Two long-awaited actions hung over Houston sports fandom throughout this offseason. One was the eventual dumping of scandal-plagued Texans’ QB Deshaun Watson and the other was the eventual landing spot of Astros’ shortstop Carlos Correa. In retrospect, the scandal attached to Correa’s name is a molehill compared to the mountain looming over Watson for the last year-plus.
How ironic that these two situations would be resolved as bookends to a very active 24 hours in Houston sports.
- First Friday morning it was announced that Watson would be taking his incredible talents and regrettable off the field resume to the Cleveland Browns in exchange for 3 first round picks, a third and a fourth over the next three drafts. This was a bit of a surprise considering it was announced Thursday that the Browns were out of the running.
- Then for local NCAA basketball fans, both the Texas Longhorns (with many local alumni) and the Houston Cougars won their first round games to move forward to second round matchups on Sunday.
- Then in the “other” major professional sport, the Rockets let a 4th quarter lead slip away and grabbed defeat from the jaws of victory against the Indiana Pacers. This of course was what most knowledgeable fans wanted as it keeps the Rockets on their trudge towards the worst record in the NBA and a higher percentage shot at the overall number one with the NBA lottery system.
- Finally, on Saturday morning, Carlos Correa shocked the baseball world by signing with the Minnesota Twins on a 3 year $105 MM contract with player opt-outs after seasons 1 and 2.
Minnesota (to this writer’s knowledge) had never really been linked seriously to Correa during the off-season, though a series of trades they made in the last week shipped out Mitch Garver, Josh Donaldson, Isiah Kiner-Falefa (briefly acquired for Garver) and prospect Chase Pettty (their top pick from last summer’s draft) while acquiring Sonny Gray, Gio Urshela, Gary Sanchez and a pair of pitching prospects, which did clear $41 MM off their payroll. Lately, as more and more teams seemed to go other ways in filling their SS needs it appeared that Correa’s search for a 10 year $350 MM contract was going to fall by the wayside. And Astros owner Jim Crane had made it clear the Astros were still in contact with Correa’s reps on what was likely going to be a shorter contract than the 10 years, but could easily have been near the average value per season that he was looking for.
Correa decided to take what easily could be a single season in the Twin Cities at that $35 MM/yr salary. Correa, who has been a very clutch performer in the playoffs joins a team that has been to the playoffs three of the last five seasons, but has famously lost 18 straight playoff game stretching back to 2004. That includes the last time they went to the playoffs and were swept 2-0 by the Astros with Carlos Correa hitting the key go-ahead homer in the seventh inning of game two.
It is obvious that Correa mis-read the market a bit. Yes, he has been sturdy and dependable in 2020 (only a 60 game season) and 2021 during his walk year. But anyone with a computer knows that in 2017 through 2019 he played in 109, 110 and 75 games. So, he is taking a low risk to him contract. If he kicks butt, he will be able to go back out on the market in a light market for shortstops next season. If he doesn’t, he just lets the $35 MM ride and eventually goes back out on the market at 30 years old.
We may or may not hear what kept the Astro from re-signing Correa, but it is likely tied to not matching that early of an opt out more than the dollars per season.
In the end, the Astros finally can move on – whether it is Trevor Story or Jeremy Pena or some combination of Niko Goodrum and Aledmys Diaz. But they can finally move on to their next phase after losing the best shortstop the franchise has ever seen.
There is no joy in Mudville today. It appears Casey has moved to the frigid north. Who will arise to fill those shoes?
Wow someone gave me a one star review today. I hope it was a slip of the finger.
This time it was not me. But I have done it in the past.
Dan, I personally didn’t even know posts were rated until you said something. What kind of strange magic is that?
I have to admit I am glad the Carlos saga is over. Wish he could have come back, but I don’t believe in crying over spilt milk. It only makes it salty for the kitty.
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I don’t know Carlos personally, of course, soi can’t speak with any authority as to his motivations for flipping Houston fans the finger and cruising off like a bored gigolo. But leaving a $160 million dollar offer (probably a bit more more) on the table in Houston ( a state with no personal income tax) makes it pretty clear to me that he wanted something that neither $160 million dollars, nor longtime teammates’ love, nor the adulation of three generations of Texans could buy.
I hope you find what you are looking for, son; as for us, well … don’t think twice, it’s allright.
Don’t think it was as much Carlos as it was Boras and opt-outs. Sure, it was up to Carlos to tell Boras if Houston was important, but in the end, Boras got a percent of that 35 mil next year and will be ready to have a full offseason to negotiate a new deal with a new team, and he won’t be on the market with Story or Seager next offseason. The other two years are just safety nets, I am sure Carlos and Scott are both in agreement that they will start over next offseason unless they have to use the safety if/when he misses 40 games.
Who knows, after the 25 year old rookie making his major league debuts turns out to be like the usual 25 year old rookie and can’t hit major league pitching, maybe we get to revisit Carlos next year. We should know at this point he isn’t taking only 4 or 5 years, and he wants opt outs.
If we aren’t willing to deal in those terms, we won’t be seeing Correa next season either. I am fine with that. But we are probably looking at a 2-3 year gap of mediocrity (or worse) at SS, and more importantly to me, putting 3 easier outs in the lineup in a row and taking pressure off opposing pitchers. Maybe we will be lucky and these CF’ers, one of them at least, will breakthrough and be a 20+ HR guy that can stay above .250.
I’m ready to move on too. I’m not excited about Pena at short. But the opening day line up might be a bit different that what we see today. I’m not sure if we are a World Series club right now. There are some pretty good teams on paper at this point. Dan, I don’t think I’ve ever rated a post by anyone, going back to the beginning of time but I just gave you a 5 to compensate for the rat that dissed you.
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Excuse me if I don’t she’d a tear for losing Correa. My opinion only, but I think he thought he was irreplaceable. It ticked me (and a LOT) of teams off when he pointed to his watch when he hit a homerun. Will the Astros move on to try and sign Story…..I’m not hopful.
Sorry Dan it WAS a slip of my finger when I gave you a one star! Forgive me!
Verlander said it best….Correa was and is a great player but it’s time to move on to this season with this very talented club.
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Well Becky as one of our five star commenters – yes I forgive you, because slipups are easy to do on the computer or on the keyboard.
The team will move on in some fashion or another. In my mind I’m thinking they may save that money from Correa and instead of spending it on Story hold it aside in case pitching injuries cause them to make a big move.
Of course I’ve been wrong about this front office most of the time.
I meant the phone keyboard
After two games in which the weakness of our lower level minor leaguers vis-a-vis other teams minor leaguers has been exposed, I am getting antsy to see a few innings from one or two guys who might actually have a chance to play for the Big League club this year. Especially Jeremy Pena.
I was rather amazed that so far we’ve only seen Verlander in these two games of players that will for sure be on the final roster, Mr. Bill.
I’m glad we have some resolution to both situations. I’m really happy Watson is going to Cleveland instead of Carolina or staying in Houston. I’m really happy the Twins are paying Correa instead of the Astros. Ultimately, this is a team sport and you can’t build a team with so much money going to a small number of players. Boras really scored a big win on paper for his client. I think Correa will have to maintain his high level of defense while improving his offensive production to be able to opt out and get a better deal next winter though. As mentioned in the fantasy baseball inspired post, he stopped doing things on the basepaths … likely in order to maintain his health at all costs last year. If you go onto the mlbtraderumors comment section and mention batting average or wins you’ll get mobbed by idiots who can only parrot what others have told them, but quite frankly the former is an important statistic when placed in proper context. Correa started his career as a guy who took what pitchers/defenses gave him. He morphed into a guy trying a bit too hard to hit HR and never really was able to do it efficiently. Correa (1 HR / 21.2 AB) wants to be Fernando Tatis, Jr. (1 HR / 12.8 AB), but he’s really not that type of hitter. In the context of the Houston offense, there were many times where taking a single instead of giving the defense the free out from a pop-up or strikeout would have brought far more value to the team than the slight boost his HR provided to his slugging percentage. He had 36 doubles in 2017 and 34 in 2021, but never topped 25 in another season. It’s speculation on my part, but I think if Correa had stuck with his original approach he would have been a 40-50 double guy who still ended up around 20HR per year.
I’ll be rooting for Correa in Minnesota. Unless he signs in the future with a handful of teams (NYY, BOS, Dodgers, Rangers) I will continue to follow and like him. As I’ve said numerous times, though, I don’t see much evidence that the highest contracts handed out each winter actually benefit the teams.
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One of my favorite players was Tony Gwynn. He was not fancy or hit a lot of HR’s but he he hit for average and rarely struck out. The kind of guys that more players should model themselves after. Home runs are great but as I’ve said in the past, I’d rather have a bases clearing double that helps us win the game rather than an occasional home run that doesn’t quit get us the win.
No position players anywhere close to the big leagues are scheduled to start today either. This is beginning to feel like a player protest of some kind.
Trevor Story to Boston
Looks like we’ll be going with what we’ve got.
Final score: U of H 68, Fighting Illini 53.
Houston to the Sweet Sixteen for the second year in a row.
So proud of this team’s fight!
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On the radio they said UH to 3rd straight Sweet Sixteen – I think I missed that – though I think it’s because the pandemic cancelled the 2020 tournament – so it reaches back to 2019
One thing Spring Training is demonstrating – our lower minor league players are anything but inspiring. The window of excellence has definitely closed.
This is Mayo’s opinion of our farm system. A Big Do Nut on the top 100 minor leaguers.
Well the Astros did have one of their positional guys play in today’s game. Correa. Wait, what? Oh never mind.
Opening day is April 7th isn’t it?
Did all the guys take the day off in protest of the team not signing Correa?
Did Dusty forget that he needs to get guys ready for the regular season?
Interesting interview with GM James Click – really talking about Javier as a starter ….
Oops forgot the link
That pleases me.
I went back and checked. In the 3 preseason games the Astros have played, JV is the only player who has played so far from the anticipated opening day roster. No other position player or pitcher from the 40-man has played and the opposition has started mainly regulars from their team.
The guys are so exhausted from not playing in the first three games that we have no game scheduled today. It does show Odorizzi starting tomorrow and Verlander on Wednesday. I guess all are other starting pitchers will start the season stretched out to 2 innings?
I suppose there are things going on in the background that we are not seeing such as live batting practice and maybe even intrasquad games, but it sure is an odd way to ramp up – like ramping up on flat ground.
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Baker is doing the same thing he has done the previous seasons. It is important that the regulars get their work in during live action since the spring season has been shortened. I guess Baker is asleep already and forgot that tiny issue.
The cancellation of Rule 5 allowed us to keep a few likely contributors this year. Understandably, if you don’t catch much minors’ ball other than box scores and Callis, maybe the names won’t mean much since media doesn’t cover our guys well at all. And I get it, we’re talking about filler players who may help support but won’t carry the team. Joe Record, Brett Conine, Enmanuel Valdez and Michael Papierski are guys I’d expect to see if they continue on track. Scratching surface if Lee and Brown make it up, Jon Olczak had 0.92 WHIP across 48 IP last yr and was awarded a minor league deal. Enoli Paredes is learning a changeup from Fernando Rodney, and Bryan Abreu pitched well in winter ball. I’ll never believe til I see, but many say Scott Manea is ML-ready defensively at catcher and has real raw power. He’s in a fight for 3rd catcher in ’23 with Pap, Berryhill and Y Diaz.
Also, I chat it up with San Jac coach and we talked about a former player of his we took from Mizzou a few yrs ago, Peter Zimmerman. I wondered what happened to him last yr. He’s a mauler, but bad glove man a lot like Joe Perez. Pete played in ST and got the only hit and run vs MIA, after being hurt last year.
Be watching for Barefoot and Dirden to get to AAA to fight it out for OF…and in ’23 with Leon come to Spring on a mission. McCormick and Meyers should improve slightly with reps, and I suspect Yordan will be decent in LF with a big arm (Jones too), we really don’t need a splashy OF signing with Siri and Goodrum in fold.
Pena to short was always the best option for HOU because it meant he earned it, and it saved us $30M+ / yr., letting as Op said, be someone else’s problem to pay. I predict Jeremy hits 15 HR and bats 265/350/425 OPS+ 117 and plays exquisite SS. We simply don’t lose a lot by letting Carlos walk and it may explain Crane ghosting, with JV saying it helps with ‘clarity’. We put best foot forward, and when CC blinked, we moved on.
[I believe after the pond dried up on his 10-yr demands, he was only interested in getting highest AAV. For fans who are upset by that, consider that the Owners award a “belt” every year to the President of Operations who best keeps arbitration salaries DOWN, then you understand why every Astros said they were happy for Correa’s family that he “got paid.” How sad when you realize you’re sleeping with the enemy as players and especially prospects. Say what you want, Correa gave back 100-fold in WAR what he was paid. His production paid for every, single bad draft we ever made..]
After Springer left and everyone said, ‘woe is me, how could you?’ the Astros just proceeded with a 12th round from Johns River State College (Palatka, FL). Straw not only improved on his horrible splits vs 4 seam in ’20, but he became a GG candidate in CLE and fetched us Maton. We even traded De la Cruz who tore it up reminiscent of Teoscar, before he ever suited up in Houston–that’s how stacked the no-name prospects are..
I’ll leave you with one more sleeper, as I talked to his trainer guy (and former MLB pitcher) in 2019, told me Corey Julks was squatting 550 lbs. Sparks related the story that last yr the Astros jerked him out of CC after mediocre results, put him in Florida and showed him how to get to his power. It worked. Keep in mind, he was the 3rd best OF in Fayettville in ’19 next to McCormick and Meyers, and he’s picked up 3B.
Conine and Brown both had solid outings yesterday, Spring ahead of hitters is expected. Javier and Odo will have to pick up slack (where Garcia did last yr), but you need to keep eyes peeled for who distinguishes himself as potentially a better option than Javier. I found myself yelling at the TV or Baker for “mishandling” Cristian Javier in ’21, but looking back at the stats and seeing how sparingly used during reg season allowed him fresh for playoffs, sometimes it just works out differently than planned.
Thanks as always for some lower level talk, Go Stros – it is important to remember that there is always a lot of hype about prospects, but the only thing that matters is when a Luis Garcia shows up and is the #2 in the Rookie of the Year voting after never making the MLB Top 100 prospects. Of course he never pitched above A+ ball in the minors, so never was on the broader baseball radar.
Javier was #3 the year before, will it be Pena who gets the most ROY votes this year? One thing that makes him a favorite is he will probably be handed the position on Day 1, and will garner more of dWAR than a pitcher (Garcia), or DH (Yordan).
I agree with you about the Astros losing several prospects to the Rule 5. Skipping that was a break for the Astros. It gives them ammo for the trade deadline and they will probably use it or they will lose even more to next offseason’s Rule 5. Corey Lee and Hunter Brown need to be protected if they have good years
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I’m interested in taking that bet.
Pena is much more likely to hit .230/.300/.400 then anything else. I believe he can hit 15 HR, IF the Astros don’t start shortening his ABs.
Great take on Correa. In the end, there is the business end. Minnesota is willing the roll the dice on the opt outs, the Astros wanted cost certainty. I would expect Correa to opt out if he repeats last year. Say what you will about him wanting to squeeze every cent he can for himself and his family, but the Astros wanted every decimal point of WAR squeezed out of him when they were paying him peanuts. I don’t blame Cole, Springer, or Correa. It would be great if we stopped bleeding all stars every year though.
I obviously haven’t paid as much attention to the minors as you. Kudos on that. The “experts” aren’t as rosy, but everyone admits projecting what a guy is going to do in 2-3 years from now is very difficult. Some are going to work their tailends off to get better, some are going to Singleton it up and just assume greatness will come to them. That’s what I like about Chas, you can just see in body language and confidence that he knows he is putting the work in. Will that help him tell a ball from a strike better, I don’t know, but if he keeps getting stronger he can gain a few ticks to see more of the pitch. Faster bat, slows the head down.
Not that concerned about the minors at the moment, the last few years have been awesome, and we still have Alvarez, Tucker, Bregman, Altuve, Garcia, Urquidy, Valdez, Javier all under team control for at least 3 more. I don’t know that Brantley, Verlander and Yuli’s replacements will be from in house, but Pena, Perez, and Whitley (and others) will get their looks.
Heck, I’d sure take a 117 OPS+ and excellent if not exquisite defense from Pena in 2022. That would mean if Bregman gets back to being Bregman, then Correa’s 7 plus WAR is covered.
After the initial shock, and then reflection, followed by a weekend of remarkable hoops action, the Correa non signing by the Astros was an easy decision. Carlos was prepared to commit one year to his employer but required three years in return. If he goes 109, 110 or 75 games for the Twins in 2022, it starts becoming a pretty expensive deal. I don’t think any other club was willing.
I will certainly miss his exquisite defense. I don’t think anyone is better at short. But Devin, I’d rather not see it from him in another uniform.
I’m sure they want to get a good look at this guy PLUS, try to figure a combo of his present pitches or a new one to give him some help against RH batters. Figure that he might spend some time in the minors to work those new combos into his game.
The new 3-batter rule is the impetus for his further development.
The Astros need a new GM.
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I’ll agree that we definitely got a lot for our money during Correa’s time with the Astros but I think he was always looking for that “big long term contract” that the Astros just weren’t prepared to do. The previous contracts that the Astros had offered to Brgeman and Altuve were 5/100 and 7/163. Considering everything I’d say that the “”deal” was never going to happen. I can’t remember if the Astros ever offered Correa a long term deal during his arbitration years but if so he probably turned it down.
I feel like unless he got that big deal he never had intentions of remaining an Astro but that’s just my opinion. I also thing his ego was a lot larger than MM park which couldn’t hold it. Don’t misunderstand my comments as being ungrateful for all that he did for the ball team and how good a player he has been. I just think his goals and desires were a lot higher than just winning a World Series, being admired by his team mates and fans, and being a part of a close knit organization.
One final comment on the status of baseball as it pertains to new players and free agency. I’d like to see rookies, pre-arbitration players and arbitration players compensated fairly; that is according to how well they play, contributions to the team, etc., by paying those players “what they are worth.” Maybe, as a result when free agency hits we won’t see these ridiculous salary demands and contract lengths being given out these days. But probably not as long as all the money that’s being thrown around via television contracts keeps growing. Sure would be nice to see ticket prices and concessions come back down to something reasonable but I expect that to happen when pigs fly.
Turns out the Texans got more draft picks for Watson than were first reported.
FYI, the games originally scheduled with the Phillies for 03/31, 04/01 & 04/02 have been rescheduled to 10/3, 10/04 & 10/05. The games originally scheduled with the Yankees for 04/04, 04/05 & 04/06 have been rescheduled to 06/30 & a doubleheader on 07/21.
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Would like it if we could get this guy back and dealing…
Great velocity, terrible command. He throws strikes that are hittable and he doesn’t throw outside the zone in a way that fools hitters. Just another power arm potential lost due to lack of command.
There is more to pitching than 99. If he brought it down to 96 and focused command he would be better. He is at 4.9% HR rate for his career, last year the major league average was 3.7%. Too many hittable strikes. His walk rate is terrible, career 5.1%. That means literally 10% of hitters he eithers walks or gives up a homerun.
All of the things I would care about – his LD%, FB%, BAA, etc, all worse than major league average or I would want to see. Just too hittable, because he can’t put things where he wants it.
Now, very small sample at 106 innings, and some of those innings he may not have been healthy just based on his track record. As long as we have team control we should pay our due diligence to his development, but so far the results are less than ideal.
Yeah – his peripherals are not great – it’s just that somebody who gets about half his out by strikeout is not always hittable
I think you are right about if he backed off the velocity he might get more movement
He probably is what he is
I think Josh fails into the group of current MLB thinking. If you can throw it 96 with command, then try to throw it 100. Same with hitters. If you can have a decent swing and get a double or single about 30% of the time, then swing for the fences and the team is happy if you hit 10% out of the park.
So today’s lineup has the first appearance of some guys who may actually play in the majors – Chas, Goodrum, Tucker and Castro
Some guys who played a bit last year
One guy who is trying to squeeze on to the bench
And a couple guys who would like a shot
And of course – Odorizzi who will at least start the season in the rotation
Just watched some of the Free Game of the Day versus the Mets. Glad the season is not starting tomorrow.
Astros now 0 – 4 in Spring Training games. I know it’s early but geez! Interesting takes on Sports Map Houston on the Correa saga. One does begin to wonder in that we also lost Springer (6/150), Cole (9/324), Morton (2/30) and now Correa (3/105). Of course I don’t know what our management knows but sometimes you have to wonder what they are thinking.
Major league baseball is so dadgum STUPID!!
According to MLB, some purists will be disappointed to hear that MLB bringing back its “ghost runner” rule, with extra innings beginning with a runner on second for the regular season. The rule will continue through the 2022 regular season, but the playoffs will see a return to normalcy like last year’s postseason.
Sarge, I don’t think one has to be a purist to detest that rule. Unfortunately, the majority of players seem to be okay with it. It’s easier to make a late dinner reservation or get to an early tee time. They just want to get out of the park once past nine frames. I’d much rather see a game go 12 innings max played by regular rules, even if it ends in a tie. Let the remaining crowd boo the participants down into their clubhouses.
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This is something the players were pushing for, as they don’t like extra innings.
More crap from baseball business and from players who think they are baseball.
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I get where the purists are coming from, but even from a fan prospective when I sit on my couch or I sit in the park, I really don’t want it to be 4 hours either.
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Julia Morales reports that the Astros have agreed to salaries with all of their arbitration eligible players. No problems reported.
For years. A’s fans on their forums waited for this guy to become a star on their team.
He is still only 26 years old.
It’s hard to get a make on the kid. If I was guessing, he swings a hard bat, but K/BB ratio is a nightmare. Looks like a guy that doesn’t see a pitch he doesn’t like and tries to crush the ball. I’m betting his exit velocities in the minors are a pitchers nightmare. How else can you post those kind of batting averages in the minors consistently while also posting insane strikeout numbers as well?
Statistically reminds me of Chris Johnson. I bet the scouts probably say the same thing, “the ball just sounds different coming off his bat,” ” you can hear the pop all over the park,” “he has a classic swing.”
Hey Chris Johnson was serviceable for a few years before he wasn’t. Let’s get that kid in camp and see.
It is a low risk situation with Barreto – he had great numbers at AAA in 2019.
One question – he had TJ surgery last May – how long does it take a position player to come back from that – I know pitchers don’t bounce back that fast.
We are farm-sitting for one of our kid’s and their family as they vacation. Grampa feeds twice a day
A dozen chickens, 20 guinea birds (annoying, at best), half dozen ducks, 20 goats, seven dogs, nine cats and a horse. There is one less chicken after one flew into the dog pen.
Gramma takes care of the plants and all of the garden seedlings, which are in the sun room and will be planted in the greenhouse when they get back.
Strange house, strange TV service, strange laptop, but full freezers and pantry. We’re doin just fine. I took care of the BYOB. Sip a little in the evening to help with the late winter nip in the air. Have to stay healthy for all these cute, loud animals.
“Bury me in the H.”
To bad his buddies Springer and Correa didn’t feel the same.
Still you gotta love Lance.
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So today’s lineup includes a lot more regulars along with Verlander starting his second game
Pedro Leon CF
Corey Julks RF
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As OP said above the Astros have settled with all of their arb eligibles (first time I remember that happening in a while). Per mlbtrade rumors – those numbers are
Aledmys Diaz – $4.45 MM
Framber Valdez – $3 MM
Josh James – $800 K
Phil Maton – $1.55 MM
Ryne Stanek – $2.1 MM
Rafael Montero – $2.725 MM
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Diaz at 4.45 is a pretty happy paycheck. That’s a significant amount of money
Per MLB TV, no television on today’s game. Tomorrow 3/24/2022 Astros vs. Nats at 5:35 PM Free Game of the Day. Then none on 25th.
Better results so far for the Astros – up 4-0 after 5 – Verlander with 2.2 IP of shutout ball – Gurriel and Leon with 2 run homers, Leon’s was off Wainwright
I like James Click!
Astros lead 8-2 in the 8th. Regulars play and they play well. Ivey comes in and…..well, oops.
Pena turns a DP with Altuve in the 1st.