1) Bring back Michael Bourn
Houston's former center fielder Michael Bourn finds himself in an unenviable position. He's the last man standing on the free agent market with no real spots open for starters in center.
Enter the Astros. Houston needs to sign an outfielder, but likely doesn't want to lock anyone up on a long deal. Doesn't it make sense to try and see if Bourn would sign in Houston for, say, a one year, $12 million contract? They could move Justin Maxwell (who's a pretty good defender in his own right) to left and start F-Mart in right, with J.D. getting at-bats in left and at DH (assuming he bounces back with the bat).
Then, Houston could always flip Bourn at the trade deadline to a team for prospects again. They won't get as significant a haul, but they'd still add players to the mix, while benefiting from Bourn's excellent defense at a premium position.
I'd also argue that bringing back the hometown Bourn might have just as much of an impact on the fanbase as signing Lance Berkman would.
Of course, all that is predicated on Bourn wanting to sign with the Astros again on a one-year deal instead of landing with the Mariners if they miss out on Josh Hamilton. Or, some other team like the Indians deciding they like Bourn at a discount better than Nick Swisher.
It's a long shot, but one that would be pretty encouraging for next year.
2) Rule 5 thoughts
Tim and kyuss93 did an excellent job yesterday covering all the moves Houston made in the Rule 5 draft. I'm not going to try and provide any other analysis on the players specifically here, but wanted to highlight a couple of things that stood out to me.
First, here's a comment from Kevin Goldstein on Josh Fields:
"We liked him at 1-1 all along," Astros director of pro scouting Kevin Goldstein said. "We had scouting stuff and analytic stuff, and Fields was at the top of both lists. In the end, there wasn’t a long conversation at all about 1-1. We kind of sat in the room and said ‘1-1 is Fields’ and everyone kind of nodded their head and moved on."
Not everyone is down with the analytics like we are here at TCB, but hearing things like this is just so refreshing. Houston went from being behind the curve on advanced baseball decision-making and now has the perfect blend of both scouting and analytics. Goldstein is a perfect example of that, someone coming from a background of progressive statistical analyst, who landed his job in part because of the wide array of connections he made with scouts.
Secondly, I think that Houston smartly hit on two of the most available player types in the draft. Relievers and hitters without a position are two types that don't get protected because of their abundance, but at the same time, Houston found two of the most likely players to find a home on the roster all year.
It's easy to carry an extra reliever all season as a Rule 5 pick, just like it'd be easy to slot Freiman into a backup infield role if necessary and bring him along slowly. He'd get time at DH and first while not necessarily pressuring him to play all the time. At least, that's my theory on how things could work.
The players in the Rule 5 are mostly flawed for one reason or another. Houston, though, was able to maximize their return by finding guys who fit this team and provide at least one skill they didn't have before.
3) MLB Blackout Policy lawsuit
I'm fascinated by this lawsuit that is moving forward against MLBAM and how it will affect fans. Many of you are out of state Astros fans, who can watch the team through MLB.TV regularly. However, those of us in Texas, even if we're not getting the games (cough*CSN*cough), are denied ever watching through MLB.TV.
I understand the reasoning behind it, but it just seems short-sighted. What if you're on the go a lot and want to be able to watch the team on your smart device? Right now, if you're anywhere in the state of Texas and in parts of Louisiana and Oklahoma, you can only watch it on your TV at home.
So, the possible benefit for fans with this lawsuit moving forward is very intriguing. MLB tried to paint things as a negative here, but I'm not so sure. I think ultimately this will add more revenue to MLBAM and not detract much from the money they'd make from RSN deals.
What do you think? Is this a good thing for fans, or will it only complicate a bad situation?