No Hot Links this morning because there were too many job responsibilities going on last night and early this morning. There were no birthday shenanigans. I swear it. Thanks to all of you who took a moment to send those birthday wishes. It was one of the few days in which social media was not utterly useless. Let's get to it.
*The Ballpark of the Seven Isles (or whatever it's called) is so nice that players have been arriving to work out for weeks. Exactly how Luhnow drew it up. Keuchel:
Florida is a nice area for winter workouts and pre-Spring Training workouts, especially when you get some talented guys putting in work every day. It means that they want it so much more. The sun is shining, guys are in good moods. We just won the World Series. Any time you can get your workload started early, it just means better things for the 2018 season.
*The Masked Marvel advocates for the Astros going with two sets of pitching tandems in the regular rotation.
*It's unconfirmed by the club, but Ken Giles apparently won his arbitration case and will make $4.6m in 2018, instead of the $4.2m the Astros offered.
*Our advocate in the Metroplex Media Hellscape - Houston native Kevin Sherrington - says the Rangers and Mavericks are getting swept away by the Astros and Rockets. Oh, and the Rangers aren't getting Yu Darvish (allegedly). But! Bartolo Colon!
*38-year old Former Astros Great Andy Van Hekken wants to continue pitching. Van Hekken's story is pretty incredible. He threw a complete game shutout in his Major League debut in 2002, pitched in four more games that month, and has never been back to the Majors since. By 2006 Van Hekken was in indie ball. He pitched in the Astros organization from 2008-2011 for Corpus, Round Rock, and Oklahoma City, and has been in Korea since 2012. 311 games in the minors/foreign leagues. Five in the Majors. Good luck to Andy Van Hekken.
*TexAgs has a cool chat with 2017 2nd Round pick Corbin Martin, and his chances of cracking the Majors...at some point.
*Forrest Whitley's 12-6 curve got some more Best Tools love from FanRag, as did J.B. Bukauskas' slider.
*The San Diego Union Tribune's Jeff Sanders has an interesting column on baseball's broken economy, a 'rising tide,' and the first threat to labor peace in decades. Sanders:
Agents are whispering "collusion" but it's the convergence of ideas - the proliferation of data points like OPS, weighted runs created, ERA-plus, and Wins Above Replacement - that is acting out against the 2018 free agent class.
Influential agent Brodie Van Wagenen (seriously, every "Brodie" is influential. That's just science.) suggests a Spring Training boycott.
To that point, the Crawfish Boxes' CRPerry has a really good point about this year's free agent class.
*A baseball revival is happening in Mexico.