Thirty-two games into a new season, the rebuilding Astros already had restructured their starting rotation and bullpen. Monday was the outfield’s turn. Rick Ankiel and Fernando Martinez were designated for assignment; Trevor Crowe and Jimmy Paredes were added from Class AAA Oklahoma City; J.D. Martinez was activated from the disabled list. Five names, five outfielders and more change for a struggling club that has initially met low outside expectations and holds MLB’s worst record (8-24). Ankiel was the biggest name erased from the team’s 25-man roster. With power hitters Chris Carter and Carlos Pena highly inconsistent at the plate and injured center fielder Justin Maxwell dealing with all-or-none issues when healthy, the Astros made a less-is-more move. Ankiel, 33, was the casualty. In 62 at-bats, the pitcher-turned-outfielder was hitting just .194 with a .231 on-base percentage and had struck out in 56 percent (35) of his appearances. “We had too many similar profile types of guys … You’ve got guys that are swinging to change the game with one swing. And they can do it sometimes. And if they’re all doing it at the same time, it’s great — we win big. But if none of them are doing it at the same time, we lose big,” said Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow, whose club ranks last in MLB in run differential (-75) and fell by a combined score of 26-2 during its last two defeats to the Detroit Tigers. A night to remember Ankiel’s debut with the Astros was movie-like: a sixth-inning pinch-hit home run during a season-opening victory against the Rangers on March 31 at Minute Maid Park, which marked the Astros’ American League debut. He struck out 15 times in his next seven games, though, and didn’t draw a walk until April 25. Designating Ankiel was a tough decision for Astros manager Bo Porter and Luhnow, who have strong past ties to the outfielder. But with the Astros leading MLB in strikeouts (323) and tied for 23rd out of 30 teams in batting average with runners in scoring position (.226), the club had too many holes in the middle of its lineup.
Astros look to spice things up with call-ups of Crowe, Paredes
Houston Chronicle | May 7