Taking a shot at the 25-man roster
We’re two weeks away from the Astros having to set their 25-man roster in advance of the April 6 season opener against the Rockies at Minute Maid Park. The club still has 47 players in Major League camp following the trade of catcher Humberto Quintero and outfielder Jason Bourgeois, so there is still plenty up in the air.
Some things have come into focus, however, such as the catching situation. A lot could happen in two weeks — injuries and trades included — but let’s take a look at what the 25-man roster might look like on Opening Day. Remember, this is based on my observations.
Position player starters are listed in bold:
Catchers (2) – Jason Castro, Chris Snyder.
- Analysis: This one is pretty much set in stone with Quintero out the door. Unless there’s an injury, these are the catchers.
Infield (6) — Carlos Lee (1B), Jose Altuve (2B), Jed Lowrie (SS), Chris Johnson (3B), Matt Downs, Brett Wallace.
- Analysis: There’s little question about Lee, Altuve and Lowrie starting at this point, but third base isn’t as clear cut. Johnson has had a better spring than Jimmy Paredes, who was slowed by a wrist injury, and appears to be the front-runner. Paredes skipped over Triple-A last year, so it wouldn’t set his career back to start the season at Oklahoma City. Downs should be a lock based on his track record and versatility, but the final spot in the infield is a tough one. Wallace has had a pretty good spring, but has he distinguished himself from Brian Bixler or Joe Thurston? He’s certainly not as versatile, but I think he brings more to the plate offensively. I don’t see Rule 5 pick Marwin Gonzalez sticking. He’s been terrific on defense, but he’s 3-for-25 at the plate. Angel Sanchez has played well once he got healthy, but is it enough?
Outfield (5) – J.D. Martinez (LF), Jordan Schafer (CF), Brian Bogusevic (RF), J.B. Shuck, Travis Buck.
- Analysis: Despite Bogusevic’s recent struggles at the plate, he still appears to be the favorite to start in right field on Opening Day. There wasn’t much doubt Schafer would start in center, and the trade of Jason Bourgeois cemented that. Schafer, though, is battling a sprained hand injury, but he should be ready to play next week. The race for the two backup outfield spots really opened up following the departure of Bourgeois. I’ve been thoroughly impressed with Shuck’s all-around performance and give him a nod. Jack Cust (0-for-24 in Grapefruit League games) still has time to play his way onto the team, but he’s been limited to mostly DH duties because of a balky elbow. None of this bodes well for him. Travis Buck, another left-handed bat, has scorched the ball when healthy. Fernando Martinez has struck out way too much and has an option left, so he could be sent to Oklahoma City. I’m not sure the Astros are prepared to carry four left-handed-hitting outfielders, though. Keep on eye on Bixler, who can play infield and outfield.
Starting rotation (5) — Wandy Rodriguez, Bud Norris, J.A. Happ, Livan Hernandez, Kyle Weiland.
- Analysis: Rodriguez, Norris and Happ are locks for the rotation, and I think it’s safe to say Hernandez will be added to the 40-man and make the rotation. That leaves three guys for the final spot — Weiland, Zach Duke, Jordan Lyles. Weiland has pitched better than Lyles, who’s only 21 and could benefit from more time in Triple-A. I have Duke winning a spot in the rotation as the long man who has the ability to start, so I’m giving the final rotation spot to Weiland.
Bullpen (7) — Brett Myers, Wilton Lopez, David Carpenter, Fernando Rodriguez, Brandon Lyon, Fernando Abad, Zach Duke.
- Analysis: It’s safe to say Myers, Lopez (if healthy), Carpenter and Rodriguez are locks to make the team, leaving three spots. I’ve got Lyon making the team because of his experience, and I’m giving a nod to Duke to be the swing man on the pitching staff. The final spot, for me, comes down to the lefties — Abad, Sergio Escalona and Wesley Wright. Escalona has had only one appearance because of a hyper-extended elbow so he’s behind the others. Abad has quietly had a nice spring and could get a nod over Wright. As far as Rule 5 pick Rhiner Cruz is concerned, he hasn’t shown enough to make the team, and I have Henry Sosa starting the season in Triple-A, along with Lucas Harrell.