Ready for a break from the gah dang Houston Astros? TOO BAD. There's news.
*There's a Press Conference today at 11am at Minute Maid Park, presumably to announce the retirement of Dusty Baker. Last night I wrote up some thoughts about Dusty Baker's tenure with the Astros, and ended with a Barry Switzer quote in reference to Jim Crane, which was predictably (and this is likely some fault of my own, since I was very tired and just wanted to go to bed and didn't explain it very well) misinterpreted. The "he was born on third base and thought he hit a triple" has nothing to do with Jim Crane's net worth. It has everything to do with Jim Crane tried to "do the off-season" by himself, or at least with the help of Jeff Bagwell and/or Reggie Jackson, forgetting that it was Teh Nerds who turned the Astros into an absolute powerhouse, and the increasing likelihood that the next few hires (manager, President of Baseball Ops?) will simply do what Jim Crane wants, and not what The Spreadsheets 'n' Formulas say. That's all I meant by that. I'm not going back and changing it.
*Chandler Rome has 12 names to keep an eye on as the next Astros manager. Click the link and subscribe The Athletic for the full write-up, because it's a pretty good value, but here are the 12 names:
Brad Ausmus (who interviewed to be the GM before Crane hired Dana Brown), Craig Counsell, Joe Espada, Mark Kotsay (who previously interviewed before the Astros landed Dusty), Rodney Linares (former Astros minor-league manager), Omar Lopez, Joe Maddon, Don Mattingly, Buck Showalter, Will Venable, Walt Weiss, and Eric Young.
Based on personal preference alone, I'm striking Ausmus, Kotsay, Maddon, and Showalter from consideration. Joe Espada has been the manager-in-waiting for so long you could be accused of thinking Will Muschamp was the Astros' bench coach, so I'd like to see him be rewarded for his loyalty. Love the idea of bringing in Rodney Linares, who has worked under Kevin Cash in Tampa as well as spending a generation in the Astros' organization managing pretty much every homegrown star currently on the roster. I'm still pissed about 1999 NLDS Game 3 when it comes to Walt Weiss (obligatory "I Was There" tweet).
*Ben Verlander: The Astros' dynasty isn't over, but they need to take a hard look in the mirror.
*The Astros claimed reliever Oliver Ortega off waivers from the Twins. Ortega just turned 27 and has 58IP under his belt with the Angels and Twins with a career 4.03 ERA / 1.41 WHIP. He made ten appearances for the 2023 Twins and enjoyed scoreless outings in seven of them. Statcast notes that he has an arsenal of five pitches (though he really only uses four), and his four-seam fastball averages 95.3mph with a 95.7mph sinker (!).
*Richard Justice: A High School Football Fairy Tale Is Unfolding in Willis.
*ESPN: The Ultimate Clasico preview.
*The Atlantic: What scares Jordan Peele?
*A Musical Selection: