Some things to talk about while we wait for high school football practice to open... Wait, is that just me?
1) Joe Sheehan on the Norris trade
Thanks to Irish Pete for directing me to this video on CSN Houston of national baseball writer Joe Sheehan discussing the Astros' trade of Bud Norris at the deadline.
Sheehan is very complimentary of the Astros and made a couple of points that bear repeating.
First, he thought the Astros traded Norris at the opportune time, not just from a contract or service time perspective, but from a performance standard. As Sheehan points out, an aging pitcher losing K/9 is a bad, bad sign. That's something I knew about Norris, but never really tied to his trade value. I think that's partly because I'm too close to the team, so it's nice when an outside source can occasionally provide good commentary and value in seeing the big picture.
The other surprising part of his reaction is that he said the Astros could win multiple World Series titles from 2016 through the end of the decade.
I'll let that sink in for a minute.
I've heard optimism about the Astros future, but never anything quite like that. It was nice.
2) Matty D's defense
Okay, I haven't written about Matt Dominguez in a few weeks. I'm starting to get the shakes. So, here's a quick note on something I've been thinking about.
Dominguez has bad Fielding Runs numbers, because he has bad UZR numbers. But, his Defensive Runs Saved numbers are excellent. As in top five in the league good. He's right there with Evan Longoria, Manny Machado and the rest of the best third basemen in the league.
What's more, no third baseman has more Good Fielding Plays than Dominguez. That's for those excellent plays that are above and beyond the call, which apparently Dominguez makes more than any other 3B around.
It's hard to imagine that he's got more Good Fielding Plays than any other third baseman in the league, yet he can still have a negative range factor in UZR. In fact, if you look at the top 10 players in DRS, all of them also have positive UZR totals. To find the next guy on that DRS list with a negative UZR, you have to go all the way down to No. 18 and Placido Polanco.
So, something is up here. Clack has talked about before how UZR basically ignores shift plays, which obviously hurts Dominguez. Something to think about. If we give Dominguez a more positive Fielding Runs total, his fWAR total then shoots up to one of the better ones on the team.
3) Draft pick the key
We touched on this in the podcast, but it appears that the compensatory draft pick Houston got from Baltimore was a key to the deal. In fact, that was the reason Houston didn't agree to the deal before Wednesday. That's interesting, because it shows what Houston was holding out for in waiting to make the deal.
I also wonder if that was one of the reasons why Neil Huntington said the team wasn't prepared to do something "insane" at the deadline. Was Houston holding out for one of Pittsburgh's picks in a deal, but the Pirates felt they couldn't deal those off as a small market club.
It's also a sign of just how creative Luhnow and Co. Can be. They try to find value whenever they can, both grabbing the only draft picks which can be traded, sending out international signing pool slots and generally finding market inefficiencies all over the place.
It won't always be the case, but right now Houston seems to be making full use of the CBA.