Here's why you could see something bold from the Astros in the very near future
With the holiday season upon us, the song says it’s the most wonderful time of the year. On the pro sports front in Houston it’s mixed holiday tidings. The Astros continue to bring joy to the Houston sports world, their second World Series crown is a gift that will keep on giving for many around here. The Texans and Rockets are two turkeys. Two rancid foul-tasting fowls. Here’s one simple numerical way of looking at things. The Astros won four games with two losses in beating the Phillies to win the World Series. The Texans and Rockets have combined in their seasons to date for four wins and 22 losses (and one tie). Has a city ever had one of its big league teams be so great while all the others were so pathetic (if you’d like you can include the Dynamo in the dreck pile)?
Baseball’s Winter Meetings convene in less than two weeks. Does Astros’ General Manager (errrrr, lead owner) Jim Crane have a major move up his sleeve? It seems part of Crane’s professional disdain for James Click relative to Jeff Luhnow was Click’s lack of bold strikes. Upgrading at first base from Yuli Gurriel to Jose Abreu would be solid but I wouldn’t call it bold. Likewise signing or trading for a left-handed hitting centerfielder. Going to three years 125 million dollars to keep Justin Verlander would be bold.
We are Texans?
Do you know that the Astros scored more than 20 runs in a game this year as many times as the Texans have scored more than 20 points in a game? Now you do. It’s one time apiece. In an August laugher the Astros pasted the White Sox 21-5. The Texans generally get laughed at. Naturally, the Texans lone game topping 20 came in a loss, 34-24 to the Chargers. The last time the Texans scored more than 17 points in a game, Texas A&M’s season wasn’t yet a full-blown debacle. That would be October 23.
Some guys are late bloomers, others are non-bloomers. Davis Mills looks like the latter. Nick Caserio’s first draft choice (a third rounder) has shown nothing to indicate he is a quality NFL quarterback in development. He’s 13th in the NFL in pass attempts, number one in interceptions thrown. He’s 30th in the often dubious official quarterback rating, and 30th in the better methodized QBR. You walk like a duck, talk like a duck, and throw enough wounded ducks, you’re probably a dead duck in terms of upside. While the Texans’ offensive line is still too often sieve-like, it’s not as if Mills has nothing adequate around him. Running back Dameon Pierce is in the mix for best offensive rookie in the league. Brandin “Sure I happily signed a contract extension with a garbage team but now get me outta here!” Cooks and Nico Collins make up an at least decent tandem of wide receivers.
With every other team in the NFL having at least three wins and the Texans quite possibly not getting two more wins to reach three, the number one pick in the 2023 Draft is almost certainly theirs. Helllllloooo Alabama’s Bryce Young or Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud. The Texans almost have to go QB this spring, though the top of the 2024 QB draft class may be stronger with USC’s Caleb Williams and North Carolina’s Drake Maye. It’s not that the Texans taking a stud defender like Alabama edge rusher Will Anderson or Georgia defensive tackle beast Jalen Carter would be a poor choice, but without a decent QB you’re nothing. Imagine if the Texans pass on Young and Stroud but next season stumble into five wins and pick fourth or fifth in the 2024 Draft. They would then be out of the mix for Williams and Maye unless paying a king’s ransom to move up.
Failure to launch
Unless I missed one in passing some time researching it, no franchise in NBA history has finished with the worst record in the league three consecutive seasons. The Rockets have a shot. They finished dead last the last two seasons and their pitiful 3-14 start this season has them back in the NBA basement. The Rockets play defense about as well as the Texans play offense. Youth isn’t an eternal excuse. The progress under Head Coach Stephen Silas has been minimal. For all of Kyrie Irving’s narcissistic BS and overall Brooklyn Nets dysfunction they still have a much better team than the Rockets. If the Nets make the playoffs, or if they miss the playoffs but don’t leapfrog the Rockets in the draft lottery, for the second time in three years the Rockets first round draft pick swap rights with the Nets acquired in the James Harden trade will be rendered worthless.
Have a Happy Thanksgiving. And be reeeeeally thankful for the Houston Astros.