From Brian T. Smith of the Houston Chronicle, we learn that seven minor league players were added to the 40-man roster. Those players, with 2012 minor league stats:
- RHP Jose Cisnero 3.70 ERA in 148.1 IP between AA and AAA
- RHP Jarred Cosart 3.30 ERA in 114.2 IP between AA and AAA
- OF Robbie Grossman .266/.36/.410 in 577 PA at AA between the Astros and Pirates farm system
- RHP Chia-Jen Lo 0.90 ERA in 30 IP between Rookie and A+ also had a good AFL
- LHP Brett Oberholtzer 4.37 ERA in 166.2 IP between AA and AAA
- RHP Ross Seaton 3.93 ERA in 169.1 IP between AA and AAA
- SS Jonathan Villar .261/.336/.396 (and a busted fire hydrant) in 377 PA at AA
That puts the 40-man roster at 36 players, that means with the exception of a trade there's room for a Rule 5 draftee and three free agents.
From What The Heck, Bobby? we find the more interesting names of players left off the 40-man roster. Can't say I'm really all that surprised by the players left off. Marc Krauss is probably the biggest name sticking out from that list. He hit .271/.397/.491 in 535 PA between AA and AAA and the Diamondbacks and Astros farm systems. He spent quite a bit of time moving around defensively so that may be a contributing factor as to why Grossman was protected but Krauss wasn't. The Astros also still have to figure out what they have with both J.D. and Fernando Martinez. This is likely an indication that they either have more faith in one of the Martinez's or that Krauss is the least likely to be selected in the Rule 5 draft.
Remember the Rule 5 is about getting blocked players a chance. With the Astros new found depth it means leaving good players that might be selected in the Rule 5 off the 40-man roster. Krauss still has to make it through a full season on the roster of the team that selects him, so even if he is selected that doesn't mean he's necessarily gone forever.
As we said on the podcast, what the Astros decided to do with Chia-Jen Lo and whether or not he would get a 40-man roster spot would tell us a lot about what the Astros think in regards to the soon to be 27 year old reliever. Overall, Lo has some very good numbers in the minor leagues, but has struggled with injuries the past two years. He was very effective in his 30 minor league innings on the mound this year and apparently showed enough in the Arizona Fall League (2.40 ERA in 15 IP) for the Astros to use a 40-man roster spot on him. I have to think Lo pitching effectively had something to do with the Astros losing Mickey Storey to the New York Yankees via waiver claim.
Storey, the 26 year old righty, had a 3.05 ERA in 65 innings in Oklahoma City and a 3.86 ERA in the 30.1 innings he pitched at the major league level. Storey had become a favorite of mine. He had a 2.80 FIP, and was striking out 10 batters per nine innings while only walking about three batters per nine innings, so I'm a bit confused why the Astros tried to send him through waivers. Maybe they were trying to be sneaky and failed, or maybe there were concerns about his 37.5% ground ball percentage and as reillocity pointed out in the comments his extreme reliance on his breaking ball. Ultimately, I think it goes back to the whole depth thing, sometimes teams with a good farm system lose potentially good players.
The other transaction today includes Scott Moore being outrighted to Oklahoma City. I can't say that I'm surprised by this move. Moore will have the option to either accept the assignment or move on to other opportunities.