CHIPALATTA

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Astros’ 2015 roster: Is the shuffle complete?


The first spring training for A.J. Hinch is winding down. Perhaps the most important spring training to date for Jeff Luhnow is coming to a close. And, for a few select, remaining players, decision time looms.

In Hinch’s mind, most of the roster positions may have already been decided. However, with no public decisions and announcements, several openings remain. However, by this time next week, the 25-man roster should be evident, if not written in stone.

Here are some of the last battles to earn a spot on the roster.

Evan Gattis or Jon Singleton.

Let’s be honest. The primary reason that Gattis is in Houston is that Luhnow wasn’t confident that Singleton would be ready for opening day, if not the entire season. Gattis arrived hurt and he hasn’t disappointed in that regard. Perhaps that’s not fair, but he has also shown signs of that other attribute: Power. If he stays healthy and plays 140 games (which he has never done), he’ll hit those 25-30 home runs. On the other hand, while Singleton has had a decent spring, it doesn’t qualify as breakout by any means. He has, however, shown enough to believe that he could be a difference maker in 2015. If Singleton steps up his game (whether in April or June), the Astros have other questions. It’s almost impossible to squeeze Gattis, Singleton and Chris Carter into the same lineup. And not compromise somewhere else.

Chip’s call. Though he could easily break camp with the Astros, Singleton starts the season at Fresno, delaying the decision.

Asher Wojciechowski or Roberto Hernandez.

I laid out the mindset on this one a week or two ago. Depth wise, there is no question. Barring a trade, Hernandez gets the job as the fifth starter and Wojo is off to Fresno as the first call up when someone goes down, is traded or under performs. It’s the smart move. It’s the safe move. For now. It is not the long-term move. Wojo will be in Houston in 2015.

Chip’s call: Barring a trade, Hernandez gets the job, Wojo goes to Fresno and waits for the call. But wait, Brad Peacock… And, oh wait II, this all changes if Brett Oberholtzer starts the season on the disabled list.

Alex Presley or Robbie Grossman.

Okay, most everyone reading this would prefer Colby Rasmus to be the odd man out. You’d be just fine with an outfield of George Springer, Jake Marisnick, Grossman and Presley. Right? Ain’t gonna happen. Right? Presley is out of options and obviously valued by Luhnow. Amazingly, every prospective outfielder who remains an option can play all three positions. Springer is in. Rasmus, by virtue of his winter signing (and $8 million deal) is likely in. Jake Marisnick, likely in as a starter.

Chip’s call: Again, barring a trade, Grossman is off to Fresno and Presley gets the last OF spot.

The bench.

This is where it gets sticky. Marwin Gonzalez should be a given. He’s a veteran, shuffles through most infield spots and can also help out in the outfield. After that, it’s somewhat murky. Jonathan Villar and Matt Dominguez may be the other options. Villar is the more likely given his versatility, especially if Singleton makes the club.

Chip’s call: Gonzalez and Villar. Dominguez goes to Fresno and for a last gasp effort to restore his fortunes.

So, here is one man’s projection for the roster:

Has the roster already been determined? Perhaps. Take a look at the most recently updated version of the Astros’ depth chart. Interesting in that Rasmus is not listed as a starter and it also shows Hernandez as the fifth starter. Also, Singleton remains the starter at first, so perhaps his spring was good enough.

Here’s a refreshing thought: If Hinch is autonomous of sorts and can/will make roster and lineup decisions that aren’t influenced by the most recently acquired players, the ones who earn the most or the ones that make the most business sense? Capiche?

Questions still abound. But, one thing is for sure. The roster that is named in the next 10 days is not the end all and will not come down in stone, so don’t fret. The 2015 roster, like other recent seasons, will be a work-in-progress. While it may not rival the recent seasons where managers have used upwards of 45-50 players, all players mentioned — unless traded — will see time in Houston.

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About Chip Bailey

Chip Bailey lives in beautiful Colorado Springs, CO, and wakes up each morning to the tallest spot in the region, Pikes Peak. He is an author and former sports editor and sportswriter who has followed the Astros for more than 50 years. A native of another picturesque city, Natchitoches, La., Chip enjoys watching baseball at most any level, especially pro and college. Several years ago, he worked as an associate of Pastor John Bosman, who enjoyed giving nick names to his staff. Pastor Bosman came up with Chipalatta, and it has stuck.

57 comments on “Astros’ 2015 roster: Is the shuffle complete?

  1. 1oldpro
    March 25, 2015

    You really pushed my buttons.
    Gattis, Singleton and Carter all make this club.
    I disagree that most of our readers would prefer Rasmus to be the odd man out. I criticized him for his effort the other day in LF but I still want him on this club.
    Hard to believe that Grossman’s spring training display would not earn him a spot on the club, but apparently they love Jake and Elvis, so Robbie may start off in Fresno. Probably is the end of the line for Ruben Sosa in the Astros organization. Just too many outfielders and Sosa has not stood out.
    I think Villar and Marwin are in a real battle for the 25th spot on the team.
    I am so disappointed in the bullpen. If Fields is hurt, there is not one fireballer in that group. Where the heck are the arms? There is not a 95 mph fastball in the entire bullpen. And David Rollins is throwing 94 mph as a LH reliever on a pitching-rich Seattle team and says it’s because he’s relieving, which he never did in Houston’s tandem system. He said he can now throw as hard as he wants because he knows he’s a reliever with the Mariners. That is the problem with Houston’s pitching agenda. They never develop relievers in the minors. If you’ve got 40 starters on your top 5 minor league teams and no relievers, you can’t even tell if a guy can be a reliever. And they apparently had one all along! I bet they are gonna miss on some more relievers, too, if they don’t put some promising arms in minor league bullpens.

    Like

    • Mr. Bill
      March 25, 2015

      Mr. Hoyt is not in the equation?

      Like

      • 1oldpro
        March 25, 2015

        Apparently he is only if Fields is hurt.

        Like

  2. astrocolt45
    March 25, 2015

    Interesting take, Senor Chip (spelled the same, but pronounced cheeep). Outfield: Will Luhnow admit he made a $1 Million mistake? Maybe. Will he admit to an $8 Million possible mistake? NEVER. Rasmus starts some place. If we keep Villar on the MLB roster, we are admitting that he will never be a full time starter. I refuse to believe they are ready to just give up on him. And I fully expect within the next few days some mysterious minor injuries to park at least two on the DL in order to observe a couple others with question marks.

    Like

  3. Devin_
    March 25, 2015

    This roster is not ideal. My expectation is that Villar goes to Fresno to play multiple positions. Gattis plays LF the first 7 innings, then gets relieved by JFSF (CF) if we have a lead…which slides Rasmus to LF. Singleton should start in Houston. We have no evidence that Gattis can play 1B and Carter is showing that he should be limited to DH this spring. That means Grossman goes to Fresno unless they do the right thing and cut Presley. Yeah, they eat the salary, but outside Domingo Santana does anyone on the 40 man have worse at bats against ML pitching? Dominguez can’t fit because he can’t outhit Valbuena, can’t outrun Carter, and needs to bring more than a corner glove to add value.

    My only quibble on pitchers is to wonder if Wojo is on an innings limit and would be better served starting in Fresno. I want him in the Houston rotation and would cut Deduno in favor of Hoyt…but the options game and Luhnow’s fondness for Sam makes me think you hit that one on the head.

    Like

  4. rj
    March 25, 2015

    cosart in possible trouble for gambling on sports. busted by his own twitter nonsense.

    Like

  5. 1oldpro
    March 25, 2015

    Astros top of the order today:
    Grossman RF
    Villar CF
    Gattis LF
    A flyball pitcher in Wojo starting on the hill.
    This could be very interesting.

    Like

  6. rj
    March 25, 2015

    my take on roster:
    1B singleton
    2B altuve
    3B valbueno
    SS lowrie
    C castro/conger
    RF springer
    CF marisnick
    LF gattis/rasmus
    DH carter

    bench
    gonzales
    villar?

    rotation
    keuchel
    feldman
    mchugh
    oberholtzer
    hernandez

    bullpen
    gregerson
    neshek
    fields
    qualls
    sipp
    harris
    thatcher

    the last spot comes down to grossman, presley or villar. grossman hasn’t helped his cause much, presley has a contract, and villar is well either good or real bad. given his progress this spring and his speed (read pinch runner in a close late inning game) i think he may take it. smart money however is on someone else.

    Like

    • Kevin
      March 25, 2015

      Am i missing something isn’t Grossman having a solid spring hitting .378?

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Mr. Bill
    March 25, 2015

    Regarding Jon Singleton, as I recall he started really strong back when everyone we were facing was throwing mostly fastballs, then immediately when pitchers began working on breaking stuff he crashed and burned. If it was up to me, he’d start every spring game the rest of the way and see how he does against the other team’s starting pitchers. His performance since the breaking stuff came out suggests he is not ready. If Gattis and Carter are both healthy when the final cuts are made, I like him to be given a chance to work it out in Fresno rather than waste at bats that could have been given to Gattis or MarGo (assuming MarGo, who I suspect can play 1B far better than either Carter or Gattis, is our super-sub).

    Like

    • Chip Bailey
      March 25, 2015

      Oh, and Mr. Bill, to illustrate your point, Singleton is 2-for-his-last-19, including his first two ABs today.

      Like

  8. Chip Bailey
    March 25, 2015

    Mr. Bill, exactly. Where Singleton starts the season may come down how he plays/hits over the next seven days. When he plays, he’ll be seeing better pitching, which may well expose the fact he needs a tad more grooming.

    AC45, think you nailed it. There are already a few nagging injuries, so if the Astros are looking to buy some time for a few decisions, wouldn’t be surprising to see a couple of guys get some extra time (on the DL) to nurse those injuries while other roster spots work themselves out.

    Luhnow has given Hinch plenty of flexibility. It also means that as many as 2-3 guys could be playing a position that’s not optimal (or their best position) with every lineup.

    Like

  9. Mr. Bill
    March 25, 2015

    Okay, I admit it, I am feeling just a little better about that Jared Cosart trade this morning . . . .

    Like

    • Devin_
      March 25, 2015

      Yeah, he may make a number of us eat our words now.

      Like

  10. Kevin
    March 25, 2015

    To me Singleton’s spring is just like last year , starts out strong and slowly going downhill-Fresno! Cosart hope its not true, even if it isn’t, now his name will be tarnished, not fair is he is innocent.

    Like

    • Chip Bailey
      March 25, 2015

      Kevin, there was nothing about Singleton’s 2014 spring that was strong. He was 0 for his first 15 ABs and had only four hits for the entire spring. He was .154 for the ’14 spring, though he did have 9 walks.

      This year, he does have 10 hits, 6 of those doubles, but he’d also project to approximately 200 Ks over a full season. He has 13 Ks and 10 H in 37 PAs. Granted, Carter and Gattis may be on that pace as well, at least for the Ks.

      I’m a Singleton fan and would love him to start in Houston. Sending him to Fresno is not necessarily my desire, but I believe I don’t believe he’s played himself unequivocally onto the roster. He’s left it open to a decision by Luhnow and Hinch.

      Like

      • Kevin
        March 25, 2015

        Chip I meant this spring not 2014, heck I have no clue what he did in ST last year. I said it 50 times last year I will be amazed if he ever amounts to much in MLB and will proudly eat my words,

        Like

    • Chip Bailey
      March 25, 2015

      Ah, I see, you’re comparing his ’15 spring to his ’14 season. Yes, unfortunately…Now he’s 2 for his last 21…I think Luhnow is checking air fare to Fresno…or soon will be…

      Like

      • Kevin
        March 25, 2015

        Yes and Yupper, time for a little, Peter, Paul, and Mary.

        Like

  11. Dan P
    March 25, 2015

    Well I will be the number one idiot if Cosart gets Pete Rose’d out or even if he gets a lesser punishment for gambling on something other than his own games. I could always say that someone else hacked my account yesterday and praised Cosart…..

    Chip – you did an excellent job writiing a very objective piece – very sound arguments. It kind of sucks that it feels like so many guys who are playing better may not snag a spot, but 1) as you point out – they go down and play well they may be back up in a month or two and 2) we have all seen spring training warriors who cannot sustain that performance into the real season.

    The rotation is such a question mark because of the injuries to Peacock and Obie and Hernandez’s pre-nuptial agreement or whatever you want to call that. I would like to see what Wojo has but have this gut feeling I may have to see his mlb debut with a different club after another trade.

    Villar possibly making the team has to rate as a tremendous surprise for me. I did not think he would be thrown out of the system and released, but I did not think they would try and make him Mr. Super-utility. Good for him.

    Like

    • daveb
      March 25, 2015

      No Dan, I’ll be the number one idiot, but let’s first see how dumb Cosart really has been. Let’s face it, if he bet on the NCAA basketball tournament, he did something that a whole lot of people do annually, including professional athletes. It is obvious though, that he really has no business in the Twitter business.

      And yes I’m concerned about the rotation, the pen and hiding either Gattis or Carter on the field somewhere. One of those guys will end up having to wear a glove. Unless Singleton lights up real quick, he belongs in Fresno.

      oldpro, I agree completely with your take on the pen. If Seattle found a place in their quality pen for Rollins, he must have something going for him.

      Marwin gets the utility job again and I think Villar gets the nod too. Who else is our pinch runner? We need someone to score from second on a base hit after one of the big galoots hits a late inning double.

      Like

      • Chip Bailey
        March 25, 2015

        Cosart may be totally innocent on this Twitter/gambling thing. However, if he is gambling (not on baseball), he will now be on an MLB watch list. Hopefully, it isn’t a problem, but, as we all know, it could become a problem in later years. I’m sure Rose didn’t start his gambling “career” betting on baseball.

        But to be clear, if he bet on NCAA basketball and that’s it, he’s clear by MLB standards…

        Like

      • Becky
        March 25, 2015

        Cosart needs to stay off twitter…….THAT got him in a lot of hot water with Luhnow LAST year. BUT…….it was his MOUTH that got him traded last year.

        Like

    • daveb
      March 25, 2015

      After all the potential starting pitching that has been sent packing over the past 8 months, I’d be horrified if Wojo got traded away at this point.

      Like

      • Chip Bailey
        March 25, 2015

        daveb, you beat me to the punch. This guy should be in the rotation at some point this year. Or, at the very least, given the optimum chance to be. Horrified is your word, but I’m with you, just haven’t figured out what word would describe my sentiment if Wojo wears another major league uniform anytime soon!

        Like

    • Dan P
      March 25, 2015

      Let’s see:
      Dan P – “I’m the biggest idiot.”
      daveb “No, I’m the biggest idiot.”
      Dan P “No one’s going to call themselves a bigger idiot when I’m around.”
      daveb “Them’s fighting words!”
      Dan P “Yo Mama!

      I guess this would not be my worst or first blunder if it happens – just funny that it is less than 24 hours after I’m all up in arms about the trade…..

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Becky
    March 25, 2015

    I’ve gotta problem with a couple of predictions……
    1. Asher Wojo. has a .63 era so far this spring, and he’s READY to make it on to the roster. PERIOD.
    Hernandez has a history with the majors……he’s also like 35yrs. old. AND it will cost the club $2.50 million if he makes opening day. I want to see Wojo up, he has done NOTHING not to believe in him.
    2. Hoyt has an era of 0.00 so far……..Harris was a NRI, and he’s been hit hard so far this spring. Case closed…….Hoyt ,makes the club.
    3. Villar has played just a handful of positions (not short stop) this spring…….
    Marwin is PROVEN he can play SS, second base, AND third base.
    Villar goes to Fresno, so he can get a chance to play the other positions in more than two games.

    Like

  13. Chip Bailey
    March 25, 2015

    Ladies and gentlemen, I’m not suggesting that Correa should start the season in Houston, but he’s absolutely, totally going to crush AA pitching at Corpus! Correa, Appel and Moran are the guys who are going to start pushing! Somehow, someway, Luhnow will have to clear some decks above when they’re ready to move to Fresno, then Houston.

    Like

    • Becky
      March 25, 2015

      SWEET homerun today! That kid is special *INDEED*!

      Like

  14. Mr. Bill
    March 25, 2015

    When Hank Conger hits a dinger, shouldn’t we call it a ‘Donger’

    Like

    • Mr. Bill
      March 25, 2015

      Unaware of the slang connotations. Perhaps we should still call them dingers.

      Like

      • Chip Bailey
        March 25, 2015

        I suppose you could also call them a King Conger? Ugh. I just heard the collective sigh. Okay, okay! Or perhaps we should dispense of coming up with nicknames involving current players until we see how long they last in Luhnow’s world?

        Like

      • daveb
        March 25, 2015

        Mr. Bill, I used to go to a Chinese restaurant in Seattle called the “Big Dong”. Am I allowed to say that?

        Like

  15. Dan P
    March 25, 2015

    Mr. Bill! Reminds me of the movie 16 Candles where the Japanese kid (Long Duc Dong) ends up drunk and saying things like “The Donger needs food!”

    Correa crushing it today. Wojo – 4-2/3 IP – 1 R and 4 Ks. The future looks good and I’m hoping the future happens sooner than later…..

    Like

    • Kevin
      March 25, 2015

      Oh man loved Long Duc Dong, classic scene!

      Like

      • Dan P
        March 25, 2015

        Grandpa: “Dong – where is my automobile?”
        Long Duk Dong: “Automobiiiilllleeee…..!!!”

        Followed by Dong making the sounds of grandpa’s automobile being crashed and crunched. You would have to see it.

        Like

  16. Becky
    March 25, 2015

    Villar and Grossman got tangled up in the outfield today………thank you Mr. Villar for taking out a *real* outfielder. Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

    Like

    • Chip Bailey
      March 25, 2015

      Becky, just saw the replay. With all due respect, Villar made a heckuva play. Indeed, it’s his ball, though he and Grossman should be communicating. It’s incumbent on RF Grossman to check his center fielder and to peel off if necessary. He tried to do it, just a little late. Apparently, this was one of two top notch catches by Villar.

      Of course, you have TWO — not just one — guy playing out of position. It could have been uglier if it had been a lumbering, less agile Gattis tangling with Marisnick though.

      Wouldn’t it be ironic if Villar turns out to be the starting center fielder in Fresno, then he makes his mark like a Soriano or something? Not sure he can make the transition, but he does have the tools.

      Liked by 1 person

    • daveb
      March 25, 2015

      Like him of not, Villar made two very nice catches out there today. And the CF pretty much owns balls in the gap. Grossman should have gotten out of the way of that tangle up.

      Liked by 1 person

  17. Becky
    March 25, 2015

    Oh forgot to add…..Wojo gave up *1* run today, facing the Phillies regular lineup.

    Like

  18. Mr. Bill
    March 25, 2015

    Forgive me Chip, for I have sinned. I have created a monster. In the interest of maintaining the G-rating for this blog, however, I have decided from this point forward just to bite my tongue and refer to any miscellaneous dingers Hank Conger may ever hit for our heroes simply as “excellent examples of ‘pitch framing'”.

    Meanwhile, Dan P, I wonder how the crashing and crunching sounds out of your LDD quote might compare to the sound of Jonathan Villar crashing into Robbie Grossman today in right center field? Oh, no, Robbieeeeeeeeeeeeee …. !!!

    Liked by 2 people

    • 1oldpro
      March 25, 2015

      Thank goodness Altuve wasn’t around! Which reminds me of a joke. Jonathan Villar and Jimmy Paredes run into each other in a bar. Who’s still standing?
      See, I steered us into some cleaner humor.

      Like

      • Chip Bailey
        March 25, 2015

        OP, what if you add Carlos Lee (remember Adam Everett’s broken leg?) to the equation? Carlos Lee, Jimmy Paredes and Jonathan Villar run into…

        Like

    • Dan P
      March 25, 2015

      I’m working on imaging it Mr. Bill – Looking them up I was surprised to see that Villar 6′-1″ 205 lbs is bigger than Grossman 6′-0″ 195 lbs. – I did not know that Villar was that big – so I can imagine that car crash between them.
      On the plus side outfielders throw all over the place anyways, so maybe noone notices Villar’s crazy arm tendencies out there.

      Like

  19. Tim
    March 25, 2015

    The one thing that stood out to me during my time in Florida last week was Singleton’s improved defense at 1B. He scooped 2 low throws out of the dirt (an area he struggled badly last season) and fielded a laser ground ball hit to him cleanly. Despite his improved defense, and Mr. Bill made a very interesting point about his spring stats, I think, unless he turns it around within a week, he will start in Fresno.

    On a separate note, listening to the game on the radio today it appears Villar looked very good in CF. If he can play the OF adequately I have no problem with him startiing the season in Houston. Sorry, Becky. 🙂

    Like

    • Becky
      March 25, 2015

      Villar will be in Fresno to start the season, and NO I’m not dying my hair purple, but I *WILL* be cussing a blue streak if he does make the team.

      Like

  20. 1oldpro
    March 25, 2015

    So, Forbes says that the Astros are now worth $800million. TV deal makes a huge difference.

    Like

  21. Steeeve
    March 25, 2015

    Josh Zeid was just sent down to the minors by the Detroit Tigers, who got him off waivers from the Astros last winter. Not surprising, but I’m hopeful he’s this year’s JD Martinez, gets called up quickly and does well.

    Like

    • 1oldpro
      March 25, 2015

      Tomorrow is an off day for the Astros. History says things happen on Astros’ off days. Will tomorrow be like last year. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if the Astros send some players down.

      Like

      • daveb
        March 25, 2015

        Might as well send my buddy Joe out. He’s spending all of his time on the back fields anyway.

        Like

      • Chip Bailey
        March 26, 2015

        OP, I would typically agree and, indeed, there may be some movement today. However, with the injuries (Obie, Peacock, Fields, Gattis working his way back and even yesterday Villar and Grossman), it could still be a few more days before the real cuts are announced.

        I’m guessing Hernandez and Wojo stay in camp until Obie throws a real game and the bullpen will still battle until the Fields question is settled.

        Could be wrong, but I’d guess this weekend or even Monday before it gets down to or close to 25. Just my two and a half cents.

        Like

  22. gcp
    March 25, 2015

    I am having trouble with the concept of Chris Carter, primary first baseman. Reports implied that Gattis would not be a first baseman, and you have captured the issues with Singleton. All three players are flawed but I think all three make it on the squad.

    Villar goes to AAA, and I believe Hernandez wins out over Wojciechowski.

    Like

  23. Tim
    March 25, 2015

    It doesn’t look like Fields will be ready by opening day. This should open a spot for Hoyt until Fields is ready. For some reason, Luhnow wants Deduno to be the long man in the bullpen. I hope Hoyt shows enough to stick with the club after Fields returns. I think a bullpen with Gregerson, Neshek, Qualls, Fields and Hoyt will be very, very good. You add in Sipp and Thatcher and I really like this bullpen compared to last year.

    Like

  24. 1oldpro
    March 25, 2015

    I had forgotten that Kike Hernandez had been traded to the Dodgers. He is currently trying to win the super utility role on that stacked team. Good luck, Kike.

    Like

  25. 1oldpro
    March 25, 2015

    I know it’s spring training. but being one of the best teams statistically has to mean something, doesn’t it. The Astros offense is in the top five in baseball, with their OPS actually at #2. The Astros are tied for first in the majors in the two listed fielding categories. The Astros’ staff ERA is the fourteenth best and their whip has climbed to 19th in the majors. Last week at this time we were last in WHIP and 25th in ERA. Our Relievers actually have much better stats than our starters.

    Like

    • Devin_
      March 26, 2015

      They definitely feel like a major league team this spring. I don’t want to get ahead of myself, but if they can get through April with a winning record we’ll know we have something. As Tim notes, I am also impressed by the bullpen thus far.

      Like

  26. Mr. Bill
    March 26, 2015

    After all the train-wreck, patchwork teams we have seen in Houston uniforms in the past decade, it seems strangely wonderful not really caring who the other teams are releasing or passing through waivers at this point of the year. It’s not that we don’t still have some needs – it’s just that we aren’t depending on other team’s rejects and low-risk rehab projects any more to meet/fill those needs.

    Like

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