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Tuesday Afternoon Astros Link-Fest

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Let's look at some baseball-related links while wondering why the heck Joe Girardi is still pitching to Chase Utley...

  • Here's a nice roundup done by Brian McTaggart on the Astro Winter League contingent. Of note, Chia-jen Lo has headed back to Taiwan for a while and the Astros can't hit or pitch. I kid, of course, though one is more troubling than the other. I saw a tweet from Jonathan Mayo that the AFL league ERA was something like 5.87. That's with Stephen Strasburg, even. So, I'm not as worried about Danny Meszaros, especially when he has struck out eight in 5 2/3 innings. But, Jason Castro, Jose Vallejo and Jon Gaston all struggling is worrying. Castro has played a ton in the past season, though, and Vallejo isn't expected to do much next season. This leaves Gaston. He's got more potential than anyone gave him credit for, but with the extended slumps, the strikeouts and the fact he's probably going to settle in left field, how is he not a younger Luke Scott? Not that that's a bad thing, but it's an interesting comparison. I may have to look into a little more deeply.
  • Speaking of prospects, here's a good interview by The Unofficial Scorer with Jiovanni Mier. I have to admit, I've been intrigued with Mier all summer. He's played well, has shown good range at short and has got some pop in his bat. Like Castro, he profiles as more of a doubles hitters than a home-run threat, but as long as he can get on base at a .360-.380 clip in the majors, I'm fine with fewer homers.
  • Sparked by the Astros flirtation with Phil Garner, this article from THT talks about all the rehirings throughout history. Under Peculiar Owners, Jaffe lists just Charlie Finley and George Steinbrenner, but I'm thinking a certain grocery magnate from Temple could join that list...
  • Finally a bit of speculation on the merits of Russell Branyan. He's been mentioned a few times as a possible candidate for that black hole at third base the Astros currently have. Would he tingle anyone's toes if he signed? According to FanGraphs, Branyan was worth 12.5 million in 2009, which is more than he was worth in the previous three seasons combined. It might be a bad idea, then, to give him a multi-year deal. Instead, how about targeting a guy like Joe Crede, who may be released by the Twins. Crede earned 2.5 million in 2009 but was worth 8.3 million. His hitting has never rebounded to 2006 levels, but his wOBA was back to .330 as recently as 2008 with the White Sox. He's great with the glove, so maybe a move to the National League will help his hitting.

Back tomorrow with a look at the Astros fielding...