The Winter Meetings have made for a busy week around baseball. The Astros entered the meetings without a General Manager and looking to deal their three remaining veterans. Carlos Lee, Brett Myers, and Wandy Rodriguez were all made available at a discounted rate. The Astros were offering to go Dutch on this year’s salary for any of the veterans with a team that could put together an acceptable package of players. Interim G.M. David Gottfried has been unable to find any takers at this point, but Spring Training is still 90 days away.
The Astros filled the vacant G.M. position on Wednesday after a thorough search and interview process. Jeff Luhnow was chosen as Ed Wade’s successor and was introduced at a press conference yesterday. Luhnow had been working in the St. Louis Cardinals organization, most recently as Vice President in charge of scouting and player development. I for one am excited to have a man who came to his interview with a 25-page plan detailing how he intends to improve the Astros. I mean, that is just epic. Much like the interview process itself, which was reported to have taken a total of 13 hours. The Astros didn’t rush into this- and it looks like they got their man.
Shortly after announcing Luhnow, the Astros were on the clock with the first pick in the Rule 5 Draft. Houston selected 25 year-old reliever Rhiner Cruz out of the New York Mets organization. In addition to the hard throwing right-hander, the Astros also acquired SS Marwin Gonzalez in a deal with the Red Sox. Both youngsters will be given plenty of opportunity to make the team out of Spring Training.
Earlier in the week sportswriter Richard Justice left the Houston Chronicle after an eleven year run with the newspaper. I was never a fan of his reporting, but whether you liked him or not, Justice did serve a purpose. Justice was a conduit between the Astros and the National media. The Astros have gotten very little national coverage over the past few seasons- but when they did, Justice was there. Justice appeared regularly on ESPN and more recently MLB Network. After much deliberation, Justice made the jump to mlb.com where he will serve as a national reporter. The question is, who will fill the void left by Justice’s departure? I think Zachary Levine could be a candidate. Levine is a new-school reporter who likes to blend in a tasteful dose of SABR-metrics, as is evidenced by his recent article. Levine was also recently featured in a podcast at Fangraphs. The audio isn’t that great, but it’s still worth a listen.
As the Winter Meetings came to a close the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim inked two of the biggest Free Agents on the market. Angels owner Arturo Moreno reached deep into the coffers to sign Albert Pujols (10 yrs/$254 M) and C.J. Wilson. (5 yrs/$77.5 M) So the Astros will only get a one year vacation from playing in the same division as Pujols.
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