Waking up to the news that George Springer will be in uniform Wednesday for the Houston Astros Baseball Club was awesome. Almost as awesome as seeing everyone's reaction since last night, when the news broke.
George Springer is here.
He's really, really here.
For all the Springer Mania that's gone on, expectations will be through the roof. There is absolutely no way the sweet-swinging outfielder will live up to any of them. But, he will help the offense. He will get on base. He will improve the outfield defense, which is suddenly above-average with Fowler, Springer and Hoes/Presley.
Before we get into all the Springer machinations, though, let's take a moment to reflect on those who had to make way for the Springer Experience. Houston designated Lucas Harrell for assignment Tuesday night and demoted Robbie Grossman. That's right. I called him Robbie. He leaves Bob in the majors.
Harrell's DFA is not surprising. He's been very bad this season and was very bad last season. But, it was not long ago that Harrell was one of the best pitchers on a bad team in 2012. It was not long ago when we looked at his trade value as right there with Bud Norris.
Now, he's heading off to baseball limbo, hoping some other team will give him a job. Last week, I speculated that Harrell was probably the 24th guy on this roster, so nothing really should shock by this move. It appears Paul Clemens will slot into the rotation for Harrell. Or, the Astros will slide Brad Peacock into that spot. Either way, no more Harrell to get blown up every five days.
With Grossman, this is less about his hitting and more about his defense. He's looked pretty bad out in left field this year and probably needs some time to adjust. He had a good defensive reputation in the minors, but looked lost at times when asked to play left field in 2014. What this probably signals is that the Astros want Grossman to play every day and the only way he'd be able to do that is in the minors.
Back to Springer. The dude is ready. He's been ready since last season. Two weeks isn't enough to change an evaluation, so this only shows that Houston thought he was major league ready back then. The only reason they haven't been able to call him up is service time issues.
To that end, I expect Houston will announce a lucrative contract extension with Springer sometime in the next three months. I bet it's seven years and for around $30-35 million. The reason I think this is Houston is in a terrible place as far as a grievance hearing goes with Springer's service time. By calling him up so close to the April 11 deadline to accrue a full year of service time this season, the Astros push back Springer's team control by a year.
They also do it for no good reason. Maybe they could make a case he needed to learn right field. But, is two weeks enough time to get comfortable with the routes? Does two weeks tell them anything about how he will make contact against major league pitching? No. His agent will rightly argue that this decision was completely made to game the system and will likely win that grievance, making Springer a free agent in six years.
That's why I'm convinced Houston has made enough progress on an extension to call him up now. They know they won't have to worry about a grievance, because they'll have him under control for seven years.
As to what we should expect from Springer, let's not get ahead of ourselves. He's not going to hit .353 with 35 home runs this season. He's going to struggle to make contact while getting on base at a nice clip and hitting the occasional home run. He will play good defense in right field. He'll steal an occasional base. At the end of the season, he may be worth 2 or 2.5 WAR.
That will make him one of the best five players on the team, but it doesn't suddenly thrust him into the upper echelon of players in baseball. That will take time and may not happen at all. If his best comp is Mike Cameron, he may never be acknowledged as one of the best in the game.
He will be good, though, and it will be a heck of a lot of fun to see him adjust.
It's George Springer Day, everyone. Let's enjoy it.