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It turns out the Astros may have been right to keep George Springer in the minors for a while

May 5, 2014, 12:16 PM EDT

george springer getty Getty Images

Maybe the Astros just didn’t think George Springer was ready after all.

Back in March when the Astros assigned top prospect George Springer to the minors there were reports that his agent and the MLB Players Association were considering filing a grievance on his behalf, claiming that service time and/or contract considerations were playing a part in his not making the big-league roster.

Springer had a monster season in the minors last year, hitting .303 with 37 homers and 45 steals to establish himself as an elite prospect. And then when he got off to a big start at Triple-A this season, hitting .353 in 13 games, there were lots of complaints about the Astros not calling him up right away.

Houston eventually did call up Springer on April 16, waiting just two weeks rather than the usual service time-related timetables for prospects, but here’s the thing: Springer has really struggled, hitting .185 with zero homers and 24 strikeouts in 16 games.

It’s certainly very possible that the Astros’ timetable for Springer was based on something other than purely merit or development, but they would be far from the first team to handle a top prospect in that manner and ultimately it turns out that he wasn’t ready to thrive in the majors immediately anyway.

  1. unlost1 - May 5, 2014 at 12:37 PM

    So cool your jets about Taveras, Cardinal fans

    • yahmule - May 5, 2014 at 2:11 PM

      Because every player is exactly the same. Remember that.

    • paperlions - May 5, 2014 at 2:21 PM

      Feel free to compare Taveras’ K rates in the minors to Springer’s. Contact has always been and will always been an issue for Springer. In contrast, Taveras has an almost other worldly ability to make contact, even with pitches well out of the zone, while swinging very hard.

      There is really no comparison of their hit tool at all.

      • yahmule - May 5, 2014 at 2:28 PM

        Exactly. Taveras profiles as a future batting champion. Springer strikes me more as a high octane version of Mike Cameron if all goes right for him.

  2. okobojicat - May 5, 2014 at 12:39 PM

    Am I mis-remembering but I thought the grievance was tossed around because the Astros made a ridiculous contract offer with the implication that a callup was dependent upon Springer signing it.

    • paperlions - May 5, 2014 at 2:24 PM

      Nah, those were two events that were not linked in real time. The contract offer was last year and would have covered Springer’s 7 years of team control. He turned it down then and the offer was never made again. The Astros sent him down to ensure the 7 years of control….still, based on his high K rates in AAA, it isn’t surprising that he is striking out in over 1/3 of his at bats.

  3. thekingdave - May 5, 2014 at 12:57 PM

    No. That would contrary to the whole Crane is a racist penny pincher who has no interest in winning theory.

    • yahmule - May 5, 2014 at 2:26 PM

      He is clearly a penny pincher and his racist comments are on the record.

      Eagle President Jim Crane told his subordinates not to hire blacks because “once you hire blacks, you can never fire them.” On other occasions, Crane explained the reason he wanted to keep blacks out of the company was that his top managers are bigoted and they would mistreat the minorities, “giving them no choice but to sue Eagle.”

      Witnesses also said Crane did not permit the company to advertise job openings because he did not want to create a paper trail of unhired qualified minorities.

      To discourage blacks and women from applying, Eagle managers refused to let female and minority applicants enter its secured facilities to fill out job applications. Eagle disagreed with that assessment.

      Crane also warned managers not to hire women of child-bearing age because their productivity would be low. And top company officers told employees that women aren’t suitable for management positions because male managers won’t work with a woman.

      Oh, he’s a helluva guy! Not racist at all. No sir. If your “top managers” are bigoted it is certainly no reflection on you personally.

      • thekingdave - May 5, 2014 at 3:00 PM

        Apparently Bryant Gumbel posts on HBT under the username yahmule. Those allegations are pretty damning, however some follow up to the case on your part would have been more insightful. Most notably the settlement happening because it was lower than the cost of litigation, or how the vast majority of it was returned years later and none of the plaintiffs in the case actually collected. Or the Astros having the most African American players in the American league, an African American manager, as well as continued involvement in development programs in heavily African-American communities and hosting the 2014 Civil Rights game. But yes, racist bastard!

      • yahmule - May 5, 2014 at 3:17 PM

        Hey, what color was Elgin Baylor? I forget.

      • Reflex - May 5, 2014 at 3:48 PM

        So basically because the Astros have some involvement with blacks, it means the owner and his management team are not racist? How does that work? Sterling also had black employees, black players, and btw, is a huge racist.

  4. yahmule - May 5, 2014 at 2:19 PM

    On today’s installments of How Small My Sample Size we kill some kid for not going Mike Trout in his first 71 major league plate appearances.

    Oh, wait a minute, George Springer is starting his career like Mike Trout. You know, the same Mike Trout who was batting (how about this for a coincidence) .185 after his first 60 plate appearances in the major leagues.

    Bonus points for the first Mensa candidate who points put Trout was way younger than Springer and is a way better player. Your ability to miss the point is duly noted.

    • clydeserra - May 5, 2014 at 7:56 PM

      well, not to be the guy, but that is not really apples to apples for the purposes of this article.

      Trout’s call up was the previous year. He did not break camp with the Angles in 2012. he looked like he should and it probably cost them a real chance at the wild card or even the division.

      the story here isn’t “Springer sucks,” its maybe his dominating month was SSS and he really wasn’t ready to break camp so let’s not jump on the ‘the astros are evil’ bandwagon.

      • yahmule - May 5, 2014 at 9:34 PM

        That is Trout’s 2011 callup I linked.

        The point here is that Springer has nothing to prove or learn in AAA and the Astros aren’t going anywhere this year anyway. What better time to get him up to speed? Does anybody think they’re losing something because playing him might take LJ Hoes’ or Alex Presley’s thundering bat out of the lineup? Every OF on the roster, outside of Fowler, is a fourth OF at best.

      • clydeserra - May 5, 2014 at 9:51 PM

        I know it was the 2011 call up you were talking about. I think the 2012 opening of the season is a better comparison. The angels were contending. they had just signed Pujols andWilson, yet were trotting out trumbo and bourgoios. They should have had trout up to contribute.

        The Astros window is 2016-2021. Bringing him up now means nothing. It also may cut that window short.

        I totally agree with you that its not a sample to worry about, but also nothing in his performance is the smoking gun that the astros were messing with his service time.

  5. zdravit - May 6, 2014 at 1:24 PM

    And now they can’t send him back down without damaging his psyche. Have fun.

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