Some things to talk about while Rudolph the Reindeer gets a Baseball Reference page...
1) CSN Houston discussion
A pair of really good articles over at the Houston Press on the CSN Houston situation. I agree with both conclusions that a deal is much more likely after last Thursday's switch from the Astros to the Rockets leading negotiations. Still, the best take on this whole process may be John Royal's here. Take the time to read the whole thing, but here's just a piece of what he has to say:
But Judge Isgur is handling this case like a genius. He's got issues with this thing being in bankruptcy, issues he's aired on the record. Yet he's not kicked it out because he's probably figured out that the network is history if the case is tossed out, that CSN Houston will end up filing for bankruptcy in a couple of months instead of like now, where it's some of the creditors. And knowing this, he's set things where the parties will work it out themselves, settling this thing in a relatively short time period rather than in the timeframe that would arise if the legal works were in full process.
The point is, games will be on TV soon. Les Alexander doesn't like negotiating in public, so we won't know anything until deals are done, but I feel much more comfortable with the long-term viability of the network than I did before. I also suspect that Houston will change its deal after carriage agreements are done, selling its TV rights to the network instead of owning a piece of it.
But, that's just speculation at this point. We're a long way from that now. From Royal's piece, though, we can at least anoint a hero for Houston sports fans in Judge Isgur.
2) Aging curve updates
FanGraphs points out some disturbing post-Steroid Era data on aging curves:
This information is important in predicting young players' performance. Once a hitter makes it to the majors, he doesn't really improve. In the past, people used to hope for improvement and growth as the player aged. These days, people should expect to see the player performing at his career best immediately.
This is good news for guys like George Springer and may be bad news for the Jose Altuve's of the world. It also makes me more upset that Springer wasn't called up last year, but I'll table that for another day.
Houston will have a ton of good players coming up the pipeline soon. Conventional wisdom suggests Houston will need to wait for them to peak together to compete for the playoffs. But, if they are already as good as they'll be by the time they get to the majors, that timetable could be moved up.
This is a hardly conclusive study, but it's worth keeping in mind for the next few years.
3) No Belt, but how bout a Pill?
It's the time of year where we throw caution to the wind and connect every marginal player to the Astros in a vain attempt to upgrade the roster. In this quest, our unblinking Eye of Sauron turns to Brett Pill.
Someone suggested Brandon Belt as a target Monday and, while I would loved Houston to #Belt a deal, it's Pill that could be available. At least, that's what MLB Trade Rumor suggests.
Pill is an odd duck of baseball, with a reverse platoon split. He's been a much better hitter against right-handers than against lefties. Of course, this could be Small Sample Size Theater, as Pill has not gotten a ton of at-bats in the majors.
Still, he shows an intriguing blend of positional flexibility and power that might be worth taking a flier on. If Houston is looking for someone to fill a Wallace-shaped hole at first base, why not see if Pill can be had for a song?