Some things to talk about while the trade market heats up...
1) Pitching depth
Since it's been three days since we've written about the Hank Conger deal and I've officially gotten the shakes, let's talk about it some more.
Specifically, let's talk about pitching depth.
Pitching depth is a unicorn. It's a magical creature that will always stay just out of reach. You assemble a giant, team-eating rotation like the Dodgers did? It can still get scuttled by injuries, as has happened to the Dodgers and Giants in recent seasons.
Trading away Nick Tropeano didn't endanger that depth. Brad Peacock's injury didn't do it, either. Even if all those players were healthy, there was a good bet that the Astros would have added more pitchers this winter, just in case.
For the past two years, they've done this. Two years ago, they added Alex White and John Ely in addition to Eric Bedard and Philip Humber. Last year, they added Collin McHugh, Scott Feldman and Jerome Williams (along with a few more guys like Anthony Bass).
They will add two or three this winter for just that reason. That's not a reflection on what kind of player they thought NiTro could be. To add talent, you have to give up talent.
But, the Astros have proven over the past few years that they value pitching depth and recognize how fleeting a thing it can be. If we're into late January and this team didn't add those two or three pitchers? Then we can officially start worrying about depth.
2) Astros hire Bill Geivett
Remember that mysterious front office hire? It's here, if not officially. According to multiple sources, the Astros are set to hire former Rockies GM Bill Geivett as a cross-checker in the scouting department. Geivett was fired after the season as Colorado struggled once again.
Geivett was a finalist for the Houston GM job in 2011 and has a solid scouting background. He was responsible for the Troy Tulowitzki draft pick, though he wasn't the top man on the scouting side at that time.
In his tenure in Colorado, the Rockies produced quite a few homegrown players who helped propel the team onward. So, Geivett has some qualifications for his new post. He also fits into the mold of the progressive front office man, even as his background is more traditional (former minor leaguer and college coach).
Here's an excerpt from his interview with MLB Trade Rumors back in 2011 on how he views the scouts vs. stats breakdown:
I've never really understood the scouts versus stats argument; I don't see it. For somebody to make a good decision they need a clear understanding of all it. You can get the oldest scout you want and he's going to pull out stats and look at them. There are a lot of scouts who will look at statistical information and already have an opinion before they even watch the player. And they've got big floppy hats and gray hair.
That right there is a big reason why he's set to join the Astros. It fits into what Mike Elias wants to do and with what the Nerd Cave has done.
As Evan Drellich mentions in his piece, Geivett could bring an outside perspective to the front office, but that's only effective if he's allowed into the "inner circle." Drellich is able to convey some skepticism on that point without saying it and I'd agree. For now, Geivett is a nice hire to replace David Post.
3) GM Meetings this week
The first signpost of the offseason begins this week, when the annual GM meetings begin. Each year, the GM meeting precede the bigger Winter Meetings, but most of the groundwork laid for deals happens now and pays off then.
Teams will meet with each other to begin the offseason discussions or continue those that have already begun. Teams will also get a chance to touch base with agents and start to gauge free agent interest.
Last year, the Astros trade for Dexter Fowler began in discussions after the season, but things ramped up at the GM Meetings before the trade actually happened.
That's not a guarantee some move will be pending once the meetings end, but just a sign that this is an important first step on whatever Houston will be doing.
Or, it may just be nothing. The winter is weird like that. We talk and we talk and we talk, sometimes for naught. Let's just get back to discussion Hank Conger already.