Wednesday's Three Astros Things

Talking more about Jon Singleton, the role of stats in baseball and Jim Crane...

Some things to talk about while I cackle over this photo time and time and time again...

1) More on Singleton

After Kristie Rieken's excellent article broke the struggles Jon Singleton went through in 2013, there were bound to be follow-ups by other outlets. Both Evan Drellich and Brian McTaggart provided those, illuminating plenty of the questions we asked on Monday and Tuesday.

For instance, on the matter of whether the Astros are supporting Singleton now that he's out of rehab? That's an empathetic yes. As McTaggart tells us, they've been doing it since he was in Triple-A last season:

"We had constant talks with him every day and he was trying to get himself together, but every day he came to the ballpark and he worked and did everything he was supposed to do," Oklahoma City manager Tony DeFrancesco said. "I know he was trying to buy into the program that was set up by the Astros."

DeFrancesco said he kept in communication frequently with the Astros' front office regarding Singleton last season.

"Just making sure he's on the right track," DeFrancesco said. "At times he looked good, and at times he looked a little shaky. Every day he came to the ballpark, he was in the lineup and ready to work. Responsibility and accountability is what we're asking for, and he did that."

Drellich adds more from Luhnow:

General manager Jeff Luhnow did not explain exactly how the team is supporting Singleton, but he said the infrastructure "means people are available to him that have expertise and can help him manage it."

"We've had it for a while because, obviously, we've had two violations, and this has been an ongoing thing," Luhnow said. "We were very involved in going to the rehab facility, which was in Houston. We've been there every step along the way. So the support is there. ... Anybody that knows anything about addictions knows that it doesn't go away. It's always there, and you have to manage it. You have to stay on top of it, so we're going to provide whatever support we can to help Jonathan through it."

Drellich also has more on the major league drug testing policies. Singleton will not be subject to testing during the season for drugs of abuse, nor would any player on the 40-man roster. Under extreme circumstances, a test may be administered by a panel of doctors on a case-by-case basis, but needs to be supported by reasonable suspicion. Apparently, having tested positively in the past, even multiple times, does not constitute suspicion.

This is nothing but good news. It seems Singleton is getting the help he needs and has a network of support when he needs it. That's very reassuring for the young man's future.

2) Advanced stats and you

Not sure what to make of this article in the Washington Post by James Wagner. The author talks to multiple National players and coaches about how much they use statistics and which ones they use. While the author seems to have a good grasp of the more useful new stats, the entire tone of the article suggests they aren't that useful in the game itself.

"There are so many different stats out there nowadays I honestly don't even know half the time," reliever Tyler Clippard said. "I read articles, and I don't even know what these guys are talking. fWAR-plus or ERA+, I don't even know what those things mean. And I don't really care to because I'm kind of like old-school-type mind-set where I just go out there and do well, and all that other weird statistical stuff will fall into place."

Here's my problem. Stats like this aren't meant to improve a player's performance. ERA and RBIs don't do that, either. Maybe a guy will say "I want my ERA to be under 4.00 this year," but they don't help him achieve that goal. That's all the players and coaches are saying. It makes sense. On the field, WAR doesn't matter.

But, it matters quite a bit in putting together a team. Looking at the big picture, those stats like ERA+ or FIP-, put players into context of the league itself. They show a GM or team executive where they can improve and what to expect in the future. They won't teach the right fielder how to hit a curve.

Which is why I had a problem with the article. Of course a reliever won't have use for FIP. Of course he won't be able to calculate WAR. Why does he need to? By writing a whole article on how these guys don't use statistics, the author is painting a portrait of stats not being useful, whether he means to or not. He's relegating advanced stats to the realm of pointy-headed nerds, not validating them as telling a useful story about baseball.

3) Notes from Jim Crane

Lastly, a pair of stories on Jim Crane's visit to Port St. Lucie on Tuesday. First up, there's talk of the Palm Beach facility still possibly being in play:

Valeche has said that the Blue Jays are no longer part a process to find a two-team facility that the Astros would share in Palm Beach County, but Crane indicated Tuesday he wasn't sure if the Blue Jays have fully left the process.

"I don't know if the Blue Jays are totally out of it, I haven't talked to them lately," Crane said. "The Nationals have shown some interest also."

Next, Crane talks about Comcast and the ongoing struggles of the network:

Astros owner Jim Crane said Tuesday he expects an offer from Comcast this week to buy more of Comcast SportsNet Houston, the troubled regional sports network owned by the Astros, Rockets and Comcast, or to lend it more money.

"Last I heard there was supposed to be something coming down this week on an offer," Crane said. "From our knowledge, we think Comcast is going to make an offer to either lend the network some more money to proceed, or put an offer out to both teams."

What do you think? Anything new learned here?

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