Some things to talk about while the Astros win another major award...
1) Players for whom the Astros should trade
The Astros should trade for the following players:
Jason Heyward, Justin Upton, Yasiel Puig, Mike Trout, Andrew McCutcheon, Michael Brantley, Anthony Rendon, Alex Gordon, Josh Donaldson, Jose Bautista, Jonathan Lucroy, Giancarlo Stanton, Carlos Gomez, Adrian Beltre, Buster Posey, Anthony Rizzo, Kyle Seager, Adam Jones, Jhonny Peralta, Miguel Cabrera, Jose Abreu, Josh Harrison, Hunter Pence, Yan Gomes, Howie Kendrick, Christian Yelich, Freddie Freeman, Ian Desmond, Denard Span, Matt Carpenter, Jacoby Ellsbury, Kole Calhoun, Edwin Encarnacion, Billy Hamilton, Alcides Escobar, Yoenis Cespedes, Evan Longoria, Desmond Jennings, Alexei Ramirez, Albert Pujols, Jose Reyes, Salvador Perez, Brett Gardner, Carlos Santana, Dee Gordon, Lucas Duda, Brandon Crawford, Andrelton Simmons, Troy Tulowitzki, Carlos Gonzalez, Corey Kluber, Clayton Kershaw, Felix Hernandez, David Price, Phil Hughes, Chris Sale, Jose Quintana, Jordan Zimmerman, Adam Wainright, Garrett Richards, Stephen Strasburg, Bryce Harper, Johnny Cueto, Jeff Samardzija, Zack Greinke, Cole Hamels, Madison Bumgarner, Mark Buehrle, Hiroki Kuroda, Scott Kazmir, Justin Verlander, Sonny Gray, Julio Teheran, Hisashi Iwakuma, Chris Archer, Rick Porcello, Lance Lynn, Tanner Roark, Nathan Eovaldi, Ian Kennedy, Yordano Ventura, Alex Cobb, Tyson Ross, Jason Vargas, Matt Garza, Doug Fister, Henderson Alvarez, Alex Wood, Edinson Volquez, Chris Tillman, Jon Niese, Matt Harvey, Alfredo Simon, Josh Collmenter, Yovani Gallardo, Wei-Yin Chen, Zack Wheeler, Bud Norris, Mike Leake.
2) The weird thing about awards
It's been a very good week for Houston award voting. Dallas Keuchel won a Gold Glove. Jose Altuve won a Silver Slugger. Next week probably won't be so good, as Altuve didn't make the top three for the AL MVP and Collin McHugh didn't make the top three for AL Rookie of the Year.
The weird thing is how rare it is for Houston players to win awards like this since 2000. In Houston's most successful seasons (04, 05), the Astros won exactly two awards. Clemens, of course, won the Cy Young in '04 while Morgan Ensberg won a Silver Slugger in '05.
But, for the most part, Houston's been snubbed. Michael Bourn winning back-to-back Gold Gloves was great, but Houston lost in both those seasons. Ausmus won a Gold Glove in 2006, but, again, Houston didn't win much that year.
What's worse, Houston hasn't had a season with multiple award winners since 1999, when Mike Hampton and Jeff Bagwell both won Silver Slugger awards while Billy Wagner won the Rolaids Fireman of the Year award (or whatever it was called). Randy Johnson won the Cy Young that year, but...well, he should have been playing for the Astros.
To have two players be recognized is sort of unprecedented for a Houston team, especially one that only won 70 games. It's weird to discount awards for years because Houston doesn't win, and to have two very deserving Astros players get hardware.
Yet, these award wins should be the best sign yet that Houston's rebuild is heading in the right direction. It's not just overzealous fans saying that Altuve or Keuchel had awesome seasons. Their peers and the industry around baseball recognized them as deserving, too.
A year ago, we thought Houston had maybe two to three legitimate big league players. This year, Houston may have two or three legitimate big league stars. That's a better place to be in.
3) Four Astros heading to Japan
Four Astros and Houston mascot Orbit will join the Major League Baseball team heading to Japan for the All-Star Series 2014 next week. The Japan All-Star Series 2014 will feature MLB All-Stars traveling to Japan for a five-game series against Japan's national team.
Four Astros made the 29-man MLB roster, including second baseman Jose Altuve, outfielder Dexter Fowler, pitcher Jose Veras and designated hitter Chris Carter.
The team also includes 2014 All-Stars like Seattle's Robinson Cano, Dodger outfielder Yasiel Puig, Kansas City's Salvador Perez and Tampa Bay's Evan Longoria.
The series will be hosted in Osaka at the Kyocera Dome, in Tokyo at the Toyko Dome and in Sapporo at the Sapporo Dome. Two exhibition games will also be played at Osaka's Koshien Stadium and in Okinakawa's Okinawa Cellular Stadium.
MLB Network will televise the series beginning at 4 a.m. Tuesday. Each game will re-air later in the same day at 8 p.m. CST. Fans can also watch the game via MLB At-Bat and through MLB.TV.