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Could Astros Keep Harris on Roster When Fields Returns?

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Astros right-handed reliever Josh Fields pitched in what appeared to be his last rehab game at Triple-A Fresno last night. The Astros have a big decision to make, so many writers including CTH’s Jason Burke have asked which pitcher will be sent down to activate Fields? You can find Jason’s article here. As I was watching last night’s Astros game, I saw that Evan Drellich Tweeted that the Astros may go with 13 pitchers.

Roster Impact of Carrying 13 Pitchers

One of the few pitchers who have options is Will Harris, but he has been one of the bright spots in the Astros much improved bullpen. The Astros would like to hang on to all the members of the bullpen, but Fields’ talent is needed on the Astros’ roster. What is the plan? Here is a quote from Evan Drellich’s article Decision on Josh Fields could lead to Astros carrying eight relievers; “We have a tentative plan and I’m not going to tell you,” manager A.J. Hinch said Monday.

Drellich went on to speculate with the following quote from his article;

"“That would mean demoting a position player. Jonathan Villar had a very impressive spring training but entered Monday hitting .077 (1-for-13) in playing time that has been limited to begin with. He has options remaining.”-Evan Drellich"

So Drellich’s idea is to demote Jonathan Villar, and sticking with only 12 offensive players. Is this really a crazy idea? Does Drellich need to be locked away in an insane asylum? The answer is no. What has Villar done for the Astros lately? Yes, he had an impressive spring training, but in limited opportunities he has not impressed. He has proved to be a valuable utility man in the infield and outfield, but Marwin Gonzalez can handle that role for now. Could they survive a thin bench?

Breaking Down Potential Roster

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The only bad thing is that it limits who can play in the infield for the Astros. The infield starters would be

Jason Castro

(C),

Chris Carter

(1B),

Jose Altuve

(2B),

Jed Lowrie

(SS), and

Luis Valbuena

(3B). If Villar is sent down, the only backup player on this roster who has infield experience is Marwin Gonzalez.

Hank Conger

is on the team too, but can only play catcher. The starting outfielders would be

Colby Rasmus

(LF),

Jake Marisnick

(CF), and

George Springer

(RF).

Robbie Grossman

would be the only backup outfielder, with

Evan Gattis

as the designated hitter.

That would be the twelve available hitters for A.J. Hinch on a nightly basis. Twelve hitters could affect Hinch’s game management when you only have three options off of the bench. The good thing is that they can use Conger as a pitch-hitter because they have an emergency catcher in Evan Gattis. Another reason this may work is that the current Astros, for the most part, are proven veterans, and you can count on them.

The big negative about this proposed transaction is that the Astros are already struggling offensively. If they add another arm to the to bullpen, they build up what is a perceived strength of the team. However, they are taking a bat from the roster when the team is struggling right now.

My Final Thoughts

If Drellich and I were GM’s, we would demote Jonathan Villar and activate Josh Fields. Will Harris is dominating right now and sending him to Fresno would hurt the big-league club.  If it doesn’t work, release Joe Thatcher and call up another position player. The 13th hitter could be needed next week playing in a National League park.

If I were the Astros manager, I would secretly want to demote Villar and DFA Joe Thatcher. My corresponding moves would activate Fields and purchase the contract of Joe Sclafani. Sclafani is not a top prospect, but he is a baseball player that knows how to win. He can play the infield and outfield, and he knows how to score. Scoring is something the Astros need to be more consistent with to continue to win.

While most of my peers think Will Harris will be sent down, most Astros fans want Joe Thatcher to be DFA. What will happen, only Hinch and Jeff Luhnow know. Until then, whatever is said between now and then is speculation.

Next: AstrosFuture's Minor League Recap April 9th-19th

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