Some things to talk about while John Klima tries to steal Kohl Stewart away from Texas A&M...
1) Ankiel released, EdGon DFAed
Two notes on roster moves today. Houston officially released Rick Ankiel, so he's not going to OKC. Thus ends the brief Astros career of Ankiel, who gave us some great highlights in his time along with a bucketful of strikeouts.
Another player designated for assignment recently was former Houston pitcher Edgar Gonzalez. Houston had to DFA him earlier this spring to make room on the 40-man roster and the Blue Jays snapped him up. I wouldn't be surprised if Houston tried to sign him and send him to Triple-A (or even keep him in the bullpen as a long man), just for the depth.
2) MLB says Porter, umpires wrong
For the second consecutive day, Major League Baseball has come out and said its umpires were wrong. This time, it was after the Porter-Wright Directive from Thursday night.
Here's what the Chronicle got from MLB today:
MLB senior vice president Patrick Courtney confirmed today that the rules covering pitching changes was not applied correctly. "The rule covering pitching changes was not applied correctly by the umpiring crew in the 7th inning of last night’s Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim – Houston Astros Game at Minute Maid Park. The matter is being reviewed."
What's interesting is the article highlights a rule change made this year that applies to pinch-hit situations. If a pitcher starts an inning, crosses the base line and the other team sends up a pinch-hitter, the opposing team can pull said pitcher without him throwing a pitch.
That rule does not apply to mid-inning pinch hitters, so Porter was wrong in his interpretation. However, another rule therein says that if the umpire allows said pitcher to throw a pitch, it becomes a legal change. So, the Angels cannot protest the inclusion, since the pitcher was legal.
Controversy! What do you think MLB will do from this? Is there any chance the umpires fire back at MLB for throwing them under the bus for two straight days? Should this UmpShow start the move for bigger changes with umpiring?
3) Mark Reynolds off to a hot start
In search of the team's first-ever regular designated hitter, the Houston Astros settled on Carlos Pena for the low, low price of $2.9 million for one year. So far this season, Pena has hit .228/.328/.368 with three home runs and a 13 percent walk rate. He hasn't been the worst hitter on the team, but he's far from the best.
Meanwhile, the similarly downtrodden Cleveland Indians went on a spending spree, signing one Mark Reynolds to a one-year, $6 million deal to play all over the place.
Reynolds has been more than worth it, hitting 11 home runs so far with a line of .291/.367/.645 and has been worth 1.3 fWAR this season. Given his previous track record, there's every indication that Reynolds won't hit that well for the rest of the season, but his power should be there.
Beyond the Box Score looked at Reynolds to see just how sustainable his hot start might be. Here's the conclusion:
There isn't a projection system on Fangraphs that has Reynolds batting over .237 or striking out less than 28.4% of the time in 2013. Boosted by an almost average contact% and an uncharacteristically low strikeout rate, Reynolds has definitely exceeded expectations. Whether he will be able to maintain this rate of contact remains to be seen. His strikeouts may rise as his O-Contact% whittles closer to his career average but Reynolds has a good shot at reproducing his 2009 production.
Do I need to tell you that Reynolds would have been an upgrade to this team? It's the impact of that upgrade that's questionable. Let's say that Reynolds ends up being worth 3-4 fWAR this season. Replacing Pena, that means he would have led to about three to four more wins for Houston this season, which moves them from last place to around where the Dodgers, Cubs and Blue Jays are right now.
Not exactly a great improvement, but it's something.
It's easy to criticize signings your team didn't make and, as we're discussing this, we should also note that 28 other teams didn't think Mark Reynolds could have helped. But, for all of you calling for a Reynolds signing last winter, feel free to say "I told you so."