While you might not see copious mid-inning pitching changes or squirrels darting across the plate to start rallies, the Astros are taking a page from the champion St. Louis Cardinals' handbook as they build toward 2012. It can best be seen in looking at the acquisition of a former Cardinal, Nick Stavinoha.
The Astros signed the 29-year-old Houston native to a minor league contract with an invitation to major league spring training even though they are not sure for what position they signed him. Stavinoha has played mostly outfield in the major leagues but spent most of 2011 playing first base in Triple-A.
It's the latest move in a quiet offseason from a spending standpoint that has added to the Astros' roster flexibility. They already had Matt Downs, who played every infield position last season, started sporadically in the outfield and is the emergency catcher. And their waiver claim of Brian Bixler gives them a player equally adept at infield and outfield.