Some things to talk about while Ian Kinsler gives a seminar on how to burn bridges...
1) New pitch framing article
Take some time. Prepare yourself for this. If you didn't see the pitch framing study Dan Brooks and Harry Pavlidis published Monday on Baseball Prospectus, spend some time with it now. There's a ton of stuff to unpack here. What did they do? Well, here's a section from their introduction:
We will freely admit: If you haven't seen the results of previous framing studies, it can be tough to wrap your mind around the size of the impact of a good or bad framing catcher. These effect sizes are not out of line with what has been reported in the past, but they're still obscenely large. Everyone agrees that Mike Trout was either a deserving MVP or a deserving runner-up in each of the past two seasons, which the stats say were worth close to 10 wins apiece. Our data suggest that over the past five years, the teams that have employed good framers like Jonathan Lucroy, Brian McCann, and Jose Molina have received essentially "free" MVP-caliber seasons from framing alone. (Each of those catchers has been worth about two extra wins per season over that span). This is a staggering amount of value. Add in the fact that these wins are almost assuredly not properly priced into the free agent market, and the difference between having a good framing catcher or a bad framing catcher can make or break a cost-conscious team.
If you have the time, check it all out. If you've already done that, the only thing I'll add is the two Astros connections. First, Chris Snyder pops up as the second-best in total framing runs in 2010. That might explain why Houston nabbed him in 2012 as the backup to Jason Castro.
Also, before you sell Carlos Corporan down the river, notice he shows up as ninth on the framing runs earned per 7000 opportunities from 2008-2013. That suggests Corp is already a very good pitch framer and could stick as the backup on this roster for a while.
Only other thing that I noticed, but can't quite wrap my head around yet. Scott Feldman shows up as taking 20 runs away from his catchers on pitch framing. Other guys on that group were Felix Hernandez and Justin Masterson. Maybe sinkers are harder to frame for some reason?
Anyone else have things they picked up from the data? Anyone immediately rush to Jason Castro's player card to figure out how many runs he cost the Astros in blocking balls?
2) Clemens to say farewell to Jetes
Oh boy. Can I already gag about the Yankee love that will flow in that first series? Anyone else kinda still upset that Mariano got feted last year? No, that's just me? Well, you probably won't care about this, then:
The first stop on the Derek Jeter Long Goodbye Tour will be in Houston the opening series of the season. It should be one memorable tribute, especially when you consider who will be taking a large part in the event - Roger Clemens.
"Roger is going to be driving the bus,'' Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow told The Post Monday at Roger Dean Stadium. "I'm sure it will be something special.''
God, I hate the Yankees. I hope Houston sweeps that series.
3) Japhet Amador's update
On Monday, Evan Drellich updated us on Japhet Amador's situation. It's not great for the hulking first base prospect. For one thing, Jeff Luhnow doesn't think Amador will be game ready for a week:
With minor league camp getting underway - pitchers were due to report Monday - Amador could get some back-field action to get his feet wet.
"It might make more sense to let him go back there," Luhnow said. "They'll be pitching live, so there's a way to ramp him up. I don't expect him in games this week."
Another nail in the coffin is this line from Drellich:
Because of his late arrival, Amador now seems highly unlikely to be a contender for the Astros' first base job. He's 27, so he's not too young, but he has spent very little time in pro ball in the U.S. - and very little time in front of Astros coaches. He would have been a darkhorse even if he had showed up on time.
Drellich has done an excellent job so far of providing this kind of perspective. It's straight and to the point, giving concrete reasons why Amador isn't really in the first base mix right now. That might change during the season, though, especially if he can get his weight down.
Oh, about his weight. The Astros won't ask him to lose weight during the spring:
"Spring training is about evaluating, it's not about changing people, because we don't have enough time to change people," Luhnow said. "If you make a change, you force someone to change something, anything from their swing to their delivery - then you kind of build in an excuse for failure."
Just a highly enlightening piece. Drellich is making a habit out of these.