The Pallilog

Billy Bluster is back and trying to defend the Hopkins trade

Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

Texans Head Coach and General Manager Bill O'Brien finally deigned to speak with the media Thursday for the first time since the DeAndre Hopkins trade. Emperor O elaborated in defending the virtually universally criticized (evaluating the Texans' side of things) deal. He didn't come across as insane or even unreasonable, but he just isn't going to win an argument on this.

O'Brien framed moving Hopkins as pretty much a financial call given Hopkins's raise request. No one asked O'Brien a question that obviously should have been addressed. Why didn't the Texans simply tell Hopkins that they love him (unless O'Brien was in Billy Bluster mode in saying all flowery things about how great Hopkins is), but he wasn't getting a reworked contract two years into a five year deal? Did they think Hopkins would have retired? Or staged a one man mutiny? I mean, come on. The Texans would have been on solid ground in telling D-Hop that his five year 81 million dollar deal is not some woeful underpay and that the team should not/will not re-do a deal simply because the market goes up elsewhere. Hopkins cashed about 41 million dollars in checks the last two seasons. Using similar logic to claiming he's now underpaid, one could argue that as great as he was Hopkins was overpaid the last two years. Plenty of guys topped 11.2 yards per reception and seven touchdown catches last season.

O'Brien explained that he thought it untenable to pay elite level money for Hopkins in addition to elite money for a left tackle, quarterback, and defensive end. Flawed logic. Deshaun Watson is dirt cheap in 2020 and under his fifth year contract option for 2021 will still be a tremendous bargain. That covers two of the three seasons left on Hopkins's contract. Watson and Hopkins combined carry a 2020 cap hit roughly five million lower than Ryan Tannehill's on his new deal with the Titans, about eight million lower than Phillip Rivers's with the Colts.

The Texans are on the hook for David Johnson in 2020 at a higher cap hit (over 11 million) than a running back playing on the franchise tag. Reminder: Johnson's last good NFL season was 2016. Wide receiver Will Fuller makes more than 10 mil in 2020. Hopkins makes 12.5. Fuller has missed 20 games to injury over the last three seasons. Hopkins has missed two games in his seven season career: the last game of the 4-12 disaster that was 2017, and the meaningless regular season finale in 2019. Among Johnson, Fuller, and Hopkins who is the best player/economic value? J.J. Watt has played more than half the regular season once in the last four years. Watt makes 15.5 mil for 2020. Better value: Watt at 15.5 or Hopkins at 12.5?

A week from when I type this the first round of the NFL Draft will be in the books. Barring a stunning trade the Texans will have been bystanders. They of course can't throw a draft party this year. Next year's will be a drag with the Texans having neither a first nor second round pick.

ESPN isn't teeming with great options as it desperately fills programming hours with video game competitions, spelling bee marathons, years old WNBA games, HORSE games, and other. Other than maybe some fans of the winning team, is anybody sitting through a replay of an entire Super Bowl? Finally, something worth watching start to finish! We all should check out The Last Dance which starts airing Sunday night with the first two episodes of the ten part series that goes deep into the end of the Michael Jordan-led Bulls dynasty.

Dennis Rodman turns 59 next month. 20 years ago if asked, I think I'd have bet the under on whether Rodman makes it to 59. Heck, Rodman probably would have bet the under.

What might have been item one. Catch the doozy of a claim that in 2011 the Warriors offered BOTH Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson to the New Orleans Hornets for Chris Paul?

What might have been item two. The Astros' should have been series this weekend would have had the Angels at Minute Maid Park. Again. The Angels were to have opened the season here with the Astros in Anaheim the following weekend. 10 of their 19 regular season meetings would have occurred before April 20. Weird. Weirder, the Astros and Athletics might have had a fantastic season long race in the American League West but all 19 Astros-Athletics matchups would have been completed before the end of July.

Buzzer Beaters

1. Caesar's opened the Texans over/under win total at 7 ½. Which way do you go? 2. Would you prefer the Texans again go 10-6 and again lose in the Divisional Round of the playoffs, or free fall to 5-11? 3. Best non-meat pizza toppings: Bronze-Ricotta cheese Silver-Spinach Gold-Mushrooms

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Houston looked much more like themselves

Astros return to form in win over Angels at home

Cristian Javier was impressive Thursday night. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

Hoping to avoid spiraling further out of control, the Astros turned the page from their disappointing road trip and the recent stretch of games. They hoped to start this new homestand on a good note, welcoming in the Angels for four games of this eight-game stint at Minute Maid Park.

Houston would get the much-needed win, with their offense coming alive early in the game to put up big innings, which they rode to the victory thanks in part to a great start by Cristian Javier.

Final Score: Astros 8, Angels 2

Astros' Record: 8-10, fifth in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Cristian Javier (2-0)

Losing Pitcher: Alex Cobb (1-1)

Astros' offense starts clicking early

Houston would grab the early momentum, despite leaving the bases loaded in the first inning. They would get a leadoff double by Aledmys Diaz in the bottom of the second, followed by an RBI triple by Myles Straw to jump in front 1-0. They made it a three-run inning, with an RBI by Carlos Correa then a bases-loaded RBI-walk by Yuli Gurriel, though for consecutive innings would leave three runners stranded on base.

Correa drove in another in the bottom of the next inning, getting an RBI single to push the lead to four runs, then would come in on a two-run single by Alex Bregman, who made it 6-0. That set things up nicely for Cristian Javier, who was on the mound trying to take advantage of the opportunity for another start.

Javier has an electric start

Javier was electric over the first three innings, including getting eight of the first nine outs by strikeout while allowing only a walk and double during that span. He would have longer innings in the next two, but in both cases would keep the Angels off the board, finishing in line for the win. His final line: 5.0 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 9 K, 98 P.

Houston gets the much-needed win

Meanwhile, Houston's offense kept scoring. They pushed the lead two runs further over the fourth and fifth, getting a run in each with another RBI each for Straw and Bregman. With Javier's night done, Bryan Abreu was first out of the Astros bullpen, and despite allowing a controversial two-run home run to Albert Pujols, of all people, that looked to be a foul ball, got through the inning.

Abreu remained in the game in the top of the seventh but would get just one out while hitting a batter and allowing a single before Dusty Baker brought in Brooks Raley to face the heavy left-handed part of the Angels lineup. Raley would get through it, sending things to the seventh-inning stretch with the six-run lead intact.

Raley would get another out before Joe Smith would finish that inning in the top of the eighth. Ryan Pressly, who has been starved for work lately with no save opportunities, would close things out in the ninth as Houston would start this series off with a win.

Up Next: Game two of this four-game set will be another 7:10 PM start on Friday night. Andrew Heaney (1-1, 5.65 ERA) will be on the mound for the Angels, while Zack Greinke (2-1, 2.81 ERA) will look to repeat the success of his last start; an eight-inning shutout performance for the Astros.

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