September 6, 2014; Oakland, CA, USA; Houston Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow before the game against the Oakland Athletics at O.co Coliseum. The Athletics defeated the Astros 4-3. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
Issa (Twitter handle: @ipc1221)
The Starter: Jason Castro. Although I believe that Max Stassi will eventually be the main man behind the plate for the Astros, I simply can’t see Castro not being on the Opening Day roster. Even after the off year last year, there’s no way that A.J. Hinch lets a guy that was a 2013 All-Star sit behind Conger or Stassi to start the year. I expect Castro to raise his 2014 batting average of .222 to about .240 or .250, but no higher than that. If Castro is hitting .230 at the end of April, I wouldn’t expect him to start in May.
The Backup: Max Stassi. This pick might shock some as I am straying away from my statistical approach and going off of a gut feeling here. Many people might be shocked by this as Conger would seem like the ideal candidate for this role. What I think propels Stassi to the backup option is that he is a Jeff Luhnow guy. I think the potential to start Chris Carter and Max Stassi, two of the three acquisitions in the Jed Lowrie trade, would be very tempting, and if they both get off to good starts, the GM will be feeling pretty good about himself. Also, that Lowrie guy that they traded away in that deal, he’ll be in the starting lineup too.
The Starter: Chris Carter. I am envisioning a breakout year for the big man, as are many others around the league. If he can bring up his batting average from .227 to .247, stay in the 30 home run range, and improve to 90+ RBI, he will be considered as one of the best designated hitters in the American League. However, if his batting average drops, Carter’s future could be looking a bit more grim in an Astros uniform.
The Backup: Evan Gattis/Jason Castro. It’s way too difficult to predict an everyday backup for the Astros at DH when there are so many guys who can fit in that spot. I would expect Singleton, Castro, and Gattis all to get at-bats here. If Castro has a bounce back season and Carter struggles, I would expect to see Castro at DH and Stassi behind the plate.
Kennon (Twitter handle: @kcrileyCTH)
Primarily Jason Castro, Hank Conger for a few, while Max Stassi should start a handful of games. I wouldn’t be surprised to see any of the three traded mid-season.
Primarily Carter, but I expect Gattis, Castro, and Jonathan Singleton to get some at bats there as well.