HOUSTON - APRIL 10: The Houston Astros sporting their Colt 45's throwback uniforms stand for the national anthem before the game against the Atlanta Braves at Minute Maid Park on April 10, 2012 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
To celebrate or not to celebrate, that is the question...
1) Very appropriate tribute to the 50th - I'll give it to the Astros, they got this one right. Tuesday night was a great tribute to the old team, even if the new Astros couldn't pull off the victory on the field.
In particular, I really like the idea of the Walk of Fame. We talked before about whether or not a player like J.R. Richard deserved to had his jersey retired. I'm of the mind that it is, but if we have to settle for putting him on the Walk of Fame, I'm completely okay with that too.
All we're talking about are the memories. Plus, I kind of like the idea of a pitcher one day wanting to wear J.R.'s old number to honor him. That'd be pretty cool, no?
Lots of good shots from the various ceremonies and things around this game. I'll leave it to the big-wigs like Brian McTaggart and Alyson Footer to show you all the content around the game. For an Astros history nerd like me, this was really neat.
2) What got into Jordan Schafer? - I guess playing against a team that traded him, wadding him up like so much tissue and discarding him in the trash with the buttercups, has gotten Jordan Schafer to pick his game up a level.
How else do you explain the three steals he showed off in Tuesday's affair? It's the first time in his career he's stolen three bases and the first time an Astro has done it since 2010.
In fact, the Astros only had three players steal at least three bases since 2000. Roger Cedeno did it twice, Michael Bourn did it three times and Chris Burke did it once. So, it's a fairly rare occurence witnessed Tuesday no matter what.
But, it didn't used to be so rare. Did you know that between 1991 and 1999 there were 16 different 3-steal games by Astros? In the 12 years since that point, only seven. Man, those days on the carpet in the Dome were fun, weren't they?
Okay, back to Schafer...he's showing lots of good signs so far. He's stealing bases, he's hit for power and he's playing pretty good defense in center field. Having Michael Bourn share center with him right now isn't helping Astros fans forget about Michael Bourn. But, there's a definite possibility that Schafer's hot spring may be a sign of something more.
Or, that he's really, really upset with the Braves. But it's one or the other...
3) Draft update - Another week, another dissection of the Appel/Buxton conundrum, with longing glances at Mike Zunino and a wild card candidate thrown in for discussion. Enjoy...
Mark Appel, RHP, Stanford - A complete game, yes, but Appel only struck out three and walked two. At the top of the draft, teams are looking for the best player available, but it's also about taking a safe player. I'm sure the Astros front office is thrilled to have Jarred Cosart, but wouldn't they rather have a guy like Matt Moore, who has upside AND production? That's all I'm saying.
Mike Zunino, C, Florida - I don't know what's more impressive...that Zunino hit four doubles in his five hits last weekend or that he stole his fifth base. Either way, the big Gator is really growing on me. I'm not sure he's done enough to get a look at that top spot, but I think he'll make someone in the top five quite pleased.
Byron Buxton, OF, GA HS - The guy who's probably benefitting most from the Appel questions. It looks like the top of the draft may be coming down to these two. It's still too early to tell, since last year at this time, we all assumed that Anthony Rendon would be the top pick, with maybe Trevor Bauer thrown in for good measure. Gerrit Cole? Nahh. Buxton hasn't done anything to shoot down his stock, as he pitches and hits his way to a fine senior season.
Richie Shaffer, 3B, Clemson - From the mouths (or pens) of Baseball America, here's a great look at Shaffer as he goes up against another top pick in Marcus Stroman. I don't think Shaffer has a chance at going high in the draft, but the suppelemental first round or second round could be a possibility. As thin as Houston is at third base and as much as Jeff Luhnow seems to prefer college hitters early in the draft, I'm thinking he should be on our radars.