HOUSTON,TX-JUNE 01: Jose Altuve #27 of the Houston Astros throws to first base to retire Joey Votto #19 of the Cincinnati Reds in the sixth inning on June 1, 2012 at Minute Maid Park in Houston, Texas. Cincinnati beat Houston 4-1. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
Friday was a busy day at MMP. Here's a quick run-through of the three main events...
1) Blogger Night a hit - I can't emphasize how much fun it was seeing everyone at the Blogger Night hosted by the Astros on Friday. Got to see all your favorite Houston bloggers, and watch some baseball up in a suite. Oh, and free food, which was nice.
Talking with Jeff Luhnow was also pretty interesting. My biggest takeaway? Him saying there was not a consensus in the front office for 1-1 and there likely wouldn't be a consensus before the pick was made. He emphasized both times though that they'd be making the pick as "the Astros" and not that he'd be making the decision by himself or that Bobby Heck would be making the decision by himself.
What does that mean for the pick? Well, let's table that for a minute.
Farmstros was there, writing his Twitter-Kus up a storm. I broke baseball etiquette, walking in front of Terri during an at-bat. Even my wife got something, as we all got the giveaway throwback t-shirts. So, overall, it was a success.
The funniest moment of the night may have been Chip Bailey asking Luhnow about Brad Mills. Luhnow gave a very good, almost prepared response on how he's worked with Mills and that Mills is incorporating the advanced stats they've given him into the strategy. He then said that he approved of Mills playing the matchups with all those crazy reliever switches. Yeah, that really happened. I'm convinced TLR brain-washed him or something.
But, that's not the funny part. After Luhnow finished his answer, Bailey followed up by asking him, "Does he come back next year?"
And Luhnow was caught off-guard, fumbled for a response before being saved by the national anthem. He did not come back to the question, but the look on his face was classic.
I also thanked Luhnow for putting Run Expectancy up on the scoreboard and he asked us what other stats we wanted to see. I told him Leverage Index would be awesome, so, you know, if you see that at MMP, it was totally my idea (and not the incredibly smart FO types Houston has hanging around).
Anyways, glad to see everyone there and I hope we can make this a continuing event. Heck, we might even convince some of the other writers from TCB to go mingle and be sociable.
2) The draft press conference - I got to MMP early, so I could hear what Luhnow and Bobby Heck had to say at their pre-draft press conference. Here's my favorite quote from Luhnow on their philosophy:
"Our goal is to utilize all the information we capture on every player," Luhnow said. "A very large piece is the opinions of our experts who are out in the field seeing these guys every day. Those are our scouts, who are experts because they do this every day. Our doctors are other experts who weigh in with the medical risk on all player. We have analysts that study video, that study deliveries and swings. And, we’ve got performance history, which we look at very carefully to predict future performance. We put all that together and try to come up with the best assessment of what the player is going to do in the future."
Doesn't that sound like the perfect, modern approach to the draft? Modern, "Moneyball"-eque methods with a good grounding in hands-on scouting? I like it. I like it a lot.
Got to talk with Bobby Heck some, too. He said the new regionalized private workouts were a success, allowing them to see more players on the West Coast and the Atlanta area than they normally would. That might come up big in the later rounds of the draft.
In regards to him drafting up the middle guys, he made the point that they draft for talent and not looking for someone to "fail" at another position first. He didn't really say they don't look to up the middle guys early, either, so that's a good sign for Zunino, Correa and Buxton, right?
Lastly, I asked him about the whole 20th round mystique and whether he had a secret formula there. He laughed and denied everything, saying he'd take a major leaguer out of that round every year, though.
3) J.R. Richard's dedication - I'm not going to take on the question of whether J.R.'s number should be retired. I'm on record as thinking it should, and other people have made better cases than me for it recently.
But, Richard keeps coming back to this, in a pre-Walk of Fame article with Steve Campbell and then again as the first thing he said to reporters after his plaque was unveiled along the Walk. It's obvious he knows what he wants and had the talking points to prove it, claiming he was not just one of the most dominant pitchers of his time, but "the most dominant guy." He actually corrected the question to say that.
Richard was a funny interview with lots of great one-liners who kept everyone there recording him for a long time, just so they wouldn't miss anything. On his pitching style?
"I didn't throw at anyone. They just didn't get out of the way."
Afterwards, but before the game, Richard stopped by the Astros clubhouse and talked with many of the players for quite a while. Most of them came away very impressed with the size of his hands, which are massive. Just look at that pick in the Whiskers on a Stache post. Impressive.
Lots of fitting tributes to him, including one by Tal Smith, who stopped by MMP for the first time since, uh, that unfortunate incident last November. He claimed he'd rather have J.R. pitch one game over Koufax. Impressive.
If you only have time to read one, though, check out Dave Raymond's. Partly because he's got a very good blog you should be reading anyways and partly because it's a great story.