Some things to talk about while we talk about reasons to learn math...
1) Jack Z and the M's trading history
Sometime last week, I stumbled across this article in the Seattle Times detailing Jack Zduriencik's mid-season trading history. It's a well-researched and informative piece, but what struck me about it is the pattern that emerged. More specifically, how that pattern could easily fit to the path the Astros have been taking.
Look at the first year Jack Z was on the job. He made a flurry of trades, almost as many as he made in the next three years combined. Similarly, Jeff Luhnow went through a flurry of trades last season. The reason in both cases was also the same, as both GMs cleared out former hot prospects and roster fodder from previous regimes.
The next summer, though, Jack Z was much less trade-happy. So far, it appears that Jeff Luhnow will also be less trade happy, as Houston had already made its first in-season trade by this point last season. The reasons for those are also the same. By the second year of the new regime, enough players are in place that don't need to get moved to make room for players the new GM wants in key spots.
Things haven't worked out for Jack Z in Seattle for a number of reasons, but he oversaw a Milwaukee farm system that was one of the best in baseball, both at drafting and developing players. You know, just like Luhnow did in St. Louis. Both were also favorites of Internet baseball writers (or maybe just Dave Cameron?).
That's not to suggest Luhnow's fate will be similar to Jack Z. It's just a reminder that things don't always pan out once games are actually played. We like Luhnow now, but three years from now, it could be a different story.
Of course, we could also be celebrating the franchise's second-ever pennant.
2) Royal on the end of baseball in Houston
Not for nothing, but I'm glad I was on vacation last Monday when JJO posted a dumb post-game story on how baseball in Houston was being killed by this season. Luckily, John Royal said all the things about how dumb that article was here.
His point? Claiming that this year's Astros team is killing baseball in Houston ignores a host of history pre-1997-2005. Or, you know, the times that JJO covered the team. Previous seasons don't count.
The truth that Royal ends his column with is exactly why cable companies haven't been beating the door down to add CSN Houston.
So no, the Astros losing a game to the Rays by a 12-0 score on Monday night isn't killing baseball in Houston. It's not even on life support. It's just returning to that state of barely being part of the Houston conversation, which is, for the most part, how it's always been in Houston.
Dwight Howard isn't helping things. Houston will forget about the Astros until they start winning, when George Springer is hitting home runs and stealing bases in MMP. We'll lament all the bandwagon fans jumping on at that point and will be secretly proud that we lasted through these lean years, that we're seeing our hard fandom paying off.
But no single game or single season will make Houston into a town like Miami, which has always been hard-pressed to support its baseball team. Suggesting otherwise shows an appalling lack of perspective.
3) Bunting for a double
Last thing. Rob Neyer has a quick post up, complete with video on Gerardo Parra bunting for a double. Yep, bunting. For a double. He also discusses his anecdote about Willie McCovey doing the same thing back in the day as a way to beat the shift. He wrote about it in his fantastic book about Baseball Legends and tracked down the eyewitness accounts to verify it happened.
What's interesting here (and the reason I bring it up) is that Neyer speculates that more guys could do this to beat extreme shifts, but that the popularity of bunting for base hits for non-Michael Bourn players is out of fashion.
Since Houston employs quite a few shifts, it'd be in their best interest to not see this happen, but I wonder if this will be the next reactionary shift in baseball thinking. Will we see bunts for doubles in five years as teams try to beat all these new-fangled "Shiftball" teams?