Some things to talk about while the AFL takes instant replay TO THE MAX...
1) Astros to play exhibitions in San Antonio
Back in May, David Barron reported on the possibility that Houston could play exhibition games with the Rangers in San Antonio starting next year. The impetus for that came when Reid Ryan was hired by the Astros as team president and it turns out those games are happening. Per Mark Berman:
Astros and Rangers to play 2 exhibition games at the Alamodome in San Antonio at the end of 2014 Spring Training.— Mark Berman (@MarkBermanFox26) November 7, 2013
This has to be a good deal for both teams. They both get to reach out to a big market, get to stay in state to play exhibition games without traveling very far and appeal to different fan bases. I think it's slightly easier for San Antonio fans to see Astros games than it is for them to go to Rangers games, but it's still a good deal for both teams.
For you San Antonio Astros fans, are you going to try and attend these games? Are you excited that it will be easier to see the Astros in our own back yard?
2) Free agent thoughts: Dan Haren
Keith Law posted his top free agent starting pitchers, complete with best and worst values. Go check out the names he's got up there for all his thoughts. The name I wanted to discuss is Dan Haren. We kicked around his name as a possible signee last year before he took a one-year, make-good deal with the Nationals.
That went so-so, as Haren suffered through injuries again but came back pretty strong in the second half. He still started 30 games and threw nearly 170 innings with a decent ERA.
Why would the Astros want him? Doesn't he look like another Erik Bedard? Well, not really. Haren doesn't walk anyone, still has good strikeout rates and can pitch deep into games. His pitch velocities has remained consistent for the past four seasons and he's not old enough to be gone in a year or two.
Basically, he's a risk, but one that might be worth it. He also won't cost a draft pick, which is a nice benefit. As much as I like Josh Johnson, I think Haren is a safer, better signing.
That's if the Astros can get him cheap. If they can sign him to a two-year deal like they did Jose Veras, where the second year is a team option, then I'd do it. If they have to go three years, I'd be wary.
What do you think? What kind of contract makes sense for Haren? Would he even have interest in joining Houston's rotation?
3) Feel better, John
Over at Minor League Ball, John Sickels has an update on his health. In case you haven't seen, Sickels has been dealing with the fallout of a concussion for a while now. His productivity has dropped, understandably, and his update today is all about the future of his book this year. He's still writing it, but isn't sure when it will be done.
How can you help John, one of the best prospect writers out there? Pre-order his book:
Several people have asked how they can help. The main things I need are your patience and your faith. The book will come out, the prospect lists will get done, and I hope that it will be not-too-much later than normal. But I don't know the exact day, and I have to let go of the idea of keeping to a tight schedule.
The best thing you can do to help is, quite simply, to pre-order a copy. The whole project is financed with pre-orders, and it would help my peace of mind a lot if we had as many pre-orders as possible. It would be one less thing to worry about, and right now I have a lot on my plate.
Feel better soon, John. SB Nation's baseball-verse is a much too dim without your daily presence.