By Brian Todd
If there’s a place for a non-roster invitee to make the 25-man roster, you know, other than in right field, it’s in the infield. The “likely” backup at second, third and shortstop—Marwin Gonzalez—has a career OPS under .600. Brett Wallace, who is now a non-roster invitee, was recently considered an odds-on favorite to take half the first base job.
Honestly, the backup jobs for the Astros infield are pretty much up for grabs. Jesus Guzman, Jose Altuve, Jonathan Villar and Matt Dominguez have the starting spots wrapped up. Chris Carter is set at DH. The rest of the 40-man roster in the infield is Jonathan Singleton (likely headed to Oklahoma City) and Gonzalez.
Last year, the Astros only brought three NRIs to camp: Delino DeShields Jr., Brandon Laird and Jose Martinez. The first and last players on the list never made it to the big club. Laird, meanwhile, totaled 71 ABs in a pair of stints in Houston putting up a batting line of .169/.224/.423.
Well, Laird is gone, DDJ is an outfielder now not even invited to big league camp, and Martinez is a member of the Oakland A’s. Instead, we get the tardy Japhet Amador, not-ready-for-prime-time Carlos Correa and his aged mentor Cesar Izturis. Up-and-coming third baseman Jonathan Meyer looks to be headed to AAA. Utility guy Gregorio Petit has been unimpressive in 54 MLB at-bats and 3,696 MiLB at-bats. And Ronald Torreyes looks like the best option should Marwin falter.
Somehow out of all this, we need two players who can back up—at the least—shortstop, third base and second base. I’m pretty sure we can have Carter as the reserve first baseman or maybe Corporan. But after Izturis and Gonzalez, only Torreyes and Petit can play shortstop, so (assuming Correa doesn’t make it to Houston this year) one of those four MUST be a reserve infielder. In other words, you couldn’t pick Amador and Wallace. Neither can play shortstop, or second base for that matter.
So, here are some questions to consider:
- With Guzman and Carter on the 25-man roster – not to mention Corporan – do we need another reserve first baseman?
- Are you more interested in a good glove backing up the left side of the infield or a good bat? (“Good bat” being a relative term here.)
- Marwin or Villar goes down. Do you bring up Izturis or Petit or Torreyes?
- Did Luhnow screw up not finding better reserve infielders?
- Wallace can play both first and third base – neither especially well. Does that make him more valuable than Amador?