What They Said – What They Meant – James Click Edition

It has been quite a while since the last WTSWTM, but a recent article on the Astros’ MLB website by one of the few journalists left in baseball, Brian McTaggart, inspired this post. As you may or may not recall, this is to contrast what the person said vs. what they meant and today, that person will be Astros’ General Manager James Click.

Q: With the Correa signing becoming official, what was your pursuit of him like and did the Astros feel they were in it towards the end?

  • What Click said: “We were engaged throughout the process. It’s always hard to know, are you in it or are you not in these types of negotiations. One phone call can change anything. We were engaged throughout the process. Ultimately, he did choose to go to Minnesota. It’s a tough blow for all of us, but that’s how these things go sometimes.”
  • What Click meant: “We were engaged, kind of like all the men who were engaged to Zsa Zsa Gabor and Liz Taylor over the years. We did not make the one phone call that could change anything or everything.”

Q: Did you make him an offer post-lockout? (The Astros’ last reported offer was five years, $160 million in November.)

  • What Click said: “I don’t want to get into too many details about the back and forth of it except to say we were engaged throughout the process. We were optimistic. Ultimately, it didn’t work out. We certainly wish him the best. Really happy for him and his family. I think it’s a great organization, a great team. He’s going to have a great impact on them.”
  • What Click meant: “I don’t want to get into too many details, like answering your question honestly.”

Q: Were the opt-outs in his contract something that the Astros weren’t willing to do? Was that a deal-breaker?

  • What Click said: “Nothing’s a deal-breaker. We’re always open to different concepts. There were a lot of creative ideas that floated around back and forth, but ultimately we’re going to do what we feel is the best for the team. We will continue to run an organization that aggressively invests in a Major League roster just as we have for the past few years. We have been one of the most successful teams in baseball for the past five years, and along with that, we’ve been one of the most aggressive investors in our Major League roster for the past few years. That will continue; that will not change. We just have to make the decisions we feel are best for the organization to continue putting a highly competitive team. Even without Carlos, we feel really good with the team we have. We feel we are in a good position to compete for this year and the foreseeable future.”
  • What Click meant: “Opt-outs of themselves are not a deal-breaker, but an opt-out after years one and two of a three-year contract? Hey, I was born at night, but not last night. This was too much drama to go through all over again next off-season. Maybe it made sense for us in some ways. If Carlos goes back to being a 100 game injury limited shortstop, it was only a three-season commitment at worst.”

Q: You have lost several big-name free agents the last few years and continue to compete, but can you sustain another critical loss like Carlos and be a threat in the AL?

  • What Click said: “We feel really good about the roster we have. We certainly feel like we can be a threat in the American League this year, and we have quite a few very talented players under control for the next few years. There’s no thought to the window closing. We think we can be very competitive. The loss of players over the years is always difficult. Still, at the same time, I think it’s a credit to this organization, how it runs top to bottom, that it’s able to continue to find and generate talent that allows us to, along with a payroll that’s towards the top of the league, to compete in and out every single year and be one of the most successful teams in baseball.”
  • What Click meant: “Sometimes I do say the truth. How many teams can lose a George Springer and a Carlos Correa and still have Jose Altuve, Kyle Tucker, Yordan Alvarez, Yuli Gurriel, Michael Brantley and Alex Bregman? How many teams can lose Charlie Morton, Gerrit Cole and Zack Greinke and still have Justin Verlander, Framber Valdez, Luis Garcia, Jose Urquidy, Jake Odorizzi and hopefully Lance McCullers? We believe in sustainability, which helped us get to the ALCS in four years and the World Series three times in the last five.

Q: Speaking of payroll, the team has some room now under the $230 million CBT. Is that something you can use going into the season or at the Trade Deadline to add some pieces if you have to? How do you look at having extra money? (FanGraphs estimates the Astros’ payroll currently at about $174 million.)

  • What Click said: “It’s always critical to make sure we have some dry powder into the season because something will happen along the way that we’re going to need to address. Last year, we made a lot of aggressive moves at the Trade Deadline to try to shore up the bullpen. In 2019, the team was aggressive in getting Zack Greinke. We have a history of doing that, and we plan to continue that. I would push back a little bit on the room on the payroll. Sometimes people assume the CBT line is our payroll. That’s not necessarily the case. It’s not a cap. It’s also not an indication of our budget. Still, we will use up to and sometimes over the limit of our financial capacity to continue putting a competitive team on the field.”
  • What Click meant: “We will not spend up to the limit just to say we did. But you fans do not know how lucky you are to have an owner like Jim Crane. He is sharp enough to know what he doesn’t know. He gets involved to a certain point but does listen to the baseball men when the time comes. And more importantly, when we want to stretch that wallet a bit, he will do it if you can put together the right kind of business case. Many owners might have been bitter after giving Verlander $66 MM for 6 innings work. But he was right behind us when we went to re-sign him at $25 MM per year. He knows Verlander has the arm that could carry us to the pinnacle again.”

Q: So, what is your budget this year?

  • What Click said: “That is a constant conversation between [owner] Jim Crane and myself. I think he has shown over the past few years he is the owner who, when we have it in our sights, he is willing to be aggressive about it and put his chips on the table and make sure we have everything we need to compete year in and year out.”

Now it is our reader’s turn on the last answer…What did Click mean?

67 comments on “What They Said – What They Meant – James Click Edition

  1. Our “budget” is to get to the playoffs each year while spending our money wisely. Remember in 2018, our closer showed his true colors and we had to trade for a wife beater. We made the playoffs. Remember in 2019, we lost Keuchel and the critics said we were too cheap. Went to the World Series. Remember in 2020, we had a losing record but made it through two levels of playoffs and Covid. Remember last year we were in the World Series. That is still our “budget.” We want to one of the last two or three teams standing. We use our money to get us to the playoffs.

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  2. I love your Zsa Zsa, Liz Taylor comparison to this Correa intrique. Those two women created a pattern with their many short term marriages, that for any suitor to expect a lifelong commitment would be beyond foolish. Looking at the seven years of Correa’s Astro tenure, can one really expect to see this past banner year on any type of regular basis?

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  3. Hey Larry – haven’t heard from you in a while. The fear I have with Correa is that his injury filled years were not something like – I tore my ACL, broke a bone, etc. It was these back injuries, broken ribs from his masseuse (insert your own Deshaun Watson joke here) – things that were not that cut and dry. You can’t give a guy like that a 10 year anything.

    Oldpro – yes the key is to get into those playoffs. But also, have that ability to win once you are there. The Twins have made the playoffs a bunch, but have not had the ability to move on.

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    • Dan, Correa reminds me of this very talented 3rd baseman for the Braves in the mid-late 70’s (Bob Horner,I think) Dale Murphy was the teams star, but Horner was projected to be their 2nd star. It never happened. He was extremely injury prone. The injury that I remember was when he slipped in the bathroom while brushing his teeth which busted him up and much time was lost. I have good expectations for Pena and look forward to seeing him next week in West Palm.

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      • Oops sorry OP – I’m sure you are busy with your farm sitting and I mixed up ACs comment with yours. Sorry about that

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  4. Dan, Correa reminds me of this very talented 3rd baseman for the Braves in the mid-late 70’s (Bob Horner,I think) Dale Murphy was the teams star, but Horner was projected to be their 2nd star. It never happened. He was extremely injury prone. The injury that I remember was when he slipped in the bathroom while brushing his teeth which busted him up and much time was lost. I have good expectations for Pena and look forward to seeing him next week in West Palm.

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  5. My earlier point is you can’t win the World Series without making it to the playoffs. So since 2016, Yankees 2016 – 4th place, rest of the years in the playoffs. Dodgers in every year. Red Sox out in 2019 and 2020, in the other years. During that time, no team won it two times. As a fan, I am happy it they win the division and are in the playoffs. World Series champ is just the cherry on top for me.

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    • Off the subject, and this might make me unpopular here … I will boo Carlos Correa just as joyfully as I booed the “other” Carlos, turncoat Beltran when he left us to join the Mets.

      Not booing his accomplishments, just booing his bolting from the Astros.

      Liked by 2 people

  6. I like Click’s interview because he gives hints about what could or could not have happened without speaking bluntly about the Correa defection.
    My conclusion is that the last phone call was made and the Astros wished him well and said they weren’t matching that offer.

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  7. My answer to the blog’s last question is that our budget will be what we think it will get us to the promised land and not over the huge luxury tax line and that budget will be set at the moment the trade deadline is over and our additions to the roster from the minor leagues for September and beyond are set

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  8. Correa mentioned he was happy about having Ralph Garza and Derek Fisher on the Twins. They were former teammates of his.
    Garza was DFA’d to make room for Correa yesterday.

    Liked by 2 people

    • From what I’ve read about the talks with Correa, is the Astros never made him another offer. One writer said they “ghosted” him right up until he signed with the Twins. The McCullars situation is concerning because there isn’t a timeline with him. He may or may NOT pitch this year….if that’s the deal I expect Click to look in the garbage bin for another pitcher like he did last year. Since the A’s are looking to trade Mintas and Manea I wonder what it would take to get Manea.
      But….trading within your division could be problematic for the A’s. Just thinking outloud😄

      Liked by 1 person

  9. What I read between the lines, the Astros simply don’t think he is the kind of impact that the salary was suggesting. “Engaged” means we made an offer, one they probably thought was still too much but at least it carried 5 years of cost certainty, and we weren’t budging for more or less years, opt outs, etc., that if we are going to over pay you it will be on our terms so we can work around what we know we have, not continued question marks with a salary that literally affects the rest of the roster.

    The Twins did what they had to do to get the guy in Minnesota for a year and with their additions are doing it to make a run at the right this minute. If he is healthy and plays 145 games I think everyone knows its really just a one year deal.

    Did the deal come with a no trade clause? If Minnesota stumbles out the gate and is at or below .500 in July, and they see the opt out coming, is a reunion possible if Pena is flailing? Could Correa still end up a Yankee? The Twins are in a win/win, they either contend, or they get some contenders prospects.

    Now I have nothing against giving Pena his shot, seeing if Chas or Jake(when he returns) are true CF’ers defensively that can hit at least respectably, or seeing if Martin can at least get back over the mendoza and provide stellar defense, I just have a problem with all 3 of these happening together in a row in the lineup. If either SS or CF can manage to stay above the .250 mark and have double digit homerun power it will calm my nerves. We know Chas can be hot and cold, and his power came in bunches last year, can he build on that and be consistent? Possible. He works no doubt.

    We won 95 games. We have lost Correa in the 6 spot of the order, we have lost Greinke and those wins, we have gained our ace back. Our pitching staff is back almost completely intact, and so far, no major health issues outside of Lance not getting the rehab he was hoping for due to the lockout and taking extra time now. If we start well I hope they don’t rush it. We still have 6 guys capable of going out right now and giving you at least a chance to be in every ball game.

    Valdez pitched well enough to get some CYA votes, so did LMJ, Garcia was right there in the ROY voting, I don’t expect repeats but I am hopeful. There is a lot to like about this staff up and down, and the pen, while it had some losses in the offseason, is better than the pen that started last year. It’s a playoff team, despite that 7-9, but that 7-9 could stop big innings in the playoffs. They could be inning momentum killers.

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    • My second biggest question about the Astros’ starting pitching, Steven, beyond McCullers, is – where are they? Urquidy was listed earlier as the starter yesterday and then did not pitch, Bielak did and looked like he was pitching batting practice. We have not seen Urquidy, Garcia or Valdez yet. Hunter Brown is listed as starter today, with Odorizzi tomorrow. The season starts in a couple weeks. Are they hurting or working on secret pitches on the back fields?

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      • The missing Astros starting pitcher have been throwing in minor league games on the back fields of our ST facilities. There is not enough time to build up innings for 7 or 8 starters in the shortened MLB preseason game schedule, so they are throwing innings out of sight. There was an update on their status in an article on the Astros website. LMJ is the only starter with any injury problem right now.
        I will say this: it is becoming apparent that the Astros want Javier to go back to starting. That may mean he begins the year in Sugarland, as it will take longer for him to build up innings than it would for guys who were starters in the previous couple of seasons. We talked about it before as a “maybe”, but it seems that it is real, now.

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    • I agree the 7-9 spots in the lineup could be problematic. Here’s where it would make sense for Dusty to go back in the tapes to when another one of his teams lost the World Series against a team that had the mantra “make productive outs.” No one in the front office is asking my opinion, but if everyone is actually healthy, I’m probably dropping Bregman down quite a bit in the lineup and asking him to use his legs a bit on offense. If you create opportunities for the bottom of the lineup to move runners along or pick up an RBI on a sac fly you can minimize the poor contact skills. That might not sound right, but consider that most of these guys are striking out because they are either chasing pitches, being too selective and getting in a hole, or trying to slug too much. Castro had that huge hit against Boston because he was just trying to get a hit. That’s something Correa was great at early in his career and stopped doing as he got older…but the Twins can deal with the pop-fly disappointments now.

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  10. Old Pro – I don’t know if you got to watch the Coogs last night in the late NCAA game, but they played their game of super-intense defense, rebounding, and hustle combined with solid offense to take out the #1 seed Arizona. Now they get to take on #2 seed Villanova to see who goes to the Final Four.

    They have a pleasure to watch, an extremely unselfish, team-first group in a time when that is not so popular. They don’t have much depth so they could get tripped up by foul trouble or a bad shooting night, but they play the game the right way.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I followed it on the computer, as the house we are in doesn’t have normal TV or even good internet, as it is very, very rural. I won’t comment on the Coogs, because they have to play tomorrow and I don’t want to slobber on them, just yet.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Three days ago Kevin Goldstein, who was in the Astros front office, left Fangraphs to become the special assistant for player personnel of the Twins. That move coincided with another move by the Twins.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I am glad that Correa the Eagle has landed. I know there is posturing on both sides. But it strikes me as humorous that a 5 year $160 Million deal is “an insult” but a 3 year $105 Million deal is “great.” And apparently no one in baseball would go over 5 years for him. (Yeah he can opt out but what happens if Mr. Glass gets hurt again? The Twins get to pay him a ton of money for 3 years. )

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    • And while I am at it, I hope that Astros trade either Seth or Nick Hernandez. When I watch a game and see “Hernandez” on the back of a right handed pitcher, I want to have only one person to look up for his records. And no one knows who number 79-99 are on any team for ST. Too confusing for an old person.

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  13. Watched a lot of the game last night between bouncing back and forth between the Coogs and Duke games. Congrats to the Coogs and hope they make it to the final four. Gurriel is one fire…hope he can keep it up. Tucker looks good also. Some of the younger players are coming around but it’s early. How about that guy Goodrum, 0 for 5 with 5 K’s.

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  14. What he [Click] said: “We were engaged throughout the process.”
    What he meant: “How were we supposed to know he was already married to someone else?”

    Liked by 2 people

  15. For all you fans of DC comics out there: you probably know of Kryptonians Kal-El [Superman], Jor-EL [Superman’s daddy], and Kara Zor-EL [Superman’s sister, Supergirl]. Now it it time to meet the last and greatest member of the all-powerful, eternally-youthful House of EL. It is Kal-El and Kara Zor-EL’s brother – Yuliguri-EL. This one does not wear blue tights or a red cape – but he does wear an ‘S’ on his chest [right after ‘A’, and right before ‘TROS’.

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  16. Old Pro –
    I did see your answer to my question – where are all the pitchers? Thanks
    I missed the discussion in Astro.com because I didn’t open the article titled something like “No more sodas and candies for Gurriel – only HRs”. Went back and found it and it made me feel a bit better. I would complain about them working against minor leaguers rather than major leaguers, but I understand they were avoiding a possible rainout and also a lot of the time the guys they are facing in the major league games aren’t all major leaguers.
    My one concern about Javier possibly working as a starter in Sugar Land is – who will take his role on the big club. I sure hope its not Brandon “swing at the first pitch because he’s going to groove it” Bielak. I think we will need some good long relief as the pitchers stretch out.

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    • If he could channel that 2019 season with (of all places) Minnesota – 15-7, 3.51 ERA, 159 innings and All Star – that is not that long ago – that would be awesome.

      Liked by 1 person

    • He wasn’t bad last year. He wasn’t an All Star and not likely someone I’d want starting a playoff game, but it’s a long season. The only gripe I have is that they had to pay him enough money it probably hampered what Click could do at the trade deadline.

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  17. My early spring impressions:
    * The 15 lbs. Yuli lost was in his gut. He looks terrific.
    * The 28 player roster gives Jeremy Pena a better chance to open the season as the starting SS. The Astros can carry an extra infielder on the bench in case Pena struggles. I think he wins the job outright. He doesn’t have to produce Correa’s 2021 numbers. But if he plays 140 games at SS he will put up good numbers.
    * Joe Perez has been sent to minor league camp, but his spring has shown the Astros that their faith in him by protecting him last fall has been rewarded.
    * Won’t be surprised at all if Bryan Abreu makes the team.
    * Jose Altuve becomes “The Captain”.
    * Astros prospects will prove to be better than the experts say.
    * I still wish the Astros had one really good LH reliever. So far, I haven’t seen one.

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  18. I find these Minor league ratings almost a “dart board” selection process. I realize that minor league stats are not all that predictable for MLB success. But as an example only, I watched many games of Adley Rutchman (Ranked # 1 catcher) and several games of Korey Lee once he got to Corpus Christi. Last year, Lee threw out 43% of his runners. Rutchman – 28%. Rutchman is a switch hitter with more power. And his numbers like OPS are some better than Lee. But to place Lee somewhere below #10 catcher, is silly. Also to say that at no positions, there is not a single Astro prospect about #11 is equally silly.

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  19. Well my Coogs are heading home – They we’re the gang that couldn’t shoot straight today.
    They made a run from 11 pt deficit to 2 pts by going to the basket but went back to the 3 pointers and it killed them

    Liked by 1 person

  20. You know 1OP, with the Astros breaking camp in 9 days, Abreu might not get another shot at the opening day roster after todays outing. I sure hope he does not turn into a ML pitcher too late for the Astros.

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  21. I see on a couple blogs for other teams that they say their management expects the starters to go less than 5 innings for the first few starts this year. If so, get ready for a bunch of bullpen pitchers to work over half the game.

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  22. Well considering the season starts on April 7th – which is 10 days away and no Astro starter has gone more than 2 innings yet, it is hard to picture any of them going 5 innings right away. So, I presume the extra roster spots may well include a couple more pitchers and there could be some up and down from the minors with pitchers on the 40 man if we start overworking the bullpen. The big question here to me is where will young Cristian Javier be at this time.

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  23. The six main starters last year started 150 games. They pitched 834 innings. That averages out to about 5.5 innings each start. So apparently they will leave about 1 inning early. The relievers last year averaged a little less than 1 inning per game. So if a reliever on average pitches every 3 games, we need all of the extra spots for relievers, I guess.

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  24. The first four games of the preseason the Astros played no regulars and were 0-4.
    The next five games of the preseason the Astros played their regulars for half a game and are 5-0.

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    • That’s a good sign for the “good guys”. On a downer note Niko Goodrum is now 0/9 with 9 K’s. Chas McCormick hadn’t done squat so far. For a guy coming into camp really wanting that CF job he sure hasn’t performed like it. Hurry back Jake Myers. Yes it’s early but then again I don’t want an empty suit in the # 7-9 positions in the batting order.

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