One week into Spring Training and the Houston Astros (2-7) aren’t getting off to the start they wanted, but luckily, these games don’t count. Unfortunately for the ‘stros, it’s going to be a tough go of things when they do begin to count. When real games get under way on April 1, he Astros will start the season with a three game series at heavy NL favorite Philadelphia, and then go immediately to Cincinnati to face their division foes (and reigning champs) Reds. Ouch. However, the Astros are known for getting off to terrible starts and rallying during the second half of the season. Here’s to hoping that this slow start in March will replace the one looming in April. Now, in a new section that I’ll post weekly, the Astros “Quick Hits,” where major Astros news, player progress, transactions, et cetera will be catalogued so you can get all of your Astros news in one place.
- Houston, we have a problem…Two weeks ago I wrote a post explaining why Astro fans should be excited going into Spring Training because of the youngsters in camp. Well, it was a good run, Astros fans, at least we had the winter to believe. Those hopes have just been dealt a major blow now that probable opening day starting catcher Jason Castro will miss the entire season with a torn ACL. This is a major setback for Castro who has the physical tools to be a great major league catcher, a run producer, and was hoping to improve on his lackluster numbers from last season. At only 22, he will have plenty of time to recover, but the Astros were desperately hoping (and needing) some run production out of catcher this year. It will be difficult for the Astros to muster much offense out of the catching carousel that’s now comprised of Humberto Quintero, J.R. Towles, and whoever else makes the final cuts.
- That’s not what we signed up for…Clint Barmes, one of the Astros “big” offseason acquisitions brought over to provide more offense at shortstop than last year’s tandem of Tommy Manzella and Angel Sanchez, is a dismal 1 for 17 so far this spring. That’s good enough for a .059 AVG. However, it is still early, and he doesn’t have much competition right now seeing how Sanchez and Manzella aren’t fairing much better (combined they’re hitting 7 of 24, with two RBIs).
- On a positive note…Hunter Pence, Chris Johnson, Carlos Lee, and (surprise) Matt Downs have all come out swinging and have looked quite impressive in their first few games. Downs, in particular, is making a strong case early on for a final roster spot. Through six games he’s boasting a .833 slugging percentage.
- For some more positive news…Twenty year old SP Jordan Lyles is showing why he’s the number one prospect in the organization, and setting himself nicely to fit into the role of fifth starter. In two games he has given up four hits but no earned runs. Should come down to the last few starts to see whether or not Lyles makes the opening day roster, but his chances look good.
- One final tidbit…The Astros rattled off 17 hits against the Yankees on Sunday, but still suffered a defeat. Keep your head up boys, at least you can say you played for Cameron Diaz. Even in a loss, when Cameron Diaz is in attendance, you’re still (as Charlie Sheen would say)…WINNING!
That’s it for now, check back next week for another Astros “Quick Hits” (Spring Training Edition).