Adding the veteran left-hander makes it easier to handle if Keuchel departs

Miley should have Astros fans smiling

Wade Miley could be a good add for the Astros. Rob Carr/Getty Images

The Astros signed Wade Miley this week to a one year, $4.5 million dollar contract and no one really seemed to be very excited. After all he doesn't throw 95 mph and hasn't won a Cy Young award, but if you dig a little deeper you might find that he could be the perfect replacement for Dallas Keuchel.

Miley, like Keuchel, is lefthanded and has been an all-star previously. More importantly, he has playoff experience just like Dallas and has performed well when on the big stage. He is coming off arguably his best year as a pro as he was 5-2 with the Brewers with a 2.57 ERA. He had four starts in last year's playoff run for Milwaukee and had a stellar 1.23 ERA combined for the Divisional series and the NLCS.

He has never really pitched for a dominant team over the course of his eight-year career, yet his numbers have been steady and he has managed to stay relatively injury free. The opportunity to play for the Astros gives him a chance to play for a contender that has a potent offense, an above average defense and a pitching coach that has proven to be a major factor in resurrecting pitchers' careers. If all goes as planned, he could be the next in a line of veteran pitchers who have found success after coming to H-town.

Making subtle changes to a pitcher' s delivery, mechanics and approach to the craft have been a staple of Brent Strom's role as pitching coach for the Astros. He has been a driving force behind Keuchel's career and Dallas has always been quick to give him credit, particularly when he was interviewed after Houston won the World Series. Strom was singled out and credited with using his lower half more and pinpointing his release point. The two of them spent hours and hours watching videotape and scouring previous starts to find keys to his success and cures for his failures.

Aside from Keuchel, Strom has found success working with Charlie Morton, Gerritt Cole, and Colin McHugh, helping them add spin rate and velocity to their pitches while making them more effective on the mound. Pairing Miley with Strom can do nothing but help the veteran pitcher carry over his success from last season and build on it as he attempts to help the Astros get to another World Series title.

Maybe the deciding factor between bringing in a free agent like Miley and letting a fan favorite like Keuchel walk is the finances. Agent Scott Boras has been trying to formulate a contract in the neighborhood of 5 years and $100 million dollars for his client and that seems to be far too expensive for Jeff Luhnow and owner Jim Crane. With Justin Verlander joining Cole as free agents at the end of the 2019 season, there doesn't seem to be enough money to go around for the third starter in AJ Hinch's rotation.

Miley's contract is very team friendly and it doesn't hinder the franchise going forward when they have some tough negotiations ahead with their top two aces. Saving over $15 million dollars on this year's rotation also allows the team flexibility this season if another free agent bat is targeted or the always-in-demand bullpen arm is considered.

As good as Keuchel has been and for as long as he has been here, it seems as if the time has come to let him find a home for the next chapter in his career that will pay him what he wants and believes he deserves. Meanwhile, the Astros can insert Miley as his replacement with hopes that he will solidify a rotation that lost Morton to free agency and Lance McCullers Jr. to injury while expecting Kuechel to be signing elsewhere soon. If he does, you should wish him well and thank him for helping to bring a title to Houston. If for some crazy reason he is willing to consider giving the Astros a hometown discount on a short term deal, then the rotation could be that much better. Either way, Jeff Luhnow and the 'Stros have all their bases covered.

Photo by Alex Bierens de Haan

What a week.The Rockets look terrible in losing consecutive games to losing teams, and that doesn't register as the tiniest ripple in the week's pond of Houston sports woe. Pond? More like ocean.

The Astros are irrefutably confirmed for all-time as cheaters and liars over a multi-season period. Jim Crane is no idiot, but specifically on the issue of whether the Astros' 2017 World Series championship is tainted, Jim Crane is an idiot if he really thinks it is not. Astro lackeys, toadies, and homers should stop the "a bunch of other teams did it too!" and "Mike Fiers is an a-hole" lameness. The Astros were guilty, caught, and deserved to get hammered. If/when others are proven as guilty as the Astros, so should they be hammered.

So after Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred's lowering of a rightful boom, and then Jim Crane firing Jeff Luhnow and A.J. Hinch, what does it all mean for the 2020 Astros? It's a wow of a story, but really not a crisis. The loss of Gerrit Cole is much more meaningful. Luhnow's shoes are fairly easily filled for this season. Hence for now, Crane himself will head up baseball operations. The Astros weren't and aren't pursuing any meaningful free agents or major trades. Before his demise Luhnow finished the financial corner cutting moves that filled out the roster.

It's not as if Luhnow's personal expertise made all scouting, drafting, and signing decisions. And now the Astros have no first or second round pick to make this June anyway. 30 year old Pete Putila is the ranking baseball guy still employed by the club, but he is a branch of the Luhnow tree. If Crane's goal is the "housecleaning" he termed the Luhnow and Hinch firings as being, how can he promote a Luhnow lieutenant? Every front office in baseball has shrewd analytic minds, looking to move up. Crane can easily hire one of them.

As for field manager, Hinch was a great handler of people (well….with one kind of important exception) but this roster is strong enough to operate on autopilot to a good extent. Bench coach Joe Espada is highly regarded and been a finalist for other managerial gigs. But he was on Hinch's staff when cheating was ongoing in 2018. That seems pretty much disqualifying. Two known interviewees are quality options, though neither has skippered a team to the World Series. Buck Showalter was always extremely highly regarded, John Gibbons steered the Blue Jays to back-to-back American League Championship Series appearances in 2015 and 2016. Between those two I'd lean Showalter but either would be fine.

Remember The Texans

How thankful are Bill O'Brien and the Texans for the Astros' mess grabbing all the headlines not even 24 hours after the Texans' collapse in Kansas City? It's almost impossible to get blown out of an NFL game in which you lead 24-nothing. Almost. The Texans pulled it off! Won't that cute little AFC South Champion banner be extra cute when it hangs next season? Hangs like a dead man from a noose.

As I put it last week, the Chiefs' offense is better than the Texans' offense, the Chiefs' defense better than the Texans' defense, and the Chiefs' coaching better than the Texans' coaching. But the way the game played out was still preposterous.

If Travis Kelce had beaten Lonnie Johnson any worse than he did Johnson's name should have been legally changed to Rented Mule. J.J. Watt was essentially a zero. No tackles, no assists on tackles, no sacks, no quarterback hits. Are you going to pay 15 and a half million dollars to a 31 year old Watt after his three major injuries in the last four seasons. That's a yes.

At least we have clarity that the Texans must dedicate their first round pick to a pass rusher or a defensive back. Wait, they don't have a first round pick. Well, in 2021 then. Wait. Bill O'Brien traded that away too. Speaking of O'Brien…

Opting for the field goal on fourth and one up 21-0 early second quarter was not indefensible. However, O'Brien's explanation for doing so was pitiful. The fake punt? Most agree, dumb.But not absolutely indefensible. This was the O'Brien Is Not Fit For Command moment of the game: He needed to use a timeout, with 11:45 left in the fourth quarter, the Texans down 17, facing fourth and fourth and four, in Chiefs' territory, to decide to go for the first down rather than punt. A cinder block could have displayed the same game management IQ. O'Brien has three seasons left on his contract. Unless Cal McNair takes a decidedly different tack than his father did, O'Brien's job is as safe as any Supreme Court Justice's.

Speaking of Cal, since the loss he's been spotted as often and been as vocal this week as Alex Bregman.

Buzzer Beaters

1. So, if guaranteed the truth: For a million dollars is your bet Altuve was wearing something or not? 2. Alex Cora should be banned from ever again managing a Major League team. 3. Famous "scandals": Bronze-Teapot Dome Silver-Patty Smyth fronted band, had big hit with Goodbye to You Gold-Kerry Washington and the TV show.

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome