With the news that Jason Castro will be out for at least six months with a torn ACL a few quarters have been kicking up possible replacements.
Humberto Quintero is no real option as an everyday catcher, while Astros' fans seem to react with horror if you suggest the option of J.R. Towles.
Brian McTaggart kicked up several replacement options yesterday, while FanGraphs did exactly the same. But considering the Astros will have to fork out at least some cash for any of the options, none of them seem overwhelming.
Presumably the Pirates would not eat any of Ryan Doumit's $5.1m salary and there are some rumblings that he may be cut at the end of Spring Training, making a trade at this point a pretty stupid ploy for anyone thinking of acquiring him. As far as Ed Wade is concerned Brian Schneider has the added bonus of being a Philadelphia Phillie, but would not likely be moved this close to the start of the season.
Bengie Molina might be tempted out of retirement, but he might be more enticed if it was not Ed Wade and the Houston Astros calling.
Prior to the 2009 season Wade went out and nabbed Ivan Rodriguez with no better catching options on the horizon. This time he might just stick with Towles. Having spent $6.9m on Hunter Pence and $7m on Wandy as well as his $2.5m signing bonus, on top of penny pinching on 5th starter candidates and reportedly removing Matt Lindstrom to save money, it is a fair bet to say that the Astros' GM has no wiggle room left.
Even though he is attempting to shift the franchise and will be in line for a bumper payday when he sells the Astros, owner Drayton McLane seems to be reluctant to add anything significant onto the payroll. The budget is bordering around $78-79m for 2011 according to my back of the envelope calculations.
And that is where it is likely to stay. Astros' fans will have to deal with Towles for the first part of 2011.