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vs. Phillies at Clearwater 12:05 CDT TIE

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Matt Albers starts for Houston this afternoon vs. the Phillies and J.A. Happ. Matt will be followed by Chris Sampson, Rick White, and Dan Wheeler. I guess we'll see Ryan Howard and Chase Utley today.

The Astros optioned Jimmy Barthmaier and Felipe Paulino to Round Rock this morning, and they reassigned Stephen Randolph and Kevin Walker to minor league camp.

Barthmaier had a strong camp, finishing with a 0.00 ERA, and I have no doubt he will one day win some games for the Houston Astros.  This is not the time, however.  Paulino, too, shouldn't be terribly discouraged by the move:  he very well could have a major league future, and has some things to work on in the meantime.

Randolph, if not Walker, has nothing to be ashamed of about his Spring.  Three lefthanded starters remain in camp:  Mark McLemore, Troy Patton, and Wandy Rodriguez, and I think the decision to send out the two lefties has to be at least partially informed by the fact that Wandy has pitched well.

I don't take McLemore seriously as an Opening Day roster candidate, and with today's move, it seems clear that that the Astros will have a lefty starter named Wandy on April first, or they won't have one at all.