*Jeff Bagwell is running at 89% in the BBWAA Poll Tracker, appearing on 33 of 37 ballots. Bagwell needs to gain 15 votes over last year in order to make the 75% threshold. He has gained one so far. Juan Vené from Coral Gables is the latest to not vote for Bagwell.
*Five years after Jim Crane bought the Astros, the plan is falling into place in 2017. Crane:
We always said we'd spend the money when we could spend it effectively, and now is the time. We've raised the payroll steadily the last three or four years and got it up to over $120 million this year. We're spending the resources we think we need to be competitive and get in the playoffs and win a championship. That's the goal.
*John Sickels has his 2017 Top 20 Prospects for the Astros. Sickels' Top Five:
1. Francis Martes
2. Kyle Tucker
3. David Paulino
4. Yulieski Gurriel
5. Franklin Perez
Lots to be excited about in reading this list, but the write-up for #12 A.J. Reed is savage: Could turn into Anthony Rizzo if he makes adjustments, Jon Singleton if he doesn't.
*Newest Astro signing Cionel Perez is not real happy with having to take a $3m+ cut in his signing bonus. In a letter from Perez through his agency to MLB and the MLBPA he wrote:
I am happy to begin my professional career but I feel abused by this system...
*Alex Bregman, who is eligible to play for Team Israel in this Spring's World Baseball Classic, said he would play only for Team USA if chosen, having played for Team USA as an Under-16, Under-18, and twice in college. Bregman:
I have played for Team USA for four years and have won two Gold medals with them and I want to continue to play for my country. If the USA gives me the opportunity to play for them...I will accept the invitation and play. They're the only team that I'm going to play for. If not, I'm going to be in Spring Training.
*The Cardinals signed former Astros great Jordan Schafer to a minor-league deal. Schafer struck out 46 batters in 40IP as a pitcher for the Dodgers' Double-A team in Tulsa last season.
*MLB has banned "offensive" rookie hazing, such as making rookies dress up as women for team flights.