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Astros Crawfish Boil: March 29, 2018

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Houston Astros news and notes from around the league for March 29, 2018.

MLB: Miller Park
Opening Day is here again! Let’s look around the league and prime ourselves for the 2018 regular season.
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel-USA TODAY NETWORK

Welcome to a new regular season, fellow World Series Champion fans! Before you ask, yes, there will be both a game preview and a Game Thread today. That will be the plan for as long as I’m running the ship during the regular season.

- Marbach


Astros News

After spring experimenting, the Astros are prepared to use a four-man outfield shift in the regular season

Jake Kaplan of The Athletic takes a (paywall, subscription required and highly recommended) look at the hottest new defensive shift in AJ Hinch’s toolbag.

Hinch on 4-man outfield: ‘It’s not a gimmick’

Astros may use alignment vs. lefty pull hitters on the road

The Data Wonk Who Became a Coach (Wall Street Journal)

The data revolution in baseball has always maintained one barrier: the wonks stay in the front office, the “baseball people” stay in the dugout. Now that barrier is starting to break down, with the Astros deploying uber-quant guru sensei Sig Mejdal to be an actual on-field coach last season with the Tri-City Valley Cats. This piece is utterly wonderful, and a must-read for Astros fans.

Kaplan: Astros’ Rocket Man Sig Mejdal brings a fresh outlook to a new coaching role

Another look (this one from Jake Kaplan of The Athletic, paywall piece) at Sig Mejdal’s coaching gig.

Verlander, Astros ready to open vs. Rangers

Rangers beat writer TR Sullivan takes a look at the Opening Day game between the Astros and the Rangers.

Astros hungry, set to line up for Opening Day

Tags with his Astros preview.

“We’re not the Cubs”: Do the numbers back up Astros ace Dallas Keuchel?

James Yasko (“AstrosCounty” on Twitter, if you don’t know) takes another look at the Astros as contenders to repeat.

Davis, Fisher make Astros as OD roster set

White, Kemp optioned to Triple-A Fresno

Houston brewery debuting shiny, glittery beer in honor of Astros season opener

I mean, check out the picture. What more reason do you need to read up on this?

Eureka Heights Brewing Company

In their own words: What have the Astros’ other starters learned from Justin Verlander?

Jake Kaplan of The Athletic with a look at Justin Verlander and his influence, out of the mouths of his teammates.

Odds of an Astros repeat look extremely high

Jerome Solomon of the Houston Chronicle is apparently extremely confident in the Astros. So he’d fit right in here.

How the Fortnite craze made its way into the Astros clubhouse this spring training

Chris Cotillo of SB Nation takes a fun look at Fortnite (a popular new video game, if you aren’t all knowed up) in the Astros clubhouse.

Rosenthal: Why Altuve’s deal makes sense; Boras gives his side; stop worrying about Ohtani; more notes

Here’s a Rosenthal opinion about Jose Altuve, if you want to read Ken Rosenthal for some reason.

Around The League

MLB 2018 Opening Day Guide

Game on! Here’s your guide for Opening Day

What Is the Most Exciting Part of the Upcoming MLB Season?

The Ringer staff previews the 2018 season.

One hope for all 30 teams in 2018

Joe Posnanski gives you one wish for each team this year.

The Lurking Error in Statcast Pitch Data

Need to read this one further, but the premise is extremely interesting, to say the least.

Why The Beer Foam Pictures Of Yankees Players Were Blocked By MLB

A piece from Forbes about Beergate. In case you missed it, MLB was not at all pleased about pictures drawn in beer foam of Yankees stars. So naturally, here’s the picture that upset the MLB so:

Players’ View: Learning and Developing a Pitch, Part 1

David Laurila of FanGraphs speaks with three Major League pitchers about the process of learning a new pitch. Interesting read.

Eovaldi has elbow injury, will undergo surgery

Alvin, TX native was scheduled to start for the Tampa Bay Rays vs. the Boston Red Sox on Sunday.

Rich Hill Has a Theory About Spin and Aging

Travis Sawchik of FanGraphs has a really cool piece about spinning the baseball and aging.

MLB salaries 2018: A 3% raise for average major leaguer - but future commitments dipping

Bob Nightengale of USA Today offers a piece worth reading about baseball finances and player contracts and such.

Risky Business: The Science of Nutritional Supplements

Stephanie Springer of the Hardball Times takes a look at this topic that isn’t oft-discussed by baseball pundits.

Who Has The Best MLB Player-Development Facilities?

Here are the top six, according to BallparkDigest dot com.