Some things to talk about while we wait for another stealth trade from Mr. Luhnow...
1) The Winter Meetings begin
Lots of news will be flying around in the next four days, culminating in the Houston Astros definitely adding players via the Rule 5 draft on Thursday. Until then, it's all about rumors, possible trades and sneaky meetings in hotel rooms in Nashville. Exciting!
We'll be trying to follow all the news here at TCB, with posts on all the big news that pertains to the Astros and a recap of each day going up around 9 p.m. CST each day, collecting the big news from around the league and giving you a place to discuss things like Mike Napoli's signing (aren't you glad Houston didn't spend $13 million a year on him?).
Any predictions for what will happen in the next few days? Do you think Luhnow will make a deal?
2) Brad Lidge retiring
Via Brian T Smith, we get word that former Astros closer Brad Lidge is retiring. It's a little sad, as Lidge was one of the most crucial parts to that 2005 World Series team and those links are disappearing faster and faster. But, with all the injuries Lidge has suffered lately, it's not surprising.
In an 11-year career, Lidge saved 225 games, including 123 for the Astros. He had 799 career strikeouts and a career ERA+ of 122. His career ERA was 3.54 in just over 600 innings. He ranks third on the Astros all-time saves list, behind Dave Smith and Billy Wagner.
Of course, as Smith notes in his story, you can't talk about Lidge without discussing his home run to Albert Pujols in Game 5 of the NLCS in 2005. It'll always be a part of Lidge's legacy, but it also downplays just how incredible his rise was in the first place and how dominant he was for a three-year stretch.
Injuries nearly derailed Lidge's career before it started, but he was able to bounce back finally and make it to the majors in 2002. He thew just 221 innings in the minors before making his debut in '02, and 122 of those innings came in 2002 itself. Before that, Lidge never pitched more than 41 innings in the minors.
That slider was pretty brilliant, though, and with it, he became part of one of the best bullpens in team history, teaming with Billy Wagner and Octavio Dotel to completely dominate games in 2003. A year later, Wagner was shipped out of town and Dotel followed him mid-season in 2004 as part of the Carlos Beltran deal. By that point, Lidge was more than ready to become the closer full-time.
What will your lasting memory be of Lidge? Will it be that slider diving into the dirt and making a batter look foolish, or will it be the Pujols homer and the way he left town?
3) Update on CSN Houston
David Barron checks in on the new Astros/Rockets home to see how progress is being made. The short answer is there's not much. The channel is currently in 40 percent of the Houston market, but a recent deal by Suddenlink that didn't include it means that it won't be coming to the Bryan/College Station area (or anywhere else with Suddenlink) any time soon.
Barron points out that CSN Houston is looking for $3.40 per subscriber in its carriage deals. Another note shows that DirecTV is close to a deal with NBC that will not include CSN Houston, so at least one satellite provider won't get access quickly.
What I find fascinating is this piece in the L.A. Times, linking sports fees to the rise in cable prices. With the price war going on between DirecTV and DISH Network, I can completely understand their reluctance to add another RSN, but it's pretty disappointing.
So, no news yet. We'll keep checking back on this when we get updates.