Some things to talk about as we look at players who hit better in the majors than in the minors...
1) Free agents for 2014
We've talked a few times about the fact that Houston might go after some free agents this winter on two or three-year deals. Coincidentally, MLB Trade Rumors published its latest power rankings of 2014 free agents for us to peruse.
Two takeaways from this. The 2014 class doesn't have one or two game-changers outside of Cano, and it's not clear whether he'll even be available. Don't you think the Yankees lock him up?
So, if he's gone, you're dealing with the Jacoby Ellsburys and Shin-Soo Choos of the world. Not exactly going to bring Houston a winning record all on their own.
Who's left? One possibility is obviously Brian McCann, who Sean brought up on the podcast a while back. He'd be a good fit for many of the reasons Sean discussed, but MLBTR speculates he'd command a four-year deal. That's longer than Houston would go right now, plus they'd probably have to go even longer to get one of the top players on the market. That or offer much, much more money than they'd get elsewhere.
One guy I'm intrigued with is Carlos Beltran. He's healthy, he's still productive, he'd be a nice fit in the clubhouse and he'd fill a gap in Houston's outfield. He'd also probably take a two or three-year deal at this point in his career. The only problem is convincing him to come to Houston, a team that just had its third straight 100-loss season. Not something a guy in his twilight baseball years wants to hear.
I'm interested to see how the market pans out, but right now, I'm thinking Houston will be striking deals not with the top 10 guys, but with that second and third tier guys. Maybe finding the next Scott Feldmans of the world?
2) Indians a good fit for Bud Norris?
In the midst of Cee Angi's column on the Indians quest for Matt Garza and how they were hurt by the Ubaldo Jimenez deal, she mentions that the Tribe might be a good landing spot for Bud Norris instead. To whit:
The Indians might be more inclined to pursue Astros righty Bud Norris, who isn't the same caliber pitcher by any stretch, but is still in his arbitration years and won't become a free agent until 2016. There may be more pitchers available as teams sort themselves into buyers and sellers over the next two weeks, but there are still only a finite number of good pitchers out there and they will be costly and disappear quickly. Given their lack of depth, it's possible the Indians will be crowded out by teams that have much better chips to trade than they do.
Do you know where I'm going with this? If you read Angi's piece, you might have a clue. What if Houston built a potential Norris deal around Trevor Bauer? Would he be a sufficient return for the Houston right-hander? Add in a 2011 or 2012 draftee and a catching prospect good on the pitch framing and I think we have the framework of a deal.
The question is whether it's enough. Would Houston be right to buy low on Bauer? I'm not sure they'd find a player with more upside on the trade market for a guy like Norris. Still, he's a risk for a lot of the reasons Angi runs through here. It'd be a bold, bold move. What do you think?
3) Astros finalize spring training move
In a move that was as inevitable as the spring, the Houston Chronicle reported yesterday that the Astros are moving their spring training home to Palm Beach. They will share a spring training facility with the Blue Jays (or will they?), but why is the team moving facilities? Here's Jim Crane on the move:
"It's nothing against Kissimmee, but if you ask our guys our facility is 28th out of the ones that are out there," Crane said. "It's outdated. I think we'll get all the final approvals no later than the fall. You can't press city hall. If it was a business deal we'd be done with it by now, but they work at their pace.
"It's a very positive environment down there for it, and the city wants to get it done. It requires zoning and some land they want to get in position. It's a good location, and it will be better for everybody, the fans, the players, the traveling, all sorts of different things. For the media, the hotels are closer, better restaurants."
Right. Except that a major renovation was done on the facility back in 2003. And it has nothing to do with Jim Crane's roots and golf course in Palm Beach. Other than that, it's all about upgrading the facilities, right?
Until things are finalized finalized, we won't know much more. But, it sounds like if you wanted to go to a game in Kissimmee, better start making plans for next year.