A MAJOR DEAL?

Report of Astros acquiring starting pitcher Gerrit Cole from the Pirates was premature

Gerrit Cole is reportedly going to be an Astro. Sbnation.com

The Astros bid to repeat as World Series champions appeared to get a big boost on Wednesday. And then it didn't. The Astros reportedly acquired Pittsbugh Pirates pitcher Gerrit Cole for prospects. The deal was reported by Jon Morosi of MLB Network and confirmed by several other MLB sources.

However, Jeff Passan of Yahoo disputed the report. Several others joined him in shooting down the deal. Astros GM Jeff Luhnow, the best source of all, also disputed the report.

 "We have talked to several teams about possible trades," Luhnow told Passan. "At this point, nothing is imminent."

He also told Mark Berman of Fox Sports that "We are talking to some free agents and some teams about possible deals.  As of right now, nothing is close enough to become newsworthy."

Morosi never updated his tweets, but did write a story that backed off his assertion that the deal was agreed upon.

If the deal does get done, this is a great move for the Astros. The 27-year-old Cole had a down season last year, with a career-worst 4.26 ERA. But he is under team control for two more seasons and for his career he is 59-42 with a 3.50 ERA. 

The move for Cole would open up all kinds of possibilities. A 1-2-3 of Justin Verlander, Dallas Keuchel and Cole will match up with anyone. The depth would be stronger with Charlie Morton, Lance McCullers, Colin McHugh and potentially Brad Peacock behind them. It frees the Astros up to move Peacock to the bullpen full time, and perhaps even consider McCullers as a closer. It also provides insurance in case Keuchel bolts after next season.

Morosi pointed out on Twitter that Cole's arbitration filing deadline is Friday and the Astros wanted to have the deal done so that they could do it at their own number. 

It would be a strong move that should only make the Astros better in 2018. With a full season of Verlander and the addition of Cole, the Astros are poised to make another magical run. If it gets done, of course.

 

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Another tough loss for the Texans. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images.

The Houston Texans started fast but faltered late as the New York Jets hand Houston their ninth loss of the season 21-14. Here are 11 observations from the game.

1. Starting safety Justin Reid was benched for the game. David Culley said after the game it was his decision as head coach and he would keep the matter internal with Reid.

2. This is the third defender benched for disciplinary reasons this season. Reid joins Zach Cunningham and Desmond King as players who missed time for discipline.

3. Justin Reid told Fox 26 he was benched because he had a disagreement with the coaching staff. He also said he was shocked the Texans benched him. You have to wonder if the “culture” the team is building is right when one of the more likable and personable players falls victim to their rules. Reid, who is a free agent this offseason, could leave the Texans.

4. Tyrod Taylor had a couple of nice plays early on for the Texans. His willingness to take some shots downfield was refreshing and led to a touchdown pass to Brandin Cooks.

5. Rookie tight end Brevin Jordan found the end zone. He has played well in recent weeks after finally getting on the field. Jordan is playing over Jordan Akins as Akins was a healthy scratch again this week.

6. Tytus Howard started at left tackle with mixed results. Howard has struggled to find his way at guard but could be a long-term option at tackle if given the chance.

7. The offensive line overall played poorly after some early success. The pass rush of the Jets got going and the run blocking was poor again. Lane Taylor played at left guard some, with Max Scharping also playing some at that spot.

8. The offense was horrendous after the two scoring drives. The Texans amassed 202 net yards with 91 yards coming on those two scoring drives. Houston gained just 49 net yards after their opening three drives.

9. After the game, I asked David Culley if he would be making a change with his play-caller. Culley stood behind offensive coordinator Tim Kelly and said he would remain the team’s play-caller.

10. Second-year defensive lineman Ross Blacklock had two horrible errors that handed the Jets a chance to turn three points into seven points. Blacklock got a personal foul on a field goal attempt giving the Jets a first down. The very next play his offsides penalty erased a sack. Each week Blacklock falls even more behind a bevy of players drafted after him who contribute positively on a regular basis.

11. The loss to another bottom-dweller has the Texans back in the second spot in the 2022 NFL Draft order. It also feels like the deflating nature of this loss erased some of the good feelings after the victory over the Titans. The Indianapolis Colts come to Houston next week to begin December’s portion of the schedule.

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