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.

19 Comments

I just can’t see Lunhow giving up on BOTH Rule V guys. Obviously an injury would make things easier but assuming there isn’t one I would think one less reliever makes the roster creating room for Marwin G to be on roster. Rather than go with Abad and Duke, unless he absolutely implodes between now and opening day, I would go with Wright since otherwise you probably lose him since he is out of options. You would lose Duke but is it really a loss? He has shown very little in recent years and little this Spring

I’m certainly not firm on Duke and actually had Wright on the team, but changed at the last second. This, of course, is all speculation.

nice report. i think bixler squeezes in somewhere.

Bixler becomes the sixth infielder. Wallace and Paredes go to AAA until somebody falters, gets traded or injured. That gives you two left-handed hitting outfielders off the bench and two right-handed infielders off the bench. Then you could platoon Paredes and Johnson and use Paredes as a utility guy in an emergency situation.

I think they could go to with only 4 outielders because Downs and Lee can play LF. Which would mean to me that Paredes makes the team. I don’t that will happen because they probalby prefer Paredes playing everyday. I thought they gave up on Johnson too early last year but not Wallace. Fernando Martinez started the spring well but fell off and still has an option so you know he goes down. Shuck looks ready. They may platoon Wallace and Johnson.

Do you HONESTLY think J.A. Happ has pitched well enough to win a spot in the rotation? I’m totally honest with my question. Do YOU think he’s a bonified starter?

My observations lead me to believe the team has Happ penciled into rotation.

Why are they going with 13 and 12 instead of 14 and 11 that is a really short bench especially for the NL there’s no way all of the relievers stay.

Most teams carry a 12-man pitching staff these days.

I would tend to agree with most of your choices, except in the pitching area. I believe Henry Sosa and Lucas Harrell both are out of options (as is Wesly Wright), so sending them down and off the roster could wind up losing one or all of them. Unless Houston sees nothing positive in any of them, I would have to say they stay. Bottom line, I think you will have two Houston teams this year. The team that exists through the trading deadline at the end of July and the team that will move on after the trades of players like Carlos Lee, Brandon Lyon, Brett Myers and Wandy R. In a perfect world, all of these players would have been gone by now, but if they play up to their abilitiy, they may wind up bringing in more and better prospects than they would have during the off-season.

Happ wins a spot by default. I really thought Happ was going to be a stud, still waiting,,,,,,,,

I’ll give Happ until the end of May……after that if he’s pitching like he did last year, he gets to go to OKC, or ANOTHER team.

I agree 100% Becky on sending him to OKC but not traded. U can’t get anything for him, he doesn’t cost the Stros much so just send him down and see if he can work it out.

You definitely didn’t answer Becky’s question.

What question was that?

“Do YOU think he’s a bonified starter?”

or “bona fide”, if you want to get technical.

Do you think that Sosa, Harrell and Wright will clear waivers when they are sent to OKC? I think they could lose Sosa and will they hold these guys until the final cut to increase their chances of clearing waivers?

I have no idea.

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