Some things to talk about just before today's game starts...
1) Does Kyle Lohse make sense? - The big story in St. Louis yesterday was that the Cardinals don't appear to be willing to extend Kyle Lohse and he may hit the free agent market. Unless the Cardinals offer him a one-year, $13 million qualifying offer, they also won't get any draft pick compensation for him.
You know what's coming next...does it make sense for Houston to target Lohse on the free agent market this winter? If he commands something slightly less than his last three year, $40 million contract, would Houston take a chance?
For one thing, it's incredibly risky. Lohse has been very good in St. Louis, but he's doing it this season with a strikeout rate under six. That suggests his success may be difficult to maintain, as it's highly dependent on his control. Maybe that holds up, but as he gets older, can Houston bet he won't regress?
At the same time, Lohse has the STL connection and may be the right price for Houston to take a chance. With the guys in the rotation right now, I imagine Houston will be looking to add a starter on the cheap this offseason. It'll probably a Bartolo Colon type on a one-year deal, but I can't rule out Lohse yet.
2) Lineup stability - We've only had four lineups to test whether Tony D is going to have more stability in his starters. But, data is data, so let's take a look at who he's played and who he's buried.
For one, Brett Wallace has played every single game since Tony D was named manager. And, shockingly, he hasn't been asked to bunt once. He also hasn't played third base yet, but maybe that's also part of the stability. If Tony D has decided that Wallace is just his first baseman, it makes the rest of the lineup construction easier.
Fernando Martinez comes next, starting three of the four games in left field. He's still not hitting, but maybe more consistent time in the lineup will fix that. Of course, the result of more F-Mart playing time is that Steve Pearce has been in the lineup much less. F-Mart has more of a chance of being a player for Houston three years from now, so I guess that's okay, too.
As for Brandon Barnes, he's played twice in four games, which is more than he played under Brad Mills, but isn't exactly a ton of playing time. This may just be a product of the small sample size we're dealing with, and Barnes could play more in the future. Still, I thought one thing Tony D might do is just install Barnes in center field.
3) Houston's locked down front office - I realized something yesterday, when Brian McTaggart was refuting Astros County's report on Brad Ausmus interviewing with the Astros (for the record, I'm still with AC). We've commented on it before in passing, but this front office is really on lockdown as far as anything leaking out.
No trade information got out before things were basically finalized. No word on possible managerial candidates came out, and it doesn't sound like that will happen when interviews are held. Most of the news on roster moves comes when the team sends out a press release.
Now, maybe that's just the difference in baseball, with all the roster moves and no real practices for reporters to hang around. I don't know, but I did think it odd that any news on the Texans usually breaks a day or two before they send out a release on their roster moves, and yet, the Astros break stuff themselves.
In thinking about the Ausmus news, there are plenty of reasons why the front office would want to put the kibosh on that news getting out. They might deny it to McTaggart and quash a rumor that really didn't get out in the mainstream in the first place. But, as locked down as these guys are, who's to know what is going to happen until they're ready for it to be made public.