERS (5)
Wandy Rodriguez (L)
J.A. Happ (L)
Comment: This is set.
RELIEF PITCHERS (7)
Brandon Lyon (closer)
Enerio Del Rosario
Ryan Rowland-Smith (L)
Comment: Yes, I’ve omitted left-hander Fernando Abad and the two Rule 5 guys — Lance Pendleton and Anuery Rodriguez. Abad has really struggled this spring after a great showing in winter ball, so perhaps he could start the season in Triple-A until he gets it ironed out. If Abad and non-roster invitee Gustavo Chacin don’t make the team, that would leave Rowland-Smith, who’s out of options, as the left-handed specialist. I think he’s probably more served to be a long relief-type pitcher, but he does have more appearances in his career in the bullpen than as a starter.
I think the only locks are Lyon and Lopez. I’m pretty sure Melancon and Del Rosario have put pitched themselves onto the team, and Fulchino has performed well despite Thursday’s hiccup. Then there’s Villar, who’s been throwing two-inning stints with some good success. I really don’t have much confidence in any of these guesses beyond Lyon and Lopez, so stay tuned.