David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

An Early Look at the 2014 Lineup Card


Bo Porter (Jim Cowsert-USA TODAY Sports)

Last season the Houston Astros were a team in flux. Actually not just 2013, but really the last three years. There certainly was a lack of consistency for the Astros.

When filling out his lineup card last season, rookie manager Bo Porter had a lot of juggling to do. As we start to look forward towards 2014, it appears that there will be a little more consistency in Porter’s lineup. And this is a good thing for everyone involved.

Throughout all of last off-season and most of Spring Training, Jose Altuve and Jason Castro were really the only two players we were certain of for the upcoming season. And with Altuve, there was a lot of uncertainty and discussion as to where he would bat in the lineup.

But as Evan Drellich writes, 2014 is shaping up to be a little different. We have some certainty in what we can expect from the 2014 Astros. Players can go through the off-season and enter Spring Training having a good idea as to what their roles will be.

All that is still to be determined is one outfield spot (assuming Springer starts the year in Houston), first base, and designated hitter. We know that Chris Carter will fill one of those spots, and Robbie Grossman proved towards the end of last season that he is also deserving. If one wanted to read into things, it does sound like Luhnow is planning on Springer starting the season in Houston which is certainly warranted. I think an absolute dreadful Spring Training is the only thing that will change that.

“Fowler can play center field, Fowler can play left field,” Luhnow said. “Springer can play all three, Grossman can play all three. … Let Bo make that decision.”

Asked to elaborate by the Chronicle on Wednesday, here’s what Luhnow had to say: “Dexter’s a center fielder. But he’s athletic enough and skilled enough to play certainly center and left and probably right. We know Springer can play all three positions. … No, nothing’s in stone. It’s up to Bo and his staff to determine who’s going to play where and who’s going to play where in the lineup.”

As a team begins to mature and grow, this is what starts to happen. The lineup stops being a revolving door. Granted there is always the possibility that roles can change depending on how the rest of the off-season transpires, but at least there is some clarity.

Porter’s even started to pencil in some lineup spots.

“Now we have Fowler leading off, we have Altuve hitting second, and we have Castro hitting third,” he said.

This already puts the Astros in better position than they were in last season, although that really isn’t saying much. The main thing, is having a true lead-off hitter in Fowler. That allows Altuve to drop down to the second spot where he will be more effective and have Castro hitting behind him. This also pretty much guarantees that Castro will come to bat with runners on base.

There also doesn’t appear to be any doubt that Fowler will be the outfielder tasked with taming Tal’s Hill in 2014.

Porter seems firm that Fowler would be his guy in center.

“Right now, if we were to give Fowler a day off and we need to put somebody in centerfield, again, you have two options there,” Porter said. “You have two (other) guys who have played centerfield, which gives you flexibility as a manager.”

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Tags: Dexter Fowler George Springer Houston Astros

  • Larry Luttrell

    Ray, Something tells me that Shin-Soo Choo is going to be a Astro pretty close. I just can’t see that but I guess it’s a 50-50 chance he might & he might not. But I also heard that Jose Veras won’t sign with the Astros what is the story on that. Is the Astros offering a one year deal again, then when the pennant races heated up then they trade him again. Well I would not sign with a team that would do me that way 2 years in a row. I do have a couple of questions so has the Astros looked for the 4th Outfielder. How about getting these guys, Jeff Baker, Jason Bay, Jeff Francoeur Austin Kearns. And the other question is a back up catcher Carlos Corporan he is OK but I rather see some body else like a Ramon Hernandez or Gerald Laird, Kurt Suzuki.

    • Ray_Kuhn_28

      Hey Larry…Yeah it really wouldn’t surprise me on Choo. I haven’t seen anything new today. Honestly not sure on Veras, my thinking it has something to do with incentives, and maybe a no trade like you allude to. Bay is playing in Japan next year, and the others are really just Ankiel and Pena all over again. That being said, I wouldnt have an issue with one on a minor league deal as a bench player. I would be partial to Francouer because of his defense and clubhouse presence. I would take Corporan over all those guys, and if its going to be anyone other than him, I think it would be Stassi.

      • Larry Luttrell

        U know about those outfielders they are hard to come by just like any postion player. I saw Stassi in the minor leagues he look good. Just hope he can do what he did in the minors when he gets to be the second string catcher.Well if Veras don’t sign u have any idea who the Astros would be a closer. But I still like Chad Qualls as the closer.

  • sdtitan

    Don’t assume Springer gets the nod out of ST…opening day outfield could very well be Grossman in LF, Fowler in CF and ?? in RF, with the ?? being Hoes, Santana (already on 40-man roster) or a yet-to-be-signed player.

    • Ray_Kuhn_28

      Yeah I know we can’t assume. it is just my educated guess as of now. I think Santana is at least a year away, and we will see Springer before him for sure.

    • Kennon Riley

      I doubt that Santana is going to make a double-jump from AA to MLB. Not only would that be a leap forward for him, but he would also be passing George Springer. Extremely unlikely that Santana has a ST that blows Springer’s 2013 campaign out of the water.

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