Some things to talk about while we find the best seasons in Astros history by position...
1) New colors on TCB
Hey, notice anything different in the comments section lately?
That's right, new colors on the recommended comments. Our benevolent overlords are constantly tweaking sites to improve the experience. This latest round is a very cool addition, where we can tweak the site's colors to better reflect our identity. Thus, instead of the same green rec color everywhere on the network, we get more Astros-centric colors.
TCB is one of the first 50 sites on the network to have this rolled out, so we're sort of trend-setters. Let me know what you think. We tried to make something that's easy to read, but still reflects Houston. You'll also notice the thumbs-up logo is orange. Which is about as much orange as I could stand on the site. Again, tell us what you think, if you like the change, if we should go back to the old design, etc.
2) Bad news
Talk about Debbie Downer. First of all, we get the delay of the ZiPS projections for a day. Then, we get an article on RotoGraphs about how the Astros bullpen will still be bad. What gives?
Two thoughts come to mind about a bad bullpen. The first is that there's always opportunity in situations like those. Bad teams make for sleepers, since the traditional media focuses on better teams and those players get more name recognition. So don't ignore the team. But! Bad teams - especially those that don't score a lot of runs and have bad bullpens around the closer - bad teams do not provide a lot of save opportunities.
Silver lining to that last article is that there was no mention of Jesse Crain, who could help solidify things that Albers and Qualls don't totally do. Plus, most people are sleeping on Anthony Bass, I think.
Still, FanGraphs hits us with this gem, asking whether or not adding either of the two best pitchers in the game would move the needle much on any of the 30 teams. For Houston, it'd mean about two more wins.
The Phillies, Astros, and White Sox could all improve by a couple games, but neither the Astros nor the White Sox look set to contend, and the Phillies really don't either, even though the front office might disagree.
Yep, what's a two game swing if it gets Houston from 70 wins to 72, amirite?
Finally, Dan Szymborski kicks us when we're down with this piece on possible disappointments in 2014. In it, he lists Jarred Cosart as one guy in for a big decline. It's Insider only, so I'm not going to clip from it. Suffice it to say, we've been talking about all of that for the past six months.
3) Goodbye, Mr. Neyer
At the end of this pretty great column, Rob Neyer announces he's leaving SB Nation for parts unknown. Take the time to check out the entire column, especially those of you who are worried numbers are taking over baseball. But also, for Neyer's farewell:
A personal note: This is my last column for SB Nation, at least for a good little while. When I signed up three years ago, I wanted a different kind of adventure and that's what I got. At various points along the way, I was blessed to work every day with Grant Brisbee, Jeff Sullivan, and Al Yellon; their passion and commitment continue to inspire me. My bosses were Tyler Bleszinski and Kevin Lockland, and both treated me better than I probably deserved.
Grant's still around, of course; with him and Steve Goldman and Marc Normandin and Justin Bopp and all the other talented people covering baseball here, this site remains in wonderfully capable hands. I'm grateful to everyone above, and of course I'm forever grateful to you for reading. At some point in the next couple of weeks, I'll be writing about baseball again, and I hope you'll find me again.
Over the past three years, my interactions with Neyer were few. An email here or there got answered, but for the most part, I remained a fan first and foremost. Just getting to share an email list with him was cool, as he was the reason I (and so, so many others) got into the analytical side of baseball.
So, there's a bit of wistfulness to seeing him go. No idea where he might end up, but you can be sure I'll seek him out again. Good luck, Mr. Neyer.