Falcon Points

The 5 worst trades in Houston sports history

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When the Houston Texans made the baffling trade with Arizona on Monday, it made no sense. Sending All-Pro receiver DeAndre Hopkins to the Cardinals for essentially a second-round pick and a broken down, overpaid running back instantly became one of the worst deals in the history of Houston sports. Most of the time, Houston teams are on the right end of trades. But there have been times that was not the case. A look at the five worst trades in Houston history:

5) Rockets trade Elvin Hayes to Washington for Jack Marin (June 23, 1972)

This move happened while the team was still in San Diego, but it belongs on the list. Marin was a decent player who had one All-Star season with the Rockets then fell off the map. Hayes became one of the league's best players, a Hall of Famer who helped lead Washington to a title and numerous Finals appearances. Hayes was a member of the NBA's 50th anniversary all-time team. He was dealt reportedly because of a personality clash with then-coach Tex Winter. Winter would last one more season. Hayes would thrive in Washington, eventually returning to Houston for the end of his career. Considered one of the best deals in Washington history, the Rockets were on the wrong end. The only reason this is not higher is that they were still the San Diego Rockets at the time. You could make a case for this one at No. 1

4) Rockets trade Moses Malone to Philadelphia (Sept. 15, 1983)

In a way, this trade worked out in that the Rockets were so bad they got back-to-back No. 1 picks, one being Hakeem Olajuwon, who would finally bring the team a title in 1993-94. But Malone was an MVP, the league's best rebounder and had just led the Rockets to the Finals two years before the deal. It was basically because ownership did not want to pay him as a restricted free agent, so the Rockets dealt him. Malone helped lead the 76ers to the title in 1983, and Malone would get his second straight MVP award. Basically, the Rockets dealt one of the best players in the league for a No. 1 pick that turned out to be Rodney McCray. McCray was an OK player, but not in the class of Malone. The only reason this isn't No. 1 is part of the deal was to tank, which eventually worked out. But trading perhaps the best player in the league in his prime as a salary dump was a bad look all around.

3) Astros trade Curt Schilling to the Phillies for Jason Grimsley (April 2, 1992)

The Astros had no idea what they had in Schilling, who was 3-5 with a 3.81 ERA and eight saves. All it took was a change of scenery and a move to the starting rotation and Schilling would go on to six All-Star appearances and three World Series appearances. Grimsley? He never pitched for the Astros and was released a year later. He would go on to a 15-year career and won as many as seven games just once.

2) Texans trade DeAndre Hopkins to Arizona (March 16, 2020)

Before you cry "recency bias," this trade was very similar to the Malone deal in that Hopkins is one of the best in the league, and the Texans basically got just a second round pick back for an elite player who is in his prime on a team-friendly contract. But throw in the fact that they took on a vastly overpaid, broken down running back that they probably could have gotten a draft pick just for taking him on...This deal makes no sense from a Texans standpoint. They got far too little for Hopkins, took on a bad contract from an oft-injured player and decimated the receiving corps in the process. The longterm ramifications of this deal could be even worse if Deshaun Watson decides he does not want to be in Houston because of the deal. This was Bill O'Brien's small-man syndrome ego at its very worst, and there is no way this deal looks better over time unless David Johnson reverts to his one career year, Will Fuller stays healthy and Hopkins falls off the map. Good luck with all of that. You don't trade one of the best players in the league if you are trying to compete for a title, and the Texans can't even be tanking because they have no picks. Dumb move all around.

1) Oilers trade Steve Largent to Seattle (1976)

The Oilers drafted Steve Largent in the fourth round in 1973. He was going to be cut at the end of camp, so they shipped him to Seattle for an 8th-round pick. All he did was become one of the all-time greats, playing 14 seasons, eight of them with at least 1,000 yards, and scoring 100 touchdowns. The Oilers clearly did not know what they had, and he never played a down for the team.

Honorable mention (6-10)

6) May 16, 1973: Oilers trade Kenny Houston to the Redskins.

7) Nov. 29, 1971: Astros trade Joe Morgan to the Reds

8) Sept. 1, 2019: Texans trade Jadeveon Clowney to Seattle.

9) Oct. 30, 2017: Texans trade Duane Brown to Seattle.

10) Dec 10, 1991: Astros trade Kenny Lofton to the Indians for catcher Ed Taubensee.

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All systems go for the Astros!Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

10 days ago I noted that the Astros had finished an amazingly lengthy schedule stretch that would have needed to harden up to become powderpuff soft.
I Tweeted this:

Well, seven wins against just two losses later, whip up is what they did. Sweeping four games from the Mets in which the Mets never led at any point? Not exactly payback for older Astros' fans who remember 1986, but sweet nevertheless. Taking three of five from the Yankees in all compelling games looked like a fabulous precursor to a highly possible third Astros-Yankees American League Championship Series matchup in six years.

Despite their present 48-27 mark the Astros are still seven games behind the Yankees and their crazy 56-21 ledger. The Yanks are absolutely catchable though. Not because the Astros are the flat out better team, nothing indicates that. It's the schedule. There are four losing teams behind the Astros in the AL West. Behind the Yankees in the AL East, three winning teams (Red Sox, Blue Jays, Rays). Even the woebegone for years Orioles are much improved, with the best last place record in Major League Baseball (as a reference point, the Orioles record is 10 games better than AL West laughingstock Oakland). Over the coming dog days of summer the Yanks have the substantially higher intradivisional hurdles. The plot reeeeally thickens if the Astros sweep the doubleheader with the Yankees at Minute Maid Park slotted July 21 right out of the All-Star break. That's it for regular season matchups between them.

The Astros enter the weekend exactly as far ahead (seven games) of the AL Central-leading Minnesota Twins as they are behind the Yanks. That's a very strong position for the Astros to secure a bye past the best-of-three Wild Card Series. Remember, with the newly expanded postseason format byes go to the top two division winners in each league.

Now for the Astros it's back to a marshmallow opponents parade. They have 16 games remaining before the All-Star break, all vs. losers: six with the Angels, six with the A's, four with the Royals. Let's reasonably posit that the Astros successfully take out the trash more regularly than they did in the 34 game stretch. 12-4 is certainly plausible. That would get the Astros to 60 wins at the break with a record of 60-31, which would be on pace for a season total of 106.8 wins. Let's round up. 107 wins is the franchise record they set in 2019.

This team is outstanding, but still can use an offensive upgrade. The lineup just had its best month of the season but that didn't take a whole lot. Alex Bregman has finally perked up some. Yuli Gurriel, not so much. Martin Maldonado, pretty much unperkable. Heed this James Click: more potent lineups than the 2022 Astros came up short in the World Series in both 2019 and 2021.

Barring a huge second half of the season, Gurriel should not be in the Astros' 2023 plans. I'd say the same for Maldonado but he is on course to have a five million dollar option next year become guaranteed. He's played in 54 games this season, the option vests at 90. Ideally he's a backup. At the risk of some charging heresy, Maldonado's defensive imperativity (is that a word?) is overblown. Pitch-framing metrics do not rate him highly. He does not eliminate opposition running games. One, very few teams run much at all. Two, Maldonado has thrown out 26 percent of would be basestealers this season. Jason Castro has thrown out 25 percent. The big one last. With Maldonado behind the plate this season, Astros' pitchers' earned run average is 3.23. With Castro, 2.37. Would that hold up for Castro if he was the primary catcher? No chance. But sample size issues accepted, that Maldonado's defensive savant-ness renders his offensive ineptitude inconsequential? Nah. Certainly not in a lineup not up to recent past Astro teams.

Two weeks ago, this column covered Yordan Alvarez's chance at the greatest individual offensive month in Astros' history. Yordan's June ended with his scary collision with Jeremy Peña that knocked both out of Wednesday's matinée at the Mets and kept both out of Thursday's win over the Yankees. That was a harrowing smash as opposed to the delightful smashes that Alvarez busted out all over June. He finished batting .418 with an OPS of 1.346. Real and spectacular, but not quite ultimately as awesome as Jeff Bagwell's June or July 1994, or Richard Hidalgo's closing month of the 2000 season.

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