Now that the Astros have passed the much-awaited, ballyhooed trade deadline, the organization can focus on the last third of the season.
These next two months are all-important for a handful of players, hoping for one more shot at turning the heads of management and fans. Here’s a rundown of some of the players on the bubble as the summer and the 2013 season begins its final descent.
Jimmy Paredes. Already mentioned in these pages this week. Definitely getting perhaps one final shot to make his case. He started like gangbusters when he made the jump from AA Corpus Christi along with J.D. Martinez and Jose Altuve back in 2011. At 24, all he’s proven since is that he can hit at AAA, but not in the majors. Prediction: Under team control for at least five more years, he’ll be around, if only as a stop gap for times like these.
Brett Wallace. Not so young anymore (27 this month) he got an incredible reprieve since Jonathan Singleton hasn’t been able to put things together after his 50-game suspension to start the season. Wallace — how many times has he been up? — is hitting .273 with 6 HRs and 15 RBI since July 4, but still Ks often with few walks. Next 54 games may tell his tale. Prediction: He stays.
J.D. Martinez. On pace for 100 Ks if he plays regularly. Once projected as a middle-of-the-order hitter, Martinez is still somewhat of a run producer, but has a lower OBP (.280) that Altuve’s batting average (.284). With Springer in the OF and a possible FA in right field next spring, Martinez could be the odd man out. Prediction: Probably out at some point, as late as spring training.
Chris Carter. How do you cut, release, trade, send down the player who leads the team in HRs and RBI? Answer: You don’t, unless you find a suitable replacement. At this point, there is none. Prediction: He’ll be in Houston in the spring until and unless something better comes along.
Lucas Harrell. Ah, yes, Mr. Harrell. The next two months will be interesting. His challenge: He must turn his fortunes both on the field and off. Attitude will determine if he remains or is packaged in one of those under-the-radar winter moves. Prediction: Pitches well enough down the stretch to warrant a trade this winter.
Wesley Wright. Believe it or not, he will probably thrive in the right environment. That won’t be in Houston next season. Either the Astros will trade him early on or decline arbitration, which could pay him as much as $2 million. Prediction: Traded.
Erik Bedard. Interesting scenario. He seems fragile, but he’s given a young Astros’ rotation some steady performances and should become stronger in 2014. If the Astros can re-sign him, he would definitely add value at next season’s trade deadline. Prediction: Probably gone via free agency, but wouldn’t mind a $2-$3 million deal with incentives.
Others on the bubble: Travis Blackley (arb-eligible), Hector Ambriz, Trevor Crowe, Jake Elmore, Marwin Gonzalez and others. These players hold valuable spots on the 40-man roster, which will be shuffled come October and November.
One thing you can say about Luhnow and manager Bo Porter. They’re allowing players more than ample opportunity to prove themselves on the major league stage. If any of the above players are released, traded or left at Oklahoma City, there shouldn’t be any second guesses on those decisions.
Did I miss anyone on the bubble? Which of these players have you already seen enough of?