NO DEAL!

Analyzing all the reasons the Astros were silent at the deadline

Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images.

James Click didn't pull the trigger on any moves prior to Monday's deadline, choosing to roll forward with the team as is for the rest of the year. Extenuating circumstances related to the virus aside, it's a departure from the status quo for the Astros. The Astros were loud at the deadline last year, getting Zack Greinke. They were loud (and controversial) in 2018 when they got Roberto Osuna. They were quiet at the deadline in 2017, but famously followed it up by getting Justin Verlander at the buzzer in August in the last season where waiver trades were allowed. The team was similarly buzzy in 2015, getting Carlos Gomez and Scott Kazmir leading up to the deadline.

It's been half a decade of being massive trade deadline players for Astros fans. Yes, the pandemic certainly had a lot to do with the lack of activity. However, it's also a new regime in charge. Jeff Luhnow no longer runs the ship.

The Astros were linked to some arms, specifically relievers. Trevor Rosenthal, who eventually went to San Diego, and Archie Bradley, who went to Cincinnati, were two arms linked to the Astros that seemed plausible. While bullpen help and pitching depth is always nice, there really isn't a clear need there for the Astros.

Yes, the bullpen isn't in great shape at the moment, as they were responsible for the loss last night, but it should improve naturally by the end of the season. Roberto Osuna is working hard to get back before the end of the year. Chris Devenski and Brad Peacock are nearing a return. Josh James should be back eventually. Two pitchers currently in the rotation will slide to the bullpen when Jose Urquidy and Justin Verlander return, and a third will slide to the bullpen when rotations shorten to four arms in the postseason. Lastly, two of the young arms in Enoli Paredes and Blake Taylor have proven themselves as reliable bullpen options.

Take a look at this:

Justin Verlander

Zack Greinke

Lance McCullers

Jose Urquidy

Roberto Osuna, Ryan Pressly, Brad Peacock, Josh James, Enoli Paredes, Blake Taylor, Chris Devenski, Cristian Javier

That staff and bullpen is plenty good enough to win a World Series, especially with an offense as potent as Houston's. The Astros' biggest deadline acquisitions are coming from the Alternate Training Site in Corpus Christi.

Trading for an outfield bat also seemed like a legitimate option. With Yordan Alvarez on the shelf for the season, there's not a set-in-stone everyday DH, meaning a trade acquisition could play there. The acquisition, if it were an outfielder or DH, would serve as insurance for losing one or more of Michael Brantley, George Springer, Josh Reddick, and Yuli Gurriel in free agency. Brantley, Reddick, and Gurriel have all played well this year, and Springer is playing better of late. Yes, those guys could very well be gone in the offseason, but those voids can also be addressed in the offseason. They can also be addressed more easily, since teams won't be limited to only the players in the 60-man player pool for each franchise. But, since the Astros don't need a bat to win RIGHT NOW, and the openings can be addressed in the offseason, there's not a need to make a deal right now.

Lastly, the farm system has been decimated through the graduation of prospects, the underperformance of prospects, and trades for big leaguers. Combine the already thin farm system with the fact that the Astros didn't have a 1st or 2nd round pick in 2020 and won't have a 1st or 2nd round pick in 2021 means it won't be getting less thin anytime soon. The few prospects the Astros do have are more valuable to the Astros than other teams, because they really do need the depth.

Fangraphs put the Astros odds at winning a World Series as the third best in baseball. This is a really good team, and there really weren't any clear upgrades available. If there were a deal that made sense for Houston, James Click would've done it. In this case, the deals he didn't make made the most sense.

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Should Watson be in the MVP conversation? Composite image by Jack Brame.

The 2020 NFL season has a lot going on. Even if we take the coronavirus out of it, there's still a lot to digest. There are so many great performances being put up, one can make an argument for several players to win league MVP. The quarterback position typically gets more credit than others. If I restrict the argument to quarterbacks only, we're looking at Russell Wilson, Patrick Mahomes, and Aaron Rodgers. Dalvin Cook, Alvin Kamara, and Derrick Henry are the leading contenders at running back. On defense, there really isn't a standout defender. The defense gets no love, but there are several guys in the running for NFL Defensive Player of the Year.

Deshaun Watson has been putting up numbers that have matched or rivaled some of the top MVP candidates over his last seven games. That stretch has coincided with the firing of head coach/general manager Bill O'Brien. Coincidence? I think not. Taking the reigns off a wild horse can often lead to said horse running free and flourishing! So question: Should Watson be getting league MVP considerations? I think so.

For starters, he's been one of the best players in the league over the course of the last seven games. 18 passing touchdowns and only two interceptions. The only quarterback with a better touchdown to interception ratio over that same span is Mahomes (19 and 2, as opposed to Watson's 18 & 2). Factoring in total season stats, of course Mahomes is doing much better. He's on a better team with a much better coach and general manager. The same could be said for Wilson and Rodgers. Put Watson on any of those teams and their records wouldn't be any worse than what they are now.

The Texans are 4-3 since firing O'Brien. While that isn't a great record, consider the fact they started the season 0-4 and looked like a total disaster. Watson looked like he was caged and couldn't wait to be freed. The team's record could be even better if the defense had a pulse. The proper supporting cast has a lot to do with a player's MVP candidate's chances. Now that one of his favorite weapons, Will Fuller, and the team's best corner, Bradley Roby, are both suspended for the rest of the season by the league for violating the substance abuse/PED policy, things will get much tougher for Watson.

If he continues to put up these cartoon like numbers, I don't see why he wouldn't be in the MVP conversation. He's currently fopurth in passing yards, sixth in completion percentage, tied for fifth in passing touchdowns, eighth in QBR, and third in quarterback rating. Watson is emerging as the star he was projected to be coming into the 2017 draft. I'm not saying Watson deserves to be the league MVP, but he deserves to be in the conversation. His MVP candidacy should be treated like the family gathering hierarchy: once you reach a certain age and/or status, you're no longer resigned to the kiddie table. Now you get to sit with all the adults, engage in their conversations, and gain access to things you couldn't previously. Watson won't win the MVP award, but I strongly believe he could finish top five. Especially if he keeps making lemonade with the lemons he's been given.

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