*Chandler Rome says the battle for playing time between Josh Reddick and Kyle Tucker is starting to heat up. Dusty:
The longer it goes, the more it's in Reddick's favor. The shorter it goes, the more it's in the younger player's favor.
I don't really know what that means.
*Cristian Javier will start
*Martin Maldonado will be the primary catcher this season.
*Josh James thinks he can do this Starting thing. James:
This year, I really want to try to do the starting thing. I think I can do any role. It doesn't matter what it is, but this year I want it a little bit more, just to prove that I can do it, you know, give the team what they need, 160-plus (innings). Whatever they ask me to do this year, I want to be able to prove I can do it...This is the best I've felt in my four years or whatever that I've played. It's the strongest I've felt coming into camp, the most energy I've had coming into camp. I'm really excited to see how this turns out.
*Taylor Jones got the nod as the Astros' top power-prospect in MLB Pipeline's team-by-team breakdown. Jones, 6'7" 225lbs, had 50 extra-base hits for the second straight season in 2019.
Sign Stealing Stuff
*Chandler Rome talked to bench coach Joe Espada for his take on the last three months, and also the last week. Espada:
We're starting to get the spirit back and the excitement back. I think the first couple of days were a little bit challenging, but the last few days, I feel like the players are starting to get excited about the future and our work. I think the more we dive into our work, the more that we start getting closer to games, the more they put our past behind us.
The funny thing is, for all parties involved - Astros players and fans - I think there is a horribly misguided assumption that once Opening Day comes, then everyone else in baseball (players and fans) is going to just accept that the Astros aren't cheating anymore and go on about the business of baseball. This could not be further from the truth. Every home run hit, every game won, every single status the @Astros account posts is going to be met with "Cheeter" (sic), or "Bang bang," or a picture of Aaron Judge, or a trash can (though, to be fair, right now those two things are one and the same). It doesn't matter. It won't ever matter.
*The Athletic's Andy McCulloch asked a bunch of GMs if they would know if their team was cheating. Some interesting answers in there. None more so than former Oakland/current Milwaukee pitcher Brett Anderson:
I know the A's weren't cheating, because, one, I don't know if they could afford it. And to relay from f***ing 300 yards away in the video room? What were we going to do, get some vendor to throw some popcorn in the air, or something? It's too f***ing far to relay something.
It gets even better after that.
*Joe Girardi said his appearance on MLB Network in October 2019 was ackshually a system from another team, not the Yankees. Glad that's cleared up and there's no evidence anywhere to indicate the Yankees were doing anything untoward.
*Andre Ethier (whose throw to get Fisher was late) blames analytics for creating the culture that stole signs. Hecks yeah. Damn that Pearce Chiles using analytics in a game against the Reds in...1900.
*Jonathan Lucroy said he changed signs every single pitch when he played against the Astros. Lucroy:
Everyone in baseball [knew about the sign stealing], especially in that division that played against them. But we were all aware of the Astros doing those things and it was up to us to outsmart them, I guess you could say. It's kind of hard when you have a computer program that breaks your signs. We actively changed signs. Every single pitch, we were changing signs. You had to because they would relay them to second, stealing them from first, too - from between your legs. They had a very intricate system going on. We were well aware of it, and it was a challenge. It was a mental challenge to really overcome that. It's easier said than done. But it's a shame, and I'm glad it came out and it came to light.
The predictive algorithm was legal. If the guy on first can see your signs, then you need to narrow up your legs, Lucroy.
*David Ortiz: Mike Fiers looks like a snitch. Ortiz:
I'm mad at (Fiers). And let me tell you why. Oh, after you make your money, after you get your ring, you decide to talk about it. Why don't you talk about it during the season when it was going on? Why didn't you say, 'I don't want to be...part of it? So you look like you're a snitch. Why you gotta talk about it after? That's my problem.
*Mike Bolsinger added Jim Crane and Derek Vigoa - the guy who presented Codebreaker in a PowerPoint - to his lawsuit.
*A Pennsylvania Little League District won't let their teams be called the "Astros" anymore.
*Joe Posnanski has a very poignant post on his blog regarding MLB's response to the Astros:
...I do think that it is time for Major League Baseball to forcefully, explicitly and unequivocally say...that the Astros did not cheat in 2019 and all statements to the contrary are false and irresponsible unless they come with new evidence.
Click the link. It is well worth your time.
*An oral history of Team USA winning gold in the 2000 Olympics.
*Why Nashville, and Vanderbilt, is a hot hangout for MLB players in the winter.
*The Life, Death, and Rebirth of New York City's Most Resilient Dive-Bar.
*A Musical Selection: