Every-Thing Sports

Comparisons for Daryl Morey

Rockets.com

When the NBA season ended with the Toronto Raptors beating the Golden State Warriors, many saw it as an opportunity. The Warriors were hobbled by injuries to stars Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant, both of which were set to become unrestricted free agents. With Durant out for the following season and Thompson set to miss a good chink, it was like the scene from Rocky IV when Drago was cut. The machine was made human and looked vulnerable.

Enter Rockets GM Daryl Morey. He saw this as the opening he was looking for to finally take down the bully of the league. With rumors swirling of a Chris Paul/James Harden beef, Morey sought to improve the roster by any means necessary. More rumors circulated about who was/wasn't on the trade block when it was noted that the team was going after Jimmy Butler via sign and trade. Turns out, this was another swing and miss for Morey and the Rockets as Butler was dealt to the Miami Heat.

This was yet another big time talent that Morey failed to bring to Houston. Although his tenure has been an overall success, it has failed to yield an NBA title. That is the true and ultimate goal of anyone involved in pro sports who actually gives a damn. After watching Morey shoot his shot and consistently fall short, it got me to thinking: what does this remind me of?

The marriage proposal rejection guy

This has to be one of the worst feelings of rejection. Here you are poised to pop the question to the woman you want to spend the rest of your life with. You've bought the ring, planned everything about the evening out, and get down on one knee. You're the center of attention wherever you are. But when she says no, your world is crushed! You have to go back to the drawing board because there's no way you can continue a relationship with someone who feels that much differently from you. Some people never recover from this. Morey has been fortunate to recover, but he's damaged goods.

Woman left at the altar

It's finally here! it's your day! You have the ring, the dress, the venue, your bridesmaids, the cake, everything is all catered to you. That is until he fails to show up. You thought your fairy tale life was set to begin. However, he realized that hitching himself to you for eternity would be a mistake because he's not ready to settle down and have kids with someone who has as many commitment issues as you do. Morey sees players as assets instead of individuals. Until he can start to see the more human aspect of trades, he'll continue to get left at the altar.

Astroworld

For years you were the place to be when it came to spring/summer/fall fun in Houston. You could stay open for months on end because of the weather. Generations grew up knowing you were the go-to move when trying to pick up on or impress the opposite sex. But after years of the same ole same old, you failed to make the necessary changes and grew old and tired. Eventually, you had to close your doors and were forced to become a staging area for Rodeo temporary buildings until someone decides how and when you'll be developed. Morey is in danger of becoming old and stale if he can't give this team the proper facelift and wins a title.

Off brand products

Here you are on the shelf or stockroom of a random store or warehouse. You look very similar to the real Nike shoes, General Mills cereal, an Avenger action figure, or a Louis Vuitton purse. In reality, you're just a knock-off Air Max shoe, a box of Frosty Corn Flakes, a Revenger, or a pure imposter LV purse. You look really good in most cases. Sometimes, you can even pass for the real thing when unpackaged and compared to the real deal. But ultimately, you're notwhat most people look for when they want top of the line products. Morey has been the Great Value brand instead of the General Mills brand far too often. He's been the knock-off that people settle for because they've spent their money elsewhere, but they want to "look" like they can afford things they really can't. In other words: he hasn't had the money to sign or trade for top flight talent because he doesn't have the cap space or assets to make moves like that happen very often.

I'm so frustrated by the debacle that this team is in as far as roster flexibility is concerned. It'll take several years before the Rockets are in the position or draft or sign high end talent. Les Alexander told Morey he's not down for tanking and wanted to keep the team competitive while needing to rebuild. Tilman Fertitta bought the team when it was good enough to make the playoffs and already committed to Harden as a super max player. Morey has been known to wiggle his way in and out of sticky situations. He can recover from proposal rejection or being left at the altar. But can he avoid becoming an outdated relic or a knock-off version of the real deal? That is what Rockets fans want to see. For those who have stuck with this team so long and so deeply, I hope that Morey can turn this thing around enough to the point where he can be recognized as a viable brand and not a knock-off. this fanbase deserves as much. Will they get it from Morey is the ultimate question.

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Justin Verlander is breaking the bank. Composite image by Jack Brame.

If you’re real quiet you can almost hear the sighs of relief coming from Astros owner Jim Crane after hearing that Justin Verlander signed with the New York Mets on Monday.

Verlander has been a model citizen and at times an amazing pitcher for the Astros since being traded to Houston in 2017. He won two Cy Young Awards and was instrumental in the Astros two World Series titles.

But the simple fact is, the Astros don’t need him and certainly don’t need to pay a pitcher turning 40 years old $86 million over the next two seasons. Remember, he also spent almost all of 2020-21 on the injured list with Tommy John surgery.

That’s how loaded the Astros pitching staff is for 2023 and years after. They can say goodbye to the best pitcher in baseball and not sweat the future.

Sometimes a team’s best signings are the ones they don’t make. We don’t know what the Astros offered Verlander to stay but this sounds like a similar situation to last year when the Astros made a half-hearted effort to keep All-Star shortstop Carlos Correa. Correa eventually signed with the Minnesota Twins and the Astros reloaded with rookie Jeremy Pena. How’d that work out? The rookie was named MVP of the ALCS and the World Series and won the Gold Glove at short.

Here’s how the Astros starting pitching lines up for 2023: Framber Valdez, Lance McCullers, Cristian Javier, Jose Urquidy and Luis Garcia – with Hunter Brown waiting in the wings. That should be more than enough and, all things considered, cheap.

Heck, they won 106 games last season, won the AL West by 16 games and roared through the postseason 11-2 including the World Series title. And they’ve already signed coveted free agent first baseman Jose Abreu.

While Verlander was simply outstanding during the regular season, the Astros are built for the World Series, where Verlander historically has been disappointing. He entered the 2022 Fall Classic with a 0-6 career mark.

He gave up five runs in five innings in the Astros’ Game 1 loss this year. Verlander got a no-decision. In Game 5 the Astros were wringing their hands hoping he’d go five innings. Verlander gave up one run over five and the Astros won, 3-2, with JV getting his first Series win.

If you were building a team from scratch for 2023, who’d you rather have – Justin Verlander or 29-year-old, quality start machine Framber Valdez?

Verlander, age 40, will make $43 million next year. Valdez, a decade younger, will make one-fourth that. Valdez won both of his World Series starts in 2022.

Pitchers typically don’t get better and healthier after the big 4-0. Not $86 million better.

Of course, this is the Age of Stupid Money, in baseball. Last year, the Mets signed Max Scherzer for $130 million over three seasons. Scherzer won 11 games for the Mets in 2022 and got pummeled, seven runs in 4.2 innings, in his one postseason start.

The Texas Rangers just signed the supposed “best pitcher in baseball,” Jacob deGrom for $185 million over five seasons. Let’s go to the videotape, deGrom has pitched nine full seasons in the big leagues. His record is 82-57. That averages out to 9-6 per injury-riddled season. He was 5-4 last season. In his last three seasons, he’s won 5, 7, and 4 games. That’s worth $185 million? What’s that they say about the best ability … availability?

I know, deGrom has had startling earned run numbers over his career, when he actually gets on the mound. Charlie Pallilo and I have had a long-running argument. He says a pitcher’s value is based on earned run average and other statistics that can melt your mind. I say there’s only one stat that counts – wins. Jacob deGrom is not the best pitcher in baseball. The best pitcher last season was Justin Verlander, right up to the end. And then he wasn’t.

With the Astros “saving” $86 million over the next two years, they can focus on filling needs in the outfield. It will be easier to find money to keep Yuli Gurriel and Michael Brantley. The Astros can plan ahead for Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman becoming free agents after the 2024 season, and Kyle Tucker and Framber Valdez a year later. Those guys won’t come cheap.

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