Houston has MLB’s worst record at 28-51, which puts them on a 57-105 pace and all but guarantees the Astros will be trying to unload various veterans for any kind of long-term help they can get before the trade deadline.
However, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com “the Astros remain unlikely to trade right fielder Hunter Pence unless new owner Jim Crane is approved before July 31 and orders such a move.”
Pence is Houston’s best player, but he’s also earning $6.9 million this season with a hike to at least $8-9 million due in 2012 and as a 28-year-old with an .820 career OPS he’s hardly an elite hitter. Plus, even if the Astros are somehow able to successfully rebuild in just a couple seasons Pence will be 30 years old and on the verge of free agency by then.
Hanging on to Pence may help appease a frustrated fan base in the short term, but if there’s a contending team willing to pay a star-level price for Pence in trade the Astros would probably be better off in the long term if they can cash him in.
Houston made one unexpected change to the roster for the ALDS, leaving off veteran reliever Chad Qualls.
Qualls warmed up but never appeared in the Wild Card game win over the Yankees and during the regular season the 36-year-old right-hander logged 49 innings with a 4.38 ERA and 46/9 K/BB ratio. Qualls was on the Astros’ last playoff team in 2005.
Utility man Jonathan Villar has been bumped off the roster in favor of outfielder Preston Tucker, as the Astros opted for a good left-handed bat off the bench versus the Royals rather than Villar’s speed.
It’s been a tough season for the mythology of Jonny Gomes‘ veteran clubhouse savior reputation.
First he signed with the rebuilding Braves and performed poorly while Atlanta fell apart after a surprisingly decent start. Then he was traded to the Royals, for whom he played just 12 games and hit .167. And now Kansas City has left Gomes off the ALDS roster.
It makes sense, though. Gomes’ only real use to the Royals would be as a pinch-hitter versus left-handed pitching, but manager Ned Yost rarely pinch-hits and will no doubt be more willing to use 25th man Terrance Gore as a pinch-runner in the late innings.
Beyond that, not many surprises on the Royals’ roster for their series against the Astros. They went with 11 pitchers, which means both Chris Young and Kris Medlen are on the roster. Jeremy Guthrie is not.