Some things to talk about while an awkward reunion is on tap for this weekend...
1) Roster creation and the Astros
It's the end of the year, right? So we can start thinking about how next year's Astros might look. To that end, let's discuss a passage from Jonah Keri's latest The 30, which talks about how close the Mariners are to being a contender next year:
But there's a common thread that runs through all three teams, one that has allowed them to compete and win despite relatively tiny revenue streams and payrolls: build rosters with 25 useful players, then squeeze every drop of value out of each of them.
It's an idea we've kicked around on here before. Can you build a winning team full of two win players? The A's seem set on doing just that and it appears some other teams are close. The problem with projecting that out to Houston is they just aren't there. Do you know how many league-average regulars they have this year?
The article mentions the M's fielding a solid, league-average infield. The Astros aren't quite there yet. Jason Castro is a good player, but he's just one guy. Matt Dominguez should be a two-win guy if UZR liked his defense as much as Defensive Runs Saved does. Bu, the rest of the infield is suspect.
Sure, Altuve will probably bounce back, but as exciting as Villar has been, he's hit pretty much like he did in the minors, despite a sky-high batting average on balls in play. His defense, too, has been sub-par by both sets of metrics, which matches up to the inconsistent label we've gotten from him in the minors.
First base, too, has been a black hole this year. It should be fixed, but Jonathan Singleton is still an unknown and I'm not sure if Houston would be willing to spend money on the spot in free agency. George Springer may be a two-win guy right off the bat, and Robbie Grossman could have that in him in left field. So, if the Astros get a Carlos Beltran to man right field and provide value, the outfield would at least be set.
We haven't even touched the bullpen yet, which is not deep nor particularly talented right now. The rotation appears good for the future and it's easy to fix a bullpen, but this team feels two years away from really being a contender, even by the A's standard.
2) LJ Hoes takes on a fan
Deadspin is all over this one, as LJ Hoes took on all those who mock his name needlessly (he's looking for you next, Terri):
One would imagine that L.J. Hoes has heard roughly 10,000 different variations of "Haha, your last name is Hoes!" over the course of his life, and that his patience for people who mock his name is understandably low. But last night on Twitter, Hoes showed us all how to calmly and constructively deal with the haters.
Hoes showed incredible restraint, which is nearly shocking on Twitter. The two resolved their differences easily and amiably and a lesson was learned by all. Now, the girl has her own Twitter fight to talk about on the podcast, right?
3) Writer's ballot on Hall of Fame
Completing the Big 3 sports site linkage, David Laurila over at FanGraphs has a post talking to random baseball writers from around the country about the best three players not in the Hall of Fame. Not surprisingly, two Astros popped up pretty frequently.
Here's a comment on Biggio:
In my mind, Biggio makes it on the merit that he's one of 28 players to record 3,000 hits, which historically has enough for induction unless your name is Pete Rose or Rafael Palmeiro.
And on Bagwell from Jayson Stark:
As I wrote for ESPN in January, Jeff Bagwell was, in a nutshell, one of the four greatest first basmen of the live-ball era. How many first basemen have ever strung together a dozen consecutive seasons with an OPS-Plus of 130 or better? That answer is two: Bagwell and Lou Gehrig. What other first basemen will you find in the 400-homer, 200-steal club? None. Just him.
And if you need your Hall of Famers to be men who took trips to the hardware store, remember Bagwell owns practically a complete set of baseball hardware: MVP, rookie of the year, Gold Glove, Silver Slugger, Sporting News player of the year. Somehow, he missed the Nobel Peace Prize. Must have been an oversight.
Sigh. I really hope one of these two make it into the Hall in January. They both are beyond deserving and it's only going to get sadder if they keep getting denied entry. Biggio, too, seems glaring. Look at that comment above. Even for people who only see 3,000 hits and don't see anything else about his remarkable career, Biggio has a solid case.
But, there's no arguing with Hall of Fame voters. I hope I don't become so trenchant in nine years.