Astros sign No. 1 pick Mark Appel

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Making official what was reported earlier this week, the Astros announced that they’ve come to an agreement with No. 1 overall pick Mark Appel.

Appel, who turned down $3.8 million from the Pirates last year as the No. 8 pick, is expected to receive around $6.35 million. That means returning for his senior season at Stanford turned out very well for Appel, but it also means the Astros would save around $1.45 million compared to the recommended slot bonus for the No. 1 pick, which they can then use to sign other picks.

As a senior Appel went 10-4 with a 2.12 ERA and 130/23 K/BB ratio in 106 innings, holding opponents to a .203 batting average and just two homers in 395 at-bats. Appel is from Houston and Astros owner Jim Crane talked about the right-hander returning home, adding that “hopefully it won’t be too long until he’s ready for the big leagues.”

Last year the Astros passed on Appel with the No. 1 pick to take high school shortstop Carlos Correa, who’s currently hitting .304 with an .830 OPS in 55 games at low Single-A as an 18-year-old.

Who are the candidates for the Cardinals managerial job?

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If you logged off over the weekend, you may not have heard that Mike Matheny was sacked as the Cardinals manager late Saturday night. I wrote about the reasons for this yesterday morning. Mike Shildt was named the interim manager and he will keep the job through the rest of the season. Between now and then the Cardinals’ brain trust is going to figure out who they want for the job full time.

Today Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch goes over a list of potential candidates. No, the Cardinals have not identified any officially, but Goold is a smart cookie and hears stuff and what wasn’t heard is informed speculation. At the very least, expect to hear many of the names he lists several times as the process goes on.

You gotta read his article to get the list, but there are a couple on there I want to talk about for a second.

The first one is Joe Girardi, who makes it because (a) he is the most prominent marquee manager who doesn’t have a job at the moment; (b) he played 16 games with the Cardinals in his final season; and (c) far more important than that is that he is tight with John Mozeliak. But while Girardi seems like a perfect candidate for a club in win-now mode, I question whether he’s truly the right guy given that he left New York for many of the same reasons Matheny left St. Louis (i.e. not relating well with young players). We can’t overstate that, however, because Girardi is, by every other measure, a superior manager to Matheny, primarily when it comes to managing a bullpen, so his rapport with the kids is not the be-all, end-all.

Goold also mentions Mark McGwire. He’s obviously a legend in St. Louis and, unlike a lot of former players who talk about wanting to get into managing these days, McGwire has been putting in his time as a coach for a long, long time. He’s currently the Padres’ bench coach. I’d like to see McGwire get the job for petty, personal reasons: a lot of people would get really, really mad about a PED guy getting the gig, they’d say and write a lot of dumb stuff and that, for me, is the key to a lot of content. Not gonna lie about that.

A lot of other interesting names on that list too. And there will likely be a lot of people, beyond those who the Cardinals initially identify, who express interest in the job too. It’s a sweet gig with historic job security for a marquee franchise in a baseball city, so what’s not to like?