Alyson Footer took your questions this week. Here’s my take on the same questions:
Now that Aaron Boone is gone for the season, who will take up the backup job behind Geoff Blum? And will this free up the payroll to possibly get somebody new, or do we still have to pay Boone?
She thinks the Astros will go outside to get someone rather than promoting Chris Johnson and lists some players who might be available, all of whom have significant flaws, which is why they’re available. Probably so, but the farm system is in such dire need of a rebuild that I’d hate to see the Astros give up much to get one-half of a third base platoon. She also lists some of their spring statistics, which don’t matter. Wow, does Mike Hessman strike out a lot. How many players hang out long enough to rack up 1,654 minor league strikeouts? The 288 home runs are worth noting as well. The names I like are Jeff Baker and Jeff Keppinger, both of whom hit left-handers well last year.
Reggie Abercrombie has put up some great numbers this spring, whereas Jason Michaels and Michael Bourn have not. At this point, do you think Abercrombie will make the team and, if so, could he challenge for a starting spot in center?
Did you know Reggie is the first major-league player named Abercrombie since 1871? However, this one should not be playing center field for the Astros. He and Bourn and Michaels and Erstad all have the same problem: They don’t get on base enough. The one guy who has a chance to get better at that is Bourn, who is also the best defensive center fielder of the bunch. You have to give him another shot and hope he has the same experience Luke Scott had a few years ago, when Scott just tore it up the second time around.
Assuming young guys step up next year, one of our biggest holes might be at closer if Jose Valverde does indeed move on? If Wesley Wright has a great season, do you think he could be our ninth-inning of the future? Is there any other option within the system?
If you get to the point where you’re worried about having a hole at closer, that’s a great sign. I’d rather have a hole at closer than at, say, third base, to name a position at which the Astros have an actual hole. The Astros are paying $8 million for Valverde’s services. Eek. But the point is this: Team after team has gone out and found a closer. The Tigers made the World Series with Todd Jones as the closer. Wesley Wright could be the closer, Bud Norris, someone off the waiver wire. A great closer just isn’t going to change the outcome of that many games.
Will it be Jose Capellan or Russ Ortiz for the fifth starter job? If one makes it will the other get cut or will he go to the bullpen or Minor Leagues?
Sure, Ortiz is the guy, and Capellan will get called up when one of the starters goes down, assuming pitches decently for Round Rock.
Have there been any rumors of the Astros trying to entice Pedro Martinez with a low-base, high-incentive contract a la John Smoltz in Boston?
Wouldn’t that be fun? You could have a Hall of Fame pitcher throwing to a Hall of Fame catcher, neither of whom earned their credentials in Houston.