Carlos Lee has more career plate appearances than the rest of the Astros combined

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The other day I wrote about how ugly the Astros’ lineup looks after trading away Hunter Pence, Michael Bourn, and Jeff Keppinger.

But as Steve Campbell of the Houston Chronicle points out, the lineup is incredibly inexperienced in addition to being really, really bad:

Carlos Lee has 7,967 career plate appearances, or four more than the rest of the position players on the active roster combined. Three of those players–second baseman Jose Altuve, left fielder J.D. Martinez and third baseman Jimmy Paredes–have made the jump from Class AA in the past three weeks.

Campbell goes on to write about the odd situation Carlos Lee is in on a terrible, rebuilding team, for which he can thank a contract no other teams wanted any part of at the trade deadline. Houston is 366-412 since signing Lee to a six-year, $100 million deal in November of 2006 and despite being in a steep decline at age 35 he’s still owed $18.5 million for next season.

Why Ryan Zimmerman skipped spring training

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All spring training there was at least some mild confusion about Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman. He played in almost no regular big league spring training games, instead, staying on the back fields, playing in simulated and minor league contests. When that usually happens, it’s because a player is rehabbing or even hiding an injury, but the Nats insisted that was not the case with Zimmerman. Not everyone believed it. I, for one, was skeptical.

The skepticism was unwarranted, as Zimmerman answered the bell for Opening Day and has played all season. As Jared Diamond of the Wall Street Journal writes today, it was all by design. He skipped spring training because he doesn’t like it and because he thinks it’ll help him avoid late-season injuries and slowdowns, the likes of which he has suffered over the years.

It’s hard to really judge this now, of course. On the one hand Zimmerman has started really slow this season. What’s more, he has started to show signs of warming up only in the past week, after getting almost as many big league, full-speed plate appearances under his belt as a normal spring training would’ve given him. On the other hand, April is his worst month across his entire 14-year career, so one slow April doesn’t really prove anything and, again, Zimmerman and the Nats will consider this a success if he’s healthy and productive in August and September.

It is sort of a missed opportunity, though. Players hate spring training. They really do. if Zimmerman had made a big deal out of skipping it and came out raking this month, I bet a lot more teams would be amenable to letting a veteran or three take it much more easy next spring. Good ideas can be good ideas even if they don’t produce immediately obvious results, but baseball tends to encourage a copycat culture only when someone can point to a stat line or to standings as justification.

Way to ruin it for everyone, Ryan. 😉