The Z Report

Lance Zierlein: Luhnow is hoping for his own Tyreek Hill ending

Lance Zierlein: Luhnow is hoping for his own Tyreek Hill ending
Jeff Luhnow is facing a lot of questions over his latest trade. Bob Levey/Getty Images

Well, you wanted a closer to help round out the Houston Astros chances at repeating as a World Series champion. Hell, I wanted a closer too. I wanted one badly! Now we got one. Somehow, this isn’t what I had in mind.

The Astros decided to cash-in their goodwill within the community and trade for a talented, yet troubled closer from the Toronto Blue Jays, Roberto Osuna. Twitter and sports talk radio is full of opinions regarding Osuna and the Astros decision to add him after serving a 75-game suspension for domestic abuse, but where will everyone stand in October?

When the Chiefs drafted Tyreek

All of us have seen how this could end up playing out. We saw it in May of 2016 when the Kansas City Chiefs drafted wideout Tyreek Hill from West Alabama in the fifth round. Hill had been a running back at Oklahoma State but was dismissed from the school after being charged with domestic abuse and later plead guilty to punching and choking his pregnant girlfriend and received three years of probation. Hill eventually landed at West Alabama.

I was on the set of NFL Now’s broadcast of the 2016 NFL Draft and I was visibly dumbfounded that Hill was actually drafted by an NFL team. I simply couldn’t hide it. I didn’t think there was any chance that he would be drafted considering his guilty plea of such heinous charges. Chiefs fans weren’t too crazy about it either. Here is a sampling of some of the things were said on the comment section of Hill’s NFL.com draft profile:

Homework, time and talent

An executive from a separate AFC team told me they loved Hill’s talent and did their homework and believed that Hill might have beat the case, but that financial concerns over legal fees and fear of jail time caused him to plea out. However, pleading guilty to abusing a pregnant woman was just something they were not prepared to defend to their fans and media so they took Hill off the board.

The Chiefs did their own investigating and they believed that Hill was worth taking a chance on. He had elite speed, immense talent and they ultimately believed in the person. Despite the initial anger from fans and scrutiny of media, Kansas City was repaid with a rookie season that included twelve touchdowns combined (6 receiving, 3 rushing, 2  kick returns, 1 punt return) and a first team All-Pro designation.

After two years in the league, Hill is a two-time Pro Bowler and beloved by Chiefs fans. Chants of “Ty-Reek, Ty-Reek, Ty-Reek” rang through the Arrowhead stadium, Hill’s rookie season as the Chiefs clinched their first division title since 2010.

The Astros, like the Chiefs in 2016, are banking on their homework, the talent and time. There is no way the Astros haven’t done their homework on Osuna. Anything negative that comes out beyond this point is going to be extremely damning, but the Astros must believe they can fade it. They are getting a very talented player for a very modest price and history tells us that over time talented players who perform at a high level are shown forgiveness - especially by the local fanbase.

Paradigm shift for Luhnow and Astros?

I’m not here to argue whether or not the Astros decision to trade for Osuna is right or wrong. To be honest, the details of what went down haven’t been made public and the courts haven’t weight in just yet. What I can work off of, however, is that Major League Baseball suspended Osuan for 75 games and there was no appeal. Maintaining an adherence to “innocent until proven guilty” is challenging for all of us with that such a harsh suspension levied against Osuna.

As stated prior, I believe you will see fan anger over Osuna subside if he’s able to get guys out. It will also help his cause if the team starts winning and gets hot going into the playoffs. Is it right that our attitudes are tied to winning? Of course not, but that’s the way it is. Fight it if you want, but you’ll always find that few people show up at your meetings.

Then again, if Osuna struggles to find his form after sitting out for much of this season, Astros General Manager Jeff Luhnow will find himself in the crosshairs of a portion of the fanbase. This is the kind of move that can help remove the cloak of invincibility that he deserved to wear after building the Astros into a World Series winner.

The national media is going to stay on the Astros for using their ridiculous “zero tolerance” comment at the same time they traded for a player serving a substantial suspension for domestic violence. I still don’t understand why Luhnow would make such a potentially risky move  when there were other arms out there. My guess is that he simply couldn’t pass up on the perceived value.

The Astros have a great clubhouse and appear to love each other like brothers. It will be interesting to see how Osuna fits in with this tightly-knit crew. I guess time will tell whether Osuna is the next Tyreek Hill or if he becomes the player and the trade that caused Astros fans to fall out of love with this general manager.

 

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Astros defeat the Orioles, 14-11. Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images.

Jake Meyers hit a three-run homer, Jose Altuve and rookie Joey Loperfido added three hits each and the Houston Astros used a nine-run sixth inning to pull away for a 14-11 win over the Baltimore Orioles on Friday night.

Houston set a season-high in runs, a day after the Orioles had their highest-scoring game of the year in a 17-5 win over the Yankees.

The Astros trailed by 1 and had two on with two outs in the fifth inning when Meyers sent a pitch from Grayson Rodriguez (8-3) into the seats in left field to make it 5-3.

Houston sent 13 batters to the plate as they tacked on nine runs in the sixth to extend the lead to 14-3. The nine runs are the most by the Astros in an inning this season. They hit five doubles in the frame, including two from Loperfido.

Baltimore’s Gunnar Henderson homered twice to give him 24 this season, which ranks second in the majors behind Aaron Judge’s 27. The Orioles, who lead the majors with 123 home runs, have homered in 20 consecutive games, which is tied for the longest streak in franchise history.

Henderson’s first home run was a solo shot in the seventh. Henderson, Jorge Mateo and Anthony Santander each hit two-run homers in Baltimore’s seven-run eighth that cut the lead to 14-11.

Adley Rutschman had a career-high five hits as Baltimore lost for just the second time in six games.

Houston starter Jake Bloss allowed six hits and two runs with two strikeouts in his major league debut before leaving with right shoulder discomfort with two outs in the fourth inning.

Bloss joined the major league team despite never pitching in Triple-A with Houston’s rotation decimated by injuries. The 22-year-old Bloss, who was drafted in the third round last year, was 4-2 with a 1.74 ERA in 12 minor league starts between High-A and Double-A this season.

Shawn Dubin (1-1) permitted three hits and a run in 2 1/3 innings. Bryan Abreu pitched a scoreless ninth for his first save.

Rodriguez allowed nine hits and seven runs in 5-plus innings.

There was a delay in the middle of the fourth inning when home plate umpire Scott Barry left the game after being hit in the mask with a foul tip. Second base umpire Tom Hanahan took over behind the plate.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Astros: C Victor Caratini was placed on the 10-day injured list with a strained left hip flexor. … Loperfido was recalled from Triple-A Sugar Land to take his spot on the roster.

UP NEXT

Houston RHP Ronel Blanco (7-2, 2.43) opposes RHP Corbin Burnes (8-2, 2.14) when the series continues Saturday.

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