Houston Astros: Too Many Good Players?

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As odd as it seems, after years of last place, 100+ losses per season, the Houston Astros have too many good position players. Having too much talent is a very good problem to have though, and no one is complaining. The question is, what do the Astros do with all of this talent?

At this stage of the 2015 season, finding playing time for those on the Major League roster is difficult. The Astros are winning and everyone is contributing, so benching anyone for more than a few games is not an attractive proposition. No, these guys need to play and continue to help the Astros stay in first place in the A.L. West.

The outfield is the biggest problem area at the moment with George Springer, Jake Marisnick, Colby Rasmus, and the recently promoted Preston Tucker vying for playing time. Springer, Marisnick, and Rasmus are all center fielders, so having those three roaming the outfield at the same time is a major defensive plus. Not that Tucker is any slouch defensively, it’s just that he is the new guy trying to break in and stake his claim to a starting job.

While Astros manager A.J. Hinch enjoys the possibilities of his outfield, he will soon have a similar problem with the infield. What happens when Jed Lowrie comes off the disabled list? He would have played shortstop, leaving slugger Luis Valbuena at third, but that changed this week when Carlos Correa was promoted from Fresno. Lowrie will likely take over at third base, so where does that leave Valbuena?

Why not make Valbuena the designated hitter?

Evan Gattis is the guy manning that spot right now, and as of this writing, he leads the Astros in RBI and is tied with Valbuena in home runs. Obviously, unless Gattis cools significantly, his bat is too valuable to not play him. Why not move Gattis or Valbuena to first base? Although Gattis has only played four Major League games at first base, it could be a good move to give him a shot. Valbuena has never played the position in the big leagues. But placing either Gattis or Valbuena at first base pushes out slugger Chris Carter and future Astro Jon Singleton, who is trying to slug his way back from Triple-A.

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I’ll pause for a moment, trying to imagine how Hinch feels about this ‘problem’. If you have few good players, there’s not much a manager can do about that. Sure, managers get fired for losing, but with no talent, you really can’t blame it on the manager. But that’s not A.J.’s problem – he has to juggle his lineup, trying to ensure that the guys with the hottest bats are on the field every night. As I mentioned, that is not such a bad problem to have.

Then we must consider those waiting in the wings – guys like Domingo Santana, L.J. Hoes, Alex Presley – hot hitting Triple-A players giving Fresno Grizzlies fans plenty to cheer about. What about the guys at Double-A Corpus Christi? The Hooks have Andrew Aplin, Tony Kemp, Tyler White, Colin Moran, and others having good seasons and just waiting their chance to advance. The Class-A Lancaster JetHawks also have a slew of great prospects in Danry Vasquez, Brett Phillips, A.J. Reed, Derek Fisher, and others fast making names for themselves. It won’t be long before these guys are added to the mix of men looking to secure playing time as members of the Astros.

Any way you look at the lineup card, the Astros have the best possible problem. They have a surplus of top position player talent, and that is a very good problem for a Major League team to have.

Next: Houston Astros: In Pursuit of A Starter?

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