Cesar Izturis (Joy R. Absalon-USA TODAY Sports)
The Houston Astros agreed to terms with Cesar Izturis earlier today on a minor league deal. This is not an exciting transaction, and fans can be excused if they are not overly enthused about the addition of Izturis. However at the same time, as I wrote a few weeks ago, this was a necessary addition that should be given its due.
Again, there is no reason, and it would be irresponsible to, blow this signing out of proportion. It was a minor, routine transaction that all teams complete prior to Spring Training. In fact, it looks awfully similar to the signing of Ronny Cedeno last off-season.
But this time, at least I hope, there is a difference. Cedeno was signed because he was cheap and it was the easy way out. This year, Izturis is being signed not even as an insurance policy, but merely just as a bench option and for depth.
Jonathan Villar has the shortstop job locked up for 2014. There is honestly no reason why the 22-year old will not hold the job all season. Villar’s rookie campaign was up and down as he batted .243 in 58 games with 18 stolen bases while being caught stealing eight times. He showed a great deal of potential, but at times Villar did not always make use of his tools and talent. The expectation is that he will grow and develop this season while improving on his debut.
It is not like Izturis is much better with the bat, as he batted .209 last year, but for his career the infielder has an average of .254. Izturis doesn’t have much power, but there is some speed (he has seasons of 24 and 25 stolen bases), and more importantly he is very good with the glove.
If Izturis starts more than two or three (at most) times a week, then the Astros are in trouble. But he is a player that was needed to fill a valuable bench spot and to provide depth.