Astros rough offseason continues

Cole's deal with Yankees changes the AL landscape

Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

In what came as a surprise to no one, former Astro Gerrit Cole is now a New York Yankee. Cole signed a record nine-year, $324 million deal with the Yankees.

While the Astros were never in the running to re-sign Cole, his signing with New York comes as a double whammy. The Yankees were only four wins behind the Astros during the regular season and pushed them to six games in the ALCS. Poaching Cole, who was 20-5 with a 2.50 ERA and 326 strikeouts, easily flip flops the two teams. The Astros have no one to replace Cole's production, no matter what they do. The Yankees just added a legitimate ace, and stamped themselves as the new favorites in the AL.

For the Astros, it was an expected blow, and just the latest in what has been a rough off-season filled with scandal and now rumors that Carlos Correa may be on the block.

What's next for Astros?

Part of the price of success is your players have to get paid. Alex Bregman and Jose Altuve are locked down, but Correa and George Springer are due for big deals, and the Astros have expressed a desire to keep the payroll under control. That is not good news for the 2020 Astros and beyond.

The Astros have an easy solution for Correa; moving Alex Bregman to short and Yuli Gurriel to third, and look for a cheaper option at first base. Correa's injury history has limited his production, so that's a loss they could stomach.

The losses mount

But there is no ready solution for Cole. Lance McCullers is expected back, and Jose Urquidy will get likely get a chance. They will also look for a bargain basement, Wade Miley type. But in general, the Astros - with or without Correa - will not be as good next season. While they will still be title contenders and there is plenty of time to fill some holes (they did, after all, trade for Cole two seasons ago), they won't be the favorites in the AL.

That honor now belongs to the Yankees.

Photo Courtesy of Say.

This article originally appeared on CultureMap.

Former Astros pitcher, Mike Fiers, might not have been the right person — but he did the right thing.

Voices on radio and social media are complaining that the Astros were unfairly singled out by Major League Baseball's lowering the boom and suspending manager A.J. Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow in the sign-stealing scandal, followed by team owner Jim Crane firing both of them, preceded by the owner firing the assistant general manager and demoting the team president.

Assistant general manager Brandon Taubman was dismissed after he made vulgar comments to female reporters. Astros president Reid Ryan was demoted because, well, that's an owner's prerogative.

I don't understand why anybody in the media or Astros' fan base is furious at Fiers for squealing on the Astros, or Major League Baseball for punishing the Astros so severely. They're screaming, "the Astros got screwed!"

No they didn't.

Don't be angry at Fiers — be angry at the Astros. They cheated. The Astros broke the rules on their way to winning the 2017 World Series. This was after they, and every other team, were warned not to use technology to steal signs.

The Astros aren't denying it. Hinch has apologized for it. Former pitcher Dallas Keuchel said "apologies are in order … for everyone on the team." What's hard to understand what happened? Fiers doesn't have clean hands in this saga. He played for the Astros in 2017, didn't go public about the cheating back then, and took the bonus money and glittery ring for the Astros championship.

None of that changes the facts about the Astros wayward ways. The argument — "everybody does it" — is a weak excuse. Didn't your mother ask, "If Billy jumped off the Empire State Building, would you?" Agent Scott Boras' claim – "the players just did what they were told" – is historically inexcusable. I cheer for the Astros, but I am disappointed that they cheated.

The sad part is, they probably didn't have to. The lineup was loaded with amazing players. I'm also surprised that ESPN announcer Jessica Mendoza and Hall of Fame pitcher Pedro Martinez believe this entire cheating scandal should have been dealt with in-house by MLB. That's not how things get accomplished. In-house is how problems get buried. In-house is how problems get fixed with settlements and non-disclosure agreements.

Continue on CultureMap to read why Ken Hoffman believes whistleblowers should be honored.

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