Thursday, July 23, 2020

Thursday Evening Hot Links

Yeah, I know there was one this morning. But! Baseball is back. We can debate the wisdom of even attempting to fly around the country and play in front of zero fans in the middle of a global pandemic. I've caught heat for being a "Corona Bro" (actually it was "Cornoa Bro" but that tweet was deleted) which, if I recall from the context, means that I think the government should be more proactive in stopping the spread of a virus that at least four million Americans have caught by implementing the European model of paying employers to keep their payrolls intact. And I do think that! There's a very clear playbook on how to weather an economic storm created by a global pandemic, and we just...threw it out the window. This is the first time I'm actually not excited about baseball being played since 2011. It's not that I don't want baseball to be played, I just think it's a high-risk/low-reward scenario. We have no idea of the long-term impacts of COVID-19. We know that you can be asymptomatic and spread it, we know that actual symptoms vary from person to person, from a stuffy nose, to permanent organ damage. I do not think we should just shut everything down until there's a vaccine. But as someone who does actually look at history for a living, you can't Business-As-Usual it. You just have to understand that these things come along periodically throughout human history, and I don't think it's unreasonable to allow for time to adjust to a Brand New Virus. For me, the last four months have shown me who I really am - and lot of who I regularly interact with really are. It's not been a pleasant journey, and I would like it to end (the virus, not my journey). Anyway, Baseball, I think!

*The Astros set their 30-Man Roster in advance of tomorrow night's alleged season opener. Here they are, with their number of MLB games played in parentheses:

Jose Altuve (1243)
Alex Bregman (517)
Carlos Correa (546)
Aledmys Diaz (389)
Yuli Gurriel (455)
Jack Mayfield (26)
Abraham Toro (25)

Michael Brantley (1199)
Josh Reddick (1195)
George Springer (744)
Myles Straw (65)
Kyle Tucker (50)

Dustin Garneau (123)
Martin Maldonado (717)
Garrett Stubbs (19)

Bryan Abreu (7)
Brandon Bailey (0)
Joe Biagini (217)
Chris Devenski (221)
Zack Greinke (488)
Josh James (55)
Cristian Javier (0)
Lance McCullers (83)
Roberto Osuna (310)
Enoli Paredes (0)
Ryan Pressly (362)
Cy Sneed (8)
Blake Taylor (0)
Framber Valdez (34)
Justin Verlander (453)

That's 13 players out of 30 who have played in fewer than 100 MLB games (postseason not included), nine who have played in less than 50, and six - all pitchers - who have played in less than ten MLB games.

*Chandler Rome has your 30-Man Roster analysis.

*Check out this great Joe Trezza story on Brandon Bailey.

*There is no update on Yordan Alvarez, or Jose Urquidy. Perhaps they never were... James Click, on the timetable for their return:
Unfortunately, I can't comment on timelines or expectations on that. We're doing everything we can to get them back on the field as soon as we possibly can.

*Here's how the 2020 Postseason will go:
-Top two teams in each division qualify for the postseason (12 teams)
-Two next best teams in each league qualify for the postseason (4 teams)
-1st Round: Best-of-Three Wild Card series, all played at the park of the team with the better record.
-1st Round winners advance to Best-of-Five division series
-Championship Series and World Series are Bests-of-Seven

*Dan Szymborski: The Official 2020 Preseason ZiPS projections. He projects the Astros at 35-25, two games better than Oakland, with a 43.9% to win the division, 15.9% to win a Wild Card (God knows there's gonna be 10 Wild Cards), 7.5% to win the World Series, behind only the Dodgers and Yankees.

Meanwhile, FanGraphs has their own Playoff Odds, which puts the Astros at 35.7-24.3, 62.5% to win the division, 17.2% to win a Wild Card spot, and 16.1% to win the World Series, behind only the Dodgers.

So, circling back (I'm a "Circle-Back" guy now), if we use FanGraphs' Playoff Odds as a guide for what the postseason would look like using their simulated numbers:

AL East: Yankees, Rays
AL Central: Twins, Spiders (the rebranded team in Cleveland)
AL West: Astros, A's
AL Wild Cards: Red Sox, White Sox

NL East: Nationals, ATLiens (the rebranded team in Atlanta)
NL Central: Cubs, Brewers
NL West: Dodgers, Padres
NL Wild Cards: Mets, Reds

The six division winners - which would be the Astros, Yankees, and Twins in the AL; Dodgers, Nationals, and Cubs in the NL - would then pick their opponents in a five-hour selection show, leaving the two teams that did not get picked, I guess, to play each other. It's insane, I think. It just might be genius. Because let's say the Astros are blessed enough to pick their opponent. You think that, if they choose the White Sox (just throwing a name out there), that the White Sox won't feel the immense disrespect? To win the World Series this year, I think it means you have to win 13 games.

*Jake Kaplan, on what Mookie Betts' extension means for George Springer. TL;DR: Maybe not all that much.

*Dusty Baker and the Astros Foundation are giving 3,000 masks to people in homeless encampments around Houston.

*The Astros are still waiting on the results from their COVID tests after learning of Hunter Dozier's positive test.

*Juan Soto - who is still somehow 21 - tested positive for COVID-19 on the day the Nationals are to play the AL Silver Medalists to start the season.

*The Astros are 3rd in SI's Opening Day Power Rankings.

*Get your new Astros gear at ApolloHOU.

*Sam Miller: A Newbie's Guide to the 2020 Season.

*MLB players plan to stand for a "Moment of Unity" before this evening and Friday's games.

*SI's Emma Baccellieri: The end of missing baseball.

*Vice: 21 Non-Boring And Safe Ways To See Friends This Summer.

*Buzzfeed: Facebook's employees reckon with the social network they built.

*NY Times: How some janitors are asked to keep you virus-free.

*A Musical Selection:

Be happy in every moment you possibly can, but remember that there's comfort in grief.