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Tuesday's Nine Astros Things

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Talking about a lot of stuff, including analytics, a pitcher injury, appreciating Luis Valbuena and more...

Some things to talk about while we give you a supersized version of 3 Things...

1) Astros and the homer

Randy Harvey has a column up on Chron.com today, talking about the Astros, analytics and how the team has turned back to the home run.

For the most part, he's right. Most of the analytics work has been done for years. But, what the Astros are doing in the Nerd Cave isn't that simple. It's more complex, deals with tracking systems, velocity off the bat and other numbers. What they're using advanced stats for is far beyond on-base percentage.

But, he is right about home runs. It's just not a new thing.

The Astros were fourth in the majors in home runs last season, and that was without George Springer for about half the season. Luhnow made home runs a priority since joining the Astros. The team has been in the top 20 in homers in each of his three seasons at the helm.

Before that? Houston was in the bottom two for 2010 and 2011 and in the bottom 10 in 2009. The last time Houston was in the top half of the league in homers before last season came in 2004.

Again, the Astros will be fun to watch next season. But, focusing on the home run wasn't a new thing this offseason. it's been a basic tenet of Luhnow's stewardship. I know sports fans in Houston might have missed that in the dark times of 100 losses and CSN Houston, but Harvey should know better.

2) Appreciating Luis Valbuena

You want to see how the other half lives? You want to appreciate one of Houston's newest players? SB Nation sister site, Bleed Cubbie Blue, has an article up talking about what Luis Valbuena meant to the team over the last few years. Here's the money quote:

I'll miss Val-B's infectious smile and the bat flip, which, oddly enough, I can't seem to find any video or GIFs of, so if you can, feel free to post them in the comments. He's been a valuable member of the Chicago Cubs for three years and brought value in return. I wish him well in Houston -- their fans will love him.

Losing Fowler was hard. He was an infectious player who was an obvious team leader. But, adding more high-quality, good teammates will help.

3) Parks and Rec is back!

If you need just one reason to love NBC's little-watched sitcom run by FJM's Ken Tremendous (Mike Schur IRL), it's this wonderful law firm easter egg from a previous season.

As the show's last season premiered on Tuesday, we got another treat. The law firm expanded and it's glorious.

4) A minor pitching injury

That's not a minor injury, mind you. That's a minor league pitcher getting injured. Bad news for an Astros draft pick, per Tags.

Velazquez went 2-1 last season in 18 games with four saves in 23 innings. The right-hander struck out 24 with two walks and a 1.57 ERA. Here's our draftee profile of him from last summer.

5) Points to Drellich

This is a really good point from a really good beat writer, especially at a time of year when we can see some knuckleheaded columns about how the Astros should've signed Scherzer.

6) Correa to win 2015 batting title?

Great article up over at MLB.com's Prospect Pipeline. The gist is that Astros uber-prospect Carlos Correa could win the minor league batting title this season. From Jim Callis:

By contrast, Correa looks like he can't miss. He has all of the makings of a superstar shortstop, and the worst-case scenario appears to be an All-Star third baseman. The next step on Correa's pathway to greatness will be a batting title in what should be his final full season in the Minor Leagues.

I hope the only reason Correa's batting title is derailed is because he's in Houston.

7) Strasburg available?

From pipeline to pipe dream. After the Washington Nationals spent big on Max Scherzer on Monday, there were immediately rumors that one of their starting pitchers was available. The obvious target? Stephen Strasburg.

Oh, wait. He's NOT the obvious target, yet for some reason, he's on the market.

Now, most of the TCB staff shouted me down when I expressed a desire for the Astros to trade for him. Why on earth would the Nats do this? I have no idea. It doesn't make sense. Which is why he won't get moved. But, he'd certainly give Houston that staff ace they've been looking for.

What kind of package would it take to lure Strasburg to Houston?

8) Rangers trade for Gallardo

I bring this up only because the other Texas team actually improved their club. For some reason, the Rangers can't figure out whether to play for the "now" or to "rebuild." So, they traded an interesting package for Brewers' starting pitcher Yovani Gallardo. From Chris Cotillo:

Gallardo joins Yu Darvish and Derek Holland atop a Rangers rotation that will also include names like Colby Lewis, Ross Detwiler, Nick Tepesch, and rehabbing lefties Martin Perez and Matt Harrison. The 28-year-old Gallardo has posted a lifetime 3.69 ERA (109 ERA+) in eight seasons with Milwaukee, and has pitched more than 180 innings in each of his last six campaigns. He was not thought to be on the trading block this winter, but the Brewers likely are trying to capitalize on his value now instead of potentially losing him for nothing in free agency next winter.

Meh. Let's see how the Rangers play next season before we anoint them as being contenders again. They have Yu, but they also have holes. Don't know that Gallardo alone fixes everything.

9) Astros World Series odds

Bovada released the World Series odds for 2015 and, surprisingly, the Astros aren't last! In fact, there are a number of teams with worse odds than the Astros at 66/1.

What does that mean? Probably nothing. We already guessed from FanGraphs' projected standings that the Astros weren't the worst team in the league. In fact, they're not even a bottom five team right now.

But, the World Series?

I will only remind you that the Miracle Mets won 70 games the year before winning the Series in '69. They did not make up all the difference in one season.

Maybe Nolan's return can spark some of that old magic.