*I feel like the Astros are in one of those New England college basketball conferences, ones where it feels like (just by watching the ticker at the bottom of ESPN) Iona, Siena, Albany, and Binghamton play each other 100 times during the season. The Astros are in that conference, only playing the Mets, Nationals, and Cardinals.
Iona beat Siena 2-0 yesterday. Carlos Correa hit his 1st home run of the Spring. Justin Verlander was dealing: 7IP, 5H/0ER, 3K:1BB. Verlander:
I was around the zone a lot, my offspeed stuff probably wasn't as sharp as it's been this spring today. But I was still able to make some good pitches, quality pitches when I needed to. If anything, I might have been around the zone too much, but overall, it was a good day.
*Big news of the day yesterday was the Astros officially announcing the Altuve extension. Here are the details, year by year:
Upon approval by the Commissioner's office: $1m
2018 salary: $6m
July 1, 2018: $10m signing bonus
2019 salary: $6.5m
July 1, 2019: $10m signing bonus
2020 salary: $26m
2021 salary: $26m
2022 salary: $26m
2023 salary: $26m
2024 salary: $26m
So the Astros will officially pay Jose Altuve more in 2018 than they will, say, Tony Sipp. I'll have a breakdown of future payroll soon. Notice that the deal kicks in right in as Verlander's deal comes off the books.
We'd love to keep all the guys I'm looking at here for their entire careers. Jim is committed to keeping the best team on the field for as long as possible and giving us a chance to win multiple championships, and part of that is developing our own players and keeping our own players and bringing in the right types of players. And we've done that. We'll see what the future holds but we certainly have a desire and an intention to keep our core together as long as possible.
*Sean Pendergast has four thoughts on the Altuve deal.
*USA Today's Jorge L. Ortiz says Altuve can make more money with bonuses for awards and a no-trade clause. Agent Scott Boras:
This was a goal of his, because he was able to stay in Houston, he got a value he was proud of. This contract represents a five-year, over $30 million commitment, which only one other (position) player has in all of baseball at that: his countryman Miguel Cabrera. It gave him respect.
*Brian McTaggart says the Astros back-to-back tour has started.
*Brian T. Smith writes that it's easy to believe the Astros have a decent encore prepared.
*A couple of pieces from Jake Kaplan in The Athletic worth reading:
-After years of discussions, the Astros and Altuve struck another long-term deal.
-Q&A with new bench coach Joe Espada. Espada was the Yankees' 3B coach, and about that ALCS:
...How clean (Houston) played in that series, credit goes to the coaching staff and how good these players are. That's one of the reasons why I said, 'I've gotta be an Astro.'
*A.J. Reed came to Spring Training down 25 pounds, hit .298/.365/.511, and just got optioned to minor-league camp. It's obviously now between J.D. Davis and Tyler White on who makes the Opening Day roster - and I still think the bulk of the 1B reps while Gurriel is out will be held down by Marwin.
*Gerrit Cole can't stop smiling.
*Baseball America posted their Bold Predictions for the 2018 season which includes the Astros winning the AL West but only one writer picking them to win the Pennant, and then lose the World Series.
*"Can Derek Fisher play left field" is one of Richard Justice's ten burning questions for 2018.
*Here's a cool story in his hometown paper about Astros' manager of research & development Colin Wyers.
*Brandon Bailey - who came to Houston from Oakland in the Ramon Laureano trade - has a fun blog post about a recent day in camp.
*Further proof that Jeff Luhnow is an omnipotent cyborg: Franklin Perez, the center-piece of the Verlander deal, has a lat strain and will be out for three months minimum.