It’s Saturday and the regular season is only days away. Let the count down begin to A.J. Hinch’s official tenure with the Astros. You may not remember how many games his first spring training team won, but you will certainly recall how many games his first regular season team wins…or loses.
As spring training generally does, players have already begun to separate themselves. Are you surprised that Asher Wojciechowski or Marwin Gonzalez or Jake Marisnick or Robbie Grossman look to be either playing themselves onto the roster or at least pushing their way to the final cuts?
And, likewise, you’re not surprised I’m sure that Domingo Santana, Michael Feliz or Alex White are all headed to minor league camp. Forty four players remain in the big league camp and some of those will start the season on the DL, be traded, released or sent packing to Fresno as well.
Honestly, not much suspense left. Right?
Dallas Keuchel will start opening day followed by Scott Feldman. Jose Altuve will start at second across from Jed Lowrie. Sometime in the next week to ten days, Jon Singleton should get the nod at first. Wojo is turning heads (finally!) and Grossman is putting together his annual good spring impression.
So, here are a few thoughts about your thoughts…
Maybe Jeff Luhnow is right all along.
To be sure, the Astros’ GM does things differently. If nothing else, he acts on his beliefs and those of his team. And, he acts decisively. The Brady Aiken jury is still out, but know this: GMs around the look are watching carefully after Aiken left his first start since the draft after 13 pitches. No vindication yet, but the earlier rumors of possible injury and his early departure no doubt has dropped his 2015 draft stock.
Only a year ago, the Astros were apparently talking long-term deal with Robbie Grossman. A .423/.484/.615 line in half a spring doesn’t vindicate Luhnow entirely, but it does demonstrate what the Astros’ GM saw in the still-young outfielder. Yes, he’s still 24.
You can argue Luhnow mishandled Mark Appel. Talk tandem, talk rushing through spring last season after the appendectomy. That said, you must admit, Luhnow has either adapted, listened to critics or adjusted his approach (the sign of a good leader) as Appel now appears to be on track. Whether or not he’s an actual #1 pick is still debatable, but he now is on his way to Houston sooner than later.
Does anyone remember Nate Freiman?
Fans were all atwitter only a couple of years ago when the Astros kept Chris Carter and let Nate Freiman go on waivers. Yes, at the time — and even into the first year of that decision — it looked ominous. Anyone care to reassess their comments now that Carter seems to be establishing himself and Freiman may be headed for the DL or even AAA?
Six weeks ago…
Who might have thought — realistically — that it might be Evan Gattis who is the ultimate odd man out? With Jon Singleton settling in at 1B and Chris Carter unlikely to go away as the consistent power threat (and healthy), Gattis may be stuck in left field for the foreseeable future…when he isn’t on the DL. Carter’s salary will continue to rise in arbitration, but if he reprises his 2014 second half, he may be the who gets the last chair in the musical chairs game.
No cameo here…
You may have thought Carlos Correa would be banished to the back fields, but he actually is making more appearances than many Astros. Only Andrew Aplin and Jonathan Villar have appeared in more spring games than Correa and the former #1 pick is in the upper echelon of Astros’ at bats as well. His spiffy play portends living up to all expectations when he reaches Minute Maid. This year? He’ll likely start in Corpus Christi, but could jump to Fresno soon. Of course, the Astros will want fans at all levels of the organization to get a chance they saw Correa when …