As spring training got going, the 3rd base position was supposed to be a dogfight to the end but Chris Johnson made sure that didn’t happen. Once Johnson got going and Jimmy Paredes wasn’t at 100%, only Brett Wallace stood in his way. While Wallace has done well, it wasn’t good enough to stop Chris from taking the job. That leaves Brett Wallace in a tough spot, he isn’t a utility guy and with Carlos Lee at 1st, has no position. The Astros still appear to be high on Brett even after a tough 2011 season so what should they do with the young slugger? To be honest, this might be one of the harder decisions the Astros have had to deal with in quite some time and it may just come down to whether his value is higher with Houston or maybe on another squad?
The options are interesting and certainly worth considering. The Astros could simply move Wallace to the bench behind both Johnson and Lee now that he has gotten time at 3rd. The thing is, would anyone really trust Brett playing 3rd late in a game? The Astros have a few different options, as Greg, Brian and I discussed in our latest roundtable, but those were trimmed down a bit after this morning’s cuts. I still don’t trust him at 3rd and I imagine Brad Mills wouldn’t either. So what is the point of sticking him on the bench when he is limited as to when he can play and where, sad but true. If Brett was having a bad spring this wouldn’t be the dilemma it has become, reality is Wallace has actually been good and showing some pop. Power has always been his issue and he may finally be turning the corner. During the spring Brett has a .425 slugging percentage and of his 11 hits, four have been for extra bases including a homer. That should create a smile on Jeff Luhnow’s face, after all he drafted Wallace as a member of the Cardinals front office.
The improvement Wallace has made could get him a one way ticket to Oklahoma City. The truth is that it appears to be the course of action the Astros will have to take. Wallace needs at-bats and letting him start at first everyday may be the ideal move for the young hitter. My problem with that theory is- what would it prove and would Brett gain anything from it? He has killed AAA pitching before and we know he can hit at a high level, even at the major league level during spurts. He could work on his power stroke and see if that clicks but he has shown power at that level before. Would that truly help him gain confidence? That leaves one possibility, a trade. Could Jeff Luhnow move him now and try to maximize whatever value Wallace has? Does he even have value right now? I think so. Teams are always looking for proven and potential bats so someone out there might be able to pay up for Wallace. Brett has shown in stretches to be able to hit major league pitching and get on base at a nice clip. If someone thinks they can unlock his talent, they would be willing to make a move for Brett. With Jonathan Singleton on the doorstep, I’m not so sure Wallace figures in the Astros long term future regardless of what happens over the next week.
Whatever Luhnow and Mills decide to do with Brett, it will be a tough choice. If Brett has finally turned the corner, do you stick him on the bench, send him to Oklahoma City or maybe even trade him while you can?