I have to admit to some renewed interest in seeing another 2011 Astros game with the call up of second baseman Jose Altuve from Corpus Christi yesterday. I felt really good about the trade of Jeff Keppinger for a couple of pitchers from the San Francisco Giants that may may do us some good in the near future. “Kep” was a good player, but he had no future with a club that is only now really getting started on the long road to competitive recovery. General Manager Ed Wade’s move also opened the door for little 5’7″ Jose Altuve, the “hittingest fool” in minor league baseball, to join the Astros and play out this otherwise dead season showing and learning what he can do as a major league second baseman.
I like that strategy., Mr. Wade. I like it a lot. Besides, what’s the alternative? Playing out this losing hand with expensive veterans and no chance for recovery? I don’t think so. When you wake up one morning and see that a 30-game win streak won’t even get you to .500 ball in late July, it’s time to do something else..
Based upon a limited continuing application of this same formula, the following is a potential 2012 Opening Day lineup we may see next year:
2012 Houston Astros, Opening Day
Michael Bourn, cf
Jose Altuve, 2b
Jason Bourgeois, lf
Hunter Pence, rf
Brett Wallace, 1b
Koby Clemens, 3b
Jason Castro, c
Jiovanni Mier, ss
Jordan Lyles, p
The problem is – we don’t really know how far Masseurs. Jim Crane, Tal Smith, and Ed Wade are prepared to go with this pare down on age and payroll for the sake of rebuilding around affordable, gifted youth. “Gifted” is an important component to that strategy. The club cannot afford to simply put young guys out there. Houston fans assess quickly “who’s got talent and who does not” and they won’t come watch for long in numbers if the young guys don’t fairly quickly show that they can cut it.
The second factor is the club’s unmovable veteran payroll – and we all know we are talking Carlos Lee here. Lee is a good guy, but a deficit to any real plan for change. Wish we could find a 2011 playoff competitor who grew desperate enough to deal for him now and take something of the 2012 portion of his salary off the Astros hands too. I say, if the opportunity arises, deal him if you can find another club to take on any part of his salary on the balance of this year and next. If we have to pay him, anyway, let’s pay him to be somewhere he least hurts the youth movement.
The next question is: Are Hunter Pence and Michael Bourn also available for trade? We are getting a lot of rumor-writing about Pence out here. If it were me, Hunter Pence is the one veteran I would work like crazy to avoid training. Hunter Pence is the best player we’ve got, the embodiment of the new Houston Astros, and a guy whom the fans love. We would have to get two or three can’t miss prospects to make trading him worthwhile, but his loss would still reverberate in immeasurable ways to all areas of the franchise. I’d prefer to see the Astros rebuild around Hunter Pence rather watch them try to do it without him.
Michael Bourn is another matter. Second to Pence, our gold glove center fielder is a keeper, but, at what cost? He signed with agent Scott Boras prior to 2011, posing the obvious question: What’s it going to cost to re-sign Michael next time? Michael isn’t worth a franchise hold up on the level that Scott Boras likes to play things. If we lose Bourn, we’ve always got Jason Bourgeois.
I like the rest of that youthful lineup – and I like it with Pence and Bourn even better as the “veteran” anchors, if possible. I replaced Chris Johnson at 3rd base with Koby Clemens because I haven’t been very impressed with Johnson’s adjustments as a hitter to the adjustments that big league pitchers have made to him – nor am I fond of Johnson’s defensive skills. The other thing is – I think it’s time to give Koby Clemens a shot at showing what he can do as a major league bopper – and you have to play him somewhere to make that audition possible.
Jiovanni Mier is my only dubious pick. I don’t know if the guy is ready, but, if not him, we need to put some young shortstop prospect out there who’s got a chance at being a superior fielder, but a much better hitter than Adam Everett or Tommy Manzella.It would be nice if could stumble upon the next Derek Jeter, if there is one.
At any rate, this is my first throw rug take on 2012.
What do the rest of you think?
Tags: Houston Astros