Friday's Three Astros Things

Talking about the Luhnow Code, Houston's draft strategy and the Rockets' tampering mess...

Some things to talk about as Conrad Gregor signs for the full slot amount...

1) Luhnow and the star code

In case you missed it yesterday, our own Subber10 did a great job investigating Jeff Luhnow's mysterious Twitter profile picture of the Astros draft board. Lots of codes going on with each magnet, but Subber and the rest of the TCB crew were able to break down most of them.

Of course, Mr. Luhnow then went on to troll all of us by teasing not once, but TWICE, that he'd reveal what the stars meant on radio appearances on Thursday.

The first time he didn't.

We freaked out.

The second time, though, he was true to his word.

Luhnow revealed that the stars were for guys area scouts believed could become major leaguers. That's a good sign for Austin Nicely, since he had about five stars on his magnet.

It also got me thinking: if Luhnow is Da Vinci, does that make Mike Fast Tom Hanks and Kevin Goldstein the weird albino monk?

2) The Astros draft strategy

Speaking of that Luhnow Code post, there was a very good comment by Mike Fast there. Here's what he said:

By the way, not sure where to make this comment, but
I'm not sure why everyone (not just here but also around the interwebs) says this was a college-heavy draft for us compared to last year's high-school heavy draft. Last year we signed 27 college players and 4 high school players. This year we drafted 33 college players and 7 high school players, and I would expect the great majority of both groups to sign. So we may come out with a greater percentage of high school players this year out of the signed class than we did last year.

That's a very good point. Chris tackled it earlier this week, showing that the value the Astros got is the same. They targeted the same kinds of players and will hopefully get everyone signed.

When I wrote my piece earlier this week about the front office's honeymoon being over, I simply meant that fans were more critical of moves they were making, which hadn't really happened before. It was a shift, but an expected one.

I also brought up the draft strategy, but moreso because of the shift in how the money was being spent. This year, it didn't appear there would be a chance to save money at the top and redistribute that to guys who slid. We can't know if that happened this year until the bonuses are revealed, but that was a shift in how the team handled last year's draft and it also showed that they were not going to be beholden to one strategy every time.

Still, Fast raises a great point that we should realize. Plus, it's just so cool that he drops by to comment every now and again.

3) Rockets fined for tampering

Not Astros-related, but it's sports related and I didn't have a better place to talk about it. In case you missed it, the Houston Rockets were fined by the NBA for tampering after team beat reporter Jason Friedman posted free agent previews on all the positions heading into the summer.

That meant that Dwight Howard's face was featured prominently on the site, even if Friedman went to pains so that he didn't link any of the players to the Rockets or suggest fits for the players. Here's what the Dream Shake had to say about it:

In this case, the Rockets are being punished for poor timing as well. The day before the news broke that the Hawks had written a letter to prospective season ticket holders detailing their plan to sign Dwight Howard and Chris Paul, Friedman's last segment of the series went up, the article on the top centers in free agency.

And so when the NBA was doing their investigation of the Hawks, Dwight Howard's face was sitting on the front page of the Rockets website. Just as Popovich's move had looked bad on a big stage, having the Rockets, perhaps the most-talked about team in free agency this season run a story like that on the same day of another true tampering violation had to have played a role. Otherwise, I'm struggling to see the NBA's rationale for the punishment.

This is such an interesting precedent to set. It's also an issue that MLB.com has fought for years. Are they independent newsgatherers? Are they employees of Major League Baseball and the clubs they cover, thus able to get those clubs fined by the league? Where's the line of journalistic separation?

People have argued that the line is blurrier for MLB.com than most places, but I've never seen something like this happen in baseball. More and more, though, teams are relying on their own sources of media for coverage. If that coverage starts to be tainted by interference, who can fans go to for information?

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