After losing 24 of the first 32 games to open the season the Astros front office is starting to clean house. A flurry of roster moves were made today including Fernando Martinez and Rick Ankiel being designated for assignment. Jimmy Paredes and Trevor Crowe were called up from Oklahoma City and Brandon Laird was optioned to the Astros AAA affiliate.
Astros GM Jeff Luhnow called Rick Ankiel “a class act”. (Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports)
J.D. Martinez was activated from the disabled list, bringing the active roster to 25 players. The Astros are also said to be reevaluating Philip Humber‘s spot in the rotation, meaning more moves could be coming.
It seemed like it was only a matter of time before the axe would fall on Ankiel. His ability to hit the ball out of the park and play above average defense simply didn’t make up for his low OBP and high strikeout rate. J.D. Martinez should get the bulk of the playing time that was being given to Ankiel.
As for Fernando Martinez — I am a little surprised that the Astros decided to give up on him this early in the season. After starting the year on the disabled list, F-Mart had only appeared in eleven games for the Astros. And frankly, Trevor Crowe doesn’t seem like an upgrade over Fernando. Jeff Luhnow told me this spring that he thought F-Mart had the quickest bat on the team. I can’t help but wonder if there are other factors (such as personality or commitment to winning) involved with this particular move.
Crowe is five years older than Martinez and is pretty much a career minor leaguer. The 29-year old switch-hitter compiled a .245/.295/.329 slash line in 729 plate appearances with the Cleveland Indians from 2009 to 2011. Crowe hit .300 and stole 11 bases in 29 games at Oklahoma City this season. He can play all three outfield positions but isn’t considered to be an above-average defender. I suspect Crowe will be used as a pinch-hitter and pinch-runner and possibly a late inning defensive replacement if Chris Carter plays any more leftfield.
Jimmy Paredes is the wild-card, if you will, of today’s roster moves. The 24-year old has been shuttled between the infield and the outfield for the past two seasons and has yet to establish himself at any one position. This season Paredes has played 20 games at 3B and eight games in rightfield. He has, however, been outstanding on offense. Paredes was hitting .376/.444/.596 for the RedHawks. How the Astros intend to use him remains to be seen but I would assume they want to get his bat into the lineup somehow. Paredes was used as the DH in a couple of minor league games this season and that could be the position he slides into with the Astros.