Every-Thing Sports

Why (and how) the Astros and Gerrit Cole should stay together

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Gerrit Cole is in the midst of Cy Young run this year. Cole, who turned 29 on Sunday, is 16-5 this year with a 2.73 ERA and has 281 strikeouts. He would be the going away choice for the award if it weren't for teammate Justin Verlander who's18-5 with a 2.52 ERA and has 264 strikeouts. Cole is set to test free agency this offseason for the first time in his career. I don't fault him for wanting to explore his options. How often do you get to be at the peak of your profession, able to pick who and where you work while simultaneously commanding one of the best salaries in your field? Anyone of us would be chomping at the bit to do so. I believe there's a way for the Astros and Cole to stay together and here's how/why:

Winning

The Astros are set up to win and compete for World Series titles over the next few years. Verlander is signed for another two years, so is recently acquired Zack Greinke (15-5, 2.99 ERA, 167 strikeouts). This starting rotation is scary. Most great teams have had two high end starters. The 1990s Braves at one point had four. This could be the closest thing we've seen since those Braves teams. Did I mention the lineup they have? Guys like Yordan Alvarez, Alex Bregman, and Jose Altuve are locked up for several more seasons as well. Other teams may be able to offer winning as a carrot to dangle, but can they offer it long term?

Money

Here's where the rubber meets the road with most contract negotiations. Most guys are looking tot cash in and get paid. Top of the line pitchers command anywhere from $25-35 million a year on contracts these days. With the way Cole has pitched (and his age), he's looking at a monster deal in terms of annual average value and length. The Astros can compete by structuring his deal with a lower salary the first two years and jacking it up starting in year three. This will offset the two years in which they're paying Verlander and Greinke, as well as others on the team who have big deals.

Location

Cole and his wife are both Southern California natives. The Dodgers, Angels and Padres are all in SoCal. All three teams can afford to back up a Brinks truck in order to pay him and could use a pitcher of his caliber. However, California also has some of the most outrageous taxes in this country, whereas Texas has no state income tax. Factor in the cost of living difference, and he could make more money by choosing to stay with the Astros even if they pay him less annually. Besides, I'll take hurricanes over earthquakes every time in the natural disaster debate.

Brent Strom

Strom is the Astros pitching coach. He's also apparently a pitcher whisperer. Strom has been able to get the most out of guys regardless of their natural talent. He's made guys like Charlie Morton and Wade Miley seem like those Picaso paintings people buy dirt cheap and later realize what they truly have. Strom is the reason Cole has pitched the way he has the last couple years. Who's to say he's going to continue pitching this way without Strom's tutelage?

If the Astros win another World Series and Cole left for the biggest offer he could get, I wouldn't blame him. Still wouldn't blame him if he took such an offer if they don't win it all because it's ultimately his decision. Fans have to realize they'd all do the same thing if the shoe were on the othwer foot. However, if he factors in the reasons I've listed here, someone should cue the Al Green and we should all get ready for a few more years of title runs.

Saints 34, Bucs 17

Saints vs. Bucs 2: Good, bad and ugly

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The Saints got back in the win column by dominating a lesser talented division rival this week. Here's what I thought of the Saints' move to 8-2:

The Good

-Michael Thomas and Drew Brees are perhaps the most prolific quarterback-wide receiver duo in the league. Brees was 28/35 for 228 yards and three touchdowns, while Thomas had eight catches for 114 yards and a touchdown. Thomas is still leading the league in receptions and yards, despite Brees missing a chunk of the season.

-The defense came up big depite giving up over 300 yards. They had two sacks, four interceptions (one returned for a touchdown), and limited the Bucs to only 36 yards rushing. After last week's performance against the Falcons, it was important for the defense to step up.

-Sean Payton made a concerted effort to get Alvin Kamara the ball. Whether it was rushing, receiving, or on returns, Kamara was heavily involved in the gameplan. 26 total touches for 155 yards altogether.

The Bad

-Giving up 313 yards passing to Jameis Winston and the Bucs was terrible. Sure Marson Lattimore was out this game, but this defense has too much talent to give up that many yards through the air.

-Speaking of giving up passing yards, Cameron Brate had 10 catches for 73 yards. Tight ends haven't really been a problem for the Saints, but it was today. Moving forward, they need to do better about giving up the easy stuff underneath, especially to tight ends.

-The longest run recorded was a 14-yarder by Kamara. The team only totaled 109 yards on the ground, which is uncharacteristic of them since they committed to the run more a few years ago. They are used to averaging upwards of 130 yards a game on the ground.

The Ugly

-I think it may be time to invest high picks on linebackers. The current linebackers on the roster are pretty good, but the only real playmaker is Demario Davis, who's already 30. Where's the young playmakers at linebacker? There are none. Hopefully Alex Anzalone can turn into something.

-As I mentioned earlier, Marshon Lattimore missed this game. Some of the guys that filled in lately, such as CJ Gardner-Johnson, have done an okay job at best. There's no replacing one of the better young cover corners in the game. Gardner-Johnson had a couple rookie mistakes, but looks like he'll be a player, just not yet.

-Speaking of young guys needing to step up, I sure hope Marcus Davenport removes himself from the back of the milk carton soon! When a team gives up the type of draft capital the Saints did to draft you, you have to produce. Far too often Davenport has been a no show in the stat column and on film. Two first round picks and a mid rounder were used to get him and he's so far playing like a fourth rounder.

Last week, the Saints were outplayed by a then 1-7 division rival. This week, they decided to dominate a 2-7 division rival. Brees and the gang returned to form against the Bucs and have a firm grip on the NFC South thanks to the Falcons dismantling of the Panthers, who the Saints play next week. If they win next week, they can wrap up the division crown and start taking aim at a first round bye in the playoffs. Here's to consistency and health down the stretch.

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