Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Wednesday Morning Hot Links

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"Sig Mejdal, our NASA scientist, is not sticking around in our front office in 2019 just like everybody else in the front office. The Astros have now lost the following:

Sig Mejdal, Analytics Lead/Draft and Major League Personnel Decisions Contributor
Mike Fast, Director of Research and Development
Ryan Hallahan, Senior Technical Architect
Doug White, Bullpen Coach
Jeff Albert, Assistant Hitting Coach
along with these 2019 Free Agents unlikely to come back:
Brian McCann, Catcher
Evan Gattis, Designated Hitter
Dallas Keuchel, Starting Pitcher
and 2019 Free Agents that may or may not come back:
Charlie Morton, Starting Pitcher
Tony Sipp, Relief Pitcher
Martin Maldonado, Catcher
Marwin Gonzalez, Anywhere"

Well it looks like we can add Mike Elias to the list as he will be the next man on the move from the Houston Astros, this one going to be the General Manager for the Baltimore Orioles. That's just awesome..

But onto people that will not be moving, the Astros have renewed their contract with iHeartMedia and are bringing Robert Ford and Steve Sparks back into the booth for 2019.

The good guys at the Astros are out giving kids cleats for funsies. I like them.

Remember when Ken Rosenthal told us that the Astros tried to trade for Bryce Harper? Well apparently they also tried with Avi Garcia as well.

Only 10 more hours until Blake Snell gets announced as the AL Cy Young Award Winner (just telling you now), but here is a case for every Cy Young finalist!

Jose Altuve needs coffee too. Sorry. Slow news day.

Abraham Toro has a 1.107 OPS in the Arizona Winter League (this is a scheduled, well thought-out joke that references how cold it is outside. I hope it really resonated with you, the viewer.)

Five Astros trade targets that make sense the Astros should consider.

Got an email while sitting on campus right now that my Fayetteville Woodpeckers hat was delivered and left on my front porch today. Nobody take it so I can haul in that loot.

About 7,000 homes in the U.K. still watch television on a black-and-white TV.

Speaking of the people "across the pond", some folks in England are building tiny ladders to help frogs and other small animals who accidentally fall down storm drains crawl back up. Big shoutout to the Warwickshire Amphibian and Reptile Team (W.A.R.T.)! I think I speak for everybody here at when I say that this is wicked awesome. We fully support your efforts and are proud of what you are doing! Keep saving those precious little froggy lives!

Pat me on my back as I accomplished my goal of making one Hot Link for one degree that it felt like when I walked out of my house today. Stay warm folks.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Tuesday Morning Hot Links

It was a hilarious sight at HEB yesterday when a Freeze Warning for last night/this morning took effect and pretty much all of Central Texas descended to relieve the grocer of all their milk, eggs, bread, and alcohol. Lines to check out approached Impending Hurricane level, even though it will be in the 60s by Friday. That said, even though we survived three New England winters, cold is cold. I don't care how much snow I've seen - a windchill in the 20s sucks. I'm not "Better" than these poor freezing souls because I know what 50 degrees colder than this feels like. No, it's my own fault for knowing what it feels like to begin with.

*So I guess we lead with the biggest story of the day: a former Mariners exec took a flamethrower to the Mariners' organization. Dr. Lorena Martin, Seattle's director of high performance until getting fired a month ago, accused basically the top of Seattle's front office as well as manager Scott Servais of racism, sexism, and intimidation. Martin was hired away from the Lakers and has two years left on her contract. Martin:
And then they wonder why they didn't make it to the playoffs. Leadership is to blame, under Jerry Dipoto's leadership no team has made the playoffs. All talk, no substance. Poor leadership. This is how the Seattle Mariners treat people of color (women and minorities).

Obviously the Mariners strongly and categorically denied all of her claims. But holy crap.

*Jose Altuve - wearing a hinged knee brace but walking on his own - talked to reporters Sunday and said he aims to be "120 percent" by the time Spring Training starts. Altuve:
We have a lot of time before Spring Training. We're not doing a lot. The only thing they told me is we're going to be 120 percent for the first day of Spring Training, and that's what really matters. 

*SI's Jon Tayler made a case for all 30 teams to sign Bryce Harper. He puts the Astros in Tier 3: Dark Horses.
Just picture the panic every pitcher will feel knowing that they have to survive a gauntlet of George Springer, Alex Bregman, Jose Altuve, Harper, and Carlos Correa multiple times. That alone is reason enough to do this.

And here's Tayler, giving Dallas Keuchel the bulletin board material by saying he's one of the likeliest free agency busts of this class.

*Should the Tigers decide to move Nick Castellanos, the Astros could be a fit as the Detroit Free-Press' Anthony Fenech says Houston made a move for him prior to the 2018 trade deadline. Castellanos played 142 games in Right Field in 2018, hitting .298/.354/.500 for a 130 OPS+. He would be an offensive upgrade over Josh Reddick (99 OPS+ in 2018), OR because of the drop-off in defense from Reddick to Castellanos, could serve as DH with the occasional RF start. Castellanos has one more year of arbitration before being eligible for free agency. Kyle Tucker figure it out, please.

*Dallas Keuchel officially rejected the Astros' 1yr/$17.9m qualifying offer. Should Keuchel sign with another team, the Astros will get an extra draft pick at the end of the 2nd Round in 2019.

*Members of the Astros stopped by Santa Fe High School to meet with their baseball team and to give them new cleats.

*Alex Bregman decided to drop in on Steven and Haylee Lopez's wedding in Cypress. Steven Lopez:
We were just looking at each other. She was jumping up and down like a little kid. We were both star struck.

Shoutout to Bregman, who made sure that Haylee Lopez's wedding day memory will be of Alex Bregman. Prima nocta lookin ass boiiiiii.

*Doug Brocail will not return as Rangers' pitching coach in 2019.

*Wired: It started as an online gaming prank, then it turned deadly. (Note: this is not a sunshine-and-rainbows story.)

*A musical selection:

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Sunday Morning Hot Links

I'd like to take a moment to offer my heartfelt appreciation for all of the Veterans who have served this country. Thank you for your sacrifice, whether that sacrifice was their life, whether that sacrifice was a 100% healthy body and mind, or whether that sacrifice was time away from your families. I appreciate you. 

*In a story developing just this morning, Ken Rosenthal reports that the Astros are one of a number of teams in on Mariners pitcher/Astros-killer James Paxton. Paxton, who threw 160.1IP of 3.8 fWAR baseball in 2018 (for comparison: Charlie Morton threw 167IP with 3.1 fWAR), has enjoyed four straight seasons with a sub-4.00 ERA, and three straight seasons with a sub-3.50 FIP and xFIP. Of course he's been deadly against the Astros. In 12 career appearances, he has held the Astros to a .605 OPS with a 2.89 ERA/1.12 WHIP.

*Someone has been talking to Ken Rosenthal. In the last 24 hours he has the Paxton news, as well as a blockbuster report that, on July 30, the Astros had a deal in place to acquire Bryce Harper for J.B. Bukauskas, Garrett Stubbs, and another pitcher, but the Nationals' ownership turned it down.

After that deal was rejected, the Astros were working on a Frances Martes-to-Chicago-for-Avisail Garcia trade, but the Astros rejected it out of concern over Garcia's knee. Then (or, "instead") they tried to trade for someone in St. Louis, presumably Tommy Pham.

I don't know why the Harper news came out when it did, or who leaked it. Is the source someone within the Astros organization, letting the world know how hard they tried to win consecutive World Series (which wouldn't exactly be breaking news)? Is it someone in Washington trying to save a little face in what was, expectation-wise, an absolutely miserable season? The Astros usually aren't the ones doing the talking, but Rosenthal has been all over the Astros lately.

*Jake Kaplan has a Q&A in The Athletic with Lance McCullers, and his decision to pitch through a torn UCL. McCullers:
I expect to crush the rehab. And I expect to finally be able to take the ball 30-plus times. That's the only thing I really haven't accomplished as an Astro. I've been an All-Star. I've set some club records as an individual pitcher. I won a World Series with this team. I've pitched well in the postseason. The only thing I haven't been able to do is run out there every time and just be able to take the ball and be considered a horse. That's, like, the one thing that I'm still really striving for and I'm trying to accomplish. Personally, that's still something that in my last two seasons here under team control through (the arbitration process) I really want to be able to accomplish. 

*Josh Reddick would like the Astros to look into Jonathan Lucroy. He also said at a Shriners event yesterday at MMP that the Astros weren't interested in seeing the Dodgers win the World Series, and that the Red Sox had a 2017 Astros feel about them.

*Carlos Correa news: Had surgery to repair a deviated septum and does not think he needs back surgery.

*MLBTR takes a look at the Astros from a financial standpoint.

*The Cespedes Family BBQ guys look at the Astros' motivation, and need, for Patrick Corbin.

*Abraham Toro hit a 2-run home run in a Scottdale win yesterday, and his OPS is up to .952.

*Justin Verlander and Kate Upton had their baby, if that's something that matters to you.

*Some non-baseball reading for your Sunday morning:

-Lapham's Quarterly: Making an Ancient Roman Murderer
-New Yorker: Mystery of the Havana Syndrome
-New York Times: The Lounge Pianist Who Invented Samba Funk

I am on my second reading of Adam Sternbergh's "The Blinds" and highly recommend it.

*A musical selection:

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Saturday Morning Hot Links

*Okay, it's a little busier than I expected. So let's start here:

*Jose Altuve won the 5th Silver Slugger Award of his career. Astros Silver Sluggers, franchise history:

-Jose Altuve: 5
-Craig Biggio: 5
-Jeff Bagwell: 3
-Jose Cruz: 2
-Moises Alou: 1
-Glenn Davis: 1
-Morgan Ensberg: 1
-Mike Hampton: 1
-Carlos Lee: 1
-George Springer: 1
-Dickie Thon: 1

*Dallas Keuchel went on Fox Business yesterday to talk about investing in some company that makes disposable equipment to deal with sweat. Oh, and the Yankees:
For the right opportunity, I would happily shave this beard off...The lure of the city would be really cool. I like pitching in Yankee Stadium...I am hoping there's more teams then (sic) just a couple. I think everybody is in play right now.

/Hard, heavy sigh

*Larry Dierker says, of the loss of Keuchel, McCullers, and (possibly) Morton:
If you're not worried, you're stupid.

*Mike Petriello takes a look at five pitchers right in the Astros' wheelhouse who could use a little Stromming: Sonny Gray, Trevor Cahill, Garrett Richards, Drew Pomeranz, Jeremy Hellickson. Click the link for the rationale.

*In the wake of the departures of Sig Mejdal and Mike Fast, the Astros have restructured their research & development department. Among the hires:

-Ehsan Bokhari, who will lead the department, and comes from the Dodgers.
-Sarah Gelles, who will be the new program manager, and spent the last three seasons as Baltimore's director of analytics.

*Jake Kaplan writes in The Athletic about J.B. Bukauskas, a car wreck, and a season saved.

*Alex Bregman left a $500 tip as part of a YouTube channel in which he apparently focuses on delivering random acts of kindness.

*Randy Cesar, who had a Texas League record-breaking 42-game hitting streak, is now a free agent. Former Astros Greats also on the Minor League Free Agent list: Jake Buchanan, Preston Tucker, L.J. Hoes, Fernando Rodriguez, Asher Wojciechowski, Brett Oberholtzer, Kevin Comer, Kevin Chapman, Tyler Heineman, Harold Arauz, David Rollins, Rhiner Cruz.

*Get to know the next Japanese free agent, pitcher Yusei Kikuchi.

*Joe Mauer retired yesterday, ending a 15-year career with Minnesota. His numbers are Nice: .306/.388/.439. MVP award. Five Silver Sluggers. Six-time All-Star. But are those numbers Hall of Fame-worthy?

-His 2123 hits would be the fewest for a Hall of Famer elected since 2006, when Gary Carter and his 2092 hits were inducted. Mike Piazza was elected in 2016 with 2127 hits.

-His 143 home runs would be the fewest since Wade Boggs and his 118 home runs were inducted in 2005.

Those are just dashboard numbers. Consider that Mauer's 49.2 fWAR is the highest among catchers since his debut in 2004, and it's not even close:
1. Mauer (49.2)
2. Buster Posey (38.2)
3. Yadier Molina (37.9)

By Jay Jaffe's JAWS standards, Mauer ranks 7th all-time in MLB history at catcher and has above-average HOF catcher numbers. But even if you are skeptical so far, consider that Mauer was basically the face of the Twins for a generation. And, for me, that should matter in a Hall of Fame case. I want the Hall of Fame to represent the best of the game for each team (an argument I made in favor of Jeff Bagwell's candidacy), and Mauer absolutely does that. So for me, is Joe Mauer a Hall of Famer? Yes.

*Inside the booming business of background music.

*A musical selection:

Friday, November 9, 2018

Friday "Morning" Hot Links

*Dave Hudgens is the next one out in the Great Astros Departure.

*Jose Altuve won his 5th Silver Slugger award yesterday and is one of two Astros to accomplish this feat.

*I worry that Marwin will not come back................

*The Astros intentionally walked 4 batters all season.

*J.B. Bukauskas moved up 2 levels in the minor league while only pitches 59 innings for the year ($).

*Shooting Stars auditions are next Saturday if anyone's interested.

*Alex Bregman tips well.

*Tags is a...podcast man now?


Sine 1990, there have been 34 Astros to have their first and last name start with the same letter. Can you name them?