The August 2011 Astros find themselves in the rare position of having some depth at 1B. We have Wallace at AAA, Hinze at AA, Singleton, and Nash. My thesis is that we need to rid ourselves of Carlos, and let Wallace have every chance to win the position in the spring, so that at the beginning of 2012, we have the position looking like this:
Astros 1b - Wallace
OKC 1b - Hinze
Corpus 1b - Singleton
Lexington 1b - Nash
If we put Lee at 1b, all those players go back a level, or we trade or waive one of them, or put one on the bench. I am intrigued by all four, and will make the case for each:
Wallace was disappointment, and clearly seemed to lose confidence. Mills seemed so uncommitted to him from the beginning, which I'm sure didn't help. Still, we do need to see if we can get him fixed, get him hitting for power, and see if he can't be something like Lyle Overbay. He's too old to learn much from AAA beyond what he will learn the next three weeks. There are too many indications that he can get it turned around. Remember, it's baseball.
Hinze has been an absolute masher. Since coming up from Lancaster, he's slugging .524 with a .907 OPS. The problem with Kody is that he's old. He turned 24 in July. Still, he has more power than Wallace, and we need to see what we have by starting him at OKC in 2012. His adjustment from A+ to AA could not be more promising. it shows he was held back too long. Let's not make the same mistake in 2012.
Singleton is probably our highest ceiling position player. If he starts 2012 in Lancaster, he'll surely mash, and every week we'll be wondering why he isn't up yet. Why not give him an entire year at Corpus (unless he struggles mightily). He won't turn 20 until next month, but he spent all of 2010 in the Sally, and will spend all of 2011 in A+. He's not being slow-tracked, but he hasn't been skipping levels either. Put our best prospect in Corpus.
Nash is also a young masher, just a few months older. He was our 3rd round pick in 2009, and has roughly the same OPS in 2011 as he did in his combined stay in the Appy and the NY-Penn league in 2010. That's an incredibly promising sign. Let's reunite him in 2012 with Mier, and see how he does against A+ pitching, albeit in a hitter-friendly park.
All four of these guys excite me, and only Singleton seems capable of the move to a corner outfield spot, although he clearly does not prefer it.
2012 should be a year where B Wallace gets every chance to prove he can be an every-day first baseman. If he can't do so, then at least we'd have given him most of a year to prove it, and I'd have less remorse about cutting him. Likewise, Hinze is not a guy who's getting any younger. He deserves to be in the on-deck circle at OKC. What I don't want to see is prospects getting blocked for no good reason at all, especially if that no good reason is a DH named Carlos.