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:

Monday, December 10, 2018

Monday Morning Hot Links

*The Winter Meetings start today. Will the Astros do something? Maybe! Possibly not!

*Jake Kaplan has ten thoughts on the Astros as the Winter Meetings get underway. Among the names bandied about: Arizona's Robbie Ray, St. Louis' Jose Martinez, Nelson Cruz, Daniel Murphy.

*It doesn't look as though Houston is in on Japanese LHP Yusei Kikuchi.

*The Boston Globe's Nick Cafardo reports that the Astros have checked in with the White Sox on Jose Abreu.

*Jon Heyman said the Astros were dangling J.B. Bukauskas and Cionel Perez to Arizona for Paul Goldschmidt.

*Buster Olney has an Insider-Only piece that tells us:
-The Astros have competition looking for a starting catcher in the Dodgers and Mets.
-The Astros were not seriously involved in chasing down Nate Eovaldi, but it seems as though the Astros are more interested in upgrading the rotation via trade (meaning Kluber or Bauer or Syndergaard or Greinke).

*The price tag for Kluber or Tyler Bauer is said to be "very, very high." And why not? Also, I feel that if the Astros acquire Tyler Bauer it will be solely to troll me, personally.

*If you want Robbie Ray - a 27-year old lefty with 601 strikeouts in 460IP and a 3.89 FIP over the last three years, with two years of team control remaining - the price tag is pretty high.

*The Padres are interested in Marwin. Any team with a brain and/or a pulse should be interested in Marwin.

*Alyson Footer writes about the two-day women's inclusion conference hosted by MLB.

*Todd Kalas stays winning.

*Sunday Night Baseball games will be an hour earlier next season.
*Harold Baines' similarity scores on B-Ref are Hall of Famers Tony Perez (1), Al Kaline (2), Billy Williams (4), and Andre Dawson (5). His election to the Hall of Fame significantly helps Jeff Kent, Carlos Beltran, Dale Murphy, and Edgar Martinez.

*If this Irish woman and her husband, a 300-year old Pirate Ghost, can't make it then what hope do the rest of us have?

*A musical selection:

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Sunday Morning Hot Links

*Happy Winter Meetings Eve!

*Chandler Rome writes that the Astros are keeping their hands close to their vest(s), preferring to add a middle-of-the-rotation starter.

*Brian McTaggart says the Astros could also use a veteran impact bat, and notes that Myles Straw and Cionel Perez have drawn trade interest.

*Beyond the Box Score: Half the world wants J.T. Realmuto.

*ESPN's David Schoenfield and Bradford Doolittle suggest the Cubs trade Kyle Schwarber to the Astros for Cionel Perez or Framber Valdez; Arizona should trade Zack Greinke to the Astros for Josh James, Forrest Whitley, or Framber Valdez.

*Alex Bregman has hit 58 regular season home runs: 28 at Minute Maid Park and 30 on the road. He also only got to an 0-2 count 32 times in 2018, and only ended up striking out in 11 of those.

*Meet the woman who outruns men 200 miles at a time.

*Lima Time Time is back.

*A Musical Selection:

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Saturday Morning Hot Links

Good morning. Thank God that week is in the rear view mirror.

*Alex Bregman, March-May 2018 (250 PAs): .262/.380/.419, 18 2B / 5 HR, 31K:36BB
Bregman, June 1-end of reg season (455 PAs): .299/.402/.594, 33 2B / 26HR, 54K:60BB

*From Eno Sarris in The Athletic, on the unregulated trend of player development:
Multiple sources tell me that the Astros have spent more money on the hardware hooked up in Minute Maid Park than other teams spend on their entire player development department in a year. Every team has Trackman...but the Astros have enough high-speed, high-definition cameras capturing video of each of those movements for biomechanics analysis to make most player development directors blush.

*The Rays have "expressed interest and had initial conversations with" Charlie Morton's camp, reports the inestimable Marc Topkin. Please don't let CFM go to Tampa and pitch in Shag Carpet Stadium.

*Ralph Bowden says the Astros are still in on J.T. Realmuto, but not as aggressive as the Mets, Phillies, Braves, Padres, and Rays.

*Jon Heyman says the Astros have considered Josh Harrison as a Marwin replacement, "if they can't sign Gonzalez." Harrison is coming off a year in which he hit .250/.293/.363 with eight home runs in 374 PAs.

*With a year left on his deal and getting increasingly platooned, Yasiel Puig might get traded. In 2018 Puig got 291 PAs vs righties, with a .297/.357/.564 slash line and 153 PAs vs lefties, against whom he posted a .209/.268/.360 line.

Please note that Josh Reddick, ALSO A RIGHT-FIELDER, got 343 PAs against RHPs and posted a .231/.318/.351 line. Against LHPs, though, he hit .269/.319/.507, in 144 PAs.

It wouldn't help the angst over getting platooned, but Puig (owed $9,214,000 in 2019) and Reddick ($13m) combined would make a pretty damn good RF option

*The Astros' Triple-A trainer, Lee Meyer, has been promoted to Houston as assistant athletic trainer. This is where we are with this offseason.

*Luis Valbuena and Jose Castillo were killed in a car crash murdered by bandits. Four people have been arrested.

*The Valbuena game I will always remember happened on July 8, 2016. The Astros had a 7-4 lead on Oakland going into the top of the 9th at Minute Maid. Collin McHugh wasn't great, throwing 6IP, 8H/4R (3ER), 3K:2BB. Oakland starter Daniel Mengden was worse. Will Harris and Michael Feliz combined to hold Oakland to just five runs in the top of the 9th, giving Oakland a 9-7 lead. Marwin led off the inning and tried to bunt his way on, and it didn't work. One out. Altuve singled and stole second, bringing up Correa. Correa struck out on a terrible pitch, so terrible that the ball got away from catcher Stephen Vogt, and he reached base, giving Valbuena runners on the corners. He ambushed the first pitch Ryan Madson threw that AB to deep right field, giving the Astros a walk-off win.

It wasn't the bat flippiest of celebrations, but that was fun.

Yahoo's Tim Brown: Luis Valbuena celebrated life.

*Yesterday was the 77th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, one of the monumentally dumbest acts of military aggression in history. That attack ended the Great Depression and ushered in an era of American dominance on the world stage. This 97-year old man swam through burning fuel to survive.

*A musical selection: Here's Prince covering Creep.

*The story behind the $100m deal between Netflix and Friends.

*Good news: A Nazi was convicted of murder.

*Then there's this 22-minute film from 1943:

Friday, December 7, 2018

Friday Morning Hot Links

This week has been the longest year of my life.

*Maybe it's posturing for the Criminal Enterprise known as the Miami Marlins, but the Astros are fully prepared to head into 2019 with a combo of Robinson Chirinos and Max Stassi.

Maybe not, though, says Brian McTaggart. Luhnow:
We certainly feel good about going into the season with Stassi and Chirinos as our catchers. We've got [Garrett] Stubbs in the minor league and other players as well. It doesn't mean we won't take advantage of the opportunity if one presents itself as a way to get better, but right now we feel comfortable with the group we have. 

As far as what else is on the agenda for the Winter Meetings in Las Vegas starting on Sunday, Luhnow:
We're still evaluating different ways to improve the team, but starting pitcher is one of the areas where we're looking at, maybe an arm to the bullpen and also another bat for the lineup. Those are the three avenues we're exploring.

So, to recap, the Astros are willing to explore upgrading at catcher, rotation, bullpen, and offense. Tight focus, there. 

*Typical Astros said they were maybe kinda sorta in on some free agent deals:

*Nate Eovaldi is from got dang Alvin. He went to Alvin High School. He throws hard. The Red Sox re-signed him yesterday.

*Brian T. Smith says it's a little early to be worried about the Astros' off-season.

*The three teams in serious discussions for Paul Goldschmidt were the Astros, Rays, and Cardinals, according to this Phoenix Sports Radio guy.

*Rum Bunter says the Astros are interested in Pittsburgh catcher Francisco Cervelli, and they would like Cionel Perez in return.

*I'm just going to give you the opening line - word-for-word - of this glorified press release:
LUMBERTON, NC (WBTW) - Carlos Javier Correa Oppenheimer, shortstop for the Houston Astros is hosting free clinics in our area.

According to a post from the Robeson County Government Facebook page, the MLB player will be hosting free clinics with the Robeson County Parks and Rec. for boys and girls ages 7-12 on December 8 and 9.

*Ex-Marlins president David Samson said the Padres kept real and fake medical files on players. Samson:
The Padres lied. They had an entire medical file on a player and didn't disclose it. Two sets of medical records is what they had. [Padres GM and former Rangers Assistant GM] A.J. Preller shouldn't be allowed in the game. It's beyond comprehension that he's still working. They did it to the Red Sox. There are a lot of things you mess with, but you don't mess with that.

Man. When David Samson says you're unethical, you are officially at Rock Bottom.

*Kyler Murray still plans to play for the A's next year.

*Luis Valbuena and Jose Castillo, both of whom played with the Astros at some point in their careers, were killed in a car wreck in the Dominican Republic Venezuela last night. RIP.

*Drew Magary on Anthony Bourdain: The last curious man.

*A Musical Selection: