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February 21 - This Date in Astros History
February 21 - This Date in Astros History
February 21

2006 - Gene Elston is named as the 30th Ford C. Frick Award winner, honoring the top baseball announcers in history. The award is presented at the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. Elston's career with Houston spanned from 1961 to 1986. He joins Harry Kalas (1965-1970), Bob Prince (1976) and Milo Hamilton (1985-present) as Astro play-by-play men to receive the honor.
1985 - Pitchers and catchers report to the first official workouts at the Astros' new spring training facility in Kissimmee, FL. It is considered by all an upgrade over the team's old facilities in Cocoa, FL that had been in use for the previous 21 years.
1943 - Jack Billingham is born in Orlando, FL. While he compiles a respectable 29-32 record in three years as an Astro (1969-1971), Billingham is best remembered as the player involved in two of the most reviled trades the club ever made, coming and going.
1931 - Buffs Stadium in Houston is home to the first night game between two major league teams as the Chicago White Sox and the New York Giants meet in an exhibition. 23 hits are achieved under the lights in the ten-inning affair.

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Date      Opp      Result
2/23     #WSH       ----
2/24      ATL*      ----
2/24     @NYM*      ----
2/25      NYM*      ----
2/26     @MIA*      ----
2/27     #WSH*      ----
2/28      MIA*      ----
3/01      STL       ----
3/02     @NYM*      ----
3/03     #WSH*      ----
3/04     @ATL*      ----
3/04      NYM*      ----
3/05      off        --
3/06      MIA*      ----
3/07     @MIA*      ----
3/08      STL       ----
3/09     @STL*      ----
3/10     #WSH*      ----
3/11      NYM*      ----
3/12     #WSH       ----
3/13     @NYM*      ----
3/14      MIA*      ----
3/15      STL*      ----
3/15     @STL       ----
3/16     @PHI*      ----
3/17     @ATL*      ----
3/18      off        --
3/19      PHI*      ----
3/20      NYY*      ----
3/21     @DET*      ----
3/22      NYM       ----
3/23     @MIA       ----
3/24     #WSH*      ----
3/25     $PIT       ----
3/26     $PIT       ----
3/27      off        --
* - day game.
# - at W. Palm Beach
$ - at Minute Maid Pk

Spring record:
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Houston Astros recap - 02/13/19 - Cole Wins As Pitchers, Catchers Report

Cole Wins As Pitchers, Catchers Report

Cole: Opens camp with raise
(c) Getty Images
The last arbitration case for the Astros was decided Wednesday as Gerrit Cole won his case against the ballclub. Unlike the old days where Tal Smith seemed to have a magic touch winning arbitration cases, the current Astros regime was 0-2 this year - losing duels with Cole and shortstop Carlos Correa.

The Astros wanted to pay the righthander $11.425 million for 2019 and Cole countered with a demand for $13.5 million - a difference of more than $2 million. Cole, a client of Scott Boras as are several Astros, had a strong 2018 season, winning 15 games, striking out a career-high 276 batters and finishing fifth in the Cy Young Award voting.

According to Baseball-Reference.com, the estimated Opening Day payroll would be approximately $158 million, about the same as the Astros opened with in 2018. This includes the additions of free agent signees Michael Brantley, Robinson Chirinos and Wade Miley.

Salaries for pre-arbitration players have yet to be resolved but the players are largely given take-it-or-leave-it deals. The only one who might see a noticeable raise is 2018 team MVP Alex Bregman who could see his pay spike to over a million. If Bregman has another year like last season, I could see him starting a Go Fund Me page.

Meanwhile, pitchers and catchers reported to spring camp in West Palm Beach, FL with the Grapefruit League opener set for February 23rd against the Washington Shutdowns.

A common game on the internet this month seems to be predicting who will make the Astros roster. With 20 players currently under contract and two pre-arbs (Bregman and catcher Max Stassi) locks to make the team, it's not a very tough challenge despite two pitchers (Lance McCullers and Joe Smith) jumping straight to the Disabled (excuse me) "Injured List" for several months.

The questions boils down to the fifth starter role (Josh James, Framber Valdez, Cionel Perez, Forrest Whitley or veteran Brad Peacock), the back of the bullpen (Peacock, Valdez, Perez or Reymin Guduan) and the backup outfield spots (Jake Marisnick, Tony Kemp, Kyle Tucker, Derek Fisher, Myles Straw). Peacock will make the club somewhere and Kemp is out of options. IF-DH Tyler White is likely to stick as is new utility man Aledmys Diaz. Therefore, most of the remaining players still with options are likely to start the year at AAA Round Rock and wait their turn to contribute.

Another topic this spring will be any attempts to coax contract extensions from Cole and pitcher Justin Verlander who will both be free agents next winter if not re-signed. In fact, all four certain starters (including Miley and Collin McHugh) become free agents after the World Series if not retained.

It seems the Astros are content to wait until this summer to consider any trades or personnel moves outside their own active roster, content in the likelihood they will lead their division when the July trade deadline approaches. It seems a fairly safe bet as the AL West landscape is surveyed. The Las Vegas betting parlors rank the Astros tied for second in Worlds Championship odds (7-1) with Boston, behind the Yankees (6-1) who get the benefit of baseball's largest fan base.

- Bob Hulsey

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RSS Feed | News Archives
Shriners Hospitals for Children College Classic to be televised, live-streamed - San Marcos Corridor News
Which Astro has the best beard? Collin McHugh answers - KHOU-TV
Carlos Correa, Kike Kernandez and the scout who discovered them - La Vida Baseball
Bregman, Marisnick crash Yuli's photoshoot - KTRK-TV
MLB implementing new rules in attempt to curtail high-tech sign-stealing - USA Today
Astros holding lottery for first chance at 2019 tickets - KTRK-TV
Crane will 'certainly' explore JV, Cole extensions - Astros.com
Rodgers to start Grapefruit League opener - Astros.com
Former area HS star to start Astros' exhibition opener - Houston Chronicle
Recovering from surgery, Bregman reports to Astros camp - Associated Press
'Kate Upton' Astros sweater update - KPRC-TV
Biggio hopes tension doesn't lead to work stoppage - Associated Press
Meet the scout who fibbed about Jose Altuve's height - La Vida Baseball
Bregman continues to progress in rehab - Houston Chronicle
AT&T SportsNet Southwest to broadcast 10 Astros spring games - Houston Chronicle
Astros' uniforms get major praise from baseball fans - Houston Chronicle
Biggio helps out at Astros spring training - Houston Chronicle
Why is Whitley wearing 'Daddy' uniform? - Astros.com
Biggio visits camp, shares wisdom - Astros.com
Bregman tweet thrills young fan - Astros.com
Osuna to close for Astros - Associated Press
Looking back at the career of John Mayberry - Royals Review
Altuve comments on feeling during spring training [video] - Houston Chronicle
Astros prepare for first full squad workout of Spring Training - KTRK-TV
Tee time: Reddick gets back to basics with his swing - Houston Chronicle
Introducing Josh Rojas, the Astros' aspiring superutility asset - Houston Chronicle
The Astros' Spring Training battle to watch - Astros.com
McHugh makes a joke about himself with photo - Astros.com
Astros' notes: Reddick, Marisnick, Dawson - Astros.com
Raising HD awareness personal for Smith, wife - Astros.com
Bregman not afraid to admit he wants to take down Boston - New York Post
Verlander claps back at Manfred on Twitter for dumb payroll comment - 12up
Young Astros learn their roles at spring training - KHOU-TV
Astros stars sign off on Brantley - KTRK-TV
JV, Cole, Rodgers face live hitters at camp - Astros.com
Snowy offseason ideal for Sneed - Astros.com
Astros throw first live batting practice of spring - Houston Chronicle
Astros to move Gurriel around during spring training - Houston Chronicle
Brantley deepens an already loaded Astros lineup - Houston Chronicle
Correa learns the hard way that easy does it - Houston Chronicle
Chirinos looking forward to new role as Astros catcher - KHOU-TV
Smith, wife continue battle against Huntington's disease - Houston Chronicle
Bregman progressing from elbow surgery - Astros.com
Verlander wants to pitch until he's 45. Here's his plan - Detroit Free Press
Hinch fine with young Astros being awestruck - Houston Chronicle
Correa looks to put 2018 behind him - Astros.com
Stassi ready to unleash full potential - Houston Chronicle
The Forgotten Playoff - Astros Daily
Osuna looks past 2018, ready to close for Astros - KTRK-TV
Hinch teaches, catcher-to-catcher, with Chirinos - Houston Chronicle
Cole, Verlander rip Raysí use of the opener strategy - Tampa Bay Times
Osuna will close for Astros - Canoe
This is how close Astros were to trading for Harper - New York Post
Astros ready to go - KLTV-TV
Astros can still win the offseason - Astros.com
How does Altuve rank on Top 100 right now? - Astros.com
Whitley throws first bullpen session of spring - Astros.com
Cole, Verlander push back on 'opener' concept - Astros.com
Astros moving Aledmys Diaz around field in spring training - Houston Chronicle
Springer back to normal for Astros - Houston Chronicle
Brantley eager for change - Houston Chronicle
Osuna entering first full season with Astros - Houston Chronicle

The Forgotten Playoff
added 02/16/2019 by Bob Hulsey
The National League had some storied playoff series before 1969. Somehow, this wasn't one of them.

Read the full column

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- Bob Hulsey