Since Tommy Manzella got sent down, IF5 is now down to Jason Smith and Edwin Maysonet. JJO points out David Newhan and Matt Kata are still in the mix, but are long shots to make the team.
“In my mind right now, it’s a two-man race at this point,” Astros manager Cecil Cooper said. “I think there’s two guys (Maysonet and Smith) that have kind of separated themselves a little bit, and primarily because they’re both shortstops. ... Kata plays short, but I don’t think he’s where those two guys are."
Offensively this isn't even a tough decision. Regard:
Smith: .441/.472/.647 - (15x34, with one double and three triples; 2BB:10K)
Maysonet: .154/.214/.231 - (2x11, with one double)
The sheer number of at-bats for Smith gives him the edge. But of course, if you're a starting baseball player, you have to play in the field, as well, which is where this race evens out.
Smith has played 69.1 innnings at second and short. At second, where - to be honest - is probably where IF5 would spend a lot of time due to Matsui's history, Smith had a 1.000 fielding percentage: 17 chances, 6 put outs and 11 assists. At short, it's not as pretty, and Coop has made it clear that he's looking at someone who can play short. In 44 innings, Smith has had 27 chances and committed three errors for an .889 fielding percentage. As a point of comparison, Adam Everett in 2006 played 149 games at short (1292.1 innings) and committed seven errors.
Maysonet has played 47 innings at second and short. At second, Maysonet is 5-for-6 (.833 FP) in 13 innings. At short, Maysonet is 15-for-16 - .938.
It's a toss-up, and Coop is hoping that they'll duke it out themselves over the next ten days.
Smith is hitting .441 this spring, but he must play better defense.
“We’ve talked about it,” Cooper said of Smith’s need to improve defensively. “We need to see some consistency with the glove.”
Maysonet’s chance also hinges on his defense.
“He needs to show me the glove,” Cooper said . “From what I understand, he’s a good glove man. I need to see it. Up until today, I had not. But today he made two sparkling plays.
“That’s what I need to see from him.”
But given the number of at-bats and innings Smith has been given, I'll give him the nod.