1) The new structure in left field: for the greater good of Houston - Before you even think about getting into the discussion you need to read the articles regarding the structure here and here. If you want to get an idea for what it's going to look like do a search on the Sports Business Daily website for Astros.
My first reaction was to groan. One of the first things I noticed about the Yankees and Mets new ballparks were the advertisements plastered all over them. I know advertisements bring in revenue, but what the heck am I doing when I spend what amounts to a 12-pack on two beers at the ballpark? Oh, but if you read the articles these new advertisements aren't necessarily for revenue they're for revitalizing ball fields in disadvantaged neighborhoods. Which is awesome, but doesn't change fact that it'll still be an eye sore in left centerfield.
Jim Crane developed this initiative with Houston Mayor Annise Parker. When a sports team owner and a politician get together it's usually not for the greater good. Although with the Astros moving to the American League next season maybe Crane is trying to get in the good graces of fans. I just can't help but wonder what else is going on behind the scenes with this project.
Still it looks like a positive initiative. Not only are companies going to pay for advertising that goes to revitalizing Houston ball fields, but their employees will also be volunteering as coaches and mentors. I just hope that when they refurbish these ball fields that don't erect fences, like so many playgrounds and sporting fields I've seen these days, meant to keep people out. There's nothing more disheartening to a group of youth wanting to play baseball then to see fields locked on a sunny Saturday afternoon.
Why do I suddenly feel like Lewis Black?
2) More Minute Maid Park News: could the train be pulling out for good? - Shortly after details regarding the new structure in left center were released, we get this short article by Zachary Levine. Yup, the train's future has joined that of Tal's hill, in the we should see other people zone.
I'm all for it as long as they replace it with a cowboy riding a rocket waving his hit for every homerun hit in Minute Maid Park. The new structure could act a ramp for the rocket. If it's not that then I'm not really for getting rid of the train. Yes, I know trains have nothing to do with Astros, but it has a lot to do with the old building and I think it's a unique, classy feature in the ballpark.
Honestly, who doesn't love trains.
3) Trade Chris Johnson? - So I've been doing these articles looking at potential trade partners for some of the current Astros expected and not expected to be moved by the trade deadline. After completing the Jed Lowrie article I started looking at teams that might be a fit for CJ.
Johnson has posted a 1.4 WAR so far this season at the hot corner. Putting him on pace, according to ZiPS for a 2.1 WAR season which would be a career high for him. The only team I found that could legitimately consider him was the Cleveland Indians who have gotten very little out of the players they've played at the position.
The White Sox just traded for Kevin Youkilis.
The Reds have a similarly young third basemen, Todd Frazier.
The Diamondbacks have Tatman, Ryan Roberts, who should see some offensive regression in his favor.
The Nationals have Ryan Zimmerman.
The Giants have Pablo Sandoval.
The Philadelphia Phillies have Placido Polanco.
The Red Sox have Will Middlebrooks.
The Pirates have Pedro Alvarez.
The Braves have Chipper Jones.
The Angels have gotten similar production at third base as the Astros have.
I'd put the chances of the Astros trading Johnson highly unlikely. He could be moved but barring some type of injury I just don't see a market for Johnson, which isn't a bad thing.