Now that the initial shock is over from the news that Jason Castro will be out for almost the entire 2011 season with a torn ACL, the Houston Astros need to go into damage control and figure out what they want to do with the catcher situation.
They could head into the season relying on their current catchers, Humberto Quintero and J.R. Towles, but they have hit a combined .221 in their major league careers.
There are still some interesting options at the catcher position available as free agents, the biggest name being Bengie Molina. The problem with Molina is that his skills at the plate have rapidly declined over the past few years and he has almost no speed on the base paths.
If the Astros are not comfortable with either of the two situations above, they could also acquire a catcher via trade. The team that makes the most sense to try and work a trade out with is the New York Yankees, as they have a number of quality catchers and are looking for help in their starting rotation.
The Yankees have two top prospects at the catcher position in Jesus Montero, who was rated the third-best prospect in the minor league system by Baseball America, and Austin Romine, who just made the list at 98th. The scouting report on Romine is that he is the better defensive catcher of the two, but still needs to improve his plate discipline.
Romine was picked in the second round of the 2007 draft, but Russell Martin, Jorge Posada, Francisco Cervelli (who broke his foot and may be out for all of April) and Montero are all ahead of him in the Yankees' system, so Romine has a very slim chance of seeing the major leagues any time soon.
So it would make sense for the Yankees to contact the Astros to gauge their interest in possibly swinging a trade that would send lefty Wandy Rodriguez to them for Romine. The Astros are pretty deep in pitching this year and are now extremely weak at the catcher position with Castro going down.
Now, the question is if the Astros would consider a trade like this. I believe it doesn't make sense for them right now. The problem with Romine is that some believe he isn't ready for The Show, and if that's the case, he won't be able to help the Astros.
If the Astros don't believe that Castro can come back 100 percent or handle the full-time duties in 2012, then I would offer Rodriguez for Romine.
However, I think it may be a little early to count out Castro, and while going through 2011 with J.R. Towles and Humberto Quintero is not a great option, it is the best option.