If I’m near the end of my data package on my phone that must mean the end of the month is drawing nigh. So September is just around the corner, which means September call-ups.
Yes, it’s that time of year when young players get their end-of-the-season cup of coffee in the Major Leagues. But just because the Astros can expand their active roster doesn’t mean they necessarily should. For example, Houston already has enough outfielders, and with Alex Presley and George Springer (allegedly) getting ready to return, the most expansion Houston might consider is NOT sending Marc Krauss down (effectively ending his season).
And while it’d be nice to keep Krauss around to help him develop, there are still only nine spots in the lineup each day. Where will he play? Outfield? If Springer and Presley are back—plus Robbie Grossman, Jake Marisnick and Dexter Fowler—who sits for Krauss? First base? Jonathan Singleton needs more development than does Krauss, so I wouldn’t sit Big Jon for Marc. Designated hitter? Chris Carter has been a second-half juggernaut, plus he’s trying to win a home run title. I’m not sure I sit Chris “K” for Marc K.
And this is just the dilemma with one player. Want to bring up any middle infielders—say Jonathan Villar? Well, I’d rather watch Marwin Gonzalez hit—and propel us toward 70 (OK, 68) wins than see Villar stink it up. Still, he needs the experience. Of course we could always sit Jose Altuve (Brian ducks and covers) … or not.
A quick note on who will be considered: According to MLB, players eligible for call ups must be on the 40-man roster. So don’t go asking for Mark Appel, Colin Moran, Tony Kemp or even Nick Tropeano. None of them are on the 40-man roster, and until they are, they cannot be brought up even during September.
So, here’s a look at who Jeff Luhnow could and should consider bringing up to Houston next week.
Max Stassi: Last season when Houston seemed to be losing a catcher a day to injury, Luhnow called up Max Stassi from AA Corpus Christi where he was having a fantastic season. The AAA 2014 version of Stassi has been less amazing to say the least. His.668 OPS is a result of him hitting for a much lower average and much less power. His Ks have ticked up a bit, and his walks are also down. Still, as the only catcher on the 40-man roster not named Castro or Corporan he’s probably not just a “could” but also a “should.” After all, we know what we’ve got from the two Cs.
Right now, there’s just one infielder on the 40-man roster who isn’t in Houston: Villar. As noted above, the question on Villar is playing time in September and what are the team goals. If Houston is looking for wins, I’d stick with Gonzalez right now. Of course, Villar can play a bit at third. If Altuve needed a day off (I am NOT advocating that), then Villar could play short while Marwin or Gregorio Petit plays second base.
Honestly, I go back and forth on Villar. With Petit in Houston taking up the rare non-Altuve/Marwin at-bats, I think we’re good. Perhaps it’d be best if Villar took a month or so off before hitting winter ball.
The other question for me is Krauss. Do we keep him in Houston or shut him down. It’s not a matter of him being an extra bat off the bench. Once Presley and Springer are back, Krauss becomes the extra, extra, extra bat off the bench. Hey, it’s not my money. But every at-bat he gets is one less for Singleton or Carter or one of the outfielders. I’d say if Krauss is still in Houston on Aug. 31, keep him through September. If not, well, maybe a break would be nice.
If Presley and Springer return, the only two outfielders on the 40-man roster left are L.J. Hoes and Domingo Santana. Honestly, I’m not dying to see either. Plus, we’d already have Springer, Fowler, Presley, Grossman and Marisnick in Houston. If we bring up one of them, Hoes has easily had a better season in Houston, but only because Santana has been so horrible. Personally, I think I’d bring Hoes up and let him platoon a bit. But Santana doesn’t need to be embarrassed any more.
There are a lot of choices for the pitching staff. In addition to injured Astros who will allegedly return (Jesse Crain, Matt Albers, Darrin Downs and Josh Zeid) there are a couple of guys who have never put on the Astros uniform in Alex White and Asher Wojceichowski. Plus, there are hurlers who have had a taste of Houston but been sent back down such as Anthony Bass, Paul Clemens, Luis Cruz, David Martinez and Rudy Owens.
I don’t want to get all stat-y on them, but I think it could only help to have a few extra arms in the bullpen … even arms that are not so great. Bass, Clemens, Chapman and, if he’s healthy, Zeid would make the cut for me. Oh, and Albers or Crain if healthy. (Ha!) Among the injured, I think I’d pass on Downs who isn’t even good in AAA let alone Houston.
So, here’s the question:
Do you favor expanding the roster to the max or making the expanded roster for VIPs (very impressive players) only?
Would you bring up Stassi, or is he even worth it?
Do you really want to see more of Villar? How about Krauss?
Are Hoes and/or Santana worth any at-bats in a crowded outfield?
Are you for bringing up guys who’ve already had a taste on the mound, or would you rather promote someone like White or Wojo and let them get a little experience in the big leagues?