JOEL BLANK

With Diaz trade, Astros get a cheaper version of Marwin Gonzalez

Aledmys Diaz was an important pickup for the Astros. Stephen Brashear/Getty Images

At first glance when you see the Astros trading a prospect for a shortstop, Astros fans start wondering what is wrong with Carlos Correa and what is going on with thier team? Is his back or thumb so bad that he may need surgery? Are they thinking of trading him so that Alex Bregman can take over? Thankfully neither of those things are behind this savy baseball move orchestrated by GM Jeff Luhnow. The fact of the matter is, Marwin Gonzalez is probably going to get a big offer from another team and the Astros are not going to match it. With that in mind, the team went out and found his replacement and when I say he is the spitting image of Marwin, I'm actually not kidding.

Aledmys Diaz is a 28-year-old shortstop by trade, but he can play third base, second base and he can play the outfield as well. Sound like anyone else you know and have grown to love? Aside from not yet trying his hand at first base, Diaz is a mirror image of Marwin. He is younger, has similar stats and is going to be far cheaper than Gonzalez, who is in the process of talking to teams and waiting for proposals in free agency. Diaz is 6'1" and 195 pounds, while Gonzales is thw same height and 10 pounds heavier. The similarities don't end there if you start comparing offensive stats over the past season as Diaz average was .263 while Marwin was at .247. The Blue Jays infielder had two more home runs, 13 fewer RBI's and a whole spread sheet full of offensive and defensive ratings and statistics that fluctuate giving each player slight advantages. Take a look at this side by side comparrison of the two players done by Devan Fink, Baseball writer for SB Nation's Beyond the Box Score:

The biggest key is that Diaz only made $2 million dollars last year and is under team control. Jeff Luhnow told a pool of reporters that Diaz "...Has got some versatility, got some power and can do a lot of things.  He went on to say, "It seems like it's an opportunity for us to improve our team. He can play short, he can play second, he can play a little bit of left, can play third. This is a guy about as versatile as any of the other guys on our roster. He's a good hitter, and we think he can be better. He's still coming into his prime." In other words, welcome to H-town, Marwin Jr.

It's a foregone conclusion that barring some incredible hometown discount, Marwin is going to break the bank and hit the jackpot in free agency and no Astros fan should begrudge him for cashing in. It's better to have had him and reaped the benfits of his outstanding play for your team than to never have had him at all. From his everyday availability and versatility to his propensity to come up big in the biggest moments, Marwin is and was a pro's pro for manager A.J. Hinch and the Astros. Who will ever forget his home run in the ninth inning of Game 2 of the World Series off Kenley Jansen that tied the game and change the complexion of the entire series? He was a key reason the team brought home Houston's first ever World Series title. For that alone he should be an Astros hero for life, regardless if he ever puts on a Houston uniform again and if he doesn't, at least there is hope that the team may have his replacement ready to go in 2019. 

 

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Houston dropped two of three

Astros drop series finale to Oakland, A's win series

Jose Urquidy couldn't hold Oakland back on Saturday. Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

With Oakland finally ending their drought against the Astros on Friday night to split the first two games of the series, and with the Angels staying in step with them as both teams started the day 6-2, the Astros needed a win to keep momentum in their favor on Saturday.

Instead, Oakland would outslug Houston once again to take the series finale and take the series win. The loss moves Houston to 6-3 and down to second place, at least for now, until the 6-2 Angels complete their game on Saturday evening.

Final Score: A's 7, Astros 3

Astros' Record: 6-3, second in AL West

Winning Pitcher: Frankie Montas (1-1)

Losing Pitcher: Jose Urquidy (0-1)

Urquidy gives up four over six

Much like the night before, Oakland was able to bring in runs against Houston's starter, this time Jose Urquidy, Saturday afternoon in their second time through the order. Their first time through, Urquidy was cruising, allowing just one baserunner in the first three innings on a single in the top of the third.

Things shifted in the top of the fourth, with the A's getting back-to-back singles to set the stage for a two-run frame with dual RBI-singles to take a 2-0 lead. Oakland doubled that in the fifth, getting a two-out single to set up a two-run homer by Ramon Laureano to make it 4-0. Urquidy would go on to finish six innings, but with no run support to that point, would leave in line for the loss. His final line: 6.0 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 0 BB, 7 K, 93 P.

A's pad their lead before Houston gets on the board

Meanwhile, although getting five hits, the Astros could not get anything on the board against Frankie Montas through six innings. Brandon Bielak took over out of the bullpen for Urquidy in the top of the seventh, but after loading the bases, he would allow a dagger two-RBI single to make it a 6-0 deficit for Houston.

With Montas starting the seventh looking to face a batter or two before Oakland moved to their bullpen, Kyle Tucker would finally get Houston on the board with a leadoff solo home run, cutting the lead to 6-1 and ending Montas' day. Houston would get a two-out rally going, with an RBI-double by Jose Altuve followed by an RBI-triple by Michael Brantley to make it a three-run game at 6-3.

Oakland takes the series win

Ryne Stanek tried to keep it a three-run game and give the Astros a chance to stay in it in the top of the eighth but instead would give up a two-out solo home run to push Oakland's lead back to four. That 7-3 score would go final as Houston would go scoreless in the eighth and ninth.

Up Next: Houston will have a day off on Sunday before continuing this homestand Monday night by welcoming in Detroit and former manager A.J. Hinch for three games. In the series opener, the Tigers will send young star Casey Mize (0-0, 2.25 ERA) to the mound, while the Astros will get another start by Zack Greinke (1-0, 1.38 ERA).

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