Originally posted on Fox Sports Houston  |  Last updated 6/27/12
The Astros have solved the question regarding members of their five man starting rotation by extending it to a six man rotationat least for awhile. Rookie Dallas Keuchel has earned a right to continue plying his trade on the major league level while Bud Norris is now healed from a knee strain and is ready to reclaim his job. A six man rotation is not unknown, but rarely lasts very long. According to Manager Brad Mills this one won't likely be cast in stone either. In fact, the plan right now it to go with the six man set up only until the All-Star break. That means for twelve games. The first evidence of its existence won't come till Friday when Norris squeezes back into the rotation after Keuchel starts Thursday. After the game on Thursday the club will have to drop a playeralmost certainly one of the extra bullpen arms who have had recent problems and have options left. Of course, should the Astros pull off a trade before then that would change things. Speaking of trades there are a number of clubs interested in a number of different Astro players. Unfortunately, much of that interest is in players that Astros might not be as much in a hurry to deal. Many clubs would love to acquire shortstop Jed Lowrie. Why not? He is having a superb season. His 14 home runs lead the club and the National League for shortstops. He is young. He is not expensive. He could play shortstop or perhaps second base. While it is probably not too much of an over statement to say that during the Astros' rebuilding period anyone could be dealt, at the same time the team must be aware of fan identification problems if players new to the club who develop a following find themselves in a revolving door. Fans are starting to get to know players like Lowrie, Altuve and Martinez among others. There is something to be said (for ticket sales) about having identifiable names. It is a balance the baseball side and the business side of the club must be able to work out. The baseball side should always be given the benefit of the doubt here since winning games always sells more tickets. If after a period of time that cannot be accomplished(you can fill in the blank!) From a baseball standpoint (i.e. the big picture) the trading away of players like Lance Berkman, Michael Bourn, Hunter Pence and Roy Oswalt in recent years made sense. Many prospects were acquired in return. Only time will tell how many if any of those prospects or young players turn out equal to or better than the players traded. But when a team is re-building to become a winning team and not just a team with recognized or popular players that does not contend for championships those are the sort of moves that have to be made. The Astros are not finished trying to assemble the best organization to be an annual contender and championship caliber club. So, if someone you are starting to enjoy watching only passes through instead of establishing roots keep that in mind. In the meantime enjoy the new six man pitching rotation. It is rare for a club to have this problemtoo many effective starters to need to make room for one. If this problem continues the Astros might start making a move in the NL Central. Odds aren't good for that, of course, but that is why we play the games.
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