While the rest of baseball gets back to playing games today, the Astros have an extra day off to prepare of the Rangers coming to town for a three-game series starting tomorrow night. Let's get to the links:
*With just over two weeks until the Trade Deadline, Luhnow still considers starting pitching to be the priority, though the Astros are looking at improving everything:
We'll know more toward the end of July than we do right now whether or not our bats are able to come back. But we're continuing to look at everything: bullpen, starting rotation, offense.
*While the Astros are among the teams most interested in Johnny Cueto, Evan Drellich reports (previous link) that Luhnow and Reds GM Walt Jocketty's relationship could be a problem thanks to their previous time in St. Louis. An unnamed executive, on Jocketty:
He's going to have to have somebody come to him and blow him out of the water, and if he's got three deals and in his mind they're all comparable, I don't think the Astros win.
*And in what may be our first Shots Fired of the season, Luhnow spoke of Chris Carter:
You look at the production that Chris Carter gave us the second half of last year, and you don't want to miss that production. But it hasn't been there yet, quite frankly, and it's frustrating, because we know what he's capable of doing. I'm not sure we can wait all year for something to come if it's not coming. I believe he will get off to a quick start after the break and give us the production we need.
"I believe he will..." = "Chris Carter damn well better..."
*The signing deadline for 2015 draft picks is tomorrow, and 27th Round pick James Carter is the highest draft pick to not sign. The Astros aren't sure if 34th Round pick Conor Biggio will sign.
*While at the All-Star Game, Dallas Keuchel made a recruiting pitch to impending free agent David Price.
*FanGraphs' Jeff Sullivan wrote about how the Astros can capitalize on their success.
*SI's Jay Jaffe, on the Cardinals' trade deadline options as they fight over the NL Central with the Pirates:
GM John Mozeliak has the depth to make moves, but one wonders whether the team's embroilment in the Astros database hacking scandal will make it harder for him to deal.
*Scott Boras is encouraged by Mark Appel's recent success.
*I was up quite late last night finishing a post on why Nolan Ryan is wearing a Rangers cap on his HOF plaque.
*The Diamondbacks, who as a franchise are dumb, had the bright idea to name a highway after 2015 Hall of Fame inductee Randy Johnson. Problem is, the highway to be renamed was initially named after the first Native American woman to be killed in Iraq. So the Diamondbacks, and the state of Arizona, backed off.