The Astros are still trying to sell, sell, sell

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If the Astros have their way, their most expensive player in their final year in the National League could be rehabbing reliever Brandon Lyon.

Even without a permanent general manager employed, the Astros are at the winter meetings shopping Wandy Rodriguez, Brett Myers and Carlos Lee, according to Scott Miller of CBS Sports.

While Rodriguez is still somewhat attractive at $36 million for the next three years, the Astros know there will be no takers for Myers and Lee at their current prices. That’s why they’re willing to pay half of what those two are owed, says Miller. Myers will make $11 million next year, and there’s a $10 million vesting option for 2013 on his contract that includes a $3 million buyout. Lee will make $18.5 million next year in what will finally be the final season of his six-year, $100 million contract.

Myers could be worthy gamble at $6 million-$7 million next year, but the vesting option is likely to scare suitors off. Lee would be a tough sell even at $9 million after hitting .275/.342/.446 last season.

If the Astros due rid themselves of all three, then they could well enter the season with a 25-man roster making $18 million or less. Lyon, at $5.5 million, will probably start off on the disabled list. Their only players eligible for arbitration are J.A. Happ and Humberto Quintero, and those two should combine to earn around $3 million. They’ll probably go bargain hunting for a shortstop and a starting pitcher or two, but they won’t be looking to make any significant commitments.

The Red Sox start is ridiculous

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The red-hot Red Sox completed a sweep of the previously red-hot Angels last night, outscoring them 27-3 in their three-game series. Last night’s game was, relatively speaking, a close one, with the Sox winning “only” by six runs. They did manage to strike out Shohei Ohtani three times, though, so some style points help make up for the “squeaker.” Also worth noting that they held Mike Trout of all people to a 3-for-11 line in their three-game series. He did not score a single time and drove in no runs.

That series win puts the Sox at 16-2 on the year. They dropped their Opening Day game to the Rays, but then won their next six games against Tampa Bay, which I’d say makes up for it. In between those two series they swept a two-game series from the Marlins and afterwards they took two of three from the Yankees and three in a row from the Orioles. The only thing that even threatened to slow this juggernaut down is the weather, resulting in a postponement of Monday morning’s Patriot’s Day game. Somewhere in here we should notice that they’re doing this with their starting shortstop and starting second baseman on the disabled list.

As we’ve noted many times, their 16-2 record is the best start in the Red Sox’ 118-year history. It’s also the best start for any team since the 1987 Milwaukee Brewers began 17-1 (let us just forget, for the time being, that those Brewers lost 18 of 20 in May of that year). They are the fourth team since 1961 to win 16 of its first 18 games.

The Sox aren’t simply getting lucky here. They’ve scored 116 runs and have allowed only 50, which is a Pythagorean record of 15-3. They lead all of baseball in offense, scoring 6.44 runs a game, leading individually in average, on-base percentage and slugging. They are only three one hundredths of a run behind the Astros from leading all of baseball in pitching, allowing only 2.78 runs a game. They’re winning all of these games because, in the early going, they’ve simply been that dang much better than everyone they’ve played.

No, the Sox are not going to go 144-18, as they are currently on pace to do. Yes, they are going to find a lot more trouble in their schedule once they play the Orioles, Rays and Marlins less, play a healthier Yankees team more and face off against the Astros, the Blue Jays, the Indians, the Twins and some tougher interleague opponents. This is baseball, obviously, and no one makes it through a season without rough patches, long, short and numerous.

Still: this has been one whale of a start for Boston. Those wins are in the bank. It’s been quite the thing to see.