With spring training in full swing, the gang here at Climbing Tal’s Hill got together and decided to tackle some of the more interesting questions going around Astros’ camp. The crew will get together on a weekly basis to discuss some of the more burning issues until the end of spring. Today, we will discuss which veteran the fanbase might not see in Houston this season, who starts in right field, and which young player or players have caught our eye. Greg, Brian and myself would love any feedback and future questions you might want answered for later roundtable discussion but for now, let’s get going.
The first question on the agenda is which Astros’ veteran might not make the team out of spring training? This could be a familiar face
or a recently signed player we expected to see at Minute Maid Park this season.
Greg – I think right now, Humbert Quintero is the odd man out behind the plate. With his health issues and both Chris Snyder and Jason Castro playing very well, it will be tough for “Q” to stick with the Astros. Don’t sleep on J.A. Happ and Brandon Lyon either, both are big question marks and Happ hasn’t been a world beater so far this spring either. A tough start to the season could see Lyon released and Happ demoted, or also released, regardless of the financial hit.
Alex – To be honest, Quintero would be my choice for the same reasons Greg has already stated but I’ll throw out Jack Cust‘s name also. Has anyone in baseball had a worse spring so far? The guy had some major question marks already before spring began and now looks like he is done. He isn’t even an average defensive player so if he doesn’t hit, no use having the guy around.
Brian – I too have to agree on Quintero, with his injures and the other two guys playing so well I don’t see him making the team. Another guy to look at is Jason Bourgeois, with all the outfield depth the Astros have right now, he could be expendable. Already, there have been trade rumors about Washington being interested in Jason and maybe a team like Cleveland could also be interested with Grady Sizemore going down. Stros have options there and could get something of value in return. Happ, like Greg mentioned, is another guy I see very little upside with and could be gone soon.
Next on the agenda is right field and who starts on opening day? The Astros came in with an open competition but Bogusevic seemed to be the favorite to claim that spot.
Alex – Truthfully, I’m a bit concerned about RF. I’d really hoped that Bogey would make that his position during the spring but he has struggled quite a bit so far. Fernando Martinez is someone I have high hopes for but he hasn’t been great either and no one else has stepped up really. J.B. Shuck has hit well but he isn’t a RF so I guess Bourgeois would be the guy in a pinch but I’ll wait for the spring to play out a bit more.
Brian – I think Bogusevic is the guy. He has had a rough start to the spring but I think he takes that spot by the end of the month. I also like Martinez and hope he eventually becomes the guy but not right now and Shuck, like you said, isn’t a right fielder. Another item on Martinez is his injury concerns, can he play consistent RF or is he destined for LF?
Greg – Yeah, Bogusevic should be the guy. I think it is way too early to give up on him. Bogey has the arm to play RF and I think he will hit well enough to stay out there. Give him a legit chance and after an extended time period, if he continues to struggle, then look at other options. Shuck is the only other guy but doesn’t have the tools be out there in right every day.
Our final question is which young player has opened the most eyes this spring. With the Astros rebuilding, chances to make an impression are everywhere, for everyone. If the Astros are to play well, more than just a couple of kids will need to produce at a pretty high level.
Brian – Has to be Kyle Weiland, the kid has looked great so far. It appears he has the best stuff of the young guys battling for the 5th spot in the rotation. Last season, he was put in a horrible position by the Red Sox which I think helped made him available to the Astros and the Lowrie/Weiland deal is looking golden right now. So far, its pretty clear who the 5th starter will be come opening day.
Greg – Weiland has been great, also J.D. Martinez. Martinez has been great so far and really taking to his position on the team. It appears he is ready for this new challenge and taking a leadership role with the club. His defense has also been better than advertised, even with some injury concerns.
Alex – Both of those guys have done tremendously well but I’ll go with Jason Castro. The guy has gone through quite a bit with injures and struggles and looks to be putting things together. I think he will eventually prove to be the everyday catcher he was drafted to be and put his injury past behind him. Castro could be a major storyline this season if he matures and continues to handle the staff this well.
So at this point it really looks like Humberto Quintero might be the odd man out behind the plate, Brian Bogusevic still has a better than good shot at being in rightfield on opening day and quite a few young options exist for the Astros. Next week we will look at three more important issues that may develop as this week progresses.