The Pallilog

No, Cooks is no Hopkins, but on its own, Texans make a decent trade

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Caveat ahead of the rest of this column: So much is trivial relative to the life and death and other critical Covid-19 pandemic issues, but sports matter as passions of so many, as multi-billion dollar businesses with impact on many other businesses, and beyond. All things in context.

The Texans acquisition of wide receiver Brandin Cooks from the Los Angeles Rams doesn't undo the dim-bulbness of the DeAndre Hopkins to the Cardinals deal, but Bill O'Brien made a reasonable though hardly risk-free deal in getting Cooks. It nets out that basically Emperor O dealt Hopkins for Cooks, running back David Johnson, and a 17 slot move up in the 2nd round. That's not a good exchange for the Texans, but not as bad as the Hopkins trade by itself.

It is amusing that Cooks is in the middle of a five year 81 million dollar contract, the exact length and dollar figures of the Hopkins contract O'Brien chose to unload. Cooks makes eight million in 2020, then has zero remaining guaranteed dollars left over the remaining three seasons of his contract. If kept on with that deal Cooks would average 13 mil per season covering 2021 through 2023. Hopkins averages about 13.3 mil over the three remaining seasons on his deal.

The Texans give up the lower of their two second round picks for Cooks, so they still have the 40th overall selection in the draft two weeks from now. With Cooks, Randall Cobb, Will Fuller, and Kenny Stills the Texans have their primary wide receiving corps settled, so their top draft pick can now be earmarked toward a pass rusher, a guard, or the always popular "best player available."

What does it say more about a player who is traded three times in just over three years: bad that teams feel like they're better off moving the guy, or good that there's been consistent interest in acquiring his services? Cooks was a Saints first round pick in 2014. After the 2016 season they dealt him to the Patriots, after just one season in New England Cooks was dealt to the Rams, and now the Rams deal him here. Cooks comes to the Texans off of his lowest reception total season and lowest touchdown catch season of his career. Oh, he's had at least five concussions during his six seasons in the NFL. However, before missing two games last season to a concussion Cooks played all 16 regular season games four consecutive seasons. In the last three of those he topped 1000 yards in receptions and averaged at least 15 yards per catch.


Had a little fun with this on the radio show Thursday: uniform number 34 for Houston is the overwhelming iconic pro sports number (Hakeem Olajuwon, Earl Campbell, Nolan Ryan). What's the second greatest number in Houston sports annals? What cities can even remotely rival Houston 34 with numbers of their own? Three athletes, three different sports. Thoughts below in Buzzer Beaters.

Forbes magazine this week released its annual valuation estimates for the 30 Major League Baseball franchises. It ranks the Astros 11th at 1.85 billion dollars. That's right about triple what Jim Crane and his partners paid for it less than nine years ago. The Yankees top the list as always, at five billion. Four other teams are worth more than a billion more than the Astros: Dodgers, Red Sox, Cubs, and Giants. Forbes's call on the most profitable franchise for 2019? The Astros, at 99 million. Crane was denied in his prior effort to buy the Texas Rangers. Before Covid-19 this was to have been an Astros at Rangers weekend, the Astros' first visit to the Rangers' new retractable roof ballpark.

So, ESPN is televising a two hour Horse competition among four NBA players, two former NBA players, and two WNBA players. Sunday's quarterfinals will be a two hour broadcast. Two hours for four games of Horse? Four games of Hippopotamus shouldn't take two hours! Four games of Parastratiosphecomvia stratiophecomyioides? Maybe. That's the longest named animal species. A type of fly. I can't see Horse holding my attention much longer (which is not long at all) than the NBA 2K video tournament ESPN is showing. Tough being the Worldwide Leader In Sports without any real sports.

Buzzer Beaters: 1. Modern Family had its series finale this week. Top 10 sitcom of all-time. Maybe top 5. 2. Number 2 Houston uniform number is number 1. Warren Moon, Tracy McGrady, Carlos Correa 3. Best other city sports numbers: Bronze-Atlanta 21 (Warren Spahn, Dominique Wilkins, Deion Sanders) Silver- Chicago 23 (Michael Jordan, Ryne Sandberg, Devin Hester) Gold-Los Angeles 32 (Magic Johnson, Sandy Koufax, Marcus Allen)

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Kyle Tucker had a big day at the plate on Sunday. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

After splitting the first two games of the series, with one team or the other putting on a solid offensive performance in each, the Astros tried to win their fourth series in their last five by taking the rubber game on Sunday against the Blue Jays. Thanks in part to a big day from Kyle Tucker, who played a significant role in the early offense they used to power to the win, they would accomplish their mission.

Final Score: Astros 7, Blue Jays 4

Astros' Record: 18-16, second in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Bryan Abreu (2-1)

Losing Pitcher: Nate Pearson (0-1)

Kyle Tucker helps lead the offense to seven unanswered runs

Houston did not go easy on Nate Pearson in his 2021 debut. After a scoreless first, the Astros loaded the bases on two walks and a single, then brought the first run of the day home on an RBI walk by Michael Brantley. Another walk opened the door in the bottom of the third, and Kyle Tucker capitalized with an RBI triple to make it 2-0, followed by an RBI single by Robel Garcia to make it a three-run lead, ending Pearson's day one out into the bottom of the third.

Things didn't get easier for Toronto's pitching in the next inning, as Jose Altuve would lead off the bottom of the fourth with a solo homer. A single and a walk then set up another big hit for Kyle Tucker, a three-run dinger to make it seven unanswered runs and giving Tucker four RBI on the day.

Blue Jays pound Greinke in the fifth

After four shutout innings to start his day on the mound, working around a few hits along the way, Zack Greinke tried to cash in on his team's offense to get another win on his record. He wouldn't be able to get it done, though, as Toronto would get after him in the top of the fifth. They would score four times amongst five batters that came to the plate, with a solo homer by Rowdy Tellez, a two-RBI double by Bo Bichette, and an RBI single by Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

That made it a 7-4 game, and with Greinke still not having recorded an out in the frame, Dusty Baker would lift him at 88 pitches in favor of Bryan Abreu, who would get a pop out and a double play to end the inning and keep the lead at three runs. Greinke's final line: 4.0 IP, 9 H, 4 ER, 0 BB, 4 K, 1 HR, 88 P.

Houston takes the series

No more runs would come on either side the rest of the way, with Kent Emanuel working around a single for a scoreless sixth, Ryne Stanek getting a 1-2-3 seventh, and Andre Scrubb doing the same in the eighth to set up Ryan Pressly for the save. Pressly would get the job done, sending the Blue Jays down in order, including two strikeouts to wrap up the win and giving Houston the series victory.

Up Next: The Astros will stay at home to continue this homestand, welcoming in the Angels for three games starting Monday at 7:10 PM Central. The opener will feature a pitching matchup of Alex Cobb (1-2, 5.48 ERA) for Los Angeles and Luis Garcia (0-3, 3.28 ERA) for Houston.

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