The Astros announced today another round of cuts as the roster gets trimmed down to 38 players which includes catcher Jason Castro, second baseman Jeff Keppinger and relief pitcher Alberto Arias who all will most likely start the season on the DL. There was some notable names in this round as last year’s starting shortstop Tommy Manzella, left-hander Wesley Wright and Brian Bogusevic, who was competing for a backup outfielder spot. The fourth player included in this round was catcher Brian Esposito, who was re-assigned to minor league camp.
As the Astros continue to make cuts and move towards the 25 man roster they will need to have set a week from now, races are starting to get tighter. Boguesvic was competing for the fifth outfielder spot with Jason Bourgeois and J.B. Shuck, who I was a little surprised to see the Astros keep through this round of cuts. Boguesvic really didn’t help his case for a major league spot, only hitting .234 this spring and showed he still has some work to do as he transitions from starting pitcher to outfielder. Now with Boguesvic out of the race, Jason Bourgeois is the odds-on favorite for that roster spot.
The Astros will be carrying two back up infielders and with Tommy Manzella out of the race that leaves four candidates. Matt Downs has been playing well this spring and his versatility to back up every infield spot makes him the favorite for one of the spots leaving Angel Sanchez, Oswaldo Navarro, and Anderson Hernandez fighting it out for the other. The problem is this will only be a temporary spot as Jeff Keppinger will fill that role once he returns from his injury, which will likely be in May.
The bullpen races on the other hand are like filling out a bracket for March Madness, it is anybody’s guess at this point. The Astros have three left handers left competing for a spot in the bullpen. Fernando Abad, Ryan Rowland-Smith (who recently lost the battle for the fifth spot in the rotation) and Gustavo Chacin are still competing and I expect this race to be one of the last to be completed. I think Abad, the Hyphen, and Aneury Rodriguez are the leaders for three of the four remaining spots with the last spot up for grabs. It will be an interesting race to watch as we move towards Opening Day.