Some things to talk about while I spend years working on this opening sentence...
1) Milo undergoing cancer treatment
Sad news from before the Astros game yesterday, as Milo Hamilton held a press conference to say he has been undergoing chemotherapy treatments for a chronic form of leukemia he has suffered from since 1974. Milo was supposed to travel with the Astros to Detroit this year to visit his 60th stadium, but his treatments are making travel unlikely.
Hamilton has suffered for almost 40 years from chronic lymphocytic leukemia, a form of cancer in which the bone marrow makes too many lymphocytes (a type of white blood cell). It is the second most-common form of leukemia in adults, according to the National Cancer Institute.
Milo is 85 and still appears to be doing fairly well for his age, but he'd been talking up this 60th stadium trip for a couple of years now. He has to be disappointed by this. What's crazy is he's been dealing with this since before he even joined the Astros.
2) Villar playing well
Heck yes, Jonathan Villar is playing well. The shortstop has looked very, very good in a very, very small two game sample. But, he's doing plenty that Astros fans have to like. For instance, he's turning double plays like a pro.
"The 4-6-3 double play that (Villar) turned ... that's plus-plus arm strength," Astros manager Bo Porter said. "You look at the skillsets, he has all the critical factors that it takes to play the position at an elite level."
Last night's epic win is an example of how Villar can affect the game, too, with his baserunning. He's been pressing things with his speed and so far, hasn't made any mistakes because of it. Add in his decent power (he did hit two doubles last night) and Villar has looked about as good as expected through two games.
My one thought, listening to his quotes thus far, is this. He's obviously very excited to be in the majors. He feels like he belongs here and is playing that way.He's focused and trying to prove he belongs. In the minors, he had a reputation for making spectacular plays, but flubbing the routine ones on occasion because he wasn't focused. That doesn't seem to be a problem right now, as I'm sure he'll be laser-focused for the rest of the year.
Will that be the case next year, when he's not in his first time in the big leagues? That's what will be interesting to watch.
John Sickels has a prospect retrospective up on Villar over at Minor League Ball. He ends with:
At this point in his career, Villar is a guy that you put at the bottom of the order. Right now, the Astros should be happy if he hits .230-.240 with occasional extra base hits, some steals, and a flashy (if erratic) glove. The idea here is that his defense will keep him employed long enough for him to work out his hitting issues, and for the Astros to see if he's going to punch more doors.
3) Marlins call up more players
Meanwhile, the Florida Marlins seem to be going crazy with player callups. After summoning Marcell Ozuna from Double-A earlier this year (before he got any experience at that level), they've sent him down and called up heralded prospects Christian Yelich and Jake Marisnick. The problem is neither has a ton of time at Double-A themselves.
This seems like they're just doing it wrong. And it makes me glad the Astros aren't doing that way again. Remember when Houston did this in 2011, calling up Altuve, J.D. Martinez and Jimmy Paredes. Only one of those callups has really worked out.
However, the more deliberate way Houston has handled callups this year suggests they're putting players in a better chance to succeed. Take Villar, for instance. Sure, they could have opened the season with him as the starting shortstop, especially given the depth at hand back then. But, by giving him half a year at Triple-A, they let him develop just a bit more and put him in a situation where he has the best chance to succeed right off the bat.
Maybe this just bothers me because it seems like the Fish are going all out for Carlos Rodon. OUR Carlos Rodon. No bueno.