Almost too many things to get to this morning, but let's hit the top three...
1) Carlos Lee's No-Trade Clause - Well, hot diggity. MLB Trade Rumors proves how awesome of a site it really is, giving us this gem late Monday night about Carlos Lee's no trade clause.
See, we had all assumed that after his NTC expired before last season, the Astros would only have a small window to move him, since his 10-5 player rights would kick in. For those of you unfamiliar with 10-5 rights, a player who has been in the majors for 10 years and with the same team for at least five of those years gets to automatically veto any trade they might be approached with.
Not so, with Lee, since he negotiated away his 10-5 rights when he signed that huge deal with Houston. Let's let MLBTR take it from here:
Lee agreed to waive his 10-and-5 rights in exchange for full no-trade protection during the first four years of his contract. He can still block trades to 14 unknown teams this year.
That means Lee can be traded to any of those other 16 teams, any one of whom might need a first baseman or DH. Lee can decide to use all 14 slots on AL teams, so he won't go DH if he doesn't want to, but there should be a few NL teams in need of a first baseman. The Cubs, maybe? How about the Brewers? Or, what if something happens to Lancelot in STL? Luhnow could flip Carlos up to his old boss and get a couple prospects back that he had a hand in picking.
This is the first good news involving Carlos Lee I've gotten in like four years.2) The rotation - Well, we have a rotation. Brad Mills named his after Tuesday night's game with the Corpus Christi Hooks. The inexplicable thing is that Lucas Harrell is your No. 2 starter.
I'm not really how we got here, but here are two theories:
A. Mills doesn't really care about how the rotation is sequenced - I mean, just because a guy is in the second slot in the rotation, doesn't mean the team sees him as their second best starter, right? I think that may be what's going on here. Over the course of the season, things will get restructured and moved around, so it doesn't matter who is listed behind whom.
Look at a team like the San Diego Padres the past few years. They've got a rotation full of young arms who haven't really established themselves, with no real experience in the majors, so the manager slots them in where he can, but that doesn't mean (for instance) Mat Latos wasn't their best pitcher.
B. Livan Hernandez was supposed to start Saturday - Here's what I'm thinking happened: Mills set up his rotation this spring so the old man on the staff gets an early start, sort of as a bonus for sticking around and teaching all the young guys what's what.
That pushed Bud back a day, but he's cool with that, since Livan is a World Series veteran and I'm sure he'd defer to the experience there. That's how the rotation was supposed to break down, so that's how Mills structured the off days and schedule down the stretch.
Then, right at the end of camp, Houston decided to cut ties with Livan, opening up a hole in the rotation. It's really probably for the No. 4 or No. 5 starter spot, but because Mills had already set it up for Livan to start the second game, suddenly, it's the No. 2 spot that will get filled.
I'm not sure whether either one is exactly an explanation, but I'd imagine there's a little of both. Doesn't the Livan decision seem like something the front office would do and Mills might be a little surprised at?
3) Minor league roster thoughts - Again, let's go with some bullet-point, quick thoughts on the rotations:
- There were some comments yesterday about how good OKC could be this season. Have you seen Corpus' roster? That lineup could score a lot of runs. Adam Bailey, Jonathan Singleton and Kody Hinze may be the best 3-4-5 combination Houston's had in the minors in quite some time.
- Oh, and that rotation won't be bad, either, with Jake Buchanan, Ross Seaton and Jarred Cosart leading the way. Could Corpus finally get Houston over the hump and have a winning season?
- Not surprised by the repeaters, but as Farmstros pointed out this morning, there seems to be too many starting pitchers in Lexington. Plan on either one of them starting on the DL or moving to the bullpen. My money is on Tanner Bushue for either of those. A move to the 'pen could improve his stock quickly, as that curve is playable at higher levels and a move might up his velocity enough for him to be effective.
- Also, Farmstros noted on Twitter that OKC has two open roster spots. Thinking those go to J.B. Shuck and the loser out of the left-hander competition (probably Abad).
- Subber10 noted on Twitter that there were no signs of Ariel Ovando, Adrien Houser or Jack Armstrong, Jr. on the four rosters. Only one I'm really surprised with is Armstrong. The other two are young enough that another trip through short-season ball isn't the worst thing in the world. There's also the chance that all three will just need a couple weeks in extending spring training before joining Lexington.
- I think this will be two very important years for Jiovanni Mier and DDJ. Mier has to hit in his return to Lancaster while DDJ needs to show solid progress if he's going to repeat a level. There won't be a learning curve this time around.