What’s Riding on the Next Big Astro Signing?

Jose Altuve
The Key to the Astros’ Long-Term Credibility

 

What will be the next big Astro signing? On the one hand, it’s as simple as this well-known acknowledgement:

It’s a lot easier for us fans to spend the ball club owner’s money and line of credit than it is for the owner to cover any major deal that doesn’t work out as hoped. Often times, as in situations like these armor-up for the playoff deals, we really mean these “desperate” major “baseball stud” acquisition deals when a club floats out the spending dough and risks the loss of a future Hall of Famer from their farm system of tomorrow’s box of roster assets.

Right, Boston Red Sox?

The fans can walk away from a fall off the sheer cliff of baseball disappointments and get their kicks anew from complaining about why the prices of everything keep going up at the ballpark, even though the team blew their big opportunity to reach or win the World Series last season in spite of all that super-star talent they acquired. Ownership, on the other hand, now has to scramble to live with the dents they’ve put on their normal cash flow by all the money they spent upon a failed effort to win it all.

So, why do clubs put themselves in that spot in the first place? Why would a club like the Astros go out now – a half month after the trade deadline passed – and make a deal for an aging Justin Verlander that on surface first appears to be only guaranteed to help the Detroit Tigers, as in – an incredibly large salary dump and young talent acquisition?

Why do it? The answer is just out there to either embrace or kick to the curb.

Right now, in 2017, the Houston Astros are having the kind of season that could change the face of the franchise forever from – one of the competitive horses in the annual race that allows the big winning and free spending clubs like the Yankees, Dodgers, or Red Sox to thrive as the only serious potential champions each year – at least – to a humble acceptance of  the Astros as new kids on the block of baseball’s River Oaks neighborhood.

The value of the franchise, if it so ascended, could make principal owner Jim Crane look like a genius for buying into MLB – and also boost him up a few spots on the billionaire tree, should he decide to then turn around and immediately sell the club.

Would winning a single World Series be enough reward in itself?

It wouldn’t be enough for the fans to “simply” win the 2017 World Series and never return. Crane will be under the gun, immediately, if the Astros do win, to show that this was not merely another of those “one and done” championship clubs (aka the old Florida Marlins) that followed “veni, vidi, vici” with a back up the truck garage sale of the talent they bought to get there – ever so briefly.

Astros fans would not want to fall back right away into the same re-building pattern that got them here this time. They will be looking for signs that the club plans to stabilize and continue to improve from their current levels of skill and ability.

And how will the fans know pretty quickly if this “hold-our-ground-and-continue-to-build” pattern is in place?

Easy.

The litmus test will be obvious. In fact, it’s there now, even if the Astros do not win the World Series this year. The Astros still have to go through agent Scott Boros and lock Jose Altuve into what could turn out to be the largest long-term contract ever signed by a future Hall of Famer in his early prime. And maybe they will not be able to re-sign Jose Altuve because they simply are not the Yankees, Dodgers, or Red Sox.

If the Astros do not re-sign Altuve, the fans will walk away disbelieving anything else the Astros say thereafter about commitment to winning – even if they first seem to understand the club’s explanations that “baseball is a business – and we just couldn’t afford to keep Jose Altuve.”

The heart will overrule the head in this matter, even if the “business” explanation for such a loss is based on solid facts.

Lots of luck with whatever marketing plan the Astros deploy on the heels of unthinkably losing Altuve to another club.

So, how does all of this stuff tie back into a late and expensive Astros acquisition of veteran star pitcher Justin Verlander?

  1. Signing Verlander could be the difference between winning the World Series this year. Win or lose their first World Series championship, the inflation that such a result brings to the club’s value should more than cover the cost of his salary pay-out. It will ascend anyway for simply getting there.
  2. If the goal is to build hope among Houston fans for the future of the Astros as a repetitive contender, however, the man who must be signed is not Verlander, but Jose Altuve. Houston fans are tired of slogans and allusions to future greatness. They now expect delivery.
  3. Sign Verlander for the delivery help he may bring to 2017. Sign Altuve because he is our franchise hinge pin on the Astros’ credibility in their plans for long-term greatness – and beating out the Yankees, Dodgers, Red Sox, and all others for the little Venezuelan’s future services at a signing is part and parcel of the goods the club stands to receive in return for so doing.

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AMERICAN LEAGUE WEST STANDINGS

THRU GAMES OF TUESDAY, AUGUST 15, 2017

RANK AL WEST W L PCT. GB
1 ASTROS 73 46 .613  
2 ANGELS 61 59 .508 12.5
3 MARINERS 60 61 .496 14.0
4 RANGERS 58 60 .492 14.5
5 ATHLETICS 53 67 .442 20.5

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AMERICAN LEAGUE WEST GAME SCORES

THRU GAMES OF TUESDAY, AUGUST 15, 2017

ASTROS 9 – DIAMONDBACKS 4

MARINERS 3 – ORIOLES 1.

RANGERS 10 – TIGERS 4.

NATIONALS 3 – ANGELS 1.

ATHLETICS 10 – ROYALS 8.

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AMERICAN LEAGUE BATTING AVERAGE LEADERS

THRU GAMES OF TUESDAY, AUGUST 15, 2017

RANK PLAYER TEAM AB H 2B 3B HR BA
1 JOSE ALTUVE HOU 455 165 35 3 18 .363
2 CARLOS CORREA HOU 325 104 18 1 20 .320
3 JEAN SEGURA SEA 376 119 22 1 7 .316
4 MARWIN GONZALEZ HOU 326 103 22 0 20 .316
5 ERIC HOSMER KC 456 143 23 1 20 .314
6 DIDI GREGORIUS NYY 373 115 18 0 18 .308
7 JOSE RAMIREZ CLE 451 139 38 5 18 .308
8 AVISAIL GARCIA CWS 364 112 21 3 13 .308
9 DUSTIN PEDROIA BOS 340 103 17 0 6 .303
10 JONATHAN SCHOOP BAL 449 136 30 0 26 .303
11 GEORGE SPRINGER HOU 393 119 23 0 28 .303
20 JOSH REDDICK HOU 368 108 25 3 11 .293
21 YULI GURRIEL HOU 409 120 31 1 15 .293
39 ALEX BREGMAN HOU 393 107 29 5 13 .272

 

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Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

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One Response to “What’s Riding on the Next Big Astro Signing?”

  1. gregclucas Says:

    Astros haven’t lost many of their own players to free agency. Neither Johnson in ’98 or Beltran in ’04 count since they were not long term Astros. Darryl Kile and Mike Hampton are the most noted defectors and even Kile was the only one who had come up through the system. I think retaining Altuve is crucial and eventually likely so will Correa and maybe Springer. After them timing of decline will have a lot to do with new long term contracts and/or trading options. The latter is also often determined by whether someone in the farm system is ready for a major league job.

    The future is bright for this team. Even that does not guarantee the ultimate success. The chances of reaching it are just so much better.

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