*McTaggart notes that the Astros are still after top pitching, but the price for a quality starter was too high for Luhnow & Co. The White Sox wanted Bregman for Sale, and the price tag for Jose Quintana is currently too high, as well, with the Astros considering outfielder Kyle Tucker "untouchable." Luhnow:
Perspective changes a little bit, and there might be a few things done maybe in the next 24 hours that will change other teams' appetite to get it over the finish line, including ours...If we can find a match, we're not going to hold on to our prospects at the expense of our success in '17 or '18.
*Luhnow says a lot of teams are evaluating where they are after the Winter Meetings, which may be the right time to pounce on that starting pitcher everyone says they need. Luhnow:
We just have to be patient, we have to be opportunistic and continue to sort through with clubs as they decide whether or not they're going to make players available based off of what they've been able to accomplish this week. A lot of the trade opportunities don't happen until after they've signed their guy or made a different trade.
*If a gun was held to Brian T. Smith's head, he would give Jeff Luhnow a B. Or maybe an Incomplete. Luhnow:
I really am excited about the next five years. I think this team has a chance to compete every year and potentially win one or more championships, and that's really what it's all about. We put ourselves in a pretty good spot. Now it's a matter of having a good roll of the dice and making good decisions.
*A.J. Hinch will focus on not making "catastrophic" baserunning mistakes this year.
*A.J. Hinch said on Astroline that catcher Garrett Stubbs and outfielder Ramon Laureano will be in the big league camp for Spring Training.
*The Rule 5 Draft was held yesterday, and the Astros lost Mike Hauschild and picked up three in the minor league phase.
-The Rangers selected 2012 33rd Round pick Mike Hauschild, who had a career 3.50 ERA in 565IP in the Astros' system, including a 9-10 year at Fresno in 2016 where he posted a 3.22 ERA/1.27 WHIP with 119K:40BB in 139.2IP. He'll be 27 next month.
-The Astros picked up 23-year old catcher Eduardo de Oleo from Arizona, who played in 21 games in 2016. Luhnow:
He's got tools, especially behind the plate. He's a good defender, he's got a really plus arm, and he's a guy we've seen some power out of, and hopefully we'll see it manifest itself in games.
-They selected righty knuckleballer Jared Mortensen from Tampa Bay. The 28-year old Canadian was signed out of independent baseball at 25, and pitched in Double-A last year with a 5.23 ERA and 86 strikeouts (and 56 walks) in 72.1IP. His 38 wild pitches in 2016 highlight just how hard it is for Double-A catchers to pick up his stuff. Kevin Goldstein:
 is the first year...he became a full-time knuckleballer. You can see a lot of walks, but he struck out nearly 11 per nine. The pitches really danced. We're going to give him a shot and see how it works out.
-The Astros also selected Blaine Sims from the Braves. Sims might sound familiar because he was an Astros minor leaguer in 2014 and 2015.
*Dallas' Tim Cowlishaw thinks a healthy Dallas Keuchel is the key to the Astros winning the AL West.
*Reid Ryan talked about having Little League practice at the Astrodome.
*The Fayetteville, NC City Council accepted two agreements to begin construction on the Astros' minor-league stadium.
*Call it the Brady Aiken Rule: the top 50 draft pitching prospects can now submit to a voluntary MRI
*Congratulations, and best wishes, to Rangers 3B coach Tony Beasley, who received a clean bill of health after an 11-month battle with cancer.
*The Philadelphia Inquirer's Claire Smith became the first woman to win the Hall of Fame's Spink Award.
*Ambassador to Japan Bobby...Valen...tine?