Monday, March 27, 2017

Monday Morning Hot Links

I was wide awake at 3am so let's just get today over with, huh?

*Joe Musgrove will be SP4 to start the season, and the rotation will be Keuchel, McCullers, Morton, Musgrove, and Fiers.

*Which of course means that Collin McHugh and his dead arm will start the season on the DL. He'll make his Spring Training debut today, about three weeks too late.

*And now the only question is who will be the final arm out of the bullpen: James Hoyt or Jandel Gustave? Hinch:
It's miserable being this guy. Hoyt's been this guy for the last couple of years; Gustave is the first time being this close to the team, (Dayan) Diaz as well. I don't want them to put so much pressure on themselves in the last outing or two they're going to have.

Hinch is looking to see if they can get lefties out to help Sipp in times of trouble. The bullpen, as of now, is Giles, Gregerson, Harris, Feliz, Devenski, Sipp, and probably Brad Peacock to serve as a multiple-inning guy (read: Out-of-Options guy).

*And Tony Sipp was scratched from both weekend games due to a back issue.

*Josh Reddick wants to hit more lefty pitching.

*Nick Cafardo is the latest to write that the Astros are still in on Jose Quintana, though they're reluctant to part with Francis Martes in that deal. "One major league source" says that the White Sox could trade Quintana before Opening Day, which is in a week, of course.

*The Astros are impressed with Derek Fisher's base-stealing ability.

*New Astros play-by-play man Todd Kalas honored his Hall of Fame father with his home run call.

*The Astros traded catcher Tyler Heineman to, who else, the Brewers for "a player to be named later or cash considerations." How funny would it be if there was a player whose actual last name was Later. Or if their name was Cash Considerations. That'd be messed up. I'm very tired.

Heineman - the Astros' 8th Round pick out of UCLA in the 2012 draft - will be 26 in June. In 2015, between Corpus and Fresno, Heineman hit .285/.334/.379, good enough to spend all of 2016 in Fresno, where he hit .359/.344/.351. What with the emergence of Garrett Stubbs as a prospect, and with Juan Centeno's arrival, and Stassi's return to Fresno, there likely just wasn't playing time available for Heineman. Fare thee well, Tyler Heineman.

*The Astros released LHP C.J. Riefenhauser yesterday, and reassigned Jordan Jankowski, Tyson Perez, Alejandro Garcia, and Jon Kemmer to minor-league camp.

*Anthony Gose - who was an Astro for about eight minutes before getting traded to Toronto for Astros Great Brett Wallace - is about to be converted into a pitcher.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Friday Morning Hot Links

Off-day yesterday, so it's kind of slow...

*Check out Yahoo's Astros season preview.

*Jake Kaplan wonders how much Josh Reddick will actually play against lefties (short answer: it depends). Story includes how Reddick is trying to improve against left-handed pitching.

*Joe Musgrove is Jon Heyman's "Potential Breakout Player" for the 2017 Astros.

*It's paywalled, but Charlie Morton is one of eight Breakout Player picks for Keith Law.

*J.D. Davis knows he's blocked by Alex Bregman, but is hoping to hit his way to Houston, anyway.

*FanGraphs has the Spring Training Divisional Outlook for the AL West. They're not sold on the offensive upgrades the Astros have made.

*The asking price on Jose Quintana has not gone down.

*The Angels' Luis Valbuena will miss 4-6 weeks with a bad hamstring.

*Good article in ESPN about 19-year old White Sox 3B Yoan Moncada.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Thursday Morning Hot Links

*George Springer hit a homer on the first pitch of the game and Yulieski Gurriel followed suit in the first inning in an 8-4 Astros win over the Twins. Both had two hits in the game. J.D. Davis was 3x4. Dallas Keuchel threw 5IP, 5H/2ER, 3K:1BB; James Hoyt allowed 2H/1ER in 1IP.

*Be sure to check out this chat at FiveThirtyEight - "Sorry, Mike Trout: The AL West Belongs to the Astros." I mean, when has FiveThirtyEight ever not projected a major contest correctly?

*Collin McHugh threw 41 pitches in a minor-league game as he builds his pitch count to try to avoid starting the season on the DL.

Also in that link we find that David Paulino will begin the season on the DL with a bone bruise on his elbow.

*Nolan Ryan is in camp to talk to the starting pitchers about their preparation, mentality, and pitching deep into games.

*George Springer is ready for his WBC buddies to come back.

*Kate Morrison wonders what the Astros should do with A.J. Reed.

*Catcher Juan Centeno is a "very good insurance policy" for the Astros.

*Brian Radziewski, the Astros 9th Round pick in the 2014 draft, signed with the independent Sioux City Explorers. Radziewski didn't pitch last year due to injury.

*Beyond the Box Score looks at the old Melancon-for-Lowrie-and-Weiland trade.

*Reminder that Enrique Hernandez is a national treasure and I miss him greatly.

*The Angels' Luis Valbuena left the game yesterday with tightness in the hamstring on which he had surgery last year.

*The surprisingly wild storyof the Cubs' 2006 signing of Ted Lilly...

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Wednesday Morning Hot Links

*Yulieski Gurriel got a double and a homer and Derek Fisher added a solo homer in a 2-1 win over the Marlins yesterday. Mike Fiers threw a strong 4IP, allowing 3H/0ER, 5K:0BB. Brad Peacock closed out the game with 2.1IP, 0H/0ER, 3K:0BB.

*Tyler White, Colin Moran, A.J. Reed, and Teoscar Hernandez were all optioned to Minor League camp yesterday. Luhnow:
They've all had good springs in different ways, and I believe all four of those guys are going to contribute to our big league team this year. But given what we did this offseason and where we are - guys coming back from the [WBC] soon - it made sense for this to happen now so they can go get some reps on the back fields and prepare for their seasons.

*Max Stassi was outrighted to Fresno after passing through waivers unclaimed and has been removed from the 40-Man roster. That roster - now at 38 - has only McCann and Gattis as catchers, with Juan Centeno and Stassi the likely candidates for a call-up in the event of an injury.

*Collin McHugh might not be ready for the start of the season, which is good news for Mike Fiers and Joe Musgrove.

*Here we go again: Yahoo's Jeff Passan is reporting that the White Sox are still dangling Jose Quintana. Scouts are saying the Astros could create "a compelling package" built around Francis Martes and Kyle Tucker. Passan:
The White Sox, according to scouts, have had a number of eyes on Astros back fields, though one source suggested it's more for future parleys than anything current or imminent.

*Help the Astros come up with a name for the new Fayetteville affiliate. In the interim, I like the Buies Clues. The team can't be called the "Astros," and you have until March 31 to submit your entry.

*Former Astro and Team Israel standout Josh Zeid has signed a minor-league deal with the Cardinals.

*Ken Rosenthal: The WBC is like free education for Team USA.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Sports Illustrated predicts Dodgers to win 2017 World Series....wait WHAT!?!

That's right the staff of Sports short term memory Illustrated chose the Los Angeles Dodgers to win the World Series over the Cleveland Indians.

 In case you missed it. In 2014 Sports Illustrated writer Ben Reiter chose the Houston Astros as 2017 World Series Champs.
Ben Reiter still writes for Sports Illustrated. Maybe he wasn't invited to the predictions meeting.

UPDATE: at least they're self aware about it.

Remaining spots on Houston Astros 2017 Opening Day roster

UPDATE: A.J. Reed, Colin Moran, Tyler White, Teoscar Hernandez were all optioned to minor league camp this morning. This likely means Marisnick will be the 12th man. Reid Brignac will get an opportunity to catch on with another club. Feel free to skip the position player section, as I picked Moran over Marisnick.

The Houston Astros 2017 roster is pretty much set. By my calculations there are four spots still up in the air. One maybe two position player spots and two or three pitcher spots. A.J. Hinch wants to carry 13 pitchers into the season.

Position players

Minus Jake Marisnick the Astros have 12 position spots filled. If you include him that's your 13. Marisnick is a great defender. He can cover all three outfield positions. He doesn't hit and that trend has continued during Spring Training. You might be wondering how the OF shapes up without him. George Springer came up as a center fielder in the minor leagues. Josh Reddick will man left. Either Nori Aoki or Yulieski Gurriel or Carlos Beltran will be in left. Marwin Gonzalez can play out there in a pinch. I think there is an opportunity to take someone else over Marisnick.

Teoscar Hernandez has not hit well this spring. That leaves A.J. Reed, Colin Moran, and Reid Brignac. Reed and Moran are killing the ball this spring. Both seem to have found their stroke. We've seen this before though (see: Tyler White 2016). Brignac is a utility infielder. He's played a little outfield but not much. He'd be a part time player.

Reed and Moran are both interesting. Reed for his power. Moran for his hit ability and his flexibility at first or third (wait can he play outfield?). Both have an OPS over 1.000 this spring. I like the idea of giving Moran an opportunity.


This is where things get fun. Three spots. One rotation spot and two relief spots. I don't think Mike Fiers has a rotation spot locked up. I do think Charlie Morton has one. That leaves Fiers, Joe Musgrove, and Brad Peacock as options. Peacock has not pitched well this spring. That leaves the last spot to either Fiers or Musgrove. I like Musgrove and love the idea of starting him on the roster this season. That would leave two bullpen spots. James Hoyt has a good chance of getting one with an ERA below two currently. That leaves Michael Feliz (3.12 ERA), Jandel Gustave (2.70 ERA), and David Paulino (3.86 ERA).

Sorry, no left-handed options unless a trade is made before the season. Feliz has the most service time. I'd default to him if I had to choose.

Who you got?

No matter who you choose, the Astros have a pretty good roster. Those that don't make the roster, make for an intriguing option during the season.