Some things to talk about while I finally link to this blog post by one of the newest Astros, Collin McHugh...
1) Astros sign Cesar Izturis
One of the first minor league contracts doled out by the Astros got leaked today. From Jon Heyman:
cesar izturis agrees to minor league deal with #astros. would seem to have good shot to make club as utilityman.— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) January 13, 2014
Izturis will turn 34 next month and spent the 2013 season with the Reds. Trouble is, he hasn't hit much in the past two seasons. Heck, he hasn't hit much in the past entire career. He's a career .254/.293/.322 hitter with an All-Star appearance and a Gold Glove under his belt.
Both were won far, far ago, when he was much younger on a Dodgers team playing in a big market. Even then, he couldn't hit more than a shortstop. In the past three seasons, things have gotten worse, as he hit .228/.268/.282 in 861 plate appearances over that span.
You know what's kind of crazy? Houston shortstops only hit .235/.294/.330 last season, meaning Izturis wouldn't be a huge step backward. It's also worth noting that FanGraphs has him as an above-average fielder in every season of his career.
Maybe he's Jonathan Villar insurance. Maybe he's going to push Marwin Gonzalez to excel in spring training. Whatever this is, it's as far from exciting as one can get. Remember that time we all got excited about Tyler Greene? It's been a rough couple of years.
2) MLB on 60 Minutes
In case you missed it, 60 Minutes ran a segment last night on Alex Rodriguez and the MLB investigation into Biogenesis. Anthony Bosch was a key player, along with Bud Selig's right-hand man and the presumed future commissioner Rob Manfred.
Joe Posnanski said it better than anyone could, so I'll let him take it from here:
At the end of the 60 Minutes report, all is ugliness. A-Rod is guilty and lying, surely, Anthony Bosch seems a first-class lowlife, Rob Manfred comes across as Old Man Potter from "It's a Wonderful Life," and the only winner in the whole mess - THE ONLY WINNER - seems to be the drugs themselves, which apparently work miracles and, if used right, are undetectable.
So what point of all this again?
Scott Pelley ends the report like so: "And Bud Selig has announced his retirement from the game. Part of his legacy is the establishment of the toughest anti-doping rules in all of American pro sports."
There it is. Bud Selig, who has been commissioner over the worst drug scandal to ever hit American sports, who presided over a game that ten years ago DID NOT TEST for drugs, got 60 Minutes to put that line at the end. Part of his legacy is this glorious chapter of buying papers from Bobby, threatening and paying off Boesch and nailing Alex Rodriguez.
Read the whole thing. It's so worth your time.
3) Scouting meeting notes
Sure, it's January. It's the week after a Hall of Fame announcement that lit the city of Houston on fire. Sure, there's only been six free agent signings in the past 25 days (thanks, Chris Cotillo). And yet, Evan Drellich is out there finding the stories TCB is too lazy to get.
His latest gives you a look at that scouting meeting Kevin Goldstein referenced on the Astros Boxes podcast last week (so, so glad Bob Grossman is funny. It enters the starting rotation now). Oh, and we also learn a few Astros scouts turn over.
More than 20 members of the Astros' scouting staff will convene on Minute Maid Park on Monday and Tuesday for meetings.
"These guys have been out all summer and fall sort of pounding the pavement and getting a look at this draft class coming up," Elias said. "They spend the entire summer out at the various showcases and the collegiate summer leagues, and they spend the fall going to different college campuses, watching the high school kids play fall ball. We develop quite an extensive list of follows, and this is a good time to get together, maybe watch some video of these kids, and talk over the way our list looks heading into the year.
"It's not a real specific discussion in terms of rounds - we understand the list is very basic and it's going to change dramatically and rapidly once the spring starts. It's more of an identification process. We clump the process into rather large, crude groupings, and work from there."
This is as far from an exciting story as there is in baseball now. The A-Rod stuff above is much, much more compelling at a time of year when NOTHING is compelling. I mean, look at the first item on this list. We're singling out Cesar Izturis for special treatment? On what planet should this be considered news?
And yet, this is compelling stuff. It gives some good background, updates news about scouting changes (which we'd otherwise never get) and provides something else to talk about. Kudos to Drellich for doing his job.