A late afternoon look at things going on in the Astros universe...
1)The sad case of Mark Melancon - A disastrous start to his new career in Boston led to a trip back to the minors for former Astros closer Mark Melancon. Yes, the sample size was small, but playing in a market like Boston doesn't forgive many mistakes, especially for relievers.
From the Astros end, the question then becomes, is Jeff Luhnow a genius or a super genius? I can't emphasize how great the move was for Houston to flip Melancon to Boston to begin with this winter. For a late-inning reliever who only had one season in the big leagues, Houston got a starting shortstop and one of their five starting pitchers. No bad, eh?
What's more, Luhnow did it when Melancon still had a ton of value, before he struggled in his role at all. If he had waited until this deadline to try and trade Melancon, he would have risked the righty to have a start of the season just like this. I guarantee Ed Wade doesn't make that move. If Wade were a meme, he'd totally be Stupid Ned Stark: a good, likeable individual who isn't bad at his job, but just doesn't have the necessary perspective to avoid getting in trouble.
It's also interesting to look back at the Berkman trade and the pieces coming back. Houston essentially got Lowrie, Weiland and Paredes for the big first baseman. That's actually a much better return than the Astros got for Roy Owalt, I'd argue.
2) Will Pudge add to Houston's HOF legacy? - News came out late Wednesday that Ivan Rodriguez would be retiring. Now, the question becomes: will he make the Hall of Fame?
There is no question that Pudge was one of the best catchers in baseball for a number of years. He has the chops at the plate, the awards and was considered a pretty good defensive player. He may not rank up there with Bench or Fisk, but he's one of the inner-circle catchers in baseball history, right?
I'm sure his links to the steroid era and guys like Juan Gonzalez and Jose Canseco in Texas will taint him in enough writer's eyes so he doesn't get in, but man, he should end up there. And when he does, he'll make yet another HOFer to be tangentially involved with the Houston Astros. Tim did a great job of breaking down just how many Hall of Famers have played in Houston, without anyone actually wearing the star in the Hall.
Pudge wasn't a popular signing, and didn't even spend an entire season in Houston. But, wouldn't you have rather had him beind the plate last season after Castro went down?
3) The siren song of high school draft picks - There has been a trend lately to talk about Byron Buxton being the top overall pick. Questions about Mark Appel have moved him slightly away from that "sure-fire" tag and left the younger, high schooler plenty of room to make a charge.
We will have plenty of time to debate the pros and cons of both, but what I wanted to touch on today is the reason a team might be more willing to go with a high school impact player over a college guy. It's all about career length. Well, maybe not all, but that's a big chunk.
See, high schoolers will generally make the majors at a younger age than a guy out of college. Guys like Buxton or Bryce Harper, who have the potential to run through the minor leagues, will reach the majors about the time they would have been eligible for the draft again if they had gone to college.
Even the best college players (think Lance Berkman) still have to spend time in the minors before coming to the big leagues.That leaves less overall time for a career and positive value to a franchise.
It's not the only reason why a guy like Buxton might get drafted at the top, but from a value standpoint, it is pretty important. Of course, the flip side is the odds of high schoolers becoming productive major leaguers is lower than college guys. So, there is more risk involved. Personally, I'd like Houston to limit risk as much as possible at the top of the draft, but what do I know?