We begin our travels just south of the Lower 48 in the Dominican Republic, where changes may be afoot in the country's various developmental programs. MLB is considering a move to fingerprint young baseball players, in an attempt to discourage age and identity discrepancies associated with the various unregulated leagues in the DR. I suppose critics could take issue with the legality of fingerprinting youths as young as 11, but if nothing else, the Dominicans should have seen this coming, had they bothered to pay close attention to American sports other than baseball.
Our next stop is a return trip to Texas, where creditors of Tom Hicks met recently with the new owners of the Texas Rangers, in an attempt to siphon as much money as they could from the recent sale. The author of the source I just cited believes this is all just a small speed bump on the road to eventual ratification by 3/4 of major league owners, but the SportsBusiness Daily seems to believe otherwise:
[S]ources say key lenders are livid over the terms of the deal and unless they change, the financial institutions could refuse to release the liens on the Rangers. "It’s a trainwreck," said one source. "We will be better off in bankruptcy court."
Lien priorities, bankruptcy trustees, creditors, a debtor, and baseball. So it's finally happened: law school and The Crawfish Boxes have melded into one. I don't know how I feel about this..
Now to the minor leagues, where Baseball America fielded an Astro related prospect question from a reader in Tacoma, WA. Basically, the guy wanted to know why Jonathan Gaston hasn't received the love a player who OPS's .965 over the course of a season normally gets. BA's response:
You have to take in account where they are putting the stats up. Gaston was hitting in maybe the best hitter's park in baseball. If you're going off just stats, you also have to take into account that Gaston hit .193/.292/.285 in 207 at-bats in Tri-City in 2008. There are also concerns about his strikeouts. He'll get a chance this year to prove it again in Double-A, but last season's outstanding numbers have made him one of the Astros better prospects.
Valid points, I must concede.
All signs point to the Corpus Christi Hooks being a very interesting team this season, with the potential for many young arms and bats to go through Whataburger Field at various points in 2010. I'm not alone in my eagerness for the AA season to begin.
Minor League Opening Day is a bit later than in the Majors, and Corpus Christi will take on their organizational big brothers, the Express, in a couple of exhibition games on April 6th (in CC) and 7th (in RR).
I know that Whataburger Field has drawn rave reviews form various places, but has anyone here ever been to a Hooks game? The stadium looks like a beauty, right off the water with the Harbor Bridge adding a PNC Park type element to the ambiance.
At Beyond the Boxscore headquarters, one of their writers tallied up the CHONE inspired WAR values for each of the 30 big league team's starting rotations, and the NL Central didn't fare too well- with our division finishing last. Their post points out the obvious caveat when projecting the Astros' rotation in 2010:
CHONE is least impressed with the NL Central, projecting the Cubs to be the best at No. 13 thanks to good depth, with the Brewers ranking the worst at No. 27. The Brewers' mark was dragged down a good deal by the presence of Jeff Suppan (0.1 WAR projection), while Cardinals' and Astros' marks were dragged down by a lack of depth beyond their best two starters.
We've gone over the projections of our pitching staff before, and I'm going to assume David is going to have Bud, Felipe and Brett as a part of his Community Projection series of posts. If all three can remain healthy, I think the trio will surpass their CHONE projected statistics and add perhaps as much as another four wins to the starting rotation's WAR. Just going by what the Fans think on Fangraphs, the WAR values for Felipe, Bud and Brett are as follows:
These WAR values may just be a result of rampant homerism, but I don't think any of the stat lines that the Fans project for these three are out of the realm of possibilities. Add these totals to a WAR of 8 for Roy Oswalt and Wandy Rodriguez, and the 'Stros starters could be at least league average unit before it's all said and done.