THE PALLILOG

Identifying possible reasons Astros deal with Justin Verlander remains unsigned

Justin Verlander still hasn't signed his contract. Composite image by Jack Brame.

A long, cold baseball winter is upon us with the owners imposing a lockout which seems to have zero chance of ending before February at the earliest. No more free agent signings until a deal is struck, with Carlos Correa still unemployed after not getting any 10 year 350 million dollar offers. The Correa market should still be robust enough when negotiations can resume as to make it a long shot that the Astros wind up keeping him. It would be something if he winds up a Yankee. Or a Dodger.

Curious item first noted by MLB reporter Jon Heyman: Justin Verlander has to yet to sign the agreed upon two year 50 million dollar deal. There are multiple plausible simple and harmless possible explanations for that. But what if Verlander thinks he could command even more after seeing the the Mets give Max Scherzer three years 130 million? What if Verlander’s required physical raises a question mark that gives the Astros pause? As a pure hypothetical, if Verlander’s physical shows fine but the Astros could pivot and take that money to sufficiently sweeten a Correa offer that Carlos signs for say, seven years 250 mil…who do you sign?

Speaking of physicals, interesting note from ESPN’s Buster Olney that Correa has been reluctant to show teams his medical records until they make whopping offers. If accurate that makes little sense, and raises the question what’s in those records, particularly about Correa’s back which while holding up fine the last three years, caused him to miss a chunk of time and play very pedestrian ball in 2018. A la the Mets ridiculous 10 year 341 million dollar deal with Francisco Lindor last winter, that the Rangers were desperate and financially flexible enough to give Corey Seager 10 years 325 million does not make it incumbent upon some team to match or exceed that for Correa.

College coaches on the move

What a week on the college football coaching front with Lincoln Riley bolting Oklahoma for USC hours after failing to win the Big 12 for the first time in his five seasons with the Sooners, then Brian Kelly leaving Notre Dame in the rearview mirror for the LSU job while the Fighting Irish are still alive to make the College Football Playoff. When filthy rich, living somewhere in L.A. seems a bit more desirable than Norman, especially with the Trojans in the much more easily negotiable Pac-12 as opposed to the Sooners once they move with Texas to the SEC. Riley’s denial of the SEC factor rings hollow. The Sooners very easily can become very average once in the SEC. The OU job fundamentals are not better than those at Alabama, LSU, Georgia, Florida, Texas, or Texas A&M. See Nebraska in the Big 10, though one wouldn’t think the Sooners plunge to Cornhusker depth of despair.

Can UH take down Cincinnati Saturday? Of course. Will it? Probably not. The Coogs have beaten largely nobody this season, though winning 11 straight is impressive regardless. 12-0 Cincinnati has been clearly more impressive. While UC gets to play at home, weather won’t be a factor. Temperature will be in the mid-50s at kickoff.

Rockets are going streaking!

Props to the Rockets for winning four in a row after their humiliating 1-16 start. With the injury ravaged and lousy Orlando Magic at Toyota Center Friday night and still Zion Williamson-less New Orleans next on Sunday, the Rocket roll could reach six. But to be real, it’s not like they’re turning the corner toward becoming a good team. It’s not as if they’re approaching the corner. Three of their five wins are over sorry Oklahoma City which is on the ground floor of a rebuild like the Rockets. It may seem counterintuitive but it’s not a coincidence that the Rockets winning some games coincides with the absence of the single most important player on their roster going forward. Rookie Jalen Green being out with an injured hamstring has made the Rockets better in the short term. Of course the Rockets’ short term success is largely irrelevant, so as soon as Green is healthy he should resume getting big minutes to hopefully accelerate his development.

Buzzer Beaters:

1. So if Georgia beats Alabama AND Iowa beats Michigan AND Houston takes down Cincinnati AND Baylor topples Oklahoma State, any chance the Bears could vault all the way from number nine into the top four and the playoff? Doubtful. The three teams immediately ahead of the Sic Ems are non-conference champions who don’t play this week (Notre Dame, Ohio St., Ole Miss). Here’s to that level of chaos putting the selection committee on the spot.

2. In the last decade is there a bigger jerk athlete on as many fronts as Antonio Brown?

3. Best Christmas season food or drink treats most people have never heard of: Bronze-wassail Silver-stollen Gold-pfeffernusse

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Composite image by Jack Brame

What will the Houston Texans do in the NFL Draft? What are the options for the Houston Texans with the 3rd overall pick? Sports Illustrated Texans Reporter and NFL Draft Analyst Cole Thompson joined ESPN Houston's Jake Asman, Cody Stoots, and Brad Kellner to discuss on The Wheelhouse.

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