UPDATE: Astros close to multi-year deal with Brett Myers

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UPDATE: Brian McTaggart of MLB.com reports that the Astros are close to a multi-year deal with right-hander Brett Myers.

The Astros were reported to be reluctant to trade Myers, though many — including myself — thought they were bluffing. The 29-year-old right-hander has been a real bargain for the ‘Stros this season, compiling a 3.10 ERA and 1.22 WHIP over 21 starts. His contract includes an $8 million option for next season, though as I mentioned earlier, they’ll probably start from scratch here.

2:56 PM: Richard Justice of the Houston Chronicle was told that the Astros will not trade Brett Myers or Wandy Rodriguez. The club listened to offers, however they didn’t hear anything they liked.

In fact, Justice hears that the Astros are looking to get Myers under contract for next season. He is making $3.1 million this season has an $8 million mutual option for next season. Myers would probably rip that one up if he can get a multi-year deal.

Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com hears the same thing, though we still have a little over an hour left before the 4 pm ET deadline, so they could probably still be overwhelmed.

9:15 AM: According to Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com, the Astros are listening to offers for Brett Myers and Wandy Rodriguez, though they are “not that motivated” to trade them.

9:02 AM: Over the past 10 days or so, we’ve heard that the Astros were reluctant to deal Brett Myers. Their hesitation didn’t make a whole lot of sense, really, because the resurgent Myers is likely to choose free agency instead of his $8 million option for 2011. Well, it sounds like the Astros have finally come to their senses or maybe they intended to deal him all along.

According to Jon Paul Morosi of FOXSports.com, the Astros have “become more open-minded” to trading Myers now that he is the top right-handed starter on the market. And according to a source, the Twins are one of the teams in the discussion.

Myers, 29, is 8-6 with a 3.10 ERA and 1.22 WHIP over 21 starts this season and has gone at least six innings in each and every one of them. He recently allowed just one run in a complete game win over the Cubs on Tuesday night and has a 1.67 ERA over his last four starts.

Morosi writes that the Twins have a need for starting pitching and might want to counter the White Sox, who added Edwin Jackson on Friday, thus continuing the myth that he is somehow a difference-maker. Morosi believes that it would take Scott Baker, Kevin Slowey or Nick Blackburn to get Myers. If it’s the recently-demoted Blackburn that the Astros want — he of the 6.66 ERA and the $14 million contract — Aaron would probably drive him to Houston.    

Imagining Theo Epstein in politics

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“When Alexander saw the breadth of his domain, he wept for there were no more worlds to conquer.”

Or: “When Theo Epstein won World Series championships with the two most championship-starved franchises in baseball history, he got bored, and decided to run for the Senate or something.”

That latter bit is the premise of a Politico piece speculating that the Cubs president could go into politics one day. The story features an interview with former Obama chief strategist David Axlerod, who thinks Theo has what it takes. Mostly what he has is fame, popularity, good looks and money. No idea what his positions on issue are, but that other stuff goes a long way in politics these days.

Bonus: given what we just elected last fall, a guy who once had a little temper tantrum and dressed up in a gorilla suit is just as viable a candidate as anyone.

Another interestingly named player is promoted by the Pirates

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When you promote a player from the minors, the first and foremost consideration is whether or not he can help your ball club. But, assuming that’s taken care of, teams should really, really make it a priority to call up dudes with cool sounding names because it makes life more interesting for the rest of us.

The Pirates are doing that. The other night Dovydas Neverauskas made his big league debut. In addition to being the first Lithuanian born-and-raised player in major league history, it’s a solid, solid name. Now the Pirates are making another promotion: Gift Ngoepe.

Yep, Gift Ngoepe. He’s an infielder from South Africa, making the leap to the bigs due to David Freese‘s hamstring injury. Ngoepe, 27, was batting just .241/.308/.379 through 66 plate appearances this season with Triple-A Indianapolis, his ninth in the minors, so he’s not exactly a prospect. But man, that’s a killer name.

It’s also worth mentioning that Gift and Neverauskas were arrested together in a bar fight last August in Toledo, so there is already a good basis for some bonding here.

Good luck, Gift. Gift Ngoepe. Mr. Ngoepe. G-Ngo. Man, I could do this all day.