When the Astros announced that Jarred Cosart would be making his big league debut Friday night, I thought the timing was a bit strange. After all, Cosart had just been named to the PCL All-Star team. Was he going to miss out on that experience? Then it was announced that Justin Maxwell had finished his minor league rehab stint and would also join the team in Tampa – but wouldn’t be activated immediately. Now the picture was starting to come into focus.
It all added up. The Astros were planning to send Cosart back to AAA after his start and Maxwell would slide into the vacated roster spot. This approach made sense for a number of reasons.
One: If he stayed with the Astros, Cosart would likely miss the AAA All-Star Game – an honor he had earned and deserved to experience.
Two: The MLB All-Star break is coming up on Monday. If Cosart stayed on the Astros roster he wouldn’t have an opportunity to pitch again for over a week. It would make more sense to keep Cosart on his regular routine of pitching every fifth day.
Three: The club needed to get Maxwell back on the active roster to see if he is indeed going to be a part of this team’s future. The most likely scenario is that the Astros want to get Maxwell back on the field in an effort to increase his trade value before the July 31 deadline.
The Astros 2013 season is all about evaluation. Cosart passed his first test with flying colors. His 2-hit performance over eight innings of work has the Astros front office executives grinning from ear to ear. They couldn’t be happier about the right-hander and his promising future. Cosart will be back. Soon.
Now it’s time to reevaluate Maxwell. Coming into the season it was assumed that the 28-year old outfielder would be a fixture in the middle of the Astros lineup and a leader in the clubhouse. But it hasn’t exactly worked out that way. Maxwell has had an injury plagued season, appearing in only 28 of the team’s first 92 games.
When he has been healthy, Maxwell has struggled to produce. After leading the team with 18 homeruns last season, he has gone deep only once in 2013. With the emergence of Brandon Barnes as a solid defender in centerfield and a guy named George Springer waiting in the wings, Maxwell’s days in Houston could be numbered. There are less than three weeks remaining until the trade deadline — and right now the Astros would be lucky to get a bag of bats and a catcher’s mitt in exchange for Maxwell. Seriously though, Justin is a terrific young man — I had the pleasure of meeting him this spring — but he is having a rough year.
A number of Astros fans are up in arms over Cosart being sent back down to AAA. To those people I say: take a step back and a look at the big picture and it should be obvious that this is the right thing to do.
In fact, the decision to tell Cosart what was going on up front may have taken some pressure off the youngster. When he took the mound for his big league debut, Cosart knew he would be heading back to AAA. That meant he didn’t have to press to try and secure his spot on the Astros roster. That allowed the 23-year old to go out there relaxed and concentrate on doing his thing. The results were a thing of beauty. But we do have to keep a couple of things in mind — this was only one game. And, it will be almost impossible for Cosart to duplicate the adrenaline rush and resulting focus that comes with ones first taste of big league action.
If you are a regular reader of my articles, you know I don’t always agree with the moves that the team makes. But (this time) I have to give credit where credit is due. So don’t be upset with this move right now. If Cosart isn’t back on the big league roster within a couple of weeks you can rant and rave all you want.
MLB rules require that a player must spend ten days in the minors after being demoted, unless an injury on the big league team creates an opening on the roster. So… Cosart gets to pitch in the AAA All-Star Game and his very next appearance could come in an Astros uniform roughly ten days from now.