If the rumors about Stanford right-hander Mark Appel turning down the Astros’ offer to pay him $6 million as the No. 1 overall pick last month were true–and really, even if they weren’t–agent Scott Boras better have some pretty big tricks up his sleeve.
Appel went from presumed No. 1 pick to falling all the way to the Pirates at No. 8, where the recommended slot value is $2.9 million. Pittsburgh can go beyond that amount, but not by anywhere near enough to make passing on $6 million pay off for Appel and Boras.
In fact, according to Baseball America‘s extensive draft database that incorporates all of the Pirates’ allotted money and previous signings they can now pay Appel a maximum of $3.837 million without being stripped of a draft pick next season. Carlos Correa, the player Houston ended up picking at No. 1, signed almost immediately for $4.8 million.
The Astros and Nationals share a spring training facility, so it was only natural that they would open Grapefruit League play together. The Astros were the home team. Here’s the lineup they rolled out.
Teams typically include at least a few regulars in their spring training lineups as a courtesy to the fans, who are spending money to see big league players play baseball. This is especially the case for home games. However, the Astros have decided to roll out a lineup with a combined 323 MLB plate appearances.
There might be a reason for that. Houston was lustily booed as they took the field. This was after running a video on the scoreboard celebrating their 2019 AL championship.
That’s all with the team that beat them in the World Series (and is widely regarded as baseball’s current heroes for beating the big bad cheating Astros) in the other dugout, of course. Nationals starter Max Scherzer has not thrown at any Houston player, and the game is now in a rain delay. But it seems like the Astros decided to spare their players from some possible rough treatment, both from fans and opposing pitchers.
The same could not be said for Astros mascot Orbit, who was also booed.
One can quibble with the merits of booing a bunch of players who have barely touched the big leagues because you’re mad at Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman, but sports fandom is something of an irrational business. Fans are going to want their pound of flesh, especially when they paid for the right to be in the ballpark and give the Astros a piece of their mind. Some of them even brought props! This is just how it all works, unfortunately. If you’re in an Astros uniform, you’re probably going to get booed.
Welcome to the 2020 season, Astros. It’s probably going to be like this all year.