Digging around the Baseball America website, I found a question from an Astros' fan about Bud Norris possibly being groomed a relief pitcher, and whether or not that was where his greatest value laid. Columit Matthew Eddy's response:
This is absolutely the reason Norris continues to start for Round Rock, regardless of the future role the Astros have pegged for him. In addition to sharpening his slider against live competition, starting every five days gives Norris the advantage of working on finer details during off-day bullpen sessions, without facing pressure of game situations.
We've heard talk like this for a few seasons now, but I tend to respect Baseball America a little more than most sources. How does everyone feel about Mr. Norris being a closer/set up man? Does he have more value at the back end of a bullpen or as a third starter-type?
Minor League Splits does a nice job of grouping together top minor leaguers, and detailing their previous night's performances. As much as I would like to become more of a fan of our minor league clubs, I find myself cheering mostly for the players who are considered likely to become Astros at some point: Jason Castro, Bud Norris, Polin Trinidad, the Lexington rotation, etc. This is a great way to keep track of our guys and our rivals' youngsters as well. For instance, Brian Bogusevic hit a home run on Monday night, something I probably wouldn't have discovered until a week after the fact, if not for this site.
Mr. Trinidad gets some props from the folks at FanGraphs. His AA performance helped him gain some notoriety:
Houston's minor league system is far from bursting with prospects, so the emergence of Trinidad over the past two seasons is welcomed. The southpaw does not have electric stuff, but he throws strikes and has some deception in his delivery. He has a good pitcher's frame, especially now that he's added some muscle, and projects as a No. 4 starter or middle reliever.
If he does end up being a middle reliever, I'd be pretty dissapointed. Especially considering we already have Alberto Arias in the pen, and apparently Bud Norris is on the way. That seems like quite a bit of pitching talent being used an inning at a time.
We may not like Cecil Cooper the manager very much, but the guy could play. The Hardball Times sums him up pretty well:
Before he became the much-maligned manager of the Houston Astros, Cooper was one fine hitter.
Cesar Cedeno was also mentioned, in the article. He ranks as the 21st best centerfielder of all time using their metrics.
As for an NL Central tid-bit:
The Cubs offense has been bad. Like, Houston Astros bad. They're still in it though, and it would shock me if a team with nine All Stars in 2008 didn't have a really strong second half. Kosuke Fukudome appears to be their leadoff man, but why not try Milton Bradley at the top?