The Houston Astros have had a horrible start to the second half of the season. In the first game, Brandon Barnes hit for the cycle in a loss. In the second game, Eric Bedard didn’t give up a hit, but took the loss. Today, they were just blown out. It was time for some changes, and Astros’ GM Jeff Luhnow did just that.
After today’s game, the Astros have designated Ronny Cedeno and Carlos Pena for assignment. If both of these players go unclaimed, I fully expect both of them to reject a Minor League assignment and elect to become free agents. Both of these guys were brought in to be clubhouse guys. If it went according to plan, they would hopefully contribute to the Major League team. As expected, however, neither one really contributed much on the field, and as a result, are no longer on the Astros.
As expected, the day Jarred Cosart was called up to make his debut, was just the beginning. With Cedeno being DFA, the Astros have chosen to call up Jonathan Villar to be the everyday shortstop. Villar was hitting .278/.342/.444 with eight home runs and 41 RBI. Villar also brings an element of speed that the Astros desperately need. Up to this point in the season, Villar has 31 stolen bases at AAA. The Astros didn’t think Villar was ready during Spring Training as he didn’t make their Major League roster, and they ultimately signed Cedeno. Come May, the Astros were afraid of his consistency. As Villar has continued to improve his game, he has been knocking on the Astros door. He will finally get his chance as he is expected to make his debut on Monday against the Oakland Athletics.
As for Pena’s roster spot, that has yet to be decided, but Cosart has already been named as the Astros fifth starter so it seems Cosart will take the roster spot as he was sent down after his stellar MLB debut. Nothing official, but that continues to lead me in the direction of Cosart taking over that spot. He will be called up on Tuesday, which is the earliest he can be recalled, and he, like Villar, will make his home debut against the A’s.
Pena and Cedeno were good clubhouse guys and fun to be around, but the fact is they weren’t performing. At some point, being a good influence isn’t good enough, you have to play too. They didn’t. It will be interesting to follow Villar has his career is just beginning. If everything works out, he could be a very good shortstop.