Saturday’s Astros game versus the Yankees was broadcast live on MLB Network. Allegedly.
Most of us living in the great state of Texas were blacked out by MLB as the network chose to give us a painfully in-depth recap of the 1986 playoffs instead. Sorry, but that just isn’t something that those of us who are old enough to remember want to be reminded of. Missing out on today’s game seems like enough of a disappointment. Why add insult to injury?
Desperate times call for desperate measures, so I set out to find an alternative method for viewing the game. Enter MLB.TV. Apparently, Spring Training games aren’t blacked out. Hooray!
But viewing a live game over the internet also has its drawbacks. Despite the constant glitching and a few crashes, I was able to hang in there for the duration. But the overall quality of the MLB.TV package simply isn’t worth the cost. I wouldn’t pay a penny for it, especially taking into account the ridiculous blackout rules.
On the other hand, the production quality of the CSN Houston broadcast was top notch. Like most Astros fans, I would be willing to pay money to get the Regional Sports Network delivered directly to my TV set. Hint. Hint.
Today’s CSN Houston broadcast included in-game interviews with a couple of Astros heavyweights, G.M. Jeff Luhnow and pitching coach Brent Strom. Luhnow spent an entire inning talking with Bill Brown and company. The conversation included some talk about George Springer, but, oddly enough, the subject of his timeline to the majors never came up. Despite that particular subject being strategically omitted, I was still able to enjoy the interview.
Luhnow came on in the third inning as Darin Downs took the mound. The G.M. noted that the lefty would be competing with Raul Valdes and Kevin Chapman for what was likely to be two spots on the Opening Day roster. Downs didn’t do anything to help his cause. The former Tiger surrendered hard hit line drives to the first three batters he faced. Greeted by a double and a homerun, Downs wasted no time coughing up the lead.
The subject of Mark Appel also came up. Luhnow said the top draft pick threw a long-toss session today and should be able to pitch in multiple games before Spring Training comes to a close. Appel is still recovering from emergency appendectomy surgery that took place in January.
Jason Castro and the team’s catching depth was another hot topic. Luhnow insisted that although Castro would continue to see time as the DH on occasion, his value to the team is as an everyday catcher. Luhnow went on to say that the organization currently boasts three backstops that should be playing at the AAA level and depth at the position didn’t end there.
Brent Strom spent a half-inning on the air today as well. The club’s new pitching coach said he likes the offseason additions made to both the bullpen and the rotation. He likened the Astros strategy of bringing in pitchers like Scott Feldman, Chad Qualls, and Jerome Williams to the Cardinals’ successful method of having guys like Adam Wainwright and Chris Carpenter mentor young pitchers.
Dallas Keuchel (Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports)
Strom also spoke about the fact that Cosart and Oberholtzer will need to continue to develop if they want to succeed at the highest level, noting that the league will have more detailed scouting reports on them as they gain experience. Strom believes the breaking ball is the key to the future success of both youngsters.
Strom also spoke highly of Mike Foltyniewicz and Anthony Bass, saying he liked their power. Strom also beamed about Dallas Keuchel. Coach said he kept checking the internet for updates on how his lefty was doing in today’s “B” game against the Phillies. Luhnow also mentioned the internet today, saying there are a number of blogs out there covering the Astros minor league system. If that’s not a ringing endorsement for What the Heck, Bobby? I don’t know what is.
By the way, Keuchel threw three hitless innings today to continue building on his strong spring. So far he and Lucas Harrel are pitching well enough to stay in the rotation.