MLB.com Columnist

Alyson Footer

Bagwell remains in awe of Hall of Fame honor

Bagwell remains in awe of Hall of Fame honor

NEW YORK -- In the 15 years he spent on a Major League field, Jeff Bagwell never seemed overwhelmed by any situation presented to him -- not his big league debut, not his first postseason game, not the World Series, not even his number retirement ceremony in 2007, when 42,000 fans packed Minute Maid Park to salute him one final time.

But as soon as he was announced as part of the Hall of Fame class of 2017, Bagwell, quite frankly, has seemed a little over his skis.

Continue Reading

Alyson Footer is a national correspondent for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @alysonfooter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLB.com Columnist

Alyson Footer

Diana Ross belts out hits at Astros' Gala

Diana Ross belts out hits at Astros' Gala

HOUSTON -- Coming up in 2017, the Astros have a Spring Training ballpark to christen, a Hall of Famer to celebrate and a pennant to chase. But first, they had to wrap up the offseason, and they did so with a bang on Friday at Minute Maid Park, thanks in large part to a superstar diva, who brought with her an extensive library of legendary hits.

The Astros second annual "Diamond Dreams Gala" featured the supremely talented Diana Ross, who belted out nearly 20 of the greatest hits that defined her legendary career, first as a member of the Supremes in the 1960s and then as a solo artist in the decades that followed.

Continue Reading

Alyson Footer is a national correspondent for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @alysonfooter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Source: Astros' Fiers gets $3.45M, avoids arbitration

Source: Astros' Fiers gets $3.45M, avoids arbitration

HOUSTON -- The Astros agreed to a one-year deal worth $3.45 million with pitcher Mike Fiers on Thursday, avoiding arbitration, a source told MLB.com. That figure is the midpoint between what Fiers had filed ($3.9 million) and what the Astros offered ($3 million). The team has not confirmed the contract.

By striking a deal with Fiers, the Astros have three remaining arbitration-eligible players unsigned: starting pitcher Collin McHugh, relief pitcher Will Harris and utility player Marwin Gonzalez. Last week, the Astros reached deals with pitcher Dallas Keuchel ($9.15 million), outfielder George Springer ($3.9 million) and Jake Marisnick ($1.1 million) to avoid arbitration.

Continue Reading

Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

McCann busy studying Astros' pitching staff

Veteran catcher eager to guide young arms on new team

McCann busy studying Astros' pitching staff

HOUSTON -- When new Astros catcher Brian McCann gets to Spring Training next month, he'll already have an understanding of what each pitcher on the team's 40-man roster has in his arsenal after studying video clips since he was traded in November.

The nuances of learning a new pitching staff are just beginning, however, and there will be plenty to learn for the six weeks the club is in West Palm Beach, Fla. McCann flew to Houston from his hometown of Atlanta on Thursday and appeared on Astroline, the team's weekly radio show, after meeting with the Houston media.

Continue Reading

Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Here's what it looks like when you learn you're headed to the Hall of Fame

|
Here's what it looks like when you learn you're headed to the Hall of Fame

Few of us will ever know what it's like to play baseball professionally. Even fewer will know what it's like to reach the apex of that profession and make into a Major League game. And even fewer still -- 317, to be exact -- will know what it feels like to be elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

But we plebeians can get a little glimpse of what it feels like to learn you're going to be a Hall of Famer. All three members of the Class of 2017 were caught on camera at the exact moment they got the phone call informing them that they're headed to Cooperstown in July, and you can watch the emotions flow forth below.

Continue Reading on Cut4

Correa reconnects at Sunshine Kids party

Correa reconnects at Sunshine Kids party

HOUSTON -- Astros shortstop Carlos Correa saw a familiar smile Thursday morning and then couldn't help but grin himself. The young face of Angel Rodriguez peeked from under an Astros cap, and Correa recognized him right away.

It was just two years earlier Correa had visited Rodriguez at a children's hospital in their native Puerto Rico, and they struck up a friendship. Correa, who was visiting a Sunshine Kids party at Texas Children's Hospital on Thursday with teammates Alex Bregman and Jake Marisnick as part of the Astros Caravan, had no idea Rodriguez was in Houston to seek further treatment for acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

Continue Reading

Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLB.com Columnist

Alyson Footer

Stance and deliver: Bagwell defied logic in box

New Hall of Famer recalls evolution of exaggerated squat

Stance and deliver: Bagwell defied logic in box

NEW YORK -- No matter how much time passes, it's likely no one will ever be able to truly explain why Jeff Bagwell's batting stance, in all of its weird, squatty, uncomfortable glory, worked so well for the first baseman.

It worked so well that it's safe to assume that without it, he may never have put together a Hall of Fame-worthy career -- especially if select Astros coaches decided to implement their plan to try to change that stance during Bagwell's first Spring Training after coming to Houston from Boston.

Continue Reading

Alyson Footer is a national correspondent for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @alysonfooter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Bags to riches! Bagwell gets Hall call

Bagwell gets 86.2 percent of vote, joins Biggio as lone Houston players in Cooperstown

Bags to riches! Bagwell gets Hall call

HOUSTON -- One of the greatest players in Astros history, slugging first baseman Jeff Bagwell will soon take his place among the game's all-time legends.

Bagwell earned induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in voting by the Baseball Writers' Association of America on Wednesday, meaning he'll join longtime teammate Craig Biggio -- inducted in 2015 -- as the only players enshrined with an Astros logo on their plaques.

Continue Reading

Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Watch Bagwell crush HR into Three Rivers' upper deck

|
Watch Bagwell crush HR into Three Rivers' upper deck

Jeff Bagwell was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame on Wednesday night, mostly thanks to his inimitable '90s style, but also because he was a Hall-worthy player on the field, with his 449 home runs and Gold-Glove defense at first base.

Bagwell's play was pretty much that caliber right from the get-go, too.

Continue Reading on Cut4

Bagwell used to give Raines silent treatment at first

|
Bagwell used to give Raines silent treatment at first

On his final year on the ballot, Tim Raines was voted into the Hall of Fame this week. Finally, after all these years, his plaque can rest aside the immortals in Cooperstown, he can sign his name "Tim Raines, Hall of Fame Legend" (if he wants to) and, um, he can hear fellow inductee Jeff Bagwell's voice?

Continue Reading on Cut4

MLB.com Columnist

Richard Justice

Bagwell's humility matched his competitive fire

Bagwell's humility matched his competitive fire

Jeff Bagwell's ultimate legacy will be that he was a complete player, and how many of those have there been? As former Astros general manager Gerry Hunsicker said, "If you were looking to build a franchise around a player, you'd be hard-pressed to find someone better than Jeff Bagwell."

That was a thought repeated again and again on Wednesday with the announcement that Bagwell will be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame on July 30 in Cooperstown, N.Y.

Continue Reading

Richard Justice is a columnist for MLB.com. You can follow him on Twitter @richardjustice. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Astros Caravan visits Urban Youth Academy

Springer, Correa, McCullers answer questions, offer advice to young players

Astros Caravan visits Urban Youth Academy

HOUSTON -- The questions came in hot and heavy for George Springer, Carlos Correa and Lance McCullers on Wednesday afternoon. A group of teenage players at the Urban Youth Academy peppered the Astros stars about their routines, nutrition, what pitches they hate to face and more as part of the team's annual Caravan.

McCullers, not wanting to sound too overbearing, warned the kids about the dangers of drugs and alcohol. Correa reminded them about the value of working hard while their friends want to have fun. Springer was demonstrative while giving some hitting tips.

Continue Reading

Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLB.com Columnist

Alyson Footer

Beloved Bagwell lauded by ex-teammates

Numbers speak for themselves, but players reflect on Hall of Famer's intangibles

Beloved Bagwell lauded by ex-teammates

Jeff Bagwell's dominance as a hitter will occupy the conversation from now through his induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame this summer in Cooperstown, N.Y., but that only tells a part of the story as to why this honor resonates so deeply for those closest to him.

To say that Bagwell was merely respected by his teammates undersells what the former first baseman meant to them. Bagwell's play on the field generated admiration among his peers, but what most remember beyond his physical abilities was his leadership, kindness and humility -- qualities that aren't necessarily universal when it comes to superstar athletes.

Continue Reading

Alyson Footer is a national correspondent for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @alysonfooter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Clemens rises, other ex-Astros need bigger push

Clemens rises, other ex-Astros need bigger push

HOUSTON -- Jeff Bagwell will become the second player to enter the National Baseball Hall of Fame wearing an Astros cap on his plaque -- joining longtime teammate Craig Biggio, who was inducted in 2015 -- but another one of their former teammates is making a push.

Seven-time Cy Young Award winner Roger Clemens, who played with the Astros from 2004-06, appeared on 54.1 percent of the ballots in voting by the Baseball Writers' Association of America released Wednesday. Only Bagwell (86.2 percent), Tim Raines (86 percent) and Ivan Rodriguez (76 percent) surpassed the 75 percent needed for induction this year.

Continue Reading

Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Bagwell: The slugger and '90s style icon

|
Bagwell: The slugger and '90s style icon

When you think of '90s style icons, you probably think of The Spice Girls, The Rachel Haircut and, of course, Ken Griffey Jr.'s backward hat. 

There's a name that deserves to be added to that list, and it belongs to a man that earned election into the the Hall of Fame on Wednesday: Jeff Bagwell. 

Continue Reading on Cut4

Astros lose games, win smiles at children's hospital

Altuve, Reed and Gurriel raise spirits during Caravan visit

Astros lose games, win smiles at children's hospital

GALVESTON, Texas -- The laughs and smiles of children filled the room as A.J. Reed took the loss in a heated game of Connect Four, and Jose Altuve watched a tower of blocks tumble while he and his wife, Nina, played a game of Jenga with a young burn patient.

For a few minutes on Tuesday morning, the rigors of treatments weren't on the minds of a handful of patients at Shriners Hospitals for Children, which hosted a stop on the Astros Caravan with Altuve, Reed and teammate Yulieski Gurriel. The hospital provides highly specialized acute, reconstructive and rehabilitative care for children with burns and other soft-tissue conditions.

Continue Reading

Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

On MLK Day, Astros display community spirit

About 250 club employees, among others, assist Houston Food Bank

On MLK Day, Astros display community spirit

HOUSTON -- The Houston Food Bank -- the nation's largest food bank -- was overtaken Monday by a sea of orange-clad Astros employees who volunteered as part of the club's annual Day of Service on the Martin Luther King Jr. Day national holiday.

About 250 Astros employees, as well as some of their relatives, season-ticket holders and others associated with the club split into morning and afternoon shifts to help sort food for distribution to the needy. In fiscal year 2015-16, the Houston Food Bank distributed 79 million meals.

Continue Reading

Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Keuchel, Springer among Astros to agree to deals

Houston has yet to reach consensus with 4 players, including Fiers, McHugh

Keuchel, Springer among Astros to agree to deals

HOUSTON -- The Astros avoided arbitration by agreeing to terms on one-year deals with former American League Cy Young Award winner Dallas Keuchel, right fielder George Springer and center fielder Jake Marisnick, the club announced on Friday.

According to sources, Keuchel is due to earn $9.15 million in 2017, while Springer will make $3.9 million and Marisnick $1.1 million.

Continue Reading

Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Martes among top RHP prospects

Reyes overtakes Giolito for top spot, Glasnow remains at No. 2

Martes among top RHP prospects

MLBPipeline.com will unveil its 2017 Top 100 Prospects list on Saturday, Jan. 28, with a one-hour show on MLB Network at 8 p.m. ET. Leading up to the release, we look at baseball's top 10 prospects at each position.

Lucas Giolito headlined last year's list of the Top 10 right-handed pitching prospects, followed by Tyler Glasnow and Alex Reyes, respectively. That same trio checks in at the top of this year's list, too, only in a different order.

Continue Reading

Mike Rosenbaum is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @GoldenSombrero. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Bregman will play for Team USA in Classic

Bregman will play for Team USA in Classic

Astros infielder Alex Bregman announced via Twitter on Friday that he will suit up for Team USA in the upcoming World Baseball Classic.

Bregman, who will turn 23 in March, hit .264/.313/.478 with eight home runs and 34 RBIs in 217 plate appearances for Houston in his first taste of the Majors last season.

Continue Reading

Manny Randhawa is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @MannyOnMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Prospects, vets among Astros' 18 NRIs

Prospects, vets among Astros' 18 NRIs

HOUSTON -- The Astros on Friday announced they have invited 18 players who aren't on the 40-man roster to Major League Spring Training next month, including Minor League free agents Reid Brignac (infielder), Juan Centeno (catcher) and C.J. Riefenhauser (left-handed pitcher).

In addition, the Astros invited the following Minor Leaguers to big league camp: infielders J.D. Davis and Jon Singleton; outfielders Derek Fisher, Alejandro Garcia, Jon Kemmer and Ramon Laureano; catchers Tyler Heineman and Garrett Stubbs; left-handed pitcher Brian Holmes; and right-handed pitchers Edison Frias, Jordan Jankowski, Francis Martes, Tyson Perez, Cy Sneed and Aaron West.

Continue Reading

Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Additions give Astros' lineup added versatility

Beltran, McCann, Reddick, Aoki bring veteran options, left-handed balance

Additions give Astros' lineup added versatility

HOUSTON -- In two seasons as manager of the Astros, A.J. Hinch has used 295 different lineups in 324 regular-season games. Hinch would prefer to have more stability in the batting order, but injuries and underperformance have forced him to do more shuffling than a Las Vegas blackjack dealer.

The additions of veterans Carlos Beltran, Brian McCann, Josh Reddick and Norichika Aoki will give Hinch viable options throughout the lineup, but that doesn't necessarily mean there will be more stability. The Astros always look for ways to exploit matchups by changing the lineup, and injuries likely will be another factor.

Continue Reading

Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Key Astros trio putting in work this offseason

Keuchel, McCullers plan on rebounding from injuries; Altuve has high hopes for 2017

Key Astros trio putting in work this offseason

HOUSTON -- There might not be three more pivotal players to the Astros' success this year than pitchers Dallas Keuchel and Lance McCullers and second baseman Jose Altuve.

Keuchel and McCullers are coming off injuries that ended their 2016 seasons prematurely and will enter the '17 season looking to be healthy anchors to the rotation. Altuve, of course, is perhaps the game's best hitter and coming off his second batting title in three years.

Continue Reading

Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Ensberg named Astros' short-season manager

Ensberg named Astros' short-season manager

HOUSTON -- Morgan Ensberg, the former Astros third baseman who was an All-Star on their 2005 National League championship team, has been named manager of the team's Class A short-season affiliate, the Tri-City ValleyCats.

Ensberg's first career managerial stint highlights the Astros' release of their 2017 Minor League staff on Tuesday. The managers of the club's top three affiliates remain unchanged, with Tony DeFrancesco (Triple-A Fresno), Rodney Linares (Double-A Corpus Christi) and Omar Lopez (Class A Advanced Buies Creek) all returning. The Buies Creek Astros of the Carolina League replace the Lancaster JetHawks of the California League as the Astros' Class A Advanced affiliate.

Continue Reading

Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Spiers helps coach Clemson to NCAA title

MLB veteran returns to college to finish degree, join Tigers staff

Spiers helps coach Clemson to NCAA title

Former Brewers and Astros third baseman Bill Spiers, now a student assistant coach for the Clemson football program, joined MLB Network's Hot Stove Wednesday to discuss his career transition from professional baseball to college football.

Spiers, a native of Orangeburg, S.C., was the 13th overall pick in the 1987 Draft by the Brewers and played 13 seasons in the Major Leagues. He never graduated from the university, leaving early to begin a career in professional baseball.

Continue Reading

Oliver Macklin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Quintana, Astros a match that makes sense

White Sox hurler would give Houston formidable playoff rotation

Quintana, Astros a match that makes sense

HOUSTON -- White Sox pitcher Jose Quintana makes too much sense for the Astros, which is why we're predicting Houston will be able to pull off a deal for the workhorse pitcher this offseason.

The Astros have said they're unwilling to part with their core of young players, a group that includes Alex Bregman and George Springer, but they have the prospects to pull off a significant trade. Whether the White Sox can be persuaded to trade the 27-year-old pitcher is another story.

Continue Reading

Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Spring is in the air: First workout dates announced

Spring is in the air: First workout dates announced

Despite the frigid temperatures throughout many big league cities, Major League Baseball's announcement Tuesday of the first workout dates of Spring Training should be enough to warm the hearts of baseball fans everywhere.

The following are the first Spring Training workout dates, subject to change, both for pitchers and catchers and full squads of the 30 Major League clubs. 

Continue Reading