Talking Astros as we hope you all have a great and safe Memorial Day...
1) Luhnow wins another trade - What a win for the new GM, turning a minor league free agent that functioned as depth in the minors into a 20-year old catcher who's got plenty of on-base skills and even a little power.
That'd be Jobduan Morales, who has put up a pretty good line in short season ball playing as a teenager after being drafted in the ninth round in 2009. He doesn't appear to have a great defensive reputation, but he's young and that can take some time for a catcher to develop.
No, the real steal here is finding a guy with patience and a little power behind the plate. He immediately jumps up as possibly the best or second-best catching prospect in the system, though we'll have to see what he can do in ful season ball before making any big pronouncements. Ben Heath and Chris Wallace kind of burned us on judging by numbers at the lower levels.
And to think, Luhnow got him for essentially a spare part. Was Ruggiano getting called up any time soon? Probably not. Even if he did, it's not like Ruggiano would have made a huge impact on this team. He was hitting well for six weeks in Triple-A and the Astros capitalized on that.
Hands down, best part of this trade, though, is that Houston didn't get a reliever back. I was tired of all those trades for relievers...
2) Jose Altuve approaching nice territory - After a power surge in Los Angeles this weekend, Jose Altuve is on pace for a very nice season. He's currently on pace for 40 doubles, 30 steals and 10 home runs, which puts him in some pretty rare company.
Only two Astros have had seasons with at least those numbers before this season, Craig Biggio and Jeff Bagwell. What's more, since World War II, there have only been 39 seasons of at least those numbers. Some of the players are not really comparable to Altuve, but there are plenty of good comps on the list.
Like Delino DeShields, who had 43 doubles, 37 steals and 10 home runs as a 31-year old in 2000 with Baltimore. He also hit .296/.369/.444 that season, which seems attainable for Altuve. The youngest player to post that kind of season was Hanley Ramirez, who twice had 40/30/10, but with more power that Altuve is likely to show.
Which means Altuve is on pace for a pretty special season.
3) Checking in on the All-Star race - No leaders have been announced in the official All-Star voting, but I think the Astros have three pretty strong candidates right now. Who are they?
Wandy Rodriguez - Probably the favorite here, as Wandy has a track record in the league and is having the best season of any Astros pitcher. If he keeps this up, he'll easily get picked up by the NL staff. It'd be his first time as an All-Star.
Jose Altuve - There are only three other second baseman in the majors with more fWAR than Altuve's 1.7. That includes one NL guy in Dan Uggla, who is the odds-on favorite to win the fan voting. Still, you have to imagine Altuve gets consideration for one of the bench spots with his speed and contact skills.
Jed Lowrie - No surprise that the Astros shortstop has more fWAR than only two other guys in the majors, with Rafael Furcal being the only NL guy to top his 1.9 WAR. He's got the power and defensive chops to make this team, along with some name recognition from his time in Boston. All three of these guys could make a case for being on the team at the same time, but I doubt the Astros will have three All-Stars this season. At most, I see them getting two guys on, and it may come down to one or the other on the middle infield.