The Texans have a plan in place. Composite image by Jack Brame.
There are moves a team can make that will galvanize a team and/or a fanbase. Then there are moves a team can make that'll make you wonder. There are also moves a team can make that'll leave a fanbase speechless for one reason or another. When news came down that the Texans signed quarterback Tyrod Taylor to a one-year deal worth up to $12.5 million dollars, it made waves.
The reason it made waves is because the Texans' franchise quarterback Deshaun Watson has been very vague about his desire to no longer play for the team again. He's been posting cryptic tweets filled with various rap lyrics, as well as scrubbing any mention of the team from his social media bios. It has gotten to the point that even the most hardcore Texan fans and supporters are fed up with his antics.
I never thought it would come to this. Watson has been universally beloved by this city. He could do no wrong. His heart-felt reaction to his contract extension this past September sealed his fate seemingly as he made it seem like this was the only place for him to play and be committed to bringing a championship. Fast-forward a few months, and things are drastically different.
Not only does he want out of Houston, but he's gone about doing so in a manner in which he's turned heel by the way he's chosen to do so. Had he done this quietly, respectfully and behind the scenes, the fanbase wouldn't be as upset as they are now. When JJ Watt released his statement saying he spoke with the team and demanded his release, fans weren't upset at all. They saw it as their long-time great seeking to ride out the twilight of his career in a winning organization instead of facing a rebuild here in Houston. Instead, Watson chose to leak info via his agent and make his intentions known via social media games typical of a disgruntled new age star.
When Nick Caserio signed Tyrod Taylor to the type of deal he did, it put the ball squarely back in Watson's court. Now, Watson can sit out if he chooses, and the Texans will have a respectable quarterback under center. The deal contains a $6 million dollar base salary and up to $6.5 million dollars in incentives. This speaks to Taylor's signing as him being a backup with incentives if he's forced into being the starter. He's a trusted guy to have in that position because he's a proven, reliable guy at a position that has become more valuable over the last few years.
I talked about this on ESPN 97.5 Houston and explained that I believe the grouping of quality backup quarterbacks in the league is bigger than the top tier of elite starters. There may be about five or six elite level quarterbacks in the league, but as many as six to ten backups teams would love to have as their backups. A serviceable backup can win a few games for a team, and maybe even lead them to a playoff berth. He won't be the long-term solution, and often has some deficiencies that'll hold him back from being a full time starter. They're good in spots or small stretches. Typically, they've had the chance to start for teams in the past, but have never proven themselves for one reason or another.
Watson now has to open his width of teams he's willing to take a trade to under his no-trade clause in order to hasten his exit, or be willing to sit out the 2021 season and forfeit about $20 million dollars. Caserio is basically staring at him and his agent with a smirk on his face. This move gives them the chance to be respectable at the quarterback position, but not appear as desperate as they could've been. Your move Watson. Choose wisely.
It's a new year for the Houston Astros as they return to action for their first game of the spring against the Washington Nationals on Saturday.
Every season we see some adjustments to the roster which means we also see some changes in leadership. As Astros fans, we're all aware of Alex Bregman and Kyle Tucker's contract situations. Breggy could be gone after the season, and Tucker could follow one year later.
Which means it's pretty clear who the leaders of the team will be for the foreseeable future. Not only are these guys two of the best players on the club, but they're also under contract for several more years. In Altuve's case, through the 2029 season. For Yordan, he won't sniff free agency until 2029.
While these guys aren't your typical vocal leaders, they are both highly respected and lead by example. Leadership is something that's front of mind for Yordan this season, according to The Athletic's Chandler Rome.
On Yordan Alvarez the leader, one of two constants in a clubhouse bracing for change and the responsibility he wants to shoulder as a result - https://t.co/sZGlI5taBQ
— Chandler Rome (@Chandler_Rome) February 21, 2024
Another way to be a leader is to do everything you can to be available for your team. Alvarez changed his diet in the offseason hoping it will help him stay healthy this year.
Manager Joe Espada said Alvarez is fully healthy and he plans on playing him earlier than normal this spring.
Currently, Yordan is trending down in games played for three straight seasons. But he's such a great player that he needs fewer games to put up massive numbers.
He finished 3rd in MVP voting in 2022, and he only played in 135 games out of a possible 162.
So with that in mind, how many games does Yordan need to play this year to win an MVP?
Plus, who's going to protect him in the lineup? With new manager Joe Espada in place, it's hard to know what the lineup will look like.
One thing we do know, Espada immediately named Josh Hader his closer when spring training began. He also told the media that he wants Jeremy Pena to know where he's going to hit every day when he comes to the ballpark.
Espada values players knowing their roles, and getting comfortable in their routines. Something very different from last season when manager Dusty Baker moved Pena all over the lineup throughout the season.
So what does all this mean for Yordan?
Be sure to watch the video above as we break it all down!
Catch Stone Cold 'Stros (an Astros podcast) every Monday on SportsMapHouston's YouTube channel.