World Series Hero

Astros lose another piece as Morton signs with Rays

Charlie Morton is gone. Houston Astros/Facebook

The Astros are losing another key piece to their 2017 World Series Championship team.

Charlie Morton, who shut down the Dodgers in Game 7 to give the Astros their first-ever title, is signing a two-year deal with the Tampa Bay Rays for $30 million.

Morton was also one of the best starters for the Astros over the 2018 season, when they lost in the ALCS to the Boston Red Sox. Morton went 15-3 with a 3.13 ERA for the season.

Morton is yet another blow to what was one of the best starting staffs in baseball last year. Fellow free agent Dallas Keuchel is not expected to return, and Lance McCullers is going to miss the season with Tommy John surgery.

As of now, the Astros will have Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole, Colin McHugh and a lot of question marks in the rotation. The team also lost veteran catcher Brian McCann and infielder Marwin Gonzalez. While they have signed Robinson Chirinos and acquired Aldemys Diaz to replace Gonzalez, the rotation remains a major question mark. Most assumed Morton would return to the team. The Astros reportedly offered a one year deal with an option; the Rays topped that with two years and an option.

While the Astros have earned the benefit of the doubt with a World Series title in their pocket, the losses from a really good team are piling up, and the Yankees and Red Sox are not going to stand still. The Astros will make some moves to get better, but they let a pretty nice sized fish get away in Morton.

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TEXANS HAVE ZERO DEPTH AT CORNER

Here's what Davante Adams' big day against the Texans really proved

Photo by Logan Riely/Getty Images

Seven weeks into the season, Bradley Roby has been the sole bright spot playing for a secondary that has been subpar at best. He entered Week 7 against the Green Bay Packers trailing only Eric Murray for the most tackles as a defensive back, while owning the Houston Texans' only interception of the season.

During his media availability on Thursday, Roby spoke about having the Texans' confidence to trust him as the primary defender shadowing the opposing team's best receiver.

And with Davante Adams coming to NRG Stadium with Aaron Rodgers on Sunday, Roby had an opportunity to illustrate why Houston's coaching staff have so much faith in him.

Three plays into the game, Roby sustained a knee injury that sidelined him the rest of the afternoon. In his absence, the Texans felt his importance competing with a depleted secondary.

Adams would go on to have a career day against the Texans. He recorded a career-best 196 receiving yards on 13-of-18 targets and two touchdowns — as the Packers handed the Texans a 35-20 loss on Sunday.

Had the Fort Worth native avoided the injury, would it have resulted in a victory for the Texans? Perhaps not. It is always hard for a team to come away victorious after going scoreless during the first half, but Roby would have limited the destruction caused by Adams. Rogers completed four deep passes where he recorded 28 or more yards, with Adams being the recipient of three.

Not only did Houston have to deal with the effects of not having their best corner shadow one of the league's premier receivers, but the team was not prepared to battle without Roby, according to Michael Thomas following the loss.

"When you lose your starting corner like that, it's going to affect [the team]," Thomas said. "Anytime you have to make adjustments. If you're not prepared, and you don't have the right mindset, then you're probably not going to get the right results you want. Maybe we could have done it a little sooner, but you definitely miss a guy like Roby. You plan on having your number one guy go against their number one guy all the time."

Roby's premature exit left the Texans with a gaping void to slowdown Rodgers and the Packers without two of their projected starting corners. Gareon Conley — who revived his career during the second half of last season — has yet to play a single snap for Houston in 2020 as he continues to recover from offseason ankle surgery.

Their lackluster performance on Sunday showcased the lack of depth and talent the Texans have in the secondary. And with the trade deadline a week away, it may be in the Texans' best interest to invest in a young defensive back they can build around in the future — especially considering the timetable on Conley's return remains unknown.

Interim head coach Romeo Crennel said on Monday that the team is hoping Roby's injury is short-term and hopes to have their top corner make his return following the bye.

At 1-6 on the year, all the Texans have left to play for is pride as they close out the remaining nine games of the season, and the best way is to prevent another receiver from recording nearly 200 yards in a single game.

For this vulnerable secondary, it is a feat easier said than done. And with the talents of Jarvis Landry, T.Y. Hilton, and A.J. Brown remaining on the schedule, it is only best for Roby to make his return to the field sooner rather than later.

"I take pride in it. It's an opportunity that not a lot of guys get throughout the league, and I'm thankful for that. Just to be able to go against the best and try my best for the team and see how I match up. I'm very thankful for that." — Roby.

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