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The Astros Roster Comes Into Focus

Well, the 25-man roster is set. As we have discussed, Lance Berkman, Alberto Arias and Yorman Bazardo were all placed on the 14-day DL. In addition, Jason Bourgeois was reassigned to minor league camp, leaving the Astros with an even 25 on the roster.

The biggest surprise here is that Chris Johnson made the roster. He definitely had a prolific spring from a power standpoint, but where does he fit on the team? Our theory now is that the Astros kept him over Chris Shelton so that Johnson could play first in Berkman's absence. What if they had a different reason? 

The Astros want Johnson to play every day. What if he's going to platoon with Feliz?

Look, Pedro Feliz isn't a very good hitter against anyone. His splits against righthanders are about the same as lefties. Johnson, on the other hand, hit lefties quite a bit better than righties last season. In fact, his left-handed split was .321/.370/.523. A couple caveats to that. His BABiP was .383 and he only had 109 at-bats against lefties, compared to 282 against righthanders. His line drive rate was also slightly higher than his season average (22 percent to 25 percent), which partly explains his higher BABiP.

Will platooning Johnson give him enough at-bats this season? Say he starts twice a week. That means he will have played in about 60 games by the end of the season and have somewhere around 240 plate appearances. Is that enough for a 25-year old to develop? Or will Johnson be sent down once Berkman is healthy?

I'm glad to see Johnson on the roster. I'm just not sure what the purpose is yet.

The other "big" news is that Matt Lindstrom is the new closer. With his performance this spring and Lyon's slow start due to the cyst in his shoulder, this was inevitable. The question is, does Lyon even have a chance of winning his job back? Lindstrom only had eight innings of work this spring and part of my optimism comes from Brad Arnsberg adjusting his grip on the slider. That's not a guarantee his results during the regular season will be as good. 

I like Lindstrom. With his fastball/slider combo, he could rival Billy Wagner and Brad Lidge as a dominant closer. I'm still not quite sold, though. Brad Mills didn't have many other choices but to name Lindstrom to the job. 

What surprised you the most about the composition of the roster? Who gets sent down when Berkman comes off the DL? What about Arias?