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Wednesday's Three Astros Things

Talking about Dexter Fowler, tandem pitching and six years to free agency...

Some things to talk about while we eat our last Grapefruit of the spring...

1) Dexter Fowler and the Rockies

As controversies go, this was pretty light. You might remember back in the winter when Dexter Fowler got traded to the Astros, it came on the heels of Rockies' GM Dan O'Dowd disparaging Fowler on a local Denver radio show. That could have been a reason why the Rockies took Jordan Lyles, Brandon Barnes and a stack of old Baylor football video tapes from Drayton's office for him.

Well, ever the pot-stirrer, Evan Drellich stirred the pot. He had an illuminating long read on Fowler in this weekend's Chronicle that's worth your time. They covered plenty of relevant topics, such as Fowler's defensive ability in relation to Coors Field and his injury history. Fowler also responded to O'Dowd's remarks for the first time with a classic line:

"I don't even know who's the GM. I think everybody over there is still wondering who really is the GM ... Dan and (Geivett) are just both coexisting."

Cue Tuesday, when a Rockies writer for the Denver Post felt the need to write a column ripping Fowler for not being "a dirt bag."

You want the Rockies to bring a dirt-bag attitude that can wrestle with the Los Angeles Dodgers in the gutter, then Dickerson is your center fielder.

Fowler is a good man, with a gentle spirit and an infectious smile. But Fowler was not the kind of player Weiss needs on a team that must grind out victories in the National League West against more free-spending rivals.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I thought being a dirt bag was a bad thing. Wasn't that what Dirty Harry was always shouting about? Nevertheless, Astros County proceeded to break this thing down perfectly, so much so that I don't even feel the need to respond to said stupidity. Go check out AC's take and let's put this little controversy bed.

If only Houston played Colorado this year. I'd totally sit on this until then and then start the biggest flame war with Purple Row, just for fun.

2) Tandem pitching

Drellich, again doing work, tells us about how Houston will implement tandem pitching in the minors this season, complete with some tweaks to the 2013 configuration.

All Astros affiliates are slated to again have eight starting pitchers, who will piggyback starts. Two starters go per game, one after the other, and instead of a typical five-man rotation, the pitchers will be on a four-day schedule.

The Astros put the system in place to help minimize injuries and get their many young starting pitching prospects as much work as possible. But this year, they're building in a periodic, short break.

We had heard some whispers on this during the spring, but couldn't confirm it. What I can say is that it wasn't just Foltynewicz who expressed concern over the way the tandem setup affected them. This seems to be a reasonable response to those concerns, even if the new system still seems weird to players and fans alike. We'll have to see this implemented before ruling on how successful it can be.

Again, though, I really like how this front office continues to innovate and think differently about how to do things, down to the basics how minor league teams play and are structured.

3) Dave Cameron on team control

I'd be remiss if I didn't direct you to this excellent piece by FanGraph's potentate Dave Cameron, who takes on the notion that teams only have six years of control over players.

Six or more years. The CBA does not say that a player is entitled to free agency after six years in the big leagues; it sets six years as a minimum for a player to be eligible for free agency. It explicitly states that players can have more than six of service before they are free agent eligible, but they cannot have fewer than six years. The six year line is a minimum, not a maximum, and nowhere in the CBA are players guaranteed free agency following their sixth calendar year in the Major Leagues.

He's right. Even when teams place players on the opening day roster, they often get sent down at some point in the same season. It's a very rare player who can operate like Miami's Jose Fernandez, where he's great right from the start of his career. So, naturally, few players will actually qualify for free agency after six years.

I don't want to beat the George Springer stuff into the ground, but it was nice to see some rational thoughts on this. Every team does , Houston isn't alone, the rules don't need to be drastically altered and we all need to settle the eff down about it. We cool?