Heads up: For a few days now I've been working on kind of an over-arching timeline regarding the whole [waves hands] Astros sign-stealing scandal. Might be ready today, I'm not sure. In the meantime.
*Brent Strom sat down with Chandler Rome and Brian McTaggart for a Q&A. Some highlights:
-The SP5 spot seems to now be between Austin Pruitt, Josh James, and Framber Valdez.
-The Astros used Gerrit Cole's delivery as a model for Josh James.
-He's "willing to bet" Forrest Whitley debuts in Houston this season.
-Strom likes Bryan Abreu.
-He misses A.J. Hinch.
In the Chandler Rome version, they've already identified some areas of improvement for Pruitt, especially with how he uses his pitches.
*Justin Verlander threw his first official bullpen session of Spring Training:
I felt good. I threw everything. I definitely wouldn't say everything was working, but I would say it's where it needs to be now.
And Dusty, on the new three-batter minimum (or end of the inning) rule:
It's a challenge for how you set your lineup, a challenge for how you bring in certain guys at certain times. I think the challenge is, especially the lefty. He might go to the wayside. That was a big job for some of these guys.
Tony Sipp was the last Astros' lefty-specialist.
*Jared Hughes will make $1.5m in 2020 if he makes the Astros, and can opt out of his contract if he is not added to the 40-Man Roster by March 18.
*Former Astros Great Scott Kazmir is 36 and will start throwing for teams this week in a comeback attempt. The only comeback I'm looking for from Kazmir is for Daniel Mengden and Jacob Nottingham to come back to the Astros. HEY-O.
*Someone named "Jorge Castillo" wrote a BIG EXPOSE in the LA Times in which Rob Manfred confirmed, kind of, that the Astros used the trash can in the postseason. Manfred:
There was conflicting evidence on that point. But, you know, in an investigation you often have conflicting evidence and it was my view that the more credible evidence was that they continued to use the scheme for the postseason.
Astros players, most notably shortstop Carlos Correa, have insisted the trash-can system was abandoned in the postseason because Minute Maid Park, their home stadium, was too loud for batters to hear the bangs.
Not true! Six days ago Carlos Correa already admitted that the trash can was available in the playoffs. Correa:
The trash can was there. Yeah, I mean, if we had a chance, but I remember them coming using multiple signs and impossible to decode all those signs.
It wasn't how loud it was, it was the teams using multiple signals. None of what I just wrote makes anything Okay, mind you. If we're going to start quoting players, let's at least quote them correctly.
*Manfred talked to Evan Drellich and explained why MLB stuck with the immunity pledge to players who talked. Essentially: the MLBPA would have won any grievance they brought. Manfred:
Given the fact that we didn't think we could make discipline stick with the players, we made the decision we made. Having said that, I understand the reaction.
Manfred also acknowledged that MLB was too slow on the uptake to figure out how teams could use the video replay room to their advantage.
Jeff Passan notes how punishing the Astros players isn't as easy as it seems.
Pretty much everyone hates Rob Manfred right now.
*Rob Manfred said MLB would protect Mike Fiers if he comes to Houston.
*Braves "star" Nick Markakis thinks every Astro "needs a beating." Big talk from over yonder in the National League. Also Aaron Judge said more things.
*SI's Michael McCann breaks down how the Astros have created a divide in the MLBPA.
*The Giants won't be inviting Noted Prick Aubrey Huff to their 10th anniversary World Series celebration.
*Locust swarms ravaging East Africa are the size of cities.
*My journey through Tijuana for the best surgery $2,000 can buy.
*A Musical Selection: