Some things to talk about while we have our first Mayo mock draft for 2014...
1) What is going on?
Why on earth did baseball's collective GM hive mind decide that Tuesday, Dec. 3, was going to be it. That this particular date was going to be the day that all family business is settled. Honestly, my Twitter feed Tuesday afternoon looked like the final minutes of The Godfather, and I didn't even get to see the Ellsbury fallout.
It was nuts.
In a, "That's So Astros," kind of way, it was also fitting. Houston finally made a deal, spent some cash and didn't even get to be the main story for a news cycle. Heck, they didn't even get to be the main story for a four-hour window, as the Ellsbury news buried Fowler faster than Dan O'Dowd tried to do to him on the radio a few weeks back.
Usually, the Winter Meetings are where these sorts of frantic days happen, but this one came a week before that convenes. What's left to do between now and then, you ask?
Well, to hear Jeff Luhnow tell it, the Astros could make two more moves before then. If I had to guess, they'd be free agent signings and I'd bet on a reliever and a starting pitcher happening between now and then.
2) Brent Strom interview
FanGraphs has a great Q&A session with new Astros pitching coach Brent Strom. If you want to get excited about the 2014 season, start learning more about him. Kyle Boddy gushed about him on our podcast and now Strom says some things that sound awful smart. For instance:
"I think what I teach is based on the belief that I don't know what I don't know. I keep searching for better ways. I believe I'm a more knowledgeable pitching coach now than I was a couple of years ago. I'm definitely a lot better than I was 10 years ago. Every pitching coach tries to do the best they can, so it's a question of, ‘Have you been exposed to the right information and are you willing to make adjustments as you coach? Are you going to move forward, or are you going to be stuck in the one way that was taught to you?' It's an ongoing process, because I think teachers are developed, they're not born.
That, right there, is a distillation of the Astros entire philosophy. There is no set way. There is just information. To be a part of this organization, you have to adapt to new information and fit it into how you look at baseball. Every perspective is unique, but it's the guys who can adapt on the fly that will stay here for a while.
Like I said, reading that interview, it's hard not to get excited about what Strom will bring to the team in 2014. And, yes, I do like him more because he said nice things about Shane Reynolds.
3) Parting thoughts on Jordan Lyles
How you feel about the Dexter Fowler deal may be tied up in how you feel about Jordan Lyles. Anthony waxed eloquently on him earlier today and I went back and forth with Jordan about him on Twitter just moments ago.
But, there's a reason why I'm not as high on Lyles as some of the prospectors. To me, the probability that Lyles becomes anything more than the below-replacement level pitcher he's been is very small. The number of pitchers who threw as many innings as Lyles at his age with an ERA+ of 80 or under is very, very small.
There's just no precedent for him right now. In the last sixty years, there have been three guys who fit that bill. Javier Vasquez, Pete Broberg and Camilo Pascual. All three pitched for a lot of years, but they all showed success in those first, early years. Even Pascual, who had three bad years to start his career, showed a marked improvement in his strikeout rate before he had success at preventing runs.
Lyles hasn't shown progress. He will probably be in the league for another 10 years, but that doesn't mean he'll be good. In fact, I highly doubt that Lyles even turns into a No. 3 starter in the next three years. I hope I'm wrong and he may do so after that point, but right now, it looks like Lyles is a ways away from being a contributor.
That's the biggest reason why I'm okay with the trade. Fowler will most likely not be the best Astros player next season. He might be in the top five, but I feel strongly that Lyles will not be there in any of the next three years.