Happy Turkey Week to everyone...
1) J.D. flirting with Chicago
The biggest news out of Houston this weekend was that Astros announcer Jim DeShaies has interviewed with the Chicago Cubs in an attempt to land Bob Brenly's old job on the Cubbies broadcasts next season.
"I spoke with George at the end of the year, and he was reassuring and said we like your work and we want you back," Deshaies said. "It’s a case of getting the call from Chicago and them asking if I would be interested in the job and thinking, ‘Well, that’s worth talking about.’ "
There's been some very interesting discussion going on around this. For the most part, across the board from Chip Bailey to Tim to Astros County to Jayne at What the Heck, Bobby? have been very, very against losing J.D. Steve (aka Kevin Bass 'Stache on Twitter) has been one of the few voices asking whether it'd be that bad a thing.
I think I tend to lean towards that view. Yes, it'd be bad if J.D. weren't on Astros broadcasts any more. Yes, it'd affect the followers from afar. But, if they plug in Larry Dierker or Bagwell? Dierker used to be an excellent color guy on broadcasts and could probably be just as good once again.
What's more, it's hard to blame the Astros too much for this. Should they have locked up J.D. before now? Probably. But, from DeShaies perspective, was there incentive to get locked up? He's working with new bosses and doesn't know how he'll get on with them yet. Plus, if he's got any ambitions to move onto a national broadcast in the future, wouldn't it be better to use Chicago as a launching place instead of sticking in Houston?
It's a bad situation, but I think it's been amplified a bit with everything else going on right now.
2) FanGraphs Top 15 prospects
Lots of great stuff stuff in this Top 15 list from FanGraphs. Here are a few choice excerpts. First up, on Lance McCullers from Mike Newman:
McCullers was a different pitcher in person than I was expecting given his reputation as a big arm with limited secondary offerings. At 92-94 MPH, touching 96, his fastball was a bit flat. However, his changeup was better than I expected and I perceived him as having enough feel for the pitch to consider him a three pitch guy instead of a future bullpen arm with a fastball/slider.
The more profiles I see that confirm McCullers will stick as a starter, the happier I am. Next up, we've got a note on Jonathan Singleton:
The contact said Singleton definitely has above-average power, and placed a future 60 grade on it, but would almost rate his hit tool above it. "It has a little length but it’s a pretty swing," he said, adding that the 21-year-old can handle balls on both the inside and outside corners,thanks to above-average plate coverage. "It makes him very dangerous."
The profile on Singleton also noted that he has a chance to be a plus defender at first base. That's not the most important position on the diamond, but Singleton does have more value there than most first base types with plus defense. Lastly, let's look at Delino DeShields, Jr.:
From video, I can’t help but be impressed by how much his swing length has shortened from last season. Lowering his hands has done wonders in terms of allowing for more consistent, hard contact which is an excellent sign.
Again, that's from Mike Newman, and it's an important note about the increase in DDJ's offense this season. If we're trying to predict whether DDJ's step forward this year is legitimate, scouting like that helps give confidence that he's for real.
What did you think of the list? Anyone left off that surprised you?
3) Should Houston target a reliever or two?
We've discussed a lot about Houston chasing some starting pitchers who may be reclamation projects. But, this note about the bidding over J.P. Howell got me thinking about Houston targeting a couple of relievers on short deals instead.
If the Astros are thinking about signing guys and then flipping them at the trade deadline, wouldn't a reliever make more sense? A guy like Howell could get solid innings for the Astros and, if he proves he's effective, could be marketed maybe more effectively than a starting pitcher. The return might not be as big, but the investment should also be less monetarily.
The other thing with targeting relievers is that they're less likely to inhibit a younger player who's ready for the majors. Plus, if they move Jarred Cosart to the bullpen, they could sign someone to start for half a season and then move Cosart into that role in July.