Talking us down from the ledge


I wanted to stay away from talking about “it”. I even wrote a post about getting back to baseball. But it has been hard to do this with the dark cloud hovering over all our heads. And then reading the comments from some of our best and most loyal bloggers about leaving forever, if….. the unthinkable enters the thoughts of one Commissioner Rob Manfred, brought me back to the subject.

I think everyone could live with most potential punishments. Fines for the club? No money off our noses. Lose draft choices? Could hurt the team eventually, but maybe not too badly. Suspend the manager A.J. Hinch or his coaches? Would not be great, but could be worked around. Suspend the GM Jeff Luhnow? Would sting and obviously could set the organization back a bit. Hinch, Luhnow lose their jobs? This would be bad, but this is still a very talented ball club with the core mostly around for a while. Forcing Jim Crane out as owner might really hurt longer term, but probably not on the short term. And who knows there might be another very good owner out there willing to spend bucks. It could happen.

But the unthinkable is what has forced a number of folks to the ledge and has  many of us in a funk right now. What if…… baseball has the Astros vacate that 2017 title?

Your mostly faithful servant is here to try and talk you down from that ledge. Major League baseball will not do this.

Why?

Because it is a precedent they don’t want to set. It is a slippery slope they don’t want to breach. No other professional sport has ever taken this step and baseball is not a trailblazer that wants to be the first. Basketball had a referee, who admitted to helping fix games for gambling purposes. They never reversed the results of any of those games. Pro football had one of the worst non-calls in the history of the game keep the Saints out of the Super Bowl. Did they go back and reverse that decision? No.

Think of this. They take away this title based on the edge the Astros may have gained from using technology to steal signs. Then do they go back and take away the Yankees titles from 1998 – 2000 when they may have gained an edge from players like Roger Clemens, Andy Pettitte, Jose Canseco, Jason Grimsley and even Mr. Astros Post-Game Mike Stanton, who have been linked to alleged steroid use?

Do they go back and vacate the NY Giants 1951 NL title when they reportedly stole the title along with signs down the stretch?

Do they vacate the wins that Gaylord Perry won with the help of outside substances in his cap, hair, glove and vacate his Hall of Fame election?

Should they go back and take away every game the Red Sox used their Apple Watches to steal signs?

Should they talk to disgruntled former players for every team that won the World Series over the last 30 seasons and find out what each and every one of them did that might have been against the rules?

Where does it end?

Major league baseball will punish the Astros and likely some head or heads will roll. But the chances of them judging that the title is totally tainted is a step that could lead them to a bottomless pit of never ending investigations. And that is the Pandora’s Box they don’t want to open.

So, come back off the ledge and back to this blog. Please.

45 comments on “Talking us down from the ledge

  1. I’m not as broken as some here, but I’m hurting. My only question is, are we honestly 100% shocked to find impurity in pro baseball? Yes, I wish it hadn’t come down on us, on the ‘Stros. But I’m guessing there’s a reason – there usually is. Folks, the church of the Lord Jesus Christ has been found guilty of the worst types of transgression – and that’s as high as it goes, and that’s where we would least expect to find wrongdoing, and yet it’s there. The wheat and the tares. One thing I know from Scripture: the Lord has proven repeatedly He can bring good from evil. After the terrible betrayals and accusations against him, in the end Joseph said, “You meant it for evil but God meant it for good.” No, I’m not claiming innocence for the Astros, far from it. But I do claim the Lord can use this for good. I suspect there will be surprises in other camps, not just ours. Go into hibernation if you must. I fully understand and may join you in some measure. But it ain’t over till it’s over.

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    • Sometimes the Lord gives us all a large helping of humility and it may be especially difficult for those with large egos and arrogance to swallow. But it also may be quite necessary.

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  2. If it turns out Cora and Beltrán are a huge part of it, will MLB force their teams to get new managers, or will only the Astros be punished?

    Rhetorical question…we know the way this commissioner thinks

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  3. I have a really hard time believing that the Astros were the only ones doing this. I’d think it’s likely we just did it a lot better? But having said that, we were so much better on the road than at home in 2017. In addition, I don’t see anyone up in arms over the Brewers doing it (as alleged by a White Sox player) nor was there a furor this big over the Red Sox watches and the Yankees IPad use. I think the first time Mike Fiers pitches in Houston next year will be highly interesting.

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  4. It would take a few thousand words to let you know how I really feel about all this. I don’t have any faith in Manfred and the MLB commissioner’s office to do the right thing. I’m comfortable with bans for any players caught using performance enhancing drugs. Likewise, I’m comfortable with bans and fines for any executive, coach, scout, etc. instrumenting in game espionage.

    However, I want to point out that like with most problems, I think Occum’s Razor applies here. We have lots of reports from “journalistic” sources who have no credibility that the cheating involved a live feed from CF to the dugout entrance, there were bandages being worn with buzzers hidden underneath them, and all sorts of other gags that would have made Don Adams proud. In general, the simplest explanation is usually correct. The simplest explanation is that the Astros were involved in the same amount of gamesmanship that every other club is using to get inside their opponents heads. The logistics to implement the ideas put forth while fully knowing what the consequences would be just don’t make sense. In addition, we have supporting evidence that the videos in the facilities were in fact monitored by MLB personnel published in September. We have the Astros records in home games during the playoffs of 2019 as well as their hitting stats for the 2017 and 2018 seasons:

    2018 Home: .248 / .328 / .403
    2018 Away: .262 / .331 / .446
    2017 Home: .279 / .340 / .472
    2017 Away: .284 / .351 / .483

    Liked by 1 person

    • Devin, I have no “faith” in Manfred or the MLB to do the right thing either. All I’m saying is sometimes there are larger forces at work.

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  5. Things we won’t talk about:
    * Even with his injury, George Springer accumulated 6.5 WAR for the Astros in 2019. He is projected to earn $21 million this coming season and will turn 31 in September and become a free agent at the end of the season. The Astros do not have a prospect with the credentials to fill his spot in CF in 2021.
    *After the end of the 2020 season, the Astros would lose all four of their current veteran outfielders to free agency. Do we just wait and talk about it after it happens or do something about it now?
    * How much did Josh Reddick’s shoulder affect his play in 2019. His power disappeared in the second half of the season. Is that why?
    *Yordan Alvarez was satisfied being the DH, but wants to work hard to prove to the club that he can play LF. Can he play an average LF? Will the club let him try? If he can play LF, could the Astros move Brantley to recover a few prospects that they are going to lose with the scandal’s loss of draft picks? Would it be better to trade Brantley for something and save his $16 million salary than to pay somebody to take Reddick and receive nothing? Especially if his shoulder was hurting and adding in the fact that Reddick could rebound with it being fixed?

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    • I’ll bite….
      I’d do a Springer deal somewhere in the area of 100MM for 5 to 6 years. I’d tailor the deal to put the bulk of the money in 2022 -2023. We need to get this done this year before he gets to FA. I’d try to get YA ready to play LF if not next year then 2021. I have no idea what we do with Reddick. I can’t see any team taking him unless we cover at least 50% of his salary and I wouldn’t count on that. I think we’re “stuck” with him for 2020. If we look at 2021 we could have Yordan in left, Springer in center, Tucker in right, with Straw as a backup. Or we could use Straw in left and YA as the DH. I suspect we could have a trade or maybe one our prospects will rise to the occasion.

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      • What if George doesn’t want to sign an extension? I am sure the Astros tried to get him to sign a long term deal when they did the two-year arbitration buyout two years ago. If he won’t do an extension for a deal the Astros can afford, there is no use planning around him in CF. You take what he gives you in 2020 for the $20 million or so salary and then get a draft pick that you might not get to keep if penalized.
        Knowing that Brantley, Springer, Reddick and Marisnick are free agents after this year, I would want the Astros to start preparing for that now. I don’t think $100 million over 5-6 years will sign George. I think they would have done it by now if it were going to happen.
        Or you trade him and I don’t like that idea. I think you try to get one more year of incredible value from him like they got in 2019.

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  6. One way mlb could indirectly punish the Astros would be to wait until they tendered their arbitration eligible people and exchanged dollars and settled and then suspended players for extended times. Depending on who it is – they could hurt the team as to who and how much they would choose.

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  7. I’ve got way too much other BS going on in right now to be overly concerned about what happens to the Astros. Zero time or patience for hand wringing on this end. Life under a coconut tree with a run punch is not quite as simple as it sounds sometimes.

    I’m just hopeful for a quick resolution to this whole Astro fiasco, or series of fiasco’s. And I really don’t care if we lose Hinch of Luhnow either. But as I’ve said already, my main concern is whether or not guys will want to come here and play, or will guys like George simply say it’s time to move on and take what I think will be quite a bit more money than 5 or 6 at 100 million.

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    • Yes, I might have low balled the number but what does everyone think Springer’s worth? Is it Altuve or Bregman #’s, or something less? I guess we’ll find out what George has on his mind this year if he doesn’t sign an extension.

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    • Uncle K. I had a killer drink this past week that makes you forget almost any kind of troubles. It’s called an “Orange Dreamsicle” and has several variations but one of the best drinks I’ve had in a long time. It goes great with a round of golf and appropriate for any score or any hole.

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      • Zanuda, if the Dreamsicle makes one happy regardless of how the scorecard reads, it’s a win. You know, I don’t know if George would take 5 at 25 right now, but that would probably an absolute max for the Astros.

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  8. Dan, appreciate your column. Maybe reverse psychology worked as it got some to go back to baseball. lol (not really laughing but you understand)

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    • – Those are just the Chex and balances
      – We know the Commissioner and his cronies are just a bunch of Flakes
      – The MLB is always protecting their Bran
      – You can tell Manfred is just feeling his Oats
      – And to all this I say Cheerio my friend

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      • I believe you Milked everything possible there, Dan.
        I don’t believe eight different major league teams are interested in a 40-year old, injured Rich Hill. I’m just sayin’.

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  9. Helping Dan get back to baseball:
    * It’s obvious to me that the Astros had Dean Deetz make some major changes in delivery and pitches(Similar to Whitley) because of his huge increase in bases on balls(thus the huge increase in WHIP. Keeping him on the 40-man at minor league salary is something they are known to do(See Gustave and Guduan).
    If they can get Deetz fixed he offers a lot more promise for future bullpen duty than say a Biagini, who would be in arbitration at 30 times what it would take to pay Deetz, who turns 26 this month.
    * MLBTR considers Devenski to be a candidate for non-tender by the Astros. We’ll know about this in the next week or so.
    * If and when the major league baseball itself returns to being a normal baseball, the Astros high team batting average concept will once again pay more benefits than striving for home runs and watching them die on the warning track. Pitchers will suddenly become better pitchers in MLB and in AAA.
    * The Astros have loved Jake. With the size of their payroll, we will find out how deeply in love they are soon. With Jake on the team, Straw seems repetitive and vice versa.
    The ‘Stros strive for value return, though. Do the Astros tender him and then try to trade him? Does the Astros situation make trades almost impossible until we find out if Luhnow and the Astros get hammered?

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  10. Guess I need a Dreamsicle. The sadness here is palpable. As Becky said, comforting self is problematic. Can we rewind to pre-playoffs and pre-popoffs and hope for better outcome? Guess I’m more dependent on this blog than I thought.

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    • Diane, no sadness here. There are too many other things I can think about that are really sad. Annoyed, pissed off, let down, deceived all qualify. But in fact, if the outcome is close to ending up where I think it will, then I’ll be mildly pleased and certainly ready to see how our guys on the field react, regardless of who might be leading them.

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    • For a guy that’s been kicking around for a decade, he’s been used pretty lightly. I guess that means Stubbs continues to not impress. I’d like to see Lorenzo Q. force the issue this spring, but if Garneau gets signed, he’ll probably make the 26 man (that sounds odd) nod along with Verlander’s favorite backstop.

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      • Well, this is way out there, I know. But if the Astros can’t manage to shed about $35 million worth of payroll, there could be a rotation of catchers with Garneau, Stubbs and Quintana. I’d be fine with that because they can all catch, and two of them can play other positions.
        Everyone assumes that the Astros will sign another catcher, while just throwing money away on the luxury tax. I’m more inclined to think this is a good time to start weaving prospects onto the major league team, especially while we have a devastating lineup to surround the catcher in the #9 spot in 2020.

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    • I’m confused on Greinke’s deal. His salary is $35MM for the next 2 years with AZ giving us 10.3MM for each of those two years. What I don’t understand is the 12.5MM each year from 2022 -2026 which is another 62.5MM. Can somebody explain that to me. Sure looks like we got hosed for a bunch of future payroll obligations.

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      • A lot of his total salary is deferred, so he will receive it in those later years, but he will count against the luxury tax limits for these next two years only and at the full amount of his contract.

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  11. At the time of the trade, Greinke was owed about 77 million. The Astros took on about 2/3’s of the 77 million. Not sure about the way Spotrac presented it.

    As I look back a bit, the Astros really must have thought they were going to win the World Series. They went all in. Just goes to show that there are no guarantees in a short series.

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  12. Going back up to the Sportac salary post, it appears a mini-rebuild is coming after next year. Let’s talk about that then. It also appears this year’s team will be just as solid as last year if LMJ can contribute. I see about $20 million that could be saved to sign a front line FA, but would imagine that JL and the FO will play it much closer to the vest and keep post of these guys.

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    • 45, I think they will put the pedal down and go just as hard trying to win it all in 2020. We’ve got a real opportunity today. And I suppose there remains a chance that JL won’t have a say in the matter.

      Might not be amazing to you, but your guys were 27 point dogs last night. Wonder how many folks took those points?

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      • ESPN called it the biggest college basketball upset in the last 15 yrs
        I love it when the small school team wins because they play as a team over a bunch of guys who may be better individual players but are not a better team.
        SFA’s coach told them heading into the Duke game that they weren’t playing a bunch of banners they were just playing other players.

        Liked by 1 person

    • I like to think that after next year it will be a reload rather than a mini-rebuild.
      If Springer wants to move on, Betts is the guy I would go after. He is terrific!

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      • Dave, Betts will be more expensive, but the Astros drop a huge amount of salary after this season and it’s mostly coming from their entire outfield being free agents. $50 million comes off the books between Reddick, Brantley and Springer. At that time we still have Alvarez, Tucker and Straw to match up with a big time OFer in Betts if we can go get him. Betts will be 28 in 2021 so he is entering his prime years. His deal will come close to Trout, but he is worth a lot of money, and would be a huge box office draw to a needy Astros team.

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