Some things to talk about while Carlos Rodon makes us all drool a little...
1) Impressions from the first weekend of baseball
Let's take a moment first to bask in the wonder that is the BP jerseys getting green-lit to be worn on Sundays and other special occasions. Those are some rockin' threads. ,,, Lucas Harrell looked okay in his start against the Phillies. He got outpitched by Cole Hamels, who shut the Astros down like his name was Matt Cain. But, spring stats are misleading for a reason. Harrell wasn't sequencing his pitches like normal, instead choosing to work on his changeup in the second inning when he got knocked around a bit. ... BoBall sure is going to be fun to watch. We've got double steals all over the place, guys running all the time and taking the extra base. This team has some savvy base runners, so I'm sure Luhnow and Co. are preaching stealing efficiently, while Vince Coleman is preaching, "Steal all the time," but we'll get to that in a minute. ... Good to see some of the prospects show up in big ways. Jarred Cosart had a nice debut, with the Ryan Howard strikeout being a highlight. George Springer has also seen some solid time and DDJ basically manufactured a run Sunday with his speed. Now, if we can only get Carlos Correa some ABs. ... Robbie Grossman, straight raking. ... F-Mart showed off some early power too, with Jason Castro adding a pretty impressive home run on Sunday. It's early, but the club has hit three homers in two games. I'm not used to that kind of power with this team. Must be the spring air getting to them.
2) Jonah Keri on NRIs
I'm late on this, as it went up last Wednesday, but Jonah Keri did a post on the most interesting non-roster invitees in spring training this season. The Astros were represented by one Erik Bedard:
An NRI, but also Houston's projected fifth starter, Bedard may well have a few years left in the big leagues, given he's still striking out nearly a batter an inning, with 48 starts over the past two seasons pointing to at least an ebbing of his notorious injury tendencies.
There's also some stuff about the horrible trade that sent him from Baltimore to Seattle and how teams may be reluctant to make those types of prospects-for-vets moves because of it. All in all, it's a good read, and nice to see someone being somewhat optimistic about Bedard being in Houston's rotation.
The other reason I'd check the piece out is for the leadoff bit about Lew Ford, a Port Neches native who has a terrific story. We followed him pretty closely at my day job last season because of it, but as Keri points out, it's worth checking out his face on that home run, just as a reminder of how fun baseball can be.
3) Vince Coleman is awesome
Not only are the Astros burning up the base paths with BoBall, they're doing it under the tutelage of one Vince Coleman, master of the 100-steal season. If you aren't sold on his addition to the minor league staff, check out this quote from a Tags story:
When asked why no player has stolen 100 bases in a season since Coleman swiped 109 bags in 1987, he didn't hesitate.
"You haven't had a Vince Coleman to teach them," said Coleman, who joined the Astros' organization this year as an outfield/baserunning coach at Class A Quad Cities.
One of the things that Coleman talks about is that baserunning isn't just about speed, it's about many things, like secondary leads. In Saturday's game broadcast, Ford and Sparks mentioned how Robbie Grossman didn't have a huge primary lead, but had a very aggressive secondary lead, which may be how he's able to steal a bunch of bases without blazing speed. He's savvy about it in other ways.
Think about this. How high-paced will BoBall be with George Springer and Robbie Grossman starting around Justin Maxwell in center field? They could have 200 stolen bases as a group. Maybe I'm exaggerating, but Vince Coleman's confidence is rubbing off on me.