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Monday's Three Astros Things

Talking about journalism, unlucky pitching and favorite outfields...

Some things to talk about while Russell Wilson and Dexter Fowler hang out...

1) Thoughts on thoughts on journalism

Over the weekend, Chris posted a series of thoughts after Evan Drellich's excellent piece on the perception of the Astros' front office went live. In it, he talked about bad journalism in reference to Jose Ortiz focusing most of his energy in stumping for a Mike Foltynewicz call-up.

He makes some valid points, but he also misses the mark in some ways. It's not that he's wrong, but that the changing landscape of media has altered what "journalism" on something like Twitter means. A couple of our excellent commenters have already discussed the changes and found some great insight. This is just my two cents.

What Ortiz does on Twitter isn't journalism. Yes, he's a sportswriter. Yes, he should be expected to be delivering information, much like long-time writer Brian McTaggart does. Tags delivers little in the way of commentary through his Twitter feed and much in the way of facts.

Ortiz is the opposite. His feed is a collection of his thoughts and his opinions. He sprinkles in facts, but mostly, it's a place for him to provide commentary. This is fine, if he's a columnist, like Richard Justice. It's not so much if fans are following him for other reasons.

Newspapers thrive on columnists who are interesting and can drive conversation. By writing a piece that gets people talking, said columnist then forces others to read their work to stay up with the water cooler talk. That's a good thing for the newspaper itself.

But, the shifting sands of journalism mean Ortiz exists in a world where the Chronicle has two sports columnists and he's not one of them. Yet, he's asked to provide column-worthy opinions on Twitter to drum up a following. IF he's not the primary beat writer, his goal should be to create interest and put more eyeballs on the stories in the paper.

That doesn't gibe with what we've come to expect from guys like Ken Rosenthal, Buster Olney or even n00bs like Chris Cotillo. They're supposed to break news and report facts. Any personality that gets in the way can only inflame slighted fan bases. Just look at how many Astros Twitter personalities are convinced the national media has a thing against the Astros. They very well might, but just the act of putting commentary on their feeds can creat that perception.

So, is it bad journalism? I don't think so. It may be slightly unethical journalism, but I think instead it reflects the shifting landscape of journalism, a response to online journalism and a statement on what we can expect in the future.

That doesn't make it right, but it does mean it won't be going away.

2) Neyer on unlucky pitching

Rob Neyer's got a great post over at Fox Sports on unlucky pitchers, using a couple Astros seasons as examples. It's worth a read, just to look at why Jeff Samarzidja may not be alone in unluckyhood. But, stick around for the Turk Farrell reference:

One more I’d like to mention: Turk Farrell, who went 10-20 for the expansion Houston Colt .45s in 1962 despite a 3.02 ERA in 242 innings. Oddly, Farrell posted another 3.02 ERA with the .45s the very next season and went 14-13. There’s a good explanation, though: Over that winter, he took "Winning" classes.*

* editorial comment

Really good and enlightening piece. It's also why people don't trust the win as a stat that's meaningful, but I'll leave that debate for another day.

3) Irrationally excited for outfield

Bob Grossman's freedom made my Sunday pretty great. Coupled with Springer's seventh home run of the season and I could not have been more pleased. But, thinking about the possible outfield with Grossman, Springer and Fowler really got me excited.

See, I like all three of those guys. Seeing them all in the same outfield makes it my favorite Astros outfield in quite some time. Sure, it may be irrational, as they haven't exactly shown any of them are "stars." Though, I will point out George Springer is now hitting with star-like numbers in May (.291/.371/.608 with all seven Dingers).

But, it made me consider when was the last time I liked an outfield alignment as much as this one. I was never a huge Hunter Pence fan, as I thought his skills made him overrated as a long-term building block. So, we have to go back further.

Off the top of my head, I picked the 2000 Astros, which featured Lance Berkman in left, Richard Hidalgo in center and Moises Alou in right. The 2004 outfield, after the Carlos Beltran trade, came close, though my disdain for Craig Biggio as a left fielder knocked them down a point or two.

Anyways, it got me thinking about favorite collective outfields. Which outfield was your favorite? Were there any that you liked for irrational reasons? Which group of players just clicked for you?