A week ago, it looked as if Angel Sanchez‘ career in brick red was over after getting DFA due to Chris Snyder signing with the ballclub. Well, it looks like that belief was a bit premature, Sanchez cleared waivers Wednesday and will be invited to Spring Training. Angel has become somewhat of a lighting rod of criticism over his two years in Houston, primarily due to Brad Mills‘ use of the infielder. With Jed Lowrie taking over SS and Jose Altuve expected to be the everyday 2nd baseman, Sanchez was penciled in as strictly a bench player. The addition of Marwin Gonzalez via the rule 5 draft might have changed those plans because he must stay on the major league roster or be awarded back to his former team. All this made Sanchez the odd man out, or so we thought, until Wednesday.
While I’m part of the group who wanted the Astros to go in a different direction, I can see Sanchez’ value and believe if used right, he can help. My issue may be more with Mills’ usage of Sanchez than Angel himself. Mills constantly over played his hand when it came to Angel and his numbers showed the direct effect it had last season. Angel had an outstanding April, not a power hitter so his slugging was where you’d expect it to be but he hit .301 and had a solid .339 OBP. Those were good numbers for the 28 year old shortstop but his BAbip was .341 which made it obvious a regression was coming. BAbip is a nice tool that can help identify if a hitter or pitcher might be getting lucky, unlucky or if he is just being consistent with his prior stats. Sanchez was borderline horrible for the rest of the season, hitting .205 with a .286 OBP and zero power. The most troublesome aspect of his playing time was that he was getting so much of it. Mills sent Sanchez to the plate 328 times, it is almost incomprehensible that you’d send up that poor a hitter so often. The lack of depth at SS was an obvious issue but Sanchez wasn’t the starter and Matt Downs was also an option. Those numbers suggest what we already knew, in short spurts Sanchez can be handy but over an extended period of time he will be a liability.
His defense is nothing to get excited about but it’s pretty steady in that he’ll make the easy play. The main issues with playing him at SS is his range and arm strength, both aren’t very good. For a SS, those are pretty important so, much like his offense, the more we saw of it, the more we realized his deficiencies. That said, he could play the role of a backup infielder and no one would notice but it didn’t work out that way, last year. With the Astros’ acquisitions this offseason, if Sanchez makes the squad, I doubt we’ll see much of him in the field so this might not be the issue we saw in 2011.
At this point, let’s look at what we’ve determined, Angel Sanchez isn’t very good but Mills’ usage of him is worse. Look, reality is that Angel probably doesn’t make a contender’s 25-man roster and, given Marwin Gonzalez’ status, is a long shot on this one. He seems like a good guy and a hard worker and on a team without much SS depth, he deserves a shot in Spring Training. Whether we can trust Mills to play him the right way is a completely different story.