Jeff Luhnow made an appearance on today’s CSN Houston telecast of the Astros 5-2 loss to St. Louis. Announcers Alan Ashby and Mike Stanton made it a point to ask the General Manager about the final roster decisions that need to be made before Opening Day.
When asked who, between Marwin Gonzalez and Cesar Izturis, would be filling the role of utility infielder, Luhnow said he’d like to “figure out a way to keep them both”. Could Luhnow be considering sending Jonathan Villar to AAA as our own John Burgess suggested? After hearing Luhnow say it might be “safest to take an extra pitcher”, Villar’s demotion is starting to sound like a possibility. Villar went 0 for 3 today with a pair of strikeouts. He also made a throwing error, his sixth overall.
Cesar Izturis (David Manning-USA TODAY Sports)
If the Astros go with 13 pitchers and keep both Gonzalez and Izturis, that leaves ten more spots available for position players. Jason Castro, Carlos Corporan, Chris Carter, Mark Krauss, Jesus Guzman, Jose Altuve, Matt Dominguez, Dexter Fowler, L.J. Hoes, and Robbie Grossman — that’s ten. Villar just might be the odd man out.
When asked about the two remaining spots in the starting rotation, Luhnow didn’t come right out and say it but it sounded like he prefers to start the season with Brad Peacock and Lucas Harrell in those roles. I still think both Keuchel and Jerome Williams will make the team and work out of the bullpen. If so, that leaves six more spots. Qualls, Albers, and Fields should be automatic. Raul Valdes figures to claim a spot due to the fact that he is out of options. That leaves Anthony Bass, Kevin Chapman, and Josh Zeid battling for the final two spots.