Wednesday's Three Astros Things

Talking about the Spink Award, free agent qualifying offers and Mark Trumbo...

Some things to talk about while the Astros are developing their own apps to compete with Nike+...

1) The Spink Award

I bet if you've read enough of these Three Things, you can easily guess who my favorite baseball writers are. I link to them all the time in this space. But, Joe Posnanski doesn't get mentioned often enough. His florid prose and digressions are as much an influence on my style as Bill Simmons.

When Poz wrote a piece on the Spink Award, it was like he was setting one on the tee for me. Of COURSE I'll talk about nerdy baseball writer stuff. Like I need an excuse.

Anyway, Poz talks about the Spink Award this year and the contrast between two of the three nominees. It's well worth your time if you like thinking about the craft of writing or how baseball writers do what they do. What was different between Furman Bisher and Roger Angell?

Both men clearly deserve to win the Spink Award, and I suspect before it's all done they both will. But who gets the vote now? Do you go with Bisher, the daily voice of the game, the man on deadline, who for a half century narrated baseball live and in color from the disorder and sweat of the clubhouse and the racket up in the press box? Or do you go with Angell, the poet, who had months to craft his few baseball pieces and so polished them into glistening jewels?

Here, right here, is something I worry about all the time. Writing day after day, on deadline drains you. You feel like you're producing good, quality work only a fraction of the time. I wish I had time to devote to a story, really dig into it and do the research, but much of the time, I'm banging it out as quickly as I can so I can move on to the next project.

Basically, I want to be Angell, but I fear most times, I'm a homeless man's Bisher. We may not have deadlines here on TCB, but timeliness is essential. That's why I find this piece so good, is that it discusses something I think about constantly in a bigger context. These two men were at the top of their games, but how do you judge them?

Going a bit further, I'm interested to hear from you readers. What would you rather we did here on TCB? Do you enjoy the long-form pieces that take a week to prepare and research? Do you like these slapdash Three Things that I throw together quickly when I have time? Do you come for the instant-reaction recaps or the thoughtful columns on trades after the news has marinated for a bit? Maybe you come for everything, but is there one area that we could be improving? Something we're not emphasizing enough?

2) Szymborski on qualifying offers

Solid piece up for ESPN Insiders by Dan Szymborskion the toughest qualifying offer calls for potential free agents. We talked a little bit about that on the podcast this week, speculating on who might get qualifying offers. I won't clip anything from here, but check it out if you can.

The best point he makes is about Curtis Granderson. Why wouldn't the Yankees offer him when pretty much none of the best outfielders on the market could be had for one year? He's just a little older than the rest of the market, but involves substantially less risk in terms of commitment. If another team offers Granderson more years, then the Yankees walk away with a draft pick. It's a win-win move for them.

I'm sure there are more situations like this, where it makes sense for a team to offer a player who probably won't hang around. Let the offseason intrigue commence.

3) More trade discussion

Word floated Tuesday morning that the Angels are willing to listen on Mark Trumbo and Peter Bourjos this winter and that they're looking for controllable pitching in return. Considering Houston has only pitching prospects, I'm not sure the Angels are a good fit, but I thought it'd be fun to compare Billy Butler and Mark Trumbo.

You know, just to rile more people up.

So, Trumbo is a power hitter limited to first base and DH who can hit for 30+ home runs in his prime without much defensive value or on-base skill. Butler, on the other hand, is a DH who has no defensive value, good on-base skills and middling power production.

They both end up as two-win players, though Butler has had more inconsistency in his career. May be the organization there, though, and how each player was brought along developmentally.

So, am I as against Trumbo as I was against Butler? Yes and no. Butler carries a heavy price tag. He'll be 28 in April and is owed $16 million over the next two seasons. Plus, he's got a club option for 2015 for $12.5 million with a $1 million buyout. That's pretty expensive for a player who may not total two wins.

On the other hand, Trumbo is getting more expensive in arbitration, but isn't locked down to a long-term deal. Trumbo made $4.5 million last season and should see an increase in salary. Plus, there's a chance that he's got surplus value next year even with a raise.

Neither trade makes sense to me, but I think Trumbo makes slightly more sense than Butler.

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