With spring training in full swing, the gang here at Climbing Tal’s Hill got together and decided to tackle some of the more interesting questions going around Astros’ camp. The crew will get together on a weekly basis to discuss some of the more burning issues until the end of spring. Today, we will discuss which recently demoted top prospect we might see donning an Astros uniform first, whether or not we believe Brett Myers will flourish in his role as the team’s closer, and which of our players is having the most disappointing camp. As Alex said last week, we want to hear your answers to these questions and any feedback you may wish to provide including any questions you might want answered for later roundtable discussion but for now, let’s get going.
The first question on the agenda is “Of the top prospects recently demoted to minor league camp (Springer, DeShields, Cosart, Singleton, etc), which do you think makes it to the big leagues first and do you see that person making it this year?”
Greg: I think Paul Clemens is the prospect that will be in the big leagues before any of the others. Clemens has been impressive since coming over from the Braves organization and being turned into a full-time starter. I would expect to see him in Houston this September, maybe sooner if someone gets injured or traded.
Alex: I agree that Clemens probably comes up the soonest but I think Jonathan Singleton has a real chance at coming up in September, if all goes well in CC. I think the club has sky high hopes for him and once Lee is dealt, Wallace probably gets first crack but Singleton might get a shot to see what he can do as well. I wouldn’t be surprised to see an open competition for the first base job next spring, including Singleton and Wallace.
Brian: It’s unanimous as I also believe Paul Clemens will be the first of our top prospects to make it to the big league club. While I think that a September call up is most likely, I also believe he is first on the list to replace an injured starter or a traded starter. As it stands now, the rotation looks to be Wandy Roriguez, Bud Norris, J.A. Happ, Jordan Lyles and Kyle Weiland. Should one of them be injured, traded or struggling, look for Clemens to get the call.
Next on the agenda is Brett Myers taking over as the Astros closer. “Do you believe he will keep this job for the entire year or do you think he will lose the job at some point?”
Alex: I think Brett will do fine as the closer but might get off to a slow start before settling in. He did it before with decent results and that was mid-season. That being said, I’d love to see Mills mix it up a bit, not quite closer by committee but not be Myers exclusively. One thing to remember, Myers first inning issues last season saw him throw very few fastballs, I think as a closer he will be more willing to throw his fastball rather than so many offspeed pitches.
Brian: I think he can but I do not think he will. Although it is just Spring Training, he has been horrid thus far in his appearances. That could be due to any number of things including the fact that he may be working on a specific pitch. In his lone year as a Phillies closer he was decent but I just feel that at some point he will be removed from the closer’s role in favor of either a “closer by committee” or another team member. I’d love to be proven wrong though as a “shut em down” closer could be a great trade chip come the deadline.
Greg: I could see it go either way but I’m leaning toward him being successful and keeping it the entire year. The closer’s job will be his until he proves he cannot handle it or do well in the role. Myers is a pro as his head case issues from years ago seem to have subsided. He wants to win and he seems to have rededicated himself. I look for him to keep the job the entire year.
Last up on the agenda is the performance of the Astros thus far in Spring Training. Last week we asked who is having the best Spring Training. This week we’d like to know, “which of our players do you feel is having a disappointing or substandard Spring Training thus far?”
Brian: The two that immediately come to mind are Brett Myers and Fernando Martinez. Martinez is a guy who I truly felt needed a change of scenery and fresh start. He began well but has cooled off tremendously. That being said, I’m going with Myers. When it was announced that he would be taking over as closer, I felt it was a good move. Brett has experience in that role and I thought he would take the job and run with it, and he still may. However, if Spring Training is any indication of how he may look in the regular season, then he will not be the closer for too long as he has been flat out hammered thus far.
Greg: My first thought when asked this question was to answer both of our Rule 5 picks, Rhiner Cruz and Marwin Gonzalez are having the most disappointing spring training thus far. However, I’m going to go with Cruz. He has been flat out terrible, not only on the pitching mound but while playing defense on routine ground balls. I noticed that he was slow covering first base on a ground ball to the right side this weekend. He then gave up a home run to none other than Bill Hall. This is a guy we took with the first pick in the Rule 5 draft and he has been an absolute zero. I don’t look for him to make the club out of Spring Training as I believe he will be offered back to his original team. Luhnow appears to have wasted $50,000 on Cruz and Gonzalez.
Alex: I wasn’t very high on Jack Cust to begin with so I’m not really surprised but I didn’t realize he was this bad. I’d have to say Fernando Martinez has disappointed me the most. I had high hopes given a second chance and after a good start, the guy is having serious issues at the plate. I’m also a tad disappointed in Brian Bogusevic as I really though he’d come out strong and take that RF position but he has kind of been caught in the mud all spring and has yet to separate himself from the other contenders.
Next week we will look at three more important issues that may develop as this week progresses. I’d also like to point out that last week during our roundtable, we were asked which Astro currently on the team is most likely not be here come Opening Day. We all said either Jason Bourgeois and/or Humberto Quintero. One week later, they are both gone via trade!