Some things to talk about while we read more about catcher defense...
1) Josh Johnson to the Padres
2:31pm: MLBTR's Tim Dierkes (via Twitter) hears that Johnson's finalists are all NL teams, some likely on the west coast.
1:45pm: Josh Johnson has narrowed his decision down to three or four teams, agent Matt Sosnick tells Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, and the Pirates are among the finalists. A deal could be done "in the short-term," Sawchik adds, reminding that Johnson is seeking to rebuild his value on a one-year deal (Twitter links). Last night, Hank Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle reported that Johnson reached out to the Padres and Giants early in the offseason to inform the teams that they were his first choice.
Wait, is there a chance he's confused and thinks the Astros are still in the NL? I mean, he was in Canada for much of last season. Do they even get news up there? Through all the snow?
Nope. Turns out he's signing with the Padres. Poop.
The Padres have reached agreement on a one-year, $8MM deal with Josh Johnson, according to Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com. Johnson can earn an additional $1.25MM if he makes 26 starts, according to MLBTR's Tim Dierkes (via Twitter).
I know, it was a long shot. After Tim Hudson signed for a ridiculous amount with the Giants, my starting pitching preferences have been whittled down to basically Dan Haren. That's not a thrilling place to be, either.
Let's just move on.
2) Astros to host 2014 Civil Rights Game
Seems that super-secret announcement yesterday at MMP was all about the Astros playing host to the 2014 Civil Rights Game. This is a pretty cool get for the city and one I'll try to get to for sure. In addition to the game, there will be plenty of other activities going on around it and around the city.
From the release:
The 2014 Civil Rights Game will be played between the Astros and the Baltimore Orioles at Minute Maid Park on May 30, 2014, airing nationally on MLB Network. Ancillary activities such as the MLB Beacon Awards Luncheon, the Baseball & Civil Rights Movement Roundtable Discussion and a youth baseball and softball event will all take place that week. Ticket sales and more information on the 2014 Civil Rights Game and ancillary events will be made available at a later date on MLB.com/civilrightsgame and Astros.com/civilrightsgame.
"I am pleased to announce the Houston Astros, who have demonstrated a substantial commitment to supporting diversity throughout our industry, as the hosts of Major League Baseball's 2014 Civil Rights Game," Baseball Commissioner Allan H. (Bud) Selig said. "The Civil Rights Game and its surrounding events are an opportunity not only for our game to honor those who have fought for equality throughout American history, but also to remind us that the battle against injustice continues. As a social institution that features unprecedented diversity of all races and ethnicities throughout our sport, we are proud to join the Astros in remembering this important era in history."
Daniel Woolston brought up a good point on our Facebook page (p.s. - if you haven't noticed, we're pushing our Facebook page more and more. You should totally check it out, click the Like button. Like us. Like us, please):
One of the most diverse metro areas in the country, black manager, diverse starting lineup, best food in the country. Good choice.
These are all good points. Great job, Daniel Woolston. I'm sure those were all factors in the decision to bring the game to Houston. It also totally wasn't a way for Bud Selig to start paying Jim Crane back for screwing him over with this move to the AL, nor was it a reciprocation of Crane agreeing to up the payroll in 2014 per Bud's secret orders.
See? This is why I need outside influences. Thank you, Daniel Woolston, for making a succinct point that the cynical, snarky me wouldn't have thought of.
3) FanGraphs on aging, speedy outfielder
Dave Cameron (who is not, nor ever has been, me) has a piece up exploring the aging curve for speedy outfielders in an attempt to understand Jacoby Ellsbury's value on a long-term deal. There's some good stuff to mine here, not necessarily for the Astros of 2014, but for their future in general.
I think the performance of Ellsbury-like players should at least lend some comfort to teams considering a big contract for him this winter. This player type has historically aged pretty well, and it's simply not true that they become useless as soon as their speed goes.
This whole article is why I support the Astros decision to keep Michael Bourn as a long-term piece in ce-.
In case you're wondering, yes, I'm still furious about the Michael Bourn trade, even if Brett Oberholtzer may help Houston win the trade by himself.