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Why did the Astros option Edwin Maysonet to AAA?: Good Question

The Astros had a hard decision on their hands yesterday when they activated Geoff Blum from the DL. With a surplus of role players already on the bench, someone had to go. The options, at least in my mind, were probably between the following guys:

  1. Edwin Maysonet (we know his fate)
  2. Matt Kata
  3. Jason Michaels
Michales and Kata are both on the wrong side of 30, while Edwin Maysonet, who has had a sterling 2009 campaign at both AAA and the major league level, is 27. Both Kata and Maysonet can play multiple defensive positions in the infield with Kata actually having spent sometime roving around the outfield during the course of his career. Kata probably should receive credit on this point because he's an über utility man and a switch hitter (i.e. the ultimate grab a glove or a bat and get in there kind of guy).

So with three options, how did the Astros arrive at sending Maysonet to AAA? I'll go through how I would have approached this decision after the jump.

Making defensive assessments of their 2009 campaigns is too dicey because all have seen limited playing time at their positions and defensive metrics require a large sample size to have real meaning. Looking at career trends, Michaels has been a stellar defensive player for most of his career, but since 2006 has been worth 5.7 UZR in a 2000+ inning span, and hasn't been anything special with the Astros in 2009. Kata has pretty much been average to just below average everywhere on the field since 2005 ( doesn't have a link and his UZR samples are just to small to say anything meaningful). Maysonet has been slighly plus at SS throughout his career and even saw time in left field in 2008 where he broke even ( and same caveat about his UZR samples).

The conclusions I came to after looking at all the numbers is that Maysonet is probably slightly better than Kata in the infield and it seems like Michaels really doesn't offer anything, at this point, that Kata or Maysonet couldn't in LF. Really though a cases could be made to go a variety of ways with that assessment, so please weigh in on were you stand, but It's clear that none of them can claim to be the consensus glove off the bench guy.

So that leaves their offensive contributions:
  1. Edwin Maysonet: .315 AVG / .356 OBP / .407 SLG / .337 wOBA (career wOBA: .315)
  2. Matt Kata: .240 AVG / .269 OBP / .280 SLG / .249 wOBA (career wOBA: .293)
  3. Jason Michaels: .179 AVG .247 OBP / .290 SLG / .303 wOBA (career wOBA: .327)
Arguably, Jason Michales has had the hardest job of all three of these guys because a lot of his PAs have been as pinch hitter, so you can read his line with a small grain of salt if you wish. On offense though, Edwin Maysonet has been an above league average hitter in terms of wOBA (league average is around .330 depending on the year), while Michaels BB% of 6.9% has helped him out quite a bit in the wOBA department over Kata. Maysonet posted a 6.1% BB% and the only time Kata has reached base this year other than a hit is his one HBP. Maysonet's numbers are inflated due to his LD% of 26.8% which is not only unsustainable in general, but well above his career average of 16.2%. For what it is worth, he had a LD% of 19.8% AAA before being called up this year, so you can decide where exactly to regress his batting average. (line drive data from

Looking at those lines and keeping in mind the other caveats that have to be introduced, as well as the career declines of both Kata and Michaels based on their age, it really feels like the Astros should have been deciding on whether to designate Kata or Michaels for assignment (does Kata have to be designated or just optioned?).

The only thing I've been able to dig up on the move from an organizational perspective are the following:
To me, that elucidates...nothing. So maybe Coop's comment on why having Blum back helps us make sense of somethings:
Admittedly, the Astros are limited on left handed batters and with Kata being a switch hitter, he has that going for him in terms of staying on the roster. What's left then is a decision between designating Jason Michaels (age 33) for assignment or optioning Edwin Maysonet to AAA.

I run this through my head in the following way: Edwin Maysonet, in the prime age range of his career, is having a career year so far at the plate, can play multiple infield positions, has experience in the field and is even working on his catching abilities. Jason Michaels in the decline of his career, can only play the outfield, which hasn't be doing well, and has yet to prove himself capably offensively. If both Kata and Maysonet have played in the outfield during their careers and we already have a capable fourth outfield in Darin Erstad, why do we need to hold onto Jason Michaels? (Jeff Keppinger has also played in the outfield as well). When we looked at their offensive value above, the choice seemed to between Kata and Michaels, but if left handedness is being given weight, then Michaels sort of becomes the easy choice for who to boot.

The only conclusion I can come to is that he has a rapport with Ed Wade from his time in Philly and a guy in the Round Rock press box mentioned that there were a few of the Astros brass who weren't fans of Maysonet for no real reason in particular. At the very least this just feels like a preference for a veteran bench presence rather than youth. Maysonet needs no more seasoning at AAA; he's 27 years old and has had nearly 500 AB there. Even if Maysonet is kept on as a bench presence it's not like that's the kiss of death in terms of him seeing playing time. It just requires sounder management of our roster. Miguel Tejada needs more off days in the second half and Kazuo Matsui won't stay healthy for the rest of the season if he's allowed to grind it out every game; there is clearly use for him. All this move does is block Maysonet from developing at the major league level while he is capable of it and I am hard pressed to think of something positive that comes from this in return.

So at the end of all of this (and believe me, this has been a labor of inquiry) I'm left skeptical of this decision in terms of wanting to win baseball games, and I am confused as to why Jason Michaels and Brandon Backe aren't both trying to plot their return to baseball with another team.