Mar 16, 2015; Melbourne, FL, USA; Houston Astros catcherHank Conger
(16) reminds his defense that with 2 runners on there is only one out during the fourth inning of a spring training baseball game against the Washington Nationals at Space Coast Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports
A quick note on these ones: the answers were collected over the past few days, before the official roster was announced. I have put some minor notes in along with their assessments. Let’s start with Eric this time. What do you say, Eric?
Eric: Orbit, I think that his offseason training program was not sufficient in getting him ready for 2015. His arm is not strong enough to throw tee shirts past the 10th row. Just kidding Orbit! The Astros least valuable player will be Roberto Hernandez, as he has not been successful for a while. Just working with Brett Strom will not be enough for him. He will turn into Jerome Williams part II. He will be bounced back between bullpen and rotation until he is released.
You mess with Orbit, you mess with me. Capiche?
Kennon: Matt Dominguez appears to be all but assured to lose his starting job at third base. He turned into an all-or-nothing player in 2014 with few walks and a lot of strikeouts. But the problem is he doesn’t make home run contact enough to sustain a spot on the club. If he doesn’t hit for a decent average in a reduced role, he’s going to be optioned to AAA [editor’s note: he has been] if not released by mid-summer. My second choice would be Samuel Deduno. He’s on the other side of 30 and sooner or later a star pitching prospect or two is going to need a 40-man roster spot. By this time, Deduno is my pick to have been designated for assignment.
Brian: Jon Singleton is likely to get the call at the first sign of injury to an outfielder or Gattis/Carter. I don’t think he’ll figure it out this year. He’s my least valuable Astro with a sub .220 average in around 300 at-bats.
Thomas: Hank Conger. Still not sure why the Astros traded for him. Will pitch framing have that much of an impact in the win column?
Andrew: Can I saw Luhnow? I can’t help feeling that he got lucky with the Aiken surgery and I remain unconvinced by the LoseNow strategy. If not…let’s go for Evan Gattis failing to live up to expectations, perhaps due to injury issues.
Issa: Hank Conger. I think Stassi will bypass him at the end of the season, making his acquisition worthless. I think Castro will bounce back this season, so he really won’t be competing for the starting gig.
Turns out the Conger trade is not going over well with the staff.
Andy P: Robbie Grossman. If he makes the team [he has], I’m just not sipping his Kool-Aid. Sure he can get on base, but his lack of true baseball tools doesn’t make him exciting to me. A player as streaky as he is needs more tools or power to stay up in the bigs.
Brandon: Singleton. I really hope I am wrong but I do not believe in him as a major league hitter, and I think the Astros gave up far too much with that contract.
Ryan: Scott Feldman: Feldman eventually finds himself out of the rotation by midseason and either goes to the bullpen, or is traded away with Appel, Wojo, Peacock, and others knocking on the door. Hernandez turns out to be a main stay and this is how Appel or Wojo eventually join the rotation.
While I’m not sold on Conger being a huge piece of the puzzle offensively, his defense has proven to be superb in years past. With him, any offense is a bonus so it’ll be hard to make him the Least Valuable Player if he hits his career marks, which aren’t great to begin with. Instead, I’m going to go with Pat Neshek, who I think will have a fine year, but coming off of his career year last season, fans may be expecting too much from the sidewinder. After posting a 1.87 ERA in 67 1/3 innings last season, even a more modest 3.00 ERA would be considered a failure.
In 2012 to 2013, Neshek combined for a 2.70 ERA over 60 innings, 40 1/3 of which were tallied in 2013, when he accumulated a 3.35 ERA (1.37 in 2012). His innings total from last year was his highest mark since 2007 when he pitched 70 1/3 innings for Minnesota and held a 2.94 ERA. The following season his ERA ballooned to 4.73. I’m cautiously optimistic when it comes to Neshek.
Next, the moment you’ve all been waiting for:
Next: Projected AL West Standings