Some things to talk about while we continue to wish John a speedy recovery...
1) CSN Hoston bankruptcy thoughts
Here are some thoughts on the revelations from this weekend's piece by David Barron on CSN Houston and on Monday's hearing on the bankruptcy filings. Do you know what my most important takeaway from that Barron piece was?
That the Astros' ownership right now would never have struck the CSN Houston deal in the way it currently sits. Drayton was happy to have an ownership stake, to grow the thing slowly and to lose money on the deal while not being a top 10 revenue team very quickly, if at all.
Jim Crane wants the money up front. This current set of Astros owners wants to get a set media rights fee instead of relying on revenue from a majority stake in the network. Basically, they want the Rangers' deal with Fox instead of the Yankees' with YES.
That's an oversimplification, but it all boils down to money, I think. I believe Drayton was willing to operate the Astros at a loss, since it was a baseball team and not run like a business. Crane is running the Astros like a business and doesn't want to take a loss over and over again for no reason. So, that's how he's negotiating and that fundamental change in philosophies is what is driving the wedge between Houston, the Rockets and CSN Houston.
Once again, the Rockets move away from the Astros position, suggesting the split between the two entities is real. Of course, there's always money at the heart of it. As Barron pointed out in his piece last weekend, the Astros and Rockets would get about the same money from revenue. That TV revenue would be the richest deal in the NBA for a team, while it would put Houston in the middle of the pack in MLB and a good $30 million behind the Rangers.
Remember that report back in May, that the Astros spiked a potential deal to televise both Rockets and Astros games with major carriers? Yep, that's how it went down. The deal was not with many carriers, but appeared to just be with DirecTV. CSN Houston hoped that one deal would get the ball rolling on other deals, but the Astros weren't playing that way. They did not want to make even one deal that wouldn't make the network financially viable. So, that went away and we're now at this point.
At this point, I'd say I can't see this resolving with the Astros still being a partner in CSN Houston. That would mean the station dissolving, because a station revolving just around the Rockets and Dynamo probably isn't financially viable. However, as we've said twice before, it's always about the money. If Houston gets paid in this deal by Comcast, things may get back to normal.
More likely, though, is that Comcast is the one kicked to the curb, as Judge Isgur's recommendation may be to allow the Astros and Rockets to shop for a new, friendlier cable partner. That has all sorts of other implications and might allow Crane to re-negotiate the deal to his liking.
2) Free agent profile: Suk-min Yoon
Here's an interesting name hitting the market. We talked about Masahiro Tanaka both on the podcast and in Monday's Three Things, but the Korean pitcher Suk-min Yoon is also a free agent, free of any posting system too.
Yoon doesn't have the overwhelming stuff that Tanaka does, but that's also maybe not true. He's just not that well-known to the non-baseball scouting world. He might also have had a shoulder injury last season and who knows what kind of shape he's in now.
Still, he's easily the youngest free agent starter on the market and if healthy, represents a nice lottery ticket. MLB Trade Rumors suggests he could get a two-year deal for $10 million, which is incredibly reasonable for an innings-eater. Heck, that's even doable for a long reliever in some cases and the years mean he's not hurting a team long-term.
He's definitely a name to watch this winter, just to see how many teams are linked to him. He's a Boras guy, though the Astros haven't seemed to mind dealing with the super agent previously.
Anyone got a better scouting profile on Yoon? Where does he rank on your free agent wish list?
3) Astros farm rankings
'Tis the season for ranking baseball's farm system. This season will run through next February as prospect analysts stru-er, jump on things to do before starting prep on the 2014 draft.
It's good news for the Astros, though, as they rank second on this Baseball America list of the systems with the most players near to the majors. Or something. I don't know, the system is pretty convoluted and confusing.
Here's BA's comment on the Astros:
RHP Mike Foltynewicz (2 TL) • OF George Springer (3 PCL) • RHP Jarred Cosart (11 PCL) • SS Carlos Correa (2 MWL) • RHP Lance McCullers Jr. (5 MWL)
Houston’s depth is apparent with its players who just missed the cut here: RHP Michael Feliz (3 NYP), SS Jonathan Villar (19 PCL), OF Domingo Santana (6 TL), RHP Vince Velasquez (12 MWL) and 1B Jonathan Singleton (13 PCL).
Very strong showing by Houston and another notch in the cap for Luhnow and the rest of the talented front office. They really are reverse-engineering the draft, finding players and pitchers at premium positions and dramatically increasing Houston's potential there.