Some things to talk about while we ponder whether the Astros will want a dirty Martinii...(sorry, someone had to make that joke, right?)
1) Starting rotation named (for spring)
Well, in anticipation of the first spring game, we get a six man rotation for the next six games. With the World Baseball Classic and everything else this spring, the Astros will be using multiple starters in games just to get everyone work.
Who are the lucky starters?
First up, Lucas Harrell, who we knew was already starting the spring opener on Saturday. Then, Bud Norris will start the home opener on Sunday with Phillip Humber on Monday, Erik Bedard on Tuesday in a split squad game, Jordan Lyles in the other split squad game and Alex White rounding out the group on Wednesday.
Left out of this equation? John Ely, Brad Peacock, Jarred Cosart and Dallas Keuchel. Of course, we have multiple starters pitching each outing, so we have pitching lineups to consider too for Saturday and Sunday. Like (thanks to Brian T. Smith):
Saturday rotation: Harrell, RHP Sam Demel, RHP Jarred Cosart, RHP Josh Zeid, LHP Brett Oberholtzer, RHP Chia-Jen Lo.
Sunday rotation: Norris, RHP Jose Veras, RHP Brad Peacock, LHP Wesley Wright, RHP Rhiner Cruz, LHP Sergio Escalona, RHP Josh Fields
Again, the guys not showing up here are Ely, Keuchel, Edgar Gonzalez, Kevin Chapman and C.J. Fick. The first three could certainly be paired with Humber, Bedard and White as a second starter in these early games, while Hector Ambriz is dealing with an injury.
What can we parse from this? Anything? Anyone in the lead for a roster spot by this or is that just crazy talk?
2) Garner scouting for A's
Turns out the move to the American League has been rough all over. Get this. The A's apparently haven't played the Astros recently, which means they have NO idea who they are.
Crazy, right? How will they ever get over this? By recruiting Phil Garner to scout his old team and tell all their dirty secrets to his old protege Bob Melvin.
"We will have Phil Garner who lives in Houston as a special adviser for us. He’ll take a look at them. You want to get as much information as you can going into the first game. Then once you play them a couple of times you get a better feel for the team. It’s more the first couple of games that you’re looking for information from your scouts. You do an awful lot of research on video and try to prepare your guys accordingly for personnel you haven’t really seen before."
Hey! And Garner lives in the Woodlands, just like J.D., Richard Justice and Matt Bullard. I knew I liked him.
3) Astros talked about Dom Brown with Phillies
Remember back when Wilton Lopez was almost traded to Philadelphia? And we here at TCB openly speculated that Dominic Brown might be included, as he's a formerly high profile prospect who's been blocked and is immediately big-league ready (both Luhnow hallmarks)?
Oh, and remember how so many Phillies fans mocked us for our hubris in thinking that a lowly reliever could bring back Brown? God help me, I'm going to turn to Heyman for a comeback:
domonic brown's name came up in trade talks with the #astros this winter, but philly isnt eager to trade an OF— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) February 20, 2013
Yup. No mention of how his name came up. I'm sure there could have been a situation where the Astros discussed Brown outside of the Lopez deal in an effort to fill that outfield void.
However, I find that highly unlikely. I bet that Brown was in the Lopez deal at one point, but that when it fell apart because of health issues, he might have been removed from it in the restructured deal. Or, the Astros could have asked for Brown and then had the Phillies consider it and back off when they needed the outfield help.
Either way, it's some vindication in some sense that we knew what we were talking about back then. It's still baseless speculation, but at least that speculation jibes with what we know of how this front office works.
Now, I'm not sure Brown is an upgrade over the outfielders on this team, but he'd certainly have been an interesting addition. Would you rather have Brown or Alex White on this team?