Another day, another hare-brained idea about what the Astros could look like in 2011. This time? What if Brandon Barnes is the mysterious outfielder that could steal a spot in the starting lineup out of spring training.
You may have seen this quote from Brian McTaggart's excellent series on the Astros roster.
Bogusevic and Bourgeois will get a look as backup outfielders, but don't be surprised to see a Minor League player make a push during the spring.
Yeah, so he's not saying that a minor leaguer will necessarily win a job. But I can easily suggest a scenario where this happens.
Say Wallace struggles at first base, forcing Carlos Lee to move there permanently in 2011 while Wallace spends time at Triple-A. Who fills in for Lee?
Now, at the same time, what if Barnes is tearing the cover off the ball in spring training? He's hitting well in the Arizona Fall League, though he's fallen off somewhat in the past week. The power is still there, though, and he will never be a high on-base guy. So, if he's seeing the ball well and the Astros like his approach, would they give him a shot?
Sure, he's right-handed, so he wouldn't platoon with Jason Michaels (who would get first crack at the job). But, I could see someone like Barnes showing enough power to warrant a second look in April. This offense needs more power, why not from him?
A lot of things would have to fall into place for that to happen, though, and I don't anticipate all of them actually coming to fruition. I would point out that it has happened before, when a hot-hitting older minor leaguer named Luke Scott won the left field job in March. Of course, he was quickly sent down, but it does hint at a possibility for a dark-horse like Barnes to become a big part of the lineup.
What do you think? Am I crazy? Would you want Barnes in the lineup? Does his OBP scare you? Does the fact that he has only a handful of games above High A ball scare you more?