Dying Love?

AJ Hoffman: Osuna trade makes Astros a little less lovable

The Astros appear to be willing to win at all costs. Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The Astros were the feel-good team of last season. They persevered and won a championship in a year when their home city was ravaged by Hurricane Harvey. The team had great chemistry and for the most part was an extremely likable group of players. If you are a fan of the Red Sox, Yankees or Dodgers, it makes sense that you cheered against the Astros, at least in those particular series.

For the majority of people who didn’t have a dog in the fight, however, the Astros were an easy team to cheer for. 

This year’s squad added a few pieces, but for the most part had the same feel. That all changed with the Roberto Osuna trade. I know, “we don’t know the details” behind his domestic violence accusation. We do know that police found enough to warrant arresting him. We do know that he didn’t appeal his suspension, even though it was the longest suspension handed out for domestic violence in the history of the game. We do know that Jeff Luhnow said that the team had done their due diligence and that Osuna is “remorseful” and has “willfully complied with all consequences related to his past behavior.” 

That last nugget is interesting for multiple reasons. Doesn’t Luhnow saying Osuna is remorseful mean that he is admitting to the accusation? Does anyone have remorse over something they didn’t do? Secondly, how is it possible to say that he has “willingly complied with all consequences” when he still has a court date, where he plans to plead not guilty. 

When video surfaced of Astros prospect Danry Vasquez hitting his girlfriend multiple times in a staircase, the Astros acted quickly, releasing him from the organization. 

Well respected players on the team, including Justin Verlander and Lance McCullers tweeted strong statements about the video, including Verlander saying “I hope the rest of your life without baseball is horrible. You deserve all that is coming your way.” 

Today, video of Verlander was released asking his thoughts on the signing. Of note, Verlander, arguably the most accomplished player in the organization, said that management did not discuss the move with him. Verlander said that he stands by his words, but has now been put into the obviously awkward situation of having to “wait on all the information.” It’s pretty clear that he isn’t happy about the trade, and I highly doubt that many in the notoriously light and fun-loving clubhouse are. 

This trade has turned maybe the most likable team in baseball into something that feels slimy and gross. They have put winning above all else, which in this case means above their integrity. 

It reeks of desperation, particularly because it seems like it wasn’t necessary. There were plenty of relief pitchers on the market if they absolutely had to have one, but most considered them amongst the favorites to win again even as they were constructed. 

In 2003, the Astros announced that Julio Lugo, their starting shortstop, was no longer on the team a mere 8 hours after he was accused of hitting his wife and banging her head off of his vehicle. The decision was quick, and it was the right call. It definitely hurt the team (who by the way finished 1 game out in the NL Central that year), but then GM Gerry Hunsicker decided that the organization’s integrity was more important that any one individual. 

Jeff Luhnow felt differently. He decided that the team’s “zero tolerance” policy on domestic violence, actually left room for a little bit of tolerance. 

The fact of the matter is if the Astros win another World Series this year, most fans will forget about Osuna’s past over time. But right now, it seems like the Astros are hurting their reputation and the chemistry of their team in order for them to feel a little better in the 9th inning. 

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