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Random Astros Tuesday Thoughts

Lots of things bouncing around the blogosphere and baseball world lately. I have weighed in a little bit on some of the open threads, but surprisingly still have a bunch to say. Here's some random thoughts from this weekend in Roy Rumors.

FIrst off, I'm fairly convinced by this article that the reason Dan Haren may not have netted much in return is he's not as valuable as his peripherals may think. Dave Cameron makes the case pretty convincingly here. At least, it convinced me. Haren has suffered through some injuries lately and I don't know how comfortable I'd be making him the ace of a team. Add to that his long (albeit reasonably priced) contract and it's not out of the realm of possibility that the Diamondbacks sold him for market value. Of course, they may have chosen to sell him at his lowest possible market value, but that's a discussion for another day.

I'm also getting annoyed with all these national media types weighing in on the state of the Oswalt trade. Bandying about such words as "difficult," or "front office in disarray." I don't like hearing from AL executives about the possibility of an Oswalt trade. I understand these guys are being payed to report on things like trade rumors and that they generate lots of traffic for the web and viewers on TV, but damn. If I played fast and loose with "sources" like these guys? I'd be dismissed as a penny-ante blogger who didn't know better in a heartbeat. Instead, we have to hang all over Ken Rosenthal's every word. 

Don't take that the wrong way, either. I like Rosenthal and think he does a great job reporting nationally. He's incredibly well-connected. In fact, that's generally the reason for writers becoming so prominent. It's less about the writing and more about who you can talk to for scoops. Is Rosenthal a talented guy? Sure. Do you see Michael Wilbon doing similar things for the NBA? Not in a million years. I understand Wilbon's a columnist, which makes him an entirely different animal, but still. As much as I like Twitter, I'd prefer a well-sourced, double-checked report before I go crazy and write a 5,000 word post. Call me crazy...

In contrast, the three Houston beat writers have been superb, as has Astros County through all the Roy-mers. Zachary Levine, Bernardo Fallas and Brian McTaggart have been on top of every development in this story. When they aren't breaking news themselves about Oswalt's demands or how Berkman is looking at free agency, they are running down confirmation of other reported rumors. Oh, you say Oswalt's option being picked up is a sticking point? How about actually asking him? Fallas did that. Oh, the Twins may have some interest? Levine is on top of it. You get the idea. The Chronicle caught some heat for losing the story for a year when Drayton almost sold the team to Houston businessman Jim Crane, but these three haven't let much slip past them. Which is nice, because it makes my job a lot easier. 

Speaking of my job, I've been thinking more and more about what purpose this site should serve. Is its highest, best calling as an opinion page? Do you want to hear all sorts of crazy trades and constant lambasting of whoever is on the chopping block? Those are silly questions, because I know the answer. You come here for reasoned opinions backed up by fact. We research our articles out, provide you with our conclusions and discuss them. I've said this before, but I've enjoyed writing for you all so much because of that discussion. My question is, does this site benefit from us being analysts and not beat reporters? If I were to get credentialed and start attending Astros games to develop sources within the organization, would that help or hurt the overall product? Basically, what do you expect out of this site and would it change if we operated more like traditional media? We certainly have all the parts. Editorials, enterprise reporting (researching), features/player profiles, game recaps. Get a pair of eyes in the press box and a recorder for the post-game presser and we can add our own quotes to the stories. But, would we just be trying to legitimize the already-excellent work we do? Or taking away from what makes this site special in the first place?

I really like that the Astros promoted Fernando Abad, even as I feel bad for Chris Sampson. I get the sense that the Astros would have done this move earlier this season if Abad hadn't been injured. I wonder if they would have kept him in the rotation had he not gotten hurt. Not sure if Brad Mills has an idea how to use Abad yet, but it's also interesting that Mills has shied away from playing the Tony La Russa-type games with LOOGYs. For the most part, Mills brings a lefty in for an entire inning. I'd also like to point out that Brandon Lyon is the leading reliever in WPA per Leverage Index, according to FanGraphs. In a pretty neat combination of stats, we can see that Lyon has provided a lot of value while pitching in tough situations. I'm not sure he'll be good for all three seasons of the contract, but I think Lyon has proven he's worth five million in 2010.

Two quick links: this is why you shouldn't always judge a young pitcher by innings pitched and this is a nice review of the Astros draft. I'm not sure whether the jab in there is referring to stuff sites like us did before the draft or to the more vocal members of the prospecting community. Either way, I was both a little offended and mindful of the good point he was making.