Some things to talk about while John discovers that Puig is a Sith Lord...
1) Astros prospects get some love on BA
Some nice comments from Baseball America on the Astros in the past few days. All are in front of the paywall, so they're free to see. First up? George Springer, who makes the Prospect Notebook:
With 25 homers and 28 steals on the year, Springer has a 30-30 season squarely in his sights. The last minor leaguer to accomplish that was Athletics outfielder Grant Desme in 2009, but he did all his damage at Class A, including a second-half run through the Cal League. The last before Desme was Angels outfielder Terry Evans, who in 2006 hit 33 homers and stole 37 bases while spending the second half in Double-A.
That's not impressive company, but it does show that what Springer is on the verge of doing doesn't happen very often. Do you know why? Because players on pace for 30-30 season in the high minors don't stay in the minors long enough to get there. #FreeSpringer
Mark Appel was also mentioned, but just for moving up to Low A ball. In this story by MLB.com, we learn that Appel and Carlos Correa are the fifth duo of No. 1 picks to be on the same minor league team at the same time, but the first consecutive picks to be there together. Pretty cool.
Next up? Lance McCullers, Jr., who makes the All-Prospect Team for June. Here's what they had to say:
Quad Cities rotation-mates McCullers and Vincent Velasquez are the only qualified Midwest League starters with more than 10 strikeouts per nine innings, though McCullers has yet to record an out in the sixth inning or later while working in the Astros' tandem-starter system. He averages nearly 17 batters faced per appearance, which is a long enough duration to be impressed by the fact he has yet to surrender a home run.
McCullers is getting a lot of attention and is easily in the conversation for the best pitching prospect in the system. He's not that yet, but he's at least in that conversation with Appel and Mike Foltynewicz.
Lastly, Springer was chosen for the Mid-Season All-Star Team by BA. Not much more to say about him here, except that he's on pace for the first 30-30 season since Desme.
2) Managers keeping their jobs after three straight 90-loss seasons
Aaron Gleeman talked about the Twins' Ron Gardenhire the other day. Gleeman asked on Twitter for major league managers to keep their jobs after three straight 90-loss seasons. He got a pretty good list of guys from that question. You can check it out here.
But, his most interesting point is how few of these guys survived for another season:
All of which is a long way of saying that if the Twins lose 90 games again this season and Gardenhire keeps his job for 2014 he'll be one of just a few managers since 1945 to avoid getting the boot in a comparable situation. Right now the Twins are 37-50, which is a 93-loss pace, and Gardenhire's contract is up in 75 games.
There is a pretty high fireability rate among these guys, though there are also some very solid names on that list. Felipe Alou and Casey Stengel are well-regarded managers, as are Tom Kelly and Gardenhire. I'm not sure Bo Porter will get there, but this fits into Tim's long-gestating article about how hard it is for a manager to succeed long term with the odds stacked against him like Porter has had.
I'm not counting Porter out, but history doesn't do him any favors.
3) Revisiting Moneyball 10 years later
If you haven't check out this great take on Moneyball ten years after it came out, you should. We talk about it all the time, but as this Athletics Nation article points out, we miss some of what the book was actually about. For instance:
If you refer to anything as "moneyball," and nowhere else in your reference is the word, "money," then you are unclear on the concept. And, for that, I'm going to have to put a Milo on you.
You know what the article made me realize? How what this Astros team is attempting to do IS "Moneyball-esque," but not in the ways that many in the media have portrayed it. They're just trying to win as many games as possible as cheaply as possible. Nothing wrong with that when your roster was already not going to win more than 70 games in the first place.