In a surprise announcement late Monday, the Houston Astros shook up their roster in one fell swoop. Here are the moving pieces:
- J.D. Martinez was reinstated from the disabled list after spending five games on a rehab assignment with Corpus Christi
- Jimmy Paredes and Trevor Crowe have been recalled from Oklahoma City and added to the 25-man roster
- Rick Ankiel and Fernando Martinez were designated for assignment, opening up spots on the 40-man roster.
- Brandon Laird was optioned to Oklahoma City
Let's deal with the subtractions first. Fernando Martinez was a young, toolsy player who flashed potential late last season, but got off to a slow start this year thanks to a balky back and never won much playing time. He hit .182/.229/.273 in 11 games and 35 plate appearances this season with a strikeout rate of 34 percent.
For Rick Ankiel, this might have ended his last shot in the majors. The former pitcher-turned-outfielder was second on the team with five home runs, but had a line of .194/.231/.484 and struck over 50 percent of the time. Like I mentioned earlier today, he also only got 30 plate appearances in the last two weeks and seemed to have fallen out of the daily lineup.
After a hot spring and start to the season in OKC, Brandon Laird showed a little pop in the majors but could never find his consistency. He got a chance to play every day and bat cleanup, but managed a line of .200/.243/.429 with a 35 percent strikeout rate in 37 plate appearances over 11 games.
The players coming up should slot into those spots neatly. Expect J.D. Martinez to start regularly in left field when Chris Carter is either DHing or at first base. J.D. of the Martinii was hitting .244/.271/.444 with two home runs and a 22 percent strikeout rate before injuring his knee.
Trevor Crowe has played in 205 career games in the majors, all with the Cleveland Indians and boasts a career line of .245/.295/.329 in 713 career plate appearances. He was hitting .300/.398/.418 in OKC before being called up to the big league team.
Meanwhile, Jimmy Paredes, the man without a position, finally gets a return to the big leagues after playing in parts of the last two years. He was off to a monster start in OKC, hitting .376/.444/.596 with three home runs and seven steals through 29 games and 124 plate appearances.
It'll be interesting to see how Houston uses both Crowe and Paredes. My initial thought is that Crowe will be used as the defensive replacement with Brandon Barnes elevated to an everyday role in right field. That leaves a question about Paredes. Where does he play? Will he start in right field too? Will he be the utility infielder to spell Matt Dominguez or Jose Altuve? Will he DH?
Dominguez hasn't hit nearly as well as he should to hold down a starting job, but his glove has been excellent. Paredes played in both the outfield and the infield this season for the RedHawks, so he could be in either spot.
It also means a reprieve for Robbie Grossman, who should still see regular playing time until Justin Maxwell comes off the DL. Maybe it means that a decision on Phil Humber was put off, too. If he were going to be released, it makes sense that they'd decide on that Monday as well and announce it with the other moves.
At the very least, these moves coupled with the demotions of Brad Peacock and Erik Bedard signal that this team is still trying to get better. They're working to change the mix and put out a better product.