Some things to talk about while I celebrate the first five-day sweep for Three Things since June...
1) Luhnow's comments to Drellich
Pretty informative Q&A with Jeff Luhnow up by Evan Drellich. One of the highlights for me (which clack pointed out this morning in an email) is this one:
Vis a vis Fowler, Luhnow elaborated on how the club accounts for park differences: "With all the technologies that's in the ballpark these days, we have access to data that's unbelievable. We know the exact force at which the ball comes off the bat and the trajectory that it comes off the bat, so we can kind of project it in a more neutral environment and rather than say, ‘It's a home run, it's an out,' we can give it a run value based off of how hard it was hit and in which direction it was hit, and then just sort of sum it up over the course of the year and compare different players. You really get some interesting insights by doing that."
Mike Fast teased Twitter repeatedly with velocity data on home runs and hits off the bat, which was really cool, but is totally proprietary data we fans won't get to see soon. What this comment does is suggest that once again, we don't know as much as this front office. They have sophisticated models to answer the question of home-road splits more than just "he only hit .240 outside of Coors. Burn him!"
Which is comforting. If they were just working with the data we have at hand, it would be hard for them to gain any market inefficiency now, wouldn't it? Every team should be able to open FanGraphs and see things that we do, but they can't build the statistical models the Astros have. Adding Wyers means Houston has built more sophisticated ways of thinking about defense and Hit F/X gives them much more data on regression on players.
2) Two relievers gone
Frick! Not one, but two relievers got picked up by teams this morning that could have been Astros targets. Both Ronald Belisario and Ryan Webb were non-tendered on Monday and could have been nice pickups for Houston.
Alas, they're headed to the White Sox and Orioles, respectively. The fact that both signed quickly, though, shows that we knew what we're talking about, right? I don't know. I'm trying to find something good to say about this.
I talked about this in the mailbag, but where does this leave the Astros? There are still plenty of bullpen arms on the market, including my favorite option Boone Logan. But, as more and more of these names come off, things get more dicey.
Of course, I'm sure the Astros front office is reading any angst by me and you commenters and just laughing, as they probably have three deals done already that are just waiting approval and will drop them an hour after this posts, just to make me look bad. I don't need help, Mike. I can look bad enough on my own.
3) Average is an upgrade
Two days, two items from Eno Sarris. He's on quite a roll, isn't he? This one is on James Loney and the contract he's seeking. While three years and $30 million seems incredibly high to me, he probably gets it in this market. That doesn't mean he'll be worth it, but as Sarris points out, he still could be an upgrade for the Pirates.
There does seem to be some buy-high risk, though. Maybe it's not sexy to sign a guy that has the upside to be league average, but this Pirates team hasn't seen an average first baseman since 2009′s version of Garrett Jones left the building, and he was the only once since 2001 to achieve that feat.
It makes me think about the Astros, obviously. In particular, let's put that in context of the Fowler move. As Tim pointed out on Twitter when the Fowler trade broke, even if the new center fielder is worth just 2 fWAR in 2014, that could be a four-win swing from what Astros right fielders put up last year.
In essense, they're getting average production from a position that was substantially below-average. And the Astros did it without having to give $30 million to the risk that is James Loney.