MIAMI, FL - APRIL 15: Chris Johnson of the Houston Astros makes a throw to first during a game against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Park on April 15, 2012 in Miami, Florida. Both teams wore the number 42 in honor of Jackie Robinson Day. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Let's catch up on some weekend tidbits...
1) Brett Myers, trade candidate - That's the news as of Sunday, when speculation started running rampant that closers are now on the market. With some of the high-profile injuries to guys like Andrew Bailey and Brian Wilson, the rumor mills are immediately jumping on a guy like Brett Myers as the perfect match.
I'm not sure if anything will come of this or not, but it's a great example of how the move of Myers to the 'pen has immediately upgraded his trade value.
Value is a tricky thing. We've got lots of ways to view value. Stats like Wins Above Replacement can give us an approximate "objective" value for a player. Then, there's the value to a team by position, as a closer who throws 60 innings doesn't quite have as much value as a starter who can get to 200 innings.
The third type of value is the kind we're dealing with Myers - perceived value. A starter who eats innings and provides average to slightly-below average production is valuable, but may not have as much perceived value as a closer/late inning reliever. Teams are more willing to make a move to fix the bullpen during the season, because breakdowns there are spectacular (see: Red Sox, Boston).
Myers may have had more value to Houston as a starter this season, but he's got more perceived value as a closer. That's why he's getting linked to all these deals now, because he more easily fits needs in his current role. Will he provide much in return? Well, that's a completely different note, but judging by Jeff Luhnow's track record, I'm confident Houston would get a good deal if they do deal Myers.
2) These Astros are a-walkin' - Oh, boy. Not only do the Houston Astros have a new, saber-friendly front office, but they're also taking walks in bunches. How huge is that?
Well, for one thing, Houston has ranked dead last in the National League in walks the past two seasons and second-to-last in 2009. This season? Through Saturday's game, Houston ranked fifth in the NL. Fifth!
Let's take a moment to acknowledge that this is only nine games of data, and we cannot tell whether this is a trend. But, it's an incredibly encouraging sign for guys like Jose Altuve and J.D. Martinez. Heck, my feelings on Jordan Schafer have improved slightly because he's walking much more this season.
The Nationals have been fairly stingy this season with the walks, so if Houston can keep up that production in the upcoming Washington series, we'll have even more room for sunny outlooks.
3) Thoughts on game coverage - You might have noticed on my Twitter account that I had the opportunity to cover a couple Astros games on their last homestand. That's because I got credentialed for the entire season and will be trying to go to as many games as my work schedule allows.
But, at the same time, I have been thinking again about how best to use that access. Of course, I'm writing for the newspaper I work for, but since I can't go to every game, I'm not really working as a beat writer for them. I'm not writing up notes or doing features, and I think I'm okay with that.
As you've seen, one of the things that Tim has been great about is posting the audio from the post-game interviews. I've been trying to ask questions with more than just an eye towards my game stories, and got some great responses from J.D. Martinez, for instance, after last Wednesday's game.
I'm still getting used to the whole process, and it reminds me a lot of the first Texas A&M football game I covered. It's on the same scale, with all sorts of writers there plus structured post-game interviews and the like (I swear I'll ask Brad Mills a question...eventually).
Thought it's been brought up before, I can't stress enough how awkward I am socially, so it's not like I've gone in there and hob-nobbed with Brian McTaggart and the other writers. I did have the very cool experience of meeting Mike Fast at the first game I covered. For me, being professional with this has been all about keeping my head down and just observing as much as possible. That doesn't mean I can't marvel at seeing all the people I follow on Twitter in, like, person, you know? Troy Renck, Tracy Ringolsby (and his hat!), and of course all the Houston writers.
Let me tell you, I came away from all that observing very impressed with the ease at which those beat writers do their jobs. I kid you not, in sitting a couple seats down from McTaggart for both games, I maybe saw him not writing a story or working on something for three half-innings. Total. If I'm a cyborg, that must make him, Zachary Levine and Steve Campbell some sort of Cylons.
As I said, I'm still trying to answer what to do with that access. One thing I'd definitely like to get some feedback on is how I'm using Twitter in-game when I'm at the game. For the high school sports I cover, I use Twitter as a play-by-play delivery service. That's largely because those games aren't on TV or the radio often, and that's a good way for fans to follow along.
However, there are so many ways that people can get content on the Astros, I feel any tweets of PBP to be kind of superfluous. I've tried looking up stats that stand out as I go and other things, but I would like some feedback on what sorts of things you'd like to see on Twitter. Less lame jokes? More stats? Less of everything?
It'll be a bit before I get back to a game. We've got a graduation in the family the first weekend in May and I work this weekend for the quick three-game road trip. That means it'll probably be May 16th against the Brewers before I get back to MMP. That gives you plenty of time to tell me what I'm doing wrong and how I can improve. So, get with it already!