Monday's Three Astros Things

Scott Cunningham

Talking about Astros team voices in social media, Nolan Ryan's possible exit from the Rangers and spring at-bat counts...

Some things to talk about while you plan on getting a bobblebelly this year....

1) Do the Astros need more voices?

Steph Stradley, the Houston Counterplot guys, Rockets website writer Jason Friedman and Kelly George had an interesting conversation on Twitter Sunday. It was all about how Stradley felt disconnected from the Astros since Alyson Footer left as she suggested that Houston needed more voices from the team with access to build up that trust Footer had.

It wasn't meant to be a criticism of George, and she didn't take it that way. She did say that the team is looking at having a blog with a rotating author list to talk about the team, suggesting this might fill that void. Stradley's point was that it wasn't about having a blog, but adding a face to the team's content.

It's an interesting argument and a good thing to discuss here. While I understand where Stradley is coming from, I don't feel the same way. It doesn't have as much to do with George, who is doing exactly what she's supposed to do, but with all the other front office types on Twitter. Guys like Kevin Goldstein, TCB's official commenter Mike Fast and Jeff Luhnow provide a ton of content on Twitter to follow and a connection to this rebuilding process.

But, that's a connection for geeky baseball fans like me. I'm sure there is a wide swath of fans who don't use Twitter, don't know who those guys are and who wouldn't feel the same way.

So, I guess my question for the room is this: do you feel that the Astros need a more solid voice outside of the team account? Do you think they need to establish a better presence, or is the front office's time on Twitter and in the comments here enough to make you feel like they're reaching out, putting a face on this franchise? I'm probably in the minority, so I'd like to hear from you on this one.

2) Nolan on the way out?

There's a nice Star-Telegram article (via KevinBassStache and Lone Star Ball) about how Nolan Ryan may be subtly being pushed out of the Rangers front office. From Gil LeBreton:

Somebody put Daniels' and George's promotions - and the altering of Ryan's powers - on the agenda, in other words. This didn't come up just because Elvis Andrus got a big tattoo.

There was a cordial quote from Nolan as well in the club's announcement. But it seemed more conspicuous that when colleague Randy Galloway - who's known Ryan for, oh, 70, 80 years - asked him, Nolan declined to comment.

He's upset. Yet, does Ryan have a right to be?

There's a ton of dynamics going on here, but I'm sure the titles that someone like Theo Epstein got with the Cubs has to play into this. In order to keep Jon Daniels around, the Rangers have to show him similar authority/money/title. There's no way of knowing how much Nolan's influence will be minimized, but I could definitely see him leave the team again.

Should Jim Crane then go after him to become part of Houston's organization? My gut reaction is no. Nolan has been the head honcho of running a baseball empire that had vast success. If he were added to the Houston front office now, it'd disrupt what Jeff Luhnow is building and I'm not sure he's a better choice to run the business side than Postolos.

It'd be nice to see Ryan back in the Astros fold, but at this point, it may cause more problems than it'd solve. Maybe in a few years, if he does exit the Rangers, he might come back to have those minor league mini camps for pitchers with Roger Clemens like they did before.

PS -- Isn't it funny that bringing in Tim Purpura may have been Ryan's undoing? That guy

3) Deciphering starters through at-bats

Clack brought up a point this weekend in our super-secret TCB Illuminati meeting about Bo Porter wanting his starters to get 50-60 at-bats this spring. That means we can try to use playing time to determine who might be out in front to grab a starting job. It's not perfect, but it's something to talk about this spring. We're going to exclude Sunday's game, because I don't want to update this early Monday morning.

First up, J.D. Martinez is tied for the second-most at-bats this spring with 15 in six games. He's played in 75 percent of Houston's games to this point and gotten about two and a half at-bats per game. Since there are 24 games left, that means he projects out to get 45 more at-bats this spring, which gives him 60 overall and means he's right on track to get enough ABs to be a starter.

Robbie Grossman has played in seven games and gotten 12 at-bats. That means he should project to get 41 more in the rest of the spring, giving him 53 ABs and right in that sweet spot for a starting role. Also, of Grossman's at-bats, six of them have come on the road, suggesting that he's not just playing because the starters don't take bus trips.

Nate Freiman leads the team with 17 at-bats in seven games. That projects out to 58 more and 75 total this spring, which seems high. I bet he misses some games down the stretch, as Houston works Carlos Pena and Brett Wallace in more.

Other guys on pace for 50-60 at-bats are Jonathan Villar, Brandon Barnes, Jimmy Paredes, Marwin Gonzalez, Justin Maxwell, Carlos Pena, Brett Wallace, Jose Altuve, Rick Ankiel, Chris Carter and Jake Elmore. Guys not on that pace, but figure to have starting roles include Matt Dominguez, Fernando Martinez and Jason Castro.

Which means that Brandon Laird and Tyler Greene (to name two) shouldn't be ruling out a starting spot in the lineup yet. Do you think there's any meaning in the playing time so far? Laird has been hitting the ball well, but hasn't been playing a ton. Does that change as the spring goes on? Has Jake Elmore moved past Greene for a bench infield spot?

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