Falcon Points

Ranking the 5 biggest moves in a busy summer for Houston sports

Ranking the 5 biggest moves in a busy summer for Houston sports
Compilation by Brandon Strange

Someone asked me on Twitter if there has ever been a more active summer in terms of Houston sports teams both on and off the field. You would be hard-pressed to find one. Let's look at the five biggest moves this summer and grade them:

5) Texans go GM by committee, ship out Clowney for nothing

Texans Jadeveon ClowneyHouston Texans/Facebook

The Texans botched their draft, then fired their GM search and botched that, leaving them with a "flatter" organization. It's also a dumber one. Mainly because of the "deal" they made to trade Jadeveon Clowney.

This is a move the Texans did not need to make, especially if they were going to go all-in on the other move on this list. Trading one of your best five players when you did not need to is frankly just dumb. Seattle might only get a year out of him, but then they would get a third round pick if he signs elsewhere, which is basically what they give up. Huge win for Seattle.

Grade: F.

4) Verlander's dominance

Justin Verlander pitches Game 1. Bob Levey/Getty Images

Justin Verlander cemented his Cy Young case with a no-hitter on Sunday in Toronto, striking out 14. Verlander is 17-5 with 2.56 ERA and 257 strikeouts. We are seeing a future Hall of Famer at his very best.

Grade: A+.

3) Astros additions

Colorado Rockies v Houston Astros

The Astros made a big splash at the deadline, acquiring Zack Greinke. While he has not been dominant yet as an Astro, he is one of the best in the business and the move bolstered the Astros World Series chance. In addition, the exciting young Jordan Alvarez was called up and all he has done is make a run at the Rookie of the Year award by hitting well over .300 with 22 HRs and 63 RBI in just 66 games. Throw in Aaron Sanchez's debut with a combined no-hitter and the Stros continue to be the best run organization in the city.

Grade: A+

2) Texans go all in on Tunsil

After the disastrous Clowney trade, the Texans shipped two No. 1s and a 2 to Miami for Laremy Tunsil and WR Kenny Stills. Tunsil is something the Texans have been desperate for ever since they shipped off Duane Brown for nothing - a legitimate, No. 1 left tackle with upside. The price was steep, but players like Tunsil are rarely available. He should make a huge difference. It also makes the Clowney trade worse, because if you are going all-in on the season, why don't you keep him?

Grade: B

1) Rockets acquire Westbrook

Russell WestbrookJayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images

The Rockets made a huge splash, acquiring former MVP Russell Westbrook for Chris Paul and a package of picks. While it may or not be a fit, putting Westbrook with Harden gives the Rockets an intriguing duo in the Western Conference. For sheer entertainment value, the Rockets get a good grade.

Grade: A-

The bottom line

The Texans and Rockets may never have another first-round pick, but if either team is successful, that will be forgotten. The Astros continue to be the gold standard by which all others are measured. Regardless, it has been one hell of an active summer. Now we will see how it all plays out when it counts.

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This year's results are very telling. Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images.

There was the usual – now annual – blowback after the 2024 Hall of Fame voting was announced. Why does the Hall of Fame make candidates wait up to 15 years for voters to decide if they’re worthy? And if they’re still not voted in, a veterans “eras” committee has to infinity and beyond to induct them.

There was grumbling in Houston especially where former Astros closer Billy Wagner was denied election by five votes, despite favorable career stats compared to previously inducted relievers. This was Wagner’s ninth and penultimate year of eligibility on the Baseball Writers Association of America ballot. According to Hall of Fame trends, Wagner should gain the necessary 75 percent of the writers’ vote next year for induction.

As they say on those political talk shows, one “down ballot” race may prove the most interesting result on the 2024 results.

Carlos Beltran was named on 57.1 percent of the ballots cast in his second year of eligibility. That’s up from 46.5 percent last year, well on track for eventual admission to the Hall of Fame.

What’s curious, as an elite center fielder and one of the greatest postseason hitters ever, Beltran’s statistics should have made him a first-ballot candidate last year and a near-lock this time.

So why is he still on the outside looking in? One reason: Beltran was considered the mastermind of the Houston Astros 2017-18 sign-stealing scandal. Several Hall of Fame voters, including those who voted for and against Beltran, both last year and this year, said that Beltran’s participation in the scandal was a factor.

Dan Barbarisi – He’d (Beltran) probably be in this year if it weren’t for the sign-stealing scandal, but he was fantastic over his years with the Royals and Mets.

Rustin Dodd: I added Carlos Beltrán, whose statistical case seems clear to me. His connection to the Astros sign-stealing scandal gave me pause. If you’re not dinging Beltrán for being a nefarious Astro, then his normal Hall of Fame credentials are obvious.

Randy Miller: I also passed on second-year candidate Carlos Beltran, the ringleader of the Astros’ illegal sign-stealing in 2017. The cheating occurred throughout the year and into the postseason, which included beating the Yankees in an ALCS that went the distance and the Dodgers in a seven-game World Series. Hall of Fame voters are instructed to cast ballots “based upon the player’s record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character, and contributions to the team(s) on which the player played.” Beltran doesn’t make the cut for integrity, sportsmanship and character, so he’s never getting my vote.

Now let’s take a look at more telling, targeted comments from Hall of Fame voters that could cause a ruckus down the road for Astros fans

Ken Rosenthal: Few things in this world are black and white. That goes for Beltran’s candidacy, and the future candidacies of other position players from those Astros teams, too.

Steve Buckley: And now we have a brand-new level of madness. How to judge the Hall of Fame worthiness of players involved in the 2017 Houston Astros cheating scandal? And leading off for your Houston Astros, No. 15, Carlos Beltrán! I’m not going to trifle with a long, drawn-out statistical breakdown as to why I believe Beltrán belongs in the Hall of Fame. He has the numbers. On that basis, he belongs. But we all know it’s not about the numbers in this case, just as it has never been about the numbers with Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens. With Beltrán, it’s about being a central player in the Astros’ sign-stealing scheme — which included banging trash cans as a means to communicate to their batters what the opposing pitcher was throwing. Trash cans!

Which brings us to the case of …

Jose Altuve is 33 years old. He has played 13 years, his entire career, with the Houston Astros. He has one more year on his current contract. Most expect that Astros will offer him a four or five-year extension to complete his career in an Astros uniform. He is the heart and soul of the Astros. He’s led the Astros to two World Series titles. He is a fantastic clutch hitter, an MVP, batting champ, civic leader, possibly the most beloved and cherished athlete ever in Houston.

He also was a member of the 2017 World Series champion Astros. The 2017 sign-stealing Astros.

What will happen if Altuve retires after the 2029 season with impeccable, undeniable, first-ballot Hall of Fame credentials? Yet he doesn’t gain enough votes during his first year of eligibility. And Astros fans hear exit-poll comments similar to what they heard about Beltran this year?

This place will lose its mind.

According to former Astros on the 2017 team, Altuve did not participate in the sign-stealing, trashcan-banging scandal. When asked if he was part of the scheme, Altuve would only say that he was a member of the team and he stood with his brothers as a team.

Years later, Altuve still is mercilessly boo’d in every MLB stadium other than Minute Maid Park. National baseball broadcasters continue to label him a cheater. He has the stink of scandal all over him.

All of the Astros players from 2017-18 were given immunity. Although Altuve was never singled out as a cheater (in fact there is evidence the opposite is true), he may suffer baseball’s ultimate undeserved punishment for being an innocent bystander.

And trust me, it will hit the fan in Houston.

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