Dexter Fowler (David Manning-USA TODAY Sports)
As the Houston Astros get ready to depart Florida, their Opening Day roster began to come into focus yesterday. There is still a week until Scott Feldman throws the first pitch of the season, but Jeff Luhnow and Bo Porter appear to have settled on the 12 position players that will be introduced on Tuesday.
We must keep a few things in mind here. First of all, we should know that the roster that starts the season will not have the same composition as the roster that ends the season. There will likely be trades, waiver claims, and promotions from the minor leagues. It goes without saying that it would be incredibly shocking and disappointing if George Springer and Jonathan Singleton do not end the season with Houston.
With there still being some time until Opening Day rosters are set, it is possible that there are other players Luhnow has his eye on that might become available. Of course a trade can also happen at any time.
The main thing that took me by slight surprise, is that the Astros, at least for now, are only going with 12 position players. This means there will just be three bench players. While in the American League this is not as important, depth could prove to be an issue. Again the roster will be fluid all season, so I would not be too concerned about this.
I did think that Cesar Izturis would have made the team for his versatility in the infield and also for his leadership qualities that were exhibited in Spring Training. In 26 at bats, Izturis didn’t wow as he hit .269, but you really can’t expect that much more from him. Also Marwin Gonzalez‘s strong spring, .395 average, and new found outfield versatility made him a shoe in for the team.
Let’s take a look at the current 12:
- Catchers (2): Jason Castro and Carlos Corporan. There are no surprises here.
- Infield (4): Marc Krauss, Jose Altuve, Jonathan Villar, and Matt Dominguez. Bo Porter has previously said he wants to avoid platoons, so I have Krauss penciled in as the starter here. His .308 average this spring also helps with that. There are no questions about Altuve and Dominguez as they are the cornerstones of this present infield. Villar clearly has talent, but needs to improve on his consistency and also the mental aspect of his game. Not including Izturis on the roster takes away some of that safety net as Gonzalez will be needed across all positions.
- Outfield (3): Robbie Grossman, Dexter Fowler, and L.J. Hoes. Fowler is the only one with a truly secure role for both this season and the future. In my opinion Grossman and Hoes are better suited for a platoon, and Hoes needs to improve on his .222 spring average (including 2-4 Monday night against the Atlanta Braves).
- Designated Hitter (1): Chris Carter. We all know Carter has 30 home run power and is a run producer even with the strikeouts.
- Reserves (2): Gonzalez and Guzman. I gave them their own category because both will be wearing numerous gloves throughout the season. Gonzalez did make his fourth error of the spring on Monday, so that is something to be aware of.