Sunday, November 18, 2018

Sunday Morning Hot Links

Yesterday I had the "opportunity" to drive from Galveston back home in Central Texas. There was a wreck on 45 North before the Beltway. Then there was one on 610. And another on 290. It was a Saturday. All the while I was leading a co-worker who wasn't familiar with driving in Houston, so I had to make sure that I couldn't lose him. How in the world did I ever learn to drive there?

*Yesterday Jeff Luhnow made his first Move of the off-season by acquiring Aledmys Diaz from Toronto in exchange for Rule-5 Draft-Eligible pitcher Trent Thornton. Thornton was the Astros' 5th Round pick in the 2015 Draft. The 25-year old Thornton put up a 4.85 ERA in 124.1IP for Fresno in 2018, though he was Fresno's rock in the rotation for most of the year. Regard:

-Thornton made 24 appearances in 2018. He allowed 3ER or less in 18 of them.
-His stats are belied by his July 5 start in which he allowed 8H/10ER in 1.1IP.
-In his last two starts of 2018 Thornton threw 10.2IP, 18H/11ER, 12K:4BB.

Trent Thornton is a good pitcher and maybe he missed his buddy Ken Giles in Fresno and maybe he'll be okay or maybe not.

Cuban-born 28-year old Aledmys Diaz is basically 2019 Astros Marwin. He posted a 1.6 fWAR in 130 games with a 102 wRC+. Marwin posted a 104 wRC+, so the difference is negligible, and Diaz is under team control until 2023 while Someone is about to give Marwin $60m+. Diaz played 38 games at 3B, 95 games at SS, and played three games in LF for St. Louis in 2017. He only struck out in 13.7% of his Plate Appearances last year, which would put him between 2018 Jose Altuve (13.2%) and 2018 Tony Kemp (14.9%) if all things were equal (and they're not. Like, at all.)

I love Marwin, but this is a cost-saving move for the Astros with little-to-no-dropoff in offensive production (as of 2018). The removal of Thornton from the system means Ronnie Dawson cracks the Org Top 30!

Toronto GM Ross Atkins:
Trent is someone that we've targeted for some time, and are confident that his deep repertoire and strike-throwing ability allows him to be a factor for our major-league rotation in the near term.

Ken Rosenthal notes that the Astros still want to keep Marwin.

*Jon-Paul Morosi has a (some?) source(s?) that say the Astros are far more involved in trade negotiations than free agent discussions. On the list? Miami catcher J.T. Realmuto. But Miami, which is basically a criminal organization, want one of Kyle Tucker or Forrest Whitley. This is understandable, but the Marlins are actually Very Stupid.

*Are the Astros a dark-horse to sign Bryce Harper? One dude from SI seems to think the Astros will sign Harper to an 8yr/$280m deal.

*Oh hey the Mariners did an internal review of Dr. Lorena Martin's accusations and just up and decided that her claims were unfounded. Click the link to read the But Wait! section.

*From The Ringer, American Curmudgeon: On Jeff Tweedy.

*I just finished the first season of Rabbits, a podcast that was Very Weird and Enjoyable.

*A Musical Selection:

Friday, November 16, 2018

Friday Morning Hot Links

It's Friday everyone which means its time to take this week's Astros County Ultimate Astros Fan Quiz! But first, some Hot Links.

-Mike Elias is now the highest paid first year GM in MLB history. Can't blame the guy for moving on.

-Kate Upton behaved herself this time after finding out that Justin Verlander was not given the 2018 Cy Young Award.

-The 2019 rotation WILL be different, but still a good different.

-Astros games will now be on 740 AM AND 790 AM in their new radio deal.

-Alex Bregman followed through on his promise and went to take some senior pics with a high school student.

-Speaking of Alex, he, Max Stassi, and Mattress Mack went handing out turkeys for people in need.

-Forrest Whitley finished the Arizona Fall League very well.

-A man is claiming that when he said he was going to "bomb the chicken store" he meant that he was going to bomb the chicken store's bathroom with a big 'ol poop.

**How many 2018 Astros Player's Weekend nicknames can you recall? Find out in this week's episode of The Astros County Ultimate Astros Fan Quiz!**

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Wednesday Morning Hot Links

||||||||||||||||||||||PREVIOUSLY ON HOT LINKS||||||||||||||||||||||

"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: