How bad have things gotten for Brett Wallace? Pretty darn bad. Bad enough that he should be sent to the minors? I would have to say… yes. Wallace has racked up a league worst 13 strikeouts in the early going. And he’s done it in only 18 plate appearances. Wallace has performed so poorly that in the last three games he has been benched, taken down for a pinch-hitter, ans benched again.
After a promising spring that included 12 RBIs and a .527 slugging percentage, Wallace opened the regular season hitting in the #2 spot in the Astros batting order. But that experiment appears to be over as Wallace has gone ice cold. The #2 spot is generally reserved for a player who can do the little things well — things like bunting, hitting behind runners, and taking pitches so your leadoff hitter can steal bases. An ideal #2 hitter would be someone who can make consistent contact. So far this season, Brett Wallace has been the exact opposite of that. Not only is he swinging and missing, a lot, often times he isn’t even coming close.
Brett Wallace has been a big disappointment early in the 2013 season (Thomas Campbell-USA TODAY Sports)
With Wallace already losing playing time, I think it’s only a matter of time until he is demoted to AAA. When Fernando Martinez is ready to be activated from the disabled list, I expect the axe to fall on Wallace — and deservedly so. Not only is Wallace terrible right now, which is the most important factor in the equation, but Fernando is out of minor league options while Wallace still has one season’s worth remaining.
The move isn’t going to take place immediately. F-Mart is currently at Astros extended spring training rehabbing a strained oblique and will probably go on a brief minor league rehab assignment before being activated.
When Fernando was unable to answer the bell on Opening Day, the Astros brought J.D. Martinez up from AAA. Martinez is 3 for 13 on the season after being pulled from last night’s game by manager Bo Porter for making a “mental error”. Both Martinez and Wallace are in the lineup tonight. J.D. is batting sixth and Wallace is in the #7 spot.
If it comes down to a decision between J.D. Martinez and Brett Wallace being sent down, I would demote Wallace. The two players have similar career slash lines, but I think Martinez has more to offer — specifically in the short term, which should be of importance to the reeling Astros. Not only does Martinez have a much better strikeout-to-walk ratio than Wallace, he also has better power numbers. J.D. has accumulated more big league homers and RBIs than Wallace in fewer plate appearances.
Martinez is a year younger than Wallace and could also be a better option in the long term, in my opinion. Both put up outstanding numbers in the minor leagues but have had trouble duplicating those figures in the show. Martinez has, on occasion, shown a knack for driving in runs. After being promoted directly from AA in 2011, Martinez drove in 35 runs in 53 games. Last season J.D. led the Astros with 55 RBIs despite spending almost a month in Oklahoma City.
While anyone would be an upgrade over Wallace offensively, inserting either of the Martinezes into the outfield would also upgrade the Astros defense. First of all, it would get Chris Carter off the field and into the DH spot. Anyone who has seen Carter play the outfield knows that would be a good thing. With Carter at DH, , Carlos Pena would become the everyday first-baseman. Pena has a reputation for being one of the better fielding first-basemen in the league and his .994 lifetime fielding percentage makes me wonder why he hasn’t seen more time in the field this season.
Is it time to completely give up on Brett Wallace? Maybe not. But right now he simply isn’t worthy of a spot on a big league roster.