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Wednesday's Three Astros Things

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Talking about Max Stassi's debut, Scott Boras on the draft and Adam Dunn beating the shift...

Some things to talk about while we look at the best baseball books of all time...

1) Stassi's debut

There might not be a more Astros debut for a while, as Max Stassi went 2 for 3, but had a cringe-worthy highlight. In case you missed it, here's the MLB clip.

Stassi shows great potential, but is young and will make mistakes. We had quite a bit of debate over the past day about why Houston would call him up. Does this mean the Astros think his upside is limited? Or does it mean they believe in him more than other catchers?

Here's my theory, take it for what it's worth. I agree with OremLK to a degree. I think we've all be a little too high on Stassi as a prospect. But, the callup could reflect two realities. One is short-term. The Astros could believe that Stassi has some upside, but what the Astros need right now could be a reasonable Chris Snyder impression. If Stassi can provide big power and good defense behind the plate, that could be all the Astros need until Corporan is healthy.

Now, in the long-term, Houston could still believe Stassi has starter-level upside. Maybe this call-up is to evaluate him with the major league team and then allow him to work with the minor league staff on his holes next year. Maybe the Astros are lower and higher on Stassi at the same time than we think.

2) Can Boras change the draft?

Beyond the Box Score has a nice review of Scott Boras' guest piece over at ESPN (Buster Olney is on vacation). Boras talks about the draft and has some interesting ideas about how to fix the new system. They include:

  • Exempting first-round picks from the draft slotting system. That way, teams can pick the players of their "dreams," instead of one constrained by finances.
  • Doing away with draft pick compensation for players 31 years old and older.
  • The unfairly penalized American players who can't negotiate with multiple teams like IFAs.

They're all good points, which BtBS agrees with.

Despite his ulterior motives, I agree wholeheartedly with the spirit behind Boras' sentiments. Illustrating just one of the many reasons I have always liked Boras, it seems that after essentially causing the new draft rules, he is determined to do what he can to fix the system, and I'd say he's on to something.

Boras' argument about Appel seems misguided, though. If the Astros had been able to pick whatever player they wanted last year, without financial considerations or a draft pool to deal with, I'm betting they still pick Correa and that Appel still drops a bit. So, I'm not sure relaxing the rules would have changed his outcome this year. Still some food for thought.

3) Adam Dunn beating the shift

In case you haven't noticed, the shift has been a fascinating subplot to this season. From the Astros' reactions to it to the proliferation of the shift around the league, it's a great topic to explore.

What is the next talking point popping up about the shift? Adam Dunn beating them this year:

But let's begin with Dunn's "well-rounded approach" ... It's real, as the spray chart here demonstrates quite obviously: starting with the second week of June, Dunn's been spraying batted balls all over the field. Especially balls to the outfield, but he's hitting grounders to the opposite side, too.

That's right, Adam Dunn decided to beat the shift and he's done it. His batting average is up, but the downside is that he's lost some power.

But, the bigger issue should be a guy adjusting to beat the defense. We've talked about guys laying down more bunts to beat shifts or adjusting to hit behind it. But, the shift will continue to get used more and more often until hitters start doing what Dunn did.

Baseball history sort of operates like a giant sine wave. That goes for the pitching/offense swings and could very well go for more shifts/less shifts. As long as there are plenty of hitters to exploit, it's not an issue, though, and I think there's plenty of room to see more teams adopt the shift.