Hey Texas. Go vote.
*Chandler Rome: Five Takeaways from the Astros' Spring Training so far.
*The Reformed Kenneth Giles says he would give his 2017 World Series ring back. It's actually a really interesting interview, and not paywalled, and well worth the time it would take to read it. He says he had no idea that the Trash Can Thing was even happening. Giles:
I feel awful, how the guys are being punished. They're great people, they really are, and great ballplayers. But I guess sometimes you just have to roll with it. Either be quiet or speak up and tell the truth. Go out there and perform, show them what you're made of.
On his time in Houston:
I felt trapped there. I felt out of place.
*Fate, or Happenstance? On Dave Martinez, Dusty Baker, and the What-Ifs that Span Four Decades.
*MLB Pipeline posted their Astros' Top 30 Prospect list. Top 10:
Forrest Whitley, Jose Urquidy, Abraham Toro, Freudis Nova, Bryan Abreu, Cristian Javier, Jeremy Pena, Korey Lee, Hunter Brown, Jairo Solis. Jim Callis:
After going all-in at the big league level for several years, Houston has just one prospect on MLB Pipeline's Top 100 List: enigmatic right-hander Forrest Whitley. There aren't any slam-dunk big-league regulars among the system's position players and its pitching stands out more for depth than difference-makers.
That is very true. The Astros traded Jake Rogers, Daz Cameron, and Franklin Perez for Justin Verlander. They sent Colin Moran, Joe Musgrove, Jason Martin, and Michael Feliz to Pittsburgh for Gerrit Cole. They traded Seth Beer, J.B. Bukauskas, Corbin Martin, and Josh Rojas to Arizona for Zack Greinke. That's a lot of big names. But I also know this:
Yordan Alvarez will play in his Age 23 season in 2020. Carlos Correa in his Age 25 season, Alex Bregman in his Age 26 season. Kyle Tucker and Abraham Toro in their Age 23 seasons. Jose Urquidy and Roberto Osuna in their Age 25 seasons. Lance McCullers in his Age 26 season.
This isn't like the Astros' decline of the late 2000s where they didn't have much of a farm system, and everyone was also Old to Quite Old.
*Keith Law posted his organizational farm rankings, and the Astros rank 27th. Law:
It's funny, but when you get rid of all of your amateur scouts, your drafts get a whole lot worse. If it weren't for the work of the international scouting department, helmed by Oz Ocampo (now with Pittsburgh), this would absolutely be the bottom system in the majors.
Good news: The Tampa Bay Rays have the best overall system in the Majors. How is that good news? Because the Astros got the Click of "Tampa Bay Fightin' Clicks" fame.
*The Athletic's Jake Kaplan and 610's Mike Meltser started an Astros podcast, and it's #Good. Not as #Good as Lima Time Time, but good nonetheless.
*Speaking of Jake Kaplan, he has a mailbag in which he addresses the sign-stealing impact on free agency, etc.
*Jonathan Mayo had a cool conversation with 2018 3rd Round pick Jeremy Pena about Spring Training, being the son of Geronimo Pena, his offensive outburst in 2019, and playing in cold weather.
Pena, 2018: .250/.340/.309
Pena, 2019: .303/.385/.440
*Sunday night I wrote about five minor-league guys I'm looking forward to following in 2020.
*Tom Verducci: MLB is about to change a whole bunch of rules to prevent the Astros *cough anddodgersandyankeesandredsox cough* from gaming the replay room. Of course the article got around to pine tar and Houston and Tyler Bauer. Brent Strom:
Our organization never went to an outside chemist. Never went to get like certain percentages of sticky stuff. Pine tar was used? Yes. It was used, okay? It's been used for the last 50 years and hitters don't complain. If you hang a 28 [hundred] revolution curveball as opposed to a 26 they're going to hit it anyway. But, MLB, Chris Young, indicated the balls are slippery. He actually said that. The things we need to be cognizant of is it can't be Pineda-like.
*Two-Way Player...J.B. Shuck?
*Oh good, ESPN hired another announcer who doesn't like young people.
*ESPN's "Only in Spring Training" stories.
*The Atlantic: Epidemics reveal the truth about the societies they hit.
*Buzzfeed: The leader of the religious sect that spread Coronavirus in South Korea, who previously said the virus was the devil trying to stop his church's growth, says sorry.
*Vice: This group frees people from medical debt, one at a time.
*Harper's: Waiting For the End of the World.
*A Musical Selection: