Thursday, January 17, 2019

Thursday Morning Hot Links

*The sun rises in the east, nothing happens, the sun sets in the west.

*I'm sure that Luhnow's phone is ringing off the hook. Wouldn't it be fun to know what conversations are being had in the front office? Stuff we can't even imagine. There's probably fourteen strands of yarn tied around a map of the western hemisphere with scouting reports attached that makes it look like they're trying to find the Zodiac Killer. Luhnow probably knows who it is, but since that knowledge doesn't extend a championship window, it's secondary to his - and the public's - interests.

But no, nothing.

*It's 27 days until Pitchers and Catchers report.

*The County Mountie wrote a review of Astroball.

*Biggest Astros news of the day was about a golf tournament.

*Simulate to beginning of season. This is ridiculous.

*Don't miss this great Jake Kaplan article on Forrest Whitley's transformation from "bad body" to top pitching prospect, a "cerebral" pitcher who appreciates the Astros' data-backed coaching. With a lack of Astros Things to read, this makes me want to run through a brick wall.

*Jon Tayler writes that Kyler Murray did not have an easy decision to make.

*Here's some other stuff to read, instead:

-In GQ musicians like Jason Isbell and Ben Harper talked about what it's like to be a sober musician.

-In The Atlantic Vann Newkirk wrote about how MLK's death gave rise to hip-hop.

-Leeds United have signed Real Madrid keeper Kiko Casilla on a free transfer. WE. ARE. GOING. UP.

*A musical selection, one of my favorite songs of the last 15 years:


Astrosball Review

I just finished reading Astrosball: The New Way to Win It All by Ben Reiter. What a fantastic and fun read. It's especially exciting for those that lived and breathed the Astros from 2011-2017.

There are so many good insights and stories and quotes like, "But Jeff Luhnow's not paid to win popularity contests. He's paid to fucking deliver. and he's doing that." It's hard to figure out where to start. I guess we could start with the book is an insider view of the Astros from 2011 to the spring of 2018. They talk about the process of building a championship team. They own up to the mistakes made and how they need to go about improvements.

It talks about making statistically sound decisions that don't work; and statistically unsound decisions that do work. Every major news catching event from 2011 on is covered. The drafting of Carlos Correa over five others. Drafting but not signing Brady Aiken. The Ground Control breach. Trading for Justin Verlander. All covered with insider information. I'm quite pleased with how behind the scenes we get to go on this book.

Ben Reiter is an amazing writer and kept me engaged through out the book. At one point I was planning to read for 30 minutes. Three hours later I forced myself to go to bed right before the Justin Verlander trade really heated up. The detail, research, and effort put into this book is clearly on the page. If you loved Moneyball, you will love this book. Go pick this book up! You will not be disappointed.

Amazon

Barnes&Noble

Other 

Monday, January 14, 2019

Monday Morning Hot Links

Hello.

The Crawfish Boxes are working on what's basically trades of the "Luhnow Era". Part 1 handles 2014-early 2015 with Part handling specifically the Gomez trade:

A.J. Hinch confirms that Abraham Toro-Hernandez will be invited to Spring Training.

A.J. also spent some time with some high schoolers over the weekend at the CC Baseball Camp, alone with current and former Astros such as Tyler White, Jarred Cosart, and Geoff Blum.

Cionel Perez, my new favorite Astro with the departure of Marwin Gonzalez, talks about the Rookie Career Development Program and his relationship with fellow Cuban Yuli Gurriel. 

Of course the biggest baseball news over the weekend comes from the Kyler Murray decision, which has to come at some point today. Jeff Passan reports that the MLB would waive a rule saying that rookies cannot sign Major League contracts after they are drafted just for lil ol him.

If you hate spiders, this might be your worst nightmare. Like, just knowing that this CAN happen now has me a little bit paranoid.

Costco is selling a 27 pound bucket of macaroni and cheese for $90 so you better act fast before this steal of a deal is no longer!

Wales claims to have the world's steepest street and the Kiwis (specifically the city of Dunedin, New Zealand, who are proud owners of the world's steepest street) are so mad that they might lose this record that the elected Mayor of the city said in an interview that they "will call on the gods of earthquake to tilt our street a little more and regain the title". I love it.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Sunday Morning Hot Links

*In his weekly notes column for FanGraphs, David Laurilia talks to Orioles GM about the possibility of replicating the Astros' success with pitchers in Baltimore. Also, had absolutely no idea that Chris Holt is the assistant pitching coordinator for the Astros.

*Brian T. Smith says free agency in baseball is broken.

*For the first time in three years, Alex Bregman is pain-free.

Since the beginning of 2017 Alex Bregman has hit .285/.374/.509 for a 141 OPS+. His OPS+ in 2018 was 156. If he did that through any semblance of pain, this year could be, uh, something else.

*How far apart are the Astros with Correa, Cole, and Devenski?

Correa asked for $5m. The Astros offered $4.25m.

Cole asked for $13.1m. The Astros offered $11.425m.

Devenski asked for $1.65m. The Astros offered $1.4m.

The total difference between Ask and Offer is $2,675,000.

*SI's Emma Baccellieri says that Yasmani Grandal's one-year deal is more bad news for the MLBPA.

*New Yorker: What it felt like when 'Cat Person' went viral.

*The day a deadly wave of molasses tore through Boston.

*I stayed up until 2:15 this morning finishing Charles Soule's "The Oracle Year." I enjoyed it immensely.

Not sure if I'll be able to keep up the book-a-week pace, but here's a running list of the books I've read in 2019:
1) The Bookseller of Kabul - Asne Seierstad
2) The Oracle Year - Charles Soule

*A musical selection:




Saturday, January 12, 2019

Saturday Morning Hot Links

Good morning. It is 32 days until Pitchers & Catchers report. Or, in the Astros' situation, "Pitchers and Catcher(s)" report.

*Big News of the Day was that Alex Bregman underwent arthroscopic surgery on his elbow to remove "loose bodies." Buncha sluts up in Bregs' elbow. In an exclusive interview with Tags, Bregman - and the Astros - are targeting the March 1 Grapefruit League game against St. Louis for his return. Bregman:
It's something you can play through a little bit, but when (the elbow) locks out, you're looking at a DL stint, and I wasn't willing to risk going on the DL this year for something I know I could fix before the season started. So we went ahead and knocked it out.

If, on March 1, Luhnow says Bregman is dealing with some "discomfort" in his elbow, we will know that Bregs is dead. Long live Bregs.

*Yesterday was the deadline to agree to a deal for arbitration-eligible players, of which the Astros had ten. Seven Astros agreed to a deal: Jake Marisnick, Lance McCullers, Collin McHugh, Roberto Osuna, Ryan Pressly, Will Harris, and Brad Peacock.

Here are the numbers we know, compared to MLBTR's arbitration projections (in parentheses)
Will Harris: $4.225m ($3.6m)
McCullers: $4.1m ($4.6m)
Brad Peacock: $3.11m ($2.9m)
Ryan Pressly: $2.9m ($3.1m)

In what world does Harris make more than McCullers (though I guess the Astros will get IPs out of Harris, unlike McCullers, in 2019, so maybe...)? That's an arbitration total of $14.335m compared to a projection of $14.2m.

Assistant GM Brandon Taubman:
I think arbitration always brings mixed emotions for us. I am proud of the people who've been involved in the process on our end, I'm proud that we have a responsible process that represents the Astros' organization's interests and the merits of fair salary within the industry. But what we care about is winning baseball games and promoting the development of our players. And this is a detour from that.

This means that Carlos Correa (projected at $5.1m), Gerrit Cole ($13.1m), and Chris Devenski ($1.4m) did not agree to a deal and will go to a hearing. It's a fun time in which the Astros try to explain before a panel why these three players aren't worth as much as they think they're worth. Who wouldn't want to go through that?

Jon Heyman reports that Cole asked for $13.5m - exactly double his $6.75m salary in 2018, while the Astros submitted an $11,425,000 offer.

*Craig Calcaterra: It's SUPER-WEIRD that all 30 teams are willing to go to a hearing rather than settle with their arbitration guys.

*The Astros announced part of the Astros Caravan schedule. Here's what has been released:

Tuesday, January 22:
11:30am-1:30pm: Kyle Tucker, Josh James, Chris Devenski, Todd Kalas. Dell Diamond, Round Rock.
3:30-4:30pm. Tyler White, Brady Rodgers, Steve Sparks. Katy Chick-Fil-A (South Mason Road).
5:00-6:00pm. Same players. Katy Academy (23155 Katy Freeway). They'll only sign commemorative autograph cards provided by Academy.
5:30-6:30pm. Tucker/James/Devenski/Kalas. Cedar Park Academy (C-bar Ranch Trail). Commemorative card rules apply.
5:00-7:00pm. Caravan Jam at La Centerra (23501 Cinco Ranch Blvd, Katy). No idea who will be there.

Wednesday, January 23:
2:30-3:30pm. Myles Straw, Max Stassi, Corbin Martin, Robert Ford. A Corpus Whataburger location TBD.
5:00-7:00pm. Caravan Jam at Whataburger Field.

Thursday, January 24:
1:00-2:00pm. Jake Marisnick, Tyler White, Geoff Blum. Champion Forest Drive HEB.
2:30-3:30pm. Tony Kemp, Robinson Chrinos, A.J. Hinch, Steve Sparks. South Rice Avenue Chick-Fil-A.
5:00-7:00pm. Marisnick/White/Blummer. Caravan Jam at the Fountains at Waterway Square.
5:30-6:30pm. Kemp/Chirinos/Hinch/Sparks. Southwest Freeway Academy. Commemorative card autograph rules apply.

*Toronto traded catcher Russell Martin to the Dodgers, reducing the competition for J.T. Realmuto by one team. Here are my trading partners for the Marlins on Realmuto, updated:
1. Houston
2. Atlanta

The price is going to be high, but gotdang Yasmani Grandal will make $18.25m in 2019 after agreeing to a deal with Milwaukee. Grandal, 30, posted a .241/.349/.466 line, with 24 of his 106 hits in 2018 going over the fence, good enough for a 125 wRC+.

J.T. Realmuto, who will be 28 in March, hit .277/.340/.484 with 21 home runs for Miami, for a 126 wRC+. I have questions about FanGraphs' defensive ratings, but Realmuto got a 7.9 while Grandal got a 9.0. Now I'm not sure what point I was trying to make. Still, the Marlins are basically a criminal enterprise. Don't negotiate with terrorists. Realmuto will make $5.9m in 2019. Trade four guys I don't like for J.T. Realmuto, Luhnow.

*Brian Kenny: Roy Oswalt deserves more of a Cooperstown look:
*Tyler Bauer is a Tough Guy on Twitter dot com but he left a media scrum awful quick when he got called on harassing a Texas State student.

*Justin Turner reflects on back-to-back World Series losses.

*Barry Bonds belongs in the Hall of Fame:

*Todd Marinovich is facing what has haunted him.

*My other favorite team - Leeds United - beat Derby County 2-0 yesterday, but not before there was uncomfortable news that Leeds were spying on Derby's training sessions.

*A musical selection:

Friday, January 11, 2019

Friday Morning Hot Links

Today is the first day of the first three hour class I have ever taken as a student as well as the first Friday class I have ever taken, so today is kind of a bummer. To cope, I will post. 

Forrest Whitley talked to Tags about dominating the AFL, injuries, mechanics, and veteran guidance.

Here's another Whitley article, this time talking about his excitement for his MLB debut.

Today is the arbitration deadline, and 10 players, some of which include stars Carlos Correa, Gerrit Cole, and Lance McCullers. All the figures and players can be found in the link.

The Astros are one of 6 teams with "substantive" trade negotiations picking up for J.T. Realmuto again, with the Dodgers being reported as "the most motivated". 


Bleacher Report gave us the odds of the best suitors to the best free agents still available (except for Lowrie) (except for Grandal).

The Astros scouting team is extending the team's contention window, which to me sounds like a splendid idea.

Get to know Cristian Javier, one of the best international pitching prospects in the pipeline.

Seth Beer was ranked as the 7th best storyline to come out of Clemson in 2018 per ClemsonSportsTalk.

Here is a deeper dive into the unfortunate and alarming inequality in the payment of Minor League baseball players.

Some Japanese billionaire broke the Twitter record for most retweets on one post, passing up the original title holder of the kid I blocked on Twitter for whining about wanting free chicken nuggets to Wendy's for months on end. He is just the worst.