Every time I see a baseball club make roster cuts, I think back to the Durham Bulls’ manager struggling to tell 12 year minor league veteran catcher Crash Davis, letting a player go was the hardest job a manager has in the film Bull Durham. I assume that part of the classic flick is legit and Brad Mills had a few conversations like that this morning. The Astros had a busy morning, cutting six players and reassigning them to various units of the organization leaving the team at 41 players. These moves have basically cleared up the more interesting positional battles and opened some eyes. They also made a significant position change for one of their young prospects, moving Jimmy Paredes back to his natural position of second base. An impactful move if for nothing else, it creates depth within the organization but could mean much more down the line. Spring Training is coming down the stretch and the Astros are beginning to look like they have a group in mind which will go to Minute Maid Park come April.
The three players who are no longer in the running for roster spots are Aneury Rodriguez, Jimmy Paredes and Fernando Martinez, all three sent to Oklahoma City. Three others were also reassigned to minor league camp, Xavier Cedeno, Jose Valdez and Brad Snyder. A disappointing end to a tough spring for Fernando Martinez, I really thought he had a shot in RF but could never quite get going. Equally disappointing for Rodriguez and Paredes, both seemed to have better than decent shots at spots on the club but with others in front of them performing better, it became obvious that they would be sent down. All three should see time again in Houston this season. Paredes was more a victim of injury and position but I will get to that in a moment. Moves will be made during the season that will open up opportunities for all of these guys and a little more seasoning might just be the ideal scenario.
The other announcement that sent mini-shockwaves throughout the Astros fanbase this morning was the move to seconnd base for Jimmy Paredes. The move is a bit of a surprise because we all assumed when the spring got going he was almost the favorite to be starting a 3rd base come opening day. As spring unfolded however a hot hitting Chris Johnson, nagging injures, and even Brett Wallace getting time at 3rd all made it clear that OKC was in his future. Moving him to 2nd makes a ton of sense on a number of fronts and comments by Luhnow after the announcement make it seem that he wasn’t thrilled with the original position switch to 3rd base either. In all honesty, Paredes’ skill set is vastly superior to that of Altuve and while the move won’t effect Altuve right now, this move could challenge Jose down the road. The challenge for Jimmy will be getting used a position he hasn’t played in a while but he’ll have plenty of time for that as support from the Astros organization.
This spring the Astros seem to have a nice feel to them, like they understand and know how the club should be structured. A few spots seem to still be up for grabs and questions surrounding Brett Wallace remain along with the 5th spot in the rotation but an outline can be drawn. As these last few spots are determined, the Astros’ experiment that will be the 2012 season can begin but trust me, Jeff Luhnow will be mixing and matching ingredients to see what works and eliminate those what doesn’t.