Paring Down to the Final 25

Less than two weeks till Opening Day and the Astros are trimming their roster.  Gone after today’s game are pitchers Miguel Asencio, Paul Estrada and Scott Sauerbeck along with the switch-hitting infielder Brooks Conrad and catcher Lou Santangelo.  Asencio, Estrada and Conrad were optioned to AAA Round Rock while Sauerbeck and Santangelo were reassigned to the minor league camp.  The big league roster now stands at 35 (30 from the 40 man roster and 5 non-roster invitees)

As we approach 2 April, it looks like Jason Lane will make the opening day roster while Richard Hidalgo, who had high hopes of making it back to the bigs won’t.  The Astros are hoping Hidalgo accepts a minor league assignment at Class AAA Round Rock.  That would give Richard a chance to be called up should there be an injury or if Lane or Scott falter.   

Lane’s strong showing this spring poses a dilemma for the Astros if they choose to carry 12 pitchers as is their wont–they will have to cut either Eric Bruntlett or Orlando Palmeiro from the 25 man roster.  Bruntlett, on the surface, seems to be the easy decision as Palmeiro is in his final year of a 2 year contract.  While Bruntlett does have an option left, the Astros would have to try to get him through waivers to reassign him to Round Rock due to the time he’s spent as a pro. 

Due to Bruntlett’s versatility, (he can play 4 of 5 infield positions and all 3 outfield positions) his might be the greater loss.  While cutting Palmeiro would mean having to pay him nearly $1 million, he is an older pinch hitter whose left handed bat can be replaced if Eric Munson makes the team as the back up catcher.  Munson, one of the 5 non-roster invitees still in camp, has quietly been having a very nice spring.  In 17 games, he is batting .345 with an on base percentage of .424 and a .517 slugging percentage.

With Andy Pettitte’s departure, Brad Ausmus’ plate appearances should be greatly reduced, giving the backup catcher a lot more playing time.  In 2006, Ausmus had 439 at bats.  If Munson or Quintero get another 100-150 at bats, the Astros offense would be in much better shape.  Out of the duo of Munson and Quintero (.179 AVG in 15 games), Munson has more power and is a lefty while Humberto Quintero is the stronger defensive catcher. 

Although it would hurt to lose Palmeiro’s veteran leadership and contact pinch hitting ability, it might be in the Astros best long term interests to release him and make room for Eric Bruntlett on the 25 man roster.

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2 comments

  1. royosfan@aol.com

    I agree with everything you have to say here. I do think that Garner should start the season with 11 pitchers, start Lane in RF on Opening Day, and DEFINITELY keep Brubtlett on the roster. He is good and versatile. I love Palmeiro, but I think we need Bruntlett more. Being a fellow-Stanford Cardinal of mine does not hurt. :~)

  2. hchmprdxjj@aol.com

    I appreciate the info about Bruntlett from your last update Rits. Score one for you.

    I figured Doggie’s Winter Ball numbers weren’t worthwhile enough to merit much attention, score one for me!

    If everything that is being said about Lane is true..and it seems to be the way hes stroking the ball…then give him the Opening Day RF job and see what he can do. It just seems like as the season goes on..One of the three have to go, depending on what their seasons are like between Burke, Lane, and Scott. Whichever two can find success, they get the PT in RF and CF. Lane can play CF just about as capably, if not more than Chris Burke so you’re not going to lose defense regardless.

    If Burke flops, you move him to the bench and prepare him for Post-Bidge. If Scott flops you either need to move him via trade or send him back to AAA… and if Lane falters you need to just get him off the MLB roster and cut ties with him either during season or in the offseason.

    I want to see Phil and co. start with 11 pitchers, but I just know they wont. The fact Wandy is guarenteed a starters job easily means to me that 12 pitchers are coming. I don’t like it, I think 12 pitchers ia a mid-season depth thing to give guys days off. But I’m not Phil Garner.

    Since we’ll probably go with 12 arms… Id fill out my bench.. Quintero, Lamb, Loretta, Lane/Scott, Palmeiro. With Lamb, Lane/Scott..You don’t need another big time power bat off the bench (Unless you’re going to send the loser of Lane/Scott to AAA, then I can understand Munson over Quintero and putting Bruntlett on the 25). Quints is very good behind the dish, and using a catcher as a PH early in a game is a risky thing to do. I think Palmeiro is too valuable off the bench as a guy who can put the ball in play and work his way on base, plus the fact he can play all 3 OFs reasonably.. I just see his bat as more valuable than Bruntlett if you have Loretta.. Even though I still cant figure out why Bruntlett may not be on the squad.

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