Lots and lots of links over the weekend. Maybe it's because Thanksgiving marks the unofficial beginning of the baseball offseason. Maybe it's because writers finally decompressed from the World Series ending. Whatever the reason, here's a jumbo-sized post full of link-y goodness:
- Here's an interesting article about the impact long-term contracts to early-year players has on the free agent pool. The Astros haven't done this in a while, but if Jason Castro develops in his first two seasons, it'll be interesting to see if they sign him to a four- or five-year deal.
- The first and second in a series on non-tender candidates. We've discussed Garrett Atkins a little bit on here but Kelly Shoppach hasn't gotten much publicity. Given his line over the past three seasons and the fact that he's moving to the National League, Shoppach could have some value for a team like the Astros. At the very least, he could replace a guy like Quintero, who's never hit nearly as well. Thoughts?
- Richard Justice steals one of our ideas, asking for input on what to do with the Astros budget. Later, Brian McTaggart does the same exact thing here. Is this a sign of lazy writing, a slow winter or stealing the great ideas of the gifted writers here at TCB. I'll let you decide...
- McTaggart also trotted out a mailbag for astros.com, answering reader questions about the state of the team. Unfortunately, there wasn't any new information to be gleaned. Yes, the Astros are on a budget. No, they are not going after big-name pitchers. Yes, they will explore the trade market, but no, they probably won't get any deals done. Most vexing is McTaggart saying that the Astros are content with Geoff Blum manning third in a platoon. Mind you, this platoon will also mean Blum gets the majority of the plate appearances, since there are more right-handed pitchers than leftys. Ed Wade is okay with this?
- McTaggart is good at his job, but it also goes to show you what an advantage media types at known media outlets have, in that he can talk to Wade pretty much every day. I talk to him too, but he may or may not be a fictional version of himself in those conversations.
- Joe Posnanski takes on the same question I hinted at the other day: Is Albert Pujols a Hall of Famer already? How many other current players 29 or under are also HOF-bound? Any Astros potentially on that list?
- For those of you (i.e. me) who suggested the Astros look at Derek Lowe, here's a cautionary article about his underlying stats. Now, I'd argue that pitching in MMP would give Lowe the added benefit of giving up towering shots to center field that are swallowed up by Michael Bourn, but I don't feel nearly as good as I did before I read that.
- Maybe the Astros will have some money to spend in 2011. Maybe that's why Drayton is saving up this winter. (Slightly disturbing to see Berkman's name here right after that candid interview he did recently...I don't know what I'd do without Puma on the team.)
- Don't believe everything you read during the Hot Stove Months. The only difference between bloggers and mainstream journalists is that the mainstreamers don't just make up stuff, right? Is that how we got reports about the Rangers shopping for a third baseman? Oh, right, it's because no one tries to check facts any more, preferring to break news instead. Glad we cleared that up.
There are a LOT of Dogers headed for big arbitration raises soon. If Berkman does decide to leave in 2011, could the Astros make a play for hometown guy James Loney? Does that make sense? Would it be cheaper in the long-run?
- Finally, a little snippet from John Sickels on former Houston high schooler Randall Grichuk (down at the bottom). He was rumored to be headed to the Astros before the draft, but was nabbed by the Angels instead. Always nice to see local kids making their way to the majors.