Farewell Houston

Patrick Creighton: Texans look cheap in cutting Derek Newton

The Texans cut Derek Newton despite being thin at tackle. Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

Reports Thursday have indicated the Houston Texans will release OT Derek Newton, who has been working his way back from double torn patella tendons suffered Week 7 of the 2016 season and have kept him out of action since.

A double patella tear in a 6’6” 315 lb. man is a devastating injury, yet Newton has worked his tail off to return to the field. Newton had been cleared by doctors to participate in the Texans offseason program, but the team has decided to part ways with him anyway.

Newton, a 7th rd. pick out of Arkansas State in 2011, progressed quickly under head coach Bill O’Brien after struggling in former coach Gary Kubiak’s system. Newton was the team’s starting right tackle, and even spelled some at left tackle when needed. He also played guard at times due to injuries on the line, and displayed his versatility well.

Newton was due a $500k roster bonus on April 1, which the team has not paid yet, and is refusing to pay, claiming he could not pass a physical.

For a team that is in dire straits at offensive tackle, this seems to be a strange position to take.

We already know teams can flunk guys on physicals for anything, and that it can be a shady process used to get out of deals a team has second thoughts on. Considering Newton was just cleared by doctors, and the Texans are very weak at tackle, why not keep a guy on your roster that has shown in the past he can be a solid tackle?

Newton has had an incredibly tough road to hoe, but he’s done it, and continues to do so. It would still be an uphill climb for him to get ready for opening day, but it’s possible he could help the team this year.  So what’s with the hurry to let him go and stiff him on the bonus?

The bonus is only $500k. The Texans still have over $32M of cap space available. It’s not like they needed the money to make another move to replace him. They had all the opportunity in the world in free agency to sign players. It doesn’t make sense to cut a guy who may be able to help your team during the season over $500k when you don’t need the money. What are you saving it for?

Newton has been a good soldier for the Texans. He even agreed to restructure his contract last year to alleviate the team of longer term liability to him if he couldn’t make it back. Originally set to make $4.75M for 2017-2019 in base salary, he accepted a reduction to $1.75M guaranteed 2017 and non-guaranteed salaries of $2.25M for 2018 and $2M for 2019. He would have a chance to recoup the lost money in per-game active roster bonuses.

Bottom line: The Texans cut a guy returning from injury who was just cleared by doctors who wasn’t making much money, when they have more money than they can spend at this point, and who plays a position they are desperate for help at.  

Forgive me but that makes zero sense.

I could certainly understand if Newton had not been cleared. However, he has been cleared by none other than world renowned orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews, and was successfully doing one legged squats.  

Texans head coach Bill O’Brien offered testimony to Newton’s work ethic on the comeback trail.

"Nobody's worked harder than Derek Newton to try to get back to where he's at. That guy's been in there every single day at 6 a.m., five days a week. He probably comes in on the weekends on his own.”

Yet the team is abandoning all hope on him and stiffing him on the roster bonus.

For a team that drastically needs all the offensive tackles it can find, this comes across as the ultimate penny pinch.

 

Patrick Creighton is the host of “Straight Heat” 9p-12a CT on SB Nation Radio & SportsMap 94.1FM Houston.  He also hosts “Nate & Creight” Sundays 12-5p CT on SB Nation Radio & SportsMap 94.1 FM. Follow him on Twitter: @pcreighton1

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Houston couldn't keep up

Astros fall to Blue Jays as Toronto gets homer-happy

Houston's bats couldn't keep up with Toronto's Saturday night. Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

With an offensive clinic in the opener on Friday night, which helped them handily defeat the Blue Jays, the Astros returned to Minute Maid Park Saturday with a chance to secure another series. Toronto had other plans, though, reversing roles with Houston by getting big home runs to even the series.

Final Score: Blue Jays 8, Astros 4

Astros' Record: 17-16, third in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Steven Matz (5-2)

Losing Pitcher: Cristian Javier (3-1)

Toronto flips the script and turns on their offense against Javier

Toronto flipped the script from the night before early in this middle game of the series, dealing damage to Cristian Javier, who so far in 2021 had been able to limit his amount of earned runs. After retiring the first four batters he faced, a one-out walk in the top of the second set up the Blue Jays' first hit of the night, a two-run home run by Cavan Biggio, giving them a 2-0 lead over Houston.

After a leadoff home run made it a 3-0 score, Javier would deal with the fallout of more walks in the top of the third, issuing two to set up a two-out two-RBI double to give the Jays a commanding 5-0 advantage. Javier would battle back and complete five full innings, getting one out into the sixth before a walk would prompt Dusty Baker to make the call to the bullpen. His final line: 5.1 IP, 4 H, 5 ER, 4 BB, 8 K, 2 HR, 91 P.

Alvarez keeps mashing as Houston tries to claw back into it

Javier would exit with at least some runs on the board in support of him, with Yordan Alvarez hitting a two-run opposite-field homer in the bottom of the fourth to cut the lead to three runs. Alvarez accounted for another run in the next inning, coming through with an RBI-single to make it 5-3, which is where the game stood as Andre Scrubb would take over in the top of the sixth.

Scrubb finished that inning for Javier and returned for a 1-2-3 seventh to keep it a two-run game. Bryan Abreu was the next reliever, and he, too, was able to retire the Blue Jays in order in the top of the eighth. The Astros continued to chip away at Toronto's lead, getting another run in the bottom of the inning on an RBI by Yuli Gurriel to make it 5-4 heading to the ninth.

Toronto evens the series

Brooks Raley entered to try and keep it a one-run game with a clean inning, but instead, two runners would reach on a walk and error before Joe Smith would enter to try and strand them. Instead, a two-out home run put the game back out of reach at 8-4, with Houston coming up empty in the bottom of the inning, setting up a rubber match in the finale.

Up Next: This series's third and final game will be an afternoon start of 1:10 PM Central on Sunday. Zack Greinke (2-1, 3.76 ERA) will try to add more wins to his record for Houston, while Nate Pearson will be making his 2021 debut for Toronto.

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