Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Breaking down...Round Rock

Let's spend some time looking at our fine prospects. Here's the thing for me as an Astros fan: If the Astros are going to be cheap, that's fine. Just call it what it is and call it a rebuilding year. I don't want Run-DMc and Easy Eddie to kid themselves and kid us about this season being about competitive baseball on a budget. They backed themselves into this corner by giving out those huge contracts. And now there are too many huge contracts (Lee, Oswalt, Berkman, Tejada) to justify "rebuilding." I'm sure getting a $1 million paycheck every two weeks is nice (did you know that Derek Jeter gets paid on the 1st and the 15th every month during the season? Do you think he holds off on his car payment until the night of the 14th, just to make sure he has enough in the account for it to clear?), but you can't ask a third of your lineup to be patient until one or two years down the road - they're competitors, and they want to win. And they will have no problem saying, "So you want to save money? Trade me."

Regardless, I would like to see some of those minor league guys come up and get their shot. Remember when Luke Scott hit something like .600 in Spring Training, and they sent him back to Round Rock anyway? Screw that. Bring some guys up and see if they can play. Roy Oswalt was a 23rd round pick. If you tell the guys in the Minors that the Astros have no farm system, they're going to believe you. So reward good play with a shot once in a while.

::stepping off soapbox::

1B: Lance ain't going anywhere.

2B: Rich Paz. 30-year old infielder was hitting .287 and drawing 47 walks to 32 strikeouts in 67 games at Corpus in '08 until he got promoted. In 18 games at Round Rock, he went 10-for-46 (.217), but still drew those walks, and didn't strikeout much.

3B: Chris Johnson. Deemed the 3B of the future, it'd be nice to give him a shot (though I still have an unfounded, sneaking suspicion Easy Eddie might shift Miggy to third). 23-year old. Hit .324 in Corpus last year, and had some trouble adjusting to AAA (4 extra-base hits in 101 at-bats). Committed 23 errors in 84 games at Corpus, but just 4 errors at RR.

3B: My friend, Mark Saccomanno (Seinfeld? Anyone?). One of 12 NL players EVER to hit a home run on the first pitch they saw in the Majors. Interestingly enough, Kaz Matsui is also on that list. So is pitcher Adam Wainwright. Fared much better over a full season at Round Rock - hit .297 (33 doubles, 2 triples, 27 home runs and an .859 OPS) - but committed 24 errors at third.

SS: Tommy Manzella. Might make the club as a bench-player out of Spring Training, spelling Tejada's aching muscles from time to time. 32% of his hits in Round Rock were for extra-bases (though none were homers).

C: J.R. Towles. With Humberto likely the go-to guy in Houston and Palmisano the likely back-up unless he craps the bed (remember, if Palmisano doesn't stay on the 25-man roster all season long, he goes back to the Orioles. Rule 5 rules), Towles can expect another season in Round Rock. He had a shot to make the club, but it's funny how a sub-.200 average can derail your timeline.

OF: Drew Sutton. At Corpus, the 25-year old Sutton had 63 extra-base hits as well as a .317 average. It's hard to see where he'll fit in Houston in the outfield, because Bourn and Pence are young (though Bourn is the more expendable one) and Lee makes the GDP of Honduras. If Bourn doesn't show any improvement, you may see Sutton in the OF. He'll probably start at AAA.

OF: Brian Bogusevic. Pulled an Ankiel (though without the Prime Time wild pitches) and switched to the outfield, where he tore the cover off the ball, hitting .371 with a .556 SLG (and drew 16 walks to 24 strikeouts).

Later, the pitchers...