Biggio Bagwell

How not to solve the Astros’ problems

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Richard Justice has a story today in which he asks Lance Berkman about how the Astros should go about rebuilding when the new ownership group comes on board.

I can’t say I disagree with most of what Berkman says. Sure, he’s a little too kind to the Astros’ current rotation, but it’s not like he’s going to throw opponents under the bus in that kind of setting.  The general idea, though: keep the on-field management you have and think long term rather than short term is the right move.

I did have a chuckle at Justice’s intro to the article, however:

One of the things I hope Jim Crane does over the next few weeks is sit down with Jeff Bagwell and Craig Biggio about how the Astros got into this mess and how they can get out of it. Why wouldn’t Crane want the perspective of two of the best and smartest players this franchise has had?

How about this: because an overdeveloped sense of devotion and fealty to Biggio and Bagwell and all of the respectable veterany goodness that came with them is what got the Astros into trouble in the first place.  Maybe it’s not their fault — someone in that front office should have burnt things down and rebuilt after it became clear in the 2006 season that the Killer Bs Astros had peaked already — but the Astros’ central problem right now is a direct result of too much deference to those guys.

If Biggio and Bagwell actually have solid baseball ideas, great, let’s hear them. But their views on the matter should carry no more weight than anyone else’s because teams that successfully rebuild do so by looking to the future, not looking to the past.

Report: Astros remain in contact with the Athletics on Sonny Gray

OAKLAND, CA - AUGUST 06: Sonny Gray #54 of the Oakland Athletics pitches against the Chicago Cubs during the first inning at the Oakland Coliseum on August 6, 2016 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)
Jason O. Watson/Getty Images
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The Astros remain in contact with the Athletics on starting pitcher Sonny Gray, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports. The Astros have added Charlie Morton this offseason, but the club has been trying to add a big-name starting pitcher to put at the top of the rotation behind Dallas Keuchel.

Gray, 27, was limited to 22 starts in the 2016 season due to a forearm issue. His stats left a lot to be desired, as he finished with a 5-11 record, a 5.69 ERA, and a 94/42 K/BB ratio over 117 innings. Considering how Gray pitched in the previous three years, he’s a good bet to bounce back.

Gray is under team control through 2019, which is a big draw for the Astros. Needless to say, the Athletics would want a haul in terms of prospects. Gray will earn $3.575 million in 2017, having avoided arbitration in his first year of eligibility.

President Obama Welcomes the Cubs to the White House

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As we noted last week, The Chicago Cubs took the unusual step of not waiting until the summer after winning the World Series to make their customary White House visit to meet the president. They did it today, seeing President Obama a few short days before he leaves office.

Despite the fact that Obama is a White Sox fan, he met the Cubs with diplomacy and grace. It’s almost as if he’s been in that business for the past eight years. In return, he was given some gifts by the Cubs: Theo Epstein presented Obama with a No. 44 Cubs jersey, a tile from the center field scoreboard at Wrigley Field, and a lifetime pass to Wrigley as well.

Obama is staying in D.C. after he leaves office this week, hanging around so his daughter can finish high school in the same place she started. Even so, he’s likely going to be back to Chicago a good bit over the rest of his life, so he’ll likely be able to put the free pass to work. Assuming it comes with, like, six companion passes for his Secret Service detail.