All Things Astros and a whole lot more
A lively conversation was featured here Monday concerning the Chris Carter Quandary and what to do with the inconsistenly streaky first baseman, who does consistently strike out at Mark Reynoldsian rates. Today the subject is other quandaries that the 2015 Houston Astros face.
The Correa Conundrum
What it is. Frankly, this is a quandary that the front office has done to themselves. The Astros have the #1 prospect in all of baseball in SS Carlos Correa. There could have been arguments about whether he would have been the best choice to play shortstop right out of spring training despite Correa having topped out with half a season of A+ ball. This was made tougher when the 20-year-old shortstop tore up AA and Jed Lowrie went down with a three-month or so injury. The Astros made a financial decision to not start Correa’s clock; a decision that they made in the opposite direction for other young prospects such as Michael Feliz and Lance McCullers Jr.
Looking Forward. The loyal Astro fan does not care if Correa starts arbitration in 2018 or 2019 or is an eligible free agent in 2022 or 2023. He or she is just going to be hacked off if the Astros lose this pennant by a couple games, a couple games they know the Astros could have won with earlier help from Correa. There is another twist to this in that Correa is struggling (for him) at AAA posting .241 BA/.307 OBP in 19 games. It is possible that the front office feels like the young man needs 200 or more ABs to get his feet under him before promoting him to the big club.
The Villar Puzzlement
What it is. Jonathan Villar is a physically talented ball player, who has morphed into the Astros super-sub because the normal super-sub Marwin Gonzalez, is the fill-in starter at SS most nights. Villar has hit decently for a middle infielder, hitting .276/.325/.697 in 2015. The problem is that he makes head case mistakes on the bases and in the field, especially when he plays at shortstop or third base. If they are not going to bring up Correa can they live with Villar? Of course he who lives by the Villar, dies by the Villar.
Looking Forward. Will the Astros bring Correa up, move Gonzalez to super-sub and Villar to the minors or another team? If Correa’s struggles at AAA deepen, do they jump to another player to be the backup like Joe Sclafani? Matt Duffy? Matt (Shudder) Dominguez? Or reaching down to AA and pluck Tony Kemp? Chan Moon? Tyler White? or (Gulp) Jiovanni Mier?
The “Other” Starters Uncertainty
What Is It. The only certainty coming into the season was that the top two starters would be Dallas Keuchel and Collin McHugh. Keuchel has been arguably the best pitcher in the AL to date. McHugh started out very good, but has had his ERA slide over the 4.00 mark mostly on the back of allowing 8 homers in his last 4 starts. But they have been the best two to date in the Astros’ rotation. Scott Feldman had been up and down, mixing in three bad clinkers with seven decent starts and then heading to the disabled list with knee problems. Roberto Hernandez had an ERA under two after one start. It was over three after two starts. It was over four after five starts. And after 10 starts, it is nearing 5.00. Deduno, Wojciechowski and Peacock were bad in their attempts to fill the fifth starter spot. Lance McCullers Jr. has been very promising, but at such a young age is not an innings eater and may end up being shut down later in the season. Brett Oberholtzer has been passable in two starts after being injured. So the question remains, what is the eventual rotation after the top two and what happens if McHugh keeps slipping?
Looking forward. What will this rotation look like in a month to six weeks? Is McCullers the answer? Can Obie seize a spot despite putting so many runners on base? Will Feldman be better? Will Hernandez be gone? Will Appel ever get straight? Velasquez stay healthy? Mystery TOR pitcher get traded for and added to the mix?
These are just three of the Astros’ quandaries, there are plenty of others.