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Astros Have A Third Base Problem...Among Other Things

The Astros are bad. In fact, they're worse than we could have imagined before the season began.

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How did this happen? Why didn't we see that Houston was going to dive off a cliff in the win-loss column? Well, it starts with a player like Chris Johnson.

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Houston got a huge lift last summer when CJ was placed in the lineup. He gave the Astros power, he gave them a reliable hitter and an energetic presence. He wasn't the best defender, but he made a difference in the lineup with his bat. Even though there was ample evidence he wouldn't be as good this season, we couldn't have known he would fall this far.

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Of course, this is a problem with the third base position in the National League as a whole. It's interesting that this article surmises that improvement at third may take the form of better defenders, but Houston seems bent on giving Johnson as much of a chance there because of his bat, even if he's a sub-par defender. This front office made noise that they valued defense and wanted to improve the team in that area. Yet, they're sticking with a sub-replacement-level player at a valuable infield position.

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But, I also think the Astros have little choice but to stick with Johnson. They don't have anyone in the minors who might help, nor do they have anyone better in the majors. The Astros seem to be set on making this lost season about finding out what they have with this roster. Benching Johnson in favor of someone like Matt Downs may work in giving Houston a win or two more, but it won't help in evaluating Johnson. Which is why such a bad first-half will not keep Johnson off the field in the second.

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Images by eflon used in background images under a Creative Commons license. Thank you.