CHARLIE PALLILO

On Jimbo Fisher at Texas A&M and Alex Bregman's emergence

Alex Bregman has become a star in short order. Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

NFL preseason games are done. Mercifully. If Deshaun Watson stays healthy and the Texans don’t win at least nine games, Bill O’Brien’s contract extension looks ridiculous.

The college football season is underway (yay!) with everyone chasing Alabama. It appears that again this year no Texas schools are top tier national factors, though TCU could change that if it beats Ohio State in a couple of weeks.

Major Applewhite begins his second as head coach at UH, after disappointing results in his first season on the job. Tom Herman begins his second season as head coach at UT, after disappointing results in his first season on the job.

So how will the results be scored for Jimbo Fisher’s first season on the job at Texas A&M? The Aggies paid through several noses to buy hope, in guaranteeing Jimbo a jumbo 75 million dollars over 10 years. Fisher had an outstanding run at Florida State including a national championship, but over the last three years Clemson’s program vaulted clearly past FSU’s. That Fisher inevitably restores the Ags to consistent national prominence? Nope. It’s like the Raiders paying absurd money to Jon Gruden. Maybe it works.

Nick Saban’s latest raise and extension at Alabama takes him through the 2025 season. That covers eight years of Fisher’s deal. LSU probably needs a better head coach than Ed Orgeron, but that’s an SEC West program with as many fundamentals going for it as A&M has.

It was a pressure-free debut for Fisher with a 59-7 glorified scrimmage win over Northwestern State. Next week it’s Clemson at Kyle Field, then two weeks later the Aggies are at Alabama. An Ag win in either of those and some may want to already order the Jimbo statue. It’s more likely that Fisher’s first Aggie squad produces the Kevin Sumlin special (five losses) than it flirts with a top 10 finish. 8-5, even 9-4 probably ends the Jimbo-Aggieland honeymoon. The marriage will last a while and should have ample “happily” if not “ever after.” It’s a crazy-high bar, but given the contract terms Fisher must take the Aggies to the playoff within his first five years or he won’t have been worth the money.

Bregman emerges

There is no question at this point that a season after Jose Altuve was the American League Most Valuable Player, Alex Bregman is the Most Valuable Astro of 2018.  A little over two years ago Alex Bregman began his major league career by going 0 for his first 17 at bats, and two for his first 38. Now, just those two years and change later Alex Bregman is an MVP candidate. Not a top tier candidate to win it, but a guy who should turn up on every American League ballot. The MVP ballot includes 10 spots. The only AL guys definitely better this season have been Mookie Betts, Mike Trout, and Jose Ramirez. Bregman is in the next group with Francisco Lindor, Matt Chapman, and J.D. Martinez. Bregman is younger than all those other guys.

Bregman is on pace to finish this season scoring more than 100 runs and driving in more than 100 runs. Only six different Astros have done 100/100.  Name them? Five of the six? Four? Answer below as Buzzer Beater number one. Bregman could parlay 50-plus doubles with 30 home runs. Lance Berkman is the only Astro to amass 50/30 in the same season.

Defensively, once settled in after committing too many early season errors, Bregman to the eye plays a Gold Glove level third base. The analytics suggest he has been average at best. That seems ridiculous. Maybe it isn’t, but maybe it’s proof that defensive analysis has come a long way but still has a way to go.

And the whole post-homer camera stare thing is tremendous.

Remember, the only reason the Astros have Bregman is because they clumsily failed to sign high school pitcher Brady Aiken after taking Aiken with the first overall pick in the 2014 draft. The Astros got spooked by the medical check, low balled Aiken with their offer, then just before the signing deadline jacked back up their offer to Aiken. He told the Astros to take a hike. Aiken turned down five million dollars. As compensation for not signing the first pick in the draft, the Astros were given the second pick in the 2015 draft. Hello Alex Bregman.

Aiken went 17th in 2015 to Cleveland, signing for just over two and a half mil. His minor league record is  7-18 with a 5.05 earned run average. Coming off of Tommy John surgery, Aiken hasn’t pitched at all this year.

Buzzer Beaters

1. Wynn, Bagwell, Alou, Bell, Berkman, Hidalgo.  2. Man is Carlos Correa messed up at the plate right now.  3. Best college football head coaches in Texas: Bronze-Tom Herman  Silver-Jimbo Fisher Gold-Gary Patterson.

 

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Houston is falling down the rankings

Tigers pound Odorizzi, Astros with homers as Houston drops fourth in a row

The Astros have not looked great in their last four games. Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

After watching their hot start of 6-1 cool down to a 6-4 record with three straight losses, the Astros returned to Minute Maid Park on Tuesday night, looking to do a better job at home against a beatable Tigers team.

Recent games' woes would continue, though, with Houston's pitching getting blasted by the opposing offense and their own bats primarily quiet.

Final Score: Tigers 8, Astros 2

Astros' Record: 6-5, tied for second in AL West

Winning Pitcher: Matthew Boyd (2-1)

Losing Pitcher: Jake Odorizzi (0-1)

Astros score first, then Tigers unload on Odorizzi

Houston looked to have something brewing in the bottom of the second, with three singles in the first four batters of the inning, the third an RBI-single by Myles Straw to put the Astros in front 1-0. However, Matthew Boyd would limit the damage, getting back-to-back strikeouts to end the threat.

After two easy innings for Jake Odorizzi in his regular-season debut for his new team, he would allow a game-tying solo homer to Akil Baddoo, his fourth of the year, in the top of the third. Detroit struck again in the top of the fourth, getting a leadoff double to set up a two-run go-ahead home run to jump ahead 3-1.

They didn't stop there, getting another two-run bomb later in the same inning; a frame that would take Odorizzi 31 pitches to get only one out before Houston would bring in Bryan Abreu to get the last two outs. Odorizzi's final line in his debut: 3.1 IP, 7 H, 5 ER, 3 HR, 0 BB, 4 K, 80 P.


Detroit continues home run parade, Houston loses fourth in a row

Abreu would hope to do what Luis Garcia did the night before, eat up as many innings as possible after a poor outing from Houston's starter. The Tigers would get yet another two-run homer, though, in the top of the fifth, extending their lead to 7-1, with all seven runs coming over a three-inning span. For good measure, they'd knock one more out with two outs in the top of the ninth, making it 8-1.

As far as Houston at the plate, other than their string of hits to bring in a run earlier in the second, they were getting nothing done against Boyd, who would go six and two-thirds innings. Detroit's bullpen would finish things off, despite an all-too-late sac fly by the Astros in the bottom of the ninth, with Houston dropping their fourth-straight game and continuing to lose ground in the division.

Up Next: The finale of this three-game set with Detroit will be an hour earlier on Wednesday, getting underway at 6:10 PM Central. Lance McCullers Jr. (1-0, 1.80 ERA) will try to maintain his perfect record and improve upon his two five-inning one-run starts for the Astros, going opposite of Michael Fulmer (0-0, 2.57 ERA) for the Tigers.

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