It seems strange to have an Astros team make it this far into spring training and have so little feel for how it will perform as a whole, especially on the offensive side. That is totally because of the local team’s “donations” to the World Baseball Classic currently occurring at locations around the globe. SS Carlos Correa and DH Carlos Beltran have helped lead a Puerto Rican club that will be moving to the next round of the WBC. Similarly, LF Nori Aoki is riding onward with the undefeated Japanese team. 2B Jose Altuve should be back in camp and the lineup soon as Venezuela has been eliminated, and USA team players, 3B Alex Bregman and RP Luke Gregerson will be moving to the next round as a result of their win Saturday against the Dominican Republic.
So basically 5 of the 9 position players expected to start most of the Astros’ games in the field are not in camp and will have missed varying lengths of times with their teammates. For two of those players this is a brand new team that they will be joining. There are probably folks experiencing angst over their absence. But in the end….what does it matter?
Baseball, unlike the other major sports in the US, is more of an individual sport. Perhaps if C Brian McCann was on the US team and losing out on opportunities to learn his pitcher’s strengths, weaknesses and locations, there would be cause for some concern.
Here are quick thoughts on each of the players:
- Biggest concern that is not that big – Bregman. He has the least amount of time in the majors by far of the six Astros involved in the Classic and he is not getting many ABs. The fact he could come off the bench for his one start and his only ABs and get two solid singles and one walk in four plate appearances show that maybe playing everyday in the spring is not that necessary.
- Small concern for a new Astro – Aoki – Let’s face it the biggest concern here is that veterans Aoki and George Springer figure out how to not bang into each other in the OF. Big whoop.
- Small concern for Astro working with a new Astro – Gregerson is not getting to work with his new main battery mate, McCann. These guys are both grizzled veterans. It should take them a few outings to get in synch. Maybe they had it figured out before Luke headed to the Classic in the first place.
- No concern – Beltran – He’s the almost 40 year old designated hitter and very part time outfielder. There is nothing he hasn’t seen. His biggest concern is figuring out where he will sit in the dugout. On second thought, the senior member of the team gets to sit wherever he wants.
- This is a positive – Correa and Altuve – These two guys do not need to waste time learning about each other in spring training. The truth is that they are getting critical at bats for their homelands in place of the mindless, who cares, at bats they would normally have during the spring.
So where do you stand, if you care at all, about the Astros participation in the WBC (no – not the World Boxing Council)?