Saturday, January 16, 2021

Saturday Morning Hot Links

Been a while, yeah? Because nothing - Astros-wise, anyway - is happening. Well that changed a little bit yesterday. A shame, really, I had gotten used to not having to think about the Astros.

*The deadline to settle arbitration cases was yesterday and the Astros could not come to an agreement with Carlos Correa, and so they will head to a hearing. Correa wanted $12.5m, the Astros offered $9.75m. That's quite a gap. 

I do not understand this decision. Let's recap what has happened since October 2019:

1. Brandon Taubman popped off at some reporters about domestic violence, getting himself fired in the process.

2. The Astros lost every home game of the World Series.

3. The Mike Fiers story dropped, which resulted in Luhnow and Hinch getting fired and the Astros becoming the most hated single team in Baseball since 1919. 

4. COVID-19. 

And through all of that, Correa became the face of the franchise, standing up for his teammates and bearing that burden to the public, allowing guys like Altuve and Bregman to sit back in the shadows (as much as that is possible, anyway). And you can't come up with the extra $2.75m to pay him? He is going to be a free agent at the end of the 2021 season, you think maybe, if you want a little goodwill in the negotiations with the best shortstop in franchise history?

*FanGraphs' WAR, Astros shortstops:

1. Correa: 19.4

2. Dickie MF Thon: 14.3

3. Adam Everett: 9.2

In 45 fewer games than the man largely considered to be the best defensive shortstop in franchise history, Correa has put up 10.2 more fWAR. Since he came into the league in 2015 - even given the injury-shortened seasons - Correa has the 5th most fWAR among shortstops, in more than 150 fewer games than three of the four players ahead of him. I know baseball economics are allegedly what they are in a pandemic/post-pandemic scenario, but it's also important to never believe a billionaire when they cry poor. I could have stopped that sentence after "billionaire." And so, now, approximately ten months before he's set to become a free agent in his Age 26 season, the Astros will go before a panel and tell Correa that he's not worth as much as he thinks he is. Seems real smart. Click:

We have nothing but the utmost respect for Carlos and his group. Again, I can't emphasize this enough: I think they came very well prepared and I think we were very well prepared, but we just see different things in the market and that's why the system is there to help us resolve those.

*In the last couple of weeks, the Astros have added veterans Ryne Sandberg Stanek and Pedro Baez to the bullpen. The back four of the bullpen will be Stanek, Baez, Joe Smith, and Ryan Pressly. Click that link and McTaggart will tell you the Astros are engaged on Brad Hand, Alex Colome, and Trevor Rosenthal. So obviously, the Astros are trying to shore up their bullpen and will just get to the 2/3 of the outfield that is apparently missing, exiled to Weiland Island. Click, on Springer/Brantley:

Those two guys are very special to this franchise and we will continue to have conversations, but we're, like I've said, gonna go where the market dictates sometimes, and something we are gonna push the market and make it come to us.

This is an excellent example of saying something and it's full of nothing at all.

To be fair, Click did say that they have discussed an extension with Correa. The Astros did avoid an arbitration hearing with Aledmys Diaz ($3m) and Lance McCullers ($6.5m). 

*ESPN is predicting Springer to the Blue Jays.

*I totally missed the rumor that the Astros are interested in Joakim Soria, who at this point just must be 52 years old.

*Houston signed 22-year old Cuban OF Pedro Leon to a $4m signing bonus, in a long-rumored move. Click:

He's a special talent. He has all five tools, and a sixth one if you count just how good he is at the game of baseball from an instincts perspective - tremendous off-field guy. There's just not enough good things that we can say about him.

Click said how quickly he rises through the system depends on Leon, but they're not planning on him immediately replacing Brantley or Springer. 

*The Tri-City ValleyCats, formerly of the historic New York-Penn League, have sued the Astros for lost revenue over the minor-league contraction/restructuring that got rammed through by Soulless Ghoul Rob Manfred (for a non-paywalled link, click here). The complaint:

MLB's intimidation tactics, which it used to pit MiLB teams against each other for the 'privilege' of not having their businesses destroyed, has gone on for years but was most vividly demonstrated by a May 2020 email in which Commissioner Rob Manfred emailed the ValleyCats' owner condolences on the passing of his father, and then in the very same email, issued a veiled threat that any public statement made about MLB's contraction efforts would be 'unwise.'

MLB is arguing that it wasn't really a threat, and there's nuance that is missing. Actively trying to remember why I even care about this sport. 

*Former Astros Great Jeff Luhnow is working with the group that brought you "Club de Cuervos" on Netflix to buy a Liga MX team.

*Leeds vs. Brighton: 9am. NBCSN.

*Minute Maid Park will host a vaccination drive today.

*Mental Floss: The Harvard Chemistry Professor Who Was Also A Murderer.

*Food & Wine: Ted Cruz's love for soup knows no bounds.

*Outside: Journey to the Center of the Earth.

*I've been a little busy over at Michael Bourn Identity, featuring interviews with musician Joe Firstman, Centro-Matic's Will Johnson and Fenway Park's Josh Kantor, and Hall of Fame play-by-play man Eric Nadel.

*A Musical Selection: