Some things to talk about while the stupid Cardinals are the most trustworthy team in the league...
1) "Ground Control" database
I don't even know, you guys.
This sounds like the coolest thing ever. Like a living, breathing version of OOTP Baseball, but with real life. Hold on, I need a moment.
Ohkay. I'm back. In Evan Drellich's weekend article, we're introduced to the concept of the "Ground Control" database, which basically contains every piece of baseball information the Astros front office might need. Let's let Drellich explain:
While visiting Sweden and Norway, Mejdal found himself checking a private website the Astros' front office uses, without hyperbole, for every baseball decision.
Contract information, scouting reports, statistics common and proprietary - the Astros have centralized most every piece of useful baseball information at one password-protected web address.
You realize what this means? We're five years away from this thing becoming sentient, taking over the Milwaukee Brewers and winning the next 10 World Series titles by itself.
Oh, and then beginning the Robopocalypse. Goodbye, elephants. See what you've done, Astros?
2) Barron on Comcast
If you want the latest on the Astros fight with Comcast and the Rockets over their poor, misbegotten TV network, David Barron is your man. On Friday, he published an update on the arguments that came in the previous Thursday as Comcast and the Rockets replied to the Astros appeal. Now, the Astros can reply to the reply and I don't even know what I'm talking about any more.
Barron does, though. Here's one of his favorite parts:
Comcast and the Rockets reject both arguments, and here's the best rhetoric from Comcast on the latter point: "Just as parties cannot contractually excuse themselves from other federal obligations - to pay taxes, to register for the draft, not to commit any federal crime and so on - they cannot do so with regard to the fiduciary duties that federal law imposes on them when they choose to take on the role of a director officer operator or manager of a debtor in possession. "
One of the real treats to this whole, awful mess is the highlight it puts on Barron. He's been criminally underused in the past and is just a pleasure to read. The second half of his post, which focuses on a couple fifty dollar words in the Comcast brief is just gold. Being that playful when writing about court filings takes a gift. We're lucky Barron is the man covering all of this.
3) Worried about offense?
Who's been there? Who's looked at this spring, seen the lack of home runs and worried about where the Astros will get their runs from this season? Who remembered that was a problem last season and seems to be no better in 2014 than it was a year ago?
Well, it's not that bad. I've been there, too. I did the same thing, until I reminded myself over and over again that the Astros offense last year was decent. Heck, it was practically league average.
Wade through all the strikeouts and you'll find...well, the Astros offense was still terrible. It was second-to-worst in weighted Runs Created plus. It was in the bottom five of wOBA and runs scored. Don't even ask me about on-base percentage.
To find the hope, look at the second half numbers. There, Houston jumps up to 20th in runs scored, 21st in wRC+ and 21st in wOBA. That's not great, but it's also not terrible. Adding Dexter Fowler and not having Ronny Cedeno and Rick Ankiel eat up precious at-bats should help with that, too.
Look, it may not be pretty. Most of the projection systems see the Astros as being just as bad as they were a year ago. But, there's at least a chance that one or two of Chris Carter, Robbie Grossman, Jonathan Villar, L.J. Hoes and Jesus Guzman have a mini-breakout and get better offensively. Add in a bounce-back year from Jose Altuve and the Astros could get a league average offense.
So, on a scale of 1-10, how worried are you about the offense? Is this spring making things worse or allaying your fears?