Some things to talk about while Bun B interviews Dexter Fowler...
1) Presented without (much) comment
Players who are currently hitting under .200 with at least 100 plate appearances:
That's a nice mix of veterans and young players. Moustakas might get sent down by KC. Granderson signed for bookoos of money this offseason (imagine if he'd signed with Houston!!!), Uggla has tight pants. How do you feel about Houston targeting Pablo Sandoval to play third? What about uber-prospect Jedd Gyorko falling on his face? Stud Carlos Santana hitting like he's a dud.
You might guess what my point in bringing up this list is, so I won't bother actually saying it.
2) Veteran presence?
One of the (valid) complaints by some of our readers about this Astros roster and its construction is that not enough veterans got added. That these young players don't have anyone to learn from who know how to win in the majors.
I agree that this is a good point. For a nice example, check out this story on Josh Johnson, a one-time Astros free agent target who had to have a second Tommy John surgery this spring.
The Padres have a pitching coach (Darren Balsley) and a bullpen coach (Willie Blair). And now they have Johnson, who has volunteered his services, his eyes and opinions to the team if they want it.
"I love it," Balsley said. "This wasn't anything we asked him to do, either. Going back to Spring Training … JJ was the same way, watching other guys pitch in the bullpen. I think part of it is he really wants to be a part of this team. He was really looking forward to pitching here.
The $10 million the Padres are paying Johnson may be a little steep for another pitching coach, but that kind of expertise and "in" to the players has to be a benefit.
Looking at Houston's free agent decisions the past two years, I believe they know that clubhouse leadership is important. That was one of the big reasons they brought in Carlos Pena and Cesar Izturis, after all. The problem so far is they haven't been able to add a veteran presence who's actually been able to play.
Maybe they'll fix that this winter.
3) Players to root for
Grant Brisbee does his Brisbest in a piece on the baseball hub concerning players we are forced to root for. What I find interesting is how the Houston roster contains multiple players who fit this profile. For instance:
Player #3: The winning Keno numbers
This is clearly Collin McHugh. He's every bit as fun for Astros fans as Charlie Blackmon must be for the Rockies. I am also disappointed that Mr. Dunsmore has not given me a Doctor McWho photoshop yet. He must be thrown off by all the wibbley wobbly, timey wimey curveball stuff.
Player #4: A mansion built with tools
Clearly Jonathan Villar, who's always been a toolshed who could never put things together. Guess what? Now he is. Stealing bases. Playing good defense. Hitting for power. Gotta love the season Jonathan Villar is putting together.
Player #1: The old dog learning new tricks
This is the only one you have to squint at a little. No position player fits the bill, but you might make the case for Matt Albers. He was a well-regarded Astros prospect coming up, but has had to reinvent himself as a middle reliever both in Cleveland and now in Houston. If he can get healthy and pitch like he did briefly this season, he could fit this category.
Plus, I'm sort of rooting for Houston to trade for Troy Patton, just to have the Patton/Albers/Qualls bullpen out of a bizarro timeline. Call it the Earth 616 timeline or something.