Jason Castro is on the comeback trail after missing the entirety of 2011.
Did I just make a Star Trek reference? New low... Anyway, I look forward to the time when the Houston Astros will have a settled situation at catcher. Even when we had Brad Ausmus I was never particularly wowed, even with his supreme game-calling abilities and sub-zero cool hockey mask. This winter has been no different. We went from Craig Tatum being potentially the backup catcher to a situation where we have three fighting for two spots.
A week after I screamed at the front office for releasing Craig Tatum they signed Chris Snyder in a small coup. Now that Jason Castro seems to have recovered quicker than initially thought from injury, and Humberto Quintero is still in the picture.
Further complicating things is that Quintero is suffering from a small ailment. According to the Chronicle's Steve Campbell a couple of days ago:
Humberto Quintero (bulging disk) says his injury was causing discomfort in right hip. Will catch a bullpen Sat, work on blocking balls Sun
Now this might be nothing, or it might mean that he starts the season on the DL, but that means the Astros still have a decision to make. Because I assume that a team would claim the blockingest catcher since 2008, as Jeff Sullivan pointed out recently.
Quintero is an oddly-endearing baseball player. He has a 0.1 bWAR and a 2.2 fWAR throughout his modest career, having been traded by the San Diego Padres in exchange for Tim Redding during the 2004/2005 offseason in one of Tim Purpura's better moves. After ping ponging between minors and majors for three seasons he backed up Ausmus and Pudge Rodriguez before playing an interesting spectator in the J.R. Towles saga.
Make no mistake about it, the 32-year-old is a diabolical offensive player. The walk seems to be a foreign concept to him. At least you know what you are going to get from him games wise. Even Snyder only played 34 games for the Pirates in 2011. However he is two years removed from a 15-home run season and owns a sold 12.5 BB% over his career.
The Astros could solve this by starting Castro, who may still not be 100% at AAA Oklahoma City, but this too would be postponing a decision unless the Astros hope to flip Snyder at the trade deadline to a contender. Castro turns 25 in June and the organisation has to make decisions on him that are correct in the long term, which by implications suggest this has not happened up until this point.
Castro has been rushed. The most games he played at any one minor league level was 63 at Corpus Christi. His constantly high BB rates give me hope for him as a six or seven hitter, possibly moving to the two spot if he flashes more power than he's previously displayed.
And no draft talk this week after I spent 200 words talking about Lucas Giolito only to see his chances of being drafted first overall wiped out by injury.