Astros Musings: The Roster Crunch is Coming

codypoage
Mar 5, 2016; Kissimmee, FL, USA; New York Mets first baseman Dominic Smith (74) dives back into first base as Houston Astros first baseman A.J. Reed (80) attempts a tag during the second inning of a spring training baseball game at Osceola County Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 5, 2016; Kissimmee, FL, USA; New York Mets first baseman Dominic Smith (74) dives back into first base as Houston Astros first baseman A.J. Reed (80) attempts a tag during the second inning of a spring training baseball game at Osceola County Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports /
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As I sit down and think about the Astros roster, I realize that some talented players will be left off the final product.

The roster bubble throughout the upcoming Astros Spring Training should be an interesting one to observe. Players like A.J. Reed, Jake Marisnick, Preston Tucker, Joseph Musgrove, Teoscar Hernandez, and Michael Feliz are just some names that quickly come to mind. And you can envision each being on that dreaded bubble.

The unfortunate aspect of this roster crunch is the fact that all of these guys are talented. Some though are more tested than others, and they have provided some value to the Astros in the past. See Marisnick’s defense or Tucker’s bat. Others are relatively untested but possess the talent to be of some value. See Reed and Hernandez. Sometimes at the end of the day, it becomes a numbers game.

That usually goes against the way I think though because I want to think about a player’s value when it comes to roster decisions. In my brain, the players with the highest value should be on the roster. I think back to George Springer‘s extra year of control mini-controversy. However, you have to consider things that matter outside of the baseball diamond.

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Take Reed, the former Kentucky Wildcat standout, as an example.

The top prospect has been one of the names that Astros fans have followed with vigor. He was deemed the heir apparent at first base. And while his numbers were good in Fresno (146 wRC+), his major league numbers (50 wRC+) weren’t that impressive. But normally I would argue that you give the talented Reed time at first and see if he can succeed.

However, I must remind myself that the Astros are hoping to contend this year. And devoting at-bats to a talented yet unproven first baseman might not be the optimal option for the team. You also have to consider the other options at first base: Yulieski Gurriel and Marwin Gonzalez. What it amounts to is that you are trading the unknown for the (partly) known. Of course, the $14.4 million to Gurriel plays a part in roster decisions.

Next: The case for Teoscar Hernandez

The reality of the situation is that none or all of the players on the bubble could make the team dependent on circumstances. But for once the Astros seem to possess quality depth which allows them to be selective. That hasn’t always been the case in the past. While it is a tough problem to have, it is one the better ones that any team could hope to solve.

**Statistics salary information courtesy of Fangraphs and Spotrac**

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