TRADE ALERT

Astros make huge splash trading for Zack Greinke

Composite photo by Brandon Strange

The Astros have made a trade for Zack Greinke of the Arizona Diamondbacks. The Astros get Greinke while sending prospects Seth Beer, Josh Rojas, Corbin Martin, and J.B. Bukauskas to the Diamondbacks in return. The Astros get a third ace to their rotation and do so without giving up the coveted prospects of Kyle Tucker and Forrest Whitley.


Greinke is 10-4 in 2019 with a 2.87 ERA and 128 strikeouts. While his strikeout numbers don't come close to those of Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole, he is still a reliable arm that can go deep into games and get outs. He also sits second in the league in WHIP, currently at 0.94 which is second to only Houston's own Verlander.

Greinke has a great resume; he is a seven-time All-Star, five-time Gold Glove winner, and 2009 Cy Young winner in the National League. He currently sits 31st on the all-time strikeout leaderboard with 2,563 in his career. Zack also has plenty of experience in the postseason, starting in eleven games over five playoffs dating back to 2011. He has not, however, had great success in those starts, posting a 3-4 record and 4.03 ERA accumulatively.

His best start in the postseason came in 2014 with the Dodgers when he went seven shutout innings against the Cardinals in an NLDS win. This season, his best start was arguably the July 5th game at home against the Rockies where he went seven innings without allowing a run while striking out nine.

Greinke is far from a rental, he will be under team control through the end of the 2021 season, marrying him with the Astros for the same amount of time as Justin Verlander, should they keep him through his current contract.

The acquisition of Greinke is a strong move for Houston, who is vying to not only improve their chances to win in 2019 but in the coming years.

*Update:

The Astros also acquired Blue Jays pitchers Joe Biagini and Aaron Sanchez in exchange for Derek Fisher. Earlier Wednesday, Houston traded OF Tony Kemp to the Cubs for catcher Martin Maldonado.

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James Harden returned to Houston on Wednesday night. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

"James Harden will always be a Houston Rocket" – Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta, Tuesday March 2, 2021.

Really?

Then that must have been some other bearded fellow notching a triple double and leading the Brooklyn Nets to a 132-114 drubbing of the Rockets at Toyota Center, Wednesday March 3, 2021.

What a difference a day doesn't make, as the Rockets fell to their 13th consecutive defeat.

The Rockets played a tribute video for Harden, marking his first visit to Houston since the Rockets traded him, practically at gunpoint, to Brooklyn. On the same day Fertitta bizarrely fantasized that Harden will always be a Rocket, the team owner also announced that the Rockets will retire Harden's No.13.

What is wrong with you, Tilman? You sound like a jilted shnook who goes on the Jerry Springer Show to beg his runaround ex-wife to come back. Harden dumped you, remember? He wanted out of Houston so badly that he turned down your contract offer that would have made him the highest-paid athlete in American sports history.

Don't you recall his farewell comments as a Rocket? The Rockets were "just not good enough. I mean it's just crazy. It's something that I don't think can be fixed."

That's burning down the house on your way out. Not exactly Lou Gehrig's farewell speech, "Today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the Earth," and praising his Yankee manager, teammates and owners.

Sure Harden was a video game scoring machine during his eight years in Houston. But he also chased away teammates. The Rockets never won a conference title with Harden. He stunk up the joint during some playoff games and disappeared in others. Overall, Harden was a spectacular player on a consistently good but never great team. That's his legacy in Houston.

I expected a tribute video for Harden and he probably deserved it. Why not? The Rockets did similar videos for role player Trevor Ariza and Russell Westbrook, who played all of 57 games during his one pandemic-shortened season in Houston and immediately demanded a trade.

A tribute video for Westbrook? What's next, a statue of Moochie Norris outside Toyota Center? Renaming Polk Street … Vassilis Spanoulis Way?

Retiring Harden's number 13 doesn't compare to similarly honored Rockets legends who played their hearts out, brought a title home or loved this team to their last playing breath, like Hakeem Olajuwon (34), Clyde Drexler (22), Calvin Murphy (23), Rudy T (45), Moses Malone (24) and Yao Ming (11).

James Harden crapped all over the Rockets on his way out the door. He was the ultimate prima donna during his time here, moody and mopey, demanding special travel arrangements, alienating teammates and taking playoff losses so hard he almost didn't make it to the strip clubs before closing time.

You know the saying, when the going gets tough, the tough get going. In Harden's case, he got going to Brooklyn. So much for the captain going down with the ship. Wednesday night, Rockets fans greeted Harden with some cheers, but more lusty boos on his return to Houston.

"I gave him a special introduction, like a home team introduction, but there were way more boos than I expected," said Toyota Center public address announcer Matt Thomas.

Harden finished with 29 points, 10 rebounds and 14 assists, a routine triple double for him of late. He controlled the Nets offense and dominated the game.

Of course it was a regular season game. It's what he does.

For those of you scoring at home: the NBA team with the most retired numbers is the Boston Celtics, with 22 jerseys "hanging in the rafters." That's the most of any team in any U.S. pro sport. The New York Yankees are next with 21 retired numbers. The Montreal Canadiens lead the NHL with 15 retired numbers. Not coincidentally, the Celts (17 – tied with Lakers), Yanks (27) and Habs (24) all lead their leagues with the most championships.

The NFL team with the most retired numbers is a strange one. It's the Chicago Bears with 14 jerseys that will never be worn again. The Bears have won nine titles, second to the Green Bay Packers with 13 championships.

Harden's jersey will not be the first "13" hoisted over an NBA court – far from it. Three teams, Los Angeles, Philadelphia and Golden State have retired Wilt Chamberlain's No. 13. The Harlem Globetrotters also retired The Stilt's jersey, but I guess they don't count.

The Cavaliers retired Bobby Phills' No. 13 after his fatal car crash. Portland retired Dave Twardzik's jersey. Here's some synergy, the Suns retired Harden's current coach Steve Nash's No. 13. And the Spurs retired the No. 13 jersey of James Silas (no relation to Rockets coach Stephen Silas.

And as Charlie Pallilo – and only Charlie Pallilo – will tell you, the first retired number in North American pro sports history belonged to Ace Bailey of the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Leafs retired his number in 1934 after Bailey suffered a career-ending injury the year before.

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