THE PALLILOG

Astros have at least 3 strong reasons for a no-brainer decision at key position

The Astros' rotation is strong enough as is. Composite image by Brandon Strange.

So, are you more of a glass half-full person or more of a glass half-empty person? For the optimistic glass half-full membership: Only six more weeks until spring training opens! For the pessimistic glass half-empty crowd: Ugh. Six more weeks until spring training opens! Even with the Texans wrapping up a third straight pathetic season this weekend and the Rockets in the midst of their third straight pathetic season, the optimists have it right. Especially after the sturm and drang of a year ago when everything was delayed by collective bargaining negotiations.

We are in the midst of the generally quietest stretch of the offseason. Most of the heavy lifting of free agency is done (the Carlos Correa saga notwithstanding), and while there is certainly still the possibility of a blockbuster trade or two in the next month and change, most clubs pretty much have the makings of their 2023 rosters in place. The Astros are the American League favorites as is, making it that much more eyebrow raising that somehow they’ve been mentioned among teams as a possible landing spot for pitcher Trevor Bauer should the Dodgers cut ties with him. Of course, anyone can chuck anything against the wall these days. Never say never but I’d be stunned if the Astros signed Trevor Bauer.

Bauer has been reinstated after serving a 194 game suspension over sexual assault allegations. The lurid details that made it to the public domain were quite disturbing. Bauer was never charged with a crime, not that that is proof of innocence. The Dodgers have a Friday deadline to reinstate Bauer to their roster or release him. Either way they will owe him 22 million dollars for the coming season.

Bauer last pitched in a game June 28 2021. He was having an excellent season for the Dodgers after winning the National League Cy Young Award as a Cincinnati Red in the 2020 60 game COVID season. Bauer turns 32 years old in a couple of weeks. His talent is unquestioned. It’s not like he missed the last season and a half because of Tommy John surgery or a torn rotator cuff. The argument for signing him would be “Talent wins. You can never have enough pitching. Bauer served his punishment and is eligible to play for any team.” The argument against signing him would be “Isn’t it obvious?”

Astros’ fans should refrain from any “My team would never sign a guy like Bauer” sanctimoniousness. Jim Crane certainly signed off on the Astros’ 2018 trade for pitcher Roberto Osuna. Then General Manager Jeff Luhnow made the deal acquiring a “distressed asset” with the Toronto Blue Jays wanting nothing more to do with Osuna after a 75 game suspension that Osuna accepted for violating Major League Baseball’s domestic violence policy. A suspension over which the Players Association filed no grievance (in contrast to Bauer’s case). Osuna blew out his arm in 2020 and the Astros non-tendered him. He pitched 2021 in Mexico and began the 2022 season there before going to the Japan League’s Chiba Lotte Marines. Osuna excelled in both Mexico and Japan, still hasn’t turned 28 years old, and no Major League team has touched him.

I’m not saying in absolute terms that no one should sign Trevor Bauer, but the Houston Astros should not. With Justin Verlander gone, Cristian Javier yet to start for a full season, and Lance McCullers often seeming an injury waiting to happen, yes the Astros’ outstanding starting pitching depth could fray. But presently they have Javier, McCullers, Framber Valdez, Luis Garcia, and Jose Uruidy, with top prospect Hunter Brown pounding on the door to join the rotation. In purely baseball terms, signing Bauer would make sense if the Astros had a move ready including, say, Garcia, in a trade to the Pirates for centerfielder Bryan Reynolds. Signing Bauer would not be a purely baseball decision. Pass. If he was to sign with the Angels or Rangers, flourish, and help one of those teams contend with the Astros in the AL West, so be it.

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Stone Cold ‘Stros is the weekly Astro-centric podcast I take part in with Brandon Strange and Josh Jordan. On our regular schedule it airs live at 3PM Monday on the SportsMapHouston YouTube channel, is available there for playback at any point, and also becomes available in podcast form at outlets galore.

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DeMeco Ryans looks like the Texans' choice as the next head coach. Composite image by Brandon Strange.

The Houston Texans have been busy interviewing coaches over the last few weeks, and just this week, the team held second interviews with Giants OC Mike Kafka and Broncos DC Ejiro Evero. The Texans have also interviewed Los Angeles Rams tight ends coach and assistant head coach Thomas Brown, Sean Payton, Lions OC Ben Johnson, Eagles DC Jonathan Gannon, and Eagles OC Shane Steichen. Johnson has taken himself out of the mix and is returning to Detroit.

But according to a new report from Ian Rapoport, the Texans may already have their minds made up about their next head coach.

Former Texans linebacker and current 49ers DC DeMeco Ryans appears to be the top candidate for the Texans, and he is reportedly interested in the position, with a second interview likely to take place next week.

Ryans has been the defensive coordinator for the 49ers over the last two seasons. San Francisco was the best defense in the league in 2022.

Ryans is a popular pick for the position in Houston, and fans will be super excited if he eventually gets the job. Let's hope Rapoport's sources are correct, and the Texans have their new head coach lined up.

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