There are reports surfacing that some of the players in the Houston Astros’ clubhouse are not happy about the promotion of Mark Appel to the double-A affiliate Corpus Christi Hooks. Many of the players reportedly feel that he didn’t earn his promotion, which is true. Appel has pitched poorly this season and, other than his last start, has done little to warrant a promotion. However, baseball is a unique sport that allows a problem like this to occur with both sides being right in their opinions.
Major League Baseball is the only major professional sport in the United States that has a true minor league system. This makes it even more difficult for a player to play at the major league level than in any other sport because they have to earn their spot on a major-league roster. Every draft pick has to show they can play at any level and then also prove they can stay at the major-league level or else risk being sent back down to the minor leagues. When a player is viewed as having been given special treatment, such as Appel with his promotion, it will create a discomfort with the players that have earned their promotions.
The players are not wrong in reacting the way they have in being upset with Appel’s promotion. It is reasonable for there to be a rift between players that earned their spot on a team and a player that was given a spot on the team because of where he was drafted and how much money he makes before playing a single inning at the major-league level. Appel’s promotion should upset some of the players in the organization. That should also be where it ends.
A player’s job is to play, not worry about who is getting promoted and who isn’t. They can share their displeasure internally with whomever they feel necessary, but that is as far as they need to take it. As long as it doesn’t become a greater issue, that affects the team as a whole, it is not a big deal. It is also management’s job to smooth things over with the players and make them understand that Appel will earn any future promotion he sees.
Appel’s case has some intrigue to it. He had an appendectomy prior to spring training and missed some time. This gave him less time to get ready for the season. It is understandable that his numbers may be higher because of his inability to have the same amount of time to work out the kinks in his game that the other players had who were healthy.
The Astros’ front office were right in their promotion of Appel based on his age, 23, and that he is looked at to be major-league ready in the next season or two. They moved him to a better position in which they can get a stronger evaluation of his skill set as a pitcher. The players are right in being upset that he didn’t earn the promotion just as the front office was right in promoting him. It is time for both sides to move on and just worry about the most important issue in Houston: winning games.