Astros acquire catcher Hank Conger from Angels

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Once upon a time Hank Conger was viewed as the Angels’ long-term answer behind the plate, but the 2006 first-round draft pick never emerged as more than a backup for manager Mike Scioscia and now they’ve traded him to the Astros.

Chris Iannetta’s presence as a full-time catcher allows the Angels to painlessly part ways with Conger and in return they get catcher Carlos Perez and right-hander Nick Tropeano.

Tropeano made his MLB debut in September, starting four games for the Astros after tossing 125 innings with a 3.03 ERA and 120/33 K/BB ratio at Triple-A as a 23-year-old. He has the potential be a middle-of-the-rotation starter, but may wind up in the bullpen.

Perez is 24 years old and has spent the past two seasons at Triple-A, hitting .264 with eight homers and a .692 OPS. He looks like a backup at most.

And that’s really all Conger looks to be at this point, despite some good numbers in the minors. He’ll turn 27 years old in January and has played 251 games in the majors, hitting just .224 with a .648 OPS. He has some power and can draw a walk, which along with good pitch-framing numbers is no doubt why the Astros felt like taking a flier on him.

Astros defend barring reporter from clubhouse

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As we wrote about this morning, last night the Houston Astros, at the request of Justin Verlander, barred Detroit Free Press reporter Anthony Fenech from the clubhouse during Verlander’s media availability following the Tigers-Astros game. After Verlander was done talking to the press in the scrum setting — and after a call was placed to Major League Baseball about the matter — Fenech was allowed in.

As we noted, this was done in violation of agreements to which Major League Baseball, the Houston Astros and the Baseball Writers Association of America are parties. The agreements are meant to ensure full access to BBWAA-accredited reporters as long as they have not violated the terms of their credentials.  In no case do the clubs — and certainly not the players — have the right to bar access to BBWAA-accredited reporters. Indeed, the whole point of the BBWAA is to ensure such access and to ensure that teams cannot bar them simply because they are unhappy with their coverage or what have you.

This morning Verlander tweeted, obliquely, about “unethical behavior” on the part of Fenech that led to his request to the Astros to bar him. As we noted at the time, such an allegation — however interesting it might be — is of no consequence to the admission or barring of a reporter. If Fenech has acted unethically it’s a matter between him and his employer and, potentially, between him and the BBWAA. At the very least, if Verlander has a specific concern, it would be incumbent upon him or the Astros to take the matter up with either the Free Press or the BBWAA.

In light of all of this, it’s hard to make a case for Verlander’s request and the Astros’ honoring it. A few moments ago, however, the Astros released as statement on the matter which, basically, says, “so what?”

Which is to say, the Astros have made a decades-long agreement between the BBWAA and MLB regarding reporter access optional, because a player does not like a reporter who is covering him.  Someone without the power to alter the BBWAA-MLB relationship has just done so unilaterally. And they have done so in such a way that any player, should they decide they don’t like a reporter, will now presumably rely on as precedent. And, it should be noted, in doing so they gave at least some tacit credence to Verlander’s thus far unsubstantiated and unspecified allegations of unethical behavior on the part of Fenech.

It’s your move, Major League Baseball and BBWAA. Whatcha gonna do about it?