Quick Hits: Astros, Beltran, Orioles

The Astros' "Ground Control" database is essential for the club's day-to-day operations, Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle reports. Featuring contract information, scouting reports, stats and tools such as a trade analzyer, the system is used by baseball operations staff for all decisions. Mike Elias, the Astros' amateur scouting director, is partial to Ground Control's scheduling interface. "I can see all the cross-checkers and scouts, and we can see where everyone's going to be," he says. "We've got every college and high school game in the country loaded in there, and we can mix and match." Here are more late-night Major League links:

  • The public's perception of Carlos Beltran as a Met — injury-prone, bad in the clutch — doesn't reflect reality, writes the New York Post's Joel Sherman.
  • In a separate column, Sherman offers his choices for MLB's top storylines in 2014. The return of Ryan Braun headlines a list that also includes Bud Selig's final season as commissioner and the debut of Tony Clark as head of the Player's Association.
  • Bud Norris "would seem like a logical choice" among players that could be dealt if the Orioles add another starter, such as Ervin Santana, speculates Peter Schmuck of The Baltimore Sun. Norris currently projects as the club's fifth starter. Schmuck writes that there appears to be no major obstacles to signing Santana, outside of convincing him to choose the O's over the Blue Jays.

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