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TCB Podcast Mailbag: Sorting out the outfield and Domingo Santana

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I panicked and wrote a mailbag instead.

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

A return to the weekly mailbag was inevitable. Football may have sunk its seedy claws into me once again, but I'll still make time for you, dear readers.

If you have questions you'd like answered, either on the podcast or in this (semi-)regular feature, you can email us, hit us up on Twitter, call our special number and comment in our live podcast threads.

Without further ado, let's get to the questions.

The Big Wojciechowski asks:

Any ideas as to why Domingo Santana hasn't had more than one plate appearance since being called up?

Um, we couldn't have known this when Large Wojo asked the question, but we got a pretty neat answer Monday night.

"I panicked."

Maybe, just maybe Mr. Santana isn't ready for the big leagues. In that one quote, we've got both a reason why he hasn't played more often and an indictment of the Astros decision to bring him up multiple times.

For one, Santana is clearly not ready. He hit relatively well in Triple-A, but showed some dangerous trends at times and appeared to go through a number of streaks just before his call-up. In the majors, he's been a disaster. Even with regular playing time during his first call-up, Santana looked lost. He's striking out something like 80 percent of the time.

That's not good.

But, the biggest indicator that Santana isn't ready is that the Astros haven't played him more. Seems like a logical fallacy, right? Hear me out.

The reason Houston called up Santana either time was because they were forced to do it. Injuries crept up and forced a move the first time. It worked out disastrously. Injuries and a trade necessitated the move a second time. He's still not ready.

Houston needed someone on the bench, though. They needed a body to play the outfield in case yet another injury strikes. So, Santana sits in the big leagues, soaking up the service time and hopefully working with the hitting coaches to get his problems fixed.

If Santana really is one of the best five prospects in the system, the Astros have handled him wretchedly. With prospects like that, you try to let them force their way onto the team. Make them hit and hit and hit some more until the team can't keep them down. That's what Hunter Pence did and it's basically what George Springer did.

Santana did not do this. Jon Singleton didn't really do this, nor did Mike Foltynewicz. Is it any surprise that those three have all struggled in the bigs?

Injuries happen. They speed up time tables. Rule 5 draft issues also speed up those time tables and force 40-man moves. Thus, the moves are all explanable, if not very defensible. Will Santana learn to hit major league pitching sitting on the bench? Nope, he will not. Will he do any better hitting Triple-A pitching? Not really, unless he faces the odd Tommy Milone, down for a short time before getting called back up.

No, Santana remains in stasis. He's not growing as a prospect. He's not getting better in the majors. He panicked. Let's hope his next go-round doesn't feature that two-word sentence ever again.

Tony Mengden asks:

What does the outfield look like when everyone is healthy?

We get a sneak peek of that today. Dexter Fowler finally comes off the 15-day disabled list, sending Santana back to Triple-A.

Who's left? Well, we know George Springer will miss another two weeks after getting the results of his MRI back. Alex Presley is also close to a return. We may not have to see the results of what a healthy, five-man outfield looks like, thanks to September roster expansion.

But, if forced to choose, I'd say the Astros go with Jake Marisnick, Fowler and Springer as the starting outfielders with Robbie Grossman and Presley as the backups.

Next year? That's a different story.