Some things to talk about while this kid licks a baseball...
1) Springer in the Derby?
Not only did George Springer get his first Sports Illustrated cover, Evan Drellich also wrote a pretty good piece on whether Springer could get into the Home Run Derby. While he's not one of the leaders in the American League, Springer's batting practice shots are something to behold. I was talking with another media member a while back, and he was effusive in his praise for Springer's prowess at hitting BP dingers.
What's scary is that Mr. Dinger doesn't even think he's that good at derbies:
“Oh, I don’t know, I’m not really a good home run derby guy,” Springer said. “I don’t know … I can hit home runs here (in batting practice), but I’m not a home run derby guy. I mean, who knows, I don’t know. I did ‘em in the minor leagues. I wasn’t that good at ‘em.”
What I really enjoyed about the piece is that Drellich delves into the new rules of the Derby to explain that Springer probably doesn't have a chance at making the team. But, he also breaks down the format changes this year that could be...interesting.
“This year’s Home Run Derby will introduce a new format, which features seven outs per round and bracketed play after the first round. A total of 10 players, including five from each league, will participate in the opening round. The player that hits the most home runs in each league will automatically receive a bye to the third round (Semi-Finals). The next two players from each league with the most home runs will square off against one another in a head-to-head matchup in the second round. The winners of these matchups will advance to the third round to face-off against the league’s top seed. The final round will feature the winners of the A.L. and N.L. Semi-Finals matchups going head-to-head for the 2014 crown.”
I'm a big Derby guy. It's my favorite part of the All-Star Weekend or whatever they call it. I'm sure it stems from hours playing Ken Griffey Baseball as a kid and hitting home runs 575 feet in Camden Yards. But, I'm not sold on this format yet. Time will tell.
2) Qualls on the move?
The Tigers need to address their bullpen. It's a must. And it wouldn't surprise me if they grabbed a couple arms around the non-waiver trade deadline. I've said it before, I'll say it again: Astros closer Chad Qualls makes complete sense to me.
The Tigers gave up a pair of marginal prospects in Danry Vasquez and David Paulino to grab right-hander Jose Veras from the Astros last year. I imagine it'll take a bit more than a couple Class A prospects to bring Qualls to Detroit, but probably nothing too substantial.
Calling Danry Vasquez a "marginal" prospect hurts my heart. He's a top 20 guy in the system! He's a Top 5 Twitter prospect! Leave him alone!
At least the writer attempts to say that Qualls will fetch more than "marginal" prospects. But, he ignores the mutli-year contract given to Qualls by the Astros and appears to be picking on Houston just because they're bad and have a closer. Since the rest of the piece is reasonable, I'm guessing this was just a connection thing for the author. Veras, Qualls, why not?
3) Astros better than expected?
Dave Cameron writes a lot of smart things on FanGraphs. I attempt to understand most of them and his recent series on expected run differential has been well worth my time.
But, this one just warms your Astros-loving heart. In it, he looks at the best and worst teams using a slight tweak of their expected runs formula and finds that the Astros are not the worst team in baseball. That team?
Of course, a lot of that can be chalked up to injuries, and we’re still just dealing with a half-season of performance data. While BaseRuns is a very good run estimator, single season inputs still shouldn’t be taken as measures of true talent, and if the Rangers played the Astros in a seven game series next week, I’d probably still take the Rangers. But it’s not the slam dunk choice you might think, and an argument could be constructed that the Astros are not the worst team in the AL West right now.
Oh, Arlington. Your tears of sorrow give me strength. We're not last. We're not last.
Enjoy the weekend.