Heads Up: One week from today I will be out of town for a Work Thing and, unless something major happens, I'm not planning on doing the Hot Links on Thursday or Saturday. You have been warned.
*A couple of days ago I checked on Jose Altuve's hits compared to Pete Rose's, and then expanded it. Here's how it breaks down after 1119 career games, sorted by hits:
Tony Gwynn (Age 30 season): 1433 hits. .332/.389/.439
Derek Jeter (Age 29): 1420 hits. .316/.387/.462
Jose Altuve (Age 28): 1419 hits. .316/.365/.453
Pete Rose (Age 29): 1393 hits. .308/.370/.437
Paul Molitor (Age 30): 1357 hits. .297/.357/.432
Cal Ripken (Age 27): 1209 hits. .282/.353/.474
Craig Biggio (Age 30): 1171 hits. .285/.371/.416
*It's extremely possible that the Astros will have to replace 60% of their starting rotation in 2019. Between Dallas Keuchel (gone as gone can be), Lance McCullers (Tommy John), and Charlie Morton (could re-sign), Luhnow is looking to fill 499IP. That's a lot of innings.
Scott Boras says that Keuchel is the Glavine/Pettitte of the 2010s. This is introduced without comment.
McCullers said he knew he needed Tommy John Surgery back in August but Dr. Neal ElAttrache told him (via Professional Penny-Newspaper Publisher Guy Scott Boras) he could throw one inning at a time. When LMJ heard that, he apparently went to Luhnow and said:
I want to be a part of that. I want to do it.
(McCullers) was very willing and capable to give us innings and it wouldn't change the outcome, that's why we went down that path. We put him on TrackMan, we knew what the stuff was like. It was elite stuff. If he wasn't a weapon, we wouldn't have put him on (the playoff rosters).
So how do they fill those innings? The safe bet is both internally and externally. Collin McHugh probably finds his way back to the rotation. His 1.99 ERA is 6th-best among all qualified relievers, his 2.72 FIP was 23rd among all qualified relievers, while his 3.26 xFIP was 31st - one spot ahead of Kenneth Giles the Basket Case. I'd imagine that McHugh's insertion in to the rotation is dependent on what else they can find on the free agent market, as that type of long relief is kinda hard to replace.
McHugh is preparing for 2019 as a starter. McHugh, always a sweetheart:
We've got talent, we've got arms. It's just a matter of putting the pieces together in the right way and coming up with a championship ballclub.
Maybe Josh Big Flames James who, in 23IP, was worth 0.7 bWAR, fills a spot. In three starts he threw 15.1IP, 11H/4ER, 19K:6BB. Three of those earned runs came via a Kole Got Dang Calhoun two-out home run. I hate Kale Colhoun. The Astros still won that game. I'm still trying to make Big Flames James a Thing.
Maybe Forrest Whitley - who turned 21 less than two months ago - sees some action in 2019. Whitley has somehow only thrown 137.1IP (that's, like, a month of Verlander starts) in his professional career. Some of that is self-inflicted, but he does have 203 strikeouts in those IPs and just finished an Arizona Fall League in which he threw 17IP, 13H/6ER, 23K:5BB - a level-best 4.6 K:BB ratio.
Sports Illustrated wonders is Patrick Corbin might be answer, what with the possible departures of Verlander and Cole (also: addition of Lance McCullers in 2020).
Jake Kaplan looks at the 11 internal options for the Astros' rotation.
Forbes' MK Bower says this will be Luhnow's most-challenging off-season.
*Count 4th-year hitting coach Dave Hudgens as the latest member of A.J. Hinch's staff to head to other teams. He'll be Toronto's bench coach for 2019. A.J. Hinch finna be the Bill Belichick of Baseball. He needs a hitting coach, assistant hitting coach, and a bullpen coach. Alexa, give me Joe Girardi's number for a weird reason.
*Professional Talker Scott Boras says 14 teams have inquired about Marwin, who will never ever ever be referred to as "Swiss G."
It seems as though Yuli Gurriel will be primed to take Marwin's spot as the utility guy, which is a weird announcement considering that Marwin hasn't signed with another team. Luhnow:
With Marwin not in the picture right now, having someone that can spell Altuve at second, can spell Bregman at third and play first, that's pretty big for us. In the post-Marwin world, if he doesn't come back to us, (Yuli) becomes more of the utility guy. With Bregman and Correa, we have the luxury of two shortstops on the left side of the infield, and if one of them gets hurt, the other on can play that position. Yuli can fill that position, as well. It's a little bit of insurance, but not quite as versatile as Marwin.
*Someone with "a source" says the Astros are interested in Doyers catcher Yasmani Grandal?
*J.B. Bukauskas walked five in 4IP but threw 96-98 with a hard slider so maybe whatever?
*This MiLB report breaks down the Astros' organizational All-Stars by position.
*Good job, Mike Fast, who is now a member of Atlanta's front office.
*For some reason the Mariners are about to trade Mike Zunino to the Rays.
*What happens when normal people inherit famous people's old cell numbers?
*Wired: An aging marathoner tries to run fast after 40.
*A musical selection: