3 scenarios Astros must avoid at all costs with trade deadline looming

Framber Valdez is one of three untouchable players. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

MLB changed the trade deadline rules. Gone are the days of the regular deadline and the waiver wire deadline a month later. The Astros benefitted best from the waiver wire deadline, the most of any team I can think of in 2017. With what was reported as literal minutes or seconds to spare, they completed the deal for Justin Verlander. They went on to win a World Series that year and last year. Verlander threw in two Cy Young Awards amongst other awards and career milestones during his time in Houston.

Now that there's only one trade deadline, teams have to be more diligent. Whether selling or buying, teams have to do their homework and be ready to make a deal by 6PM EST on August 1 this year. Every year around this time, there are tons of rumors. Most of the scuttlebutt is about what players teams are potentially trading for. Another good portion is about players who are supposedly on the trading block.

The Astros are no different. This year, the rumors are exclusively about whom they may trade for. They're still trailing the Arlington Junk Grabbers by a few games in the division. Houston is currently in position to win a wildcard spot. A lock to make the playoffs wouldn't be a stretch, but it isn't guaranteed. Whether they trade for an arm, a bat, or both, they need to make a move/some moves. Whatever they decide to do, these are the guys I will not consider trading under any circumstances:

José Altuve: This man is a future Hall of Famer. He's Mr. Astro. You can argue Craig Biggio, Jeff Bagwell, or whoever me all you want! THIS is the man people think of now when you think Astros baseball! He's a former MVP, batting champ, and was a key figure in two World Series wins. Some athletes earn the right to go out the way they see fit. Altuve has earned the right to do so here in Houston. I would give the death stare and silent treatment to anyone who calls about him as part of any trade.

Yordan Alvarez: The same way I revere Altuve for what he's done so far for this organization, that's the same way I feel about Yordan's future. He's taken over as the team's best hitter. Altuve owned that title, but his slide in recent years (coupled with Yordan's rise) has led many a fan to this conclusion. When he signed an extension through the 2028 season at a team friendly rate, he cemented himself as a long-term Astro. His ascension as a hitter, and his improved defense, has made him an untouchable in my eyes. Teams dream of All Star-caliber players locked up long-term on team friendly deals. When you have one, you do not trade them.

Framber Valdez: He's arguably the best pitcher in baseball right now. Debate that with your mom because I said what I said. He's the ace of this staff now that Verlander is wallowing in his own misery in New York. This season he's fifth in ERA, ninth in WHIP, averages 9.9 Ks per nine innings, and is 10th in innings pitched. His 7-6 record speaks more to his run support than his 2.76 ERA. Every great team has a staff with an ace of spades and the Great Frambino is that ace. He's arbitration eligible for two more years after this year, which means he's going to be relatively cheap for another two years. That makes him even more untouchable.

These three guys I'd put up against any other three in the league for what they mean to this team, this season. If you found a way to clone Willie Mays and turned the time machine back on Nolan Ryan, I might think about it. Outside of that, I'm willing to go into a fight with these three. Are there better individual players out there? Yes. Can a team put together three other guys I'd take over these guys? No. I want to see a move/some moves made before the deadline. Those moves need not involve any of these guys. I'd prefer to see each one retire in blue and orange.

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The Texans host the Steelers at NRG this Sunday. Composite Getty Image.

What: Texans vs. Steelers

When: 10/1 12pm CST kickoff

Where: Houston, TX NRG Stadium

TV/Radio: KHOU-TV, KILT-Radio

Betting Lines: Steelers -2.5 (-120), O/U 42 (-110) *As of this writing

The Watt Brother Bowl takes place on Sunday. I'm calling it that because the Texans are honoring their all-time great J.J. while they're playing his younger brother and current hell raising edge rusher for the Steelers T.J. The Steelers have won four of the last five matchups vs. the Texans by an average score of 28-17. The biggest difference is that the Steelers have a second year starter at quarterback in Kenny Pickett, and the Texans have a rookie in C.J. Stroud. When you look at the two quarterbacks, both organizations have full faith in each guy. Both teams have tried to build a defense to help their young signal callers. Both are still trying to surround their franchise guys with weapons.

When the Steelers have the ball: Here's a game where Will Anderson Jr can make headway as a proven EDGE. Stacking consistent performances together and helping your team win games by making winning plays. It helps that Pickett has tiny hands. This was a knock on him during draft season last year. Hand size for a quarterback impacts grip. That can not only impact accuracy, but it could make it easier to strip the ball from him.

While he doesn't have the weapons to torch this defense, Pickett does hand the ball off to Najee Harris who's more than capable. Averaging only 67 yards rushing as a team can't be taken lightly. Denzel Perryman is expected to miss the game Sunday, so hopefully that won't help jumpstart the Steelers' run game. The Texans defense will have to key in on the run, given that they average giving up 117 a game on the ground. Those aforementioned weapons may not be scary, but the injuries to the defensive backs has hurt. Tavierre Thomas is expected to miss the game recovering from hand surgery. Jimmie Ward coming back last week showed what happens when they have a top safety back there, especially when the pass rush is turning up. Hopefully, the Texans can capitalize again this week, with safety Jalen Pitre expected to return to action.

When the Texans have the ball: Good luck stopping Tank Dell and Stroud! These guys have already established themselves as a formidable duo three games into their careers. A great way to get that connection going is to pound the rock. The Steelers are giving up over 150 yards on the ground per game so far this season. That's also a good way to keep T.J. at bay while J.J. watches. With Laremy Tunsil and Josh Jones both expected to miss the game, here are the offensive line starters: Austin Deculus, Kendrick Green, Jarrett Patterson, Shaq Mason, and George Fant.

Making the younger Watt brother slow down a bit instead of going balls to the wall after Stroud because a run could be coming will help the pass game tremendously. Stroud will have to continue to make quick decisions, but even quicker this game. I wouldn't be surprised to see his first pick of his career here, given the pressure he's most likely to be under. Especially when your offensive line starters were mostly all backups to begin this season.

Outcome: I failed to place a money line bet on the Texans last week because the game started and the live bet wasn't as profitable. I wanted to take a chance on them given their recent record against the Jags. Looking at their last five vs. the Steelers, one would say why make that bet this week? It's because I believe in Stroud more than I believe in Pickett. While T.J. Watt is a different kind of monster, Will Anderson Jr is on his way to becoming something special. Texans win/cover, and hit the over, but barely: Texans 24, Steelers 20.

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