Some things to talk about while I miss the opportunity to give a shoutout to this great piece on The Sandlot...
So, I've been pretty scarce on the site for the past two weeks. No, it's not because I've quit TCB. No, it's not because Tim won a bloody coup for control of the site. I just got a new job. And it's in Cleveland. No, not that Cleveland. The one in Ohio.
It's been a pretty big move and it's taken up much more of my time than I would have liked, what with the driving and the apartment hunting and all. But, I'm back on track to contribute more now because my new employers have been gracious enough to allow me to keep on keepin' on here.
See, I told you this morning that I didn't want to leave this site any time soon. What's funny is that up here in Ohio, I'll have a better chance to see and talk about the Astros than if I were in Houston, blacked out of CSN Houston. Now, I can buy the MLB.TV package and watch games with the rest of you out-of-staters.
Thanks for bearing with me while our great, crack team of writers and producers kept things humming along while I was makin' like the Bandit. You probably didn't even notice I was gone. Also, any Clevelanders who want to leave helpful hints about places to eat, things to see or where to live, please do drop by the comments.
2) Would Napoli have made a difference?
There are a few go-to writers I have right now that make me think about baseball in broader terms. One of them is Jonah Keri, who you may have noticed can write an article completely unrelated to the Astros and I'll talk about it here.
Sometime last week, he wrote about resurgent Red Sox and how they have been so good. One of the reasons for that has been Mike Napoli, who hasn't been great all season, but has been super-good for portions of it. He's also signed to a reasonable deal because his bigger deal got scrapped because of a medical issue.
Napoli was a guy we talked about a bunch in the offseason. Many of you (including me) were in favor of Houston making a play for him. My question, then, is this: could Houston have made a significant enough offer to get him to come here instead of Boston? How much of a difference would he have made?
The second one is easy, right? Houston's first basemen have totaled 0.4 fWAR in 1,100 plate appearances. Napoli has been worth 3.3 fWAR in 560 plate appearances. So, erase the 0.2 fWAR that Brett Wallace has provided and the -0.4 fWAR that Carlos Pena provided and Houston would have 3-4 more wins this year.
The first question is more interesting, though. Could Houston have payed him more and stole him away from Boston, or would the allure of playoffs been too much to overcome?
3) Who's the Face of Baseball?
This is a fascinating article by Jayson Stark on who the Face of Baseball is right now and who it might be in five years. Stark went up to the man on the street for this information, providing both an unprompted answer and then one off a list.
You know what's also depressing? No Astro was mentioned at all. Not one on any of the lists. Which made me wonder...has an Astro ever been considered the Face of Baseball? I'd posit the closest Houston ever came was with Roger Clemens during the 2004-05 run. Other than that, I bet Houston never really had a Face of Baseball.