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Friday's Three Astros Things

Talking about dumb trades, retired numbers and saying goodbye...

Some things to talk about while you're officially dead to me for writing bad things about El Oso Blanco...

1) Dumb trades are dumb

Ahh, yes. We've come to the time of the dumb trade ideas. This annual tradition happens when baseball writers start throwing out trades for teams they don't follow or understand that just don't make sense.

For instance, Sports On Earth's Tim Healy has an idea for the Astros.

Given that Amaro reportedly asked the Red Sox for at least one of their top prospects, he'd probably want to start the Astros conversation with Carlos Correa and Mark Appel. Correa, the No. 3 prospect in baseball per, is presumably untouchable. But maybe Appel is a starting point.

The Astros have three other top-100 prospects: No. 69, power-hitting outfielder Domingo Santana, a former Phillies prospect who went to Houston in the 2011 Hunter Pence deal and is still only 22; No. 83, right-hander Vincent Velasquez, who could be better than Appel, the former No. 1 overall pick; and No. 97, right-hander Michael Feliz.

Given Philly's general dearth of talent, especially in its future rotations, Appel, Santana and one of Velasquez/Felix should suffice, though that would also mean the Astros giving up three of their top five prospects.


Mark Appel. Domingo Santana AND Vincent Velasquez for a pitcher who's 31 and owed $67 million over the next three seasons? Given that Hamels hasn't even pitched well peripherally this year, that seems like an awfully high price.

In fact, there's a good chance that Mark Appel outperforms Hamels over the next six years for a fraction of that cost. Add in Vincent Velasquez, who's got a lesser shot at outperforming Hamels if he stays healthy, and a decent bat in Santana, and that's a VERY lopsided deal.

It also wouldn't necessarily improve the Astros very much in the short-term. Hamels has pitched just about the same as Scott Feldman has this year and only a little better than Fauxsto. And he'll require a HUGE commitment in money and years for his decline. You thought that Feldman deal looked bad when he signed it?

I'll say this one last time. The Astros won't make a huge commitment to a pitcher this offseason or this summer. If they do get an arm, it'll be one of the second-tier guys who still pitches very well. My two names to watch are Scott Kazmir and Doug Fister, but I'm sure that crafty Mike Fast has his eyes on plenty of promising arms.

That trade above, though? Dumb, dumb dumb.

2) Retired numbers

The Astros have a lot of retired numbers. You've seen them up in the rafters at Minute Maid Park. They've got so many, yet we still have people who think they should have more.

Why isn't J.R. Richard's number retired? Whey haven't they hallowed Lance Berkman's jersey? Why haven't they put Roy Oswalt's number in a place of honor?

I've gradually come around on the idea that none of them will have their numbers retired, because of how the system currently stands.

I do think, however, that there are some great ideas in these two posts for how to change the way retired numbers work.

Here's an excerpt from Jeff Snider's post at Baseball Essential with a modest proposal:

Every year, teams should grant a one-year license to a particular player to wear a particular number. The Astros could give Umbricht's number 32 to a player who has overcome great odds to play in the big leagues. The Yankees could give Ruth's number 3 to the player who led the team in homers the previous year. The Dodgers could give Garvey's number 6 to a player who played every game the previous year. The possibilities are endless, and each team would be free to determine their own criteria.

Brandon McCarthy tweeted at Craig Calcaterra with another good idea. Let the families of the retired players handle it. Let them decide who's worthy. Maybe the player doesn't get it right away, but earns it by his play. Can't you see Jimmy Wynn seeing a bit of himself in Jose Altuve, for instance?

If either of those were implemented, I could definitely see the Astros retiring all three jersey I mentioned before. Give J.R.'s to the next firebreathing starting pitcher to come through the system. Can you imagine if Roy Boy had gotten that one when he came up?

There's no perfect way to do it, but both of these are fantastic ideas. Shouldn't we at least consider honoring players in different ways?

3) So long, and thanks for all the fish

Speaking of retiring...

One of the last distinct sports arguments I remember having with my dad came in the winter of 2003. Rumors were swirling that the Astros were making a run at Andy Pettitte.

I didn't like this idea. He did. We argued about it for a while, as I stood outside the Blocker Building at Texas A&M. I was going inside to my student worker job, where I'd probably catch up on Rob Neyer's latest stuff for The analytics revolution had already hit me hard and, yes, I already hated spending big on pitching.

Dad argued with me that Pettitte was different. His numbers were good. He was a winner. Who cares what the deal looked like in three years? He hadn't shown signs of decline yet.

Turned out, I was wrong. Pettitte pitched for 10 more years and didn't suffer a sharp decline for another two years.

Those sports arguments between me and my dad were so much fun, even as we each got mad. They're also what I missed the most when ALS robbed him of his speech years before it claimed his life. We still shared sports, but he was no longer a phone call away.

When I joined TCB's writing staff five years ago, I found a community that could fill that void. I found passionate fans who followed the team as closely as I did. We don't always agree, mainly because I still say and write dumb things on a regular basis.

But, nearly every day for that time, we got to have a conversation on this little portion of the internet. That's been the most rewarding thing about writing for this site.

It's also going to be the thing I miss the most about it, because as of today, I'm stepping down from TCB. The short story is that I'm changing careers and the new job requires more of my focus and learning. With that, I won't have the time to devote to this site that I did.

You've probably noticed my extremely sporadic output in the past two weeks. Maybe you thought I was fired like Bill Simmons was. After all, we share a similar terrible writing style. Instead, the new job is the reason for that. It's great work, but it's time-consuming and new. It's a fun challenge.

I'll still be around reading and following the Astros, but I'm much more of a lurker than a commenter. I'll try to chime in more often and, for the time being, I'll still be on the podcast.

I will miss writing about the Astros on here, though. It's been one of the most rewarding experiences of my professional career. Thanks to all of you who've read and commented over the years.

TCB has always been bigger than one person. It'll continue on, being the best Astros site on the internet. I'll let your new benevolent overlord introduce himself in a bit.

Until then, see ya in the next life, Jack.