Some things to talk about while I feel absolutely zero excitement for the Texans first preseason game...
1) Six-man rotation
Change we can get behind? One other point came out before Friday's game with the Rangers after the promotions, the DFAs and the Johnny Football Drama. Houston is moving to a six-man rotation with Jordan Lyles, Dallas Keuchel, Erik Bedard, Brett Oberholtzer, Jarred Cosart and Brad Peacock all in there.
Oberholtzer's emergence in his first three starts in the majors has been a big reason for this push, but what Brad Peacock has done in his second stint in the majors also helps. Cosart, too, may have exceeded expectations a bit as Chris showed yesterday, but all three mean the Houston rotation is pretty full.
It won't stay that way. Soon, some of these guys will cool off or become expendable. But, if Houston can skip a start here or there for some of these guys who are reaching their pitching threshold, then that's a good thing. Maybe three or four weeks of this should do the trick.
Plus, it gives Houston the option of using starters out of the bullpen. That also possibly gives Houston a look at someone like Peacock or Cosart in that role, to which some prospect experts think they are best suited.
So, really, there isn't much of a downside here. Way to be, front office.
2) David Martinez and the Win
On Thurday, Houston promoted 25-year old right-handed starter David Martinez to Oklahoma City from Corpus. Martinez has a sweet strikeout to walk ratio (which Irish Pete has banged home as a real touchstone of Luhnow's developmental process) and a great ERA.
He's also the minor league leader in wins with 14. That fact got mentioned in every story I read on his promotion and was pretty high up there too. It's a neat stat. Just like the note about Mark Appel picking up his first pro victory the other night. But, is it useful?
Maybe I'm being too influenced by Brian Kenny's crusade to Kill the Win, but it irked me every time I saw it. Martinez has been having a great season, but it has nothing to do with his win total. Focus on the shiny ERA, if you need to instead. What you should be focused on is the strikeout to walk ratio, though, as Astros County points out here.
Major League wins mean little. Minor league wins mean even less. Telling me about that is like telling me what his favorite color is. It's a nice fact, but it's pretty meaningless.
3) Rangers claim Alex Rios
One of the biggest names on the August waiver wire may be Chicago's Alex Rios. The 32-year old outfielder was a monster last season, hitting 25 home runs with a .304 batting average and 4 fWAR. Of course, his walk rate has never been very good, so that lends itself to declines based on BABiP fluctuations.
Rios is also a pretty good defender and baserunner, though and is owed just $12.5 million next year in the final year of his mammoth seven year contract he signed with Toronto in 2008. He's a quality player, even if he is aging.
That led to us discussing the merits of the Astros trading for him, playing him in the outfield and then flipping him at the deadline next year. Except they can't do that. Partly because the Texas Rangers claimed him on waivers and partly because his limited no-trade clause includes the Astros.
It appears that Rios will be staying put for now, as the Rangers and White Sox don't appear likely to make a deal. However, the idea of Houston chasing a veteran for right field with a little more staying power than Rick Ankiel is one worth revisiting, no? Anyone up for Hunter Pence 2.0?
EDIT: Again, news breaks while I'm writing this post. Now, the Rangers have indeed completed a trade for Rios, sending Leury Garcia to the White Sox for him. Bully for them. I'm sure Rios will be in uniform tonight and hit five home runs against the Astros this weekend.