*MLB Network released some excerpts from the first interview with A.J. Hinch since his, ahem, headline-grabbing offseason.
For the first time, A.J. Hinch talks about the Astros investigation.— MLB Network (@MLBNetwork) February 6, 2020
See Tom Verducci’s full sitdown with the former manager, Friday at 6pm ET on MLB Tonight. pic.twitter.com/EBIRDmHGFJ
The full interview will air Friday at 5pm on MLB Network.
On whether or not the 2017 World Series title is tainted, Hinch:
I hope over time it's proven that it wasn't. But I understand the question. It's a fair question and people are going to have to draw their own conclusions (Ed. Note: Oh, they have). Unfortunately, we opened that door as a group. That question may never be answered....I can't pinpoint any advantages or what happened or what exactly would have happened otherwise. But we did it to ourselves.
There are a couple of ways you can interpret this sit-down with Tom Verducci:
a) He's just biding his time until the next managerial opening and is doing the PR round.
b) Hinch is legitimately sorry that he didn't try harder to stop The Coward Alex Cora and any other Astro player (Beltran, maybe, McCann, maybe) and he's getting in front of the camera to confess.
Both can be true at the same time.
*Brian McTaggart writes that all eyes, and ears, will be on the Astros' Spring Training. Stoner hero Mike Clevinger has already said this:
I'm all about policing the game in its own right, keeping everyone safe. But I don't know, I think players will deal with it the way it should be across the league. I don't think it's going to be a comfortable few ABs for a lot of those boys, and it shouldn't be. They shouldn't be comfortable.
If anyone knows anything about being uncomfortable after cheating (on his wife, a month after she gave birth to their daughter), it's Sunshine.
*Chandler Rome has five questions for the Astros as Spring Training starts next week. Those five questions detail SP5, Kyle Tucker vs Josh Reddick, which reliever will get lefty-hitters out, Lance McCullers' innings, and the possibility of a sophomore slump from Yordan.
*Richard Justice writes that the Astros-Dusty partnership can be mutually beneficial. Justice:
Baker cannot make the sign-stealing scandal go away, but his presence - and essential decency - will be a big step in the right direction. He understands that all the Astros can do this spring is own up to the past, apologize for it and then attempt to win a fourth straight American League West title.
*Jake Kaplan says the relationship between Dusty Baker and James Click is more "a marriage." Baker:
You start with trust and you start with honesty. You be as straightforward as you can on all situations. You don't sugarcoat anything. If he asks you a question you answer to the best of your knowledge and ability. There are some things that I can learn from him. There are some things that possibly he can learn from me.
*Missed this from the other day, but the Astros have apparently for some reason made an offer to Former Astros Great Hunter Pence. Makes sense, what with the thinned outfield depth of Springer, Brantley, Tucker, Reddick, Straw...
*Jordan Brewer (3rd Round - 2019) is the organization's fastest prospect. Brewer was limited to 16 games in 2019 for Tri-City after injuring his toe.
*The Astros have apparently come to a $4m agreement for July 2 with 21-year old Cuban outfielder Pedro Leon (Pedro The Lion!). Hey, there's the Astros' 1st Round draft pick in 2020!
*Nice hat that Verlander wore to the Pebble Beach Pro-Am (in which Jim Crane is also playing):
*Check out Joe Posnanski's profile in his essential Top 100 on his #50 - Nolan Ryan.
*Hank Aaron thinks everyone involved in the Astros' sign-stealing scandal should be banned from baseball for life.
*Sam Miller: They secretly replaced Yankee Stadium...and other lies that can be proven using real stats.
*Rob Manfred said he wants to complete the Red Sox investigation before Spring Training camps open, with the same offer of immunity for players who talk that the Astros got.
*BBC: How Kirk Douglas helped end the Hollywood blacklist.
*Bloomberg: The time I sabotaged my editor with Ransomware from the dark web.
*A Musical Selection: