Some things to talk about while Brandon Barnes reacts to one of the wildest pitches of the first half...
1) BtBS on Altuve's extension
A very in-depth breakdown of Jose Altuve in the wake of his contract extension the other day went up on Beyond the Box Score recently. It's a long read, but it's worth it. The upshot? Houston made a pretty good deal with the second baseman:
While it is important to look at the on-field aspects of a deal such as Altuve's extension, it can't be understated how important this contact is to the Houston Astros. As they continue to rebuild, they have a strong player with good makeup serving as the face of their franchise. Having him around can help build confidence within the fan base, which means more potential ticket sales and more resources to play with. Through the potential positive financial implications of the deal and the on-field dollars that can be saved, this contract will likely serve as the cornerstone of the Astros' rebuilding effort. After the move to the American League and another change in uniforms, Astros fans now have some consistency to lean on as they carry forward.
This is one heck of a deal for the Astros.
What's interesting about this is it's not through-and-through positive about Altuve, but still thinks this is a good deal for Houston. That's exactly how I feel about it. Altuve's value will always be tied to his batting average. He's very young and still developing, which means even a slight step back this year isn't a killer.
2) Crane's Q&A
Well, there's a lot to parse through here. Jim Crane game a pretty in-depth interview to the Chronicle, talking about the struggles, the 2007 draft and more. Go check it out, but here's a quick taste on his interactions with fans:
The way I interact with (Luhnow) is pretty simple. All the big stuff he runs it by me. I'll walk up and sit with him for two innings and say, ‘How are things going? What are you doing?' And I'm up to date if I'm here at the game. If not we'll talk on the phone. I don't over-manage him. Same thing with Reid (Ryan). Reid can handle that job. Those two guys come to me if I need help. I've really just been involved trying to get the revenues up and keep the fan base solid and being a diplomat on the team. But I'd really like to get the focus, it should be on Bo and it should be on Jeff and it should be on Reid
That's one way to stand out from McLane. Stay out of the way of the baseball operations side. It's also a typical Jim Crane interview, pulling no punches and laying things out pretty openly. He once again seems confident that they'll get a deal done for CSN Houston.
Any surprises here? What did you think of him throwing McLane under the bus?
3) Astros might not be sellers?
Well, well, well. Another quote-worthy piece from Richard Justice. This time, he talks about the most attractive names that might be available at the trade deadline. Do you know what he thinks about the Astros? It might just blow your mind:
I've got Bud Norris, Chris Carter and Jose Veras on this list, but I'm not convinced the Astros are going to be sellers. Yeah, they've got baseball's worst record and appear to be on their way to be the first franchise to have the No. 1 pick three years in a row.
But they may not be far from respectability. They've got intriguing talent at the upper level of their farm system, and with the ballpark empty and the club still trying to pitch its TV package to carriers, owner Jim Crane could decide the time had come to put a better product on the field.
If Norris is still with the Astros on August 1, it will speak volumes about where the franchise sees itself.
Wouldn't that be something? When I linked to that article on Jack Zduriencik's trade history, we noted that most of his trades came in a flurry in his first year. After that, things slowed down as he got the players he wanted into the organization.
The same may be said of the Astros, now that Luhnow has stripped the team of any unwanted parts or pieces that were here before him (present Harrell's excepted). That might explain why they are more willing to hold onto pieces rather than flip them for more. Plus, the emergence of George Springer as a piece who should reach the majors quickly also speeds up that timetable. Remember, as recently as this spring, Luhnow was saying 2014 was more realistic for Springer to reach the majors. Now, he's got September call-up written all over him.
Would you be shocked if Houston doesn't make a trade at the deadline? If one player does get moved, it's got to be Jose Veras, right?