TCB Podcast Mailbag: Left field conundrum, paths to the majors and more

What to do with left field? When will Carlos Correa get to Houston? When will Mark Appel win his next Cy Young?

You've got questions. We've got answers...either on the podcast or here, when I take your carefully crafted queries and turn them into baseball gold.

Or, make half-hearted jokes and ramble through some semi-coherent answers. Either way, we all win.

If you'd like to ask a question, feel free to join us for our live podcasts Sunday evening at 7 p.m. CST. We also put out a call for questions on Twitter before the podcast and have a call-in line if you want to ask a question in audio form.

Tallahastros asks:

What is Jesus Guzman’s role with the club going forward?

How would you remedy the left field problem?

Jesus Guzman is a bench bat. He's got some power (though that's gone away with all the rest of Houston's pop this month). He's got some positional flexibility. He gets on base. Oh, and he strikes out a fair amount.

Because of Jon Singleton's promotion, we'll see less of Guzman in the lineup, but that doesn't mean he's devoid of value on the bench. I'd expect him to get maybe another 100-150 plate appearances this season from there, filling in at first base and left field on occasion.

Even though I wrote about him Monday, I'm not convinced Chris Young is the answer in left field. He might make a cheap fix, but even though clack predicted his struggles at Citi Field, there's no guarantee Young will make contact consistently enough to steer into the skid this season.

Where does that leave the Astros? Well, you're not going to like this, but they may just dance with the ones that brung them. If Robbie Grossman continues to struggle, expect L.J. Hoes to get another chance. Alex Presley is probably safe, since he's got some positional flexibility in the outfield and is out of options.

At some point, Domingo Santana will be ready this season. He's already showing signs in June of doing what Jon Singleton did before he got called up. He's striking out only 20 percent of the time while posting a .400 on-base percentage.

The problem with calling Santana up to fix the hole in left field is that it won't really fix anything. Rookies struggle. Having three high-profile rookies in the same lineup, along with questionable/streaky hitters like Matt Dominguez, Jonathan Villar and Chris Carter means Houston only would have three reliable hitters in the batting order at any given time.

Springer has been very good this year, but in the past two weeks has hit .189/.340/.270. Singleton has hit .200/.326/.400 in that same stretch. Jason Castro, last year's most consistent offensive player, hit .156/.270/.250 in that same stretch.

Adding more uncertainty to an uncertain group doesn't fix things this year. It may down the road, but it also could explain Houston's reluctance to move up Santana before August. Let Springer and Singleton settle into the big leagues first and gain a modicum of consistency before adding another rookie to the mix.

So, if the solution doesn't involve another call-up, you have to look outside the organization via trade. But, you can't pick up anyone who might block Santana or the other outfielders, so that narrows your pool. You also don't want to trade away any prime assets, which means you won't be getting a star.

That's why I say the Astros follow Darrell Royal's advice. Left field will either fix itself internally or stay broken until the winter.

Taylor Eaves asks:

When are Carlos Correa and Mark Appel predicted to make it to Houston?

Injury issues with both of the last two first-round picks certainly set the timetable back a bit. Were I Brady Aiken, I'd watch my back this week in Houston. You know, just in case that dratted injury bug is still flying around, wreaking havoc wherever it goes.

Although, that injury bug infestation appears to be localized just in Lancaster. Maybe if Correa had been in Corpus already, he wouldn't have gotten hurt...

Also, since the GM officially pumped up Appel on Twitter, I'm required by TCB's terms of service to support him, too. Appel will be great. He will soon take over the American League. I predict that he will win the Cy Young award in 2015. He'll make a run this season, but doesn't necessarily have the time left in the season to win it this year.

Nathaniel asks:

Compare Bagwell and Springer offensively speaking.

This isn't really a fair comparsion for many reasons. One, Bagwell was younger than Springer when he debuted in the majors. Two, Springer is a different-type player than Bagwell, able to make an impact with his glove as well as with his bat. Three, we can't overstate enough the offensive suppresion that happened in the Astrodome to hitter's power.

But, given all those caveats, here's the comparison.

Through roughly 256-258 career plate appearances, this is what the two gentlemen hit:

Springer - .241/.345/.459, 13 HRs, 28 BBs, 81 Ks, 21 extra-base hits, 1-of-3 in steal chances

Bagwell - .281/.365/.406, 5 HRs, 29 BBs, 59 Ks, 16 extra-base hits, 2-of-3 in steal chances

As you can see, the numbers are somewhat similar. Bagwell has less swing-and-miss in his game, which only got better as he aged. He didn't have as much power, but I imagine there's a fair amount of Astrodome in those numbers.

If you want to compare them, look at the walk rates. Even then, though, the comparsion doesn't come out in Springer's favor. At Age 24, Bagwell already had a walk rate two percent higher than Springer.

We rush to put comps on players all the time, but it's sometimes unfair. With Springer, it's also pretty impossible. He's a unique player who won't fit in any one box. He might have aspects of Bagwell in his game, but there haven't been many players like him before. That's what's so fun about him.

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