The two hottest teams in baseball start a three game weekend series Friday

Mashing Mariners host streaking Astros

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It's rare to have the two hottest teams in baseball square off but Friday we get just that as the Mariners host the Astros in the Emerald City of Seattle.

Both teams have won six straight games and did so on the strength of their bats for the majority of the wins. The Astros though find themselves looking up at the Mariners in the American League West which is a huge surprise for almost every baseball prognosticator, even this early in the season.

Seattle was supposed to be rebuilding after a slew of names were moved in the offseason. Stud infielder Jean Segura was traded to the Phillies and his mate up the middle Robinson Cano was also sent to the NL East in a trade to the Mets. One of the best closers in the game Edwin Diaz was also moved with Cano. James Paxton had been a mainstay of the rotation and was also moved to New York, the Yankees for him. Even young outfielder Ben Gamel was swapped out for another young outfielder.

Replacing them is a hodge-podge of players who failed to succeed elsewhere. It is a who's who of "oh he plays for them now?" Jay Bruce has been a journeyman outfielder converted to first base. Former Astros outfielder Domingo Santana was the player they swapped Ben Gamel for in the trade with the Brewers. Tim Beckham is a failed first overall pick who signed for less than $2 million.

Somehow, Seattle is better. Way better.

It's all led to the best offense in baseball up to this point. They lead in almost every important hitting category and some of those leads are significant. They're 13 points better than Houston who is in second in batting average. They're slugging 30 points better than the closest team. Bruce leads the majors in home runs. Santana is the RBI leader. Beckham, the failed top pick, is slashing .347/.429/.694.

The old baseball adage is each game back in the standings takes a week to erase. The Astros trail the Mariners by four games right now. It isn't the end of the season if the Astros have a bad weekend but it does make the climb to the top of the division a little tougher. Despite Seattle's hot start, they're not super scary.

They have beat up on teams who are supposed to be bad this season and the struggling Red Sox. Their pitching is also mediocre, and did I mention their opponents up to this point have been subpar? The Astros offense has been humming these past six games and that shouldn't change as the eight game road trip begins Friday.

This is a measuring stick for the Astros pitching staff which will see Wade Miley start ahead of Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole. The Mariners do most of their damage in innings one through six so getting to the bullpen late in the game, where the Astros boast a top ten ERA, will be key.

The AL West might be off to a better start than most expected. This will be the first of many series for the Astros to continue to prove the division goes through them.

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Paying a kicker 17 million dollars? Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

Head coach/general manager Bill O'Brien engineered questionable moves during the off-season that already have come back to bite the Texans in the butt. Fans have yet to see the Texans on the right track, at least on television for now. Here are the top three, or bottom three, contracts that have Houston raising eyebrows, shrugging shoulders, and shaking heads.

Randall Cobb: 3 years, $27 million

The 30-year-old wide receiver has been quiet so far this 0-2 season with seven catches for 82 yards. New offensive coordinator Tim Kelly is favoring "12 and 21" schemes which render Cobb the third option behind Will Fuller and Brandin Cooks. This could change now with Fuller nursing a hamstring injury sustained against the Ravens. To be fair, with no preseason games or extended practice, Cobb has not had time to build chemistry with quarterback Deshaun Watson. So let's mark him, "bad contract," but jury still deliberating.

David Johnson: 3 years, $39 million

Johnson has carried the ball 22 times for 111 yards. Normally, these would be acceptable, even commendable stats. However, Johnson carries the burden of being involved in the trade that sent DeAndre Hopkins to Arizona. BTW, Hopkins in tearing it up in Arizona with 22 receptions for 219 yards. Also, more evidence condemning Johnson's contract, the Texans could have made a run at Leonard Fournette (17 carries for 108 yards) or Adrian Peterson (21 carries for 134 yards), both chewing up more turf for less money.

Whitney Mercilus: 4 years, $54 million

Here's another 30-year-old who was being paid big and producing little. He was MIA against the Ravens with no tackles and no sacks, despite being on the field for 70 percent of the Ravens snaps. Mercilus was able to squeeze the Texans for huge money last year when he picked up the workload of injured J.J. Watt.


Honorable Mention

Ka'imi Fairbairn: 4 years, $17,650,000

Fairbairn is the third highest-paid kicker in the NFL. Fairbairn had a rough start against the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 1, missing an extra point and a deep 51-yard field goal attempt. Meanwhile, up in Dallas, Greg 'The Leg' Zuerlein is being paid half of what Fairbairn makes, but knocking them down from the logo, including a last-second, game-winning field goal to beat the Falcons. Former Texans kicker Randy Bullock is enjoying greater success in Cincinnati for considerably fewer dollars, too. Fun fact: Fairbairn is paid more than most Texans secondary defenders.


But really, the worst, and most regrettable Texans contract of all might be Bill O'Brien's deal- 4 years, $20 million.

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