WHAT'S THE NEXT STEP?

The last guy on the Astros who should be complaining, just did

Here's what needs to happen with Odorizzi. Composite image by Jack Brame.

Here's my two cents about Astros petulant pitcher Jake Odorizzi … he ain't worth the money. Not after his toddler temper tantrum Tuesday night, whining on TV because manager Dusty Baker pulled him after five innings in a game, maybe the biggest game of the Astros season, which they won!

He ain't worth the $9 million the Astros are paying him this season, or the $23.5 over three years, or now even my two cents.

It's clubhouse poison when a player puts himself over the team. After the foul Odorizzi that came wafting out of the Astros clubhouse Tuesday, it sure looks like Odorizzi cares less about the word that's on the front of his jersey (Astros) than the numbers on the back of his baseball card.

Let's look at those numbers. Odorizzi is 6-7 with a 4.28 earned run average. How does that stack up with the rest of the Astros starting pitchers? Judge for yourself.

Zack Greinke (11-5, 3.66), Lance McCullers (11-4, 3.19), Luis Garcia (10-6, 3.29), Framber Valdez (9-5, 3.08) and Jose Urquidy (6-3, 3.51).

Odorizzi is the only Astros starter with a losing record and has the highest earned run average. Simply, Odorizzi is a losing pitcher on a winning team chugging full steam on a pennant drive, looking to make a World Series run. The rest of the team is busting their humps down the stretch, and here's a guy moaning about playing time.

After Odorizzi's pop off, I contacted a friend, a big Astros fan. I said, you know, it sort of sounded like Odorizzi said he was happy the Astros won the game because if they had lost he would have taken the blame.

Friend said, "What are you talking about? That's exactly what he said!"

Roll the tape. Odorizzi: "I'm glad we won, that's for sure. If not, I'm sure I would've been subject to blame because of only going five innings."

He added that manager Dusty Baker's decision to pull him after five innings and 66 pitches was "bullsh--."

Then there's this: like many MLB contracts, Odorizzi's deal is laden with incentives. For example, next year, Odorizzi will earn $500,000 if he pitches 100 or more innings, with more for 110, 120, 130 innings, plus bonuses if he wins the Cy Young Award, World Series MVP, All-Star Game or Gold Glove. It's hard to get there going only five innings.

Maybe Odorizzi didn't get a snow cone after the game like in Little League? Because that's where you see behavior like this. A 13-year-old hotshot, his ego fueled by a delusional dad, tells the coach that he'll play All-Stars only if he's the shortstop or pitcher, and he's got to bat cleanup. Oh, and you're not taking me out of the game after five innings.

Let's crunch some numbers. Dusty Baker played 19 years in the big leagues and has managed about 3,700 games over a quarter-century. He was honored as Manager of the Year three times. You could say that Baker's been around.

Jake Odorizzi has spent 10 years in the majors. His career record is 68-63. Basically he averages seven wins a season. That's him, all right, average.

And there he was on TV (at least on cable in Houston) second-guessing his manager and complaining how he's being used on the Astros - the first place Astros who are sticking together in this difficult season where they're portrayed as villains over a cheating scandal back in 2017.

During his childish rant, before he left the microphone in a huff, Odorizzi was asked if he's discussed his unhappiness with Baker or "Strommy" (pitching coach Brent Strom).

Odorizzi said, "Nobody talked to me."

What's the next step?

"Your guess is as good as mine."

Here's a guess: with Urquidy back in the rotation and Greinke soon to return from Covid, how about dispatching Odorizzi to the bullpen as a long reliever, leaving him off the post-season roster and unloading him during the off-season? The last thing the first-place Astros need is a bellyacher in the clubhouse who shows up the manager in public.

We've had players crap all over their team in Houston before, like James Harden and Deshaun Watson. The difference between those guys and Odorizzi … Harden and Watson were superstars at the height of their glorious talent. And they mostly did it behind the scenes, letting their agents do their bidding.

Now something off topic that I've always wondered about. Did Brent Strom call his father "Pa" when he was growing up? Because that would have made him "Pa Strommy" – "the most sensual of all the salted cured meats," according to George Costanza's girlfriend Vivian on Seinfeld.

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The Houston Texans have just a couple of practices before their preseason debut. Here are 11 observations from Tuesday’s workout.

1.The offense stunk on Tuesday. It was inconsistent and resembled more of last year’s disappointing performances than any other practices in this training camp.

2. Davis Mills and his receivers had a few miscommunications on Tuesday. Mills sailed a pass to nobody when he and Brandin Cooks weren’t on the same page. There were some other throws to nowhere in the day. It was something that hadn’t been present at all in training camp to this point.

3. There were a few “good coverage” notes on Tuesday. Not to say there was one specific player, but a handful of team-level efforts that led to the note.

4. It wasn’t all wrong from the offense. After a pass to nowhere Davis Mills and the offense bounced back. It was a second down during a team drill and Mills fired a pass to Chris Moore for six yards. Rex Burkhead would pick up a first down on a rush a play later. A non-positive play last year on first down doomed this team. That hopefully won’t be the case for this year’s team.

5. Chad Beebe is going into his fifth season in the NFL, his first with the Texans. The former Vikings pass catcher has flashed a few times in training camp. He has an uphill battle being new to the team but is trying to make himself a factor.

6. Phillip Dorsett had a big catch over the middle. Davis Mills stood back and delivered as the offensive line held up and Dorsett reeled it in for a huge gain. No defenders were around him. It is between Dorsett and Chris Moore for the chance to be the slot wideout opening day. With Dorsett’s return to practice, it is becoming a fun camp battle.

7.Speaking of returns to practice, Tytus Howard was back. Howard has his reps managed and after practice, offensive line coach George Warhop Howard was “getting his wind” back. When Howard was having his reps managed rookie tackle Austin Deculus played at right tackle. Deculus looks much more consistent than minicamp and OTAs.

8. Kenyon Green is still out with an injury. It is getting to a critical time where the time missed might prevent the first-rounder from starting week one. Max Scharping hasn’t looked bad in his chances with the first team. Offensive line coach George Warhop said they believe in Green and his ability and he has been in meetings to stay up to date.

9. Ka’imi Fairbairn was perfect in one of the special team periods. He drilled all five kicks, each further than the last, and was crushing the football.

10. Derek Stingley was very sticky in some early reps on Nico Collins. The third overall pick is so smooth when he is working. Later his coverage forced a throw from the offense that had no chance of being completed.

11. The play of the day was made by Derek Stingley. The offense was about five or six yards out of the end zone needing a touchdown to win. With six seconds left on the clock, any completed pass that wasn’t a touchdown was game over. Davis Mills dropped back a step and fired to Nico Collins who Stingley covered. The rookie kept the second-year player out of the end zone to earn the defense a win. This was one of the better Stingley days and he did a lot of work. At one point, it looked as though he and Rex Burkhead had some words and almost led to an offense and defense scuffle, but it stayed to just some shouting. The rookie shined today.

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