Monday, December 17, 2018

Monday Morning Hot Links

Fellas I'm gonna be honest with you..it's Monday. Are they cool? Of course not! Do I have Hot Links for you to make the day suck less? Sure I guess I can try to do that. There were a lot of links yesterday and not a lot of action since, but I might be able to conjure something up.

\Nelson Cruz is the perfect fit for the Houston Astros and they should be all the way in on this signing.

\Conner Byrne from MLBTradeRumors is reporting the Dodgers want to part with Puig and the Tigers want to part with Castellanos. Astros are interested in both.

\Luhnow wants Framber Valdez and my GUY Cionel Perez has the lefties out of the pen and honestly I am super okay with this.

\Many teams are interested in Houston Astros great Mike Fiers.

\Tony Kemp just never stops being a good dude.

\Sad news as Astros superfan Eugenia Rios lost her 5 year battle with brain cancer.

\Brian McTaggart would like to answer your questions for some reason. Guess you might as well ask him something.

\ASTROS HALL OF FAME BALLOT TRACKER (through 48 ballots):
Roger Clemens - 70.8%
Andy Pettite - 16.7%
Jeff Kent - 10.4%
Billy Wagner - 6.3%
Lance Berkman - 4.2%
Roy Oswalt - 2.1%
Miguel Tejada - 0%
Rick Ankiel - 0%
Detailed spreadsheet with additional info can be found here.

\Somebody actually pitched this idea at a board meeting. Even more surprisingly, it LANDED.

\A podcast might have ended up finding the murderer from a 36 year old case.

Here concludes the end of the post. The Internet has been scoured and all hyperlinks have been corralled. Thank you for spending your time here at astroscounty.com. Toodles!

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Sunday Morning Hot Links

*Don't worry, you didn't miss anything with no Hot Links yesterday morning.

*Ken Rosenthal has an interesting piece over in The Athletic (I know many don't like paying for quality writing, but my months-long writer's block crisis may actually be subsiding and I may be contributing two or three things in the next few weeks over there so you can...continue to not subscribe to The Athletic. Just text me, I'll probably tell you the gist.) in which he reports that the Astros are...
-Interested in Nelson Cruz AND Michael Brantley
-Are open to moving Josh Reddick

Rosenthal:
A free-agent splurge on Cruz and Brantley would be out of character for the Astros, and the competition on the open market, combined with the team's need for a starting pitcher, makes it more likely Houston will get one hitter, not both. 

Rosenthal also mentions the fabled "Veteran Presence" of Nelson Cruz, a la Carlos Beltran, on the team as an attraction. But I'm struggling to find how the Veteran Presence benefits the Astros, who have been to consecutive ALCS' and won consecutive divisions. I think Altuve is the Veteran Presence. But what do I know?

*Cool article over at The Runner, who talked to prospect (and Big-League Spring Training invitee) Corbin Martin about growing up in Hempstead and will likely pitch for the Astros in 2019.

*Lance McCullers Jr traded 90 dogs and cats to Minnesota for future considerations

*Ralph Bowden gives the Astros a D (like, a letter grade, not a euphemism) on their offseason so far.

*So here's an NYT article about McKinsey & Company, a management consulting firm, is helping to elevate authoritarian governments. Keith Law came along and noted McKinsey & Company's work with the Astros. It's true. Jeff Luhnow spent five years with McKinsey, though probably not in the Authoritarian Government Stabilization Department.

*The Braves are now apparently favorites for J.T. Realmuto. Wait, no, it's now apparently a three-team Mets/Marlins/Padres menage a trade, and the Braves are out. No one knows anything why do we even pretend?

*Future Ramgers Great Mike Fiers?

*Why Cincinnati is a perfect fit for Dallas Keuchel.

*Justin Verlander threw a Christmas party at Dave & Buster's for 1,000 veterans and their families.

*Here's an excellent recap of Jeff Kent's Hall of Fame case from FanGraphs' Jay Jaffe. Jaffe's insightful analysis masks over some memories I have of Kent (mainly my lasting memory of Jeff Kent is just him flipping his helmet over and over again). But hell if Harold Baines is in, why not let Kent in?

Related: According to Jon Heyman (via Hall-of-Famer-Who-Shouldn't-Be-A-Hall-of-Famer Jack Morris and not-Hall-of-Famer Dave Stewart) criticism of Baines' selection to the HOF is insubordinate, and churlish.

*Sam Miller: You might be a better hitter than these five MLB pitchers. LOL couldn't be me (Ed. Note: would totally be me).

*Great piece in The Hardball Times from FOAC (Friend of Astros County) Mike Bates: Who is the King of Baseball? Hint: it's not what you think.

*How Adam Ottavino attacked the offseason.

*OF COURSE Bryce Harper was a Yankees fan growing up.

*You've probably already seen this, but whatever: My dad's (Ed. Note: Not my actual dad, the writer's dad) friendship with Charles Barkley.

*Grant Brisbee: Why gambling used to scare baseball and now it doesn't.

*Gizmodo: When a stranger decides to destroy your life.

*A Musical Selection:

Friday, December 14, 2018

Friday Morning Hot Links

Happy Friday folks. You will not get 2 different Hot Links today. This one is all me. Buckle your seat belts and do not read these while you drive. Please wait until you get to the workplace. Don't even sneak a peek at a red light either. I care about your safety.

The Astros officially did absolutely nothing at Winter Meetings 2018, but that doesn't necessarily mean it was a waste.

Tags still believes at least one impact move is on its way.

I have absolutely no idea how the Rule 5 draft works, but we did it. It happened. We stole Alejandro Flores from the Nationals but were robbed the talents of Riley Ferrell, Drew Ferguson, and Ryan Thompson. More info here but the info is unfortunately only about the players mentioned above and not about how this whacked out draft works.

Alex Bregman posted a 50 minute podcast/roundtable discussion with Alex Rodriguez, Jake Marisnick, and other current major leaguers on his Youtube channel.

Astros and Drew Pomeranz?

Charlie Morton is gone, so I went to Youtube and found a 3 minute video of the lad straight dealing. Miss you already buddy.

And uh yeah. That's it.


Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Thursday Morning Hot Links

Mayhaps you saw that Flick and I straight up double-teamed you with Hot Links on Wednesday though, somehow, absolutely nothing happened. Probably won't happen again. I'm glad he's back.

*The Astros hired Former Astros Great Mickey Storey to be their new manager at Fresno Round Rock. Storey, one of the storied members of the 2012 Astros, was Quad Cities' manager in 2018.

*It appears as though CFM has moved on from the Astros to take a 2-year $30m deal from Tampa. I have Sad. More on Morton later, when I can process this. Luhnow:
We wanted him back, and he will always be part of Astros history. He had two of his best years here, and if he gets a deal he's happy with, I'm happy for him. 

Remember the Astros reportedly offered CFM a 1-year deal with an option for a 2nd year back in November. Makes me wonder if the shoulder that gave Morton trouble also scared off the Astros.

Later Luhnow talked about Morton as a selling point to future targets:
It has become a selling point and players recognize it, and they feel they will get the best information if they sign with the Astros. What they do with it is up to them, but they'll have a chance to figure out ways to make themselves even better.

Charlie Morton's fWAR by season, highest-to-lowest:
2017: 3.2
2018: 3.1
2011: 1.8
2014: 1.6
2013: 1.5
2009: 1.3
2015: 1.0
2016: 0.4
2012: 0.3
2008: 0.2
2010: -0.3

Or you can look at it like this:
Career fWAR, 2008-2016: 7.8
Career fWAR, 2017-2018: 6.3

Or, 2008-2016: 4.54 ERA / 1.44 WHIP, 84 ERA+
2017-2018: 3.36 ERA / 1.18 WHIP, 121 ERA+

Fare thee well, CFM.

So the Astros have erased the following salaries off the books from 2018 (note: it's possible, nay probable, that this changes)

Dallas Keuchel: $13.2m
Brian McCann: $11.5m (the Yankees, get this, paid the Astros haha $5.5m per year to take McCann and win a World Series)
Evan Gattis: $6.7m
Marwin Gonzalez: $5.125m

Total: $36,525,000

Now, Gerrit Cole will get a hefty raise from his $6.75m arbitration salary. Robinson Chirinos will get $5.75m in 2019. But there's some wiggle room from last year, if the Astros' want it.

Using that previous link, Luhnow said the Astros will not be the ones who are aggressive in their bidding:
We're not going to be the ones setting the market. We'll be reacting to it and making sure we get players we want for the value we want....Fans need to have that perspective that it does feel like things are happening later and later in the offseason, and that's okay. It doesn't mean your team's not going to do anything. It might, but it doesn't necessarily mean that. 

The Astros aren't not going to do anything. Maybe they won't, but not necessarily. Got it.


*Jake Kaplan writes about why the Astros aren't terribly worried about Forrest Whitley's 2019 workload.

*A.J. Hinch talked about Aledmys Diaz's versatility.

*Meanwhile the Yankees signed J.A. Happ to a 2yr/$34(-ish)m deal with a vesting option for a 3rd year.

*The Rangers have reportedly signed Lance Lynn to a 3yr/$30m deal.

*Here's Joe Posnanski with a wonderfully-long read on the Hall of Fame's Veterans Committee.

*The Globe and Mail's Jana Pruden: The day I met a serial killer.

*This Dallas kid straight up assaulted another kid during a Dallas-area hockey game.

*A musical selection:

Wednesday Morning Hot Links

Ladies and Gentlemen, here is your host for this morning's Hot Links: give it up for Flick Nickem!

*Crowd claps politely but nothing crazy. They just didn't want him to feel bad*

Yes that's right folks I'm back behind the keyboard ready to cook up some hot links regarding the Houston Astros baseball team for the next few months again. My """""break""""" is over, but in all actuality I was buried in things I had to do for my coursework so James let me take a vacation while I got everything smoothed out. Well, my finals are all the way done and I do not have to worry about anything school-related so hopefully that means better and more thought-out content coming up in the coming days. Remember, if you don't like me doing the posting on this website, I still post every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday so you can go ahead and skip those days if you would like I won't mind or tell. 

But ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh it's Hot Links time!

~Jeff Luhnow says the team had "a very productive day" yesterday at the Winter Meetings, so it sounds like we can expect some sort of free agent news in the coming days. I hope this means we offered Bryce Harper a quarter of a billion dollars because if I had a quarter of a billion dollars I would definitely do that. Or give it to Marwin.

~And speaking of Bryce Harper, let's talk about just how likely this fantasy would be.

~Forrest Whitley messed around and threw a baseball 110 miles per hour so maybe this kid could be an alright pitcher. Scouts were so impressed that they're letting him come to Spring Training this year. 

~ICYMI from yesterday and since the offseason is still slow: here is a great piece by Chandler Rome on the Astros' 2-sport athlete Kyle Tucker. Speaking of the kid, he is the main topic on this week's MLB Pipeline Podcast so we should all head on over and check it out.

~Last evening, Alex Bregman got #wet.

~The Rangers and Astros will be the only teams in 2019 to only have a 3 day All-Star break which is absolutely fine by me but I will still miss them dearly and three days is still a long time for my heart to wait.

~I hope we aren't banning the shift.

~Tony Kemp is making pure-hearted content on Twitter dot com again.

~They keep grooming Aledmys Diaz to be the next Marwin Gonzalez which is weird because we don't need two super utility players on the team. What a silly org lol

~The animal that was initially believed to be rat which turned out to be a ferret is actually a weasel. Also it appears as if there is a Ferret Association of Connecticut, which really brightened my day.

~"Hawaiian Monk Seals Keep Getting Eels Stuck Up Their Snouts, Nobody 'NOSE' Why." I have nothing to add.

On This Day in Baseball History

-In 1930, the rules committee created the ground rule double. Originally, if a ball bounced into the stands, it was ruled as a home run.

-In 1933, arguably the trade with the best names from top to bottom, the A's traded Lefty Grove, Rube Wallberg, and Max Bishop to Boston for Bob Kline and Rabbit Warstler.

-In 1966, the U.S. Supreme Court voted 4 to 3 to not review Wisconsin's suit to block the Milwaukee Braves move to Atlanta.

-In 2007, the Astros traded to acquire Miguel Tejada from Baltimore in exchange for Matt Albers, Troy Patton, Luke Scott, Dennis Sarfate, and Michael Costanzo.

-In 2009, the Astros made their free agent splash on the same day, this time for pitcher Brandon Lyon.

Wednesday Morning Hot Links

Everything is simply whispers.

*Jeff Luhnow is looking for pitching, but likes what he sees in the organization. Luhnow:
We are looking at both short- and medium-term deals for pitchers. That being said, I think a year from now we'll know a lot more about Corbin Martin, we'll know a lot more about Forrest Whitley, and we'll have a better sense on James and Valdez, and it could be we don't have an issue a year from now. 

*Yep, looks like Collin McHugh is back in the rotation. Forrest Whitley and Corbin Martin will be in Major League camp.

*Mark Feinsand reports the Astros are "engaged with" J.A. Happ and Lance Lynn.

*Hinch, on the rotation:
I get asked a lot about the rotation because we lost McCullers to injury and Morton and Keuchel to free agency. Time will tell how those gaps are filled. We do have some internal guys, including McHugh and Peacock, who have done it before, and Josh James and Framber Valdez came up and did well. And you talk about the prospects that were in Double-A - Corbin Martin, Forrest Whitley, Cionel Perez made his Major League debut last year. Those are easy names to rattle off. 

*Meanwhile the Astros "have interest" in Michael Brantley.

*Speaking of corner outfielders, here's Luhnow, on Kyle Tucker:
Kyle has all the ability in the world, and he will do it, but when things come easy to you in the Minor Leagues, sometimes you just expect that in the big leagues. He'll be fine. I have a lot of confidence in him.

*Nelson Cruz is deciding between the Rays and Twins, and the Astros appear out.

*Eno Sarris went gamblin' and asked baseball people about the early odds.

*Scott Fowler rang Rae Carruth's doorbell. This is what happened next. *Here is a cursed video of Tyler Bauer earnestly singing/rapping:

 *Wash your ears with today's musical selection from Ocean Colour Scene, one of my favorite bands of all-time:

 

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Tuesday Morning Hot Links

So the Winter Meetings are officially off and running...sort of.

*Jim Crane says he's willing to raise payroll if the opportunity presents itself, and we have zero reason to think that he won't do exactly that. Crane:
I'd say if the right situation came along - certainly we're not going over the [luxury-tax threshold] - but we could move closer to that. We were pretty high up in the food chain last year. A lot of teams realize the penalty is pretty severe if you go over. We'll stay within the strike zone. 

Baseball lingo! So a couple of things to note here: the Astros' payroll in 2018 was about $182m. The luxury tax threshold will be about $206m. As it stands right this very minute, Houston is looking at a $137m payroll for 2019. That's subtracting Keuchel, Marwin, and McCann's salaries. This is the last year of Altuve's professional life that he'll make less than $10m, and that $137m figure from B-Ref accounts for Gerrit Cole's projected $13.1m arbitration salary. 

Will the Astros add $45-65m in salaries this year? I could certainly spend Crane's money all day. Check back...at some point this offseason and find out!

*Chandler Rome has a good profile of Kyle Tucker, coming off a somewhat-disappointing MLB debut season. Tucker:
Last year was really cool. I tried - obviously, I wasn't going out there not trying - but I was a little in awe of all the stuff. This year, I don't care who I'm going to play against. I'm going to go out there and do well...I'm just going into this next season trying to do a lot of damage.

Good read, here. 

*Collin McHugh taught a class at Emory University. 

*Jon Heyman says the Astros are still in on Nelson Cruz, but now have competition with Minnesota and Tampa.

*Astros' new director of research and development Ehsan Bokhari was part of an analytics panel at the Winter Meetings. 

*Nate Eovaldi told Evan Drellich that he thought real hard about coming to Houston.

*Former Astros Great Rio Ruiz was claimed off waivers by Former Astros Great Mike Elias' Orioles. 

*Of the 11 games currently scheduled for Sunday Night Baseball, here is the breakdown by team:
-Boston: 5
-New York: 5
-Los Angeles: 4
-Chicago: 2
-Atlanta: 2
-St. Louis: 1
-Colorado: 1
-Pittsburgh: 1
-Philadelphia: 1
-Houston: 0


We were brought here primarily for scouting and player development purposes. I think we have the best track record - among the best track records in the industry - in this regard over certainly, the last several years, but even going over a 12-year, 14-year period dating back to St. Louis.

*There were some reports yesterday that the Mets, Yankees, and Marlins could be involved in a three-way trade that would send Noah Syndergaard to the Yankees, J.T. Realmuto to the Mets, and a haul of prospects to the Marlins. The Marlins downplayed that, but all indications are that the Marlins are looking to trade Realmuto. Realmuto is one known target of the Mets and two other, as-yet-unknown, teams. 

*The Hardball Times: The physics of getting hit by a pitch.


*A Musical Selection: