Dollar Signs

Bregman deal could easily pay off for Astros as well as the player

Alex Bregman, um, hit it big with his contract. Getty Images

Alex Bregman proved this week that the squeaky wheel gets the grease. He alerted the media that he was displeased with his $41,000 raise after carrying the team last year and boy did it pay off to the tune of a $100,000,000 extension through 2024.

Is it a good deal? We shall see. It's an awfully big risk for a team that didn't have to take it. Suppose he gets hurt? Suppose his numbers fall off badly?

Remember this is the same organization that kept first round draft pick George Springer in the minors until he was 24 years old even though he had played college ball and was hitting 37 home runs and stealing 45 bases in the minors. He was none too pleased that he won't hit free agency until he's 31. Hopefully his time spent here has softened him some on the subject.

This is also the same organization that just went to arbitration with former No. 1 overall pick Carlos Correa over $750,000. That's a pittance in the baseball world. He was asking for $5,000,000. They offered $4,250,000. The arbitrator sided with Correa. I would imagine the Astros weren't all that critical of Correa although they could have been. He just wasn't the same guy that many of us thought he would be after he got back from his back injury.

Think about where we were a year ago today. Correa was coming off a year in which he was a cog in a World Series winner, an all-star who hit .315 with 24 HR and 84 RBI and .941 OPS. He was thought to be one of the top five young players in the game, a guy you built your team around. A season later he's fighting for $750,000 while his less experienced teammate is raking in a $100,000,000 raise.

That $100M will be money well spent if Bregman continues on the path he is on. It will actually be a bargain. A couple of other third basemen who have been going through the process are the Cubs Kris Bryant and the Rockies Nolan Arenado. Bryant got a record 10.85M deal a year ago and came to terms on a $12.9M deal this offseason. Arenado just got a new 8 year, $260M contract. Bryant will be coming to terms on that kind of long term deal soon.

The Astros didn't want to haggle with the boisterous Bregman every year. He's not afraid to speak his mind. We know that. He's not complaining now but we'll see how he feels about this deal in 2024. Right now $20M through these arbitration years is made for TV, feel good kinda stuff. When he's still making that two years into what his free agency would have been he might not have that special feeling anymore, especially when the Mike Trout's $430M deal is halfway home.

Bregman's deal seems like a lot now but in the long run, if he continues to play at the level he established last year, this could be a very team friendly contract by the end.

On the flip side, if he falls off this could be a devastating move. In reality Bregman has only been at this level for a year and a half. He wasn't very good midway through the '17 season, hitting at the bottom of the order. On July 2 his average was down to .244 for the season but then something clicked. In July he hit .329. In August he hit .345 and the legend was born.

Quick, what's Bregman's post season average?

I was shocked to see it's just .229 but that's deceiving. His playoff on-base percentage is .353. Boston walked or hit him nine times in last year's ALCS. That's some healthy respect and for good reason. They saw his clutch gene up close. His homer off Chris Sale in game 4 of the '17 ALDS was a back breaker. Add to it his World Series Game 5 heroics and his monster series against the Indians last year and you've got a guy who's not only really good, he's not afraid to be great.

He's become one of baseball's best. There is always the fear that he could fall off and that contract could become an albatross but I think the Astros probably see his work ethic and that giant chip he carries on his shoulder all the time and they have the utmost confidence that he'll live up to every penny and then some.

Here's to hoping that he's pissed off again about how much he's getting paid six years from now.

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A WEEKLY REVIEW OF CRENNEL'S COACHING

Now my job: Texans feast on Lions

Photo by Getty Images.

Thanksgiving is full of tradition. There's the typical family gathering, large meal, and of course, football. Sometimes, new traditions are added and old ones are retired. I think the Texans did both in their impressive 41-25 win over the Lions in Detroit. Old traditions were carried on (Lions losing on Thanksgiving), some were put to rest (Texans not being able to get turnovers), and new ones were started (multiple passing touchdowns by Deshaun Watson in six straight games).

The fact that this defense got three turnovers in the game was unbelievable! They got all three in the first quarter within the span of eight plays. JJ Watt's pick-six was insane. He went for a batted ball, ended up catching it, and ran it in. They forced Jonathan Williams to fumble on the Lions' very next play from scrimmage and recovered it. On the Lions' next possession, the Texans recovered yet another fumble after the challenge was reversed. Great call by the coaching staff to challenge and win. The defense looked good. Tyrell Adams stood out because he was in on those two fumbles, made 17 total tackles with 14 of them being solo tackles. They also brought pressure that seemed to make Matthew Stafford very inaccurate and resulted in four sacks. I give defensive coordinator Anthony Weaver credit for knowing he needs to blitz to get pressure, but the run defense has to improve.

The offense kept the tempo up in this game as well. The spread and hurry-up were used to keep the Lions already staggered defense off balance. Knowing the Lions were without a couple defensive backs, I thought it would be the perfect marriage of their defense and the Texans' offense. A buddy asked before the game about the line (Texans -3.5) and the over/under (52.5). I told him bet the Texans and the over because neither team can play defense and both have good quarterbacks. Offensive coordinator Tim Kelly put together another good game plan and Watson executed it flawlessly. One route combo I saw later on in the game I particularly enjoyed. Two receivers were tight to the left side. Cooks ran a hook/curl and settled in the middle of the zone while Fuller ran a vertical route. Duke Johnson ran a swing route to that same side. It left Cooks wide open as the attention went to Johnson in the flat, Fuller deep, and the action to the other play side. Route combos are important because it gives the quarterback different reads as he goes through his progressions and lets him pick apart the defense based on what he sees. Combine that with Watson's play and the way Kelly has changed his play calling now that he's liberated from he who shall not be named, we're seeing a beautiful thing.

As good as things were, there's still room for improvement. The defense gives up way too many easy yards, both run and pass. They can't get pressure bringing only four and will often give up big plays if the blitz is picked up. Plus the run defense is still an issue as evidenced by the Lions' first possession of the second half. The Lions ran the ball 10 plays straight for a total of 58 yards on that drive. Utterly ridiculous! Watson was good (17/25 318 yards and four touchdowns), but he missed two more touchdowns with passes slightly off, and continues to hold onto the ball too long at times. The difference between these two issues I've presented here is the fact that Watson has so played well, his "issues" are minor and very correctable, while the defense is terrible and there's no easy fix in sight. But let Romeo Crennel and Anthony Weaver tell it, they're getting the most out of these guys and they're playing disciplined.

The thought that this team may actually creep into the playoff picture may take shape better after next week if they can beat the Colts. I doubt it, but it is getting interesting. Let's see what else happens around them because they need help getting there.

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