Some things to talk about while Jonah Keri puts Jose Fernandez into perspective...
1) Tandem rotation comes up big?
Again, forgive me while I catch up on my RSS feed. But, I couldn't let this article by JJO pass by when it looks back on how successful the tandem starting experiment went. Turns out, limiting pitch counts early in the season for starters led to better health. Who knew?
"I think it's a testament to our trainers, pitching coaches and how we used them this year," Luhnow said. "We had the piggybacks early in the year and transitioned to a six-man rotation. In most places, when we switched from the tandem, we actually went to the six-man.
"You look at Velasquez, Brady Rodgers, Foltynewicz, Cosart, (Brett) Oberholtzer, McCullers - they all ended up the season healthy. If we can continue to do that, it's going to be a benefit. For me, that was probably the biggest success at the farm system: keeping our pitchers healthy."
Jeff Luhnow knew. He knows all and sees all. I'm afraid to even talk about him here, because invoking his name turns his all-seeing eye upon you like putting on the ring of power does. Still, considering the injuries Houston dealt with right at the start of the season that hammered its pitching depth, the tandem starter routine at least gave Houston some depth back.
It didn't last forever and it didn't limit Houston's possibilities when they needed to call up players. In short, baseball freaked out about nothing. Surprise, surprise.
2) AFL Astros thoughts from FanGraphs
Marc Hulet over at FanGraphs looked at the Arizona Fall League rosters and culled some interesting names from the list. He talked about DDJ, Japhet Amador and Nolan Fontana, but let's focus on Amador for the big quote:
List at 6-4, 315 pounds, Amador makes Prince Fielder look like Weight Watchers' star pupil. The burly slugger was one of two players that the Astros acquired from the Mexican League late in the 2013 season. Prior to his acquisition, Amador showed outstanding raw right-handed power with 36 home runs in 104 games but he failed to produce an extra base hit (or walk) in his first eight Triple-A games in Houston's system. To reach the Majors, the first baseman may need to improve his conditioning this offseason and a trip to the AFL should help the Astros get a better handle on if/when Amador might be able to help the big league club. We're in uncharted waters here - for a couple reasons - so this will be a fun storyline to follow in 2014.
Wouldn't it be crazy if Jon Singleton flames out in Triple-A and Amador becomes Houston's first baseman of the future? The AFL will be the first part of Houston's evaluation of Amador, for sure, but we have to remember his age. This is not a guy who needs to spend a ton of time in the minors. If he hits in the AFL and then hits in spring training, odds are he will be on the Opening Day roster in some role.
That's pretty fun, indeed.
3) Buxton/Springer MiLB POY debate
I have to admit, I didn't expect to be reading an in-depth analysis of who should have been named Minor League Player of the Year. It's one of those awards I didn't even think about seriously before, but since George Springer is prominently involved, I guess we should be outraged he didn't win.
Andrew Ball over at Beyond the Box Score doesn't agree with me, so he's a poopyhead. He agreed with the choice of Buxton, thanks to things like "logic," "graphs," and "history."
Adding the performance on the field to the reports and the rankings, it's actually quite clear that Baseball America made the correct choice. When the top prospect in the game has a season like Buxton just did, you give him the hardware and you don't think twice about it.
Sorry, Andrew. I'm not buying it. Springer was the best prospect since a young Ken Griffey roamed the outfield. He deserves all of the awards and will be winning them before too long. So, look out.
Also, didn't we just fight this battle when it was Buxton/Correa. Now Buxton has to take Springer from us too? Does he have no decency?