Some things to talk about while you're glad the Astros can't lose again today...
1) When it's time to call a guy up
Let's talk about Jarred Cosart.
The right-hander is one of Houston's four best prospects. He's currently toiling away in Triple-A, putting up respectable numbers and improving on all the negative factors that dogged him heading into the 2013 season. Sure, there's still the attitude, like when he was first told about the tandem starting setup.
With Houston's rotation suddenly in flux, the question is whether or not it's time to call up Mr. Cosart. Two main questions color this debate. First, there's the issue of his service time clock.
A team has control over a prospect for six years before said player hits free agency. The first three years are when the team gets to set his salary (usually at a minimum) while the second three are when a player can go through arbitration.
If a player gets called up too soon in a season, he can accrue enough service time to become a "Super Two" player. That means he goes to arbitration a year early. It doesn't decrease the number of years a team has to control a player. It just means they get more expensive sooner than their peers.
Ah, but Super Two isn't the only concern here. If Houston waits long enough to call up Cosart, it can essentially get an extra year out of him by playing with that service time clock. If he heads into his third year with just 2.25 years of service time, he won't go into arbitration until his fourth big league season.
Projecting a prospect, much less a pitching prospect, seven years down the road is tricky, though. What's more important than service time with Cosart is whether he's ready to pitch in the majors. As clack has said multiple times already this season, the biggest mistake bad teams make is bringing up a pitcher before he is ready.
Cosart looks better than he was last year. His walk rate is down. His strikeout rate is up to 9.5 per nine innings this season. He's not giving up home runs, as he's allowed just four in the last 160 innings over two seasons now.
But, we have to factor in the tandem starting situation. Cosart has only worked into the sixth inning twice this season. Two starts ago, Cosart had his roughest outing yet, giving up six runs on five hits and four walks in four innings.
He bounced back to throw 5 1/3 innings in his last start, striking out six and allowing four hits and one run. Still, he needed 93 pitches to get through those five innings and may not be capable of stretching out much past that yet. That's not a big concern if Houston sticks to it's big league tandem starter routine, but it could mean Cosart's not quite ready for prime time.
What do you think? Should service time hold Cosart back if he's ready pitch in the majors? Is he ready to pitch in the majors or does he need a month or more of time in Triple-A?
2) Knebel suspended
After leistomania409 put up a great profile of Texas closer Corey Knebel last Thursday, some bad news got handed down for the Longhorn. He, along with teammate Cameron Cox, have been suspended for trying to game a urine test.
It's the last in a series of low moments for the Texas team this year. The Longhorns have struggled to stay out of the Big 12 cellar and may miss the postseason tournament entirely. Head coach Augie Garrido said it may be his most painful season since he's been at Texas.
The question is how Knebel's draft stock will be affected. Yes, he did cheat. But, he was cheating to help a teammate. Does that give him character concerns or does it give his makeup a boost, since he'll do what he can to help the team?
3) Poz depresses us all
So, Joe Posnanski, in his new home over at Hardball Talk, writes about the Astros. He's not snarky...much. He's not mean-spirited...much. But he does ask a question about this particular Astros team.
Does this Houston Astros team have the staying power to be that kind of awful all year long? Oh, they’re bad … no question about that. They will lose 100 games. But, those of us who have spent much of our lives following and studying bad teams know: It’s not easy to stay THAT bad for an entire season.
He goes on to talk about all the bad teams that have come before, looking at the one's he's seen up close to determine if the Astros have that staying power to be as bad as the '62 Mets.
I told you it wasn't pretty, but it is a nice look back at the recent history of awful teams. What do you think? Does Houston have what it takes to be a 120-loss squad?