Some things to talk about while I hijack David's three Astros things...thing, John Sickels insane prediction regarding Chris Carter...
Jose Altuve To Hit Second?
Position players report today and already Jose Altuve is being penciled in as the two hole hitter. Here is what Bo Porter had to say, courtesy of Brian T. Smith of the Houston Chronicle:
Porter said Wednesday, Altuve will ideally be the Astros’ second hitter in 2013. As a result, the club is searching for a leadoff man, with shortstops Tyler Greene and Marwin Gonzalez as initial lead candidates. The duo are expected to platoon at short this season, though, meaning the Astros could have a revolving door at the top of the lineup if neither player claims the position every day and Altuve takes the No. 2 spot.
Now I'm okay with Altuve hitting second because he's one of the better hitters on the team, but the Astros don't really have any better options to leadoff for the team this year. Gonzalez and Greene both have career on base percentages below .300 which quite simply isn't going to cut it. A league average hitter last year posted an on-base percentage (OBP) of .319 and ideally you want your leadoff hitter to have an OBP north of that mark. Maybe a player emerges in the outfield that can leadoff but the only player I see fitting the mold of a leadoff man is Robbie Grossman and he is a dark horse to make the team out of Spring Training.
That leaves Altuve as the teams only real option to leadoff, with a player like Jason Castro hitting second. In 2012 Altuve posted a .340 OBP in 630 plate appearances while also collecting 33 stolen bases. His 6.3% walk rate isn't ideal for a leadoff hitter but he should hit enough to maintain a decent OBP. In fact three of the four projection systems on FanGraphs have him posting an OBP above .340.
I like Castro hitting second because, in 295 plate appearances, had a 10.4% walk rate and a .334 OBP. I know a catcher hitting second and a short player hitting leadoff is blasphemy but there really aren't many better options at the top of the order heading into Spring Training, unless Porter is expecting Jake Elmore to win the shortstop job, either way this sounds a lot like Altuve:
Porter wants a leadoff hitter who isn’t afraid hitting with two strikes, is willing to take pitches and has the ability to drive the ball.
Of Mice And Men
Bo Porter isn't naming team captains and is instead relying on a group of leaders to lead this rebuilding young club. From Brian T. Smith of the Houston Chronicle, again, we find out Bo Porter has held a meeting with 10 players he expects to help lead this club:
Two names stickout to me as not being on the list, Jose Altuve and Carlos Pena. Altuve turns 23 this year so maybe Porter isn't ready to lean on him as a leader just yet. The more interesting name not involved in that meeting is Pena who everyone expects to be a leader in the clubhouse.
Now I'll admit I am jumping the gun a bit here as Pena didn't report until Thursday a day after the meeting was held, and position players aren't expected to show until today, but I wonder if Porter is going to hold a similar meeting with non-catcher position players. Is there another 10 players involved or will the meeting include only a handful of them. If another meeting is held I would think, Justin Maxwell, Jose Altuve, Tyler Greene and, of course, Pena would be on Porter's shortlist.
Farmstros Talks College Baseball With Jim Callis of Baseball America
Finally, we have more of a link than a discussion point in today's final three things. In case you missed it Farmstros held a live chat with Jim Callis on Thursday previewing the college baseball season and the draft. There's a lot of good stuff in the transcript so be sure to head over there to check it out.
Since we have a Spring Training theme, here's what Callis had to say about the chances of Josh Fields and Nate Freiman sticking on the Astros 25 man roster:
Jim Callis:Pretty high, because there's not much talent on the big league roster. I did like the picks. Fields was an obvious Rule 5 target, a Triple-A reliever who had a lot of success in the second half of 2012. Was kind of surprised the Red Sox didn't protect him. We'll see on Freiman, but his power made him worth taking.