JV returns: The ultimate double down

Of course, the focus today is on Justin Verlander and his decision to forego the rest of the baseball world and return to the Houston Astros for the 2022 and possibly the 2023 seasons. But the person who draws this writer’s interest is the Astros’ owner, Jim Crane.

I picture GM James Click going into Crane’s office and saying something like, “Boss, you know how you spent $11 million per inning for Verlander’s six innings over the last two seasons? Well, how about doubling down and throwing another $25 million per year for up to two years to bring him back?”

Do you think The Grocer would have said yes to that? Drayton McLane would have been like the knights in Monty Python’s Holy Grail being attacked by a murderous rabbit, yelling, “Run away, run away”. But Jim Crane has shown he has a steady and smart hand at the head of this organization. He knows that it is a risk, but it is a short term risk, and the reward would be that he could once again have a stud ace at the front of his rotation at what these days is considered a reasonable salary.

At worse, JV gets hurt again, and the team pays him a boatload of money over the next two seasons to not play, but at least it would be $8 million less per year than the last two seasons. At best, the Astros get a new version of the man, who was the Cy Young Award winner in his last entire season of pitching, culminating in a brilliant no-hitter in September 2019.

There are risks with bringing JV back. In February, he will be 39 years old, and he has only had one competitive start in the last two seasons. There might be some friction, rightly or wrongly, over the fact that he stayed away from the club during his rehab and the reported decision by the players to not allow him to throw out the first pitch at the World Series. The irony is that the reported leader of the players on that first pitch rebellion was Carlos Correa, who is likely not returning to the team, while Verlander is.

One of the other ironies of this situation is that this may be the reverse Nolan Ryan scenario. Ryan had come to the Astros, close to his hometown, in 1980 and gave them 9 seasons of excellence. The Astros allowed the 41-year-old Ryan to leave for a better offer up I-45 in Arlington, never thinking he would pitch another five seasons. This feels like an opportunity to sign up an aging but dangerous pitcher and tell the calendar, be damned.  

Whenever the whole story comes out about this signing, it will be interesting to see all the particulars. Still, with the way that Verlander signed one hour after turning down the Qualifying Offer, it showed that while Verlander certainly was not signing for peanuts, that he felt some obligation to make good with the Astros. He did not hang around in Free Agency for weeks and months playing one team’s offer against another.

In his showcase, he had shown to the world that his arm is still at its pre-Tommy John strength. By the time he is pitching again competitively, he will have had about 16 months since his surgery, which is a very solid amount of separation for a full recovery. Devin, a friend of the blog, pointed out he had just built a home in Palm Springs, Florida and wanted to be in Florida for Spring Training. Well, with this signing, he will be right there during the spring at the Astros headquarters.

Just a reminder of what the Astros are getting with Justin Verlander. He is a one-time league MVP, two time Cy Young winner, three-time CY runner-up and eight-time All Star with three career no-hitters. Among active pitchers, he is first in wins and second in strikeouts and innings pitched behind Zack Greinke. In his 2 seasons plus a couple months of pitching with the Astros, he was nails, 43-15, 2.45 ERA and an all-World WHIP of 0.834.

Will Verlander be the 2019 JV with a 21-6 record and a 2.58 ERA? Probably not, but a nice McCullers-esque 16-10, 3.20 ERA would be a great addition to this pitching staff.

Will the team accept him after he stayed away the last two seasons? He decided to come back so quickly will show that he wanted to be here, and that should suffice.

60 comments on “JV returns: The ultimate double down

    • Gary, I think I’m pretty reasonable in my judgments. I think he will be good – not necessarily great like he was, but good. I’m actually more concerned about the stick ‘em situation than his injury or age affecting him.
      He’s a heck of a physical specimen and a hard worker and most folks that have TJ surgery come back well with this amount of time.

      Hey I could be wrong – I’m not a doctor but I did stay in a Holiday Inn Express as the old commercial used to go.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I was reading tonight and ran across Chandler Rome of the Chron. Never read his stuff but this came up on another site and linked back to it.
    ======================================
    Chandler Rome
    @Chandler_Rome
    Nov 17
    The Astros now have seven starters. If Justin Verlander is on an innings or appearance restriction in his first season back from TJ, the depth is crucial. But his addition still accentuates the thought that Houston could trade from its STARTING SURPLUS (emphasis is mine) -”
    ============================================
    Did he sleep walk through this year and most other years?

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    • Rome wasn’t sleeping if he noticed that one of the surplus was Jake Odorizzi and his $8 million salary this year and his player option next year. That is the guy who should be traded. Odorizzi’s incentive bonuses would not be achievable on a team with seven starters. He needs to go to some team that needs a bunch of his kind of innings.

      Liked by 1 person

      • (An example only: The Padres cut ties with Jake Marisnick. He is a great guy, but he is not worth $4 Million. So he is a Free Agent.)

        Now as to your comment about Odorizzi, I think the Astros have at least 3 players similar to Marisnick. Great guys but maybe not worth their salary. If we could trade Odorizzi ($11 Million), Castro ($4 Million), and Diaz (examples only) and free up their salaries for this year, and we have adequate back-ups, then it would be in their interest and also the team’s. JV makes Odorizzi expendable. Stubbs or even Manea make Castro expendable. Diaz has to go through arbitration. At $3-4 Million, he stays, but if for some reason they give him $5-6 Million, he falls into the trap of Marisnick.

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  2. Justin Verlander has thrown over 200 innings in the regular season 12 times in his career. I don’t think the Astros are going to sign him for $25 million and then expect only 100 innings from him. I think they will start him off with a pitch limit in the sixties and work him up into the nineties. If he is strong I expect him to throw somewhere around 150 t0 160 innings in the regular season.
    I think it is interesting that the Astros’ renowned pitching guru decided to move on and then Verlander signs with the Astros before the Astros even name a replacement pitching coach.
    I think it is interesting that someone in the Astros locker room might have said they didn’t want Verlander to throw out the first pitch in the playoffs, then Click quickly defends Verlander and Verlander chooses the Astros as the place to resume his career.
    I wonder if the Astros locker room problems we hinted about during the 2021 season might be in the process of being solved.
    I think it will be interesting to see what kind of a draw Verlander is for the Astros, both at home and on the road. Verlander is the kind of player fans have typically paid money to come see.

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    • Has there been any real verification of the story that JV was scheduled to throw out the first pitch but the players vetoed it? The guy who broke the story is an ESPN radio host, right? There is a huge difference between a guy being scheduled to do something and an idea being discussed. In the former, Verlander would have had a plane ticket to Houston for the event. It’s also a bit odd that Verlander and Mattress Mac would both throw out ceremonial pitches together. A more likely story (IMO) would be Mattress Mac requesting Verlander catch his ceremonial first pitch. And again, I’m placing doubt given the source of the information works for ESPN…the worldwide leader in false sports rumors.

      Like

  3. I do not have time to do a separate post on the 40 man roster decisions today. Folks have already talked about who to add. But how about who to take off the 40 man …..I’m not saying to drop all these – but some???
    Kent Emmanuel- hurt and 29 years old
    Josh James – 28 and never really back
    Rafael Montero – 31 years old and not that effective
    Seth Martinez – 27 years old
    Andre Scrubb – 26 years old
    Taylor Jones – 28 years old

    Or trade someone – the trade ticket could include Castro or Odorizzi. If Meyers was healthy I’d look at Siri.
    It will be interesting who will still be standing at the end of this day

    Whatcha all think

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    • Just my opinion, but I think you might have 4 correct. I think they keep James and Jones, but I think they might set Nova and Solis free. Those two are not close to helping the Astros now or in the near future.

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    • Solis had surgery in April to remove loose bodies floating in his elbow and then underwent another TJ Surgery in late June. He is out for all of 2022. He hasn’t pitched since 2018 and that was in Low A Quad Cities.
      When it comes to Solis I am pointing to the watch on my wrist.

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  4. Why would I protect Dubin. Because he has been good his entire minor league career and he has already shown well in AAA.
    Why would I protect Jeremy Pena? You know why!
    Why would I protect Bermudez. Because he was our minor league pitcher of the year, made it to AAA and is left handed.
    Why would I protect Yainer Diaz. Because he might just be the best hitter in our minor leagues. And when there is universal DH in the NL, his value skyrockets.
    Why would I protect JP France? Because he was one of the best pitchers in the PCL this season and showed dramatic improvement from CC to Sugarland, especially with his control.
    Why would I protect Joe Perez? Because he had a really good year in his first healthy year of pro ball and because we have no pure third baseman behind him or in front of him except Alex Bregman.

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  5. It is so interesting to see how teams work the off season. As discussed the Astros have 39 of the 40 spots taken right now and to protect or add anyone, someone has to go.

    Currently, the teams at 39-40 are Detroit, Houston, Angels, Yankees, Seattle, Arizona, Braves, Miami, Padres, Giants, and Washington.
    But on the other side Oakland is down to 28, Orioles and Phillies at 32, Red Sox, Blue Jays, Cardinals, Mets, and White Sox 33. And of course, all of that changes today.

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  6. Joe Record is pushing me to protect him, too. Outstanding All-Star reliever job in a hitter dominated Arizona Fall League. Relievers are the #1 steal, grab and stash in the Rule 5 draft. Seems to be a man among boys in the AFL.

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  7. Another interesting stat which goes along with Greinke costing the Astros $12.5 Million in Cap space. The Rangers are paying Odor $12.33 Million to go play for the Yankees. And the Yankees are playing him to hit .206 and a WAR of .3 (OPS+ of 82).

    Reminds me of the story of this guy bragging that someone offered him $1,000 for his horse and he turned it down. His buddy said, “That was when two fools met.”

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Jeremy Pena, Joe Perez, Jonathan Bermudez and Shawn Dubin to the Astros 40-man.
    Freudis Nova cleared waivers and was assigned to Sugarland.

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  9. Astros traded Stubbs to the Phillies for a low level outfielder. I’m glad he’s going to get a chance at least with another club. I think we all were wondering if Garret Stubbs would EVER be allowed to catch full time, and now we know the answer. Good luck kiddo….all the best to you!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Our little island is having a real problem with internet service right now. I’ve lost a couple of attempted posts. Anyway, it’s so good to be a fan of an organization that makes every effort annually to put the best possible baseball team on the field and does not allow itself to stray from it’s methodology.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. * Since Logan Cerny came to the Phillies in the 2021 draft, I wonder if he was someone that Click might have wanted in the draft, but the Phillies got him first. The tenth round is the last high dollar round and the Astros did not have near as much money to spend as Philly did.
    * Scott Manea, if he is still around after the Rule 5 draft, might be the biggest reason Stubbs was deemed tradeable.

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    • We have an underperforming guy who was a better prospect already in system, similar to Cerny: Jordan Brewer. Big arm, super fast, poor contact skills. I’ve noted before the 10th round OF drafts we seem to gravitate toward; Stevenson, Adolph, Chandler Taylor (Meyers, 13th). Last draft we took Duke’s Loperfino (7th) in this vein. He slashed .116/.276/.261 40% K-rate Yuck!

      Imo, we took Cerny bc he won’t sniff 40-man for 3 yrs; we needed space, and lower minors bereft of solid OF. Think Wilyer Abreu and Brian Arias. We drafted Whitaker, and have some Cubans coming in Summer. There’s a kid getting no press named Luis Perez, 19, you can hardly find a thing on him… .345/.479/.491 Dominican Summer League. We tried in the Stassi trade and Rainer Rivas hasn’t panned out.

      I’m high on org depth–Costes, Julks, Barefoot, Dirden and especially Barber who led minors in wOBA before separating shoulder on the wall. I think Pedro Leon will debut mid-yr., see a lot of similarities with Luis Robert in him!

      Not opposed to Starling Marte for 3 yrs however. Will it take 4 to get him? If so, could signal the end of Siri and maybe McCormick.

      Spencer Morris really likes Scott Manea, and boy would he surprise me if he makes it. The kid has issues with his weight and conditioning, concrete shoes to boot. He is said to be ready defensively and has found his power. Can’t let my bias get in the way, Luhnow said he wouldn’t have done the Davis trade without Manea and tbh I think the lot of them are worthless (terrible trade!). I’d say the emergence of Berryhill& Papierski, not to mention Yainer Diaz plays as big a part. Stubbs is just a delight in the clubhouse anyway, and more opportunity in PHI.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I was talking about Manea being a guy who probably was not ever going to be a frontline candidate as a regular catcher, but could replace a guy like Stubbs as a catcher who could be activated and be used as a third catcher as needed and one who would not be an embarrassment if you brought him up next summer for a stint in the event of injuries. Manea would keep the Astros from interrupting the seasons of their top C prospects and thus causing them to use valuable service time before they are ready.
        If the CBA does cut back service time to five years instead of six before free agency, teams are going to use their top prospect more frugally and not waste their more-valuable service time on early callups, but will wait until the top prospects are actually in the long term plans.
        A guy like Manea might save the valuable service of a guy like Korey Lee, who then might be the starter come April 2023 and starts with a full service time clock.

        Liked by 1 person

      • From what I have seen of Scott Manea, he can hit much better than Maldonado and catches better than Castro. But not sure today that gets him anywhere. I hope he stays in the system. If Lee continues to improve, then we just need one of those listed to come through. And I am not down on Pedro Leon, but he was just coming around at Corpus when he got promoted, and then got hurt.

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      • Definitely a good stategy as we wait for Korey. The Castro signing is probably what did Stubbs in– that, and his inability to hit for avg and power. Lord knows going back to the Jethawk coaches in 2016 talking up Stubbs stock, his window was always pretty shallow when we drafted Lee, too.

        Your comments always fertile for discussion.

        I was amazed at all the guys the Royals left unprotected, really goes to show how farms are bursting at the seams, and we probably will only lose JP France, or maybe one of the catchers. Manea, like my guy Austin Hansen getting injured late in the season might have put a damper on them being pilfered.

        I’ll add that CoV era has really hastened teams to hurry along their prospects for fear of a lost year of development, all those 23 yo, or senior college kids really got rooked. It allowed us to draft a kid like Quincy Hamilton 5th yr senior led in many hitting categories–those kids don’t have any leverage at such a late age, it’s very sad. From the player’s standpoint, the service manipulation debate should be front/center. Some are still speculating Springer was mad the Astros messed with his clock, some think the same of Correa. In the end, it just adds to their incentive to take the most money for the most security (locked up years), and leaves us loyal fans to cheering on the next gen, Jeremy Pena.

        Which is fine by me, add Simmons to platoon. Add Marte and a solid starter like Bassitt, I’d be happy to roll with that!

        Tonight GS1 will make his debut on a podcast, Locked-On Astros. We’ll be discussing 40-man roster, and since it was popular here on Chipalatta, I’m going to do a segment on “Closest to the Show” — which impact players to watch for from the farm. We may do a few and air them later, so I’ll let you all know.

        Liked by 3 people

  12. On a serious note, he is throwing out 40-50% of the runners in the minors. Maldonado is throwing out 30-40% of them. But to me the true metric is for Maldonado or Yadier Molina, runners only attempt a steal about once every 3 games.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lee is checking off a lot of boxes, daveb.

      I’m a tad concerned that he’s an extreme pull hitter. Might be interesting to see that if he’s in SL most of the year, do the Astros attempt to get him a more balanced approach?

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  13. As CC rides off into the sunset, we must remember the Astros did not screw him in his salary. He did it to himself over his career. He was offered “Bregman money” also. Bregman has one less year in the league than CC. But Bregman has earned $1 million MORE in salary to date. Bregman signed for only $13 Million in 2022, but two more years at $30 Million each. (We can argue if he is worth that money!) But CC was pig headed and refused similar or better deals. So he can tell everyone he was “embarrassed”, but Houston offered him more money than he was willing to take.

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    • AC45, I can see both sides, so let me make a case for CC.
      Keep in mind, I love Jeremy Pena.

      We’ve paid Carlos roughly $27M.
      If 1 WAR is equal to $10M (for debate purposes), he’s given the Astros $350M plus being a playoffs monster–something Bagwell and Biggio never were. From his perspective, Crane isn’t even in the ballpark, and it’s not as if he’s old. Someone brought up StL letting Pujols walk. That was age 32 and he never hit .300 again.
      Bregman’s contract is definitely suspect, imo! If it were of any positive value (since next season is only $13M), Astros would be wise to be shopping him. There are adequate guys on farm, and free agency to fill his spot. Heck, if we paid Correa, we could move Pena to 3B or vice versa in a few yrs. After finding out about Bregman’s offseason–frankly, what 26 yo doesn’t deserve to spend his money and live a little? There is bigtime concern the ball was juiced which aided his best year, and that his injury woes have sapped his power long-term. He’s obviously a crowd favorite and hero in Gm 5 will go down in Astros lore. Since then, total playoff dud.

      If it’s one or the other, I’m siding with Carlos twice on Sunday.

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      • Correa can complain about service time games, but needs to direct it at his union. We don’t know what was ever on the table, but if money was his main concern, he could have gone to Crane requesting a deal that extended HOU’s control by one year, but paid more over the arb seasons. Instead, he took the risks and should be allowed his chance at FA riches. The scandal and his mouth probably cost him, but we saw ARod squeeze money out of NYY when no other suitors existed … So we’ll see.

        Bregman’s injuries are concerning. At some level you are responsible for keeping yourself healthy. Especially after suffering the hamstring injury in 20, bulking up seems the wrong approach to me. Correa had 0 sb in ’21. That was surely tied more to his desire to limit injury risk than anything else.

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  14. Carlos has been a heck of a bargain for that 34.1 WAR. If Bregman is going to be physically compromised going forward, then yes, his deal does not look very good for the next three years. But his 26.1 WAR is pretty respectable too, in a 100 less games than Correa. And even with his injuries the past two years, he still averages 20 more games played per year than Correa. The big difference is dWAR. Carlos has put up 11.5, Bregman just 4.5. Bregman has produced more offense on average though.

    I’d also say that Correa makes Bregmans job at third a bit easier. I hate the thought of losing Carlos. But I understand the hesitancy of the club to give him a decade long deal. 6 at 210 is pretty good. Would 7 at 250 get the deal done? I don’t think so. Some club will give Correa what he wants.

    It looks like we’ll be moving on. I’m optimisitic about our future and I’m looking forward to seeing what Click gets done before opening day.

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  15. I think my original post missed my point. First, the history of baseball is littered with disgraceful owners and screwed players. It can be argued the Black Sox scandal was caused by Charlie Comiskey and his antics. Bob Feller and others having to take pay cuts. Per Vida Blue, “No matter what he (Charlie Finley) does for me in the future, I’ll never forget that he treated me like a damn colored boy.” So I was not talking about how wonderful Crane is.

    But Carlos was obviously offered higher salaries someplace along the way. And he decided to turn them down. That is his right. But to go and complain to the Press puts him in Mike Fiers territory for me. Again, his right.

    Now the Astros paid JV $66 Million (less any insurance proceeds) and have now potentially signed him for another $50 Million. He could blow out an arm or leg in his first game and get over $100 Million for a couple games. It is part of the game for players and owners. And in the end, the money comes from the fans. So we have a “right” to only an opinion. So this is mine.

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  16. The guy wants a Lindor-type deal of $340 million. He’s never been worth that and he’s never gonna be worth that. The Astros will be able to afford the players who will keep them up there with their competitors, by not paying him $34 million a year for ten years.
    Anyway, this blog was about Verlander, and his being aboard for 2022 give Dubin, Bermudez, Brown and Whitley more time to be ready for 2023. That is the way the Astros operate. They offered contracts to 3 core players and two of them took the deals, Bregman and Altuve. Then they offered a deal to Correa and LMJ. LMJ took the deal. Then they offered Correa another deal and he won’t take it.
    We moved on from Keuchel and kept winning.
    We moved on from Cole and kept winning
    We moved on from Springer and kept winning.
    They just need to keep movin’ on and winning.
    Signing a pitcher like Justin Verlander is a good way to start winning in 2022. When Correa moves on we will add some more. That’s what this team has done every year since they started the playoff run in 2015.

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    • A very nice connection drawn about JV giving those rookies more time.

      Let me share another positive nugget I observed the other day from the pitching guru I follow. Shawn Dubin has a 99 out of 100 grade for OHB (Opposite-handed batters). Remember when we had those great RHP sliders coming at them; Gregerson McQ Morton and Devenski? I’m not the biggest Raley fan, like Blake Taylor alright and Bermudez will get his chance in ’22, but Dubin is probably the guy (next to Brown) that I’m most excited about this year.

      Even so, I would be astonished if HOU doesn’t go after Jake Diekman. Our team was ultimately neutralized when Tucker Brantley and Alvarez were shutdown, and Diekman is that kind of lockdown specialist we need. Go get him, James Click!

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      • His contract was 4MM per year and I think we could do better than that for a 2+year deal for what he brings to the party.

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      • ZMan, I normally would agree with you but if Montero is getting $3.1 Million, Baez $5.5 Million, and Odorizzi is getting even more, Diekman should at least be given consideration. If for no other reason, that we won’t have to face him.

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      • Dave, in one inning stints Diekman would only be walking half a batter. Everyone knows that one half of a batter cannot run. The top half of a batter has no legs and the bottom half has no eyes. The right half or left half can only hop, so anyone, except Jonathan Villar, can throw them out while they are trying to go from first to second.
        I think we could live with 5 walks per 9 innings as long as Diekman only pitches one inning per game. Hardly any team wins by a half of a run these days. With all the home runs, they would only have a one and a half run lead.

        Liked by 1 person

  17. Just wondering on JV. Seeing that it was reported a couple weeks after the World Series, he was able to throw 95-97. So did the Astros sit him in order to save the possible insurance money? Or did they sit him to have him for 2022? Or was his workout using one of those higher velocity radar guns? Assuming the insurance covered 90% of his salary (just a guess), did the Astros prefer a WS loss to losing $30 Million in insurance proceeds? Just wondering and wandering.

    Like

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