Access didn't make today's notes any better, but it did make me feel cool...
1) Batting practice musings - I don't want to make too big a deal over practice. One of the football coaches I cover likes to give me a hard time because I made a big deal over this catch one of his kids made in practice. He yells that Allen Iverson like of "Practice? Practice?" at me constantly now...
But, I digress. Now that I've sufficiently caveat'ed my point, let's talk about what I saw standing around the batting cage before Wednesday's game. I got to see the final two groups, but paid particular attention to the last one. In watching Marwin Gonzalez, Justin Maxwell, J.D. Martinez and Chris Snyder, I know I wasn't watching the best of the best, but I could make a couple assumptions.
Marwin doesn't flash much power in BP. He's got a line drive stroke and will muscle up to send one to the outfield occasionally, but for the most part, he's pretty punchless. Maxwell, on the other hand, looks a lot like CJ up there. He kills the ball, hammering it to right and not just in the Crawford Boxes. He hit a couple to the Conoco Phillips sign in left center. In his case, it's a reminder of his raw abilities, but not a guarantee he can hit like that against MLB pitching.
The other two struck me as interesting comparisons because both have been scuffling lately. Snyder looked like it too, hitting a few too many on the ground or straight up into the cage. Basically, he wasn't hitting it solidly. I can't remember him taking BP in the other games I've come to, so I don't have a good base of comparison, but anecdotally, I could see him struggling there just like he has in games.
J.D., though, looked sharp. He hit for power his last few rounds through and only seemed to hit the ball on the ground when he was trying to go the other way. He also grimaced after that, made an adjustment and roped a couple line drives off them.
I should also point out that this last group was hitting off a left-handed BP coach, possibly to prepare for Mr. Randy Wolf. It doesn't quite tell me J.D. should get out of his slump, but I don't know how much you can tell from that. J.D. did get the start and was back to hitting third in the lineup, so Brad Mills had some confidence in him. He rewarded that by going 0 for 2 with a walk, an RBI and a run scored.
2) Sale Anniversary, Or When The Astros Stopped Hating And Learned To Love Analytical Thinking - Phew, that may be my longest Three Things title yet. But, it was one year ago that we had the announcement by Drayton McLane that he was selling the team for $670 million to Jim Crane.
And then things just...stopped. That's why this won't be the "real" annivesary of the sale, which actually got completed in November. This was just the start of a long, drawn-out process that tortured us all summer and led to Houston trading away Michael Bourn and Hunter Pence before Everyone's Favorite GM Jeff Luhnow was hired to pull off the deals. Ugh.
What do you remember from that magical time when the pre-sale sale was announced? Was it as drawn out and painful as this second Roger Clemens trial is proving to be? Do you care to remember the day it was announced as a done deal (kinda)?
3) Radio guys ranked No. 23 by FanGraphs - That's right, Dave Raymond, Brett Dolan and The Captain, Milo Hamilton came in 23rd in FanGraphs radio rankings, which is much lower than the TV side came in. What do you make of this?
I've met and talked to both guys to some degree and have listened to Milo since I was a kid, so I'm not exactly a non-partisan in this fight. But, I think that's a little low. I'm not surprised, mind you, but I think both Dave Raymond and Brett Dolan have gotten better and better over the years. I haven't had a conversation with anyone in a while where they said "Wait, which one is which?"
We talked about this when it was announced that Milo would retire, but how are you feeling about the radio guys at this point? Think Dave and Brett can survive without Milo or do you think they'll add another guy to the rotation? How do you think they're ratings stand up? Too high? Too low? Just right?