Some things to talk about while we take a snow day...
1) ZiPS projects the Astros
Good news, bad news here. FanGraphs released Dan Szymborski's ZiPS projections for the Astros, but they aren't pretty overall.
Unlike the blouse of an Olympic-level figure skater, the Houston Astros' roster is not studded with bright and/or shining stars. That said, relative to the amount, in dollars, which that same roster is likely to be compensated in 2014 - the field-playing part, at least - they'll actually provide some value, as none are projected to be worse than replacement-level, either.
There are some bright spots. For instance:
- George Springer! 3.3 WAR! Amazing!
- Jose Altuve's comp is Robbie Alomar. Yes, please.
- It's very easy to see Matt Dominguez turning in an improved season over his projections. If you believe in his power increase, that is.
- Good lord, Domingo Santana could hit 19 homers in the bigs this season and strike out 40 percent of the time. I almost want to see that.
- Preston Tucker gets some love, with a very respectable line of .257/.310/.394 with 13 homers and 34 extra-base hits.
- Tyler Heineman and Max Stassi also get deserved attention.
- Don't show Jarred Cosart his projections. We'll get to that in a minute.
- The pitching looks retched again. Please, Mark Appel and Carlos Rodon, save us.
Anything stand out to you?
2) New padded caps for pitchers
Not sure how to feel about this. Yay for safety? Boo for not going far enough?
Major League Baseball has approved a protective cap for pitchers, hoping to reduce the damage from line drives to head that have brought some terrifying and bloody scenes in the last few years.
The heavier and bigger new hat was introduced Tuesday and will be available for testing during spring training on a voluntary basis. Major leaguers and minor leaguers won't be required to wear it - comfort is likely to be a primary concern.
For his part, Brandon McCarthy, the pitcher who suffered a gruesome injury due to a line drive to the head last season, doesn't think the caps are game-ready.
Yes, extensively. Headed in right direction but not game ready RT @ggifford19 have you tried the isoBlox that MLB OK'd? Positive step?"— Brandon McCarthy (@BMcCarthy32) January 28, 2014
I'm inclined to agree with him. The scariest Astros-related incident I can liken to this was when Billy Wagner took a line drive off his face in Arizona. The ball still traveled into short right field. It was very scary when it happened. But, this hat would have done nothing for that.
What do you think? Is this progress or not enough?
3) Jarred Cosart's rant
I'll leave it up to you, dear reader, of how much to make of this item. Last night, Astros rookie Jarred Cosart took to Twitter, expressing his disappointment that another Astros site, Climbing Tal's Hill, suggested he might regress.
Guys like @astrosCTH say I got lucky last year and my future is in aaa or the bullpen. More motivation for me. #2014— Jarred Cosart (@JarredCosart) January 29, 2014
CTH is not alone in suggesting Cosart will regress. Dan Szymborski did as much on Tuesday. We started doing it before the season was over. Brooks has been saying it since last year (ha, I kid, I kid).
Oh, and Cosart has been prickly with his critics since his minor league days, too. What bothered me was his original tweet was less tactful and referred to CTH in less-than-appropriate language. Nothing too scandalous, but absolutely not appropriate for a major leaguer to be calling a writer.
Two things on this and I'll let it go. First, as Tim and others on Twitter suggested, this is not a new thing. Writers have been getting called out and facing criticism from players for stuff they wrote for years. It's not new. It's just in a new form on the internet and on Twitter.
Secondly, and more importantly, this crap would absolutely not fly in a bigger market. Can you imagine how Cosart would react to playing for the Mets and facing the Daily News headlines? His little Twitter faux pas would be big, back-page news.
In Houston, it only lives on in the Astros Blogosphere. Maybe that's better. Cosart is still young and can make mistakes. Those indiscretions shouldn't be highlighted more than they were in the past, just because he did it on social media with millions of people who can see.
But, Cosart would do well to avoid bristling at every critic. I can guarantee he'll see the brunt of an Evan Drellich article this season calling him out for poor peripherals if he struggles. And it'd be entirely justified. Will he call Drellich names then?