Some things to talk about while another former Astro joins the A's...
1) Bedard's time in Houston
Erik Bedard was about the least controversial thing that happened to the Astros last season. He was here. He pitched...sort of well. He ate innings. He went to the bullpen. That's about it.
Well, Tampa Bay did a feature on him and what his baseball career has been like, since Bedard signed with the Rays as a minor league contract guy in camp this season. Of particular note to us is this line from Joe Maddon:
"It was a tough situation," Maddon said. "Houston's trying to create their own identity (by going with a young, inexperienced team), so he had a tough time. The stuff we looked at was a lot better. You'd like to think putting him in front of our defense is going to make that even better."
That seems like a cut at the Houston defense, no? That same defense hasn't gotten any better either. Matt Dominguez may be the best defender on the team, but Jose Altuve is just average and Jonathan Villar is a work in progress. Maybe adding Dexter Fowler will help and maybe having L.J. Hoes in right and Robbie Grossman in left will also help. But, it's not like Carlos Lee played a ton of games out in left field last season (Chris Carter played 44 games out there).
What I'm saying is we may not expect Houston to suddenly become an above-average defensive team just based on personnel. Maybe the emphasis on shifts will help?
Or, more importantly, are the Rays and Astros evaluating things differently? Do we know how the Astros viewed their defense last season? Maybe they viewed it positively? Maybe the metrics they use justified Scott Feldman's big contract? What do you think?
2) More thoughts on pitch framing
Look, I'm going to warn you. This is a very, very in-depth article from The Hardball Times on catcher WAR and pitch framing. It's completely worth your time, though. It goes through every step in a process to identify why catcher WAR is not complete, what should be added and how important framing just one pitch per game can be:
This could then extrapolate to about 20 runs per a full season (between 120 and 150 games) if the catcher can frame just one pitch per game.
This is the core of our analysis. But it does not consider how far the pitch was from the strike zone, nor does it consider an umpire's tendencies or the leverage of the event. It does not consider the impact on later events, the potential for ripple effects (as in the second qualitative example).
I wonder if this kind of work is being done, it's just being done behind closed doors of teams. Don't you think that Mike Fast might be doing this kind of work with the Astros? Just take this great profile on what Fast is doing with the team right now that Evan Drellich dropped recently.
Said general manager Jeff Luhnow of framing: "We hired someone that's an expert in that area, so we're internally assessing that, how to best use that both for player evaluation as well as player development, and we feel like we're making strides in that area."
There's a lot to unpack here. I'm not equipped to do it, but if those of you with more math skills want to dive in, you have a chance to be on the cutting edge of baseball research.
3) A poster to end all posters
Do you need something delightfully nerdy to adorn your walls? Well, let me show you this: a poster that "meticulously" charts the origins of every baseball name and categorizes them. It's pretty brilliant. And also might drive you crazy.
Visit this link to see the poster. In case you were wondering, the Astros are under "Concepts-Qualities-Flighty." And. I. learned something. Thanks to Terri for bringing this to all of our attention.