*It was the All-Star Game last night, if you're in to that sort of thing. The American League won. Astros batters accounted for the first three hits of the game for the first time in All-Star Game history.
*Gerrit Cole talked to (separate links) Fox 26's Mark Berman:
I'm looking forward to (free agency). I know what my right is as a player. Once I get six years of service time, my right is to be able to say yes or no to a place I want to play. So I'm excited to be able to exercise that right. (Houston) checks a lot of the boxes. I expect them to be there when push comes to shove. I wouldn't mind playing there for a lot longer.
*Noah Syndergaard has "intrigued" some members of the Astros organization, reports Jon Paul Morosi. Syndergaard is arbitration-eligible for two more years and won't be a free agent until 2022. I guess I took that "Thor" thing rather literally, because I had no idea he was from Mansfield, Texas.
*Missed this from a couple of days ago, but Joel Sherman says the Astros are "said to be among the most interested" in trading for Trevor Bauer. Wonder if he'll unblock everyone on Twitter if that happens. Also, in no way would I buy a Trevor Bauer shirt. A Tyler Bauer shirt, however...
*Justin Verlander had to talk to MLB officials regarding his comments on the baseballs. Manfred:
The biggest flaw in that logic is that baseball somehow wants more home runs. If you've sat in an owners meeting and listened to the way people talk about our game being played, that is not the sentiment among the owners for whom I work. There is no desire on the part of ownership to increase the number of home runs in the game. To the contrary, they're concerned with how many we have.
He told Ken Rosenthal in the dugout that the players and MLB should "be able to figure this out."
Jayson Stark: MLB should recruit Verlander to help.
*Freddie Freeman was mic'd up during his AB against Verlander.
*Hahaha Cleveland didn't even offer Michael Brantley a contract.
*Joe Smith threw what was likely his last rehab outing for Corpus last night. 1IP, 4H/3ER, 2HR allowed. He's ready to join the Astros.
*Baseball America dropped the hammer on Forrest Whitley:
Beyond the poor results, evaluators have consistently said that Whitley, who began the year as the youngest player in the Pacific Coast League, has displayed an immaturity on the mound so caustic that it has obfuscated his still-bright ceiling.
*Seth Beer was named the Texas League Player of the Week.
*Former Astros Great A.J. Reed will head straight to Chicago to join the White Sox.
*Manfred is "optimistic" that somehow MLB teams can figure out a way to increase minor-league pay.
*Here's a great story in SportTechie about how the son of a golf pro developed the foundations of swing path and launch angle.
*SI's Emma Baccellieri: Alfredo Griffin's legacy as the least-deserving All-Star ever.
*There have been charges filed against one person related to Blue Bell: the girl who licked the ice cream, and not the people responsible for killing their own customers.
*A Musical Selection: