Not much going on besides the managerial search, but there were a couple of stories that caught my eye:
- Could Tony LaRussa be out in St. Louis? Tony will retire rather than accept a job elsewhere, but it's interesting to think through the possibilities his leaving would potentially have. First off, would the Cards job be more enticing than the Astros job? Will that limit the managerial pool in Houston's search? Second, does that make Dave Duncan available? Could the Astros land someone like Duncan if they threw enough money at him? Just one of those stories that could create potential ripples that will affect the entire off-season.
- R.J. Anderson over at D.Ray's Bay wonders if J.R. Towles makes sense as a trade candidate for Tampa Bay. Obviously the Astros don't have much faith in Towles and special advisor for the Rays Gerry Hunsicker has proven to be a fan of guys he drafted with the Astros (see Zobrist, Ben). Does it make sense for the Astros? Jason Castro will get a chance to win the starting job sooner rather than later. I don't think Houston wants to break in a young backstop before breaking in another in Castro, so I could see them taking a one-year flier on someone like Benjie Molina before giving Castro a chance to win the job by midseason. Tampa Bay also has a surplus of pitching, so maybe a swap of Andy Sonnanstine or Jeremy Hellickson would be enough to get it done.
- Since we've already discussed some potential deals, would the Astros think about trading for Matt Gamel? The 23-year old is a year younger than Chris Johnson, and has a better minor league record. Gamel flashed more power in the minors, with an career minor-league OPS of .862 compared to Johnson's .726. They're apparently looking for pitching, but would they be happy with Yorman Bazardo or Polin Trinidad? Putting together a bigger deal with Wandy and J.J. Hardy might be more appealing, but an under-the-radar deal for Gamel might make the most sense long-term.
- A couple of managerial notes: This report out of Boston shows the Astros have gotten permission to interview Red Sox third baseman Tim Bogar and bench coach Brad Mills. Add them to the confirmed list that includes Manny Acta, who will probably get the first interview this week. I'll have a post later today on Acta going over his background and managerial career. UPDATE: McTaggart added a couple more confirmed names in Bob Melvin and Al Pedrique, while also running down how the hiring process will shake out.