Some things to talk about while Harrell Britta'd his return to the rotation...
1) Uni Watch ranks the unis
Paul Lukas does great work over at ESPN, breaking down trends in uniformity. His latest is a ranking of all the uniforms in MLB. The Cardinals come in at the top, but you have to scroll down quite a ways before you get to the Astros at No. 23.
It's nice to see the star-"H" cap logo again, but here's a weird thing about the new Stros uni set: The lettering on the front of the jersey is the same size as the lettering for the players' names on the back of the jersey. This makes the chest lettering look rinky-dink and the back of the jersey look clunky. Let's hope they address this for next season.
This may be the first really negative thing I've heard about the uniforms this year. Of course, I haven't been able to watch the games on TV every night, so I'm not sure how accurate the criticism is.
Rob Neyer, in discussing the piece, talks about how great the overall uniforms are around baseball:
Bottom line, as Lukas points out, is that a) Baseball's got the best uniforms, and b) none of these are truly awful. Just another reason to love the modern game!
2) The Battery Effect
From ESPN to FanGraphs, where Max Weinstein does work looking at the correlation between a catcher and pitcher in passed ball rates. There's a ton of math and graphs and such, but it's a worthwhile read, just for the discussion it will generate on Jason Castro. Here's how Weinstein concludes his piece:
The above chart suggests that the gap in influence between the pitcher and catcher is less than what the previous regression charts suggest. Meanwhile, there is still a significant gap and therefore I would argue that our conclusions still hold true. The pitcher has more correlation to the PB than the catcher and remains the battery mate with the stronger association to the battery's statistics.
He also says the findings are not conclusive. We can't assume it's more the pitcher's fault than the catcher's. But, let's bring it back to Castro. He catches a lot of crap for his lack of ability to stop passed balls. Some of that is probably warranted, but what if part of it is just not his fault?
How do we judge his defense in light of this? I'm not sure I have a good answer, so I'd love to hear your comments on it.
3) AC on Springer
So, Astros County made a stirring argument for keeping George Springer in Oklahoma City. It didn't sway me, because I'm irrational about Springer being in the majors at this point.
But, he made a great point we don't talk about much. How keeping the affiliate happy is probably a big part of this decision too. Or a byproduct of it.
This is what blew up the partnership in Round Rock and Lexington: Losing. Former Express GM/Current Astros President Reid Ryan said in 2010, "There are a lot of parts to putting together a good experience, and winning on a consistent basis is a big component of that." He also said, "Fans here don't necessarily care who the team is connected to, but they do care about the players and about enjoying the game. That's tough to do when your team isn't winning." In that second link we find that Round Rock's staff actually applauded the end of the 2010 season (the team's 5th straight losing season, one that saw the 2010 Express finish with the worst record in the PCL). Manager Marc Bombard said of the 2010 team, "The players are disappointed, the staff's disappointed, but you do the best with what you have." Now, OKC has the chance to win their first league title since 1996.
Winning cures a lot, especially in the minors where name recognition only gets you so far. The Astros minor league affiliates are winning right now, so maybe this is part of the decision. The team probably feels that Springer isn't ready yet, so keeping him down helps in a couple of different ways.
But, this was a great point AC brings up and worth sharing again.