Thursday night we learned that the Houston Astros have signed Outfielder Josh Reddick to a 4 year, $52 million dollar deal. The Astros also made a bold move and got Catcher/DH Brian McCann from the New York Yankees in exchange for two pitching prospects.
Houston, We (almost) have a baseball team. Houston has been making some strong moves in these past few days. They’ve been linked to just about everyone, from Carlos Beltran to Chris Sale to Yoenis Cespedes. Houston is in the market for some baseball players and they got two big pieces last night, and now the word on the street is that they are heavy into Edwin Encarnacion or Beltran. If they were to grab wither one the Astros lineup would look something like this:
THAT’S A GODDAMN BASEBALL TEAM. That’s a baseball team that will compete in 2017. I mean there’s some shuffling around to be done, but that’s a strong offensive team on paper. Where the Astros need to be strong is on the field, something they weren’t in 2016.
You know how people use the phrase “chip on their shoulder?” Well, the Houston Astros were playing with a boulder on their shoulder, except that boulder was so big they were unable to play baseball. After ALMOST knocking the Kansas City Royals out of the playoffs last year, the Houston Astros stumbled there way to 3rd in the AL West. Having made it to the playoffs via the Wild Card in 2015, despite being only 2 games behind Texas in the AL West, the Astros struggled to finish the 2016 at 84-78. The basement dwelling Astros spent 2 days in first place, the first two days of the season, from there it was a downward spiral into 3rd place and an earlier offseason. What happened? Well, guys didn’t show up.
Colby Rasmus took the Qualifying Offer the Astros gave him after the 2015 season, becoming the first player to ever accept a Qualifying Offer. At the time a lot of writers called the move a smart one, thinking that Rasmus could get a lot more on the Free Agent market. Rasmus was a hot topic of discussion considering the Guy was coming off a season where he hit .238, racked up 23 doubles, 25 homers, and 61 RBIs in 137 games. AND THEN THERE WAS HIS POSTSEASON. In 6 games Rasmus hit .423 with 4 Home Runs, giving him an OPS of 1.610. It seemed as though Rasmus had given us a glimpse of his potential and the Astros rewarded him with $15.8 Million Dollars in 2016.
In 2016, $15.8 Million Dollars could get you a lot of things. That money could have bought you the services of Nelson Cruz, Andrew McCutchen, Giancarlo Stanton, Evan Longoria or Daniel Murphy. INSTEAD, it bought the Houston Astros a terrible Colby Rasmus. Hitting .206, with 15 home runs, 54 RBIs, 10 doubles in 107 games as Rasmus spent most of the season on the bench or injured. A few weeks ago, Rasmus went under the knife to remove a bone spur, repair a core muscle and repair a torn labrum on his hip. I hope Rasmus gets healthy and can return to his previous, but it’s highly doubtful the Astros will have him back.
The other big disaster this season in Houston was Dallas Keuchel. The Reigning Cy Young Winner was poised to repeat his incredible 20 win 2015. It seemed like all Dallas needed was some run support going 2-1 in his first three starts, holding down a 2.18 ERA in those three starts. From this point on Dallas Keuchel’s ERA would never dip below 4.50. Dallas had a lot of control issues this year, walking the 3 fewer batters than he did in 2015, but pitching 35% less innings. Finally in September, the Astros made the call to shutdown Keuchel after seeing some inflammation in his shoulder. This ended Keuchel’s 9-12, 4.55 ERA 2016, which ranks as the 8th Worst Post Cy Young Season since the award’s inception. In the end, this was the right call for everyone. Wipe the slate clean, get your head and body right and start over in 2017. Keuchel and Rasmus are going to try and forget 2016 as soon as possible.
Which brings us to today, as the Astros payroll increases and they make more bold moves going into the 2017 Season. So let’s look at Brian McCann. When he was the main backstop in Atlanta McCann enjoyed six straight All Star seasons, he never saw his average dip below .230 in a season and in his firs full season he hit .333, belting 24 Dingers and 34 doubles. McCann is sneaky good at the plate, drawing on average 50+ walks a season.
McCann is a great pick up for Houston for a multitude of reasons, but let’s look at two big ones. First off, the Yankees are picking up $11 Million of his remaining $35 Million owed to him until 2019. That’s a great trade, you not only get a solid hitter and clubhouse guy, you get him at a discounted rate. Secondly, He’s a veteran catcher who is hard nosed, has respect for the game and doesn’t like losing. In order to get McCann the Astros had to part with two pitching prospects, Albert Abreu and Jorge Guzman. Before you google them, let me tell you what I found: basically nothing. There’s not a ton to write home about with these two guys, but what’s important is to realize is that Houston has a young team already, so this may be offloading before a log jam begins. This Houston team needs a veteran presence. Who did they have this year? Carlos Gomez? OH YEAH. WHAT A VETERAN ROLE MODEL. If you have Carlos Correa, Alex Bregman, Yulieski Gurriel, even Altuve and Springer on your squad, having some veteran leadership will not only shape your team in the present, but it will set you up for success in the future. Brian McCann is a great addition.
Josh Reddick on the other hand is an interesting pick up. The Astros signed the former Boston Red Sox/Oakland A’s/Los Angeles Dodgers Outfielder to a 4 year/$52 Million dollar deal on Thursday. That’s a lot of money for a guy like Reddick, a .255 career hitter, who has spent the majority of his career in Oakland.
I’m gonna say something that’s not very nice, so bear with me, but the Oakland A’s are a terrible franchise. Playing for Oakland is like sitting in an airport waiting for a connecting flight. You technically are in Omaha, Nebraska, but you’re also on your way to some place better. Ben Zobrist was traded to Oakland and it was the best thing that could have ever happened to his career. Half a year in Oakland got him 2 World Series rings. Trading for a player on the A’s is like finding a pair of perfect Yeezy’s at Burlington Coat Factory for $15.00. It’s a no brainer. They love trading prospects for a guy who blows up. It’s their favorite thing.
So why do I question Josh Reddick? The Dodgers traded for Reddick and Rich Hill going into the playoffs. The idea was that Reddick could bring some stability to the lineup and the carousel of outfielders the Dodgers had been going with. That never really happened. Reddick hit .258 in his 47 games with LA, driving in 9 RBIs and knocking 8 extra base hits. If anything Reddick added gas to the issues with the Dodgers Outfield. A guy who hit 3rd for Oakland, going .298 in that span, should be able to hold down a 6th spot for Los Angeles. That’s not statistics, that’s common sense.
So the jury’s out on Reddick, but it’s not like this move is a bad thing. If anything it’s proof that the Houston Front office isn’t complacent. They had a taste of October Baseball and they want it in Houston again. Will they make another move for Beltran or Encarnacion? I think it’s too early to tell, but it’s not too early to say that Houston came to play this offseason and they brought the checkbook.