Essential factors to weigh when contemplating trade for infamous Astros hater
Whaddya think … should the Astros pursue acquiring outfielder Cody Bellinger before the MLB trade deadline in two weeks? Reports have the Astros making contact with the Chicago Cubs to see what it would take to land the bounce back Bellinger.
Adding Bellinger could boost the Astros good-guy image across the country. Bellinger would be the only Astro with a national commercial on TV. He pushes Dairy Queen Blizzards, and who doesn’t love DQ Blizzards? Besides Dairy Queen is “what I like about Texas” so a trade to Houston might help Bellinger’s endorsement portfolio.
In a related note, congratulations are in order for the Cake Batter Cookie Dough, named Blizzard of the Month for July. Personally, I can’t get off the Chocolate Brownie Xtreme year-’round. I get mine with a triple shot of choco chunks and cocoa fudge.
More important, If a deal gets done, which Cody Bellinger would the Astros be getting – a much-needed lefty bat and former National League MVP who batted .305 and belted 47 homers with a .629 slugging percentage in 2019 for the Dodgers, and currently is hitting .301 for the Cubs?
Or the Cody Bellinger who followed his MVP season with batting averages of .239, .165 and .210?
Plus don’t forget any bad blood between Bellinger and the Astros that may linger from 2020 when Bellinger unloaded on the Astros over the 2017 sign-stealing scandal.
After Astros players skated free from any punishment by MLB commissioner Rob Manfred, Bellinger said, “I thought the apologies were whatever. I thought Jim Crane’s was weak. I thought Manfred’s punishment was weak, giving (players) immunity. Those guys were cheating for three years. I think what people don’t realize is Altuve stole the MVP from Judge in ‘17. Everyone knows they stole the ring from us.”
When then-Astros shortstop Carlos Correa said, “If you don’t know the facts, then you got to shut the f-up” he was talking about Bellinger.
Only two Astros from the 2017 World Series champs are still on the roster: Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman. Both are influential voices in the clubhouse and front office. Several players remain from the 2020 roster, when Bellinger unleashed his criticism of the team.
If Bellinger were to join the Astros, presumably he would share left field and DH duties with the returning Yordan Alvarez.
Alvarez/Bellinger in left, Chas McCormick/Jake Meyers in center, and Kyle Tucker in right – that’s an outfield that can push for a World Series repeat.
It’s a curious outfield for sure. There are only two position players in the Major Leagues who throw lefty and bat righty – and the Astros have both of them: McCormick and Meyers. Curiously, the other two, Alvarez and Tucker, throw righty and bat lefty.
Of course we don’t know what the Astros would have to send to the Cubs in exchange for Bellinger. He wouldn’t come cheap. But regardless of who’s in the Astros trade package, the arrival of Bellinger would impact the Astros everyday lineup.
With Bellinger or Alvarez in the lineup, where would that leave Yanier Diaz the Astros current DH? Diaz also can play first base, but that’s held down by the seemingly immovable Jose Abreu. Diaz also can play catcher, and that’s where manager Dusty Baker would face a decision. Is it possible that Baker would swallow his stubbornness and demote Martin Maldonado to the bench in favor of Diaz? Judging by fans’ pleas on talk radio and social media, it would be a welcome move.
Maldonado is hitting an anemic .171 and slugging .301. He has seven passed balls and is throwing out only 16 percent of attempted base stealers. That’s below average for MLB catchers. With teams swiping bases like crazy this year – 50-percent more attempts than 2022 – opponents know they can run on the Astros with Maldy behind the plate.
Diaz is hitting .261 and slugging .487. On the rare occasions he gets to play catcher (20 starts), he’s throwing out 42 percent of attempted base stealers - that’s double the MLB average. He has zero passed balls.
The addition of Bellinger would shake up the defending World Series champs’ lineup. Would you be OK with that? Whaddya think?