PAY THE MAN!

The definitive list of reasons why Correa, Astros are better together than apart

The Astros need to re-sign Carlos Correa. Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images.

Why is everybody so convinced that Carlos Correa has played his last game in an Astros uniform? Is it because he's the best of the bunch of free agent shortstops and for the past year Correa's been speaking in the pluperfect past tense about his time with the Astros? Or is it because he's priced himself out of the Astros market by insisting on a really long-term contract?

To all that … not so fast. While it looks like Correa holds all the cards, the Astros do have some leverage in keeping him. To answer the Clash, should he stay or should he go, it's in both the Astros and Correa's best interest for him to stay in Houston.

Over his seven years in the big leagues, Correa has gained a reputation as a clutch-hitting warrior with a killer baseball mentality.

Among the teams reportedly pursuing Correa: the Detroit Tigers, Texas Rangers, Baltimore Orioles and Minnesota Twins. Collectively, those teams finished 119 games out of first place this year. Three of them finished in last place. The Tigers were mathematically saved from the cellar because they play in the same division as the bottom-feeding Twins.

If Correa signs with one of those teams, he'll be perceived as a money grubber, not a good look for the image-conscious shortstop.

If Correa bristled at the jeers he received around the league this year, imagine the chorus of "cheater" and "F-Correa" he'll hear if he signs with Detroit, where he'll be reunited with A.J. Hinch, manager of the scandalous 2017 Astros. Another thing, and it's not a small thing, I lived in Detroit for a year once. I had fun there and it started a career for me. I like Detroit, but it's currently a city of big-time sports losers.

Hockey's legendary Detroit Red Wings are in last place. Football's Detroit Lions are in last place with a spotless 0-8 record. Basketball's Detroit Pistons are in last place at 1-6. The Tigers were spared last place but were in the red at 77-85 this season.

You have no idea how cold Detroit can get in April and September. Good thing Correa wouldn't have to worry about playing in October.

Here's something else Correa should consider. Great players don't win World Series. Great teams do. While Correa is a perfect fit with the Astros, it's unlikely he'd turn the Orioles or Rangers into a winner.

Mike Trout is generally regarded as the greatest player in baseball over his 11 seasons. He can do it all, a five-tool guy if there ever was one. He's won three MVP Awards and finished in the Top 4 voting nine times. He is the highest-paid player in baseball history. Trout has played in a total of one post-season series. His Angels were swept 3-0 and Trout went 1-12 at the plate. Money can't buy him love, and definitely not a World Series ring.

I keep hearing that Correa is headed for a goldmine because the Mets signed Francisco Lindor to a 10-year, $341 million contract last year, so Correa should expect a similar deal. After all, Correa and Lindor are the same age and Correa currently is a better player than Lindor.

But Lindor's contract may be the best argument against a team breaking its bank for Correa. Lindor played 125 games for the Mets this season and hit a career-low .230 with only 20 homers after bashing 33, 38 and 32 dingers his previous three full seasons in Cleveland.

If the Mets could reverse the Earth's rotation (like Superman) and go back in time, put it this way, he ain't getting $341 million over 10.

Free agents who sign big-money, multiyear contracts rarely live up to the investment. See: Albert Pujols (10 years, $240 million), Yoenis Cespedes (4 years, $110 million), Carl Crawford (7 years, $142 million), Chris Davis (7 years, $161 million), Jacoby Ellsbury (7 years, $143 million), Prince Fielder (9 years, $214 million), just to name a few. That's what is called stupid money.

Astros owner Jim Crane isn't stupid. He will make a reasonable, competitive offer to Correa. Then it's up to Correa and the advice his agent gives him.

Correa is an extraordinarily gifted athlete who hits in the clutch and has a military-grade throwing arm. He is not, at least not yet, a Hall of Fame player. He has a career batting average of .277. Over his seven years with the Astros, he's made two All-Star teams. He has never driven in more than 100 runs. He has spent significant time on the injured list in three of his seven seasons.

Bottom line, and Astros owner Jim Crane understands bottom lines, Correa means more to the Astros than plate appearances and fielding statistics. He is a direct link to the Astros amazing, consistent success over the past five years. Fans love Correa, pure and simple. Perhaps the most interesting thing about Correa, his actual full name according to Spanish naming customs is Carlos Javier Correa Oppenheimer. After his next contract, he may need to see an Oppenheimer financial advisor.

To lose Correa would be a public relations blow to the Astros. But baseball is a cut-throat business. And truth is, the Astros probably could stand to say goodbye to Correa and still say hello to the post-season in 2022.

In recent years, the Astros lost Gerrit Cole, George Springer and, for all intents and purposes, Justin Verlander … three players who made significant contributions to the Astros. How did the Astros deal with their loss? Five consecutive ALCS appearances, three American League pennants and one World Series title.

Owner Crane knows he'll have to dig deep in his pockets and swallow a long-term deal to keep Correa in the home team clubhouse at Minute Maid Park. Crane also knows he'll be a hero if he does. With the Texans and Rockets in the dumpster, Crane and the Astros have turned Houston in a baseball town. Signing Correa will keep it that way.

Most Popular

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome

Listen Live

ESPN Houston 97.5 FM
The Astros suffered a heartbreaking loss to the Yankees Thursday. Composite image by Brandon Strange.

After an impressive two-game sweep of the NL-best Mets at home earlier in the week, the Astros took to the road to begin a four-game series with the league-best Yankees on Thursday night. To little surprise, the series started with a bang (no, not a trash can bang) in more ways than one, confirming that this series should be a must-watch this weekend.

New York's comeback proves no lead will be safe

Right from the get-go, the loud Yankee Stadium faithful had their chance to rain boos down on Jose Altuve before showing some pleasure as he led off the series by being hit by a pitch. They were quickly, though only temporarily, quieted as Altuve would come in to score two batters later on a three-run blast by Alex Bregman.

Three-run homers seemed to be a theme, as New York would get one of their own to tie the game off the bat of Giancarlo Stanton to tie the game, then Yordan Alvarez continued his dominant June by pushing the Astros back in front by three with another three-run bomb in the third, making it 6-3. That lead held through to the bottom of the ninth, where instead of holding it, Ryan Pressly issued two walks to set up the fourth homer of the game to tie things again before Aaron Judge would get a walk-off single to complete the impressive comeback.

Not only will we get to sit back and watch the slug-fest between Yordan and Judge this weekend, but it looks like with Alex Bregman swinging well again to round out the top of Houston's order, the Astros may be getting closer to their full power. So far in June, these two teams sit third and fourth in on-base percentage, with the Astros at .351 and the Yankees right behind at .350. That means we should continue to see scoring opportunities on both sides that can tilt momentum one way or the other as these lineups try to battle against the opposing pitcher.

How will the aces fare

Verlander vs. Judge, and Cole vs. Alvarez, need I say more? Although we won't see Justin Verlander go up against Gerrit Cole in the same game in this series (they should go head to head next Thursday, however), they will pitch on back-to-back days, with Houston's ace going Friday night and New York's on Saturday afternoon. Verlander is coming off his worst start of the year, a three and two-thirds inning outing where the White Sox put up seven runs, four earned, against him and knocked him out early to give him his third loss and increased his ERA from 1.94 to 2.30.

The last time he faced the Yankees was in the Bronx in the 2019 playoffs, in ALCS Game 5, where he went seven frames while allowing four runs, all on two homers in the first inning, which is all New York needed to grab the 4-1 victory to make it a 3-2 Houston lead in the series, which the Astros would go on to clinch in Game 6. So, with the double dose of bad taste in his mouth, it will be interesting to see if he can use that as the fuel to get back to the phenomenal form he's had this year or if the Yankees try to jump on him early like they did nearly three years ago.

Cole, meanwhile, is fresh off of two quality starts in a row against the Rays, where he allowed just one run on six hits with nineteen strikeouts over 13.1 innings of work. He's had his share of strife this season, though, including a seven-run shelling by the Twins earlier this month, along with a start in April where he couldn't make it through two innings against the Tigers. He's had success against his former club, most notably a complete-game shutout in Houston last July with twelve K's and holding the Astros to just three hits.

If the series opener was any indication, we are in for the treat of a playoff-caliber matchup, if not a potential ALCS preview that we may see in October. The Yankees showed why they have the best record and are the hottest team in baseball on Thursday night, but the Astros were only a good outing from their closer away from having a relatively lopsided win. The rivalry is real; the competition is close, and we get to enjoy the show.

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome