TCB Podcast Mailbag: All your questions are belong to us

J. Meric

Our second installment of the podcast mailbag, where we answer questions in writing that we didn't get to in spoken word.

Hi. I'm David Coleman. You may remember me from such mailbags as last week's and that's it. We're getting this feature rolling again, even though I'm on the road right now heading to the Great White North. It's been a lean week content-wise for me, so let's up the ante and talk some Astros baseball.

Tim asks: Anyone have reactions to Jarred Cosart getting shut down?

Nope, Tim. No one does, because it was the least surprising news since Philip Rivers melted down yet again. We know the Astros try very hard to develop pitchers effectively. We know they worry about innings limits, pitch counts and the like, though their indicators of fatigue and their warning signs are probably more sophisticated than our Verducci Effect and 100-pitch limits.

When you also look at where Houston's at in the schedule, does it make sense to stretch Cosart out any more? He's thrown 60 innings now in 10 starts with questionable peripherals, a sterling ERA, decent FIP/xFIP and terrible SIERA/tERA. The Astros probably have a pretty good idea of how well Cosart has done this year and what he needs to improve for next year. Will one or two more starts alter that?

What's more, when was the last time you saw a pitcher have September success that carried over to the next season? We constantly look at September stats for guys like Jordan Lyles to prove they took a step forward and the great majority of the time, it doesn't lead to anything conclusive the next season.

So, Cosart getting shut down doesn't feel significant. It's not a comment on how well or poorly he's done. It's just a precaution. Considering we're all looking at the Astros next great team in two or three years, can we blame the Astros for also looking to the future?

Eric Escobar asks: If Harrell continues to improve out of the bullpen what do the Astros do with him?

The simple answer is nothing. Harrell isn't eligible for arbitration for another season, so he's still cheap. Cheap means the Astros can keep him in the bullpen longer to see if his improvement is because he's pitching there or if it's just positive regression to his 2012 performance levels.

Regression is the key word here. For as much success as Harrell has had out of the 'pen, he's had much more unsuccess as a starter. Do 25 innings erase 110? Not likely, especially when Harrell's peripherals are still not very good out of the bullpen.

But, Harrell has proven before that he can effectively pitch with his heavy fastball. Out of the bullpen, he could have some uses, if he can fix what was wrong with him this season. He'd also give Houston some options out there if they wanted to experiment more with the tandem starter thing at the major league level.

Caleb Edwards asks: If Springer plays all of next season, what will his stats look like?

Well, let's establish some base lines. Here are some notable rookie lines from two-way threats like Springer:

At 21, Darryl Strawberry hit .257/.336/.512 with 26 homers and 19 steals.

At 20, Mike Trout hit .326/.399/.564 with 30 home runs and 49 steals.

At 21, Barry Bonds hit .223/.330/.416 with 16 homers and 36 steals.

At 21, Mickey Mantle hit .267/.349/.443 with 13 homers and eight steals.

At 20, Willie Mays hit .274/.356/.472 with 20 homers and seven steals.

All of those players were cherry-picked and also significantly younger than Springer. But, here's a best-case scenario for Springer as an older guy making his debut:

At 24 (after 100 PAs in 1999), Lance Berkman hit .297/.388/.561 with 21 home runs.

Only two players have debuted with at least 20 home runs and 20 steals in a season at Age 23-25. The first was Mitchell Page in 1977, when he hit 21 home runs and stole 42 bases while hitting .307/.405/.521 at Age 25. Marty Cordova also did it at Age 25 in 1995 for the Twins, hitting .277/.352/.486 with 24 home runs and 20 steals.

Cordova also had a ton of strikeouts and played both left and center field, so if we're looking for a good Springer comp, we can start there. But, at this point, the odds look very long for Springer to go 20-20 in his first season.

Okay, but we still haven't answered the question. What would Springers line look like?

.270/.360/.486 with 16 home runs and 25 steals

How does that sound?

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